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Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration | Context - Context
Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration In Context

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) concentration is one of several advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) degrees available to nursing professionals. With its focus on pediatric care, the PNP is intended to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to care for children between infancy and adolescence in an acute or primary care setting.

PNP students can learn how to: [1]

  • Diagnose and treat episodic illnesses
  • Manage chronic illnesses
  • Carry out routine well-being checks
  • Authorize additional consultations and referrals
  • Advise and support the patient and caregivers

Common areas of study in a PNP degree program include:

  • How to apply research to practical situations
  • The ethics, theory, and philosophy behind nursing
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Health assessment and measurement
  • Diagnosis, symptoms, and illness management
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Advanced practice in primary care
Who might choose this degree program?

The PNP is intended for registered nurses (RNs) who want to boost their professional expertise to enjoy a greater degree of autonomy and more varied career opportunities. Most RNs will have been practicing for a few years before embarking on a PNP.

Becoming a certified PNP can lead to lucrative employment, with the average salary $99,299 according to or between $66,115-$105,616 according to Payscale. [3] [4] With the demand for all primary care professionals forecast to rise over the next few years, a PNP qualification can open the door to a wide range of employment opportunities. [5]

How do I choose a PNP degree that's right for me?

Specializations and curriculum

Different schools have different curricula and specializations to offer. Although it’s important to make sure that your PNP graduate degree is regulated by either the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), there is still considerable freedom to pick a program that’s in line with your individual preferences. Specializations typically include acute or primary care, and students may be able to tailor their degree further by choosing programs with elective course options.

School rankings

You may wish to consider a school’s national rankings. Although some schools are ranked more highly than others, rankings should be just one factor in your decision-making process. Some lower-ranked nursing programs may even have stronger pediatric programs than their higher-ranked counterparts.

Program delivery method, duration, and credit hours

Some students prefer to learn in a cohort, on campus, and studying full-time. Others may prefer distance learning with a flexible schedule that fits around their existing commitments. PNP providers offer an enormous diversity of program options, which enable students to combine work and study or simply concentrate on coursework, depending on their preferences. Often an institution will provide the same learning material in a range of delivery methods, making it accessible to a wide audience. When deciding on your PNP program, it’s important to consider which method of course delivery is going to work best for you.

What is pediatric nursing?

Pediatric nursing involves providing care to children and adolescents, usually from birth through early adulthood. A PNP can help prepare advanced practice registered nurses to face the health challenges of patients from infancy through adolescence.

Why become a PNP?

Some of the benefits of completing the PNP include:

  • Enhanced professional autonomy
  • More interesting and diverse career experiences
  • Potential for higher salary. According to the AANP, the average salary for all NPs in 2016 was $102,526. [10]
  • Higher-profile role
Types of pediatric nurse practitioner graduate degrees

Program selection normally depends on career goals as well as current qualifications and skills. PNPs are part of a group of nursing staff known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

There are two main types of PNP degree available:

  • Acute Care (PNP-AC): This track concentrates on the skills and knowledge needed to provide acute care, primarily hospital care, and treatment for sick children within acute care settings, such as emergency rooms or pediatric rehabilitation facilities. [1] [6]
  • Primary Care (PNP-PC): This track equips students with the skills and knowledge they need to work successfully in a primary care settings, such as physician offices, schools, or outpatient clinics. [1] [2]

These are normally two-year programs. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board offers a list of institutions and programs that are suitable for students wishing to progress toward PNP status. [9]

Things to consider when selecting a PNP program

Although the main parts of the curriculum will be fairly consistent between schools due to accreditation requirements, there are often significant differences between programs, which can make one more accessible and appropriate than another. Some schools are more prestigious than others, though there are numerous other factors to take into consideration before selecting a PNP graduate program.

These might include:

  • How long the program has been in operation
  • Program faculty
  • The amount and type of practical experience required or included
  • Specializations specific to the program
  • Practical considerations relating to finance, proximity, accessibility, and similar variables
  • Whether the program fits with your career objectives

Cohort or non-cohort

Some providers expect students to start and finish their program with the same group, or cohort, of fellow students. Non-cohort learning routes allow students to progress at their own rate. Online programs tend to be non-cohort, whereas many on-campus programs offer a cohort option.

Synchronous or asynchronous

Synchronous learning involves the lecturer and students all being in the same place at the same time, either online or in person. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete the learning at a time and place that fits around their other commitments. This can be more manageable for students who have pre-existing work or social commitments.


Although the curriculum delivered by an accredited school will have commonalities with similar programs elsewhere, individual variations can make a significant difference when trying to decide which program is most appropriate.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Career Advancement

The U.S. faces a shortage of skilled primary care professionals, which has grown more significant. As demand is predicted to continue growing, demand for PNPs and similar professionals is also likely to remain high.

Students intent on pursuing a career as a PNP can be reassured that there is a significant demand for their services across the country. Not only is employment in the primary health care sector expected to increase by about 19% by 2020, but the scarcity of qualified physicians means that a growing number of areas require the expertise that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) can bring. [22]

The mean wage for an APRN is estimated to be somewhere between $73,238-$119,410 according to Payscale [17] and $101,260 according to the BLS [11] with pay rates varying between states.

In addition to wage differentials, there also tend to be differences in the way in which PNPs are utilized and recognized in various parts of the country. Some states give PNPs a high degree of autonomy, whereas other states expect PNPs to work under the direction of a physician or other health care professional. [12] [7]

The PNP degree followed by certification and appropriate licensure can lead to career opportunities in a wide range of health care settings.

PNPs can typically work in: [13]

  • Hospitals
  • Physician’s offices
  • Independently
  • A community setting
  • School nursing
  • Military facilities
  • Home health care
  • Research organizations

Depending on their interests and skills, PNPs can also access a range of specialist job opportunities, including research, oncology, infectious diseases, and orthopedics.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Curriculum

Graduate programs are designed to give professional nurses the in-depth knowledge and skills they need to undertake successful, high-quality pediatric care in a range of settings. Graduates can expect to work in:

  • Community settings
  • Private care focusing on pediatric patients
  • Health departments
  • Schools
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Hospitals
What are the key learning objectives of a PNP?

Although learning outcomes vary among institutions, according to a selection of PNP programs, students should learn how to:

  • Perform accurate and competent assessment and diagnosis of illness in infants, children, and adolescents. This includes advanced psychosocial investigation as well as physical assessment.
  • Analyze and interpret a variety of test results and data from other sources of testing to inform an accurate diagnosis.
  • Create an appropriate treatment plan (including referral to other professionals or agencies if required, prescriptions, and other interventions) that’s tailored to the needs of each child.
  • Deliver appropriate health promotion and disease prevention advice, support, and additional assistance to the patient as well as caregivers and others involved in the health and well-being of the child.
  • Integrate nursing theory with practice to deliver a high-caliber level of care.
  • Communicate with the patient, caregivers, other members of the multidisciplinary team, and other agencies as appropriate.

The learning objectives will also vary depending on whether the PNP is focused on primary care, acute care, or both.

Core and elective competencies for PNP-PC and PNP-AC

Generally, the degree consists of a selection of core courses, along with a number of elective courses that allow students to gain greater knowledge in a subject area in which they are particularly interested.

The core competencies are common to both the PNP-PC and the PNP-AC concentrations, but courses for the former focus on primary care, whereas the latter are centered around acute care.

Core competencies

Although they vary slightly among schools, typical core courses include the following competencies:

The application of theoretical knowledge to the practice environment

In this competency, students consider topics such as nursing ethics and philosophy, and application of research.

Assessment and diagnostic skills

To acquire this competency, students study topics such as pharmacology, the mechanisms of disease (pathology), advanced assessment, interpretation of symptoms, and the interpretation of lab tests and other diagnostic tests.

Treatment planning

This includes health promotion and disease prevention, as well as the appropriate use of prescription medicine and other interventions, consideration of a multidisciplinary approach, continuity of care, and long-term management.

Developmental screening, checks, and assessment

Students learn not only how to undertake a range of developmental screening assessments, but also how to interpret the results and the appropriate responses depending on the findings.

Leadership skills

Students continue to acquire the skills needed for team management and other competencies which are desirable in a senior member of the nursing team.

Research skills

Students are required to produce either a dissertation or an extended project as part of their coursework, enabling them to acquire and refine the skills necessary for continued research after graduation. [18]

Elective opportunities

In addition to the core courses, many schools also offer electives. These normally include a range of relevant learning opportunities which complement the core curriculum and add additional breadth to a student’s learning experience. Typically, elective courses must be aligned to the PNP program.

Completion of a project or thesis

There is normally a requirement that students complete an extended piece of research as part of their PNP graduate degree program. This may be a project rather than a thesis, but will involve a significant amount of independent research and study.

Electives and specializations

An elective is an optional class students undertake in addition to their required learning to add breadth to their studies. A specialization consists of a number of classes which, when taken together, provide depth of learning within a narrower field than the more generic core courses.

What’s the difference between a PNP that offers electives or specializations and one which doesn’t?

A program that offers specializations provides students with the opportunity to customize their learning in line with their individual interests, skills, and career goals. A program with little or no elective learning offers little choice in terms of content but may have a more varied curriculum, which encompasses material that other schools offer in the form of an elective.

Possible electives for the PNP program

One of the most significant choices PNP students will make before starting their graduate program is whether to opt for the acute care or primary care concentration. This choice immediately results in a level of specialization, as there are significant curricular differences between the two. Once a student has decided whether to concentrate on acute care or primary care, there are a number of further electives or specializations that are usually open to them, depending on the school.

Based on a survey of online PNP programs, common courses include:

  • Research skills and practice
  • Community care
  • Epidemiology
  • Statistical observation and interpretation
  • Pharmacology
  • Communicable diseases
  • Health promotion
  • Pediatric assessment
  • Behavior development
  • Advanced pediatric nursing practice

When considering which electives to take, students may like to consider the following:

  • Will this elective enhance the likelihood of achieving my career goals?
  • Is it eligible for inclusion in the PNP program I’ve chosen?
  • Will it assist with the core part of the program?
  • Is it logistically compatible with the existing program load?
  • Is it at the right level for my ability?
  • Does it potentially open up fresh possibilities for further learning or research?
  • Am I interested in this elective?

Often, a program leader can offer valuable advice on suitable electives, perhaps suggesting relevant possibilities you may not have considered.

How to choose a specialization

Specializations may include choosing to learn more about the care of patients suffering from a particular type of medical issue, for example:

  • Ear, nose and throat complaints
  • Communicable diseases
  • Research methods
  • Oncology
  • Cardiology
  • Research skills

When considering which specialization to choose, it can help to look at labor market statistics to determine which pathway might offer the best career opportunities.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that demand for primary care professionals will grow by 19% by 2020. [22]
  • The increased need for primary care staff means that specialties involving family care are likely to present a wide range of career prospects. [22] AANP research indicates that 83.4% of nurse practitioners are certified in primary care [23] — indicative of the demand in that field.
  • PNPs with a track in primary care and a specialization in oncology remain much in demand as technology for diagnosing and treating diseases becomes more widespread. In 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality noted that half of the nursing workforce is involved in delivery primary care. [22]
  • Demand for outpatient care continues to rise. This means that any specialization which can be practiced from an outpatient setting (for example, acute care) is likely to be sought-after. [22]
  • There are large parts of the U.S. where insufficient medical care exists, particularly in rural areas where there is a scattered population. Demand for PNPs in these locations is rising steadily. [22]
  • As the nursing knowledge base grows and diversifies, there is an increasing need for PNPs to engage in research activity, either directly with patients or in a non-clinical setting. If you choose a research specialization, research or academia could be a good choice. [22]
Experiential learning, fieldwork, and placements

Experiential learning

Experiential learning is an opportunity to use theoretical knowledge in real-life situations, make real observations to fit into theoretical frameworks, and provide opportunities for further learning from other practitioners in the field.


Fieldwork provides an opportunity for experiential learning. Although the terms “fieldwork” and “placement” may be used interchangeably, many institutions refer to fieldwork as the practical experience undertaken by students during the earlier parts of their program (when the emphasis is on learning rather than practice).

Clinical placements

A clinical placement is the name given to a longer period of supervised work in a clinical setting, where PNP students can put their skills into practice and consolidate their learning under suitable management. These placements give students the opportunity to work with patients and medical personnel prior to graduation. They are also called clinical practicum, work-integrated learning, or fieldwork experiences. [24]

Face-to-face clinical practice experience is an essential part of the PNP degree.

Although the requirements regarding the number of clinical hours, type of placement, and other factors can vary depending on the school, practical experience is seen as pivotal to acquire the skills necessary to reach nurse practitioner standards of competence.

The minimum number of clinical hours required for a PNP degree is 500, but some programs may ask for additional clinical hours. [25]

In general, clinical practice experience affords the following benefits:

  • Improving skills and knowledge
  • Making the connection between theory and practice
  • Increased awareness of the challenges and opportunities nurse practitioners face
  • The potential to further develop softer skills (people skills) which are vital for professional success
  • Enhanced awareness of career opportunities and options
  • The potential to make connections that may be beneficial in the future
  • A well-chosen placement may also give students an advantage when it comes to applying for jobs
How do I set up a clinical placement?

Most schools offer assistance setting up this clinical practice. If a student is already working in a suitable setting, it may be possible to arrange a placement at their workplace.

Number of clinical hours required

The number of clinical hours varies by school. While it is possible to complete the classroom part of the program without placements, it is only in exceptional circumstances that a candidate might be considered for graduation without having completed the requisite number of clinical hours.

Will I be paid during my placement?

Generally, nursing placements that are designed to allow students the opportunity to enjoy experiential learning are not paid. Although this isn’t invariably the case (some may pay a basic wage), students need to prepare themselves for potentially working in an unpaid capacity, and they should budget for additional traveling costs, if required.

What support do I get during my placement?

Usually, program providers have a clinical practice coordinator responsible for finding suitable placements for students, as well as monitoring their performance, resolving any issues that emerge, and helping students enjoy a positive experience that adds value to their learning. There is also usually a senior member of the staff at the clinical placement who acts as a primary contact for students.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

How many courses are required?

Based on multiple PNP programs, you will typically be required to complete between 14 and 16 courses, comprising about 40-42 credit hours. Your program’s composition will vary, but likely components of the curriculum include required or core courses, elective courses, and a capstone or experiential learning option.

Even within a particular school’s degree program, the number of courses required may vary based on the concentration you choose, your prior work experience, your number of transfer credits, or other such factors.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Admission Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admission requirements page.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study Options

Generally, pediatric NP students have already decided to specialize in pediatric nursing at a higher level and will choose a graduate degree that allows them to do this. There is no direct alternative to the PNP degree. Some students will opt for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) rather than the PNP, but the DNP is a higher-level academic degree.

For someone interested in qualifying as an NP, there are also graduate nursing specializations to be considered. At the other end of the spectrum to pediatrics, this can include undertaking an MSN in Gerontology, which is in demand due to the aging population. Those who still wish to be involved in the care of babies could opt to qualify in neonatal or prenatal nursing by undertaking the MSN in Midwifery or the MSN in Neonatal NP.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Program accreditation

For a PNP program to be deemed suitable as a precursor for certification and licensure, it needs to be accredited. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the accrediting agency in charge of nursing programs. [16]

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Licensure and Certification

Certification is achieved by passing the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care or Acute Care exam, administered through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

Before candidates can apply for licensure, they must obtain the Certificate of PNP-PC or PNP-AC from the PNCB. This allows nurses to take the title of CPNP-PC/AC.

The content examined includes: [26]

  • Health promotion
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • History and physical examination
  • Diagnostic testing and screening
  • Analyzing information
  • Management
  • Professional Issues

Certification takes place at the national level and is universally required to use the title CPNP, regardless of the state in which they practice.

Although many students who sit for the CPNP qualifying exam have completed the PNP-PC or PNP-AC graduate degree program, any master’s-level nursing degree or higher will allow for eligibility.

Before candidates can sit the CPNP exam, they need to provide evidence that they have completed a doctorate, postgraduate, or master’s degree that complies with the parameters laid down by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for the PNP program. To be eligible, a program must incorporate at least 500 supervised clinical hours.

Courses need to have been completed in: [19]

  • Physiology/pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the lifespan
  • Advanced health assessment, which includes assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques, concepts, and approaches
  • Advanced pharmacology, which includes pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents

Licensure is a state-mandated process which effectively grants permission for a PNP to practice in that state.

Although there is some variation between states, increasingly, a national set of criteria is emerging in line with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing APRN Consensus Model. [20]

The History of the Degree

Prior to the 1850s, children were generally cared for at home, often without any formal medical intervention. The introduction of specialist nurses who cared for children is widely thought to have come about due to the opening of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia in 1855.

Subsequently, a number of hospitals devoted to the needs of children were opened across the country, all of which employed nurses who developed specialist skills. Early pediatric nurses were also heavily involved in preventive work and health promotion, working in community settings to improve infant and child health and well-being. Pediatric nurses were first certified in 1977 by the Pediatric Certification Nursing Board.

Since the 1970s, this career has continued to develop, with contemporary pediatric nurse practitioners now highly trained and frequently given considerable autonomy in the care and treatment of their patients. Today, general nursing graduates can pursue a specialist career in pediatrics through the acquisition of a relevant graduate degree. Following certification and licensing, they can provide expert care as pediatric nurse practitioners to children in primary, acute, and specialty settings. [8]

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Financial aid

There are a number of different organizations that can provide assistance with the cost of a PNP. These include: [14] [15] [16]

  • The Stafford and Perkins subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Pell Grants
  • National Health Service Corps
  • Americorps
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners
  • MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Foundation
  • Saint John Foundation
  • Loan forgiveness programs

In some circumstances, all or part of a loan used to gain the PNP degree can be written off through the loan forgiveness program. Eligibility depends on the type and duration of employment undertaken after study is completed, as well as regular repayments.

Students may be eligible for the following loan forgiveness opportunities:

  • National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
  • Income-based repayment plan program
  • Military Loan Repayment Program
  • Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Students normally find it challenging to combine full-time study with full-time work. However, there are alternatives to full-time on-campus study. Many campuses offer part-time learning or you can opt to undertake an online PNP master’s degree which often have more flexible timeframes. If an online program has an asynchronous format, you can study at the times that best suit you, allowing you to schedule your learning around your employment and meaning you don’t have to sacrifice earning a living. However, flexible learning could mean it takes you longer to complete your studies, so bear this in mind when budgeting.

If there is a placement opportunity near to you, travel will be minimal. In some circumstances, particularly if you live in a rural area or location where there are few opportunities to conduct clinical practice, you may need to travel to undertake your placements.

Pediatric nurse practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) and MSN holders who are licensed to provide medical care to children under the direct supervision of a medical doctor.

Typically, MSN-PNP programs prepare you for a career in primary or acute care. Some degrees may include sub-specialization areas like cardiology, orthopedics, dermatology, neurology, or infectious diseases. [27]

This degree is for registered nurses who want to earn an MSN that’s focused in pediatrics so that they can prepare for certification by either the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Check with your State Board of Nursing for guidance on which certification to pursue.

Upon certification, pediatric nurse practitioners can work directly with patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent care facilities.

A career as a pediatric nurse practitioner can be fulfilling and demanding. Important traits of a successful PNP include compassion, patience, critical thinking, good communication, organization, and attention to detail.

There is a growing need for pediatric nurse practitioners. Currently only 6.4% of nurse practitioners specialize in pediatrics. [29] Pursuing your MSN-PNP can position you to join a narrow field. If you want to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you must, at a minimum, have a master’s in nursing degree that specializes in pediatrics.

Some factors to keep in mind when choosing your program include:

  • Curriculum: Does the curriculum align with the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care or Primary Care core competencies as defined by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties? [30]
  • Accreditation: Is the program accredited by CCNE or ACEN?
  • Flexibility: Is the program on campus or online?
  • Clinical sites and preceptor process: What support is there in helping students find clinical sites and preceptors?
  • Interactive learning: How is the program structured to help you apply the curriculum?
  • Faculty expertise: Does the faculty have a strong theoretical and practical knowledge base in the field?

Generally, there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. Tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research the opportunities that you’re qualified to pursue. [31]

Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or increased job satisfaction.

Yes. There are a variety of MSN degrees that prepare nurses for varied NP certifications. A nurse practitioner can specialize in many different areas, and pediatrics represents only one option. Other common NP specialities include family, gerontology, and psychiatry.

Most MSN-PNP programs at the master’s level will require applicants to be working as a registered nurse with a minimum of a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree. GPA requirements can vary by program.

There are many programs that do not require a GRE/GMAT. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

Yes, you must be a working registered nurse with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Some programs will accept registered nurses without a bachelor’s degree, but will likely then include a bridge curriculum to catch you up to the MSN level of study.

Most MSN-PNP programs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) to apply. Others provide a bridge curriculum to accelerate earning your MSN from the ADN level.

Courses will vary by program, but courses typically cover topics such as:

  • Health assessment
  • Child growth and development
  • Diagnosing and managing childhood behavioral problems and illnesses
  • Ethics
  • Health promotion
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology

When selecting your pediatric nursing program, you should look for a curriculum that aligns with the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care or Primary Care core competencies as defined by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

Another important consideration is whether the curriculum meets the requirements for your certification exam from either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB). Both certification boards require courses in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced physical/health assessment.

Program length will vary, but typically require between two to four years to complete.

To obtain your PNP certification with either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB), you will need at least 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours included in your pediatric primary care nurse practitioner program. [35]

Support for finding a preceptor will vary based on the university. The institution may or may not have a list of affiliated sites/personnel. It’s best for MSN-NP students to be prepared to secure preceptors for your clinicals. Inquire with a guidance counselor about the support provided for students when finding a preceptor.

Yes. Many institutions offer this degree online.

No. Your MSN-NP degree will not specify that it was earned online.

Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.

The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

An MSN-PNP may offer sub-specializations in either acute care or primary care nursing. Acute care includes complicated acute and chronic health conditions, while primary care focuses on promoting health and managing disease.

Yes, certification is a requirement to serve as a pediatric nurse practitioner. This requirement will vary by state. [36]

Pediatric nurse practitioners can work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent care facilities.

In 2016, the mean, full-time base salary for an NP was $102,526. [29] Geographic location, years of experience, and practice setting all factor into how NP salaries vary.

Employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow by 31% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due in part to the effects of health care legislation with an increased emphasis on preventive care. [37]

For nurse practitioner programs, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a key accrediting body, recognized as a national accreditation agency by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Programs can also be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). [32] [33]

Attending a master’s-level program that is accredited by CCNE or ACEN is required to obtain certification by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses. [34]

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [34]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance. [34]