12 Month Online DNP Programs [2024 Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 13, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?

If you already have a Master of Science in Nursing, 12 month online DNP programs may present a unique opportunity for you to quickly earn a terminal degree in this field.

Online DNP Programs

This degree program often includes advanced studies in nursing and emphasizes evidence-based practices for improving patient outcomes and healthcare delivery.

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If you’re ready to bring your nursing education to the highest level, then enrolling in the fastest online DNP program may help you quickly accomplish that goal without compromising quality, quitting your job, or relocating across the country.

Universities Offering Online 12 Month Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University’s BSN to DNP program requires only 18 credits to be ready for doctoral work.

Students gain clinical hours while in the program and will take required courses that prepare them for nursing leadership positions. Courses include advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and leadership and communication.

Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Chatham University

The 27 credit DNP program at Chatham University is open only to registered nurses who already hold masters degrees. It’s one of the quickest ways to earn a DNP on the market, and full-time students can finish in only 3 terms. There’s one brief residency and 500 clinical hours required.

Chatham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Elms College

Students in Elms College’s DNP program can choose from the following three concentration tracks: health systems innovation and leadership, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP), and family nurse practitioner programs (FNP).

There are also two certificate programs, FNP and AGACNP, that students can potentially finish in as few as 12 months.

Elms College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Francis Marion University

The MSN to DNP program from Francis Marion University requires students to complete 30 credit hours of coursework and a minimum of 500 hours of clinical practice. It’s open to both part-time and full-time students, but only full-time students will be able to complete the program in a single year.

Francis Marion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Miami

University of Miami’s MSN to DNP program is what’s known as a “lock-step” program. This means students can earn the degree in 1 year, but they must pass every class in order and have an overall GPA of 3.0 to do so. Courses include translational science, global health, and biostatistics.

The University of Miami is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota’s postmasters DNP program can be completed almost entirely online, but students’ masters degrees must be in one of these concentrations to apply: nurse anesthetist, midwife or practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nursing informatics, nursing leadership, or public health nursing.

Students with nursing education or generalist degrees are not eligible.

The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Washington State University

Students enrolled in Washington State University’s postmasters DNP program can choose from three track options, including population health, family NP, and psychiatric mental health NP. It’s a hybrid program that does require a few campus visits, but those are offered in one to two day blocks for maximum convenience.

Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

12 Month Online DNP Programs

Nursing working in reception

If you already hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), with just 12 months of study, you may hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as well.

This accelerated degree program can help you fast-track to the next phase of your career, and you may accomplish it online while holding a full-time job or caring for your family. While an MSN is sufficient for many roles as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), earning a DNP is a strategic way to move to the very top of this field.

Some industry groups advocate that all APRNs should hold a doctoral degree. While a doctorate isn’t the current standard, earning a DNP in 1 year can help prepare you in case the transition does come. You may already have the education and background necessary for staying a prime candidate for APRN roles.

Even if industry standards don’t change, your DNP may position you as an ambitious nurse with the drive to build your career and enhance your clinical abilities. Plus, during a DNP program, you might have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of nursing.

You’ll likely explore a variety of advanced topics as you study for this degree. These may include evidence-based practices, informatics, and healthcare policy. In addition, your coursework may address leadership skills and quality management. You may earn clinical hours and complete a doctoral project before graduation.

Doctoral studies may grow your abilities as a researcher and a scientific writer. If you are interested in an academic career, whether as a professor or a scientist, a DNP can help you achieve it. A doctorate often commands respect. By moving from a masters to a doctorate, you may position yourself as an expert in the field of nursing.

In healthcare leadership, politics, advocacy, and public health, others may turn to you for wisdom and insights about best practices and proper patient care.

Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

Many DNP students are interested in clinical careers. You may work as a standard registered nurse or pursue licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse. APRN jobs include nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner.

APRN positions are available in a variety of healthcare organizations. They include hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. Some nurses specialize in a particular healthcare discipline, such as pediatrics, oncology, or emergency medicine.

DNP online program can also help prepare you for leadership roles in healthcare facilities. This degree might increase your suitability to work as an administrator or as a manager. You may also qualify for a role as an executive in a hospital, a long-term care facility, or another health-related organization.

In a leadership position, your responsibilities might include employee supervision, budgeting, informatics, and policymaking.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, APRN earn an average annual salary of $117,670. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for advanced practice registered nurses will grow at a 45% rate in the next decade.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Nurse Anesthetist $183,580
Healthcare Executive $160,950
Nurse Practitioner $111,680
Nurse Midwife $111,130
Medical and Health Services Manager $104,280
Medical Scientist $91,510
Nursing Instructor $75,470
Registered Nurse $75,330
Health Education Specialist $56,500
Healthcare Lobbyist $55,240

Holding a DNP may also qualify you for educational roles. You might work as a health educator who teaches community members about healthy practices or trains community health workers.

You may also teach classes at the college level. As a faculty member, you may prepare new nursing students to enter the workforce. You might also be involved in research projects. Research positions are available outside the university setting as well. Potential employers include pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and research and development firms.

With a DNP, you may also play a role in politics and government. As a healthcare expert, you might become an influential lobbyist or consultant whose insights shape new laws and government practices. You may also research how potential law changes would affect the health and wellbeing of various populations.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Curriculum

Nurse Anesthetists assisting during an operation

For a post-masters DNP program, you may be able to complete the coursework in just 12 months. Some classes may include:

  • Evidence-Based Practices: The assignments in this course will train you to analyze available research in order to develop evidence-based practices and create research projects of your own.
  • Global Public Health: You can learn about epidemiology practices, international nursing, and the risks that vulnerable populations around the world face.
  • Health Equity: Your studies will cover ways that healthcare disparities influence health outcomes and explore ways to improve access to care across various populations.
  • Health Policies: This class may cover current healthcare regulations and address advocacy efforts for influencing legislation.
  • Leadership in Healthcare Settings: A leadership and management course may prepare you for responsibilities like budgeting, decision-making, change management, and employee supervision.
  • Nursing Theories: You’ll explore scientific theories related to nursing practice and discuss how they influence healthcare decisions in clinical and administrative settings.
  • Quality Management and Evaluation: In this class, you’ll learn about implementing evidence-based programs to improve the quality of care in your organization and analyzing their effectiveness.
  • Statistics and Research in Healthcare: This course will help prepare you to make data-driven decisions and conduct research that will help others do the same.
  • Technology for Healthcare: Your time in this class may cover informatics and other technology-based strategies that can help improve leadership, patient care, and decision-making.
  • Writing in the Sciences: Whether you’re a leader applying for grants or a researcher sharing findings, it will be important for you to know how to communicate in a scholarly fashion.

Most 12-month accelerated DNP programs require 27 to 30 credit hours, including practicum experiences or doctoral projects.

Admissions Requirements

Nurses researching online

Preparation for a 1 year DNP program is key. Schools may have admissions requirements like the following:

  • Master’s transcripts. To enter this type of program, you must hold an MSN, and you may need a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Registered nurse licensure. In addition to RN standing, certification as an APRN may increase your chances of admission.
  • Clinical experience. This requirement may include at least 1 year of work as an RN or 500 hours of supervised post-baccalaureate practice.

A BSN is required at a minimum; this requirement could be fulfilled via an online accelerated nursing program such as an RN to BSN program. Some universities offer accelerated BSN to DNP programs online that may help you get your doctorate degree faster.

Other admissions requirements may include bachelor’s transcripts, letters of reference, an interview, and a personal essay.


Online DNP Programs Accreditation

Whether you plan to earn a doctorate from an on-campus school or through one of the 12 month online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs that some universities offer, accreditation is critical. Only a degree from a regionally accredited institution may earn you the respect and credentials that should accompany a doctorate.

Regional accreditation means that the school has been recognized as meeting basic standards for a quality college education. This distinction bolsters a school’s reputation in the eyes of employers and other universities. Plus, your state board likely requires an accredited graduate degree for advanced practice nursing licensure.

You can visit the US Department of Education for more information on accrediting agencies and approved colleges.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure and Certifications

nurses talking in the hallway

To become a nurse practitioner, you may start by earning your Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN) and getting licensed as a registered nurse (RN).

Once you’ve entered the workforce as an RN, it’s strategic to keep refining your nursing skills by becoming certified in one or more specialization areas. This may demonstrate your commitment to the field and help prepare you for future advancement.

There are even universities that offer RN to DNP programs online, so you can continue to work while earning your doctorate degree.

Next, you may earn a graduate degree. In most states, nurse practitioners can have an MSN, a DNP, or both. After graduation, you may need to earn clinical hours or pursue additional certifications. Then, you may be ready to apply for NP licensure from your state.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online DNP Programs Financial Aid

Financial assistance can help turn your dreams of nursing advancement into reality. Both government help and private aid may contribute toward your schooling costs.

Government assistance includes federal and state funding. You may be eligible for grants or loans from the government. Grants are ideal because they don’t need to be repaid, but low-interest loans can be useful as well.

Scholarships are tuition gifts from private sources. You may apply for scholarships on your own or receive them through your school. Some scholarship funds are reserved especially for nursing students.

When nurses advance their education, healthcare organizations often benefit. To encourage your academic pursuits, your workplace may offer tuition help. To get started with the search for financial aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Can You Do with a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?

nurse anesthetist assisting in operating room

After completing a D.N.P. program, you may be an excellent candidate for a career in advanced practice nursing. Advanced practice nursing includes working as a nurse anesthetist, a nurse midwife, or a nurse practitioner.

Healthcare administration is another option for graduates of accelerated DNP programs. Your clinical experience and leadership training could help prepare you to oversee informatics practices, manage nursing teams, or head up organizations.

You may also pursue a career in research, academia, or advocacy. Your efforts could help prepare new nurses for successful careers or provide valuable insights for policymakers and healthcare providers.

Why Get a DNP?

hospital administrators in a meeting

A Doctor of Nursing Practice is the terminal degree in the nursing field. It may provide the most solid foundation for your career as a leader in nursing and healthcare.

Earning a DNP can help you meet or exceed your state’s qualifications for becoming an advanced practice registered nurse. A DNP may also position you for some of the top leadership roles in your medical organization. Your understanding of both clinical practice and management may afford you a unique perspective on healthcare leadership.

Plus, this degree often garners respect from colleagues, employers, scientists, political organizations, and the public.

What Is the Easiest DNP Program?

nurses meeting in hospital hallway

Any quality nursing program will likely present some challenges since there is effort required when preparing to save lives. Even still, it’s beneficial to choose a school with a teaching style that matches your learning style.

You may want to look for flexible course schedules, online tutoring, or other student supports. It may seem like the shortest DNP online would also be the easiest, but that’s not always the case. Rather, these online programs require fitting coursework, clinical hours, and a research project into one concentrated season of your life.

How Long Does It Take to Go from MSN to DNP?

Holding an MSN may give you a distinct advantage during doctoral studies. The fastest DNP programs are usually reserved for those who already have an MSN.

Because you’ve already invested a good deal of time into nursing studies at the graduate level, you may only need 27 or 30 credit hours to earn a doctorate as well. That often means that you can complete the whole DNP program in just one year.

To help you stay on track for a speedy graduation, some colleges may require you to have 500 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical experience before entering the DNP program.

Can You Be Called Doctor with a DNP?

With a DNP, you’ll be a doctor in the sense of being an expert in your field who has a terminal degree at the doctoral level. It would be appropriate for others to address you as “Doctor” in the same way that you might refer to an acquaintance with a PhD in Political Science by that title.

Even still, you won’t be a medical doctor, also known as an MD. APRNs can carry out some of the same responsibilities as MDs, but these are two distinct career tracks and typically involve different approaches to patient care.

Is Getting a DNP Worth It?

Registered Nurses meeting

Yes, a DNP is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs are set to grow at 15% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Common Doctor of Nursing Practice careers in this field include nurse practitioners, nurse midwife, health services manager, postsecondary nursing instructor, and medical scientist. Whether you want to work in a clinical setting or behind the scenes of healthcare, this degree may provide valuable career preparation.

You may obtain licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse, work as a healthcare manager, or teach college nursing.

Getting Your DNP Program Online

Getting Your DNP Program Online

Your nursing education doesn’t have to stop once you have a masters degree. Instead, you can build on your masters studies with a DNP one year program online.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is the top degree in this field. You may find that nearly any nursing career pathway is open to you with a terminal degree. After only 1 year of doctoral studies, there may be opportunities for you in clinical practice, research, teaching, advocacy, and healthcare leadership.

For the opportunity to move from an MSN to DNP in 1 year, you may want to explore the nursing programs from accredited online graduate schools.

Ready to start your journey?