The Best Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP) Programs in 2024

The Best Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP) Programs in 2024

best ONP programs

In the ever-evolving realm of healthcare, specializing as an oncology nurse practitioner (ONP) reflects a profound dedication to advancing cancer care.
Similar to any educational pursuit, the critical decision of selecting the most suitable program cannot be overstated. Consequently, we have extensively researched the premier Oncology Nurse Practitioner programs available in 2024. Explore these programs to gain insights into their distinctive offerings, accompanied by comprehensive information about the role, duties, and anticipated salary prospects post-graduation.

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Best Oncology Nurse Practitioner Programs

The institutions listed below have been carefully chosen using the methodology of online nursing writings, which involves surveying our readers to discern their priorities when selecting programs. Key factors considered include graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, tuition fees, mode of learning, duration, and admission rates across prominent nursing schools in the U.S.

1. Columbia University School of Nursing – New York, NY

Columbia University’s School of Nursing provides a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a Sub-Specialty in Oncology. The curriculum encompasses courses such as Principles and Practice of Oncology, Cancer Symptom Management, and Practicum for Cancer Symptom Management. Upon completion of the Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner Program, students can attain certification through ANCC or NCBPNP/N. Additionally, they have the option to pursue Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) certification from the ONCC, fulfilling the required clinical hours. The program spans approximately 30 months, with an estimated tuition cost of around $72,776, excluding additional fees.

2. Duke University – Durham, NC

Duke University offers a Professional Certificate in Oncology Specialty, an optional supplement to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The curriculum covers concepts of cancer prevention, disease treatment, cancer epidemiology, and pathophysiology. Students also acquire knowledge in symptom management, palliative care for cancer patients, and survivorship. Completion of the program requires 10 credit hours and 224 clinic hours in various oncology settings and clinics. The MSN program at Duke costs $14,525 per semester.

3. Azusa Pacific University – Azusa, CA

Azusa Pacific University presents a Certificate in Oncology Nurse Practitioner. Tailored for licensed NPs aiming to deliver high-quality care to cancer patients and their families throughout the illness span, the predoctoral fellowship program has admission requirements that include a Master’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution and one year of experience in oncology nursing. The program comprises a total of 24 units, with a cost per credit of $1,160, excluding additional fees.

4. Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, IL

Loyola University offers a BSN to DNP program with an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP specializing in oncology. Additionally, they provide a Certificate in Oncology Nursing for advanced practice nurses and BSN graduates seeking to enhance their skills in this domain. The online certificate spans nine semester hours, while the AGPC NP with Oncology specialty necessitates 72 semester hours. The tuition fee per credit hour is $1,130.

5. University of South Florida – Tampa, FL

This program offers a BSN to DNP with a concentration in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and a subspecialty in Oncology. The program aims to equip graduates for an advanced practice role in providing care for adults across the lifespan in various acute and ambulatory care settings. Students can opt for full-time or part-time completion, with requirements of 35 credit hours and a tuition fee of $347.91 per credit.

6. University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania offers an MSN in Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner program. The Oncology Specialty is also available as a Certificate Program for Master’s-prepared nurses and Advanced Practice Providers (APPs). The program prepares students to offer comprehensive care to adults with cancer, covering prevention, detection, and treatment. This hybrid program mandates three courses, blending online and on-campus visits. Each Fall and Spring semester, students are obliged to participate in two on-campus days at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. The total tuition for a full-time program is $56,262, while a part-time program costs $6,392.

7. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, NC

The University of North Carolina provides an MSN with a concentration in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and a subspecialty in Oncology. Designed to prepare students for comprehensive care across the lifespan, the program involves completing five clinical courses covering advanced diagnostic reasoning, managing common adult health problems, and handling issues. The tuition fee for a full-time resident student is approximately $9,667, while the part-time cost is $5,329.

8. University of California – San Francisco, CA

The University of California, San Francisco offers a DNP with a concentration in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and a subspecialty in Oncology (AG CNS-Oncology). Geared toward preparing students for comprehensive care across the lifespan and implementing best practices post-graduation, the 12-quarter hybrid program integrates in-person and virtual didactic courses with practical training at clinical sites across the San Francisco Bay Area. In-state tuition costs around $42,199.

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ONP Job Description

An ONP is an APRN who specializes in treating patients with cancer, operating in diverse healthcare settings such as hospitals, oncology clinics, and private practices.


Key responsibilities and duties of an ONP include:

  1. Patient Assessment: Conducting thorough health assessments, including obtaining medical histories and performing physical examinations. Interpretation of diagnostic tests like blood tests, imaging studies, and biopsies is also part of the role.
  2. Diagnosis and Treatment: Diagnosing health conditions and formulating treatment plans. Management of the care of patients undergoing cancer treatment, encompassing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, as well as handling the side effects and complications of these treatments.
  3. Prescribing Medication: Prescribing medication, including chemotherapy drugs, pain medication, and drugs to manage side effects of cancer treatment.
  4. Patient Education: Providing education to patients and their families about cancer, treatment options, potential side effects, and the overall care process. Offering counseling and emotional support is also part of the role.
  5. Coordination of Care: Coordinating care with a team of healthcare professionals, including physicians, oncologists, nurses, and social workers. Referring patients to other healthcare services as necessary, such as physical therapy, nutrition counseling, and mental health services.
  6. Research and Advocacy: Involvement in cancer research, studying new treatments, and improving patient care. Advocacy for cancer patients, working to enhance access to care and the quality of care, is also a potential aspect.
  7. Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care: Provision of palliative care to manage symptoms and enhance the quality of life for patients with advanced cancer. Offering end-of-life care and support to patients and their families during this challenging time.

It is essential to recognize that the scope of practice for an ONP can vary depending on the laws and regulations of the state. Some states permit ONPs to practice independently, while others require them to work under the supervision of a physician or oncologist.

ONP Salary Expectations

The earnings of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner (ONP) can vary significantly based on factors such as geographic location, years of experience, practice setting, and education level, including certification. Other influential factors may include the demand for specialized skills, facilities, and the local cost of living.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nurse Practitioners (NPs) earn an average salary of $124,680 annually or $59.94 per hour.

The top-paying states include:

California: $158,130
New Jersey: $143,250
Massachusetts: $138,700
Oregon: $136,250
Nevada: $136,230
The top three metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels are:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City: $170,320
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: $149,110
  3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin: $126,020

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide distinctions among various Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialties. However, according to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for ONPs is $131,543 or $63 per hour. It also reports a diverse range of Oncology Nurse Practitioner salaries across the United States, ranging from $39,500 to $218,000 annually. The majority falls between $110,000 (25th percentile) and $148,500 (75th percentile), while the top 10% (90th percentile) earns $180,000 annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of education is required to become an ONP?

To become an ONP, one must first obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become an RN. After gaining some experience, they can then pursue an MSN or a DNP with a specialization in oncology. If the MSN was not specialized in NP, then candidates may require a certification as an NP with an oncology specialty. After graduation, they must pass a national certification exam.

Can ONPs prescribe medication?

ONPs can prescribe medication, including chemotherapy drugs, pain medication, and medication to manage the side effects of cancer treatment. However, the specific regulations regarding prescription authority can vary by state.

What are the benefits of becoming an ONP?

Becoming an ONP can be a gratifying career choice. ONPs have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of patients with cancer. They also enjoy a high degree of autonomy in their practice, and the field offers excellent job prospects and competitive salaries.

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