How to Choose a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Degree

Nursing professionals who decide to become nurse practitioners have an outstanding career path before them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that there will be a 35% increase in job demand for all nurse practitioners by 2024. Nurses who choose the most in-demand specialities may find that demand exceeds even that very high rate.

One of the subspecialties in the nurse practitioner field that is seeing especially strong demand is pediatrics. Pediatric nurse practitioners or PNPs work with children to help them to overcome both acute and chronic illnesses.

PNPs may work with pediatricians and other healthcare workers in teams in healthcare facilities that range from hospitals to doctors’ offices. Most PNPs serve as primary healthcare providers for children, and perform these duties:

  • Well child examinations and child immunizations
  • Routine screenings to check child development progress
  • Diagnosing and treating of major childhood diseases
  • Teaching and counseling children and patients on health related matters
  • Caring for children with acute and chronic illnesses
  • Doing advanced physical examinations
  • Ordering and interpreting lab tests

Pediatric nurse practitioners also may work in various pediatric subspecialties, such as neurology, cardiology, dermatology, orthopedics, gastroenterology and infectious diseases.

Some PNPs are authorized in the state where they practice to prescribe drugs, as well. They will typically prescribe prescription drugs when they are the primary care provider for a child.

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

To become a PNP, you must be an experienced registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and have at least a few years of nursing experience. Most RNs must earn their Master of Science in Nursing with a speciality in pediatrics. Or, you can earn a general MSN degree and obtain a post-master’s certificate in pediatrics.

The classes that you will take in your MSN pediatrics program will vary but often include courses such as:

  • Physical assessment for children and adults
  • Child growth and development
  • Diagnosing and maintaining problem behaviors and child illnesses
  • Ethics
  • Health promotion
  • Laboratory skills
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology

After you have completed your MSN and/or your post-masters pediatric certificate program, most nurses will earn their national certification to practice as a PNP. Your state boards of nursing will probably require you to be nationally certified to get your NP license. National certification may be obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. But candidates for the PNP license will need to check with their state board of nursing to determine which is required in that state.


When you are researching which NP program to attend, it is recommended that the program be properly accredited by a respected nursing education accreditation agency. Accreditation assures you that the program and school has been rigorously reviewed, and that nursing students receive the highest quality education.

The gold standard accreditation in the nursing profession is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE. This agency is operated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. CCNE has been recognized by the Department of Education as a national accreditation agency for schools of nursing.

CCNE-accredited nursing programs have met the highest standards of quality. The programs below are accredited by the CCNE.

Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

There are many Master of Science in Nursing programs today that are mostly offered online. Most courses may be taken in the privacy of your own home and on your own time. Taking an online MSN program also allows you to choose from programs that are not necessarily located in your area. Remember however that you will be required to complete several hundred clinical hours at a local clinical site. That site needs to be approved by your program supervisor.

Our recommended PNP programs are as follows:

Duke University

The pediatric nurse practitioner program at Duke University will prepare you to meet the complex needs of children and infants with serious clinical conditions in many acute settings. The emphasis in this online MSN program is on culturally sensitive and family centered care.

Students will receive one-on-one experience in clinical practice in many healthcare settings, including pediatric ICUs, pediatric surgical wards, inpatient units, step down units, ERs and pediatric transport.

The program at Duke University is the only PNP program in the state of North Carolina. It is a seven semester program that allows students to continue to work as nurses while earning their advanced degree.

The coursework in this two year, CCNE-accredited program includes growth and development, health assessment, physical examinations, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and management of illnesses in children ranging from acute to chronic to critical.

One of the unique aspects of Duke’s program is its state of the art medical simulation center that allows students to gain skills and confidence in practicing advanced nursing procedures.


  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: Durham, North Carolina; online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MSN in pediatrics
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, fellowships, internal and external scholarships
  • Other Information: Students can qualify for military tuition discounts and tuition assistance

University of South Alabama

The online PNP program will prepare you to provide cutting edge, advanced nursing care to children in hospitals, primary care settings, health departments, and urban and rural health clinics.

All of the pediatric nurse practitioner courses are taught online, but there is a mandatory orientation session that you are required to attend on campus in the first semester in your first practicum course. This is a two day orientation session that will allow you to meet both your professors and fellow students. There are also various clinical skills workshops that are held during this orientation.

Regarding clinical practice, your faculty advisor will assist you in locating a clinical site in your region that meets program requirements. But it is the responsibility of the student primarily to secure an appropriate clinical position to meet all program requirements. Students who are not able to find an appropriate clinical site in their area may have to travel to another area to do so.


  • University Type: Non-Profit
  • Campus Location: Mobile, Alabama; online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MSN in pediatrics
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, fellowships, internal and external scholarships
  • Other Information: Students can qualify for military tuition discounts and tuition assistance

Drexel University

The MSN program in pediatric primary care at Drexel University has been designed to prepare nurses to succeed in the role of clinician, educator, researcher and leader in pediatric nursing care in all healthcare settings.

This PNP program stresses evidence-based practice, collaboration among experienced healthcare professionals and using new technology to improve patient outcomes. After graduation, you will have the knowledge and skills to meet the physiological and social needs of your patients ranging from infancy to adolescence.

All students are required to be present at two on campus intensive sessions where you will engage in simulated clinical learning experiences. These intensive sessions will provide you with direct mentoring and guidance from faculty and ample opportunities to network with your peers.


  • University Type: Non-profit
  • Campus Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Degrees Offered: MSN in pediatrics
  • GMAT/GRE Required: No
  • Financial Aid Offered: Grants, loans, work study, internal and external scholarships; reduced partner and military rates are available
  • Other Information: Must have a minimum 3.0 GPA from your BSN program to be considered for admission


Earning your Master of Science in Nursing to become a pediatric nurse practitioner is a strong career move that will provide you with many high-paying job opportunities for years to come.