Online Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Programs

A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is an advanced-practice registered nurse (APRN) trained to care for women of diverse ages and health circumstances. To enroll in a WHNP program, a person must first have completed a suitable undergraduate degree allowing that individual to practice nursing. Students can then select MSN, DNP, or post-master’s tracks. 

WHNP program graduates are skilled in providing care responsive to women’s diverse health needs, including menstruation and fertility, childbirth, menopause, and gynecologic care. Many WHNP programs offer hybrid and online learning delivery models to meet the needs of female students who often have significant professional and family commitments.

WHNP educational programs offer several elements that can appeal to individuals seeking to develop or expand a career in women’s health care. To begin with, specialized degrees can prepare graduates to pursue niche roles that would be otherwise inaccessible. WHNP programs allow practitioners to develop a subspecialization in obstetrics, infertility, reproductive endocrinology, and maternal medicine. Such specialized education trains practitioners in the skills needed to make a difference in important women’s health issues such as maternal outcomes, women’s work-life balance during their most productive years, and the quality of life for aging women. 

By supporting women’s health, WHNPs can contribute to improving their family life, careers, and financial wellness and autonomy. Furthermore, in recognition of their frequently busy lives, WHNP programs are often designed to accommodate students so they can stay in the workforce to complete an advanced degree. Finally, such programs are often highly valued by employers seeking to find experts in women’s health to fill educational roles. By completing specialized WHNP training, practitioners can go on to teach a new generation of students seeking to contribute to the quality of women’s lives worldwide.

Recent political, cultural, and other trends also suggest a greater need for practitioners skilled in women’s health in the coming years. For example, the Dobbs decision, a 2022 US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Supreme Court’s previous 1973 landmark ruling establishing a constitutional right to access abortion, has made quality women’s reproductive health care more difficult for millions of American women. The impacts of the Covid pandemic also fell heavily on the shoulders of women, with research indicating a variety of impacts, including higher levels of exhaustion and professional dissatisfaction, difficulties providing sufficient care for children, and increased risk of domestic abuse as policies designed to reduce Covid transmission risk kept some women in proximity to abusive partners for extended periods of time.

Given the aforementioned trends, it is unsurprising that the occupational demand for practitioners specializing in women’s health needs is forecast to be very high. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022), openings for nurse practitioners nationally are forecast to grow 46 percent between 2021 and 2031, making NPs the fastest-growing occupation in the country. This robust demand means newly trained WHNP professionals can expect substantial leverage in negotiating salary and other aspects of positions they accept. 

Discover online women’s health nurse practitioner programs, information about different types of programs, accreditation details, requirements for admission, clinical supervision hours needed to graduate, and profiles of accredited online WHNP programs.

Types of WHNP Degree Programs

As is often true of other specialized degree programs a nurse practitioner may choose, a nurse practitioner seeking to work in women’s health typically will choose one of two options. These are the master of science (MSN) WHNP degree and the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) WHNP degree.

MSN Programs

Master of science in nursing (MSN) WHNP degree programs typically require two to three years to complete. These programs typically will accept students already holding a BSN and students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Students with minimal or non-existent backgrounds in the sciences can still ultimately secure admission to an MSN program but will typically need to complete more prerequisite education to demonstrate they have the education and study skills necessary to succeed in a graduate-level program. 

MSN students must also complete clinical training hours. Completing clinical training is an important eligibility requirement MSN program graduates must fulfill to be eligible to sit for the national certification exam. More details on this certification exam appear further down this page.

DNP Programs

Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs represent a larger commitment than MSN programs. These programs typically require somewhere between three and six years to complete. Securing a DNP degree offers distinct advantages over an MSN. DNPs are currently in high demand due to many factors, including physician and nurse shortages, the rapidly evolving nature of medicine, and the increasing professional and educational expectations of healthcare personnel. 

The leadership and organizational skills DNPs hold can qualify them for a larger number of roles than those who hold an MSN. While an MSN may work as a family nurse practitioner, DNPs can apply their skills to manage a complex, multi-provider medical practice, establish their own private practice, or work in leadership roles in the operations of large hospitals as well as other providers such as community clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and long-term, inpatient care facilities.

Post-Master’s Certificate Programs

In addition to MSN and DNP programs, nurse practitioners pursue a WHNP specialization through a graduate certificate program. A graduate certificate program that offers training in this specialization is a non-degree, graduate-level program designed to prepare Registered Nurses (RNs) for state licensure, national certification, and professional careers in women’s health nursing positions that require advanced skills. 

A WHNP graduate certificate program offers RNs and APRNs who have already completed general advanced nursing coursework and clinical training within either an MSN or DNP program a path to becoming a WHNP without the intensive time and financial commitment of pursuing another graduate degree program.

WHNP Program & School Accreditation

Most accredited online WHNP programs are certified by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). When reviewing prospective schools, understanding the distinction between programmatic and institutional accreditation is important. 

Institutional accreditation is granted to educational institutions within which degree programs operate. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), affiliated with the US Department of Education, approves and exercises authority over the operations of seven regional institutional accrediting bodies. These regional accrediting bodies review and accredit educational institutions according to an iterative schedule.

Programmatic accreditation specifically focuses on and accredits degree programs within higher education institutions. Successful accreditation serves as a testament that a degree program satisfies or exceeds certain standards. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) reviews baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral-level nursing programs; the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) regulates associate’s, bachelor’s, and doctoral degrees. 

Approximately 40 accredited online WHNP programs are currently operating in the United States.

Typical Admissions Requirements for WHNP Degrees

Admission requirements for online women’s health nurse practitioner programs are fairly uniform. Variation among programs is typically attributable to which program a student chooses (MSN or DNP program) and/or the standards that must be met for an educational program operating in a particular state to receive accreditation in that state. DNP students often will need to meet a few additional criteria. Typical admission requirements include the following:

  • BSN degree earned at an accredited school of nursing before the program’s start date
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 or above earned during your BSN degree
  • Active and unrestricted RN license in the state where you live and/or where you will complete clinical hours
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses
  • Two or more professional or academic reference letters
  • Current resume
  • A personal statement or letter of intent
  • GRE test score from the last 5 years
  • Non-native English speakers will need to demonstrate English language proficiency via a test score from something like TOEFL

To increase the likelihood of admission, applicants are recommended to go above and beyond fulfilling just the fundamental requirements for admission. Applicants can do this in several ways such as the following:

  • Work experience. Many WHNP programs require applicants to have at least one year of relevant work experience. Those who have even more experience are more likely to be admitted.
  • Completion of all prerequisite classes. Some schools will offer contingent admission. Contingent admission means a prospective student will be admitted provided they fulfill any outstanding requirements. It is wise to verify the prerequisites for a program by contacting the school directly, as website information can be outdated.
  • Quality application materials. Many WHNP programs request a personal statement, letter of intent, or essay as part of the application process. Selection committees can often easily tell when applicants have hastily assembled their applications. Take the time to write a quality writing sample.
  • Preparation. Applicants should take sufficient time to prepare not just their written application materials but also for required interviews. Applicants should thoroughly educate themselves in the essential aspects of the program as well as have some good questions prepared. Demonstrating passionate interest in a program will enhance the likelihood of being selected.
  • Volunteer experience: Relevant work experience, even if uncompensated, demonstrates an enthusiasm for the profession.
  • Apply to programs featuring specialized partnerships. Some schools feature special partnerships with nearby hospitals, community health centers and the like when doing so is mutually beneficial to all parties. If an applicant has a particular preferred service population or specialty in mind before applying, research schools that feature an emphasis in these same areas.
  • GRE: Though a GRE score is not required by all schools, merely taking the test and doing well demonstrates initiative and a commitment to the profession.

Supervised Hour Requirements for WHNP Degrees

To graduate, WHNP degree program students must also complete clinical training hours. These training hours are completed in various settings, including hospitals, community mental health centers, and private practices.

The National Certification Corporation (NCC) is the entity responsible for providing WHNP certification. Those seeking to take the WHNP national certification exam must meet several eligibility requirements. One of these requirements is a clinical training requirement. Though the number of clinical hours individual academic programs require for graduation varies, candidates seeking certification must have completed at least 600 clinical clock hours to be eligible to take the certification exam. Note that MSN programs typically include at least 600 clinical hours, and DNPs may include 1,000.

Certification candidates must also meet the following requirements:

  • Current/active/unencumbered U.S. RN or advanced practice nursing licensure
  • Successful completion of an accredited graduate nurse practitioner program that meets NCC program requirements and prepares women’s health care nurse practitioners (master’s, DNP, or post-master’s certificate)
  • Passing score on the exam within eight years of graduation from your program
  • A PDF file of the candidate’s diploma
  • A PDF file of the candidate’s official transcript

This certification exam serves as an entry-level, competency-based examination designed to test specialty knowledge and the application of that knowledge for licensed registered nurses in the US and Canada who have completed an accredited nurse practitioner program in the role of a women’s health care nurse practitioner.

The women’s health nurse practitioner certification also called the WHNP-BC certification, provides a standard for nurses who have graduated from women’s health nurse practitioner programs. The WHNP-BC certification is especially suited for nurses who plan to provide nursing services in gynecological, obstetrician, and primary care offices. The certification is of value for nurses who work in both inpatient and outpatient settings. 

Because employers typically prefer candidates who have passed an exam that demonstrates their competency, nurses holding this certification will hold an advantage over others who lack it as they seek employment in the job market. Because WHNP certifications are only valid for three years, practitioners must be mindful of the necessity for renewal of their certifications.

Featured Online WHNP Degrees 

Online MSN Programs

Keiser University

Keiser University offers a 51-credit online MSN WHNP degree. Keiser is the only university in Florida to offer a master’s degree program for women’s health. The curriculum focuses on women’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs throughout their lifespan and the particular needs of those historically marginalized due to gender and sexual health inequality. 

Coursework topics include gynecologic care, pregnancy risk management, family planning, and primary care. The program is designed to prepare gynecological and other nursing professionals to fill advanced practice positions in the field of women’s health.

  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Duration: 20 to 30 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)    
  • Tuition: Contact the school for a customized assessment

Emory University

Emory University offers a 46-credit master’s degree program in nursing women’s health/gender-related nurse practitioner (MSN-WHGRNP) program designed to prepare nurses to serve the sexual and reproductive health care needs of all people. Students learn the skills necessary to care for women across their lifespan, beginning in puberty. 

The program also features an emphasis on the issue of healthcare access and its connection to sociocultural disparities and inequities frequently faced by sexual and gender minorities. WHGRNP students are also provided the opportunity to receive specialized training in forensic nursing and meet the needs of patients who are survivors of violence. Graduates are required to complete 630 hours of directly supervised clinical practice.

Students may attend full-time and complete the program in as short as four semesters but also have the option to study part-time. Though courses are offered online, students must visit campus once or twice a semester to participate in simulations, skills labs, and competency assessments. Residency in Georgia is not required for admission.

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)    
  • Tuition: $2,022 per credit 

Duke University

Consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top nursing schools, the Duke University School of Nursing offers a 45-credit MSN WHNP program. The curriculum comprises seven MSN core courses, eight WHNP clinical courses, and three intensive nurse practitioner courses. A portion of the WHNP clinical courses provide students with 672 hours of clinical training. This amount of clinical training hours easily exceeds the requirement for eligibility to sit for the WHNP certification exam. 

This Duke University program is also noteworthy because it supports students seeking clinical site placement. Whereas some schools give students primary responsibility in identifying and securing a clinical site, the Duke program offers a team of professional placement staff who actively collaborate with students in the clinical site selection process. Duke currently features over 2,000 clinical site agreements throughout the United States and abroad.

This program prepares nurses to lead healthcare transformation and advance health and social equities to achieve social justice. The program focuses on social determinants of health, the development of nurse-led models of care, and the study of factors that contribute to or undermine resilience at the scale of individuals, families, and entire communities.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Duration: 2.5 years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)    
  • Tuition: $2,075 per credit 

Regis College

Regis College offers an online MSN WHNP program that was recently (2023) named one of the best online master’s in nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report. This program is a virtual extension of the college’s on-campus program, one of Massachusetts’s largest nurse practitioner training programs. The Regis School of Nursing is the first in New England to be designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. Curriculum development is influenced in part by collaboration with active nursing professionals. 

Students with a BSN complete 46 credits to fulfill graduation requirements, while those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or an associate degree complete 61 credits. Students are permitted to apply transfer credits toward graduation requirements.

There is more than one entry pathway available for students seeking to enroll. For registered nurse professionals with a BSN, admission requirements include documentation of bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and accredited program, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, an active and unencumbered RN license, and past completion of a college-level statistics course. 

  • Location: Weston, MA
  • Duration:  28 to 36 months
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $990 per credit 

Online DNP Programs

University of Illinois Chicago

The University of Illinois Chicago offers a DNP program on all six campuses of the UIC system in northern and central Illinois. Students may enroll in the DNP using one of two pathways. They can enter as an RN or through the post-master’s track. The curriculum features a hybrid learning delivery format and can be completed full-time or part-time. Students select one of twelve focus areas. Ten of these lead to advanced practice roles (including WHNP), while the others lead to systems-focused ones. 

A critical element of the curriculum is the DNP project. This project allows the student to demonstrate their ability to engage in evidence-based practice. With the guidance of faculty, students complete this project during their final semesters of the program.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Duration: Two to six years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $1,024 per credit for in-state and regional enrollment; $1,512 for out-of-state students

Georgetown University

The Georgetown University School of Nursing (GUSON) offers a distance-based online DNP program. The curriculum, featuring training in advanced nursing science, organizational leadership, and ethics, is designed to prepare graduates to improve patient care delivery in highly complex healthcare provider settings. GUSON is a nationally recognized nursing school known for its reputation for advancing health equity and improving population health worldwide. The program emphasizes improving access to care for underserved populations.

DNP students may enter with one of two backgrounds. Those holding a BSN will complete 69-74 credit hours, two to three objective clinical intensives, and 1,000 to 1,200 clinical hours. Students can complete this program pathway in as little as 33 months. Full and part-time study options are available. Meanwhile, the post-master’s DNP is available to nurses already working in advanced nursing roles who hold master’s degrees. Students complete one to two on-campus executive sessions, and at least 250 practice hours. This program is offered part-time and can be completed in 20 months. This 30-credit curriculum focuses on systems-level leadership. 

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: At least 20 to 33 months, depending upon starting degree and pace of study
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $2,358 per credit

Kent State University

Kent State University offers a DNP program featuring two educational pathways. Students can enter with a BSN and become advanced practice nurses or enter as an advanced practice nurse and pursue the post-master’s pathway. 

Post-BSN students select an advanced practice area concentration in their first two years and complete the coursework and practicum hours necessary to receive their MSN. Not all concentrations allow students to complete their coursework fully online. After the award of this degree, they are eligible to seek certification. Students then complete DNP courses and a scholarly project. The total time commitment for this pathway from BSN to DNP is 3.5 to five years. The post-master’s to DNP program features a cohort structure to enable learning from peers and faculty. This fully online program comprises 34 total credits, 525 practicum hours, and can be completed in five semesters. 

  • Location: Kent, OH
  • Duration: Two to five years, depending on pathway and pace of study
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: See website for details

University of Missouri – Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) offers a DNP program designed to prepare nurses to improve healthcare by effectively responding to challenges in current healthcare environments and changing to meet the needs and challenges anticipated to exist in future healthcare situations. DNP students develop the skills to actively and effectively partner with both their patients and care teams to achieve the best potential outcomes amid complicated, dynamic, and difficult circumstances as well as demanding healthcare fields. Graduates of this practice-based DNP program hold the skills necessary to translate evidence-based research into practice effectively.

The tracks available for students to enter this program are numerous. Among the various specialty tracks available for BSN- or MSN-prepared nurses seeking a DNP is the WHNP track. Those entering the BSN-DNP track must complete 74 credits and can expect to complete the program within four to five years.

  • Location: Kansas City, MO
  • Duration: Two to five years, depending on background at the time of entry
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: Contact the school for a customized assessment

Online Post-Master’s Certificate Programs

Kent State University 

The Kent State University College of Nursing offers an online Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) post-master’s certificate program. The program requires completing 21 credits and 675 hours of clinicals. Licensed RNs who hold a graduate degree in nursing (MSN or DNP) are eligible for the program regardless of their current area of specialization. The certificate meets the educational requirements for the national certification examination.

  • Location: Kent, OH
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $549.50 per credit for Ohio residents; $559.50 per credit for non-residents

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University offers a women’s health – gender-related nurse practitioner (WHGRNP) post-graduate certificate program (PGCP) designed to prepare graduate nurses to provide care to women across the lifespan and the health-illness continuum. The certificate requires completion of 18 credits. 

WHGRNPs may practice in hospitals, labor and delivery units, outpatient clinics, and primary care practices. Nurse practitioners (NPs) entering the PGCP in an NP population-focused area where they are not currently practicing or certified may be able to secure academic credit for prior didactic and clinical experience. Upon completing a gap analysis of an applicant’s academic and practice portfolio, such credit would be offered. This certificate program meets the requirements for graduates to sit for the WHNP certification exam NCC offers. Those who successfully pass the exam are awarded the WHNP-BC credential.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: One to two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,224 per credit 

Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offers a post-master’s certificate (PMC) program featuring many potential specialties. One of these specialties is the WHNP certificate. This 30-credit certificate can typically be completed in one to two years. PMC students must complete all didactic and clinical coursework requirements in their desired practice area. To obtain a PMC in the WHNP specialty, students must complete at least 500 supervised hours in direct patient care.

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Duration: One to two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,883 per credit

Jobs for WHNP Programs Graduates

Women’s health nurse practitioners can pursue various jobs after graduation in several clinical settings, such as hospitals, private practice, or community mental health centers. Here are just three roles of the many that WHNP graduates may fill.

Nurse Practitioner OB/GYN

An OB/GYN nurse practitioner, also known as an OGNP, works with female patients throughout their lifespan from adolescence into advanced age. They provide various care, including annual evaluations and health screenings, preventative care, fertility and family planning, prenatal management, and care for chronic illnesses and diseases. 

Common job duties for an OGNP may include examining and monitoring women throughout pregnancy, managing high-risk and abnormal pregnancies and supporting patients with making tough decisions, performing prenatal and in-utero screenings to monitor health, educating patients on health management, disease prevention and hygiene, and counseling patients in family planning, birth control, and other contraceptive methods

Nursing Supervisor

A nursing supervisor fulfills a critical role and may work in many patient care environments. Nursing supervisors have a prominent role in creating a compassionate environment for patients, family, and friends and a supportive and efficient work environment for the nursing personnel the supervisor oversees. Particular duties of a nursing supervisor may include scheduling nurses’ shifts, assignment of nurses to patients, and ensuring nurses follow policies and operational standards. 

Nursing supervisors may also play a direct role in nurses’ performance and professional development by generating reports on nursing personnel productivity and related metrics, evaluating nurses’ performance, and training nurses new to their teams.

WIC Program Nurse Practitioner

A WHNP may work in a WIC program to support the assessment and monitoring of women and children who qualify for participation in this program. In this role, a WHNP may perform exams and screening for nutritional deficiencies and offer counseling on breastfeeding and nutrition for mothers and children.

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is a federally funded program designed to promote adequate nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and children up to 5 years old. WIC is available to low-income families and children deemed to be at nutritional risk. WIC also provides food vouchers for milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other highly nutritious items for pregnant women and children up to age five. Because the WIC program may be housed in many facilities, a WHNP supporting WIC may work in settings including hospitals, schools, housing projects, and state health departments.

Bernd Geels

Bernd Geels


Bernd Geels is a Berlin, Germany-based freelance writer and artist. He holds an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science and two graduate degrees. He completed his most recent graduate degree in international environmental studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011. He is interested in healthcare, climate change, marine conservation, indigenous science and refugee issues. You can reach him directly at [email protected].