Illinois Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2024

AKA: CNP License, APRN Licensure

by Staff

Updated: February 13th, 2024

Illinois is currently facing a nursing shortage, just like the rest of the nation. The Illinois Nurses Foundation predicts that the state will be short 15,000 nurses by 2025. That means there are thousands of positions to fill for a population that desperately needs the help. 

As a nurse in Illinois, you have access to the state’s many resources, including the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center. The organization is dedicated to producing highly skilled nurses to meet the residents’ health care needs. You’ll be well supported by a network of healthcare professionals who want to see nurses succeed.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in Illinois

Follow the process below to learn how to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN or APN) in IL:

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?  Skip to the next section

A registered nurse (RN) license is the first step in becoming an advanced practice nurse (APN) in Illinois. RN licenses are granted by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

While the state isn’t part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), nurses can obtain a license by two methods: RN by Examination and RN by Endorsement. The NLC is a provision that allows holders of multi-state licenses from member states to practice physically or virtually within the boundaries of state laws in other member states.

As a prospective RN, you’ll need to enroll in a program approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing. You’ll also have to submit fingerprints to have a criminal background check conducted.

RN by Examination

If you’ve never held an RN license in Illinois or any other state and have graduated from a Board-approved nursing education program, then you can apply for RN by Examination.

The minimum requirement for a registered nurse in Illinois is an associate degree in nursing. However, since you intend to transition to a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) in the future, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is more practical.

After graduating from the nursing program, candidates can apply for authorization to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and for a license at the same time.

The application fee is $98 and sent to a third-party agency, Continental Testing Services.

The Board has to authorize you to sit for the national exam, so you’ll need to submit proof of graduation. Request that the nursing program you attended sends the Board your official transcripts. If they’re not available for some reason, ask the program for documentation signed by the Dean to show you’ve graduated.

Submit your fingerprints for the CBC in the 60-day period before application. You can find a list of vendors and further instructions on the IDFPR website.

The Board will review your information and notify Pearson VUE that you are eligible to sit for the exam. Pearson VUE will then send you an authorization to test (ATT) by email. You can then register for the NCLEX-RN on the Pearson VUE website. There is an additional $200 for this exam.

You can schedule the exam online or register by telephone at (866) 496-2539 with the Pearson VUE Candidate Services team.

Foreign graduates are required to have their credentials evaluated by the CGFNS. The report from the evaluation must ascertain if the foreign program is equivalent to Illinois nursing programs, with a curriculum comparable to what is expected for US nursing graduates.

Also, if you were trained in a country where the official language of training is not English, you are required to take an English Language proficiency test such as TOEFL or IELTS.

Passing the examination, paying the required fees, and providing all the required information and supporting documents should lead to a license once your application is processed by the Board. If mailing information, send the documents to:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

RN by Endorsement

You can receive a license by endorsement if you have an active, unencumbered license issued by another state. Candidates for endorsement can receive a temporary license to practice as they wait for the paperwork to be processed.

The standard application fee is $50, but if you’re requesting a temporary license, the fee is $75. The following should also be included with your completed application:

  • Verification of all present and past professional licenses, related or non-related, held in Illinois and any other state. You can pull the verification from the Nursys platform if your licensed state utilizes the service. Otherwise, you will need to contact that state’s Board to send verification.
  • Domestic graduates are required to submit an Education Form (ED-NUR) filled and signed by the Dean or Director of the nursing program from which they graduated.
  • A copy of your sealed official transcripts will need to be sent by the institution to the Board. Foreign graduates are to have their credentials evaluated as described under RN by Examination.
  • Fingerprint information for CBC. Applicants who are not in Illinois can obtain an Illinois State Police (ISP) Fee Applicant Card by contacting the Department at 1-800-560-6420 or emailing
  • Temporary Nursing Permit form (if applicable).

Advanced Education Requirement

As a prospective CNP, you’ll need to complete a graduate-level nurse practitioner program centered on a particular population focus that awards a master’s degree.

The program must be accredited by the Board or an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE). The education should include advanced counseling, patient education, health education, patient advocacy, advanced pharmacology, advanced patient assessment and diagnosis, and other advanced concepts, such as diagnosis and clinical management, relevant to a nurse practitioner’s role.  These programs must have the coursework and clinical components to be considered whole.

National Certification

Following the completion of an accredited graduate-level training program, you must be certified in the specialty area you were trained in. That is done on an examination basis by national agencies specific to the different specialty areas and population foci. You’ll have to meet the academic requirements of the agency applicable to you, and your nurse practitioner education must be of acceptable quality.

To be licensed to practice as a CPN in Illinois, you must have and maintain a valid national certification. That means that if you lose your national certification for any reason, your license to practice as a CPN in Illinois is void. Here are the recognized agencies for the certification of nurse practitioners in Illinois:

Getting Licenses to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner in Illinois

The application process is completed online for a fee of $125. All applicants are expected to have completed a Board-approved postgraduate nurse practitioner program. They should also have a national certification from the appropriate authorizing agency in their specialty. Proof of these credentials is required as supporting documents in the application process.

You are to request that a copy of your official transcript be sent from the institution where you completed the advanced nursing education program. You are also required to provide a copy of your certification verification.

Please note that each applicant for a CPN license in Illinois is expected to hold a valid and unencumbered RN license. You will be required to send in the verification of your current licenses and all other licenses you have ever held in Illinois or any other state.

This verification can be obtained using the Nursys platform, provided your state submits reports to Nursys. If this is not the case, you have to contact the Board of Nursing of the state in question. All applicants are also required to provide their fingerprints for criminal background checks as was spelled out under the “initial RN license” segment.

To prescribe controlled substances, you’ll need prescriptive authority to be granted by the state. Illinois requires you to complete 45 graduate-level contact hours in pharmacology.

Because Illinois is a “Reduced Practice” state, CNPs need to collaborate with physicians for the length of the CNP’s career to provide patient care, including prescription medication. Therefore, you and the physician delegating prescriptive authority have to complete the Notice of Delegated Prescriptive Authority for Controlled Substances (Advanced Practice Nurse) form.