Inside BSN to DNP Programs Online

See the best online BSN to DNP programs online, get cost and curriculum details, and learn what it takes to get in, succeed, and graduate.

Last Updated: 08/03/2020
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MEET THE EXPERT

Renee-Warmbrodt
Renee Warmbrodt

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Renee Warmbrodt is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with extensive experience working with pediatrics in a range of settings. She graduated from Saint Louis University with her MSN and currently works with a pediatric urology group in St. Louis, MO. Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner, Renee worked several years with critically ill children as a PICU staff nurse. She also has experience educating, precepting, and mentoring nursing students.

2020’s Best Online BSN to DNP Programs

Colleges across the U.S. continue to add online components to their nursing bridge programs. This holds true for the BSN to DNP online, with more and more schools creating programs that are fully online. But which of these programs has high-quality and flexible learning that’s within your tuition range? The data science team at EduMed.org has collected, researched, and analyzed data from more than 7,700 post-secondary schools across the country. The goal? To see which offer students the best online BSN to DNP programs for their money. See which colleges made the list in 2020.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

#School NameTypeCostOnline ProgramsMore DetailsSchool InformationOnline StudentsAcademic CounselingCareer PlacementStudents w/Institutional AidMedian Earnings 10yrs After EntryAccreditation
1University of MaryBismarck, NDPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$1

The University of Mary extends a fully accredited doctor of nursing practice to working professionals with a BSN. The program offers an accelerated path to full-time work as a family nurse practitioner. The University of Mary administers the program in an online format punctuated by weeklong residential experiences at the school main campus in Bismarck, North Dakota. Students complete coursework in advanced health assessment and healthcare policy along with supervised clinical rotations. The program concludes with a competency assessment and skills examination. Qualified applicants need an accredited BSN, an unencumbered registered nurse license, a resume, two professional references, and a career goals statement.

Program Overview

BSN to DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner:

  • Credits: 32
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Cost: $650/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2University of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayette, LAPublic$$1

The University of Louisiana Lafayette offers an evidence-based BSN to DNP program available to residents of the Bayou State. The course of study develops all the advanced leadership and practice skills necessary for high-level careers in healthcare policy and administration. UL Lafayette provides all coursework entirely online and supplements distance learning with in-person orientation sessions and clinical practicum experiences. Students also have the option of earning a concurrent master of science in nursing. Course topics may include applied statistics, epidemiology, and project planning. All students complete a DNP synthesis project and log at least 1,000 supervised practice hours before graduation.

Program Overview

BSN to DNP:

  • Credits: 70
  • Length: 32 months
  • Cost: $480/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: SACS (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3Maryville University of Saint LouisSaint Louis, MOPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$1

At Maryville University of Saint Louis working professionals with a BSN can earn a doctor of nursing practice in a few as 40 months. The streamlined program lets students pursue clinical rotations in their own local setting and offers five distinct concentrations: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health practitioner. Program courses come in flexible online formats and cover evidence-based nursing practice, disease prevention, advanced pathophysiology, and theoretical foundations. Seasoned faculty and expert professionals facilitate all learning experiences and prepare students for nursing work at the highest levels of the profession.

Program Overview

BSN to DNP Program:

  • Credits: 68-77
  • Length: 40 months
  • Cost: $897/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4Misericordia UniversityDallas, PAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$1

Misericordia University administers an online BSN to DNP program designed to help working professionals deepen their skills and broaden their impact in the field. The course of study integrates research, practice, and theory to provide students with advanced leadership skills, evidence-based knowledge, and clinical expertise. The school delivers all coursework online through a progressive learning environment with small class sizes. It also offers two specializations in adult-gerontology primary care and family nurse practitioner. Graduates of the program also earn a master of science in nursing along the way and typically complete their study within three years.

Program Overview

Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP):

  • Credits: 68
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: N/A
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: MSCHE (school)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
5Abilene Christian UniversityAbilene, TXPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$1

Abilene Christian University offers qualified professionals a quick and intensive pathway to DNP completion. The program consists of 57 credits that include core instruction, clinical rotations, and a few free electives. Students can also opt to follow an executive leadership track that focuses on preparation for administrative management roles in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Abilene Christian offers all courses completely online through convenient learning tools that makes it easy to balance work, life, and education. Near the end of the program all students complete a comprehensive capstone projects that applies, synthesizes, and assesses gained skills and knowledge.

Program Overview

BSN to DNP:

  • Credits: 57
  • Length: 38 months
  • Cost: $650/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: SACS (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
6Regis CollegeWeston, MAPrivate, Not-for-Profit$$$$$2

Working professionals can pursue advanced nursing practice through Regis College’s online BSN to DNP course of study. The program provides an evidence and values-based education and boasts a 97% job placement rate within 6 months following graduation. Regis administers all coursework completely online and offers five areas of concentration in pediatrics, family health, adult gerontology, women’s health, and mental health. Students take intensive courses in topics like healthcare policy, healthcare informatics, and pathophysiology. They conclude the program with a scholarly project that synthesizes skills and knowledge and makes an original contribution to the field.

Program Overview

Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice:

  • Credits: N/A
  • Length: 46 months
  • Cost: N/A
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
Accreditationhttps://online.regiscollege.edu/bsn-to-doctor-of-nursing-practice/

Profiling Online BSN to DNP Programs

Before you apply to an online BSN to DNP program, you need some questions answers. How long will the program take? Is it fully online? Will I be able to afford it? To help, we’ve profiled three of today’s most popular BSN to DNP programs online. Read what it takes to get in, complete your courses, and graduate.

Fort Hays State University

Fort-Hays-State-University

From its home base in Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays State University provides a BSN to DNP program for individuals who already meet all Bachelor of Nursing requirements. The program is mostly online, but students will need to visit the campus a few times during their four years of full-time study. The school publishes the dates for campus intensives at least six weeks in advance to help students prep for travel.

The BSN to DNP program at FHSU follows a family nurse practitioner tract, which requires 76 credits in total. The program starts in the summer, beginning with foundations for the doctoral leader and informatics in health care systems. Students are required to take two to three classes each semester, covering topics such as evaluation and management in health care systems, epidemiology in public health, advanced pathophysiology, and evidence-based practice and scholarly tools.

Applicants need at least a 3.25 GPA and must submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. An interview is also required.  FHSU maintains accreditation through the Kansas State Board of Nursing, the Kansas Board of Regents, and the Higher Learning Commission.

Delta State University

Delta-State-University

Mississippi’s Delta State University provides a hybrid BSN to DNP program that can be completed in just seven semesters. Part-time options are also available. Most of the coursework is taught online, but students are required to visit campus between one and three times each semester. The school will help current students find an approved clinical location to fulfill degree requirements, but the site must be in either Mississippi or Arkansas.

The program requires 80 credit hours, a clinical practicum totaling 1,020 hours, and 420 hours devoted to a scholarly project. Students should expect the program to take 3.5 years to complete.

Applicants will need a minimum 3.0 GPA from their BSN, an analytic score of 3.0 or higher on the GRE, an unencumbered RN license, and three up-to-date letters of recommendation. All of these must be submitted by February 15.  The program costs $393 per credit for in- and out-of-state students.

Once accepted, students can expect to cover topics such as health policy and ethical decision making, management of client care, health care policy and economics in clinical practice, and leadership and role development in advanced nursing practice. The institution maintains accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

Duke University

Duke-University

Duke University’s School of Nursing offers a BSN to DNP program for currently practicing registered nurses who want to pursue an advanced practice specialty area. Current options include nurse practitioner and nurse anesthesia. Once enrolled, online students will need to complete at least 74 credits. Most students complete the program in three years.

Topics covered include transforming the nation’s health, data-driven health care improvements, evidence-based practice: implementation and evaluation, and quantitative analysis for evaluating health care practices. Students also need to complete all clinical practicum requirements.

In addition to online courses, students take part in a two-day orientation at the Durham, North Carolina campus, as well as executive on-campus sessions lasting two to three days in October, February, and June of each year.

Admission requirements include a BSN from a school accredited by ACEN or CCNE, a minimum 3.0 GPA (GRE requirements waived if above 3.4), current licensure, and three letters of recommendation. An interview is also required.  Once accepted, students pay $1,769 per credit, although the department offers several scholarships.

All of Duke’s faculty possess broadly diverse skill sets and experiences to help create a space for all interests and backgrounds. Duke maintains accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

BSN to DNP: Campus vs. Online vs. Blended

With so many different nursing specialties available, RNs looking to become advanced practice nurse practitioners (APNP) need to choose their program carefully. Many BSN to DNP programs require students to select a specialty when applying, so you should have some idea of your preferred focus before enrolling.

The following are some of the main types of BSN to DNP programs available, including the main areas of concentration available to students.

Program Delivery Options

There are a variety of ways that online BSN to DNP students can complete their degrees. Fully online programs may best suit those with busy schedules, as these programs make it possible to complete coursework from home on your own timeline. Some students may want to take part in campus activities, but can’t commit to regular visits. For these learners, limited campus visit programs often provide a good balance. Still others want the best of both worlds, preferring a blended approach that lets them straddle time between virtual and brick-and-mortar classrooms.

Read about each to find the one that works for you.

  • Fully online BSN to DNP programs
    Fully online programs allow degree seekers to complete all program requirements without ever visiting campus. Students will need to complete their clinical practicum in person, but they can do this in their area rather than traveling to the location of the school.
  • Limited campus visits
    Schools offering this option tend to provide the majority of coursework online, but schedule several intensives throughout the program that require short visits to campus. These can last anywhere from a weekend to a week and take place as frequently as once a semester or as little as once a year.
  • The blended BSN to DNP
    Also known as hybrid programs, blended programs split program requirements between virtual and campus-based classes. Students will likely spend about half their time in each, providing a great option for those who need some flexibility but also want to enjoy the benefits of face-to-face instruction and access to campus resources.

Areas of Concentration

Nursing is an incredibly broad field with a variety of degree concentrations to help students build skills and competencies in their area of interest. Some individuals may feel a calling to work with the elderly and decide to focus their efforts in adult-gerontological acute care; others may want to work across the lifespan and select the family nurse practitioner specialization. Regardless of your interests, there’s a good chance that a concentration exists for you.

Some of the most popular options currently include:

  • Adult-Gerontological Acute Care
  • Neonatal
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Pediatric Acute or Primary Care
  • Psychiatric Acute Care
  • Women’s Health

In Detail: Online BSN to DNP Programs

While every online BSN to DNP program has slightly different coursework and requirements, understanding how these programs typically work can help you decide if it’s the right next step for you. Learning more about the benefits and challenges of an online nursing program and what and how you’ll learn can also help you decide if this format will meet your academic and personal needs.

How BSN to DNP Programs Work Online

Whether a degree seeker selects a fully online or hybrid program, benefits and challenges exist with each. Fully online programs provide maximum flexibility, but some learners may miss interacting with peers and professors on campus each week. Hybrid programs allow for more face-time, but can put a time strain on individuals balancing busy professional and personal lives alongside school.

Many mostly online BSN to DNP degrees exist in a cohort fashion, meaning students enter the program at the same time and progress through the coursework together. This can be great for collaboration, but doesn’t allow students to accelerate their plan of study and graduate more quickly, as they cannot move faster or slower than their classmates.

How the Clinicals Work

As part of degree requirements, all nursing students in this type of program complete clinicals to gain real-world experience before graduating. For most BSN to DNP programs, requirements hover around 1,000 hours. Students enrolled in a brick-and-mortar program usually select from an approved list of sites, while online students need to do a bit more legwork.

Online students typically look for a site in their region, but approval from the program administrator is usually required. Other schools may find an organization for the student. You should check with the program administrator to find out how clinical locations are chosen.

In addition to gaining hands-on skills, clinical experiences can potentially lead to employment. Students who impress their supervisors may be able to leverage the clinical into a job offer, so picking a location where you can see a future is important. Before deciding on a location, however, make sure you do your due diligence. Just because an organization is prestigious doesn’t mean it’s a good fit. Take time to read about the facility’s mission, areas of specialty, employee benefits, and other factors before applying.

The Online BSN to DNP Curriculum

Coursework varies by program, but most cover general topics such as research methods, nursing leadership, nursing across the lifespan, and pharmacology. The following table gives students an idea of what to look for, but you should review individual schools to get a clearer sense of requirements.

TermCourses# Credits
SummerDoctoral Leader Foundations, Health Care Systems Informatics6
FallTheories in Nursing Development, Health Care Systems Management and Evaluation, Advanced Statistics9
SpringPolicy and Politics within Healthcare, Public Health Epidemiology, Nursing Research8
SummerRoles in Primary Care for Nurse Practitioners, Primary Care Health and Wellness Promotion4
FallAdvanced Pathophysiology, Nursing Leadership6
SpringAdvanced Pharmacology, Health Assessment Practicum, Health Assessment Lecture6
SummerCare Across the Lifespan2
FallPrimary Care, Scholarly Tools and Evidence-Based Practice, Primary Care Preceptorship8
SpringDiagnostics and Procedures in Primary Care, Preceptorship, Primary Care, Research Methods8
SummerPrimary Care within Families and Communities, Capstone Project6
FallPrimary Care Preceptorship, Residency, Capstone Project6
SpringCapstone Project, Residency, Preceptorship6

DNP Research Project

The culminating research project is an integral part of any AACN-accredited BSN to DNP program and allows students to put their learning into actionable practice. These projects can take many forms. Some learners may decide to evaluate an existing program using knowledge gained from their courses, while others may write on an emerging topic within nursing.

Students work with an advisor to develop a project that focuses on their specialty area and adequately demonstrates their learning throughout the program. In general, every research program should demonstrate skills in the following areas.

  • Expertise in reflective practice
  • Expertise in your area of interest
  • Independent practice inquiry
  • The ability to evaluate, translate, and use research and evidence to improve health and quality care outcomes
  • Organizational and systems leadership skills
  • Knowledge of advanced healthcare policy, ethics, and law to develop a population-based program based on the best available and current evidence

Entrance Requirements & Admissions

Being accepted to a doctoral program is no small feat, and you’ll need to prove you’re prepared and able to excel if you hope to make the cut. To be considered, individuals will need at minimum a BSN degree and an active and unencumbered RN license. Here are the other requirements students should expect, as well as ways they can stand out.

BSN to DNP Prerequisites

  • A BSN from a program accredited by the CCNE, ACEN, or CNEA.
  • An active RN license. Schools want to see that you successfully passed the NCLEX exam to gain your license and that you’re currently practicing unencumbered. Read about campus, hybrid, and online RN programs.
  • Letters of recommendation. Most schools require three letters of recommendation from current/former supervisors, former professors, and other individuals who can speak to your work as an RN and your preparedness for advanced study.
  • Clinical experience. BSN to DNP programs are less likely to accept a student who just graduated from their BSN and lacks clinical experience. For the best chances, try working in the field full-time for at least a year before applying.

How to Stand Out

Unlike ASN or BSN programs, which frequently take a large cohort of students each year, DNP programs tend to be far smaller, more selective, and competitive. In addition to good grades and impressive work experience, students can take additional steps to help themselves stand out from other candidates.

  • Join a national nursing organization
  • Pursue additional nursing certifications
  • Participate in evidence-based practice projects
  • Apply for traineeships/internships

Students should also consider speaking to a faculty member or alumni from any programs they’re considering. This can help provide insider knowledge on what they look for in prospective students.

How Much Does an Online BSN to DNP Program Cost?

Since this program is at the doctoral level, the cost-per-credit for tuition tends to be higher than bachelor’s programs, but they also typically require fewer hours. In general, students pay the lowest tuition at in-state colleges or at schools that charge resident and non-resident online students the same rate.

Tuition rates can vary widely, so it’s important for students to find a program that meets both their academic and financial needs. The programs highlighted below illustrate the range of costs.

11. Maryville UniversityBSN to DNP: $897/credit
22. Georgetown UniversityBSN to DNP: $2,065/credit
33. University of ArkansasBSN to DNP: $560/credit
44. University of North CarolinaBSN to DNP: $65,400/program (resident);
$119,629/program (non-resident)

For information on how to pay for your online BSN to DNP program, check out the following pages: