With the primary care physician shortage there is an increasing demand for NPs. NPs are trained versatile providers that are equipped to fill the primary care gap. This helps increase preventative care measure and quality of care for patients. NPs also offer a cost effect way to fill this gap for various healthcare organizations. This is increasing the increasing demand for NPs due to preventative healthcare coverage and physician shortages in primary care. Depending on the state NPs can either practice completely independently, with a physician present in the practice, or with a direct supervising physician agreement. In Massachusetts (MA) NPs are required to have a supervising physician agreement.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about being an NP in MA. We will cover types of programs available, costs of education, online programs, steps required to become a licensed NP in the state, and potential places of employment.

8 Steps to Become an NP in Massachusetts

  1. Earn Your RN – Step one is to earn your RN degree. You can do this by completing an ADN or BSN program through a CCNE or ACEN accredited university. This accreditation is more likely to help you get into a master’s or doctorate program.
  2. Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Passing the NCLEX is necessary. By studying and taking plenty of our NCLEX-Tests, exam day will be a breeze.
  3. Earn Your MSN and/or DNP – In your MSN or DNP NP program you will complete programs in nursing theory, management of acute andd chronic illnesses, research, pharmacology, ethics, leadership preparation and more.
  4. Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – If earning your MSN you will need to complete at minimum 500 hands on supervised clinical hours (the exact number depends on your population foci). If you are going for your DNP this number jumps to 1000.
  5. Become Board Certified – After completing your program and the required clinical hours you will apply to take the national certification exam for your population. These exams are done through the certifying body for your population foci. For example Women’s Health NPs take their certification exam through the NCC.
  6. Obtain Licensure – Applying for licensure in MA requires that you be licensed as an RN in the state first. Then you must provide proof of your graduate level coursework through transcript submission, national certification, and meet the “good moral character” requirements. The you pay $150 and submit the application online.
  7. Obtain you NPI number, Mass controlled substance, and DEA Number – Once you are licensed you apply for your NPI number which is free. Then you use this to apply for your Mass Controlled Substances Registration (MCSR) and then your DEA registration so that you can prescribe medications.
  8. Maintain Active Certification Licensure – maintaining active licensure requires paying a renewal fee every 2 years and maintaining certification through your certifying body. Both your RN and NP licenses must stay up to date.

Types of NP Program Available in MA

Massachusetts offers 11 NP programs at the MSN level and 14 DNP programs.

Traditional MSN Programs

In short, traditional MSN programs are master’s in nursing programs for people who are already nurses. If you have your RN and/or BSN you can complete a standard 2 year MSN or an RN to MSN which is relatively similar in length.

With MA being the healthcare hub of the country your options are virtually unlimited. Here are a couple of examples of programs MA has to offer and their basic entry requirements:

  • Boston College: 2 year traditional MSN program of 45 credits that requires 500 to 600 clinical hours depending on population focus. The traditional course requires a BSN and MA RN licensure and an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of a B or better.
  • Northeastern University: 2 year traditional MSN program of 47 credits and 720 clinical hours depending on the specialty. This course requires that you have your BSN and be a licensed RN in the state. A minimum undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 is required.

Direct Entry MSN Programs

Direct entry 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. Some direct entry NP program examples for MA are:

  • Simmons College: You need to have a bachelors degree with a 3.0 GPA or better and must have taken the GRE exam. You will also need to have completed certain pre-requisite courses such as anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry. Then you fill out your application and submit all the required materials. This program takes 3 years to complete and will prepare you to be an RN and NP.
  • Boston College: You should have at least a 3.0 GPA and have taken the GRE exam. Boston College requires that you have completed pre-requisite courses such as developmental psychology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, pathophysiology and more. Your application will include your transcripts from your bachelors as well as recommendation letters and a fee. The Boston College program takes just over 2 years full-time to complete.

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. Here are some DNP programs offered in MA:

  • MGH Institute of Health Professionals: This program is designed for busy nurses. Much of the work and classes can be completed online and it is a 34 credit program. The MGH program requires you to already have your masters which is why is it is shorter than others. You must also have completed master’s level statistics. You must already be an advanced practice nurse and will need to submit prior transcripts and 2 letters of recommendation with your application. You do not need to take the GRE. After approximately a year and a half you will have earned your DNP.
  • Northeastern University: Northeastern also offers a post-master’s DNP. You will complete 1000 hours of supervised clinical experience while in this program. You must have had 2 years of nursing experience and a GPA of 3.5 in your masters program. Admissions also requires you to submit an application with 3 letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a fee.

NP Program Costs

Program costs will vary depending on what type of NP program you do and where you go to school. Whether you attend a private or public university will also play a role. Review ways to reduce cost. Discuss cost differences between different types of NP programs

Offer comparative examples of state vs private schools

To help offset the cost of becoming an NP you can apply for scholarships and/or loan forgiveness programs. Here are a few examples.

Scholarships outside of the school you are applying to are not as common for NP programs as they are for BSN programs, but our Nursing School and Scholarship guide can help you figure out additional ways to offset costs.

Online NP Programs

Online NP programs do exist, and with many already busy professionals pursuing higher education these online options can be a lifesaver. These offer an online platform to attend classes, complete coursework, do quizzes and even partake in class discussions. Of course any clinical experiences will have to be done in person, but your school can help you arrange these in a convenient location. MGH Institute of Health Professions DNP program is largely online. Most of the coursework and classes are held using online modules and twice a semester weekend intensives are held on the Boston campus.

NP Salaries in State

Massachusetts is one of the best paying states for NPs. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics NPs earn a median of $103, 880 in the US. MA is the fourth highest paying state with an average NP salary of $120,140. Boston is one of the largest healthcare centers in the country with many hospitals and healthcare environments to choose from. The bigger private hospitals may pay more, while community health centers may make you eligible for loan forgiveness. MA also has one of the highest concentrations of NPs in the country, showing that it is a profession that is respected and sought after in the state.

Potential Employers for NP in Massachusetts

As previously mentioned MA, specifically the city of Boston is booming with healthcare industries looking to hire qualified NPs like you. Here are some examples:

Schools Offering Nurse Practitioner Programs in Massachusetts

Programs at a Glance


  • AANP Accredited: 8

Offered As

  • Online: 6
  • Campus: 10
  • Hybrid: 29

Degree Type

  • Post-Baccalaureate Doctorate of Nursing: 4
  • Master's: 21
  • Post Master's: 16
  • Post-Master's Doctorate of Nursing: 4


Salem State University

  • 352 Lafayette St, Salem, MA - 1970
  • 978-542-6000

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

  • 285 Old Westport Rd, North Dartmouth, MA - 02747-2300
  • 508-999-8000

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Regis College

  • 235 Wellesley St, Weston, MA - 02493-1571
  • 781-768-7000

Family Nurse Practitioner

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

Northeastern University

  • 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA - 02115-5005
  • 617-373-2000

Family Nurse Practitioner

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

  • 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA - 01854-5104
  • 978-934-4000

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

  • 374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA - 1003
  • 413-545-0111

Family Nurse Practitioner

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

University of Massachusetts-Boston

  • 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA - 02125-3393
  • 617-287-5000

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Boston College

  • 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA - 2467
  • 617-552-8000

Family Nurse Practitioner

Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

NP Resources in Massachusetts


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