Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) Schools in Canada

As the Canadian Nurses Association in collaboration with Canada’s provincial and territorial regulatory bodies work to definitively establish the scope and standards of practice for the advanced practice nursing (APN) roles of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse practitioner (NP) within each province and territory, the educational, experiential, and exam requirements that must be met in order to obtain the authority to practice are also being defined. As it stands, each province and territory’s College of Registered Nursing determines the requirements necessary to take on the expanded practice privileges of advanced practice nursing within each respective jurisdiction. Although considerable differences exist between requirements maintained by provincial and territorial Colleges of Nursing, there are more similarities than differences in terms of level of education and required course content.

Educational Requirements

The established minimum is a post-baccalaureate education through a College of Nursing approved program, typically culminating in a Master of Nursing, Master of Nursing Science, or Master of Nursing Specialty degree or post master’s certificate within the nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist role, and specific to a recognized patient population focus, referred to as a stream of practice. There are currently three NP streams of practice recognized nationally: family/lifespan (all ages), adult, and pediatric, with some jurisdictions also provisioning for the neonatal patient population. Clinical nurse specialists also practice within a particular patient population, which, in addition to those associated with the NP role, includes psychiatric and mental health. The CNS role is often more specifically defined by medical subspecialty and by the contribution clinical nurse specialists make to the further development of evidence-based practice standards and policy through field-based research and leadership.

All College of Nursing approved programs in all jurisdictions will include core content consisting of advanced health assessment and diagnosis, pharmacotherapy/advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology. The practice hour requirement for the experiential component of advanced practice nursing differs between provincial and territorial Colleges of Registered Nursing, as does the requirements for examination and certification. Due to the variance in requirements and registration procedures, RNs interested in moving into advanced practice roles are advised to consult their respective College of Nursing for information on practice hour minimums, as well as examination and certification requirements.

Degrees Conferred

It is advised that those interested in advanced practice nursing consult nursing schools of interest for information specific to degrees conferred so as to determine if course content meets the standards of their respective College of Nursing. Although this is not an exhaustive list, degrees specific to stream of practice and specialty areas for advanced practice nurses offered by Canadian nursing schools include the following:

  • Master of Nursing: Family All Ages Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Post-Master’s Certificate: Family All Ages Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Nursing: Adult Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Post-Master’s Certificate: Adult Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Post-Master’s Certificate: Child Nurse Practitioner Program (includes neonatal specialization)
  • Master of Nursing: Advanced Nursing Practice Program
  • Post-Master’s Diploma: Advanced Nursing Practice Program
  • Master of Nursing Program: Advanced Nursing Practice Stream
  • Master of Nursing Specialty: Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Nursing Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Science of Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Nursing in Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Master of Nursing program (Nurse Practitioner major)
  • Master of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Nursing Science: Family Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Master of Nursing: Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Post Master’s Nurse Practitioner Diploma
  • Master of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Program
  • Combined Master of Science in Nursing/Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program
  • Master of Nursing: Child Nurse Practitioner Program (includes neonatal specialization)

Back to Top

Search & Compare Nursing Programs