Colorado Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2024

AKA: NP License in CO, APRN Licensure

by Staff

Updated: February 13th, 2024

With the ability to diagnose, treat and prescribe independently, credentialed nurse practitioners in Colorado enjoy autonomy and high salaries while also serving to help lower overall healthcare costs in the state.

High healthcare costs have been a concern for Colorado residents in recent years. A survey that concluded in 2019 found that more than half of those interviewed experienced affordability burdens during the past year and worried about rising costs in the future. 

As a nurse practitioner (NP) in Colorado, you’ll offer reduced-cost treatments and preventative care that lowers patient visits to the hospital. These are just two of the ways residents of the state can have their worries addressed by NPs. 

You must obtain a license to serve as an NP or any other Advanced Practice Registration (APN) profession. Certification is issued by the Colorado Board of Nursing. Follow below to learn how to become a nurse practitioner (NP) in Colorado.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in Colorado

Follow below to learn how to become a nurse practitioner (NP) in Colorado.

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?  Skip to the next section

Prospective nurses need an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before applying for RN licensure. Applicants for single-state licenses can only practice in Colorado. In contrast, those who fulfill the requirements for the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) multi-state license can apply for and receive licensure to practice in member states. There are two ways to obtain an RN license: RN by Examination and RN by Endorsement.

RN by Examination

Take this route if you have never been licensed to practice in the US or have studied abroad.


  • The minimum academic qualification for this license is an associate degree from an accredited nursing program at a Board-approved institution. However, enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program would be best since you are pursuing NP licensure.
  • The licensing examination to be taken is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You should register for this examination at Pearson VUE while applying for your license. That’s because you will only receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) from Pearson VUE by mail or email after the Board has pronounced you eligible to take the exam. 
  • Applicants must have an original copy of their transcripts mailed to the Board by the degree-issuing institution.
  • The application must be completed online by opening an account on the Department of Regulatory Agencies DPO website. You will be required to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $88.

RN by Endorsement

RN by endorsement is the route of choice for holders of a valid RN license in another state that is not a member of the NLC. Being a part of the NLC, Colorado permits holders of multi-state licenses from other NLC member states to practice under state laws. Holders of single-state licenses from member states will be required to apply for a license to practice in Colorado, as the requirements for a multi-state license are quite different. Applicants via this route are required to verify all the licenses they have ever held. That can be done by sending a request to the nursing board of the state of your licensure using the Nursys platform.

All applicants are required to submit a declaration of their primary state of residence using this form. A criminal background check (CBC) is conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and your fingerprints must be captured for the process. The Colorado Applicant Background Services (CABS) program recognizes two vendors for the fingerprint capture process: American BioIdentitiy – Colorado Fingerprinting and IdentoGO Fingerprint Services.

While background checks aren’t necessary for licensing in Colorado, they are required for any employment opportunity, so it’s best to have them already on record. 

You are also required to provide information regarding your nursing education, including having a copy of your transcript sent to the Board if you finished a program in Colorado. Foreign-trained nurses must have their credentials evaluated by the CGFNS.

All application-related payments are nonrefundable and should be completed online with a credit card. Your application will only be processed when all your documents are supplied and the fees have been paid. According to Colorado laws, all applications are valid for up to one year after submission.

Advanced Education

Colorado requires the completion of a graduate-level APN Board-approved program. The program must also be accredited by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). 

The program must academically prepare you to practice as a nurse practitioner serving a particular area of focus. Course requirements include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Advanced assessment
  • Ordering
  • Diagnosing
  • Prescribing
  • Treating
  • Selecting, administering, and dispensing treatment options, including prescription drugs

To qualify for provisional prescriptive authority, you must finish three graduate semester hours in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical assessment. You must also show documentation that a 750-hour mentorship was completed, and the mentoring physician must sign it. Full prescriptive authority requires a total of 1,800 hours of mentorship.

National Certification

Before being licensed to practice as an NP in Colorado, you must be certified by the national agency responsible for certifying APNs in your chosen specialty area. These national certification agencies either conduct examinations for holders of postgraduate degrees in certain specialty areas or provide a standard certification program. 

National certification lends credibility to the quality of education you receive, and state nursing boards use them to verify the quality of your NP training. Each agency sets its requirements for receiving a license and maintaining it. These are the national certification agencies recognized by the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO):

Getting Licensed to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner Within Colorado

Holders of national nurse practitioner certificates in one or more specialty areas can apply for licensure in Colorado based on certification or by endorsement. The application can be completed online. Just follow the checklist to ensure all required information is uploaded for timely processing. 

Applicants who completed their postgraduate programs in a Colorado institution have likely already created an online account and won’t need to make a new one. You will have to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $88 and submit verification of all clinical licenses held, both current and expired. A request for this verification can be sent via the Nursys website.

Holders of multi-state RN licenses from other NLC states can apply for an Advanced Practice Nurse License by endorsement. They will be required to provide a copy of their valid license and social security number (SSN).

All applicants must also: 

  • Declare their primary state of residence using this form.
  • State their population specialty area(s). 
  • Upload National Certification verification
  • Attest to having professional liability insurance

All fees are to be paid with a credit card and are nonrefundable and nontransferable. When all documents are provided, and fees are paid, your license will be processed. Note that the Colorado APRN license does not come with prescription privileges. Hence, you must apply for a Prescriptive Authority (RXN) License.

Applicants for the RXN license must have completed at least 750 hours of prescriptive experience during a mutually structured mentorship program with a physician licensed to practice in Colorado. Holders of prescriptive licenses in other states (compact or not) can also apply for an RXN license with similar requirements. The application is completed online, and the processing fee is $150.

Once all requirements are fulfilled and the Board has received the necessary documentation for approval, you’ll be issued a nurse practitioner license.