10 Best Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs | 2024

Discover the best DNP programs available in 2024, along with detailed information about their prerequisites, costs, salary expectations, and more. Programs

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The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a specialized degree aimed at equipping nurses with advanced skills and knowledge, qualifying them to become leaders in the healthcare industry. 

To earn a DNP, candidates must navigate various paths, understand the program prerequisites, engage deeply with the core coursework, and be aware of the prospective career opportunities that await.

Given the complexity and variety of DNP programs available, selecting the right one can be challenging. To assist you in this decision-making process, we've provided the essential components of the DNP journey and curated a list of the top 10 DNP programs in the US for 2024.

What Is a DNP?

A DNP is a highly regarded terminal degree in nursing that equips graduates with high-level skills and knowledge. DNP graduates can significantly impact healthcare outcomes through organizational leadership, program management, healthcare administration, health policy implementation, and advanced practice nursing. 

The two main pathways for nurses pursuing their DNP are leadership and administration and advanced practice nursing (APRN). DNP-prepared nurses in leadership and administration roles are critical to strengthening executive nurse leadership positions and implementing evidence-based care programs that are sustainable and cost-effective. Moreover, those who pursue the APRN pathway provide direct patient care, including managing, assessing, and evaluating, such as Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioners.  

Earning a DNP degree does not make someone a physician, as a doctorate is purely an academic accomplishment and a nurse's highest level of education. In nursing, there are only two doctoral-level degrees, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and both are considered the pinnacle of nursing degrees. 

Not all DNP programs meet the educational requirements of the APRN Consensus Model. For nurses planning to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, it is necessary to do thorough research to find the right program that aligns with your career goals. 

DNP Coursework

Typical coursework found in DNP programs include:

  • Leadership and Administration: Focuses on executive nurse leadership, healthcare management, and evidence-based care program implementation.
  • Advanced Practice Nursing: Emphasizes direct patient care skills for roles like Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioners.
  • Healthcare Policy: Training in health policy development and implementation.
  • Organizational Leadership: Prepares for roles in healthcare organization management.
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice: In-depth study of research methodologies and applying evidence-based practices in healthcare settings.

DNP Clinical Training

  • Hands-On Experience: Practical training in healthcare settings, applying theoretical knowledge.
  • Specialized Practice Areas: Training specific to the nurse's chosen specialty, such as anesthesiology or family practice.
  • Leadership Projects: Involvement in leadership and management projects within healthcare organizations.
  • Clinical Hours Requirement: Completion of a required number of clinical hours for practical experience.
  • Capstone Project: A comprehensive project demonstrating the application of learned skills to a real-world healthcare challenge.

10 Best DNP Programs in 2024

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most and with the addition of graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

The general overview of the following schools covers some of the basics of the DNP programs. All the programs, unless specified, have pathways for nurses with their BSN degree or their MSN degree. The cost and length of time to acquire your DNP will vary depending on your current level of nursing education. 

To make informed decisions about which DNP program to enroll in, it is crucial to investigate schools that align with your professional aspirations. The following sections outline the areas of specialization offered by each school, serving as a valuable reference to aid you in selecting the right DNP program. 

1. Duke University 

Duke University's DNP program in Durham, North Carolina, trains nurses in specialized roles, such as nurse practitioners, healthcare leaders, and health informaticists. DNP students acquire clinical scholarship skills to apply research into practice, measure patient outcomes, and improve the safety and quality of healthcare. 

Unlike some other programs, Duke finds the clinical site assignment for their students, freeing DNP students from the burden. The program is also designed to offer flexibility for DNP students to balance their studies with work commitments. 

  • Price: $2,075 per credit hour
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 24 - 42 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner–Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner–Primary Care, Family Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. 

DNP Non-Clinical Options: Health Informatics, Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education, and Post-DNP Executive Leadership Specialty Certificate.

2. Emory University

Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia, is a prestigious institution for DNP degree programs. The school focuses on training advanced practice nurses and offers full-time and part-time options for DNP students, with over 92% of nursing students receiving financial aid. Emory acknowledges their DNP graduates as visionary leaders who provide practical solutions to the complex challenges of healthcare.  

  • Price: $1,721.00 per credit hour
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 24-30 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women's Health-Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner. 

3. Rasmussen University 

Rasmussen University, located in Springs, Florida, offers a unique DNP program that adopts a competency-based education approach for RNs with master's degrees. DNP students can learn by undertaking real-world projects at their own pace, without weekly deadlines, and with the ability to watch recorded live sessions anytime. This practical and flexible approach provides students with valuable skills and knowledge to excel in their nursing careers, with a focus on nursing leadership roles. 

  • Price: $695.00 per credit hour
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 21 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE, HLC 

DNP Options: Executive Leadership and Public Health and Policy. 

4. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore is a top-ranked nursing school with an exceptional DNP program that offers unparalleled resources and opportunities. The program strongly emphasizes innovative research, clinical practice, and policy influence, empowering DNP students to tackle pressing healthcare challenges and enhance patient outcomes. 

Johns Hopkins DNP students are only provided with a full-time option for DNP programs. The university offers two tracks for its DNP students: an advanced practice track and an executive track, ensuring a comprehensive education for future DNP nursing leaders. Moreover, Johns Hopkins offers an online option for DNP primary care and CNS tracks, enabling students to obtain their DNP degree without relocating. 

  • Price: $1,939 per credit hour
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 36 – 48 months
  • Pathways: BSN & MSN
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontology: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology: Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, Adult-Gerontological Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Gerontological Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Pediatric Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Non-clinical Options: Executive, Executive-MBA, and Executive-MPH. 

5. Rush University 

Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois, is a nationally recognized DNP program that empowers nurses to enhance their practice and advance their careers. The DNP program offers both APRN and nursing leadership options, catering to DNP students' career paths. 

Rush University provides its DNP students with the option to pursue their degree either full-time or part-time, allowing them to balance education with work and other responsibilities. 

  • Price: $1,286 per credit hour 
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 18-40 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Primary Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Nurse Anesthetist

DNP Non-Clinical Options: Public Health, Transformative Leadership: Population Health, Transformative Leadership: Systems 

6. Purdue University Global 

Purdue University Global offers a DNP degree program for nursing professionals with their master's degree who seek advancement in advanced practice nursing or healthcare leadership roles. The program is tailored for the working individual and provides flexible scheduling options to accommodate busy schedules. However, their DNP program is unavailable to Hawaii, Louisiana, New York, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Guam, and the Virgin Islands residents.   

  • Price: $700 per credit hour
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 18 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE, HLC

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

DNP Non-Clinical Options: Executive leader and Nurse educator

7. Columbia University 

Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University School of Nursing is widely recognized as a prestigious institution offering a highly-regarded Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree for nurses aspiring to become Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The university's DNP program is designed to prepare DNP students with the skills and knowledge required to effectively address intricate healthcare challenges and lead the nursing profession's innovation. 

Columbia's DNP program is offered on a full-time basis, ensuring students receive a comprehensive and immersive educational experience. 

  • Price: $23,628 per term 
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 30 – 36 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-gerontology primary care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Midwifery, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthetist. 

8. University of Maryland

Located in Baltimore, the University of Maryland School of Nursing offers a DNP program for RNs seeking to become APRNs. The program offers full-time and part-time options tailored to previous education and DNP specialty track. 

University of Maryland's DNP curriculum is focused on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, providing DNP students with the knowledge and training to become patient care leaders in the constantly evolving healthcare world. Graduates from the University of Maryland's DNP program are equipped with the necessary skills to positively impact healthcare, enhancing patient care and improving health outcomes. 

  • Price: $856 per credit hour (in-state), $1,519 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 24 -36 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthetist.  

9. University of Washington

The University of Washington DNP program in Seattle allows nurses to advance their careers through clinical and non-clinical options on a full-time basis only. The DNP program at the University of Washington emphasizes leadership and innovation in healthcare, training future APRNs and healthcare nursing leaders. Pioneering the way, the University of Washington established the first Doctor of Nursing Program on the West Coast in 2007 and was one of only 50 schools offering DNP degrees. 

  • Price: $982 per credit hour
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 24-36 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women's Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

DNP Non-Clinical Options: Population Health & Systems Leadership

10. Ohio State University 

The Ohio State University's DNP program is a reputable program that prepares nurses for advanced clinical practice and leadership roles in healthcare. Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates from Ohio State are equipped to lead change in healthcare systems and implement innovative approaches to improve the quality of care. 

Ohio State University offers DNP programs on a full-time and part-time schedule, and some of the DNP program specialties are offered online, whereas others may only be available on campus. Program length can vary depending on the plan you choose. 

  • Price: $1,155.58 per credit hour
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 36-48 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE 

DNP Advance Practice Nursing Specialty Options: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist.

DNP Non-Clinical Options: Nursing Education and Nurse Executive Track

DNP Prerequisites and Requirements

To be eligible for enrollment in a DNP degree program, applicants must have:

  • Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree and transcripts.
  • Active Registered Nurse (RN) license.
  • At least one year of full-time nursing experience.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • Graduate Record Examinations. This requirement may vary based on the DNP program and time since you obtained your BSN or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). 

Admission requirements for DNP programs may vary, including a minimum GPA of 3.0 or more than one year of clinical nursing experience. 

For MSN graduates, DNP programs will verify clinical practice hours and may have a minimum of 500 hours for enrollment into their MSN to DNP programs. 

DNP Pathways and Specialties

The pathway to earning a DNP may vary based on the individual's prior education level before applying to a program. Despite the belief that an MSN is required, many universities offer pathways for Bachelor-prepared and Master-prepared nurses seeking to advance their education and careers.  

BSN to DNP Programs

For RNs with a BSN who want to pursue a DNP. 

  • Prepares BSN RNs to be healthcare leaders, influencing healthcare outcomes through organizational leadership, healthcare policy implementation, and advanced practice direct patient care. 
  • 3-4 years to complete. 

MSN to DNP Programs

For RNs with an MSN who want to pursue a DNP. 

  • The DNP degree enables nurses with an MSN to enhance their expertise further and seek elevated leadership, organizational, and decision-making positions. Moreover, the DNP curriculum expands upon MSN programs by incorporating evidence-based practice, systems leadership, and quality improvement. 
  • 1-2 years to complete.

Direct Entry DNP for Non-Nurses

Designed for individuals with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, this program offers a route to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) without prior nursing education. It prepares graduates for advanced roles in healthcare, such as leadership, policy implementation, and direct patient care by incorporating foundational nursing education, advanced practice techniques, and DNP-level coursework.

  • Typically takes 3-4 years to complete,

Nursing Leadership Roles for DNP Graduates 

APRN Roles for DNP Graduates

Costs of DNP Programs

When considering the costs of DNP programs, various factors contribute to the overall financial commitment. Here's a breakdown:

Tuition Fee Insights

  • Resident vs. Non-Resident Tuition: Public universities often charge different rates for state residents compared to non-residents, impacting overall costs.
  • Online Programs: These can be more cost-effective as they eliminate the need for physical classroom space. However, clinical hours remain a requirement for APRN specialty DNP programs. 
  • Cost Per Credit Hour: DNP courses can cost more than MSN courses depending on the educational institution.

Additional Cost Considerations

  • Books and Supplies: Costs for textbooks and necessary supplies for studies can add up quickly. 
  • Technology Fees: Common in online or hybrid programs to support the use of digital resources.
  • Lab & Clinical Fees: Charged for courses that require specific materials or equipment.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: These may include application, graduation, and other administrative costs.
  • Living Expenses: Particularly relevant for students who relocate or adjust their work schedules to accommodate their studies.
  • Certification & Licensing Fees: Essential for acquiring the necessary credentials to practice as an NP.
  • Opportunity Costs: The potential financial impact of reduced work hours while attending school.
  • Long-term ROI: Benefits such as networking opportunities, educational quality, and job placement should be considered.
  • Personal Circumstances: Factors such as childcare or the need to maintain employment may affect program choice.
  • Accreditation and Reputation: Crucial for ensuring the program offers a quality education and supports professional growth.

To manage these expenses, explore the Best Ways to Pay for Nursing School for practical financial planning tips.

Salary Expectations of a DNP in 2024

DNP graduates' salaries will vary depending upon various factors, including DNP degree specialty, geographic location, level of experience, and employer. 

Here's a breakdown of some of the different annual salary ranges that DNPs can earn:

Nurse Anesthetist

National Nurse Anesthetist Wage

  • Low: $139,980 or $67.30 per hour
  • Mean: $214,200 or $102.98 per hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists

  • Illinois: $281,240
  • Massachusetts: $272,510
  • Montana: $256,460
  • New York: $256,160
  • Vermont: $254,790

Nurse Practitioner

National Nurse Practitioner Wage

  • Low: $94,530 or $45.45 per hour
  • Mean: $128,490 or $61.78 per hour
  • High: $168.030 or $80.79 per hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Practitioners

  • California: $161,540
  • Nevada: $148,670
  • Washington: $145,400
  • New Jersey: $145,030
  • Oregon: $144,950

Nurse Administrator

National Nurse Administrator Wage

  • Low: $67,900 or $32.65 per hour
  • Mean: $134,440 or $64,64 per hour
  • High: $216,750 or $104.21 per hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Administrators 

  • New York: $179,160
  • Distric of Columbia: $170,710
  • Delaware: $164,190
  • New Jersey: $162,430
  • Massachusetts: $158,540

Nurse Midwife

National Nurse Midwife Wage

  • Low: $87,320 or $41.98 per hour
  • Mean: $131,570. or $63.26 per hour
  • High: $177,530 or $85.35 per hour

Top Paying States for Nurse Midwives

  • California: $183,740
  • Hawaii: $161,820
  • Massachusetts: $154,080
  • Maine: $140,440
  • Oregon: $139,490

Nurse Educator

National Nurse Educator Wage

  • Low: $49,120
  • Mean: $86,530
  • High: $130,320

Top Paying States for Nurse Educators

  • District of Columbia: $111,130
  • Oregon: $109,110
  • New York: $102,980
  • New Jersey: $101,540
  • Nevada: $99,320

The demand for APRNs and graduate-level faculty members is continually increasing. The BLS estimates an occupational growth rate of 38% between 2022-2032, creating a competitive market for rising salaries.

Are DNP Programs Worth It?

DNP programs offer significant opportunities for professional advancement and personal growth in the nursing field, but they also require a considerable investment of time, money, and effort. The decision to pursue a DNP should be based on individual career goals, financial situation, and the ability to commit to a demanding educational program.

Pros of DNP Programs

  1. Advanced Career Opportunities: DNP graduates often have access to higher-level positions in healthcare, such as leadership, administration, and advanced clinical roles, which are not typically available to those with only a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing.
  2. Higher Earning Potential: With advanced qualifications, DNP graduates generally have the potential for higher salaries compared to their counterparts with lesser degrees.
  3. Enhanced Clinical Skills: DNP programs provide advanced clinical training, which can lead to improved patient care and outcomes.
  4. Leadership and Policy Influence: The DNP curriculum often includes leadership and healthcare policy, equipping graduates to play influential roles in shaping healthcare practices and policies.
  5. Contribution to the Nursing Profession: DNPs contribute significantly to the nursing profession through research, education, and practice, enhancing the overall quality and effectiveness of healthcare.

Cons of DNP Programs

  1. Cost and Financial Investment: DNP programs can be expensive, leading to substantial student debt, which may take years to pay off.
  2. Time Commitment: These programs are rigorous and time-consuming, often requiring a significant commitment that can impact personal and professional life.
  3. Opportunity Cost: Pursuing a DNP may mean sacrificing time and potential income that could have been earned if working instead of studying.
  4. Market Saturation: In some areas, the market for DNP-prepared nurses can be saturated, making it challenging to find positions that fully utilize their advanced degrees.
  5. Stress and Burnout: The demands of both the program and subsequent high-level positions can lead to increased stress and potential burnout.

Importance of Attending an Accredited DNP Program

Attending an accredited DNP program is crucial for several key reasons:

  • Quality of Education: Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific standards of quality in education. Accredited programs are regularly reviewed and must maintain high standards in curriculum, faculty qualifications, student resources, and clinical training.
  • Eligibility for Certification and Licensure: Many advanced nursing certifications and state licensure requirements stipulate graduation from an accredited program. Without this, you may not be eligible for certain certifications or state licenses, which are essential for practice.
  • Career Opportunities: Employers often prefer or exclusively hire graduates from accredited programs. This preference is due to the assurance of a high-quality education and the knowledge that the candidate has met nationally recognized standards.
  • Transferability of Credits: If you decide to further your education, credits from an accredited program are more likely to be accepted by other accredited institutions. This is important for those considering pursuing further education, such as a PhD.
  • Professional Credibility: Graduating from an accredited program enhances your professional credibility. It demonstrates to employers, colleagues, and patients that you have received education and training that meets national standards for advanced nursing practice.
  • Access to Federal Financial Aid: Accreditation is often a requirement for eligibility for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. This can be a crucial factor for students who need financial assistance to pursue their education.

For these reasons, students should ensure their programs of interest are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

DNP Scope of Practice, Certification, & Licensure

The breadth of practice, certification, and licensing mandates for DNP graduates will differ based on the chosen specialization and whether the pathway to an APRN role is pursued.

Essential DNP APRN Regulatory Organizations & Certifying Authorities:

The authority and independence of APRNs are deeply influenced by the laws of each state. It's imperative for DNP candidates to select programs that meet the regulatory requirements of their preferred state of practice. Programs that equip students for multi-state practice are exceptionally valuable, offering the adaptability needed for those contemplating a move.

  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): Delve into practice boundaries and state-specific rules with guidance from the American College of Nurse-Midwives, obtaining certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): For insight into practice scope and state-specific protocols, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists provides essential information. Certifications can be pursued through the NACNS or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs): For state-specific practice information, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is a pivotal resource. NP certification can be attained via various boards, including the most common AANP Certification Board and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Each state's Board of Nursing outlines the practice scope for APRNs, often categorized as full, reduced, or restricted practice. Achieving national certification is usually a necessary step before state licensure and is vital for all DNP practitioners seeking an APRN designation.

Guidance for DNP Graduates Entering Non-Clinical Fields:

Not all DNP graduates focus on clinical practice; some may specialize in leadership or educational roles without the requirement for an APRN license. However, maintaining an RN license is necessary for all advanced nursing degrees.

  • Nurse Executives: Leadership roles may require certifications such as the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC) or the Nurse Executive Advanced Certification (NEA-BC) available through the ANCC.
  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML): The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) provides the CNML certification, designed for those targeting leadership positions.
  • Certified Nurse Educator (CNE): Those pursuing a future in nursing education should consider the CNE credential from the National League for Nursing.

FAQ and Additional Readings

Q: Why should I obtain my DNP if I can become an APRN with an MSN?

A: While an MSN is sufficient for becoming an APRN, obtaining a DNP degree can offer several benefits. 

A DNP can provide additional knowledge and skills that can help advance your nursing practice and leadership abilities. It can also prepare you for specialized areas of nursing practice and research. Additionally, some employers prefer or require DNP degrees for advanced nursing positions, and earning a DNP can increase your earning potential. Whether you obtain a DNP depends on your career goals and aspirations. 

Q: Do DNP programs require more clinical hours than MSN programs?

A: Advanced practice nurses with their MSNs must have a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours, whereas a DNP degree requires nurses to achieve a minimum of 1,000 supervised clinical hours. In post-master's DNP programs, students can utilize the clinical hours they acquired during their MSN program to fulfill the requirement of obtaining a minimum of 1,000 hours for their DNP. 

Q: What's the difference between a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing?

A: A DNP and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) are both doctoral-level degrees in nursing but differ in their focus and objectives. 

A DNP program is practice-focused and is designed to prepare nurses to become advanced practice clinicians, healthcare administrators, or healthcare policy leaders. It emphasizes clinical practice, leadership, and healthcare systems improvement. 

On the other hand, a Ph.D. in Nursing program is research-focused and prepares nurses to become researchers, scholars, and educators. It emphasizes research methodology, theory development, and scientific inquiry. 

While both degrees may lead to academic and leadership positions in nursing, the DNP is geared towards those who want to focus on improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. In contrast, the Ph.D. in Nursing is geared toward those who wish to advance nursing knowledge through research. 

Q: Can I pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) if I'm not a nurse?

Yes, it's possible to pursue a DNP without prior nursing experience. However, there are important factors to consider. It's crucial to thoroughly research DNP programs to find ones that cater to non-nurses and align with your career goals. If you're looking to bypass traditional nursing pathways like ADN and BSN, you might consider direct-entry MSN or DNP programs. These specialized programs are tailored for individuals from non-nursing backgrounds seeking advanced practice roles.

Edited by Erin Lee

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Editorial Team / Admin

Erin Lee has 12 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC.

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Specializes in Cardiac, Ortho, Med/Surg, ICU, Quality. Has 10 years experience.

Anyone here attending a DNP program that does not require attendance to the university in any way? I am looking for 100% online with no immersion or labs at the university. Preferably a program that allows you to work full time.