Alternate Certification Program (ACP)

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This program is designed to allow ARNPs that do not meet current certification examination eligibility to participate in a program that provides an alternate eligibility pathway.  This pathway encompasses validation of educational preparation, NP licensure, compliance with certain practice requirements and prescriptive authority.  It requires participation in several educational assessments that must be successfully completed.  The final step is to take the current certification exam.  The eligibility and program requirements are listed below.


Two groups of individuals are eligible for the Alternate Certification Program

  • Those once certified by NCC as a WHNP or NNP but allowed it to lapsed, are no longer qualified to sit for the exam and cannot meet the current requirement that graduation from the NP graduate program has occurred within the last eight years or
  • Those never certified by NCC but graduated from a program that NCC recognized at the time of their graduation and are beyond the 8 years from graduation rule.
Other requirements include:
  • Have a masters, post-masters or doctoral degree in the role and population foci
  • Are 8 years past graduation from the above program
  • Have worked at least 2080 hours in the NNP or WHNP role in the past 3 years
  • Have an advanced practice license for the state you are employed
  • Have current prescriptive authority in the state you are employed

Eligibility Documentation

  • A notarized letter from your employer verifying that you have worked at least 2080 hours in the APRN role and population foci related to the certification you are applying for, within the last 3 years.  Letter must include dates worked (dates of employment) and responsibilities of your role
  • A copy of your current unencumbered APRN license (31 states provide a license, the others provide either a certificate to practice, authorization to practice, document of recognition or registry) as an APRN in the role and population foci
  • An official transcript of your graduate degree in the role and population foci
  • A copy of your diploma
  • Proof of previous certification by NCC in the APRN role (NNP/WHNP) or demonstration of graduation from a program once approved by NCC
  • A copy of prescriptive authority in the APRN role in the state of employment 


  • The program cost is $2,500 and, if you are determined eligible, will not be refunded once submitted
  • This fee covers the cost of eligibility verification, all study materials for the Physical Assessment and Pathophysiology components, the Continuing Competency Assessment, all CE modules and CE module tests and the first certification examination.  
  • Before paying please make sure you meet all eligibility requirements.  There are no refunds for any reason once you submit payment.
  • If you meet eligibility requirements you will be given access to the NCC Alternate Certification Program.
  • If you are determined to be ineligible, $2,125 will be returned to you.  An administrative fee of $375.00 will be retained by NCC.

Program Components

The program will include the following:

Part 1- Educational Assessment

  • Physical Assessment study materials and ACP test   
  • Pathophysiology study materials and ACP test
  • Completion of the Continuing Competency Assessment (CCA):  This is a timed 125 question assessment of knowledge of the core competencies areas of the NP role that are aligned with the test outline for the NP certification exam.  This must be taken in one sitting on a timed basis.  135 minutes are allotted to take the CCA assessment.  This is the same assessment any certified NP takes as part of certification maintenance and develops an education plan that must be completed by earning the stated CE.  This is required for those in the alternate certification program as well. 
  • Completion of specific CE modules based on the education plan from the CCA .  These modules are preselected by NCC for each core competency in which your education plan assigns CE. You may need to take modules in none, some or all core competency areas.  Each module has assigned reading materials and you must achieve 70% on the module test to successfully complete the module. Although you will have access to all the modules, only those required will have an exam link. 

Part 2 - Taking the Certification Exam

If the above is completed successfully within 6 months of being approved, you will be provided with a 90-day testing window to take the NP Certification Exam.

**Participation in or successful completion of the Alternate Certification Program does not guarantee that you will pass the certification exam.

**There are no refunds for this program.  Please review all eligibility criteria carefully to insure you meet them.

** You must take the first examination within the 90-day window provided.  There are no change requests. If you fail the exam or do not schedule or take the first examination you will have to pay for a second examination.


Once you have paid for the program and your eligibility is confirmed you will be provided with on-line access to all study materials and tests for both the Physical Assessment and Pathophysiology components.  You will be allowed two attempts to pass these tests before moving on to the Continued Competency Assessment.  You will be provided with all CE needed to meet the educational plan that is individualized to meet your learning needs.  You will have two opportunities to pass the tests/modules in each of the core competency areas in your education plan. If you fail any ACP test or module test twice during this program, you will no longer be eligible to continue the program. 

If you successfully complete Part 1 of the Alternate Certification Program, you will be given a 90-day window to take the NCC exam (NNP or WHNP). You have six months to complete the program and receive the eligibility letter for the certification. If you fail the exam or fail to take the examination, you will be allowed to retake it one time for an **additional** cost of $325. You must wait for 90-days from the date of the first unsuccessful attempt to apply to take it a second time.  You must apply for the second attempt within 6 months of the first unsuccessful attempt or missed testing window, which includes the 90-day wait time.   If you fail the exam a second time you will no longer be eligible for NCC certification without returning to school for additional education in the role and population foci.

You have six months to complete the program. There are no extensions so make sure you have the time to commit to the program. ** There are no change requests for eligibility windows and there are no refunds for the program for any reason.**

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