2021 Accelerated Online BSN to DNP Programs

Online BSN to DNP programs can be a great way to accelerate your academic studies and advance your career in the field of nursing.

BSN to DNP Programs

With a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP, you may be prepared to take on advanced clinical roles, such as nurse practitioner in various specialties or executive-level leadership roles in government and healthcare settings.

The terminal degree of DNP may also help you achieve lucrative annual earnings in this growing field.

Best Online BSN to DNP Programs

Medical and Health Services Managers in a meeting

BSN to DNP programs online provide an accelerated path to obtaining your doctorate in nursing practice. These programs offer a curriculum that covers both master- and doctorate-level education in a single, comprehensive program.

These programs focus on advancing clinical skills, knowledge, and decision-making. They prioritize the use of evidence-based practice and place greater emphasis on clinical expertise than on research. Doctorate in nursing programs are terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest level of education possible in the field of nursing.

The coursework in DNP programs covers a variety of advanced topics. These topics include evidence-based practices, leadership in nursing, health assessments and promotion, healthcare ethics, technology and data, economics and finance in healthcare, and quality improvement.

The specialty you choose to pursue when earning your DNP may influence the specific courses that you’re required to complete.

Before choosing the program you’re going to attend, you may want to verify that its curriculum meets the requirements for nurse practitioner education in the state where you’d like to practice as a DNP. This includes confirming that the coursework meets accreditation standards for licensing.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Specializations

Family nurse checking the vitals of a child

There are a number of specializations in the field of nursing practice. Each specialty will allow you the opportunity to work with a different population or patient group, navigating distinct health-related experiences and issues.

1. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners provide primary healthcare services to patients throughout the entire life cycle, from infants and toddlers to adults and seniors.

2. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)

Acute care nurse practitioners work with adult patients presenting to care settings with complex illness or injury or while recovering from a surgical procedure.

3. Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Gerontology Nurse taking care of a senior patient

Adult gerontology nurse practitioners may provide either primary or acute care to adult patients, and in some cases they may specialize in senior populations specifically.

4. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric nurse practitioners act as primary healthcare providers for infants, toddlers, and children, providing direct clinical care to patients as well as education to parents and caregivers.

5. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners provide direct care to children and adults experiencing mental health issues and disorders.

Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

Nurse Practitioner Careers & Salaries

Doctorate of nurse practitioner programs may prepare you for a variety of career paths related to nursing and healthcare. You may pursue clinical positions as a nurse practitioner, where you may perform clinical services and patient care.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of career options you may qualify for with a doctorate in nursing practice.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Nurse Anesthetists $174,790
Physician Assistants $112,260
Medical and Health Services Managers, Government Services $111,520
Medical and Health Services Managers, Hospitals $110,430
Nurse Practitioners $109,820
Nurse Midwives $105,030
Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers $97,320
Medical and Health Services Managers, Nursing and Residential Care Facilities $86,820
Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers $74,600
Registered Nurses $73,300

The positions of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are expected to see significant job growth over the next several years, with employment in these positions predicted to grow by 45% (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

With a DNP, you may also qualify for leadership positions in government and healthcare settings as well as teaching positions in academia.

DNP Curriculum & Courses

There are a broad range of courses within accelerated BSN to DNP programs online, and offerings may change depending on the specialty you choose to pursue.

Some courses that you may need to complete as part of your degree include those listed below.

  • Principles of Evidence-Based Practices: This course is a review of using evidence-based practices to inform clinical decision-making and improve care.
  • Leadership in Nursing: You’ll take a look at methods and theories relating to organizational behavior, leadership in healthcare, and quality improvement in clinical settings.
  • Assessments and Health Promotion: This course is an exploration of various health assessments used in the clinical nursing profession, along with discussions around concepts of disease or injury in different social contexts.
  • Healthcare Ethics: This course is a comprehensive review of ethical practices and decision-making in the clinical care setting.
  • Public Policy in Healthcare: You’ll analyze public policy in relation to healthcare, including influences on policy and the role of advocacy.
  • Communication in Healthcare Leadership: You’ll study communication strategies concerning colleagues, direct reports, patients, and families in healthcare settings.
  • Technology and Data in the Decision Making Process: This course is an exploration of the role that information technology and data play in the decision-making processes within healthcare and the field of nursing specifically.
  • Economics and Finance in Healthcare: This course is a review of economic and financial management practices as they relate to healthcare and nursing, including the impact on policy development and budgeting.
  • Change Management as a Healthcare Leader: You’ll take a look at managing and promoting change in clinical care delivery through innovation, system changes, and redesign of standard processing.
  • Quality Improvement: This course is a comprehensive review of quality improvement in healthcare, including quality in care and safety of patients.

Notably, online BSN to DNP programs may require you to complete clinical experience to graduate. This could require you to attend an onsite or in-person practicum location, such as a doctor’s office or a hospital.

Admissions Requirements

DNP student studying online

Admission requirements for a BSN to DNP program are unique, as you are not required to have completed a master’s degree in order to apply and be accepted into a program. With that being said, there are other criteria that you may need to meet in order to be eligible for a program, including:

  • Proof of completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Active registered nursing (RN) license in your state of practice
  • Professional letters of reference
  • Admissions essay

Admissions criteria may vary from school to school, so it can help to check with the specific schools you’re interested in applying to.

Accreditation

Accelerated Online BSN to DNP Programs Accreditation

The accreditation status of the program you’re interested in attending is an important consideration. This accreditation status may impact your ability to receive financial aid or to transfer credits down the road.

Attending a regionally accredited program is also more highly regarded by employers and could even impact your ability to register with your state nursing board. For more information on the accreditation status of programs, you can visit the US Department of Education‘s website.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure and Certifications

Medical Managers in a meeting

In order to become a nurse practitioner, you first need to complete a 4 year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. You then must gain your registered nursing license and practical work experience in the field before completing an MSN or DNP degree program.

Once you’ve completed your advanced degree, you may then work toward obtaining a license to practice as a nurse practitioner in the state of your choosing. The requirements to become licensed vary from state to state, so it is important to understand the specific criteria for licensure in your state.

To act as a nurse practitioner, you may also need to obtain a national NP certification in your areas of specialty, such as critical-care or pediatrics.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Accelerated Online BSN to DNP Programs Financial Aid

Standard financial aid—including federal and state loans and grants as well as scholarships— may be available to you while pursuing your DNP degree.

Since a BSN to DNP program is a doctorate-level educational program, you may qualify for additional financial aid from the school you choose to attend. In some cases, academic institutions will provide direct funding to students enrolled in doctoral programs in the form of an aid package.

You can find more information through the US Department of Education’s website, and you can find out your federal aid eligibility by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How Long Is a BSN to DNP Program?

nursing students studying together

BSN to DNP programs require you to complete between 65 to 90 credits in order to graduate.

While the shortest online DNP program may take around 3 years to complete, some programs may take up to 6 years. This timeline depends on a number of factors, including the structure of the program curriculum, practicum requirements, semester length, and part-time versus full-time course load offerings.

Your time to completion may also be impacted by thesis, dissertation, or clinical placement research project requirements, which can vary from program to program.

Can You Go from BSN to DNP?

nurse walking in hospital hallway

Yes, there are a number of programs available that allow you to fast track from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to a Doctor of Nursing Practice. These programs encompass both masters-level and doctorate-level education in a comprehensive program, allowing you to complete your academic journey in less time.

While most doctoral programs require applicants to hold a masters degree to be eligible for enrollment, BSN to DNP programs only require you to hold a bachelors degree in nursing.

What Is a BSN to DNP Program?

Medical and Health Services Managers in a meeting

A BSN to DNP program allows you to complete two graduate degrees at once, working through masters-level and doctoral-level education at the same time. This can put your academic journey on the fast track and move you into executive-level nursing positions more quickly.

BSN to DNP programs are focused on practical nursing. A PhD program is often more focused on research. A DNP education instead focuses on nursing practice, including evidence-based practices, clinical decision-making, and conceptual models of nursing.

Can a DNP Be Called Doctor?

A DNP can be called doctor, but they are not a medical doctor (MD) or physician. DNPs specialize in the field of nursing and may work in a variety of positions, including nurse practitioner, health services manager, or professor.

It’s worth noting that not only do doctors in nursing practice and medical doctors have vastly different scopes in practice, but they also complete completely different education and training. Training for DNPs focuses on a holistic approach to healthcare whereas MD training is disease-based.

What Can You Do with a DNP?

There are a variety of positions available to you with a DNP, including nurse anesthetist, health services manager, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, postsecondary teacher, and clinical nurse specialist (CNS).

A common career path is that of a nurse practitioner, where you can specialize in specific areas of care and clinical treatment. Examples include specializing in family, acute, emergency, psychiatric, and pediatric care.

Can You Get a DNP Online?

DNP student taking classes online

Yes, you can earn a DNP online. Depending on the school you choose to attend, you may be required to complete a certain number of in-person clinical hours. Practicum hours required to graduate may range from 500 to 1,000.

Depending on your school’s policies and your previous work experience, you may have the opportunity to use prior clinical hours you’ve worked as an RN towards this requirement.

For example, some schools may allow you to use up to 500 hours of your clinical work experience towards the practicum hours requirement in your BSN to DNP educational program.

What Is the Difference Between MSN and DNP?

Medical and Health Services Manager meeting with a nurse

A Doctor in Nursing Practice is a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest level of education attainable in the field.

A Master of Science in Nursing is a graduate-level program that sits between a bachelors degree and a doctoral degree. DNP programs offer more advanced education and include an in-depth focus on leadership aspects of clinical practice, public policy in healthcare, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement.

While MSN and DNP programs may cover similar topics, they will cover those topics at differing levels of depth.

What’s the Difference Between a DNP vs. PhD in Nursing?

Medical staff in a meeting

A Doctor of Nursing Practice focuses intently on clinical practice in nursing, including clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice. DNP programs are built to help professional nurses continue in the clinical care setting at a more advanced level.

PhD in Nursing programs, on the other hand, emphasize research over clinical practice. This degree is valuable for those who are interested in advancing their career in the direction of education, teaching, and research.

Both DNP and PhD in Nursing programs are terminal education programs that indicate expertise and mastery in the nursing field.

Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Worth It?

Yes, a doctor of nursing practice is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $115,800 and 45% job growth for advanced practice registered nurses (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a doctorate in nursing practice can help you launch a career in this in-demand field.

Common DNP careers include pediatric nurse practitioner, orthopedic nurse practitioner, health services manager, women’s health nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist.

Universities Offering Online BSN to DNP Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer BSN to DNP degree online.

#1  Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University campus

Abilene Christian University’s BSN to DNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. It only takes 18 credits for students to complete the transitional courses. After the 18 credits, they go straight to doctoral-level work. These credits won’t result in a standalone masters degree.

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

#2  Chatham University

Chatham University campus

Chatham University’s BSN to DNP program allows students to earn both their Master and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees in one 53 credit program. Most courses are focused on the areas of advocacy and policy, global health, health promotion, and leadership excellence. The coursework is online, but there’s a required 2 day, on-campus residency.

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

#3  Delta State University

Delta State University campus

There are a few different options for students hoping to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Delta State University. One of these is the BSN to DNP program, which requires 80 credits over 7 semesters and about 3 and a half years to complete.

Delta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#4  Duke University

Duke University campus

Registered nurses who have already earned their bachelors degrees in nursing are eligible for Duke University’s BSN to DNP program, which includes a nurse practitioner concentration.

It requires a minimum of 74 credit hours to complete, and students will enjoy a comprehensive curriculum taught by high-quality faculty with years of experience.

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

#5  Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University campus

Fort Hays State University offers a full-time BSN to DNP program specifically for students who need mostly online curricula with only occasional on-campus visits. All on-campus requirements are given to students at least 6 weeks in advance so they can make arrangements, and all preceptored clinicals must happen in Kansas.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Georgetown University

Georgetown University campus

Georgetown University offers both a Post Masters and a BSN to DNP program to students pursuing their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The latter option requires between 69 credits and 74 credits to finish and can usually be completed in about 33 months. It’s offered full- and part-time and requires 2 on-campus intensives.

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

#7  Idaho State University

Idaho State University campus

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Idaho State University is open to any registered nurse who holds a BSN from an accredited institution who graduated with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Students can choose between two tracks: the family nurse practitioner track or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner track.

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

#8  Loyola University – New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans campus

Students in Loyola University – New Orleans’s BSN to DNP program must complete 78 credits and at least 1,260 practicum hours to complete the program and earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. Most students finish in about 3 years, but masters degrees aren’t awarded to students who only achieve partial completion.

Loyola University New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Marymount University

Marymount University campus

There are no GMAT or GRE scores required as part of Marymount University’s BSN to DNP and FNP application process. Coursework can be completed online, but students must attend 2 on-campus residencies and earn at least 1,000 clinical hours. The curriculum includes epidemiology, innovative models of care, and leadership, quality, and ethics.

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

#10  Maryville University

Maryville University campus

There are five concentration options included with Maryville University’s accelerated BSN to DNP program. The program is 100% online, and there are no required campus visits, no required GRE or GMAT scores, and no statistics requirements for program entry. Most students finish in 40 months, and clinicals can be completed locally.

The Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#11  Ohio State University

Ohio State University campus

Ohio State University’s BSN to DNP program allows students to obtain both their masters and doctoral degrees while selecting from one of ten areas of concentration. These include neonatal, women’s health, family, psychiatric mental health, adult gerontology clinical, primary, or acute care, primary care or acute care pediatric, or midwifery.

Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#12  Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus’s BSN to DNP degree requires 61 credits to earn, and full-time students must take at least three courses each semester.

The CCNE accredited program can be completed largely online. There are required on-campus intensives and benchmarks, though, including the qualifying exam, comprehensive exam, and final DNP project.

Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#13  Regis College

Regis College campus

There are six areas of concentration within Regis College’s BSN to DNP program. The pediatrics, family, women’s health, adult gerontology, and adult gerontology acute care concentrations require 73 credits for completion.

The psychiatric mental health concentration requires 76. All concentrations allow students to enhance their knowledge of patient care, research, and policies.

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

#14  University of Florida

University of Florida campus

Students enrolled in the University of Florida’s BSN to DNP program will be able to earn their degrees almost entirely online with the exception of a single-day orientation, a three-day health assessment course visit, and a two-day visit to present their final projects. There are five available concentrations.

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

#15  University of Louisiana – Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus

University of Louisiana – Lafayette’s BSN to DNP program helps students gain advanced leadership skills by combining evidence-based practice with theory and research.

The program also allows students to simultaneously earn their masters degrees. Residency courses may require on-campus visits, and courses include biostatistics, applied statistics, project planning, pharmacotherapeutics, and pathophysiology.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#16  University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

The University of Missouri offers both BSN to DNP and MS to DNP pathways for students to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The BSN pathway requires 72 credits for completion and can be undertaken by both full- and part-time students. Students can choose from five available concentration options.

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

#17  University of Mobile

University of Mobile campus

Students with bachelors or masters degrees and 2.75+ GPAs could be eligible for the University of Mobile’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

The BSN to DNP track requires 84 credits and 1,100 clinical hours for completion. Curriculum requirements include advanced courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment and diagnostic reasoning.

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

#18  University of South Alabama

University of South Alabama campus

The University of South Alabama offers an online BSN to DNP program for registered nurses looking to take on advanced practice roles. There are 12 areas of specialty from which students can choose, including two dual role options. Depending on students’ choices, the program can require between 69 and 87 credits for completion.

The University of South Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#19  University of Tennessee – Chattanooga

University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus

There are two pathways for students pursuing Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. The nursing track is for those with masters degrees. The nursing administrations systems track—which includes an optional Master of Business Administration dual degree option— is for those with bachelors degrees.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#20  Walsh University

Walsh University campus

Walsh University’s BSN to DNP program includes two concentration options students can choose from: family nurse practitioner and nurse educator.

The programs help students gain valuable expertise in organizational and health systems, advanced advocacy and leadership skills, and improved critical thinking abilities that allow them to help improve their organizations.

Walsh University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your BSN to DNP Online

Getting Your BSN to DNP Online

Pursuing your BSN to DNP online may be a great way to advance your nursing career and develop expertise in your professional field in less time.

With a BSN to DNP degree, you may benefit from higher than average annual earnings in addition to a positive job outlook. Positions for advanced practice registered nurses are poised to grow by 45% over the coming years.

If you’re intrigued by this rewarding career path, a BSN to DNP online accredited degree program may allow you to more quickly attain leadership positions and high-level clinical roles.

Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.