The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs 2021

by NurseJournal Staff

Earn a DNP more quickly with an online BSN-to-DNP program. Learn more about how these bridge programs work and find the best ones here.

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The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs 2021

With demand for advanced nurse practitioners growing, more nurses are considering bachelor of science in nursing-to-doctor of nursing practice (BSN-to-DNP) programs. This guide will 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 our data-driven methodology to select 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, program offerings, and online flexibility.

Keep reading to find out more about job opportunities and information on how to apply to a BSN-to-DNP program, or click here to learn more about BSN-to-DNP programs on our list.

Featured Online Programs

What Can You Do With a DNP?

The DNP is what's called a terminal degree, that is, it is the highest degree possible in its field. Nurses with DNPs 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 DNPs also have an advantage in applying for the highest-paid jobs in nursing; nurse anesthetists must have a DNP starting in 2025.

msn or dnp Required
High Demand

Nurse Practitioner

NPs act as a primary care provider and can lead nursing and healthcare teams in colleges, clinics, or similar settings.
Salary $92,790-$127,030*
Job Outlook 52% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Practitioners
msn Required
High Demand

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia independently, work with anesthesiologists during complex procedures, and determine patient anesthesia needs.
Salary $142,920-$178,590*
Job Outlook 45% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Anesthetists
msn, dnp, or ph.d. Required

Nurse Researcher

Nurse researchers design and conduct studies for internal improvements in a healthcare facility, perform public health research, and measure effectiveness of different nursing practices.
Salary $81,500*
Job Outlook 6% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Researchers
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

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.

Program Curriculum

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 specialities and focus.

Clinical Experience

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

Accreditation is a vital consideration. Many employers, including schools, will not consider hiring graduates from an unaccredited program.

School Graduation Rate

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 will need your BSN transcript and contact information for at least two professional references (teacher or supervisor). You will 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 Requirement: 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.

Who Accredits BSN-to-DNP Programs?

How Do I Know a BSN-to-DNP Program Is Accredited?

Accreditation is such an important and valuable asset that accredited programs post their accreditation status prominently. Check the schools' home pages; if the information is difficult to find, that may be a warning indicator. You can also confirm that the program is accredited by visiting the accreditation organization's website, some of which are listed above. Both on-campus and online BSN-to-DNP programs are held to the same accreditation standards. Please note that all schools listed on this page or elsewhere on NurseJournal.org are accredited.

Paying for BSN-to-DNP Programs

BSN-to-DNP program graduates can expect high salaries but even so, there are financial factors to keep in mind. Consider whether you want to work while attending a program, whether you would relocate if in-state program costs are considerably lower, and any expenses other than tuition and fees, such as travel cost for on-campus requirements or clinical requirements.

Financial aid options can include:

  • Loans or grants from the program you attend. This is often one of the easier options to apply for.
  • Scholarships from foundations, nonprofits, nursing associations, or corporations.
  • Government grants or loans. Some government loans will be forgiven when you graduate, if you work in an underserved area for a certain period.
  • Reimbursement from your current employer.

Some students also pursue loans other than financial aid loans, such as bank or credit union loans.

Learn More About BSN-to-DNP Programs and Schools

Andrews University true View School Profile Berrien Springs, MI

Located in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews' history dates back to 1874 when it first enrolled just 12 students. Today, nearly 5,000 students attend the university, which maintains an affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The school offers a BSN-to-DNP program for aspiring family nurse practitioners. With courses like Christian ethics and advanced practice nursing, the 65-credit program incorporates a biblical worldview into the curriculum. Learners complete most of their courses online but must also participate in one face-to-face experience.

By the end of the program, each enrollee must pass a comprehensive exam, a scholarly project, and a DNP practicum experience. Students can typically finish the program in 10 semesters or 4.5 years. However, they may follow an accelerated path if they obtain faculty approval.

Andrews does not require applicants to submit GRE scores, but they should possess a minimum 3.25 undergraduate GPA and an active nursing license. An incoming student may receive a scholarship covering up to 50% of their tuition if they earned over a 320 GRE score and a 600 GMAT score.

Courses Include:

  • Biostatistics for clinical data management
  • Dnp advanced practice role
  • Information systems and patient care technology for healthcare
  • Clinical health promotion and disease prevention of populations
  • Advanced pathophysiology across the lifespan

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,316/credit
  • Credits Required: 65
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Bradley University true View School Profile Peoria, IL

Based in Peoria, Illinois, Bradley began as a school for watchmakers in the late 19th century. Over the next century, the school greatly expanded its academic offerings, and now enrolls about 5,400 students in 180 different programs.

The university offers a BSN-to-DNP track for registered nurses who want to become family nurse practitioners. Students take the 82 required credits over four years or 12 semesters. Bradley also offers all of its DNP courses online. The family nurse practitioner concentration courses cover acute/chronic care, women's health, and caring for children and aging populations. Each DNP candidate needs to complete 1,050 clinical hours on location, which they participate in throughout the degree.

Each applicant must have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate degree and possess an active nursing license.

Courses Include:

  • Health promotion in populations
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Ethics in advanced practice nursing
  • Advanced health informatics
  • Professional aspects of advanced nursing practice

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $930/credit
  • Credits Required: 82
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Chatham University true View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA

Located in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Chatham offers undergraduate and graduate programs in sustainability and health, business and communications, and the arts and sciences. Its BSN-to-DNP executive track suits nurses looking to work in leadership positions.

Students may earn the 53-credit degree in 7-9 semesters, depending on how many credits they take per term. Courses focus on nursing ethics, making decisions at the executive level, leading during transition or change, and grant writing. Each doctoral candidate must also participate in 1,000 hours of clinical work experience during the program.

Each degree-seeker completes a DNP capstone project, which counts for 250 clinical hours. The project should include evidence-based change goals, and students must deliver an academic product evaluating their experience. While enrollees study from a distance, they visit campus for a two-day residency to present their culminating project.

Each prospective student should possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and an active, unencumbered RN license.

Courses Include:

  • Scientific underpinnings for practice
  • Health assessment and promotion throughout the lifespan
  • Information technology and data-driven decision making
  • Structure and app of contemporary nursing knowledge
  • Communication and collaboration for healthcare leadership

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $798-$1017/credit
  • Credits Required: 53
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Gardner-Webb University true View School Profile Boiling Springs, NC

Gardner-Webb began as a Baptist high school in 1905, later becoming a junior college, a college, and finally, a university in 1993. The university maintains its Baptist affiliation and enrolls about 3,500 students in 80 academic programs.

The post-baccalaureate DNP with a family nurse practitioner emphasis allows students to earn their doctorates in eight semesters or just under three years with summer terms. Each learner must complete at least 1,000 clinical hours, including 640 hours of direct patient care, and take part in a DNP project over their last four semesters. Students may also opt for a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

A candidate must have worked as a registered nurse for two years, completing at least 1,100 hours each year. Students should also possess minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPAs, but Gardner-Webb does it request GRE scores for admission.

Courses Include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Evidence-based care
  • Health economics, policy, and ethics
  • Human flourishing and health promotion
  • Informatics

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $695/credit
  • Credits Required: 79
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Gonzaga University true View School Profile Spokane, WA

Gonzaga, a private, Catholic liberal arts school in Spokane, Washington, offers an online BSN-to-DNP program with two different tracks: family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Students pursuing both concentrations must complete 78 credits of coursework, which takes five years of full-time enrollment or seven years if enrolled part time. Courses last either eight or 16 weeks. Along with advanced courses in nursing, assessment, diagnosis, and pharmacology, each degree-seeker must take part in 1,000 practicum hours in a clinical setting.

Distance learners must visit campus for 7-8 immersion experiences throughout their fifth and 12th semesters. In these immersions, students take part in structured scenarios in which they diagnose model patients. Each doctoral candidate also completes a DNP project, in which they research ways to provide care for a particular population. This project also involves an oral defense.

Each applicant must provide a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.3 GPA, current RN license, and statement of purpose.

Courses Include:

  • Evidence-based practice for quality and safety
  • Clinical prevention for diverse populations
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Translational research in advanced practice

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1055/credit
  • Credits Required: 78
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis View School Profile Indianapolis, IN

IUPUI was born out of a merger between Indiana University and Purdue in 1969, creating a much larger institution that now offers 450 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Nurses with bachelor's degrees who want to dive straight into a Ph.D. program can do so through the university's BSN-to-Ph.D. in nursing science.

This degree prepares students for careers in nursing education and research, rather than roles in advanced practice nursing. The program follows a distance learning format, with Ph.D. candidates logging on for synchronous videoconferencing class meetings and discussions. Distance learners must also attend two four-day campus intensives in June in the first two years of the program to meet with their professors and peers.

Students can either focus on clinical nursing science or health systems. Toward the end of the program, they dedicate 16 credits of coursework focusing on a dissertation. Full-time students can graduate in four years, while part-time students typically take up to six years to complete the program.

Each candidate must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. IUPUI does not require GRE scores for admissions consideration.

Courses Include:

  • Theoretical perspectives of nursing science
  • Advanced leadership in complex systems
  • Nursing inquiry and scholarship
  • Biostatistics for public health
  • Comparative effectiveness research and patient-centered outcomes research

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $578/credit for in-state students; $1,553/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 90
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Loyola University New Orleans View School Profile New Orleans, LA

Founded in 1904 by Jesuit priests, Loyno now enrolls over 4,000 students in Catholic and secular programs. Among those programs, the university offers an online DNP for nurses with bachelor's degrees.

This program prepares students for careers as family nurse practitioners. Distance learners may finish the 78-credit degree in 3-4 years. In addition to coursework, each degree candidate should complete 1,260 contact hours of clinical practicum work. The university offers unique courses, like ethics and social justice, which focus on how healthcare systems affect certain populations. Each student must also complete a DNP scholarly project to qualify for graduation.

An individual can apply if they possess a registered nursing license and at least 1,800 hours of recent nursing practice. The university does not set a minimum GPA or require GRE scores for this program.

Courses Include:

  • Primary care of pediatrics
  • Gerontology in primary care
  • Leadership of systems change and innovation
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced health assessment

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $818/credit
  • Credits Required: 78
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Misericordia University View School Profile Dallas, PA

Misericordia, a Catholic university in northeast Pennsylvania, offers a DNP pathway for registered nurses with bachelor's degrees. The family nurse practitioner concentration requires 68 credits, while the adult-gerontology primary care focus area comprises 45 credits of coursework.

The program follows an online format, except for the supervised practicum hours that students complete at healthcare facilities. The family nurse practitioner track requires more credits, partially because the program includes 1,130 practicum hours in all. However, learners in the adult-gerontology track only need to complete 1,040 hours.

The curriculum follows educational standards set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Students earn two degrees: a master's in nursing after their eighth semester and a DNP after their ninth semester.

To qualify for this program, each prospective student needs a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25 and an active, unencumbered nursing license.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced physical EX and DX reasoning
  • Advanced biomedical ethics and healthcare policy
  • Epidemiology, health promotion and illness prevention for diverse populations
  • Introduction to clinical management of health promotion and disease prevention in advanced practice nursing
  • Transformation of health care through informatics and patient care technology

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $800/credit
  • Credits Required: 45-68
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health View School Profile Omaha, NE

A private university located in Omaha, NMC offers several on-campus and distance learning programs. One of these online programs includes the BSN-to-DNP with a family nurse practitioner concentration.

The full program comprises 75 credits, with each enrollee taking 57 credits of coursework online, and 18 credits -- or 1,080 clinical hours -- at a healthcare facility for their supervised practicum work. Full-time degree-seekers may graduate in three years, while part-time students generally take 4-5 years.

Instructors conduct classes through asynchronous and synchronous methods, which require learners to log on at specific times for some courses. Although students can take most classes through distance learning, they also begin their education with a one-credit summer orientation on campus. All degree-seekers must also complete a scholarly capstone research project over four terms.

Each candidate should hold a registered nursing license and an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. NMC prefers but does not require applicants with work experience.

Courses Include:

  • Health systems, informatics, and leadership
  • Maternal and children nursing theory
  • Population-based capstone
  • Rural nursing
  • Lifestyle medicine and health behavior theories

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $793/credit
  • Credits Required: 75
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Ohio State University-Main Campus View School Profile Columbus, OH

Consistently ranked among the largest three universities in the U.S., Columbus-based Ohio State educates nearly 62,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Students can pursue the BSN-to-DNP degree with a family nurse practitioner emphasis either online or on campus. Full-time learners may complete the program within four years. Each degree-seeker must complete at least 1,000 clinical hours, which they can participate in through clinical preceptorships during their final three semesters.

Each DNP candidate takes a comprehensive exam, a professional exam, and an advanced practice certification exam during their second-to-last year. Students' final year consists solely of clinical hours and DNP project work.

Each applicant should possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an active nursing license.

Courses Include:

  • Innovation and leadership development for the DNP nurse
  • Health promotion in the age of personalized health and healthcare
  • Nursing policy for doctoral nursing practice
  • Quality improvement for the doctor of nursing practice
  • Informatics for leadership in health and healthcare

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,245/credit for in-state students; $2,719/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 86-87
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Purdue University-Main Campus View School Profile West Lafayette, IN

Purdue, based in West Lafayette, Indiana, enrolls over 44,000 undergraduate and graduate learners. The public university offers a post-bachelor's degree DNP with several pathways for students.

The program consists of 76-78 credits of coursework, which full-time students can complete in three years through a blended on-campus and online format. Purdue offers specializations in primary care pediatric, family, primary care adult-gerontology, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

The curriculum follows standards set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. All students must participate in at least 1,000 residency hours in a clinical practicum setting. Although many degree-seekers enroll full time, they can also maintain employment if they choose part-time study.

Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an active nursing license. Purdue does not require GRE scores for admission.

Courses Include:

  • Pharmacotherapeutics in primary care
  • Sociocultural influences on health
  • Psychopharmacology across the lifespan
  • Health promotion for advanced nursing practice
  • Systems approaches in healthcare

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $725/credit for in-state students; $950/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 76-78
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Regis College View School Profile Weston, MA

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston founded Regis College in 1927, and it remains affiliated with the Catholic faith to this day. Regis' School of Nursing has a wide variety of offerings, including a BSN-to-DNP program.

Students may choose from five concentrations: pediatrics, family, psychiatric mental health, women's health, and adult geriatrics. Learners take their DNP coursework through online learning, and full-time degree-seekers can complete the program in just over three years. Regis reports that 97% of graduates find jobs six months after earning their degrees.

The number of clinical practicum hours depends on the specialization, but overall, each learner must complete at least 1,000 contact hours in healthcare settings. Regis incorporates social justice issues into the curriculum, with courses covering how to care for vulnerable populations. At the end of the program, all DNP candidates take four courses dedicated to a scholarly project.

Regis considers each applicant with an active nursing license and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.

Courses Include:

  • Health promotion - disease prevention
  • Cultural perspectives in health care
  • Epidemiology and biostatistics
  • Regulatory issues: nurse leadership
  • Advanced clinical pharmacology

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,310/credit
  • Credits Required: 73
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Saint Louis University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

A Jesuit university of about 14,500 students, SLU offers nursing practice DNP designed for registered nurses with a bachelor's degree eager to jump straight into a doctorate program.

Students can choose between four tracks: adult-gerontological acute care, family, pediatric primary care, and family psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. The degree requires 67-72 credits of coursework and 1,050-1,125 clinical hours, depending on the course of study. DNP candidates can enroll either part or full time to complete the degree in 4-5 years.

Although students can complete much of the degree through distance learning, they must also visit campus four times throughout the program. This includes a two-day orientation, a three-day residency for diagnostic reasoning and clinical assessment skills, and an orientation to doctoral-level coursework. The fourth visit involves the DNP project, which degree-seekers present to faculty.

Each applicant should possess at least a 3.5 undergraduate GPA, an active nursing license, and at least one year of clinical experience.

Courses Include:

  • Epidemiology
  • Advanced assessment and clinical decision-making
  • Health promotion
  • Introduction to biostatistics for health outcomes
  • Clinical informatics

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,190/credit
  • Credits Required: 67-72
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Texas Christian University View School Profile Fort Worth, TX

The family nurse practitioner program at TCU allows registered nurses to earn DNP degrees in three years. The curriculum follows an online format, except for two intensive visits to the school's Fort Worth campus for skills development.

The program consists of 67 credits of coursework, which includes at least 1,000 clinical practicum hours at healthcare facilities close to distance learners' homes. Each doctoral candidate also completes a DNP project over three terms. They must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

In addition to pursuing a family nurse practitioner concentration, degree-seekers may also choose specializations in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist.

According to the university's admission requirements, each prospective student needs an active nursing license and a bachelor's degree in nursing. University guidelines recommend that each applicant possesses a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and one year of professional experience.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Promoting health and wellness in primary care
  • Business and legal aspects for the nurse practitioner
  • Diagnostic methods and procedures for the advanced practice registered nurse

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,790/credit
  • Credits Required: 67
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville View School Profile Knoxville, TN

UT Knoxville's history dates back to 1794. The university now enrolls about 29,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs, including the BSN-to-DNP program, which learners pursue through a hybrid format.

In the family nurse practitioner concentration, students participate in synchronous online course meetings for class discussions and presentations. Degree-seekers must also travel to campus twice each semester to practice their clinical skills in UT Knoxville's nursing simulation center. Each learner must complete 1,000 clinical hours overall, which includes 600 hours of direct patient care.

The DNP program also allows students to choose concentrations in nurse anesthesia, nurse executive practice, psychiatric mental health, and pediatric nurse practitioner.

Each applicant should possess a bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 2.7 GPA. They only need to send in GRE scores if their undergraduate GPA fell below 3.3.

Courses Include:

  • Principles of population health
  • Health and healthcare policy
  • Nursing leadership in complex systems
  • Population health in a global society
  • Evidence-based practice

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $639/credit for in-state students; $1,650/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 61-72
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Union University View School Profile Jackson, TN

Founded in 1823 and based in Jackson, Tennessee, Union University remains the oldest higher education institution in the country affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The university integrates Baptist teachings into many of its programs, including the BSN-to-DNP degree.

Students can choose between executive leader, nurse anesthesia, or nurse practitioner tracks. Within the nurse practitioner track, degree-seekers can concentrate in either family nurse practitioner or psychiatric mental health. Each learner needs to complete 1,060-1,220 clinical hours for the nurse practitioner and executive leader pathways. The nurse anesthesia track, however, requires 3,400 clinical hours. Despite these differences, full-time students may complete any of these pathways in three years.

The DNP program follows a hybrid curriculum plan, in which doctoral candidates must attend on-campus classes and participate in intensive online courses. At Union University, online learning follows an asynchronous format, which allows distance learners to log on at their convenience.

Each applicant must possess an active nursing license, but the university does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced nursing research and evidence-based practice
  • Role development and collaborative strategies in advanced nursing practice
  • Methods for evidence-based practice
  • Epidemiology
  • Primary care procedures

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1,050/credit
  • Credits Required: 68-99
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
University at Buffalo View School Profile Buffalo, NY

UB educates about 32,000 undergraduate and graduate students in on-campus and online programs. The university's nursing school features a post-BS-to-DNP program that follows a hybrid format. Students in the program take about 40% of their classes through distance learning and the rest in person.

The program comprises 82-124 credits, which enrollees can finish in 3-5 years. Students can choose between family, adult-gerontology primary care, or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner specializations. They can also choose a nurse anesthetist concentration, which requires the full 124 credits. Each doctoral candidate needs to participate in at least 1,000 clinical practicum hours, as well.

A required DNP project allows each student to explore nursing policy, nursing informatics, or providing care to specific populations. The university requires an applicant to possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, an active nursing license, and at least one year of nursing experience.

Courses Include:

  • Applied informatics to evaluate healthcare outcomes
  • Pharmacotherapeutics in advanced practice nursing
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Interpreting healthcare policy
  • Organizational and leadership concepts in healthcare

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $1047/credit
  • Credits Required: 82-104
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
University of Central Arkansas View School Profile Conway, AR

This public university of about 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students features a DNP program for nurses with bachelor's degrees aiming to become family nurse practitioners.

The degree requires 73 credits of coursework and 1,125 clinical contact hours, which includes 810 direct patient care hours and 360 DNP essentials hours. The curriculum follows educational standards set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and covers pharmacology, health assessment, and caring for populations across the lifespan. The degree plan also requires a DNP project, which each student completes during their last four terms.

The program follows a part-time curriculum, and learners can enroll in most courses online. For clinical and health assessment courses, degree-seekers must visit campus about 3-4 times each term. Enrollees take two courses each semester. The full degree lasts about 11 semesters, including summer terms.

Each candidate must possess an active nursing license and a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.7 GPA to qualify.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Population health and epidemiology
  • Healthcare quality and organizational systems for advanced nursing practice
  • Care of adults across the lifespan

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $545/credit
  • Credits Required: 73
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of Central Florida View School Profile Orlando, FL

With nearly 70,000 students and about 17,000 degrees conferred each year, UCF ranks among the largest universities in the country. Its BSN-to-DNP program offers several options for students interested in adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology primary care, and family nurse practitioner.

The program consists of 72-76 credits and follows a hybrid format, in which students take many classes online but must travel to campus for specific courses and intensives. Each enrollee also completes one intensive during the fall and spring semesters, which lasts two days. Learners head to campus once a week for lab courses, as well.

A doctoral candidate must also participate in 1,020-1,080 clinical practicum hours. Students can complete the program in 3-4 years, depending on whether they enroll part or full time.

To apply, each prospective student needs a BSN degree, an active nursing license, and a competitive GRE score.

Courses Include:

  • Theory for advanced practice nursing
  • Nursing environment management
  • Epidemiology principles in advanced practice nursing
  • Advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning
  • Innovative technologies in healthcare

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $370/credit for in-state students; $1,194/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 72-76
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL

This public research university, based in Gainesville, enrolls over 52,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Nurses with bachelor's degrees can enroll in the BSN-to-DNP program to advance their nursing education.

Students can choose from five different nurse practitioner tracks: adult-gerontology acute care, family, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric mental health. Full-time students typically graduate in three years.

While most courses are delivered online, the program requires a few on-campus experiences, including a one-day new student orientation, a three-day visit during a health assessment course, and a two-day visit for the DNP project dissemination in the final semester. The curriculum also includes 1,008 clinical practicum hours in healthcare settings.

Each candidate must possess an active nursing license, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores.

Courses Include:

  • Physiology and pathophysiology for advanced nursing practice
  • Nursing informatics and information management
  • Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced nursing practice
  • Advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning
  • Leading quality improvement practice initiatives

Unique Features:

  • Cost: Estimated $12,740/year for full-time students
  • Credits Required: 75-78
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of Iowa View School Profile Iowa City, IA

UI, a public research university based in Iowa City, offers several graduate nursing programs, including BSN-to-DNP pathways for registered nurses pursuing their doctorates.

The program includes eight possible specializations and eight dual concentration options, including family nurse practitioner, health systems, and nurse anesthetist. The university offers 3-5 year tracks, and each program requires a different number of credits. Learners can take the majority of these courses online.

Almost all tracks require 1,000 practicum hours, except for the acute care specializations for pediatric and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner focus areas, which require 1,090 hours. Each degree-seeker must also finish a DNP project over three semesters, which includes an in-depth analysis of a nursing topic.

Each applicant should possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an active nursing license. The university does not require GRE scores for admissions.

Courses Include:

  • Applied epidemiology
  • Evaluating evidence for practice
  • Genetics/genomics for advanced practice nursing
  • Health systems, finance, and economics
  • Population health for advanced practice

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $454/credit
  • Credits Required: 73-83
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of Kansas View School Profile Lawrence, KS

Lawrence-based KU offers a post-bachelor's doctor of nursing practice for nurses looking to become nurse practitioners, midwives, or nursing leaders.

Doctoral candidates can customize their degrees by choosing either an advanced practice or leadership specialization. Advanced practice concentration options include adult-gerontology primary or acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or psychiatric mental health. Alternatively, students can choose between the leadership emphasis areas of organizational leadership, public health nursing, or health informatics.

Learners can pursue most of their coursework online, but they must also complete at least 1,000 hours of clinical experiences. Many degree-seekers find healthcare facilities within the Kansas City area, but distance students can work within their own communities. Each student must also complete a DNP project to graduate.

KU recommends that each applicant possesses one year of experience in nursing and a minimum 3.5 undergraduate GPA, but the school considers applicants with a 3.0 GPA, as well.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Professionalism in advanced nursing practice
  • Health promotion & complementary therapeutics
  • Interpreting research for applied science
  • Informatics & technology applications

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $425/credit for in-state students; $1,018/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 75-79
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
University of Michigan-Flint View School Profile Flint, MI

At UM-Flint, aspiring advanced practice nurses can earn DNP degrees through several pathways. The BSN-to-DNP option allows registered nurses to complete this doctorate in the emphasis areas of adult-gerontology acute care or primary care nurse practitioner; family nurse practitioner; or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Learners can enroll either full or part time. The university offers courses primarily through distance learning, but students also need to visit campus 3-6 times a year. Degree-seekers must complete at least 1,000 clinical hours at healthcare facilities in their area. Each learner also takes five different research seminars to complete a research project.

The university features a dual degree program, which allows enrollees to simultaneously pursue a DNP and an MBA in healthcare management. Students hoping to work in leadership positions might benefit from this option.

To apply, each prospective student must hold a nursing license and a BSN with a minimum 3.2 GPA. The university also prefers candidates with at least one year of work experience.

Courses Include:

  • Biostatistics for advanced practice in health care
  • Pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice professionals
  • Advanced health assessment and clinical reasoning
  • Healthcare research and theoretical perspectives
  • Advanced transcultural care

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $684.50/credit for in-state students; $1,024/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 67-78
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of North Carolina Wilmington View School Profile Wilmington, NC

Originally known as Wilmington College, UNCW joined the 17-campus University of North Carolina System in 1969. The institution runs several undergraduate and graduate programs, including the family nurse practitioner DNP for nurses with bachelor's degrees.

Degree-seekers can complete the 70-credit program within three years or in nine semesters if they enroll full time. FNP students need at least 1,000 clinical practicum hours to graduate, which they participate in throughout the program.

The required DNP project focuses on practice-based work, with doctoral candidates designing and evaluating nursing programs meant to improve the health of specific populations. Students may also choose a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Each incoming student should possess a nursing license and at least 600 hours of professional experience. UNCW prefers students with minimum 3.0 GPAs but will consider students with GPAs of at least 2.75 if they also submit GMAT scores.

Courses Include:

  • Methodologic approaches to evidence-based practice
  • Genomics for advanced practice nursing
  • Population health promotion and clinical epidemiology
  • Pathophysiology for advanced practice nurses
  • Advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $297/credit for in-state students; $975/credit for out-of-state students
  • Credits Required: 70
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
University of Virginia-Main Campus View School Profile Charlottesville, VA

At UVA, students can enroll in a BSN-to-DNP program at a standard or accelerated pace. The standard format features a 2+2 program of study, which consists of a two-year master's and two-year doctoral degree. The accelerated format follows a three-year BSN-to-DNP plan. Part-time students finish these programs in 5-6 years.

Doctoral candidates can choose from several different specializations, including adult-gerontology acute care, family, neonatal, psychiatric, and pediatric nurse practitioner pathways. The number of required credits varies, depending on the concentration.

At the end of the program, students must participate in at least 1,000 hours of precepted clinical experience. The exact number of practicum hours also depends on the concentration. Degree-seekers work in teams to complete research projects, which they can contribute to peer-reviewed journals or books.

The university does not require prospective students to submit GRE scores. However, a competitive applicant usually possesses at least a 3.5 undergraduate GPA and at least two years of nursing work experience.

Courses Include:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Transition to advanced practice
  • Evidence-based practice

Unique Features:

  • Cost: $470/credit for Virginia residents; $954 for nonresidents
  • Credits Required: 81-92
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

BSN-to-DNP Program FAQs


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

A BSN-to-DNP full-time program usually takes 3-4 years, depending on the specialty and program requirements. Generally, two years are at the master's level and the remaining year or two are at the doctoral level. Part-time students can take seven or eight years, depending on the program.

Can you go straight from a BSN to DNP?

Educationally, students can go directly from a BSN to DNP degree, without earning a master's first. 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 DNPs are paid more than master's-level NPs, but it depends on the program, responsibilities, other credentials, and workplace. 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 is entitled to be called "doctor," whether they actually are depends on workplace culture and personal preference. In most workplaces, only physicians are called a doctor. Typically in more academia settings, anyone who has earned a doctoral degree is called a doctor.

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