Best BSN-to-DNP Programs and Schools

Best BSN-to-DNP Programs and Schools

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The doctor of nursing practice degree, or DNP, is the highest educational credential in the field. These advanced programs help prepare learners for some of the top specialized careers in nursing.

DNP degree-holders typically pursue careers in leadership or management within the healthcare system. Unlike doctor of philosophy in nursing or doctor of nursing science degrees, which focus on research and academic skills, the DNP offers practice-based and administrative training.

DNP programs offer patient-centered training and typically offer specialized tracks of study, such as nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, certified nurse specialist, and adult-gerontology. Professionals with this degree enjoy more diverse career opportunities and higher earning potential.

Online BSN-to-DNP programs serve RNs who already possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing and wish to become a nurse practitioner. Typically requiring 2.5-4 years to complete, some BSN-to-DNP programs award learners an MSN and a DNP, while others result in only the DNP credential. MSN-to-DNP programs, designed for learners who already possess a master’s degree in nursing, usually take 1-2 years to complete.

The list of schools below offers essential information for prospective students interested in earning a DNP. These blurbs include facts on admission requirements, coursework, and notable information about each accredited DNP program.

MSN-to-DNP Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Michigan - Flint Flint, MI
3 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a BSN-to-DNP program?

    BSN-to-DNP programs offer RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing the ability to obtain their DNP. Programs typically take full-time learners 2.5-3 years to complete. Students usually complete coursework in one of four major specialty areas: clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthesia, or certified nurse midwifery. Applicants need a BSN for consideration. Prospective BSN-to-DNP learners also need a competitive GRE score and an unencumbered nursing license.

  • Can you get your DNP online?

    Yes, you can earn your DNP remotely. These online programs work well for students who need flexibility to meet the demands of their schedule outside of school. Nursing students with self-discipline and the motivation to earn the highest degree in their field often enjoy working online with professors and classmates, keeping up with asynchronous or synchronous course schedules, and completing assignments in their spare time.

  • How long does it take to go from a BSN to a DNP?

    BSN-to-DNP online programs often require learners to complete 65-76 credits of coursework and additional clinical hours for hands-on experience. Full-time students can expect to spend 2.5-3 years in the program. Part-time learners often need approximately four years to finish, depending on their schedule and availability.

Prerequisites for BSN-to-DNP Nurse Practitioner Programs

If you want to be accepted into an online BSN-to-DNP nurse practitioner program, you need to be a registered nurse (RN) who has completed a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Some schools recommend that applicants have at least one year of previous nursing experience. However, it is usually not a requirement. In general, criteria for admission into an online BSN-to-DNP program frequently include:

    A BSN from an accredited college or university

  • A grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Previously completed statistics course with a grade of a “B” or higher.
  • A telephone or in-person interview
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Current, unencumbered RN license
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of professional goals

DNP Research Project

All DNP programs require the completion of a final research project that demonstrates clinical scholarship. Schools might refer to this as a scholarly project, capstone project, thesis, dissertation, or final project. The AACN recommends that the final research project be termed “DNP Project” to avoid confusion with MSN capstone papers and Ph.D. theses.

The DNP Project can take many forms, and students work on it throughout their entire program. The project must focus on a change that impacts healthcare outcomes for a particular population. Specific guidelines for acceptable projects can be found in the AACN’s report, The Doctor of Nursing Practice: Current Issues and Clarifying Recommendations. Examples of previous students’ projects can be found on the National DNP Organization website.


Nurses will want to look for online BSN-to-DNP programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Accreditation ensures that nursing programs have been thoroughly assessed on their quality and value and that students can be confident in the instruction and learning they receive.

MSN-to-DNP Programs

  • University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL

    A public institution in Gainesville, UF serves approximately 52,300 students.

    UF's College of Nursing offers one of the top online BSN-to-DNP programs. Learners choose from specialties in adult gerontology acute care, family nurse practitioner, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric mental health.

    Degree-seekers complete between 75-78 credits to graduate, depending on their specialty track. DNP students complete required classes entirely online with only periodic campus visits.

    Required visits include a new student orientation, a three-day health assessment course, and a two-day project dissemination visit during the final semester. Learners in the psychiatric mental health specialty track may need to attend additional on-campus meetings.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Additionally, UF expects applicants to have a 500 or higher GRE score and a current RN license in Florida. The school holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  • University of Michigan - Flint

    Flint, MI

    A public university established in 1956, UM-Flint boasts approximately 7,600 students. The school holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

    Remote learners can take advantage of UM-Flint's online BSN-to-DNP program. Available concentrations at UM-Flint include adult gerontology acute care, adult gerontology primary care, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health.

    DNP degree-seekers need to complete 67-78 credit hours, plus in-person clinical hours, for graduation. Required courses for DNP students include biostatistics for advanced practice in healthcare, epidemiology, informatics, advanced pathophysiology, and a series of healthcare research classes. Learners may enroll at part- or full-time status to accommodate their RN schedule.

    Applicants for this competitive program must possess a bachelor of science in nursing from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.2 or higher GPA. UM-Flint prefers that incoming learners have at least one year of work experience as an RN and hold an unencumbered RN license.

  • University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh, PA

    A public school, Pitt holds regional accreditation from the Middle State Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and serves more than 28,600 students.

    Pitt's School of Nursing features one of the best online BSN-to-DNP programs. The program boasts partnerships with several medical facilities, including the Center for Rural Health Practice, Bradford Regional Medical Center, and the Cole Memorial Health System.

    Remote BSN-to-DNP students choose from concentrations in adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, or family care. Required courses for all nursing specialties include nursing anatomy and physiology laboratory, microbiology, nursing care of children and their families, and ethics in nursing and healthcare.

    Applicants should have a 3.0 or higher GPA, competitive GRE score, and current RN license. Applications must include a personal essay, resume, an application fee, and three letters of recommendation. In-state and out-of-state remote nursing students pay the same tuition rates.

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