The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs

By Evelyn Kowalski



A student with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can expedite their time to a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree by pursuing a BSN-to-DNP program. These graduate programs help nurses progress in their careers to become nurse practitioners (NPs), or healthcare professionals with responsibilities somewhere in between nurses and doctors. Unlike nurses, NPs can diagnose patients and prescribe medication. They also commonly pursue a specialization, such as adult-gerontology or oncology. Earning a doctorate can also lead to more lucrative positions.

The list below includes the best BSN-to-DNP programs in the country. Make sure to avoid any degree without accreditation. All of the schools listed below possess accreditation, which ensures students receive a quality education.

Top 10 BSN-to-DNP Programs
School Location
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY
Bradley University Peoria, IL
Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha, NE
University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
Read about our ranking methodology here.

What to Expect From a BSN-to-DNP Program

Generally speaking, each BSN-to-DNP includes different requirements and expectations from students. However, these programs share some similarities, especially advanced nursing and biology courses. Doctoral candidates also usually complete cumulative experiences, such as thesis, dissertation, or research projects. A doctorate typically comprises 65-90 credits and may take anywhere from 3-6 years to complete.

Students usually choose an emphasis area, as well. Some common specializations include family nurse, psychiatric mental health, women's health, and neonatal nurse practitioner. All distance learners must also complete a clinical experience requirement, which usually occurs on location at a hospital or physician's office.

Each school's BSN-to-DNP curriculum depends on its state's requirements for advanced practice nursing licensure. State law affects the types of courses students take and their number of clinical hours, for example. However, each aspiring NP should still research their state's laws to ensure that their education meets licensure requirements.

Career Outlook for Nurse Practitioners

Many DNP degree-holders become NPs or advanced practice nurses. They work with many different types of patients, depending on their doctoral specialization.

Overall, NPs can anticipate an optimistic career outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and NPs will increase by 26% from 2018-28, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. NPs also made a median annual wage of $115,800, as of 2019. In comparison, registered nurses brought home a median salary of $73,300 in the same time.

BLS data does not guarantee exact earnings. Salaries depend on education level, location, specialization, and years of experience. NPs in California, Alaska, and Massachusetts earn the highest salaries, with those in California receiving an annual mean wage of $133,780.

The Best BSN-to-DNP Programs 2020

University of Florida

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
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Purdue University

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
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University of Virginia

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
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Gonzaga University

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
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Saint Louis University

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
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University of Iowa

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
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University at Buffalo

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
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Bradley University

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
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Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health

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
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University of Central Florida

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
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Misericordia University

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
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Regis College

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
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Loyola University New Orleans

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
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Union University

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
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University of Michigan-Flint

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
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University of Kansas

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
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Texas Christian University

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
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University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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
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University of North Carolina Wilmington

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
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Andrews University

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
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Chatham University

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
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Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

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
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Gardner-Webb University

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
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Ohio State University

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
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University of Central Arkansas

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
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