Frontier Nursing University Review

Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing, now called Frontier Nursing University (FNU), is a non-profit graduate school. It is located in Hyden, Kentucky and was established in 1939. Mrs. Mary Breckinridge started the college in 1925 as a source of nursing care for mother and child. Her nursing school reopened in 1970 as the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing, and it offered the first family nurse practitioner program in the United States.

The university was the first graduate school of nurse midwifery to offer distance education as well. About 900 students are enrolled in the university. It has been ranked among the top 15 graduate programs for nurses in the nation.

Nursing Programs

All graduate nursing programs at the university are offered online. Students complete their clinical experience in the community in which they live, making this school of nursing a convenient option for those who want to continue their education while they keep working. The unique focus of this program is that the community in which the RN lives is seen as the classroom. This is because nurses continue to work at their jobs, using the new information and knowledge that they are learning in their graduate work at Frontier. Also, students rarely need to go to the campus, and if they do, it is usually only three or four times during a program. The ADN Bridge Program requires visits at the beginning of the program and a few other times as students gather to prepare to meet the challenge of completing the required nursing courses that would be earned in a bachelor’s degree in nursing, although they do not earn this degree. Students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice also begin their studies at the campus, but are required to be on campus only a few times as well.

Master of Science in Nursing

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program has a variety of specialty options that students may choose as concentrations. Students must complete the general requirements for the MSN degree plus those that apply to the specialty that they choose. Each year, Frontier begins eight MSN classes, four Bridge classes, and three doctorate classes. Admission criteria for the MSN program are that the applicant must be a Registered Nurse (RN) with a baccalaureate or higher degree. RNs who have only an associate nursing degree or a bachelor’s degree in a different discipline than nursing are considered for the ADN to MSN program.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on the most recent degree completed is required. Applicants who have grade point averages from 2.7 to 2.99 must take either the GRE or MAT and earn satisfactory scores. Any applicant with a grade point average under 2.7 will not be considered for the program. Applicants must be a RN with one year’s nursing experience. Those with less than one year of experience may be considered, depending on their work experience. Prerequisite courses must be completed before applying to the university. These include a physical assessment course and a college level statistics course. Students in the MSN program must choose a concentration or specialty area. Each of these is discussed below.


The Nurse-Midwifery Education Program (CNEP) is an online course that can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Students complete their classes online and work with certified nurse-midwives in their community. A unique feature offered by this program that is not usually part of a nurse-midwife program is that the curriculum includes courses that train the nurse to develop a successful practice with market research and other business courses. Students must complete 51 credits plus 15 clinical experience credits to complete the program. Full-time student must complete 9 terms, and part-time students must complete 12 terms. When they are finished, they take the national exam to become certified in their specialty. They may then work for hospitals, doctor’s offices, or open their own business as a nurse-midwife.

Family Nurse Practitioner

The MSN specialty of Family Nurse Practitioner prepares students to provide primary care to all family members of different ages. It takes two to three years to complete the program. Students work with a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner in their community to complete clinical experience. Students learn to establish a practice of their own after graduation. Women’s health is a large part of the program. Forty-two credits of classroom instruction plus 15 clinical credits are required. Full-time students must complete eight terms and part-time students need to complete 11 terms. At the completion of the program, the graduate takes the national exam to become certified as a family nurse practitioner.

Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner

Students who opt to take this specialty area to focus in may complete the program on either a full-time or part-time basis. The student works with certified women’s health care nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, family nurse practitioners, and other primary care providers during clinical experience. Students also learn to assess a community to decide which medical services are needed the most, and they learn to develop a viable practice. Thirty-eight credits are needed to graduate plus 15 clinical hours. Full-time students must complete seven terms and part-time students complete the program in 10 terms.

ADN to MSN Bridge Program

A MSN Bridge program for RNs who have an Associate Degree Nursing is also offered by Frontier Nursing University. It is specifically designed for those without a bachelor’s degree. There are seven courses of 20 credits that bridge the two degrees by providing a chance for the student to take the courses needed to enter the MSN program. It takes one year of four terms to complete the nursing courses. After that, students begin their specialty track for their MSN. Students attend a Bridge Bound program at Hyden to help them become familiar with the online coursework and to learn about the specialty tracks available in the MSN program. After completing bridge courses, students complete the curriculum of the MSN program. They must complete the advanced nursing core courses plus the specialty courses for their chosen MSN track. At the end of the program, students are awarded their MSN, but they do not receive a BSN.

MSN Completion

Another program offered by Frontier is a MSN completion program for graduates of a Community-based Nurse-Midwifery Education Program (CNEP) who have not earned a master’s degree. Graduates of this program must be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board, the ADNM Certification Council, or the ACNM. In addition, applicants must have completed a statistics course within the past 10 years.

WHCNP for CNEP Graduates

Another option offered at Frontier is the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHCNP) Post-Master’s Certificate for CNEP graduates. Students in the program complete supervised clinical experience in women’s health care and primary health care. Sixty hours of primary care and 120 hours of women’s health care supervised clinical experience are part of the program for graduates from Class 30 and higher. Those who graduated prior to this must take Advanced Clinical Practicum in Women’s Health Care which requires 90 hours of primary care and 90 hours of women’s healthcare clinical experience. Applicants must be a CNEP graduate and must have a Master’s or higher degree in nursing. Those with a master’s degree in public health are also considered for admission.

Post-Master’s Completion

These programs are for those who have already completed a MSN.


A total of 36 didactic credits and 15 clinical credits are required which total 51 credits to complete this program. There are 15 credits required as prerequisites before students begin the core courses needed for this program. At its completion, a certificate is awarded and students take the national exam for certification.

Family Nurse Practitioner

A certificate program for RNs who have already completed their MSN is available at the university. There are 16 credits required for prerequisite courses that must be completed before beginning the core courses for this program. At the completion of 26 didactic credits and 15 clinical credits, students are awarded a certificate and take the national exam for certification.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

This is another choice of certificate programs for RNs with their MSN who want to focus on an advanced nursing concentration. The Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner course requires 18 credits in prerequisite courses. When they are completed, the program consists of 20 didactic credits and 15 credits for a total of 35 additional credits. Students receive a certificate after finishing the program and take the national certification exam as well.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Frontier Nursing University is designed for family nurse practitioners, women’s health nurse practitioners, and certified nurse-midwives who want more education in their specialty. They will be able to improve the delivery of primary care to their patients. A special focus is on rural communities and those who are underserved. Admission requirements are that the RN must have completed a MSN or MN and is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, or Nurse-Midwife. A total of 33 credits must be completed, including 360 contact hours. Students complete courses online in about five 11-week terms. At the end of the program, students are awarded a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Frontier Nursing University
195 School Street,
Hyden, Kentucky 41749
(606) 672-2312

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