Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2024

AKA: NP License in PA, APRN Licensure

by Staff

Updated: February 13th, 2024

Pennsylvania is one of the many states that has predicted a severe nursing shortage is coming soon. To combat this potentially huge problem, many hospitals are offering nurses incentives like tuition reimbursement if they wish to further their education.

That’s why now is the ideal time to complete the steps required to become a nurse practitioner (NP). The role will be highly sought by healthcare employers who need ample staff to educate and treat patients. The number of available jobs is only expected to increase, ensuring plenty of job security for prospective NPs.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in Pennsylvania

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

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?  Skip to the next section

The licensure procedure for nurse practitioners (NPs) requires that applicants be licensed to practice as nurses in Pennsylvania. Prospective NPs can apply for an RN license by examination or by endorsement.

Both routes require applicants to complete 3 hours of training by the Department of Human Services (DHS) on child abuse recognition and reporting. Upon completion, the provider will electronically submit your contact information and date of attendance to the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing.

Candidates will also have to complete a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC). It can be done by the state police or another approved state agency. In-state applicants will have a CHRC request automatically submitted to the state police after submitting the RN application. You’ll then be contacted with instructions on how to complete the check.

Out-of-state applicants can submit a CHRC from their current state and an FBI Identity History Summary Check.

RN by Examination

If you recently graduated from a board-approved basic nursing program or an equivalent, this is the application route for you.

Those who graduated from programs located in Pennsylvania can complete their application online for $95. Since in-state programs send verification of completion to the Board, you won’t need to request a copy of your official transcript. Please note that while an associate degree is a minimum requirement to take the exam, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to receive NP licensure.

An original copy of your transcript must be sent to the Board directly from your program for out-of-state candidates. Out-of-state applicants are required to pay a $115 application fee.

Foreign-educated applicants need to have their credentials evaluated by the CGFNS or any other credential-evaluating body. They will evaluate your education for equivalence with what is obtainable in Pennsylvania. An English proficiency requirement will also have to be met. You can find a list of Board-approved exams here.

All applicants taking the RN by examination route must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You are required to register for the test with Pearson Vue for $200 before beginning the application. This step gives the Board time to communicate to the test vendors regarding your eligibility to test.

You will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) valid for 90 days if eligible. If you fail the NCLEX, you will need to re-register for it and take it no earlier than 45 days from the last attempt. You will receive a diagnostic report to help you prepare for the next attempt.

It can take up to 30 days for your application to be processed after taking the exam. You can check the status and verify the license once it’s issued through the online portal. 

RN by Endorsement

If you have a single-state RN license to practice in another state in the U.S., this is the application route for you. You will need to submit a completed form with the $120 application fee and appropriate supporting documents.

If you completed an out-of-state basic nursing program, you would need to request a copy of your transcripts containing your date of graduation and the degree obtained to be sent to the Board from your program.

The Board requires the verification of your current valid RN license from your state of residence. This can be obtained via the Nursys platform for $30. If your Board is not a member of Nursys, you must contact them directly for their licensure verification procedure and fees.

It is expected that applicants who apply via this route have passed the NCLEX-RN or an equivalent test and fulfilled all other requirements for obtaining an RN license by examination in their home state.

You can apply for a temporary practice permit while waiting for your application to process. A separate fee of $70 will be added for payment.

Advanced Education Requirement

Nurse practitioners are expected to operate at a higher professional level than RNs and therefore are required to have a higher level of education and training. A post-graduate nursing education, such as a master’s degree or higher, is the requirement for licensure.

The program has to be a board-approved one, accredited by agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

Graduates of the program should be awarded a master’s degree that prepares them for practice in an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) role. NP education must include coursework in the graduate nursing core, advanced nursing practice core, and specialty content with a concentration on a specific focus group. 

If your role requires you to prescribe and dispense medication, you must complete 45 contact hours of advanced pharmacology before you can apply for prescriptive authority. All NP preparatory programs must also include the advanced clinical experience of up to 500 hours for each population focus.

National Certification

After obtaining an advanced degree from a nurse practitioner preparatory program, a prospective NP must be certified by a national certifying agency recognized by the Board for a specific role and population focus. To be certified, you must meet the educational requirements for such by passing a certification examination. Here are the certifying agencies recognized by the Board for certifying NPs:

Getting Licensed to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner in Pennsylvania

Applicants are to submit applications for licensure online with supporting documents and the prescribed fees. Complete all sections once you log in and upload the correct documents to ensure the process isn’t delayed.

Applicants are expected to hold a valid RN license to practice within the state (single state or NLC). The Board requires all applicants to complete a Board-approved NP preparatory program. After completing the program, you’ll have to request a copy of your transcript be sent directly to the Board. Only official copies of transcripts containing your date of graduation and the degree awarded are acceptable.

All applicants are also required to hold a national certification in a given specialty area and population focus.

If you hold an NP license in another state, you can apply for licensure in Pennsylvania by endorsement. The Board will need verification of that license. You can find this information on Nursys or by contacting the Board in your issuing state directly.

The application for prescriptive authority is completed online and has a fee of $50. You can find the requirements and application instructions here.

You will receive an email notification of licensure once it has been granted.