With the shrinking number of primary care providers, a nationwide nursing shortage, and an increase in the complexity of patient care, the field of nursing needs clinical experts and leaders with the highest level of scientific knowledge and expertise. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 35% percent employment increase for advanced degree nurses, such as nurse practitioners, through 2022. Graduates can also expect to earn a median salary range of $100,000 annually. This is where the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree comes in, and if you agree that “Dr. Nurse” has an oddly satisfying ring to it then a DNP degree may be the right fit for you. The DNP degree is the new standard for advanced practice nursing education. An advanced DNP degree prepares already certified and registered nurses for careers as leaders and executives in their fields.
Nurses graduating with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree are educated to provide high quality, efficient patient-centered nursing care that emphasizes collaborative, evidence-based practices. Programs across the board aim to connect the nursing community with qualified educators who can work with students in new practice settings while demonstrating evidence-based approaches to healthcare using strategic problem-solving skills.
Expectations of a DNP Program
DNP programs take anywhere from one to five years to complete depending on the students chosen track, their previous education at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels, and whether or not they plan to attend full or part-time. Coursework is clinical practice based rather than research-based and students with a BSN or an MSN can apply, depending on universities’ individual program offerings. Graduates can expect to assume careers in areas such as: Directors of Nursing, Chief Nurse Officers, Nurse Practitioners or Nurse Administrators, Nurse Managers, Clinic or Hospital Nurse Executives, or Clinical Nurse Faculty members.
Most institutions listed below are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and/or the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN). Some programs are offered fully online, while others are hybrid programs. The universities and colleges are ranked as the most affordable based on IPEDS in-state graduate tuition rates. Not all programs serve every state. Please check the profiles below, or inquire as to whether or not your state participates through the individual institution links.
Ranking the Best Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs
The Online PhD ranking of the Top 50 Online DNP Programs takes into account accreditation, general reputation, and cost. All schools on the list are accredited at the time of this list’s posting; most are regionally accredited, while some have national distance education accrediting. Several universities also have special program accreditation.
Programs in the Most Affordable Doctorates in Nursing Practice are ranked by affordability, from lowest tuition rates to highest.
1. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University was originally founded as a branch of the Kansas Normal School in 1902 and educated teachers. In 1911 the college began offering free correspondence courses for teachers, which in turn provided the university’s foundation for the Virtual College today. Fort Hays is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, the college has accreditation in specialized programs including the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The DPN program at Fort Hays can be completed fully on campus and some states allow students to complete the program online. You can check if your state qualifies here. To apply students can meet the priority deadline by March 1st, or the final application deadline of April 15th, annually. Applicants must have a BSN degree from an accredited college, and students can enroll in an MSN to DPN track through the program. Graduates from the program can expect to take leadership roles in their field, participating in executive decision making processes for best patient care outcomes. Please note, Fort Hays does not accept applicants from the following states: Tennessee, Utah, Alabama, and Washington.
2. University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming was founded in 1886, making it one of the oldest western universities in the nation. It is a nationally recognized land-grant research institution with expert faculty, top-ranked academics and world-class facilities. The institution offers a highly regarded comprehensive study abroad and domestic program that reaches over fifty countries annually. Students come to UW not only for their top academics, but also to explore and enjoy the state of Wyoming through hiking, mountain biking, climbing, skiing and much more. The Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing (FWWSON) has two clinical concentrations: family nurse practitioner (FNP) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). The FNP prepares students for careers in rural primary care while the PMHNP prepares students for careers in rural psychiatric mental health care. FNP concentration prepares students for careers in rural primary care. Applications are accepted until mid-October for both tracks. The school also offers over twenty-five scholarship opportunities for students who have already been accepted to the School of Nursing. All students must participate in on-campus intensives and clinical placements.
3. East Carolina University
Eastern Carolina University was founded in 1907 as the East Carolina Teachers Training School (ECTTS), and from its humble beginnings it grew to become the comprehensive public doctoral research institution with sea-grant status today. The university holds the third largest enrollment in North Carolina. Over 500 acres make up the main urban campus located in downtown Greenville. Even though the institution is one of the largest in the state, it proudly boasts an 18:1 student-faculty ratio.The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at ECU is dedicated to educating advanced practice nurses in the delivery of evidence-based, culturally relevant, inter-professional, patient-centered care in both urban and rural settings. All applicable ECU academic programs prepare students to sit for licensure in North Carolina, therefore ECU cannot confirm whether a particular program meets requirements for professional licensure outside of the State of North Carolina. The program offers five tracks. BSN to DNP students can choose from the following tracks: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia Specialty. The Post-Master’s DNP offers two tracks: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse or Leadership.
4. Arkansas State University
With a focus on educating leaders and enhancing students’ intellectual growth, Arkansas State University is the self-proclaimed “catalyst for progress” in the state and the Mid-South region. The institution was founded in 1909 and today is a destination university for over 14,000 students from around the world. The fully accredited research institution is the second largest university in Arkansas and in addition to the on campus experience, it also offers a robust and comprehensive online program that serves a diverse student population. TheThe fully online DNP program at Arkansas State includes an on-campus emersion experience before the start of each semester. The program requires full-time study and takes 2.5 years to complete the forty-one required credit hours. Students must be Board certified in Advanced Nursing Practice with licensure as an APN or APRN in the state of practice to apply. The application deadline is in October annually. Curriculum and degree requirements are listed in the most current Graduate Bulletin.
5. Wichita State University
Students who wish to incorporate innovative research with classroom academics need to look no further than Wichita State University. The institution university offers a guaranteed applied learning or research experience with every degree program offered. This innovative approach allows students to apply their learning in hand-on in their field of study, meaning each student has a head start when it comes to gaining applicable experience in their fields. Students are workforce ready upon graduation. The Doctor of Nursing Post-Master program is for students who are already nationally certified in a nursing specialization. Through the program at Wichita they will advance their knowledge in areas such as policy and politics, evidence-based practice, and healthcare systems. Applicants need to have taken a graduate level statistics course within the past six years and have a nursing master’s degree from an accredited institution. Applicants should also have maintained a GPA of 3.25 or higher in all master’s work.
6. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Northwestern State University is located in the scenic river port city of Natchitoches, Louisiana. The National Historic Landmark District celebrates the areas rich history through preservation of French Creole townhouses, the Minor Basilica, and the Nineteenth Century Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, which is the city’s oldest store. The Northwestern State was established in this rich area in 1884 in the old Bullard Mansion, which sits atop a hill overlooking the city. Originally the Louisiana State Normal School, Northwestern gained it’s university status in 1970. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Northwestern offers a clinical doctorate degree for master’s prepared registered nurses. Graduates can expect to go onto significantly impact healthcare outcomes state wide in leadership and executive roles. During their course of study students will learn how to translate evidence into practice, implement systems changes, and establish healthcare standards and policies. Enrollees can choose from two concentrations: APRN to DNP Leadership (for APRNs) and Organizational Systems Leadership (for non-APRNs). The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Northwestern State University of Louisiana is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
7. Ashland University
Ashland University, a private, comprehensive institution, was founded in 1878 and gained its university status in 1989. In addition the online campus, the university has four colleges in the Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Education, and the Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The university’s unique mission, to place “Accent on the Individual” can be seen in all facets of the educational experience at Ashland. Students get dedicated faculty attention in the classroom or lab, and learn through course academics, research opportunities, internships and service projects, and more. Students who wish to advance their nursing career at Ashland can expect to participate in rigorous academic and practice-focused learning online, and to engage in residency activities throughout their enrollment. The online DNP degree program emphasizes evidence-based practice, leadership, cultural competence, organizational analysis and policy. Upon graduating, students can expect to take on leadership roles in hospitals or healthcare organizations nationwide. Enrollees choose one of two paths of study: a BSN to DNP or MSN to DNP with a focus in either the Family Nurse Practitioner program or Health Systems Leadership program.
8. Boise State University
The metropolitan campus of Boise University runs along the banks of the Boise River and it is a quick walk or bike ride from the major city, an ideal college town. The bustling city offers high culture and arts, a night life, and outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, river sports, hiking and skiing. Because of its appealing location––and competitive academics––the university boasts a diverse enrollment with over 24,000 students from every state and over sixty foreign countries. Students in all programs benefit from a wealth of in the field experiences such as service opportunities, internships, or participation in innovative research. Students enrolled online in the DNP program can expect the flexibility of online coursework in cohort model. The program is suitable for master’s prepared nurses from across the United States. The Boise State University School of Nursing is CCNE accredited. Classes begin in August annually and applications are due no later than July 15th. Priority is placed on applications received by April 15th each year. The program places emphasis on the Scholarly Project that each student must complete. During the project students highlight their expertise and professional skills and complete a project that aims to improve healthcare organization and patient outcomes.
9. University of Texas Medical Branch
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has been a leading institution in the field of healthcare since its founding over 125 years ago. The university trains students to be leaders and innovators in their fields. UTMB opened in 1891 and was the nation’s first public medical school and hospital to operate under unified leadership. Today the university offers a comprehensive health system that includes hospitals and three campuses, plus a network of clinics. The institution is the major provider of health care for Texans and their families and more than 42,000 Texas jobs are directly or indirectly attributed to UTMB. The online DNP program offered through the School of Nursing is set up to prepare nurse practitioners to transform health care through leadership positions across the state, nation, and around the world. The program focuses on serving and researching vulnerable populations, most importantly people at risk for health disparities due to factors such as: lack of insurance, poor access, socioeconomic status, age, minority status. The program requires forty-two credit hours taught part-time online. Students are required to take one trip to campus each semester for a two to three day intensive.
10. Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University, founded in 1906 is the state’s largest and most comprehensive center of higher education south of Atlanta. The Carnegie Doctoral/Research university educates over 27,000 students annually, and all fifty states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, are represented through student enrollment. The university has three main campuses in Hinesville, Savannah, and Statesboro. Students seeking an affordable and quality education will be happy to know that Georgia Southern is listed as one of the top four most affordable colleges in the state. The Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, home to the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, was the first such facility in the University System of Georgia and is accredited by the CEPH. Georgia Southern offers a Post-MSN online DNP degree for students wishing to obtain leadership or executive positions in their field. Students must have their APRN license and certification to enroll in the six-semester online program. The fully online DNP program offers synchronous and asynchronous formats and the curriculum aims to translate evidence into practice in order to improve healthcare outcomes across fields.
11. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado at Denver began in 1883 with the CU School of Medicine founding on the Boulder Campus, and the university gained its independence from Boulder in 1973. Both on campus and online students can expect to engage in diverse educational experiences both in the classroom and through internship, research, or service opportunities within their fields. The University of Colorado at Denver Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) online program prepares nurses for the highest level of professional practice. Graduates go on to build careers as executives and leaders in the healthcare field. Career opportunities could include the following: Clinical Nurse Educator, Clinician-Scholar, Developer/Evaluator of Healthcare Programs, Healthcare Entrepreneur, Care Manager. The program is CCNE accredited and the first of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region. Individuals must hold an MS in Nursing in an advanced practice area to apply. The competency-based curriculum offers courses online and via in-class intensives. States participating in the online DNP program include: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
12. Delta State University
Delta State University is located in Cleveland, Mississippi and is a comprehensive, public institution serving approximately 3,500 students annually. Though the school is small, the student body represents all fifty states plus fifty other counties from across the globe, offering a diverse experience with an intimate campus setting. The fully accredited university offers degrees to the doctoral level, including the comprehensive online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. Registered nurses at the associate, , baccalaureate, and master’s levels are encouraged to apply, and if needed, to take the Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam. Depending on degree level, students will enroll in one of the following programs: RN-DNP, BSN-DNP, Post Master’s (non-FNP) DNP, Post Master’s (FNP) DNP. There are full and part time options available, but both options and all programs require a total of 1,020 clinical hours and a Scholarly Project with an additional 420 clinical hours in the student’s area of interest.
13. University of Central Florida
Located in the diverse and thriving metropolitan area of Orlando, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is a preeminent research university. The school is home to over 67,000 making it one of the larges universities in the United States. UCF was founded in 1963 and today it has thirteen colleges and offers more than 216 degree options across it’s twelve regional locations and the online campus. Students benefit from learning in the high-tech Florida mecca through creative local partnerships, internship and research opportunities, and service programs. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at UCF prepares nurses at the highest level of nursing practice available today. With a strong scientific foundation for practice, students can expect to graduate as top specialists in their fields. During their course of study students will critically analyze complex clinical situations and practice systems, assume leadership roles, develop practice models that support nurses, and analyze socio-economic, political and epidemiological data to improve healthcare systems and practices across fields. The program is fully accredited by the AACN.
14. Idaho State University
Idaho State University is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research and teaching institution. The university was founded in 1901 and today serves over 12,000 students annually with a 14:1 student-faculty ratio. The main campus is located in Pocatello, Idaho, with three other campuses around the state. The institution is a leader in innovative research in areas such as engineering, technology, biological sciences, and nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program prepares students to become leaders in their areas of expertise within the clinical nursing practice field. The programs academics are grounded in evidence-based application and explores and evolves with the ever-changing health care system. All coursework is completed online with clinical components completed in the student’s local area. Each semester students are also required to come to the Pocatello campus for a two to three day intensive. There are two degree options students can choose from: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). In order to be eligible for the Post Master’s DNP degree program, applicants must hold national certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). In order to be eligible for the Post Master’s DNP degree program, FNP option, the applicant must hold national certification as an FNP. In order to be eligible for the Post Master’s DNP degree program, PMHNP option, the applicant must hold national certification as a PMHNP.
15. Indiana State University
Indiana State University is located in Terre Haute, the ‘capital’ of the Wabash Valley, and home to several higher education institutes. The university was first founded in 1912 as Indiana’s Normal School. Today the school offers unique internship, research and service opportunities such as the Donaghy Service Day, named after Fred Donaghy, graduate of the Normal School in 1912. Initiated in 1976, on this day the campus serves the community by celebrating the season doing service projects to help beautify the campus and surrounding area. As dedicated as the university is to service, it is equally dedicated to promoting diversity. The institution represents over sixty-five countries and all fifty states, and the message of inclusion permeates all facets of campus life and academics. The fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice program prepares nurses to be innovative leaders and environmental change agents in their fields. The thirty-nine credit hour program requires previous master’s study and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical preceptorship. There is no dissertation but students complete a DNP Scholarly Project. Out of state individuals are encouraged to apply, however, the program does not serve residents the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming, or International students. The program is AACN accredited.
16. Troy University
Troy University, located in Troy, Alabama, is the flagship institution of the Troy University System. It was founded in 1887 as the Troy State Normal School and today has over 100,000 alumni representing all fifty of the United States. The institution has a rich and fulfilling heritage of serving military personnel and is known for its innovation in offering in-class and online academic programs in servicing traditional, nontraditional, and military students. The online Doctor of Nursing Practice program offers rolling admission with application deadlines on the first of the month in October, March, and June annually. The fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is flexible and requires only one day on campus for an orientation upon acceptance to the program. The degree prepares graduates to be leaders and specialists in their fields and can be completed full or part time. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNA). To graduate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, and fulfill candidacy requirements. Graduates go on to be leaders in their fields and serve across the state of Alabama, and nationwide.
17. University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas, located in Fayetteville, Ak, was founded over 140 years ago in 1871 and today celebrates its rich heritage annually through the Senior Walk. During this three-mile walk students, faculty, and families traverse crisscrossing sidewalks through campus which are engraved with the names of over 175,000 graduates, dating back to the schools founding. The University of Arkansas is consistently ranked a top research institution and offers a low student-to-faculty ratio while still offering all of the big-university benefits such as top-tier faculty, state-of-the art technologies, rigorous academics, and innovative research opportunities. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the university as having “the highest possible level of research,” placing us among the top 2 percent of colleges and universities nationwide. The University of Arkansas’ Doctor of Nursing Practice degree offers both an MSN to DNP and BSN to DNP track. The program is focused on creating leaders in the healthcare community through evidence-based clinical prevention and health services. Enrollees can choose from two focuses: Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
18. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks, ND and was founded in 1883, six years before North Dakota became a state. Today the institution serves over 13,000 students annually and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The first graduating class, in 1889, consisted of six women and two men, all who became the institutions first Leaders in Action. Graduate Dr. Cora Smith King was the first woman to receive a medical license in the state, and was a fierce advocate for women nationwide and locally. The Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree prepares enrollees to be the most educated and qualified practitioners in their fields. Graduates go onto include health policy and health care outcomes on local and global levels. Enrollment in the competitive program is limited. All applications are due by May 1st annually and admissions are determined approximately one month after receiving completed applications.
19. Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing
For over a hundred years the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing has produced some of the most compassionate and skilled nursing professionals in their fields. The college offers BSN, MSN and DNP degree programs in both traditional and online settings. Located in Peoria, Illinois the college places emphasis on low student-to-faculty ratios, student financial aid, and pertinent clinical experiences. Graduates of the doctorate program can plan to take leadership roles in health care organization, appraise scientific knowledge and nursing practices for optimal outcomes, and advocate for health care change on a national level. The comprehensive DNP degree program has two areas of concentration: Clinical and Leadership. All courses are offered fully online and the high-tech Learning Management System lets enrollees view course materials, check course calendars, and participate in synchronous and asynchronous discussions in a flexible manner. All applicants to the Clinical track must have an MSN degree and at least 500 practice hours before applying. Applicants to the Leadership track must have a BSN and a master’s degree in health administration, leadership, or other area of study approved by the Dean or graduate committee.
20. Illinois State University
Illinois State University (ISU) is committed to fostering a small-college atmosphere with large-university opportunities. In fact, ISU has one of the highest retention rates in the nation at over 80% and their graduation rate is far above the national level. The school serves over 20,000 students annually from across the United States. Affordability matters and over forty-five million dollars in merit- and need-based aid and tuition waivers are awarded annually. Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State offers a competitive and comprehensive Doctor of Nursing Practice degree designed to produce graduates with the skills, knowledge, and competencies to meet the health care challenges of the 21st century. The program can be completed in seven semesters and the attentive faculty offers guidance and one-on-one attention to each student enrolled. All courses are offered online and it is ranked at one of the Top 100 Public Universities in the nation.
21. Liberty University
Liberty University, a Christ centered, liberal arts institution, is located in central Virginia with seventeen colleges and schools found among the valley campus. The university is committed to academic excellence and to Training Champions for Christ through all facets of learning, including via the online campus. Liberty University’s online DNP degree program aims to bring enrollees to their highest potential within their specialty. By learning how to apply evidence-based clinical decision-making and culturally competent care to individuals, families and community populations, students advance their academic and ethical knowledge of nursing practice. The online program is taught by nursing professionals with real world, applicable experience. The degree program is based on the guidelines set forth by the AACN though the program is not currently accredited by the organization. The fully online DNP program can be completed in two years.
22. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has long been a national model for metropolitan universities. All programs and schools within the university engage with regional partners, service and internship opportunities, or innovative research programs. The institution is traditionally associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church since its founding in 1886. Today the school proudly thrives on an unusual blend of private and public traditions found in American education; for the first 83 years of its existence it was a private school. The university’s DNP degree program is an MSN to DNP degree that prepares students to be leaders in the health care and nursing industries. The program is accredited by the AACN and requires a minimum of thirty-six credit hours to complete. During their course of study, enrollees have a chance to develop and implement an evidence-based innovative translational project that should aim to solve a significant health-care problem. Additionally, students must meet the mandated minimum of 1,000 Post-baccalaureate hours of specialty training as required by AACN. There two tracks of study students can follow: Nursing: Nursing Administration or Nursing Administration Systems.
23. Murray State University
Murray State University is a liberal arts college with a balanced focus on the sciences. The university prides itself in nurturing student-teacher interactions usually found at small colleges in a large university setting. The 4-year, state-supported public university is located in Murray, Kentucky and was founded in 1922. Annually Murray State serves over 10,000 students from the undergraduate to doctoral levels. Murray State University offers a number of tracks through their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. The program is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. There are both BSN to DNP and PM to DNP programs available. The BSN to DNP tracks offered include: Nurse Anesthetist or Family Nurse Practitioner. Each program takes thirty-six months to complete with classes schedule year-round. The Post-Masters DNP program takes twenty months and requires a two-year, part time commitment. With all tracks, students combine classroom study with hands on clinical practice. Graduates can expect to become leaders or executives in their fields, working in hospitals or health care organizations.
24. Indiana University
Today known as one of the top public universities in the world, Indiana University had humble beginnings, founded in 1820 as one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains. “Research without boundaries” is a cornerstone for Indiana University’s approach to learning and the institutions and alumni are a testament to the successes that result from this approach. Today Indiana University is home to world-class business and music schools and it is home to the world’s first school of philanthropy as well as the nation’s first school of informatics, and home to the nation’s largest medical school. With an additional commitment to diversity, the on campus and online programs have a home for every student. The online DNP program offered through Indiana University explores coursework in advanced leadership in complex systems, clinical decision making, evidence-based practice and translation, public health policy, population health management, and more. The program can be completed fully online and prepares graduates to pursue executive and leadership roles in their fields of study. The program requires thirty-seven credit hours plus three required, in-person intensives. All intensives are held on the IUPUI campus in the summer prior to program entry in the fall. Students also complete 1,000 hours of clinical work before graduating.
25. University of North Florida
The University of North Florida is an elite, high-caliber education destination, combining competitive academics with a destination university experience. Inclusion and diversity are core values for the institution and the university cultivates a culturally competent and inclusive environment for all students on campus, and online. The school also boasts a faculty made up of field professionals and specialists, meaning students receive career-applicable educations. The Doctor of Nursing Practice online degree program can be completed in two years and prepares graduates for careers as leaders and executives in their fields. The fully online program is flexible and allows students to continue working in their current jobs while studying to advance their careers. The DNP program combines academic knowledge with real-world practice to teach students how to assess and assure quality patient outcomes. There is no dissertation required. However, all students must work independently and with a project committee to develop and complete an evidence-based project before graduation. The program is CCNE accredited.
26. Graceland University
Graceland University, founded in 1895, is located in Lamoni, Iowa and is affiliated with the RLDS Church, now called the Community of Christ Church. The university is grounded in the liberal arts while still providing a 21st century relevant and competitive education to all students enrolled. Sustainability is important to the mission of Graceland and the institution explores our social and economic systems in order to make our planet a suitable place for future generations to enjoy. The university’s mission speaks to this goal: “To practice and teach restorative relationships between humanity and the ecosystems from which we draw resources for our livelihoods––especially within the context of local communities.” In addition to the main campus, Graceland also has a remote campus and the online school, which is home to the DNP program. Graceland is a leader in nursing education. The goal of the fully online DNP program is to prepare nurses for advanced practice roles and as clinical scholars skilled in the application of theory and research, evidence-based practice, advanced clinical practice, measurement of patient outcomes, and transformation of health care systems. Students must have a BSN plus 400 practice hours to apply. Completion of coursework, practice hours, and a doctoral project are required to obtain the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
27. Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University is Virginia’s forward-focused research university. The institution has a long-standing reputation as an entrepreneurial research and collaboration university that offers the chance for students to work in some of the most innovative research programs nationwide. The university’s initiative contributes nearly $2.6 billion to the economy in the state of Virginia annually. Faculty across schools is made up of experts in their fields and classroom learning paired with real-world experiences foster collaboration and innovative thinking in the Old Dominion student body, both on campus and online. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is one of the most competitive in the nation and offers four areas of emphasis: Emerging healthcare technologies, Advanced diagnostic and client care skills, Care of vulnerable populations, and Assurance of quality client outcomes with practice-based research. The program overall places emphasis on transformational strategies, organization research, quality outcomes, executive leadership skills, and fiscal and human resource management. Students should plan to graduate as experts in their field. Applicants need to have relevant healthcare management experience and an accredited BSN degree.
28. Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global takes a unique approach to serving working professionals in a flexible and affordable manner. The fully personalized, online education system is set up to serve these populations, ensuring working adults can continue their jobs while studying to further their careers. All programs are offered 100% online, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, which is instructor led with peer-to-peer learning opportunities and social interactions. The DNP degree program at Purdue Global is designed to prepare advanced practice nurses to thrive as leaders in the ever-changing health care environment today. Students complete coursework around their own schedules and it takes approximately two to three years to complete the program. The following states do not qualify for enrollment in the Purdue DNP program at this time: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. The program is CCNE accredited. In addition to their coursework, all students must complete 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practice hours for degree completion.
29. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a top research institution not only in the southwest but also in the nation. The university is 100% dedicated to making a difference through sustainable programs and actions. The centralized online information portal, Green NAU, is the one stop shop for all information related to Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University operates within a ‘culture of sustainability’ across campus. NAU has over fifteen sustainability programs in which students can participate and make a difference such as: Better World Film Series, Green Building, No Impact Jack, and Tree Campus USA. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at NAU teaches students how to clinically approach nursing practice in a sustainable and pro-active way in order to be leaders and innovators in their fields of study. The fully online program is designed for working professionals who need flexibility in learning while maintaining and advancing their careers. The program is fully accredited and is future-focused. Cutting-edge curriculum and top-tier faculty prepare students for success after graduation.
30. West Virginia University
The students and faculty of West Virginia University (WVU) have been committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture for all students since its founding as a land-grant institution. The university advocates for and provides high-impact research and by leading transformation to West Virginia through local, state and global engagement both on the traditional campuses and online. The WVU System is ranked in the highest research category and offers opportunities for West Virginia residents to create a better future for themselves, their community, and the world through rigorous academics, research, and application-based learning opportunities. The WVU Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program speaks to the university’s mission in preparing advanced practice nurses to shine as leaders and executives in their fields. The program can be completed in thirty-three credit hours, or seven to ten semesters. Capstone credits and clinical hours are also required to obtain the degree. The DNP program offers a focus on the Family Nurse Practitioner and is accredited by the CCNE.
31. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University is a coeducational, regional public institution with a Liberal Arts focus and pre-professional and professional training programs in a number of disciplines. The university is located in Richmond, Kentucky and has been serving the Commonwealth for over a century. The Richmond community provides a strong and enriching environment for students enrolled and Eastern Kentucky and boasts a bustling town, historical and cultural sites and scenic recreational areas within a short driving distance from campus. The institution was founded in 1906 and today is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is the highest level of accreditation available. Through the Nursing School students can enroll in the Post-MSN DNP program in order to advance their nursing careers to the highest level. The curriculum blends professional preparation with rigorous academics to prepare graduates for roles in leadership or as executives upon completion. The program runs in 8-week terms with rolling admissions and multiple start dates. All coursework can be completed full or part time online and there are no required campus visits.
32. James Madison University
James Madison university has long been a leader and innovator when it comes to community service, quantitative change, and quality academics with research-based sciences and a strong focus on a Liberal Arts education. The university is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a short drive away from the nation’s capital, and is home to approximately 22,000 students annually. It is fast becoming one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher education across fields. Green and sustainable efforts are all a part of the JMU experience. In The Princeton Review’s guide to Green Colleges JMU was listed as a top contender. Some efforts include environmental literacy programs, formal sustainability committees, use of renewable energy resources and recycling and conservation programs. The online Doctor of Nursing Practice program offered at JMU is an innovative program offering full and part time study options. The DNP academic approach centers around evidence-based practice and evidence-based management practices, as emphasized by the Institute of Medicine. Students may choose from two focuses: Advanced Practice Nursing or Leadership in Healthcare Systems. The total number of credits required range from 31–46 hours depending on previous coursework and all students must complete 1,000 course related practice hours. Students must have a BSN degree to apply and the program is accredited by the CCNE and AACN.
33. University of Alabama in Huntsville
Founded in 1950, the University of Alabama in Huntsville is a public national university. Southern Living recently named Huntsville, Alabama, the institutions home, one of the best college towns in the South. Though the university is deeply nestled in southern roots, students from all fifty states and over seventy countries enroll annually. The university’s 500+ acre campus includes top research centers and laboratories, making it the second-largest research park in the nation, which accounts for over $96 million in research expenditures. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at UA Huntsville prepares students to be leaders. The degree’s coursework can be completed 100% online and focuses on administrative, organizational, and systems leadership competencies. The program takes at least twenty-eight months to complete for full time students and fifty-two months for part-time attendees. Students are required to complete an intensive in the spring with geographic rotations through Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham.
34. Rivier University
Rivier University was founded in 1933 by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and Sister Madeleine of Jesus, and is located in Nashau, New Hampshire. The institution offers a strong Liberal Arts education for all levels of study and is rooted in over eighty years of academic excellence which seeks to educate the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. The over fifty degree programs offered come in traditional and non-traditional formats, but in both cases the university prides itself on offering small classes with experience-based learning opportunities led by accomplished faculty. Although the Rivier initially was a woman’s college, today it is a co-ed institution serving students from all fifty states and from around the globe. The fully online DNP degree from Rivier University prepares nurses for leadership and executive positions in their fields. The program is clinically focused and adjusts annually to the ever-changing health care system of today. The program emphasizes the follow three areas: direct care of individual patients; care of patient populations, including community health nursing; and practice that supports patient care. Competitive tuition rates and multiple term starts are reasons why the DNP program at Rivier is set up for focused, working professional aiming to advance their nursing careers.
35. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is annually home to more than 12,000 students from across the globe, representing all fifty states and more than eighty countries worldwide. The prestigious campus overlooks Pikes Peak and the landscape is brimming with outdoor adventures like mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, skiing and more. Because natural beauty and sustainability are so important to UCCS, the institution participates in the Green Action Fund program. The university aims to be more sustainable through student-proposed projects by funding student projects that promote green living by reducing our carbon footprint, educating the student body on social justice issues, reduce campus utility costs, and more. The Post-Masters Doctorate of Nurse Practice degree can be completed 100% online. There are no campus visits required. The program is accredited by the AACN and requires classroom academics and a scholarly manuscript. Students are strongly encouraged to submit their manuscripts for publication. Applicants need not complete the GRE but are required to have an active RN license in the State of Practice plus a Master of Science degree in Nursing from an accredited university.
36. University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
The University of Milwaukee in Wisconsin (UWM) offers affordable education to over 27,000 students from across the globe annually, the student body representing all fifty states plus 91 countries. Though the institution is representative of a diverse population, over 80% of UWM graduates go onto become leaders in companies in the state of Wisconsin. The university is home to the state’s largest collaboration of health sciences, nursing and public health programs through its Partners for Health initiative. For this reason, the DNP program at UWM is one of the best in the nation. The University of Milwaukee in Wisconsin offers a Post-Master DNP degree program that prepares Advanced Practice Nurses (NP, CNS, CNM, CRNA) for the highest level of clinical nursing practice beyond the initial preparation in the discipline. The program is rated in the top 15% of all graduate nursing programs in the nation on a consistent basis. Graduates go on to become executives and leaders in their fields, and design and implement programs of care delivery that change the lives of many people, as well as the culture of healthcare nationwide. Students from all over the world enroll in the online DNP program annually. The 28-credit-hour program also includes a four credit, 460-hour clinical residency requirement.
37. University of Northern Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers students the self-proclaimed “best educational experience in Colorado.” The research-based university brings innovative problem solving and rigorous academics to every classroom and each on or off campus student experience. All students connect their studies through research. The university was originally founded in the late 1880s as the Colorado State Normal School. Today it educates a diverse population of executive-minded students from across the state, nation, and globe annually. The Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree at the University of Northern Colorado prepares nurses for specialized advanced nursing careers as experts in their fields. The program is designed to serve practicing MSN or APNs as a two-year, part-time commitment. Most coursework can be completed online and there are only three required visits to the campus over each student’s course of study. The DNP program offers two specializations: an AGACNP Emphasis or an FNP Emphasis.
38. McKendree University
McKendree University, located in Lebanon, Illinois, was established in 1828 by pioneer Methodists and is the oldest college in the state, and the oldest college in the nation with continuous ties to the United Methodist Church. Steeped in tradition, McKendree has evolved since its founding to serve its students through rigorous academics and integrated research opportunities in across its 480 deeded acres of rick land in the Shiloh Valley, and online. Today the university enrolls approximately 3,000 students annually with a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The mission of McKendree’s DNP degree program in Ethical Leadership is to provide high-quality education to nursing leaders who will in turn drive the future of healthcare locally, nationally, and worldwide. The program can be completed full or part time and requires thirty credit hours of online coursework plus an Advanced Nursing Project and two on-campus immersions each August. Applicants must hold a current RN license and have worked for a university, hospital, or health care organization within the past five years or have two years minimum of full-time work in their field.
39. University of Michigan at Flint
The University of Michigan at Flint (UM-Flint) was founded in 1965 on a commitment to bring quality education to the Flint and surrounding areas. The university is consistently ranked as a nationwide top school for their master degree programs annually. The faculty has developed curricula with industry professionals in order to ensure students gain experiences on top of quality academics. The Doctor in Nursing Practice program at UM-Flint is widely respected for the quality of its alumni. The program offers two degree tracks: the BSN to DNP or the MSN to DNP. BSN to DNP students choose from the following specializations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The program requires requiring 67 to 78 credit hours to complete in part or full time fashion. The MSN to DNP students is designed for registered nurses MS degrees in nursing who are already Certified Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. This track takes between 28 and 31 credit hours to complete.
40. Concordia University in Wisconsin
Concordia University in Wisconsin rests along the coast of Lake Michigan and many students choose to come to Concordia for the quality education, but also the chance to live in along the lake and participate in all the region has to offer. The institution was founded in 1881 and the inaugural class had only thirteen students. Today Concordia boasts a 90% job placement rate after graduation, serves over five hundred international students annually, and enrolls diverse populations from across the nation and globe each year. The competitive fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree offered through Concordia University requires thirty credit hours to complete and is a faith-based program, in line with Concordia’s traditional campus mission. Graduates can expect to pursue careers as leaders and executives such as: Nursing Assistants, Registered Nurses, or Clinical Nurse Specialists. The cohort model offers accelerated classes in a flexible online format and the GRE is not required for admission. All courses are built on a Christian foundation.
41. Gwynedd Mercy University
Located just thirty minutes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Gwynedd Mercy University (GMercyU) is one of the seventeen Sisters of Mercy institutions located in the United States. The liberal arts university boasts an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and over forty academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The University’s Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions has led the region in health practitioner education for generations and the DNP program offers no less than top-notch academics and clinical experiences for nurses interested in taking on leadership or executive roles in their fields. GMercyU offers an accelerated online DNP degree program for nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, or certified nurse midwives. The fully online program can be completed part or full time and requires thirty-nine credit hours, or two years of full-time study to graduate. One in person executive session is required during the last course of study. The online program also requires 400 hours of precepted clinical experience.
42. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University was found in 1919 and was initially accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 1966. Today it is one of America’s fastest-growing Christian colleges. The Christ-centered institution is dedicated to teaching faithfulness, remarkable growth, innovation, and the joyful expectation of God to enrollees both on campus and online. Indian Wesleyan University is an institution of The Wesleyan Church, which is a global body of evangelical Protestants with roots in John Wesley’s Methodism. The fully online DNP program can be completed full or part time with flexibility in residency hours. The program aims to develop leaders and to implement system changes to improve and transform healthcare. In addition to coursework, 1000 graduate level practicum hours are required for graduation, though a maximum of 500 of these hours may be transferred from a master’s level clinical experience. Students’ RN licenses must remain unencumbered throughout the program.
43. University of Florida
Founded over 160 years ago, today the University of Florida is a top-tier, innovative research institution awarding approximately $724 million in research awards last fiscal year. The university boasts some of the top faculty in the country, and state-of-the-art technologies are implemented into all facilities including classrooms, labs, residence halls, and through the online school. Students from across the globe come to attend the University of Florida to participate in innovative research, and become leaders of change in the world. The university offers both the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP program options. MSN to DNP applicants must have an active Florida ARNP license to apply. The fully online program is set up to serve the working professional. Coursework can be completed full or part time and clinical hours can be completed in the student’s local area. The program places a strong focus on leadership and all coursework is led by faculty clinicians and experts in their fields.
44. University at Buffalo
University of Buffalo is a premier, research-intensive public university with a proven history of academic excellence. Located in Buffalo, New York the flagship institution was founded in 1846 and today is the largest and most comprehensive campus in SUNY’s 64-campus system. UB is committed to having a positive and inclusive global impact and students learn both home and abroad in order to fulfill this initiative. Research opportunities like documenting vanishing languages in Cameroon or service such as training earthquake engineers in Haiti are a couple examples of the ways students get real world experience while making real world impacts. The Post-BS to DNP Program is for registered nurses who plan to specialize their careers in one of the following areas: family, adult/gerontology, psychiatric/mental health and anesthesia. The degree program takes anywhere from three to seven years to complete and students can attend full or part time. The nurse anesthetist program is full time only and takes three years to complete. Approximately 40% of the coursework can be completed online and all students complete a capstone project tailored toward their individual interests in their last year of study. The on campus Post-MSN to DNP degree takes three to five years to complete and students choose to focus in one of the following areas: Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Child Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
45. Upstate Medical University
SUNY Upstate Medical University is located in Syracuse, New York, and is proud to be the only academic medical center in Central New York, and the region’s largest employer. The institution successfully aims to improve the community’s overall health through education, biomedical research and health care. Today the Upstate University Health System serves approximately 1.8 million people in need of health care. For these reasons it is no surprise that the online DNP program is one of the best in the nation. The program can be completed part time and is designed specifically for the post-master’s Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). All forty semester hours required by the program can be completed online and students can expect their studies to take approximately two and a half years to complete, with two summer semesters. The program is AACN and CCNE accredited. New York state residents can also qualify for SUNY tuition rates. Applicants must have one of the following licenses to apply: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Family Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (FPMHNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Adult/Geriatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and an active RN license in the state where they plan to complete their clinical hours.
46. University of Missouri at St. Louis
The University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL) is spread across over 450 acres of suburban St. Louis country with a mix of modern and historic architecture. UMSL capitalizes on its location by connecting students to unique research and internship opportunities with companies and organizations across the world-class metropolitan region. The diverse 17,000 students who enroll on campus or online annually are representative of all fifty states and over sixty countries from around the globe. Value Colleges ranked UMSL nursing’s online RN to BSN program among the top 50 nationally. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is also one of the best nursing programs in the nation. The program is endorsed by the AACN and focuses on the areas of health policy, organizational leadership and management, and additional clinical expertise with a focus on evidence-based practice. The university has both the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs with a number of tracks to choose from: Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Leadership in Population Health and Healthcare Systems. BSN to DNP candidates chooses from a nurse practitioner population of focus for their studies or the leadership in population health and healthcare systems focus. All students must complete a clinical scholarship project in their final year of study.
47. University of Tennessee at Knoxville
The University of Tennessee (UT) at Knoxville was founded in 1794, and is one of the oldest universities in the nation. The university is the first public university chartered west of the Appalachian Divide. It is the state’s flagship land-grant university and a Carnegie recognized Research Institution. With an equal focus on tradition and innovation UT Knoxville is dedicated to educating citizens through rigorous academics, research and scholarship, outreach and engagement, and through supporting creative activity. The DNP program prepares students to influence health care outcomes through evidence-based practice and by evaluating and implementing health policy. Students also explore how to develop new and innovative clinical systems. The clinical practice approach allows graduates to take leadership roles in their fields while maintaining a focus on patient care. The application deadline is March 1st annually with a February 1st deadline for international applicants. The DNP program offers the following concentrations: BSN-DNP Family Nurse Practitioner Concentration; BSN-DNP Nurse Executive Concentration; BSN-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Concentration; BSN-DNP Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Concentration (Acute and Primary); MSN to DNP.Tuition: $11,244
48. Southern Adventist University
Founded in 1892 by a husband and wife team, Southern Adventist University started as Graysville Academy, where 23 students enrolled the first year. Today the innovative campus compromises over 1,300 acres and twenty-six major buildings in the town of Collegedale, Tennessee. The Christ-centered university follows traditional Seventh-day Adventist values while promising academic excellence for all graduates, both on campus and online. The institution boast many accomplishments, including the School of Nursing where the nurse practitioner program has a 100 percent pass rate for certification exams. The fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is one of the most comprehensive offered in the state of Tennessee. Areas of emphasis include the following: Acute Care for Adult/Gerontology, Acute Care Specialization, or Lifestyle Therapeutics. The online program requires three campus visits, each four days long, int eh first, third, and fifth semesters. The program can be completed full time in five semesters, or part time in eight. The university offers both the MSN to DNP and BS to DNP programs. All applicants must hold an up-to-date RN licensure to apply in the state where they wish to complete their clinical study.
49. Kent State University
Kent State was founded in 1902 as a teacher-training school and today has over 240,000 alumni worldwide from a wealth of disciplines and areas of study. The Ohio university is dedicated to serving state-wide communities through an array of accessible and affordable educational opportunities. The fully online MSN to DNP degree program can be complete in less than two years by full time students, or in five semesters and prepares students to assume leadership roles in healthcare. With a growing demand for specialized nurses, Kent State meets the demand by accelerating their accessible doctoral program online through a cohort structure. Students must have a BSN or MSN degree from an CCNE or ACEN accredited institution to apply plus a minimum GPA of 3.0. They must also hold an active, unrestricted RN licenses in the state in which they plan to complete their practica.
50. Ohio State University
Ohio University was founded over 148 years ago and is located in the bustling capital city of Columbus. It has, since its founding, been a laboratory for innovation and the main campus is one of the United State’s largest and most comprehensive campuses. The land-grand university has a proven track record of offering access, affordability, and academic excellence across disciplines. Earning a Doctorate of Nursing Practice is serious business at Ohio University. The College of Nursing offers two tracks for students: The DNP Clinical Expert for those who want to reach the highest levels of patient care expertise. (There is a BSN to DNP option also available in this track). The DNP Nurse Executive is for those individuals who wish to lead innovative, transformative healthcare organizations. The program allows students to pursue their own individual career goals through their studies and clinical practice. Additionally, Ohio University is one of the collaborating institutions for the annual Big Ten Conference. DNP students may complete their coursework online but they are required to be on campus at least twice during the course of their enrollment, as well as participate in orientation prior to their first semester of study. The Ohio State University College of Nursing is authorized to enroll online doctoral students in most states but because state laws and regulations vary, not all states are qualified to enroll. Before applying students are strongly encouraged to visit the University’s Online Programs State Authorization webpage for more information.