Massachusetts Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2024

AKA: NP License in MA, CNP, APRN Licensure

by Staff

Updated: February 13th, 2024

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) have post graduate education that empowers them with the competencies of advanced assessment, diagnosis, treatment, referrals, and consultations.

Certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) fall under the APRN umbrella. These healthcare professionals provide services to individuals to promote health, prevent disease, and educate. You can find CNPs in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing facilities, ambulatory care, publish health clinics, and much more.

With over 5,000 nurse vacancies in the state, Massachusetts is in dire need of trained professionals to fill the void.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in Massachusetts

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

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?  Skip to the next section

The Board of Registration in Nursing is the licensing agency for Massachusetts nurses. Massachusetts is not a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, and all prospective certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) must hold a valid registered nurse (RN) license issued by the state. There are two avenues to take toward licensure: RN by Examination and RN by Reciprocity.

RN by Examination

The RN by Exam route is for recent graduates of Board-approved nursing programs who have never been licensed to practice as RNs in Massachusetts or any other US state.

Although an associate degree in nursing makes you eligible to apply for RN licensure, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nursing because you’re on the path to becoming a CNP.

Applicants are expected to be of Good Moral Character (GMC) as outlined by Massachusetts state law. If you answer yes to any question related to criminal history or disciplinary action, you will need to provide specific documentation.

Under the GMC law, applicants will have to submit to a background check performed by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. It is a name-based criminal record check, so you will not have to get fingerprinted. It takes up to 10 business days for the Board to receive the results.

You also have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to be eligible for an RN license.

You can register for the exam online at Pearson Vue for $200. You will need to register for the exam after completing the RN application, as this allows the Board to notify the exam vendors of your eligibility to test.

After they have been notified, Pearson Vue will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email. If you fail the first attempt, you will be allowed to retake the test after 45 days. However, you will have to re-register and pay the exam fees again.

Applicants from Canada will also be required to submit proof of graduation from a Board-approved nursing program in Canada and verification of nurse licensure by a Canadian province or territory. Both forms can be found here.

The application process is completed online for a fee of $230. If you graduated from a program in Massachusetts, the transcript containing your date of graduation and the type of degree awarded would automatically be sent to the Board by your awarding institution.

However, if you were educated outside Massachusetts, you will need to request that your transcript be sent from your awarding institution to the Board. The Board needs to verify that the education you received in another state rises to the standards required for licensing in Massachusetts.

Foreign-trained nurses, including those taught in Canada, must have their credentials evaluated by the CGFNS. The report of this evaluation must be made available to the Board. An alternative is the take the CGFNS certification examination and make the results available to the board. Those who were not trained in English must take and pass any of the Board-approved English proficiency tests.

The official exam results are sent out approximately six weeks afterward. Once the Board reviews all the relevant information, you will be issued a license. Check the Massachusetts Health Professions License Verification website, and if you see your license number, you can begin practicing as a nurse in the state. You can also print a copy of the license from the Board’s site.

If you have questions about your application, call Professional Credential Services at (877) 887-9727.

RN by Endorsement

If licensed in another state, you can apply online for nursing licensure in Massachusetts by reciprocity. You also need to verify each license you have. You can use the Nursys license verification system to gather the information. The license verification fee is $30. Please note that only credit card payments are accepted.

If the state you were originally licensed in does not participate in Nursys, you will have to contact that state’s nursing Board to find out the verification process and whether fees are involved. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Completion of a Board-approved nursing program
  • Good Moral Character according to MA state law
  • Passing grade on the NCLEX-RN
  • Nursing Licensure in a different state or the District of Columbia
  • Valid social security number (SSN)

You may need to submit more documentation depending on your answers to the GMC questions.

Applicants educated outside Massachusetts or the country are required to have their credentials evaluated by the CGFNS, as was covered in the last section. Those trained in a language other than English must also pass Board-approved English proficiency tests.

RN licenses expire every two years on your birthday. All applicants are required to be of good standing; therefore, all operational sanctions, past convictions, and felonies must be declared.

Massachusetts does not issue temporary licenses. But, when there’s a healthcare emergency, the state has a process to expedite reciprocal license requests to ensure the public has adequate medical coverage.

Advanced Education Requirement

Prospective nurse practitioners must have completed a graduate-level CNP preparatory program accredited by one of the national nursing accrediting bodies.

The program length is a minimum of one year, and it has to award at least a master’s degree upon completion. It must also include coursework and clinical components serving specific population foci.

The coursework should include pharmacotherapy, pathophysiology, and physical assessment. The pharmacology contact hours must be at least 24 hours more than required for a basic nursing degree.

You must also complete the certification process in at least one clinical category.

National Certification

Once you have completed your advanced nursing practice education, you will need to seek national certification from a Board-approved certifying agency. These agencies certify individuals on an examination basis. They organize exams for prospective certification holders who have completed an approved program as they have been delegated the task of determining if one’s NP education is sufficient.

It is safer to contact the national agency that certifies professionals in your chosen specialty area before choosing and after completing the program. That will help you understand their educational requirements and the procedure for certification. Here are the approved credentialing agencies for CNPs in Massachusetts:

Getting Licensed to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner in Massachusetts

The board welcomes applications from RNs who have completed a post-basic nursing program preparing one for the role of a CNP serving one or more population foci. The application process is completed online for a fee of $150.

You are required to provide proof of your valid RN license to practice in Massachusetts, which can be done using the Nursys platform for $30.

Proof of your advanced practice education is also required in the form of the final transcript sent from your awarding institution to the board. The transcript must contain your date of graduation and the type of degree awarded. In addition, you have to submit proof of your coursework. The courses should include pathophysiology, advanced physical assessment, and pharmacotherapeutics.

National certification is another important requirement for CNP licensure. You’ll have to provide proof of current certification by a Board-approved national certification agency. You may request that the agency send such proof to the Board. You can view the Professional Credential Services website for instructions and a checklist of what you need to complete the application process.

All applicants for a CNP license to practice in Massachusetts must be of good moral character as defined by Massachusetts state law.

For those looking to gain prescriptive authority, the following applies:

You can apply online or call the Department of Public Health Bureau of Health Professions Licensure Drug Control Program at (617) 973-0949 and request an application. The DEA can be contacted at (888) 272-5174. For more information on the guidelines and requirements for prescriptive authority, click here.