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: 
Common areas of study in a PNP degree program include:
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:
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. 
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:
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.
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. 
The mean wage for an APRN is estimated to be somewhere between $73,238-$119,410 according to Payscale  and $101,260 according to the BLS  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.  
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: 
Depending on their interests and skills, PNPs can also access a range of specialist job opportunities, including research, oncology, infectious diseases, and orthopedics.
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:
Although they vary slightly among schools, typical core courses include the following competencies:
In this competency, students consider topics such as nursing ethics and philosophy, and application of research.
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.
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.
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.
Students continue to acquire the skills needed for team management and other competencies which are desirable in a senior member of the nursing team.
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. 
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).
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. 
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. 
In general, clinical practice experience affords the following benefits:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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: 
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: 
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. 
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.
There are a number of different organizations that can provide assistance with the cost of a PNP. These include:   
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:
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. 
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.  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:
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. 
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:
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. 
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. 
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.  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. 
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).  
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. 
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. 
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.