A Look at The 3 Paths to The Bradley University Online MSN-FNP

Of the many mid-career moves available to registered nurses, adding new skills to take on the role of family nurse practitioner is perhaps one of the smartest. These advanced practice nursing professionals are in high demand as a result of the growing primary care physician shortage. The profession is expected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By that time, thousands more advanced practice nurses will have joined the 140,000 current FNPs, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners found.

RNs pursuing FNP roles would be wise to upgrade their skills. For most, this involves earning a master’s degree, something almost 98 percent of certified full-time FNPs have, according to data from the AANP published in 2018. How can aspiring FNPs gain this critical credential and take advantage of the growing marketplace for these advanced practice nurses?

At Bradley University, RNs enter the online Family Nurse Practitioner program via three primary educational pathways:

  • Associate of Science in Nursing to MSN-FNP
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing to MSN-FNP
  • Master of Science in Nursing to FNP Certificate


The two-year associate degree has long been the entry-level educational credential for nursing professionals. Today, more than one-third of RNs cite the ADN as their highest degree, according to research from Nursing.org. This is similar to the proportion of ADN-prepared nurses who enter the online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University.

Bradley offers these aspiring FNPs the ability to gain the advanced knowledge they need to carve out new careers through an entirely web-based educational experience that unfolds over 74 credit hours.

Prospective students must have an ADN from a nursing program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, along with a valid nursing license and a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Once accepted, students navigate a diverse curriculum that addresses large-scale health care issues while also covering the detail of modern clinical practices. Aspiring FNPs on this track take a variety of courses, including Community Health Nursing Theory, Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care and Evidence-Based Practice. In addition to the core courses, students with ADN degrees must complete four required courses:

  • NUR 300: Conceptual Basis for Professional Nursing Services
  • NUR 303: Research in Nursing
  • NUR 404: Community Health Nursing Theory
  • NUR 407: RN-MSN Practicum

The instructional track closes with a research capstone and five preceptor-supervised practicums. Graduates leave the program with a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner degree.


More than 44 percent of working nurses say a bachelor’s is their highest degree, according to the Nursing.org report. This makes BSN-holding RNs the single largest group in the modern nursing workforce. Of course, in the era of the FNP, many of these health care professionals are going back to school to bolster the credentials.

Those in the online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to embrace advanced practice activities through a 65-credit instructional track. The curriculum mirrors that of the ADN to MSN-FNP track, with the exception of the four prerequisite courses. The enrollment requirements are the same as well.

MSN to FNP Certificate

Master of Science in Nursing degree holders constitute nearly 20 percent of the nursing population, according to Nursing.org. At Bradley University, these highly educated medical professionals have a unique path to FNP certification. RNs with MSNs can pursue the online Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate.

Applicants must have valid a MSN from an ACEN-, CCNE*- or NLNAC-accredited nursing program, a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and an active nursing license. Once accepted, students complete 44 credit hours of coursework covering numerous critical concepts, including Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Health Assessment. More importantly, the curriculum addresses FNP-related clinical work in great detail. MSN-holders pursuing an online Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate at Bradley University are required to complete five separate courses touching on health care delivery strategies for patient populations regularly encountered in primary care settings, including:

  • Adults
  • Women
  • Children
  • The elderly

Each of these FNP-centric courses pairs with a required clinical practicum. MSN holders who complete the curriculum, a process that normally takes six semesters, take away the competencies needed to pursue FNP certification.

Finding The Right Path

Service delivery problems continue to arise in today’s health care environment, an arena characterized by ever-changing regulatory and clinical developments. The growing primary care physician shortage is a symptom of this turbulent domain and an issue that health care entities are working to address. FNPs are key to many of the innovative solutions proposed to mitigate the physician shortage’s impact.

This state of affairs offers an immense opportunity for RNs yearning to make a more significant mark in the health care space. Bradley University can help nurses at all education levels gain the tools they need to take on FNP roles, increase their earning potential and better serve patients.

The online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner degree program and Family Nurse Practitioner certificate program at Bradley are the ideal instructional tracks for mid-career medical professionals who wish to expand their clinical skills as FNPs.

*The master’s degree program in Nursing, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate program, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Bradley University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

American Association of Nurse Practitioners