Degree to NP

Which letters after my name mean I’m an NP?

Nurse practitioners can have an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). With either degree, an NP is able to practice to the full scope that state laws allow. This generally includes working independently to see patients, diagnose, prescribe, manage follow up, interpret labs, and the list goes on. Choosing either program is just fine, since the ability to practice is the same either way.

What are the degree paths I can choose from?

There are many different types of programs for becoming a nurse practitioner, which is great for giving options, but can be overwhelming. Here’s how to start to filter the places where you might want to apply:


Locate where you are in the left column of the chart, and it’ll show you which programs you should target. If you have a BSN, then you’ll want to apply to traditional MSN or DNP programs. There are designed for people who have a background in nursing and have worked as a nurse. If you have your background in an unrelated field (this is not a weakness, by the way!), you’ll want to make sure you’ve fulfilled all the pre-requisite courses and then apply to accelerated programs. In these programs, you’ll first get your registered nurse (RN) license then continue on to your MSN or DNP.

Knowing your target program type will help narrow down your focus to the schools that fit your goals. Good luck searching!