Eight Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Colorado
- Earn an RN Degree First – All Nurse Practitioners (NPs) must first become RNs. Earning your RN through an accredited ADN or BSN program is your first step. If you earn your RN from school accredited by the ACEN or CCNE, your credentials are more likely to be accepted by your NP program. Here is listing of the best ranked nursing schools in Colorado.
- Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Our practice tests and NCLEX-RN exam study guide are just the tools you need to help you prepare for test day.
- Earn Your MSN or DNP – To become an NP you can either get your masters or doctorate. Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs take about 2 years while Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs take about 4 years. You will choose a population foci such as gerontology, family, neonatal when you start your program:
- Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – If you earn your MSN you will need to between 500-600 clinical hours depending on your population focus. To earn your DNP you need 1000 hours.
- Become Board Certified – Your certifying body to become an NP depends on your population foci:
- National Certification Corporation: For Women’s health and neonatal NPs.
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners: Family and adult-gerontology NPs.
- The American Association of Critical Care Nurses: Adult-gerontology NPs.
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center: Adult-gerontology, family, psychiatric mental health, and pediatric NPs.
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board: Pediatric NPs.
- Obtain Licensure – Licensure is done on a state-by-state basis. Contact the Colorado State Board of Nursing for more information.
- Obtain a DEA Number – DEA registration is required in order to prescribe medication in Colorado. Once you are licensed, apply for your NPI number which is free. Read and follow the Colorado Board of Nursing laws for Controlled Substances.
Then apply for your DEA registration so that you can prescribe medications.
- Maintain Active Certification and Licensure – Your certifying body and BON in Colorado will tell you what is required to maintain certification and licensure. Usually this requires a certain amount of continuing education (CE) credits as well as clinical practice. You may also have to fill out an application and pay a fee every 2-3 years.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Colorado
How much time it takes to become an NP in Colorado really depends on your background. Depending on the path you take it will be 2 to 4 years of education before you can become a Certified Nurse Practitioner. If you’re already an RN it can take as little as 2 years by earning your MSN. If you are not an RN some direct entry programs are as short as 2 years as well. If you already have your MSN but are not an NP you can do a DNP program in 2-3 years and become and NP while also earning your doctorate.
Here are examples of how long it will take you to become an Nurse Practitioner in Colorado depending on what degree you are starting with:
How Many Years to Become an NP
|Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)||2 years|
|Bachelor’s in a non-nursing field||2 – 3 years|
Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)
|1 – 2 years|
Types of NP Programs Available in Colorado
BSN to MSN
If you are getting your MSN after having your BSN in the state of Colorado, you can expect to spend 2 years earning your degree to become NP. If you have your RN, but not your BSN, you can complete a program that is similar in length and will give you an MSN. General requirements to enter and complete your BSN to MSN program in Colorado include:
- A 3.0 GPA or the equivalent of a B average
- Must be licensed as an RN in Colorado
- Complete about 50 credits of classroom work
- Complete 500 to 800 hours of supervised clinical experience depending upon the University
Direct Entry MSN Programs
Direct Entry MSN programs or accelerated MSN programs give people who are not nurses but have a bachelors degree in something else the opportunity pursue nursing. These programs prepare you to be an NP without having you repeat non-nursing college courses that you have already taken. There are a handful of these programs in Colorado. Direct entry programs take between 2 and 3 years to complete. After the program you will be an RN and an NP. General requirements to enter and to complete your accelerated MSN program in Colorado include:
- A 3.0 GPA or the equivalent of a B average
- Completion of pre-requisites such as anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and more
- Complete about ## credits of classroom work
- Complete 500 to 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience depending upon the University
MSN to NP Certificate
If you already have your MSN but are not an NP you can complete a certificate program to train you to be an NP. This may be the right path for you if you have your MSN in something like nursing education, nursing administration, or if you are a clinical nurse specialist. In general MSN to NP certificate programs take about one year and to enter and to complete your NP to Certificate program requires the following:
- You must be an RN in Colorado to be eligible to apply for these programs
- Typically you are not required to take the GRE again for these programs
- You will have to submit an application with your resume, references, past transcripts and more
- Complete 500 to 700 clinical hours depending on the school and your population focus
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
DNP programs are the doctorate level programs that prepare nurses to be NPs. In these programs you will be trained to provide nursing care at the expert level and will also be able to teach in most universities. DNP programs are becoming more popular as the entry pathway into becoming an NP. Program length varies from 3 to 5 years depending on whether or not you already have your masters. The eligibility requirements vary a little between the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs.
BSN to DNP: These programs are for bachelor’s level trained nurses.
- You must be a licensed Colorado nurse and have had a GPA of at least 3.0 (B average) or better.
- The BSN to DNP programs will take about 5 years depending on the university.
- Your application will need to include GRE scores, letters of recommendation, previous transcripts, and more.
- You will need to complete 1000 hours of supervised clinical experiences.
- Some programs will require you to have nursing experience.
MSN to DNP: These programs take into account that you are already a nurse trained at the master’s level. Depending on the program you may be required to already be an NP in Colorado.
- All programs will require you to have your Colorado RN license.
- These programs will take between 2 and 3 years to complete.
- Like the BSN to DNP programs you need to submit an application with letters of recommendations, past transcripts, and more.
- You do not have to take the GRE however, as it is assumed that you already had to take it for your MSN.
- At the end of your DNP education you will not only be an NP but you will also have completed the highest level of clinical nursing education available.
Where Do Nurse Practitioner Typically Work?
As an NP the world is at your fingertips. You can work in a variety of settings and will have the flexibility throughout your career to change it up. Here are some examples of where you may work.
- Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP: Cardiology, neurology, emergency departments, intensive care units, medical surgical units, military settings, and more.
- Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP: primary care clinics, nursing homes, correctional facilities, college health, occupational health, military settings, and more.
- Family NP: Primary care clinics, community health, urgent care, college health, occupational health, military settings, dermatology, shelters, and more.
- Neonatal NP: neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), emergency departments, labor and delivery units, and more.
- Pediatric Acute Care NP: Emergency departments, specialty units in children’s hospitals, urgent care.
- Pediatric Primary Care NP: community health centers, schools, children’s hospitals, private practices.
- Psychiatric Mental Health NP: outpatient therapy, inpatient psychiatric units, partial hospitalization units, nursing homes, and more.
- Women’s Health NP: Community health centers, women’s prisons, private practices, urogynecology practices, adolescent health, and more.
|Prescriptive Authority||Board of Nursing||Legislation Information|
|Full privileges after 1,000 hours with “provisional prescriptive authority”||Colorado Board of Nursing||Colorado Nursing Laws|
Campus and Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in Colorado
|Regis University-Choice||Campus, Hybrid, Online||Denver, CO|
|University of Northern Colorado||Campus, Hybrid, Online||Greeley, CO|
|Colorado Mesa University – Traditional||Campus, Hybrid, Online||Grand Junction, CO|
|University of Colorado at Colorado Springs – Traditional||Campus, Online||Colorado Springs, CO|
NP Program Costs in Colorado
Nurse practitioner programs vary in price depending on the school; however, they usually fall within the following ranges:
• RN to MSN nurse practitioner program: $22,000 – $235,000
• BSN to MSN nurse practitioner program: $19,000 – $1750,000
• Direct entry MSN nurse practitioner program: $23,000 – $220,000
• BSN to DNP nurse practitioner program: $27,000 – $255,000
• MSN to DNP nurse practitioner program: $18,000 – $170,000
• Post-master’s certification nurse practitioner program: $9,800 – $84,000
Online Nurse Practitioner Schools
Online NP Programs as main stream,
Requirements for Entrance
Are campus visits required?
Are online programs the same as campus?
Other Important Topics
NP Salaries in Colorado
CareerOneStop projects that demand for Nurse Practitioners in Colorado will grow 30 percent in the next 10 years. On average graduates from Colorado accredited nurse practitioner schools earn more than $100,000 annually.
Here are the average Salaries for NP specialties across the country:
|Nurse Practitioner Title|
Average Annual NP Salary
|Adult Gerontology Acute Care|
|Adult Gerontology Primary Care||$85, 163|
|Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Psychiatric Mental Health|
|Pediatric Acute Care||$91, 906|
|Pediatric Primary Care||$86, 916|
|Women’s Health||$90, 981|
Potential NP Employers in Colorado
Nurse Practitioner Schools in Colorado
- Online: 9
- Campus: 3
- Hybrid: 11
- BSN to DNP: 6
- Master's: 6
- Post Master's NP Certificate: 5
- MSN to DNP: 6
Colorado Organizations for Nurse Practitioners
- Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses
- Colorado – The American Association of Nurse Practitioners
National Organizations for Nurse Practitioners
Since it is such a popular career path there are multiple resources and organizations available for you to utilize as you gather more information:
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners
- Society of Nurses in Advanced Practice
- Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education
- Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
- International Council of Nursing Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nursing Network
- Doctors of Nursing Practice
- Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
- National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
- Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
- Advanced Practitioner Society for Hematology and Oncology
- National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners
- American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners