Nurses who want to launch a career in advanced practice nursing have a couple of educational paths that they can pursue to get them there. One option is to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This terminal degree focuses on evidence-based practice and may prepare you to provide quality care in roles such as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, and even a Nurse Educator.
To qualify for admission for most DNP programs, you must be a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Some schools may require a year of nursing experience, but many do not.
Online BSN to DNP degree programs have made pursuing a DNP degree especially convenient for full-time professionals and individuals with personal or family-related obligations. As an online DNP student, you enjoy flexibility in scheduling and can complete assignments from the comfort of your home.
Even though a Master of Science in Nursing or MSN is the minimum educational requirement for advanced nursing practice roles, a DNP program may open doors for you that your graduate degree can’t. In addition to opportunities for advancement within the nursing field, doctoral-trained nurses can earn higher salaries.
Overview of Online BSN to DNP Programs
Online DNP programs are growing in number and popularity. It’s important to identify schools that offer programs that fit your career goals and current lifestyle. Here are a number of schools to consider:
Abilene Christian University
Program Name: Online BSN to DNP Pathway - Executive Leadership Track Location: Abilene, Texas Specialization/Concentrations: Executive Leadership Enrollment Options: Full-Time Coursework Credits: 57 Credit Hours Clinical Practice Hours: N/A Length of Program: 38 Months
Official transcripts from the accredited colleges or universities
Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
Two professional recommendation letters
A 500-word purpose statement
Professional CV or resume
Proof of U.S.registered nurse licensure
Completed undergraduate statistics course with a "C" or better
Program Name: BSN to DNP Program Location: Hays, Kansas Specialization/Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner Enrollment Options: Full-Time Coursework Credits: 75 Credits Clinical Practice Hours: Varies Length of Program: 4 Years
BSN or MSN from an accredited program
Minimum GPA of 3.25 required based on MSN degree and minimum GPA of 3.0 based on BSN degree
Program Name: Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioner
Dual Nurse Midwife/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time Coursework Credits: 69-74 Credits Clinical Practice Hours: 1,000 - 1,200 Hours Length of Program: 33 months
Professional Resume or CV
Official academic Transcripts
Live Recorded Interview
Three letters of recommendation
TOEFL or IELTS scores if applicable
Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or CNL/entry-level MSN from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited program
Hold a current U.S. registered nurse (RN) license
Have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 science GPA
Have successfully completed a college level three-credit course in statistics within the last five years with a grade of C or better
One year of full-time registered nursing experience required for all applicants. AG-ACNP requires at least one year of full-time experience in an intensive care unit, emergency department, telemetry unit, or progressive care unit.
Program Name: BSN to DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner Location: New Orleans, Louisiana Specialization/Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner Enrollment Options: N/A Coursework Credits: 78 Credits Clinical Practice Hours: 1,260 Hours Length of Program: 3 - 4 Years
Program Name: BSN to DNP Location: Hammond, Louisiana Specialization/Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner Enrollment Options: N/A Coursework Credits: 67 Credits Clinical Practice Hours: 1,110 Hours Length of Program: 2.5 Years
BSN from accredited nursing program
Evidence of at least one year of clinical experience as a registered nurse
GPA of 2.7 for all undergraduate work
Evidence of a valid, unencumbered Louisiana RN license
Enrollment Options: N/A Coursework Credits: 70-91 Credits Clinical Practice Hours: 1,080 - 1,620 Hours Length of Program: 4 - 5 Years
Current unencumbered RN licensure in a state approved for admission.
Master’s degree in nursing in an advanced nursing practice area (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist) from a regionally and CCNE or NLN accredited school of nursing
Advanced practice national certification or eligibility to sit for advanced practice national certification
Job growth will likely lead to job competition, so you’ll want to stand out in the pool of qualified applicants. A BSN to DNP program could give you an edge. BSN to DNP programs may help equip you with the skills and knowledge to evaluate health care needs from the individual to the organizational level and improve outcomes for both patient populations. Your DNP education may also teach you how to interpret nursing theory in a unique way. As a DNP-level practitioner, you may also work to improve safety and quality standards within various health care settings.
A DNP program may be a good fit for you if you’re looking to make a positive impact in specialty areas of nursing, by conducting research, translating that research into practice, and analyzing practice data and outcomes. If you have your eye on a leadership role within a policy-making organization, a DNP degree could help you meet your career goals.
Pursuing the BSN to DNP track may help prepare you for financial and professional success down the line, but it is also important to consider how the degree program can benefit you in the present. The BSN to DNP program is particularly useful to BSN graduates who don’t have the time or money to put into enrolling in an MSN program prior to earning their doctorate. The program is designed to build upon the knowledge and skills you acquire as a bachelor student.
Education Requirements for a BSN to DNP Program
Admissions requirements for BSN to DNP programs vary widely. In order to apply for a BSN to DNP program, you need to be a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution. BSN to DNP programs typically require at least a 3.0 GPA, but certain institutions will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to your academic-related application materials, you will likely need to craft a personal statement outlining your career goals, provide two to three references, and submit a resume or curriculum vitae. A year of clinical nursing experience is recommended, but not always required.
BSN to DNP Curriculum
Coursework for a particular BSN to DNP program will vary based on specialization and may be integrated into clinical practice. Examples of courses you are likely to take include:
Health Care Delivery Systems
Health Care Policy
Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analysis
Information Systems and Technology in Health Care
Typical online BSN to DNP programs range from 70 to 100 credit hours and can involve over 1,000 clinical hours, with some variation based on school or your chosen specialty. Students usually complete the program in three to four years when engaging in study full time.
What Can I Do With a BSN to DNP?
Nurses who successfully complete a BSN to DNP program are qualified for a number of leadership roles within health care and academia including the following, and more:
Chief Nursing Officer
Vice President of Nursing at a hospital or medical organization
Director of Education
Clinical Nurse Educator
Salary for DNP Level Nurses
Reliable DNP salary data can be hard to come by because of the broad scope of practice and roles DNP graduates can occupy. But to get an idea of how much you can make as an advanced practice nursing professional with a DNP, examine pay data for specific roles.
When considering whether to enroll in an online BSN to DNP program, look for those that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Schools and programs that have been accredited are an indication that the education they are providing meets rigorous standards for innovative, evidence-based practice. There are hundreds of accredited online and campus-based DNP programs in the U.S., with many more in the works. Be sure to do your research to find an accredited program that fits your career ambitions.
If you’re considering the BSN to DNP track, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you determine whether it’s the best fit for you:
What is a BSN to DNP?
A BSN to DNP program provides an education in nursing practice and theory along with research methods to nurses looking to advance their careers. Within each program are specialization tracks, including adult gerontology, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership, and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.
How long are BSN to DNP programs?
Accelerated online BSN to DNP programs, where students can complete their degree in as little as 20 months. Typically, BSN to DNP programs take two to four years to complete, based on whether they are studying part time or full time.
Is a BSN to DNP Degree more competitive than a DNP degree?
A BSN to DNP degree is a DNP degree but designed for nurses who already hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and who are bypassing the intermediate step of a Master of Science in Nursing. However, some of these programs do award a MSN by way of the BSN to DNP degree. These programs build on a nurse’s existing experience and education with distinct specialized tracks.
What is the difference between a BSN, MSN, and DNP?
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an undergraduate degree that prepares you to work as a registered nurse. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a two-year graduate degree that allows nurses to work in more advanced practice roles, including as nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. A Doctor of Nursing practice (DNP) is a terminal degree (the highest degree a nurse can earn) that requires an additional two years if one holds an MSN and prepares nurses for leadership roles in health care systems and academic institutions.
Do you need a BSN for a BSN to DNP program?
One of the primary requirements for a BSN to DNP program is a BSN degree from a CCNE- or NLNAC-accredited program, typically with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Can I get a DNP after my BSN?
BSN to DNP programs allow you to accelerate from a BSN to a DNP in as little as two years. While many programs recommend at least one year of clinical nursing experience, it is typically not required.
Information on the above BSN to DNP programs was last retrieved as of March 2020. For the most up-to-date information, contact the university.