The demand for nurses is growing, and the demand for competent and highly-trained nurses is even higher. If you have the means, now might be a good time to consider attending one of the best DNP programs.
Unlike a Ph.D, a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) is a practice doctorate which will allow you to advance in the medical field by practicing research clinically. It’s the highest degree in nursing that someone can receive. Although this degree can take three to five years to complete and is incredibly challenging, it comes with higher pay, advanced leadership roles, and the skills to have a positive impact on your community.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for nurse practitioners is projected to grow an incredible 31%! Compare that to the national job growth average of 7% and you’re looking at a guaranteed job for the rest of your life.
Texas Women’s University offers a DNP program for advanced practice nurses wanting to further their education. Classes are offered in a mix of online and in-class work with projects due throughout. Students must have an active RN license to apply.
The University of Michigan in Flint prepares students to become highly-skilled nurse practitioners. This university is unique because it allows students with bachelor degrees outside the nursing field to acquire a DNP. The program is taken online and can take 3-6 years.
The University of Kansas in Kansas City offers a DNP program that includes BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP pathways. Students can choose from seven specialties to enable them to focus on their interests. Students will be trained to qualify for leadership positions in healthcare and educational settings.
South Dakota State University offers an excellent DNP program for students who have a BSN or an MSN degree. To be admitted, students must have an active RN license and at least 1500 hours of experience with proof provided by an employer. Students can choose from four specialties. Classes are mainly face-to-face and some courses are hybrid.
The University of Missouri offers one of the best DNP programs with five concentrations to specialize in. Online students only have to pay in-state tuition no matter where they are. This degree can be obtained between two and six years depending on past education and whether you’re studying full-time or part-time.
Nebraska Methodist College offers four different pathways to obtain a DNP: two BSN to DNP, APRN to DNP, and MS to DNP. Courses can be taken completely online and are comprised of 5-week blocks. The electives can be chosen from rural, educational, or community health planning.
The University of South Florida offers a BSN to DNP and an MSN to DNP degrees. Students wanting to apply must have a BSN degree, a 3.0 GPA or higher of past coursework, a current RN license, and at least a 3-credit statistics class with a B or higher.
The University of Missouri in Kansas City offers both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs. Classes are taught in a hybrid format, and residency is required every summer. While coursework is mainly online, scheduled chat times are required, typically taking place on Thursdays and Fridays planned well in advance.
The University of Texas in Arlington offers a DNP to students who have an MSN degree. Students will be taught how to integrate evidence-based research and theory into every day practice to improve the healthcare system. Students with a 3.5 GPA or higher can be granted unconditional admittance.
Georgia Southern University offers an eight-semester DNP program that is flexible for busy students with full-time careers. The program is offered fully online except for a week-long intensive that is required annually at the campus every semester.
The University of Maryland in Baltimore is designed to prepare elite students to become leaders in the healthcare industry. To apply, students must have a BSN undergraduate and a 3.0 GPA in their past coursework.
Florida Atlantic University offers a DNP program that trains students to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities. The BSN to DNP degree can only be taken full-time and the MSN to DNP degree can only be taken part-time. A limited number of applicants will be accepted.
New Mexico State University offers two pathways to their DNP program and offers two specialties for students who haven’t chosen one. Due to demand, students applying to the BSN to DNP program can only study full-time while MSN students have the opportunity to study part-time.
The University of Buffalo offers BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs. To apply, students must have a BSN, a 3.0 GPA, an active RN license, and at least one full year of nursing experience. Students will be taught critical thinking and independent decision making in clinical practice, leadership, consultation, and education.
The University of Colorado in Colorado Springs offers both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP degrees. Both tracks can be taken completely online without campus visits and require a BSN and a 3.3 GPA to be admitted.
The University of Nebraska has a DNP program for students seeking a terminal degree. Their focus is to advance clinical expertise and improve quality in the healthcare field throughout the country. Students obtaining their DNP with only a bachelor degree will choose a clinical specialty.
Washington State University offers a DNP program for licensed RNs with a BSN or MSN degree. The school offers three specialty track options and classes are delivered in a hybrid format. Students can study part-time or full-time and the degree will take three to five years to complete.
Maryville University offers a DNP for ambitious students who want to increase their education and elevate their goals. The program can be taken completely online with no GMAT or GRE required for admission. The degree can be obtained between 20 and 36 months.
The University of Cincinnati offers BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs. They offer eight different specialties to choose from and offer information sessions for prospective students to attend for more information.
The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a DNP program that provides students a wide variety of opportunities to broaden their knowledge and improve their existing skills. Graduates will be taught to synthesize practice, research, and theory to improve patient care.
The University of Minnesota offers two DNP programs that are mostly online with a couple of days required to attend in person. Students get to choose from a whopping eleven concentrations to specialize in with their degree.
The University of Oklahoma offers a DNP degree for RNs to want to advance in their career. To apply, students must have an RN license, an MS in Nursing, and a 3.0 GPA in past coursework. Students are able to study part-time or full-time to accommodate their schedules.
The University of Kentucky offers a DNP program that was the very first in the U.S. They offer both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP and are known for their work in specialties. The program can be completed in three years if taken full-time with courses delivered in a mix of online and in-person.
The University of Utah offers one of the best DNP programs with six specialties available, five of which are offered online. The program prepares nurses for the highest level of practice and graduates will be able to combine research into practice to improve patient care.
The University of Alabama offers an online DNP program that opens every fall. Students in the program are required to find their own clinical site and clinical advisor for practice and work that goes alongside coursework.
The University of Florida offers both a BSN to DNP or an MSN to DNP for all types of students. The degree provides students with advanced practical skills to use in the healthcare environment comparable to other healthcare providers. Florida offers online classes and student-scheduled clinical hours for busy student schedules.
Purdue University offers two pathways to reach a DNP to accommodate all kinds of students. Students will receive 1,000 hours of clinical experience and students with master’s degrees can transfer up to 40 credits from an accredited school.
Gardner-Webb University offers a DNP program only for students with an MS in Nursing. Students will be taught to synthesize research and theory into clinical practice while gaining at least 400 clinical practice hours. Students must have a 3.2 GPA and RN license to apply.
Rutgers University in Newark offers a DNP program that can be hybrid, full-time, or part-time. Rutgers is unique in the fact that students will be provided clinical practice experience in every specialty the school offers instead of having to pick a concentration.
Ohio State University offers a DNP program for students who want to lead in innovative and transformational healthcare environments. All coursework can be done online which allows busy professionals to maintain their working careers.
The University of Iowa offers BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, and Post Grad Certificate programs. Students who haven’t chosen a specialty or are looking to change specialties can choose from eight concentrations.
The University of Pittsburgh offers five different DNP programs: clinical nurse specialist, health systems executive leadership, nurse anesthetist, midwife, or a nurse practitioner with six different concentrations to pick from. Both MSN to DNP and BSN to DNP programs are available to benefit students from differing backgrounds.
The University of Tennessee offers a DNP program that focuses on leadership and developing skills in the workplace. Four concentrations are available to choose from. To be admitted, students must have three letters of reference as well as follow other application requirements.
The University of Colorado in Denver was one of the first colleges in the rocky mountains to have a DNP program. Fourteen states qualify for in-state admission. However, there is no BSN to DNP degree available. The School expects you to already hold an MS in Nursing with a specialty to be admitted.
The University of Texas at Galveston offers a DNP program comprised of 42 credits. The program is taught mostly online with trips to campus for 2-3 days per semester. Their mission is to prepare advanced nurses to lead in the medical field by improving practice in quality healthcare.
The University of Connecticut offers a DNP program that was the first DNP program in Connecticut. The program has two points of entry for BSN and MSN students and students will be able to choose a specialty in their area of interest.
Bradley University offers one of the best DNP program with rigorous coursework, qualified professors and quality curriculum online. Bradley prides itself on its flexibility with part-time and online options for working professionals.
The University of Massachusetts offers an online DNP program and has since been recognized for its excellent online learning programs. The program is completely online with clinical internships taken in the area of your choice.
George Mason University offers a DNP degree with four different concentrations to choose from. To be admitted, students must maintain an RN license. Students will be given the opportunity to have 1,000 hours of clinical practice, and they will complete two practice inquiry projects (PIP).
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers both a BSN to DNP and an MSN to DNP program. Students have the opportunity to choose from five different specialties and the programs are flexible for students wanting to take part-time or full-time studies.
The University of Arizona offers a DNP degree completely online. The program is offered in a part-time or full-time program that takes between 2.5 and 3.5 years. Students will be taught to provide high-quality care to students while assessing how to enhance healthcare through published evidence in the field.
The University of Washington doesn’t offer much information on their DNP program, but they offer information sessions for students interested in applying as well as essay application information for students looking to apply.
The University of Texas offers a DNP program with 45 credit hours in philosophy, science, policy, epidemiology, management, and more. The degree is taught in hybrid form with classes held on campus twice a month with online assignments throughout.
Gonzaga University offers DNP programs for both post-BSN and post-MSN graduates. This program is perfect for recent graduates and students can expect one-on-one care in their education. If you’re taking the post-BSN to DNP program, the program can take approximately seven years to compete. Classes can be taken online with up to fifteen credits available to transfer.
Marquette University offers both a BSN to DNP and an MSN to DNP program with six specialties to choose from. Courses can be in person, hybrid, or online. Students wishing to apply must have a BSN degree, a 3.0 GPA, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a current Wisconsin RN license.
Loyola University offers a DNP program designed to develop skills and knowledge into nurses. Courses are taken primarily online, but students need to come to campus for 2-3 days for seminars and presentations.
Vanderbilt University‘s DNP program is designed to prepare students to incorporate evidence-based research into the complex healthcare system. Vanderbilt offers three different pathways in their DNP program to accommodate all kinds of students.
The University of Virginia offers both a post BSN program and MSN program to obtain a DNP. Both full and part-time options are available and students will obtain more than 1,000 practicum hours. If you already have an MSN degree, the DNP only requires 40 credit hours.
The University of Michigan offers both post-baccalaureate and post-master DNP programs, and students do not have to have work experience as an RN to be admitted. To apply, students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher in past coursework.
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has one of the best DNP programs that does not require work experience as an RN to be admitted. To apply, students must have at least a BSN degree and a 3.0 or higher GPA in past coursework.
The University of San Diego offers both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs. The BSN to DNP program can be completed in three years with full-time study, although part-time study is also available. The MSN to DNP program is approximately 34 credits.
Emory University offers both a BSN to DNP and an MSN to DNP program. Applicants will need an average GPA of 3.5, a resume, and two professional recommendations. Students can choose concentrations to specialize in the nursing practice of their choice.
Yale University offers a DNP program that combines online coursework with in-class lectures to give students the best education possible. It’s perfect for nurses who have major professional experience previous work commitments.
New York University offers three different pathways for their DNP program. Students will be trained to translate evidence-based research into daily clinical practice to improve the healthcare industry and create a positive impact on the world around them.
Rush University offers a DNP program that will train graduates to be leaders with a focus on clinical excellence as well as improving healthcare through published evidence. the degree takes approximately 2.5-3.5 years to complete and offers extensive career opportunities all over the country.
Drexel University offers an online DNP program that is designed to equip students to implement science from researchers into daily clinical practice. 500 clinical hours are required, but you only need to be present at the campus for orientation, Global Immersion during your second year, and to present your DNP project upon graduation.
John Hopkins University offers both an advanced and an executive track for the DNP program. Students who obtain this degree will be trained to translate knowledge into practice. The program is offered in-class and online for ultimate student flexibility.
George Washington University offers a DNP program mostly online with some attendance required for testing. This practice-focused doctorate typically takes three years to complete with several options for different fields of study.
Duke University offers one of the best DNP programs which allows you to pursue your degree without leaving your job. The program will teach students how to assess published evidence, improve systems of care to patients, and make changes to enhance the quality of care in the health field.
Columbia University offers BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs. Whereas some universities offer their degrees mostly online, Columbia University requires students from both programs to complete two semesters in residency in which students will master the Columbia DNP competencies in comprehensive care.
The Medical University of South Carolina offers an online DNP program that focuses on the contemporary aspects of clinical practice and leadership. Upon completion, graduates will have obtained an MSN and a DNP, even if they only had a BSN upon application.
Oregon Health and Science University has three pathways to their DNP program. Students can choose from five concentrations to specialize in alongside learning how to expand their practice and knowledge in depth and breadth.
All schools have been ranked by estimated tuition. Totals come from estimates involving the number of credit hours required and each school’s per-credit-hour cost. Wherever possible, tuition has been reported without the cost of room and board, which is not applicable to many students. State schools have been reported by their out-of-state tuition fees. All numbers are estimates; please contact each school directly for additional information about tuition, fees, and scholarships. See our methodology page for more detail.
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