Nurses with doctoral degrees have the skills to adapt to—and create—meaningful change in the ever-changing medical and health care fields. If you have a DNP, whether you are working with patients or as a healthcare leader, you will use your acquired skills to make a real difference in people’s lives. If you are a nurse who wants to make sure you are the best leader you can be, but also want to pursue a doctoral program on your own schedule, look at some of the top online Doctor of Nurse Practitioner programs.
DNP-prepared nurses are at the forefront of change in the medical field, having strength in clinical, economic, leadership and organizational skills and knowledge in managing and administering patient care and putting forward health policy. The DNP degree is rewarding and enriching, and provides lots of opportunities for unique learning.
What Are the Best Doctor of Nurse Practitioner Degrees?
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University of Central Florida
Average Net Price
The University of Central Florida has the most students enrolled on campus than any other university in the United States, which means it also has vast resources for all of their students, even the ones studying online to avoid the crowds! UCF’s College of Nursing is in its 40th year, and it has an online DNP program for students who are interested in a flexible education that comes with a wealth of resources.
UCF’s DNP program caters to students who are interested in a variety of specific tracks: adult/gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, advanced practice DNP, or a nurse executive DNP. UCF’s DNP program is based in scientific evidence and prioritizes teaching organizational leadership and critical analysis to prepare students for the modern healthcare landscape.
UCF has certain objectives that it maintains for students in every DNP track. Examples of these objectives include preparing graduates to “critically analyze complex clinical situations and practice systems” and “analyze the social, economic, political, epidemiological and other scientific data to improve individual, aggregate and population health.” The specific courses you take depend on your chosen track, but you can expect all of your courses to follow these important objectives. The net price of this degree is $13,016.
Applicants to UCF’s nursing program must have a Master of Science in Nursing from a regionally accredited university in order to apply, preferably with a specialization in leadership & management. You also must be a licensed RN in the state or country in which you will practice.
Florida International University
Average Net Price
Florida International University, a public university in Miami, is known for its large and diverse student population, with over 55,000 students from 142 countries enrolled in the university. They have an expansive nursing school that offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree that is specifically designed for busy advanced practice nurses seeking the height of nursing education. FIU expects its DNP graduates to be able to act as research leaders in clinical practices and to use multiple innovative approaches to their practice.
There are 36 required credits to complete this degree, and it can be completed in six semesters, with the final three semesters dedicated to the completion of the DNP project. Course examples include translational research, organizational dynamics of health systems and healthcare informatics.
In order to qualify for the DNP program at FIU, you must have a master’s or post-master’s degree in an advanced practice nursing specialty role, such as ANP, PNP, FNP, CRNA, etc. with a minimum GPA of 3.25. You must have proof of advanced practice specialty certification and proof of current advanced practice licensure in your state of residence. The net price for this program is $9,180.
University of Arizona
Average Net Price
The University of Arizona’s College of Nursing has been ranked as a top cutting edge nursing school, and it offers an online doctorate nurse practitioner program to fit your needs, while letting online students mostly avoid the southern Arizona heat! UA’s DNP program prepares students to be advanced practice nurses and leaders in the health field, offering clinical and non-clinical specialties in programs like family nurse practice, informatics, psychiatric nurse practice and nurse anesthesia.
Students going through this program will participate in a required resident intensive summer experience (RISE) to start every year, allowing them to experience the Tucson campus, take specialized courses and collaborate with other students and faculty. Other than this RISE program, all DNP students can expect to take classes like Philosophy and Theory for the DNP, Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology and Health Policy and Economics.
UA’s specific learning outcomes for its DNP students include being prepared to implement and disseminate nursing practice knowledge to create more effective research and improve clinical outcomes, and participate and act as a leader in collaborative teams and influence clinical practice policy, among others.
Applicants must have an RN license and a previous degree in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA. Students must have two references, transcripts and a CV or resume. The net price of this degree is $15,594.
Washington State University
Average Net Price
Washington State University, located in Pullman on Washington’s eastern side, has a unique hybrid doctoral nurse practitioner program. This program is mostly online, but the in-person requirements can be completed at any of the three of its Washington campuses. This program has four distinct tracks: family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, population health nurse, and post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.
WSU offers options for people on the post-baccalaureate and post-masters tracks, with varying degrees of coursework. There are 74 credits required for this degree, and the core classes for all DNP specialties include relevant courses on topics like Scientific Inquiry in Nursing, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Healthcare Law, Policy, and Analysis.
WSU prepares its students for careers as healthcare leaders who are able to research evidence and use their expertise to improve overall health outcomes. They have certain student learning outcomes that they put forth as a template for learning, including applying science learning, critical thinking, independent learning, teamwork and biosciences design.
In order to gain acceptance to WSU’s program, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in a bachelor’s, and if applicable, master’s program and a written goal statement, as well as copies of all academic transcripts. It is preferred that you have a year of full-time nursing practice, and you must include your resume or CV. Students also must hold a current RN license in each state where practice or clinical experiences will occur. The net price of this degree is $17,297.
Average Net Price
The best of Indiana University and Purdue University comes together on one campus in Indianapolis, and it has a top-notch nursing graduate program that is ranked among the best, according to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report. IUPUI’s DNP program is designed to prepare nurses to be the best leaders they can be in an evolving healthcare system. You can choose to take the executive leadership track, the advanced clinical track, or you can get your MSN degree at the same time as your DNP.
Depending on the path you choose, you will be required to take 37-41 credits (unless you are doing the MSN & DNP dual degree, in which you will need to fulfill 67 credits). All students will take courses like Performance Improvement & Patient Safety in Health Systems and Population Health Surveillance & Management, and you will move onto your more specialized courses once you are focused on your DNP research and project.
As a DNP student, you will need to attend an in-person intensive at the beginning of your program focused on grounding you in your academic experience and providing you with a network of resources. There is another in-person intensive experience dedicated to policy and advocacy that will come later in your academic career. IUPUI hopes that its DNP students will fulfill a variety of learning outcomes related to leadership skills, research and communication skills, and ethical accountability.
Admission requirements for IUPUI’s DNP program vary depending on the track you decide to take, but you will need to have a previous degree in nursing and strong academic experience. You must also have an unencumbered RN license in your state of practice. The net price of this program is $11,931.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Average Net Price
Las Vegas is more than casinos and Elvis impersonators: it is also home to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. UNLV houses a highly-regarded School of Nursing that has landed on top master’s and doctoral nursing programs lists according to the U.S. News & World Report. The amount of credits required to complete this degree will depend on if you are taking a post-bachelor’s or post-master’s track. You can choose between tracks like BSN to DNP with a family nurse practitioner track, nurse executive track or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner track. If you have your MSN already, you will be able to streamline the process further.
UNLV’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepares nurses to assume leadership roles in clinical practice, administration, clinical teaching, and clinical research. Online degrees are available, with certain caveats for different states of residence, so you should make sure to read all the small print before making a decision. However, if you decide this is the program for you, you will take courses like Business Management for Nurse Practitioners; Collaboration, Communication & Negotiation; and Health & Public Policy.
Admission requirements depend on your path, but you can expect to need at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing with academic success (preferably a 3.5 GPA), RN licensure, national certification in an advanced practice role, and, in some cases, at least 500 hours of academically-supervised clinical practicum or practice as an RN. The net price of this degree is $11,693.
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Average Net Price
New Mexico State University is a public research university located in Las Cruces, in the very south of New Mexico, right on the border of the Chihuahuan Desert. But don’t worry about getting lost in the heat: NMSU offers a fully-online DNP program through its School of Nursing. There are three degree plans available: BSN to DNP, family nurse practitioner, BSN to DNP, psych/mental health nurse practitioner, and MSN to DNP. This is a practice-based program for advanced nurses, and though the coursework takes place online, you must be able to complete a clinical component of over 1000 hours in a location that works for you. You will also be required to come to Las Cruces annually for an on-campus requirement, allowing you to meet your instructors and peers and develop a network of important contacts.
The BSN to DNP track is suited for students with a Bachelor in Science in Nursing who want to focus on family health care and on mental health across the lifespan, depending on the specific track you decide to take. Courses for students in the family nurse practitioner track will take courses like Advanced Health Assessment, Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and Management of Acute and Chronic Illness in Families. Students in the psych/mental health track will take courses building upon four core competencies: Advanced Health Assessment, Diagnosis of Mental Health Disorders, Pathophysiology and Neurophysiology, Psychotherapy, and Medication Management.
In order to qualify for admission to this program, you must have either a BSN or MSN degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and have a current RN license. You should have completed a statistics course in your undergraduate or graduate career, and MSN to DNP students will need to have an active and current APRN license. The net price of this program is $9,462.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Average Net Price
The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is home to one of the oldest online DNP programs in the country, founded in 2006. UM’s College of Nursing itself was founded in 1953, so this program is based on a lot of years of hard work and diligence to create a dependable program that helps advanced nurses enter the highest levels of the workforce. UM’s DNP degree program has been highly-ranked by the U.S. News & World Report—in 2019, it came in at #30 in the country.
At UM, you can start with a BSN or MSN to get your DNP. If you are starting with a BSN, there are four areas of concentration: family NP, adult/gerontology primary care NP, psychiatric/mental health NP, and public health nurse leader. If you already have your MSN, you will simply work with UM to complete your DNP degree. The classes you will take depend on your concentration, but if you are coming from a BSN, you can expect to take courses like Health Disparities and Social Justice, Theoretical Components of Nursing Science and Advanced Pharmacology. Regardless of concentration, UM’s DNP program aims to help students develop the knowledge and skills required to manage patients and health care systems, evaluate and apply research and evaluate clinical outcomes to make sure our health care system can continue to improve.
In order to qualify for admission to UM’s DNP program, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA and a current RN license in your state of practice. The net price of this degree is $21,740.
Georgia Southern University
Average Net Price
Georgia Southern University is a public research university located in Statesboro, Georgia. The school is represented by an eagle, GUS (possibly an artful re-arranging of GSU?), and has a School of Nursing offering online degree programs, including paths for people with BSN and MSNs to get their DNP degrees. For students with BSN degrees, there are four DNP curricular paths: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.
If you already have an MSN degree, you will be required to take 37 credits of classes in Biomedical Ethics, Biometrics, Outcome Management, Health Policy, and Leadership and Management, among others. The post-BSN degree path requires 77 credit hours, and all curricular paths will include courses like Epidemiology, Psychodynamics of Health, and Pharmacology.
GSU’s online DNP aims to prepare individuals to be advanced caretakers for individual patients as well as strong leaders who can implement and develop knowledgeable and thoughtful health policy. In order to qualify for admission, you must have a BSN or an MSN degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and RN licensure. You must fulfill a variety of other requirements based on your degree path. The net price of this degree is $15,435.
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
Average Net Price
The University of Pittsburgh, founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787, formed its School of Nursing in 1939. Many of the programs from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing have ranked in the top 10 of the U.S. News & World Report, including the DNP program, which ranked #8 in the country. This program aims to create curious and knowledgeable nursing leaders in a variety of concentrations, including clinical nurse specialist, health systems executive leadership, nurse anesthesist, nurse midwife and nurse practitioner. MSN-prepared students are able to complete their degrees fully online.
Pittsburgh has full-time and part-time options for students, and the courses that you will take will depend on your chosen specialty. However, some potential core classes include courses on public policy, ethics, health promotion and disease prevention and pathophysiology across the lifespan. From there, you will expand into your specialty track courses, ultimately culminating in a DNP project.
All of your coursework will work to fulfill the University of Pittsburgh’s learning outcomes for the doctorate degree in nursing practice. These learning outcomes include the ability to use science and nursing theory to implement and evaluate practice approaches, to influence healthcare policy at institutional, state and federal levels, and to demonstrate clinical judgment and critical thinking in working with evidence-based care to help patients.
In order to qualify for admission to the University of Pittsburgh, you should have a RN license, as well as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing with high academic performance. You will need to submit your results from the GRE, and you should have completed a statistics prerequisite course within the past 10 years. Certain focus or specialty areas will require you to have clinical experience in your chosen field. The net price for this degree is $24,040.
University of Colorado Denver
Average Net Price
The University of Colorado Denver is located in the heart of the Mile High City. But if you are used to lower elevations, you don’t have to worry about getting altitude sickness: UCD has a fully-online Doctor of Nursing Practice program through its highly-regarded Anschutz Medical Campus. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked UCD as one of the Best Online Graduate Nursing programs in the nation. Students with a bachelor’s in nursing have a single path to a DNP degree and students also have the option to use a current master’s degree to achieve a DNP. This program aims to prepare advanced practice nurses to take on such roles as clinical nurse educator, clinician-scholar, developer/evaluator of health care programs, and clinical administrator.
The credits required depend on the path you take (BSN or MSN to DNP), but UCD is flexible and will give you the time you need to finish your online degree. There are paths to a DNP in adult gerontology, family nurse practice, midwifery, pediatric acute and primary care, and psychiatric mental health. By the time you finish your degree, UCD expects you to be able to be a leader in interdisciplinary teams to improve the quality and safety of health care strategies and to be able to act as a health care policy advocate in and out of Colorado. As a DNP student at UCD, you will be required to complete credit hours in a clinical setting under the supervision of a nursing professional. You may need to attend certain programs on campus related to your project, but there is plenty to do in Denver when you aren’t studying!
To be accepted to UCD’s DNP program, you should have a 3.0 nursing GPA in your BSN and your MSN, if applicable. You must have a valid RN license, three letters of reference and a CV/resume. The net price of this degree is $14,477.
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Average Net Price
East Carolina University, located in Greenville, North Carolina, is home to a College of Nursing with a variety of degree programs, including post-bachelor’s and post-master’s DNP programs. These DNP programs can be done entirely online, and there are multiple course options for someone to choose from depending on their interests and specialities. This DNP program is also unique in that it focuses on bringing medicine to underserved and rural communities, which is very rewarding for nurses at the top of their careers.
Students can embark on one of five tracks: nurse anesthesia, family NP, adult-gerontology primary health care NP, post-master’s APRN, or post-master’s leadership. Some examples of core classes include titles like Population Health in Advanced Interdisciplinary Practice, Design and Statistical Methods for Advanced Nursing Practice, and Healthcare Finance. Each track has different requirements, however. For example, the family nurse practitioner program is 70 credit hours and best prepares students for entry into advanced practice, while the post-master’s leadership program is 36 semester hours, expanding on master’s level leadership principles to best prepare nurses to succeed as leaders in the healthcare system.
Every program has different entry requirements as well, but you can expect to need an RN license and a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. You will need to fulfill different experience requirements depending on your degree program. The net price of this degree is $13,746.
University of Missouri-Columbia
Average Net Price
The University of Missouri—otherwise known as “Mizzou”—is located in Columbia, Missouri, and is home to the mascot “Truman the Tiger” (named after Missourian President Truman). It is also home to a reputable school of nursing—the Sinclair School of Nursing, which offers a mostly-online DNP program for people post-baccalaureate and post-master’s (with and without advanced practice nursing speciality) with a variety of areas of study. This program is geared toward busy nurses who hope to advance their careers and become leaders in their fields.
The areas of study at MU’s DNP program are adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (across the lifespan), pediatric nurse practitioner and nursing leadership and innovations in health care. There are 72-74.5 required credit hours, and course requirements vary by concentration, but you can expect to take nursing theory, policy, and research courses, among others. You will complete 1000 clinical hours, and a DNP scholarly project.
In order to qualify for admission at MU, you should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and show high academic skill in your transcripts. Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements for their BSN or MS also may provide additional evidence documenting examples of outstanding professional leadership, practice and/or scholarship for special consideration. You must also possess RN licensure, and more depending on the specific requirements of your program. The net price of this program is $17,833.
Missouri State University-Springfield
Average Net Price
Missouri State University, located in Springfield, has an online DNP program to prepare nurses for success in leadership and advanced practice. MSU will allow you to do a post-master’s program or a post-bachelor’s: the post-master’s DNP will require 29 credit hours while the post-bachelor’s will require 79, but they both use the same tactics in their aim to help students be prepared advanced practice nurses and health managers.
If you are coming to this program with a master’s degree, you can expect to take courses like Finance Management and Entrepreneurship for Advanced Nursing Roles and Health Policy to Improve Disparities. This program will help you build off of your graduate education to create a tailored doctoral program right for the work you want to do. Course requirements for the BSN to DNP include Advanced Physical Assessment and Clinical Reasoning, Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics and Advanced Research Methods in Nursing.
In order to qualify for admission to MSU’s DNP program, you must have a bachelor’s in nursing (or a master’s, if you are going the MSN-DNP route), a post-master’s certification of advanced nursing practice (if applicable) and a current, unencumbered RN license in the state where you will do your clinical practicums. The net price for this program is $15,783.
University of Kansas
Average Net Price
Out in Lawrence, Kansas, the Jayhawks reign supreme at the University of Kansas. KU has many impressive course offerings, notably its Doctor of Nursing Practice that students can enter post-bachelor’s or post-master’s degree. From there, its programs break down into two majors: advanced practice and leadership.
In the advanced practice specialty for post-bachelor’s students, you can concentrate on adult-gerontology primary care nurse practice, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practice, family nurse practice, psychiatric/mental health nurse practice or nurse midwifery. These concentrations range from 75-79 required credit hours. In the leadership specialty, a student might focus on health informatics, organizational leadership or public health nursing. BSN to DNP students should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, current licensure as a registered nurse in at least one state and preferably a year of experience as a registered nurse.
For students going from their MSN to the DNP, there are two majors to choose from as well: advanced practice, which encompasses nurse practice, clinical nurse, and nurse midwifery and requires the completion of 32 total credit hours; and leadership, which encompasses nurse leadership, health informatics and public health nursing, also requiring 32 credit hours. To be admitted as a post-master’s student, you must have a master’s degree in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a national specialty certification for all nurse midwifery and nurse practitioner applicants, as well as RN licensure in at least one state. The net price of this degree is $18,415.
Jacksonville State University
Average Net Price
Jacksonville State University, located in Jacksonville, Alabama, offers an online DNP program to help nurses advance in their career. JSU offers three available tracks: BSN to DNP family nurse practitioner, BSN to DNP adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, and post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice. Both BSN to DNP programs can be completed in 12-15 semesters whereas the post-master’s degree can be completed in 6.
Post-master’s students will take courses such as Health Care Policy & Finance and Evidence-Based Practice and Quality in Healthcare. To be admitted as a post-master’s student, you must have completed your master’s degree in nursing with a minimum grade-point-average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants must also have a current and unencumbered license as a registered nurse.
Applicants to either of the BSN to DNP tracks are required to have completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing with at least a 3.0 grade-point-average on a 4.0 scale. The curriculum is focused on preparing students to enter the healthcare community and make a difference. Students will take foundational classes, such as Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, as well as more specialized courses fit for their concentration of study. The net price of this degree is $12,243.
Idaho State University
Average Net Price
Idaho State University is a public research university located in Pocatello, Idaho. Its DNP prepares nurses to have extensive knowledge and influence on the world of clinical nursing practice. The distance program, meaning course work is delivered online and clinical components are completed in the student’s surrounding area, focuses on evidence-based application within the ever-changing world of healthcare. Students are required to attend the ISU Pocatello campus once a semester for clinical intensives. Degree options include family nurse practitioner (FNP), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), and post-master’s DNP.
To be admitted, applicants must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minimum of a 3.0 grade-point-average on a 4.0 scale and a current and unencumbered license as a registered nurse. It is recommended that applicants have also had at least two years of experience in nursing or healthcare, although this is not a requirement. Students in either post-bachelor’s degree program are required to complete 78 total credits with classes such as Individual, Group, and Brief Therapies for PMHNP students and Primary Care of Child & Adolescent for those specializing in FNP.
A post-master’s DNP program is also offered through ISU for already certified family nurse practitioners or psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners. This program has 26 total required credits with classes such as Informational Technology in Health Care and Genetics for Healthcare Professionals. The net price of a DNP degree from ISU is $13,349.
Texas Woman’s University
Average Net Price
Texas Woman’s University, which is surprisingly not a university only for women, offers a DNP program that is geared towards nurses hoping to advance into roles of expertise and leadership. The curriculum is based on enhanced clinical practice, health care informatics, and the application of scientific advances in nursing to best prepare students to enter the complex and ever-changing world of health care. It is a hybrid curriculum of both online and classroom work. Students are also required to complete 500 contact hours in their selected area of clinical expertise as well as a capstone project.
Applicants are required to be currently licensed as both an RN and an APRN and to have a master’s in nursing with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with at least a 3.0 GPA may be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis. It is also required that applicants have at least one year experience as an APRN.
Once admitted, students can expect to complete 49 semester credit hours with classes such as Philosophy of Nursing Science; Epidemiology, Health Promotion, and Research in Advanced Nursing Practice; and Informatics and Research in Nursing. The net price of this degree is $9,324.
George Washington University
Average Net Price
George Washington University, in the heart of our nation’s capital, offers a practice-focused DNP program designed to inspire expertise in students in advanced nursing practice. The program emphasizes key nursing practice skills and innovation and provides several options for different fields of study in clinical practice, policy and leadership.
Students can enter as post-bachelor students or as post-master’s students. Post-bachelor DNP students can pick from three concentrations: adult-gerontology acute care NP, adult-gerontology primary care NP, and family NP. Applicants are required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and a current and unencumbered RN license. Once admitted, students will complete 81 credit hours and 1000 practice hours.
Post-master’s DNP students have the choice between concentrating in executive leadership, nursing practice, or health policy. Applicants must have a master’s in nursing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 in either nursing administration, nursing leadership management, or nurse practitioner. Post-master’s DNP students will choose to concentrate in executive leadership, nursing practice, or health policy, and will be required to complete 43, 36, or 42 credit hours respectively. Each concentration also requires 1000 practice hours. A DNP from George Washington University has a net price of $39,600.
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Average Net Price
Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, West Virginia University School of Nursing offers a Post-Master’s DNP program for nurses hoping to advance their nursing practice, specifically in diverse communities. The program is designed for nurses with prior advanced education and experience who hope to reach the very highest levels of nursing practice.
The degree can be completed in as few as 32 credit hours in addition to a required 1000 hours of hours of clinical immersion. Students can expect to take classes such as Transforming Healthcare Through Information Technology; Health Care Issues, Policy, and Ethics; and Health Care Leadership. The net price of this degree is $12,181.
University of Mississippi
Average Net Price
The University of Mississippi—known to locals only as Ole’ Miss—houses one of the largest medical centers in Mississippi, which is home to a highly-regarded DNP program with pathways to entry and graduation for people with BSN degrees and MSN degrees alike. This DNP program is specifically focused on health care delivery and the health care delivery system as a whole to make sure that its graduates can serve overlooked populations with their advanced nursing degrees.
For RNs with a bachelor’s, there are five areas of emphasis to choose from: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing and healthcare administrator, and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner. Regardless of emphasis or starting point, you will be required to take courses about health care finance, leadership, policy and epidemiology. From there, your course schedule will depend on your specific emphasis and the academic experience you already possess.
Admission requirements vary based on track and major, but you will be required to have either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree of science in nursing with academic success as well as an RN license in your state of residence. The net price of this degree is $14,459.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Average Net Price
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a DNP program for post-master’s registered nurses who want to advance to the highest level of practice and influence health care outcomes for vulnerable populations. Students are provided with the foundation to translate evidence into practice, implement changes within the system, establish standards and policy, and fill a leadership role.
Applicants must complete an emotional intelligence questionnaire, have a current and unencumbered RN and/or APRN license, and a degree with a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Once admitted, students can expect to take classes such as Organizational Theory and Systems Leadership; Epidemiology; and Healthcare Policy: Analysis, Advocacy, and Transformation. Students must complete 38 total credit hours. The program’s net price is $10,448.
The University of Texas at Tyler
Average Net Price
The University of Texas at Tyler is located in the eastern part of Texas, near the Louisiana border. UT Tyler is one of the fastest-growing universities in the University of Texas system, and it has a mascot with a funny name—Swoop the Eagle. UT Tyler is home to a DNP program that offers two tracks: the clinical DNP track and the leadership (education, administration & informatics) track. The goals for both of these programs are to synthesize scientific evidence and develop quality practices, to analyze policy and systems to fit the needs of patients and populations, and to translate academic and scientific principles into health care (among others).
Students in both tracks can expect to take courses in epidemiology, population health and healthcare informatics before moving on to the more specific courses for their degree. Students must take courses in publishing scholarly papers for the research component of their degree and will complete a clinical practicum as well.
Admission requirements will vary, but you can expect to be required to have a graduate degree in nursing and an RN license in your state of residence. The net price of this degree is $12,437.
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Average Net Price
The University of Alabama in Huntsville is located in beautiful northern Alabama, far from the football frenzy of Tuscaloosa but with all the resources of the University of Alabama system. UAH offers a completely online DNP program for advanced practice nurses who want to get a higher education on their own schedule. However, you will be required to go to Alabama at least once for a two-day intensive where you can network and build faculty and peer relationships. This program focuses on administrative, organizational and systems leadership competencies and expects its graduates to be leaders in their field. This program can be done full-time or part-time depending on your availability, and can be tailored to meet your specific educational and professional desires.
Students must take 40 credit hours to graduate, which includes the time spent on your final DNP project. Examples of the courses you will be expected to take include Writing for Publication; Philosophy, Theory and Concepts for Advanced Practice Nursing; Health Policy and Politics; and Population Health in Advanced Practice Nursing.
This program is intended for students who already have a Master of Science in Nursing, and to qualify for admission, you must have a graduate GPA of at least 3.0. Your MSN must be in one of the following areas: nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwifery, nursing administration, or informatics. You must have a current RN license. The net cost of this program is $15,437.
University of Southern Mississippi
Average Net Price
The University of Southern Mississippi is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and is home to a mascot eagle named Seymour d’Campus. USM’s DNP program is notable for its focus on rural health and on communities that have been systemically overlooked by the medical system. It is a program designed for students who don’t already have a master’s degree. As a DNP student at Southern Miss, you will be able to choose between studying to be a family nurse practitioner or a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. You’ll need 34-43 credit hours to complete the program, with 37 credit hours dedicated to the area of emphasis and clinical courses.
Course examples for USM students include Introducing Students to the Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse, Advanced Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice, Population Health and Epidemiology, and Policy and Politics in Healthcare. You will also complete a Doctor of Nursing practice project and clinical hours.
In order to qualify for admission to USM’s DNP program, you should have an undergraduate nursing degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and an unencumbered nursing license in the state you will be doing your clinical hours. You must have at least a year of clinical nursing experience, and fulfill other requirements as stated by the University of Southern Mississippi. The net cost of this degree is $13,773.
Frequently Asked Questions
An online DNP is a good choice for nurses wanting to advance in their careers. Reputable online DNP programs provide the same rigorous curriculum as on-campus counterparts. These programs cater to working nurses, offering flexibility while maintaining high academic standards.
It depends on your career goals, but DNPs can lead to advanced roles with higher earning potential, especially in leadership, education, or specialized practice. Since there’s huge demand for nurse practitioners, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s a good career to pursue. The BLS projects 38% growth in jobs for NPs over the next 10 years.
A DNP program can take anywhere from 3 to 6 years to complete, but the length of time depends on different factors. Prior educational experiences, part-time or full-time enrollment, and program acceleration options all impact how long it takes to get your DNP.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) are distinct but complementary. While an NP focuses on clinical practice, a DNP emphasizes leadership, systems improvement, and advanced nursing roles. Your choice depends on your career goals. Some NPs pursue a DNP for broader impact, leadership, or research roles, enhancing their skills and contributions.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can open doors to leadership and advanced practice roles, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee more pay than a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Pay varies based on factors such as experience, location, and specific job roles. Both DNPs and NPs can command competitive salaries. The average pay for nurse practitioners is $121,610/year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The salary difference between a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) varies based on factors such as the specific job, location, and level of experience. While DNPs qualify for advanced leadership roles, the impact on pay depends on the employer’s policies and the demands of the position. Some jobs pay more, while others don’t.
The average pay for nurse practitioners is $121,610/year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% make over $208,000/year. Hospitals are the top-paying industry for NPs with DNPs. The average pay in hospitals is $133,030/year.
On average, it can take 2 to 4 years to complete a DNP program after getting an MSN. The duration varies based on the specific DNP program and whether a student pursues it on a full-time or part-time basis. Some online accelerated options are out there and can shorten the time it takes to get the DNP.
According to American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) statistics, only 1.2% of nurses working today have a DNP degree. 0.6% have a PhD, and 64% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.