In-Person versus Online Nursing Practitioner (NP) School: Choosing The Best Learning Method For You

There are two learning methods to decide on pursuing a Nurse Practitioner school. First and foremost, you must assess whether you learn best online or in-person. The most significant distinction between the programs is flexibility. However, no matter what type of method you choose in pursuing the nursing practitioner career, it will take 3-4 years to earn the Nursing Practitioner degree. 

What is a Nursing Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) with a specialized education that allows them to provide higher levels of care and carry out tasks that registered nurses are not allowed or licensed to do. They often focus on pediatrics, mental health, geriatrics. With their degree, nurse practitioners train independently. 

In becoming a nurse practitioner, one must first get a primary nursing education by attaining a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing or an associate in science degree. After doing so, they must enroll in a graduate program to get a master’s degree in nursing. A master’s degree in nursing is required to obtain a license as a nurse practitioner. Being admitted into a master’s degree in nursing demands clinical experiences, reference letters, and a specialty declaration.

Comparing in-person and online Nursing Practitioner school

An online Nursing Practitioner School does not mean that all the work is 100% online. Taking an online NP degree typically means working on theory-based coursework in online classes while fulfilling in-person clinical requirements at a nearby accredited local clinic. This method is usually a good selection for those who are busy with their kids, work, or people who live far from the NP School. 

While technology and online classes are emerging, learning online is not for everyone. Many students still prefer traditional learning because students vary in their learning methods. Online courses lack the nonverbal communication that visual learners need. Some students feel more comfortable being taught in person and not over a screen. 

Pros of being an online Nursing Practitioner student:

  • Nurses in most remote locations can access the highest-degree programs within the country and flexibility in completing coursework.
  • Students have greater access to different nursing specializations now with technology. Students can also choose programs based on ranking and possible research opportunities helping students have options for how and when to learn. It also benefits DNP students who live in remote locations far from the school. 

Completing a DNP program online helps to pursue the degree anywhere while still having the flexibility to maintain life responsibilities that prevent students from attending in-person school. It also allows people to complete the modules at their own pace. 

Pros of being an in-person Nursing Practitioner student:

  • Opportunity to interact with patients and full clinical experiences
  • Attending nursing practitioner school in-person has students interact with patients, collect and analyze their clinical data supporting their practice readiness. Students can demonstrate their mastery of skills and knowledge in person, which is harder for online learning.


1. Receiving feedback from the professors

Online: Clarifications and questions to the professors can take several days to get a response. Consulting a classmate may be confusing if done online. Doing homework must be done earlier in the case of clarifications and questions about the topic.

In-person: Students can reach out to their professors in real-time. Asking questions face to face avoids students from scrambling to find the answers right before the deadline. 

2. Focusing on tasks

Online: Having responsibilities inside the home while studying can be exhausting. It is difficult to focus because of distractions making it tempting to postpone studying or finishing an assignment. 

In-person: It is easier to stay focused and motivated with a set schedule of classes. Feeling isolated because of lack of interaction can cause students to lose focus and to remain disciplined. 

3. Face-to-face interaction 

Online: Limited interactions with classmates may be a problem. In the case of being an extrovert, having no social interaction can be a significant drawback. Group studying can also be limited in the case of online classes. 

In-person: Being around peers in school makes a lot of difference in challenging the self to stay focused and disciplined. Doing group projects is also easier when in-person than online.

4. Time and money

Online: Offsetting expenses over the period is one of the benefits of pursuing online DNP programs. They will only travel to campus a few times for orientations or clinical experiences. Students can have the opportunity to study without relocating, which causes a lot of money. Access to different online textbooks is also less expensive than hardbound books. 

In-person: Staying focused and avoiding procrastination many times can save a lot of time. Being disciplined and with instant help from peers can help finish coursework early.


Many schools offer online classes, that does not mean that the institution is ready for a genuinely online learning experience. Although this may be true, nursing students need to be persistent in choosing a Nursing Practitioner School. Regardless of the different learning methods, both online and in-person nursing practitioner degrees, provide an enriching learning experience. Students vary in learning methods, so it depends on which program and learning methods are best for their needs.


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