Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

A Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNP) is advanced practice nurse who has obtained a master’s degree and advanced clinical training in pediatric care.  Pediatric nurse practitioners perform many of the same tasks as pediatricians providing preventive and emergency care to children, as well as educating families with regard to nutrition and wellness.

Admission Requirements for Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Admission requirements vary greatly among specific programs. In general, a bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing education or by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission with a minimum GPA of 3.0, along with a current and unrestricted RN license is required. Some schools may also require scores from the Graduate Record examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies test (MAT), along with official college transcripts, and letters of recommendation from former instructors or current supervisors, along with an essay of career goals.

Accreditation of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

One of the most important factors when selecting a master’s program is that the school be accredited by one of two agencies:  the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both agencies have been recognized by the U.S. Department as the official accreditation bodies for nursing education in the United States.  Accreditation attests to the quality of education you will receive in terms of program offerings, faculty background, student resources, and clinical experiences.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Curriculum

Full time master’s degree programs will entail eighteen to twenty four months of study. However, many master level students are working nurses who fit class work into their work schedules, which then extends the time necessary to complete the degree.

Most pediatric nurse programs include core coursework in statistics, research methodology, health assessment and treatment planning, community health and public nursing, health policy, health economics, medical ethics, health education, nursing informatics, extended clinical practice, as well as leadership and management in nursing.

Sample Curriculum Pediatric Nursing*

Course name
Physical and Psychological Assessment of the Child


Advanced Physiology


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing I


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing I: Clinical


Clinical Seminar in Pediatric Primary Care I


Advanced Pediatric and Neonatal Pharmacology


Clinical Seminar in Pediatric Primary Care II


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing II


Clinical Practicum: Pediatric Primary Care Nursing II


Foundations of Research


Incorporating Genetics into Advanced Nursing Practice


Emergency Pediatric Nursing


Evaluation and Application of Research


Interpersonal Violence and Abuse: Prevention, Assessment and Intervention for Health Care Professionals


Management and Advanced Practice Nursing


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing III: Clinical


Clinical Seminar in Pediatric Primary Care III


Health and Social Policy: The Context for Practice and Research


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing III


Pediatric Primary Care Nursing III  


Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition costs vary among schools and depend on whether you attend an in-state or out-of-state school or private college. Online schools also tend to have lower tuition costs due to reduced overhead.

If you attend a state school, tuition will be about $12,000 for in-state residents and approximately $15,000 for out-of-state students. In contrast, private colleges and universities will cost about $60,000. However various financial aid programs in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans are available to all students. In addition, working nurses may be eligible for tuition assistance from their employers.  When calculating full costs of attendance, remember to account for books, supplies (e.g. uniforms), lab fees, commuting expenses, as well as Internet usage.

Requirements for Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs 

All nurse practitioners are registered nurses, first and foremost. To become a registered nurse and enter a master’s program specializing in pediatric nursing, nurses must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and have passed their NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse. At that point, they can enroll in a master’s program intended to graduate advanced practice registered nurses, and specialize in pediatrics.

Education, licensure, and continuing education requirements are all handled by a state’s Board of Nursing. All Boards of Nursing are slightly different, depending on a state’s needs, so the exact requirements and scope of practice for a pediatric nurse practitioner may vary from state to state. Some may require a master’s degree, some may require a doctorate, and some may not allow an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) to act as primary caregiver without the assistance of a physician.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Certifications

Graduates of classroom-based or online pediatric nurse practitioner programs can become certified pediatric nurses. Generally, this requires that they have a few years’ worth of experience in the field, so recent graduates may not be eligible for certification. Though Boards of Nursing handle all things nursing related, certification for pediatric nurses is actually performed through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. In some states, the Board of Nursing may have determined that this certification is a requirement for practice. In others, it may be optional. Even in areas where pediatric nursing certification isn’t a necessity, it usually still pays to become certified through the PNCB- nurses with this certification are usually more marketable to prospective employers than nurses without it.

Obtaining certification requires pediatric nurse practitioners to have graduated from a Masters, Post-Master’s or Doctorate level pediatric nurse practitioner degree program and pass the PNP certification exam.  This exam is based entirely on education (i.e., graduation from an accredited PNP program) and not on any field experience. In most states, a PNP graduate could not work (and therefore get any PNP experience) without certification first. Maintaining certification usually requires renewal fees, continuing education programs, and occasionally renewal exams.

Choosing the Right Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

Not all online pediatric nurse practitioner programs are created equal. Many of them may come from schools that are not approved by your state’s Board of Nursing, and thus won’t make you eligible to practice in your state. Online education is dicey, since there are a lot of programs that attempt to represent themselves as Board-approved, when they aren’t. In situations like that, the attitude of the Board of Nursing is generally that it’s the student’s responsibility to research nursing programs before enrollment. To avoid graduating from a program with a useless degree, you need to take several precautions when it comes to choosing which one to enroll in.

To begin with, make sure that your chosen program is not international. Most states don’t recognize international nursing degree programs. Secondly, don’t take the program’s word for it if they say that they are Board-approved. Your Board of Nursing will be able to give you a list of approved nursing programs in your state, so you can pick from institutions that will definitely allow you to take your licensure examinations and practice after graduation. If you aren’t sure if certain online pediatric nurse practitioner programs are approved, ask them. The Board of Nursing is a nurse’s best resource when it comes to dealing with educational issues.

Online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs may be convenient for nursing students, but it can be hard to find one that’s actually Board-approved. Nonetheless, these programs are worth seeking out for nurses that want to specialize in working with children, since they can give you the opportunity to handle your own pediatrics practice as an APRN.

Top Accredited Programs for Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Training in the U.S.A

University of Pennsylvania

Yale University

University of Washington

University of Pittsburgh

Duke University

University of Colorado

Rush University

University of Colorado – Denver

Columbia University

University of California-San Francisco

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Emory University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Iowa

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

University of Chicago – Illinois

University of Maryland-Baltimore

Vanderbilt University

Ohio State University