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
- Earn Your RN – Step one is to earn your RN degree. You can do this by completing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (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.
- Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain your Massachusetts RN licensure. By studying and taking plenty of our practice NCLEX Exams, exam day will be far less stressful.
- Earn Your MSN and/or DNP – In your Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) NP program you will complete programs in nursing theory, management of acute and chronic illnesses, research, pharmacology, ethics, leadership preparation and more.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
BSN to MSN
If you are getting your MSN after having your BSN in the state of Massachussets you can expect to spend 2 years earning your degree and becoming an 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. In general BSN to MSN programs are about 50 credits and require anywhere from 500 to 800 hours of supervised clinical experience during the program. The variations are due to individual university requirements and your population focus. To be eligible for entry you will need to have a 3.0 GPA or the equivalent of a B average. You must also be licensed as an RN in Massachusetts.
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. There are a handful of these programs in MA as well. Like BSN to MSN programs you need to have 3.0 GPA (B average) or better. You also must have your bachelor’s degree. Most programs require that you have taken certain pre-requisites such as anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and more. Direct entry programs take between 2 and 3 years to complete. After the program you will be an RN and an NP.
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 nursing education, nursing administration, or if you are a clinical nurse specialist. You must be an RN in the state of Massachusetts 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. In general MSN to NP certificate programs take about 1 year and require 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 MA 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. As a part of your DNP program 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 MA. All programs will require you to have your MA 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.
Massachusetts NP Programs Offered by Degree Level
|MA Nurse Practitioner Programs||Master's||BSN to DNP||MSN to DNP||Post Master's NP Certificate|
|Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||2||0||0||1|
|Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||5||2||2||3|
|Adult Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||1||0||0||0|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||9||3||3||6|
|Neonatal Nurse Practitioner||1||0||0||1|
|Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||1||0||0||1|
|Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||3||0||0||3|
|Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||3||1||1||3|
|Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||2||0||0||1|
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
- University of Massachusetts: $750 per credit or $60,000 for the whole DNP program.
- Boston College: $1,404 per credit or $ $63,180 for the whole traditional master’s in nursing program.
To help offset the cost of becoming an NP you can apply for scholarships and/or loan forgiveness programs. Here are a few examples.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Individual Hospital Repayment Programs
- Perkins Loan Cancellation
- Military Programs
- Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness
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.
Massachusetts NP Programs Offered as Campus / Online / Hybrid
|MA Nurse Practitioner Programs||Hybrid||Campus||Online|
|Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||3||0||0|
|Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||8||2||2|
|Adult Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||1||0||0|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||12||5||4|
|Neonatal Nurse Practitioner||2||0||0|
|Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner||2||0||0|
|Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner||4||2||0|
|Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner||4||2||2|
|Women's Health Nurse Practitioner||1||2||0|
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.
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:
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Hospital with multiple locations and affiliated community health centers.
- Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH): Teaching hospital that is the 4th best hospital in the country according to the U.S. News World Report.
- Boston Medical Center: Public hospital with one of the top trauma units in the country.
- Cambridge Health Alliance: Organization of community health facilities in the Cambridge area.
- Boston Healthcare for the Homeless: Provide comprehensive healthcare to a population of people in great need.
- Boston University Health Services: Like many of the other universities in the area BU has a student health clinic that hires NPs.
- Massachusetts Correctional Institution: Located in Framingham this prison employees NPs to care for the inmate population.
Nurse Practitioner Programs in Massachusetts
Programs at a Glance
- Online: 8
- Campus: 13
- Hybrid: 37
- BSN to DNP: 6
- Master's: 27
- Post Master's NP Certificate: 19
- MSN to DNP: 6
- American International College
- Boston College
- College of Our Lady of the Elms
- Endicott College
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Northeastern University
- Regis College
- Salem State University
- Simmons College
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst
- University of Massachusetts-Boston
- University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
- University of Massachusetts-Lowell