The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs of 2022

March 2, 2022 · 5 Min Read

Earn a DNP faster with an online BSN-to-DNP program. Read on to learn more about how these bridge programs work and how to apply.

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The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs of 2022
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With the demand for nurse practitioners growing, more nurses are considering bachelor of science in nursing-to-doctor of nursing practice (BSN-to-DNP) programs. This guide can help you find the right BSN-to-DNP program for your career goals and become familiar with the application process. It also covers online BSN-to-DNP programs and advises you on what to consider if you are looking at this terminal nursing program.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online BSN-to-DNP programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about BSN-to-DNP programs, or go straight to our list of the best online BSN-to-DNP programs.

What Can You Do With a DNP Degree?

The DNP is a terminal degree, the highest degree possible in its field. Nurses with a DNP teach at universities; work as nurse practitioners (NPs), nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse midwives; conduct research; and oversee nursing in healthcare facilities.

Some reasons to enter a BSN-to-DNP program include more professional autonomy and higher levels of responsibility. Candidates with a DNP also have an advantage in applying for the highest paid jobs in nursing. Starting in 2025, nurse anesthetists must have a DNP.

Popular careers for graduates of BSN-to-DNP programs include:

msn Required

Family Nurse Practitioner

The majority of nurse practitioners are family NPs. Family NPs act as primary care providers, diagnose conditions, order tests, and prescribe treatments. The median salary is $107,000, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Salary $107,000*
Job Outlook 45% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Family Nurse Practitioners
msn Required

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and pain relief before, during, and after surgical procedures. They also educate patients on pain management. Nurse anesthetists are the highest paid nurses, earning a median $183,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, giving them a significant return on their BSN-to-DNP investment.
Salary $183,580*
Job Outlook 45% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
msn or dnp Required

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators teach and mentor nurses and other healthcare professionals or students at colleges and universities, within hospitals and health systems, or in other settings. If they are college or university faculty, they may conduct research and publish, as well. The average salary, according to Payscale data from November 2021, is $78,010.
Salary $78,010*
Job Outlook 9% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Educators
*SOURCE: Payscale, BLS, AANP

Featured Online DNP Programs

What to Look For in a BSN-to-DNP Program

Both on-campus and online BSN-to-DNP programs are a major investment of time and money. In addition to cost, consider the curriculum and how it matches your goals, the graduation rate, and how the course format would work for you.

Admission requirements tell you how likely you are to be admitted and the minimum qualifications needed for acceptance, along with how academically rigorous the program is likely to be. The curriculum should match your career goals and interests. While schools use a standardized curriculum to meet accreditation requirements, electives emphasize the school and faculty's specialties and focus. DNP programs require extensive clinical hours, and clinical placements help you build a network. See if the program places students in settings where you would like to work. If you are pursuing your BSN-to-DNP program online, you may want to ask if the school has placed students in your community. Accreditation is a vital consideration. Many employers, including schools, will not consider hiring graduates from an unaccredited program. The school graduation rate, especially combined with certification examination pass rates, indicates how likely you will succeed once admitted. A high graduation and certification pass rate might be one of the best indicators.

Applying to a BSN-to-DNP Program

To apply, you need your BSN transcript and contact information for at least two professional references (teacher or supervisor). You also need to submit an essay or personal statement on why you are pursuing a DNP.

Admission Requirements

BSN-to-DNP programs require a current and unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license, completed application, and the ability to pass a background criminal/legal check. Many require at least 1-3 years of experience as an RN.

Program Length

Most programs last 3-4 years for full-time students. Part-time students can take 7-8 years.

Clinical Requirements

On-campus and online BSN-to-DNP programs generally require a minimum of 1,000 hours.

GPA Requirements

Most BSN-to-DNP programs require a 3.0 or higher.

Why is BSN-to-DNP Program Accreditation Important?

Accreditation status can be an important factor in determining a program's quality. It also can lead to more job opportunities and funding resources. Read on for additional advantages.

  • Accreditation and certification examination pass rates are the best objective measures of a program's quality.
  • Employers prefer graduates of accredited programs. Many employers will not consider graduates of unaccredited programs.
  • Accreditation ensures that when you graduate, you are prepared to practice nursing safely and effectively.
  • Accredited schools attract the best teachers and have the strongest alumni networks.
  • Because many employers do not accept unaccredited degrees, attending an unaccredited program risks throwing away all the time, money, and energy invested in your BSN-to-DNP program.

Paying for BSN-to-DNP Programs

When preparing to enter a BSN-to-DNP program, plan your budget based on tuition, books and supplies, and program length. Also consider if you can work (or how many hours) while studying, on-campus requirements, and in- and out-of-state tuition rates.

In addition to your school's financial aid program, you can get loans, grants, or scholarships from many sources. Because of the high demand for DNPs, some government programs will pay your full program costs or offer loan forgiveness in exchange for working in under-served areas once you graduate.

You can also get scholarships and grants from private foundations, associations, corporations, or other organizations. Your current employer may also help pay for your BSN-to-DNP, possibly in exchange for a commitment to work for them for a certain time period once you graduate. Most financial aid applies to both online and on-campus BSN-to-DNP programs.

Learn More About the Best BSN-to-DNP Programs and Schools

Frequently Asked Questions About BSN-to-DNP Programs

How long does it take to go from BSN to DNP?

A BSN-to-DNP full-time program usually takes 3-4 years to complete, depending on the specialty and program requirements. Generally, the master's level takes two years, and doctoral level takes an additional two years for completion. Part-time students can take seven or eight years to finish degree requirements.

Do you have to get your MSN before a DNP?

Students can earn a BSN-to-DNP degree without first earning a master's. However, many BSN-to-DNP programs require at least 1-3 years of clinical experience for admission.

Do NPs with a doctorate get paid more than NPs with a master's?

In general, practitioners with a DNP are paid more than NPs with master's, but pay also depends on the specialty, job responsibilities, other credentials, and the work setting. For instance, a master's-educated NP working in a major medical center in a large metropolitan area may earn more than one with a DNP working in a rural clinic.

Are nurses with DNPs called doctors?

While nurses with a DNP may be called "doctor," being addressed as one at work depends on workplace culture and personal preference. In most settings, only physicians are called doctors. In academic settings, anyone who has earned a doctoral degree is called a doctor.

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