Top 10 Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs

The complexity of healthcare services requires licensed nurses to have the highest level of education and clinical knowledge if they want to be true nursing experts in their field. Baccalaureate degree holders should not settle for their current degree, but rather aim higher and pursue graduate studies that will further enhance their skills and knowledge in a specific field. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is often the highest degree that a licensed nurse can earn. Even though it takes lots of time and dedication to receive this honor, a growing number of healthcare professionals still go for a Doctor of Nursing Practice program to stay competitive.

The big issue for many working nurses is finding the time and place. The fact is, once you have earned your MSN degree and work in a more leading role, you will have additional constraints on your time. So how to do it? A simple answer is to try and find an online DNP program both accredited and and recognized by your state’s authorities.

There are many colleges and universities across the country developing online programs that lead to a Doctor of Nursing Practice qualifications, helping those who cannot attend classes in any particular school.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing America, more than 100 schools in the United States alone offer online Doctor of Nursing programs. Making a decision where to enroll can be somewhat difficult, so it is always best to consider a number of things like personal finances and the school’s reputation. While most students apply for scholarships and financial aid grants to ease their financial burden, your future school should be accredited and able to provide the best quality education as well.

If you are committed to working autonomously, adopting leadership roles, managing healthcare delivery systems and influencing health policy, a DNP is definitely for you!

Below we have compiled a detailed list of the Top 10 Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs available in the US today. These schools are accredited by local nursing boards as well as members of  American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Medical University of South Carolina

medical-university-of-south-carolinaThe Medical University of South Carolina offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice program done online. The course provides in-depth knowledge on clinical practice, as well as a good experience in leadership, health policy, applied research, health systems designs and evaluation. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program is a practice-focused graduate program in nursing that awards the graduates with a Master of Science in Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The purpose of this higher level study is to prepare students to practice at primary care settings, public health agencies, schools of nursing and hospitals, with a higher clinical level and position.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the Medical University of South Carolina enables students to demonstrate their clinical nursing expertise based on the mastery of a specialized area of knowledge with a strong scientific foundation. It allows students to utilize clinical scholarship and analytical methods to improve the quality and safety healthcare services. The Medical University of South Carolina uses personalized teaching, coaching and hands-on clinical experience to further enhance the skills of the DNP students, and it has become one of the best doctoral degree granters in the state. The program collaborates with other healthcare institutions to allow students to experience or become exposed to the finest caliber clinical practice.

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice program provides additional convenience to students, even though some of the clinical practice is done in a real setting. Other than having an in-depth curriculum, the university uses all the best resources, including faculty and staff, to help DNP students get their doctorate degrees. The individuals who provide support are licensed healthcare professionals, who have completed a Master of Science in Nursing and/or the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. They are experienced and competent nurses who aim to transform the students into responsible and highly-equipped professionals.

There are several opportunities for graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. They are usually offered higher positions and better compensation than other licensed nurses in a similar position, which is why, the MUSC makes sure that graduates are ready to take on the responsibilities and challenges they will face in the future.

Admission to the online or distance learning program of the university requires students to pass the screening process. As one of the Top 10 Recognized Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program providers in the country, the Medical University of South Carolina only accepts the best students who are able to meet the necessary requirements of their state of residence.

Graceland University

graceland-universityGraceland University is among the Top 10 Institutions Offering the Best Online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the country. As a leader in nursing education, the university is proud to offer their first doctoral degree which will prepare nurses for advance practice roles in healthcare. Graduates of the GU online DNP program become clinical scholars skilled in theory application and research, advanced clinical practice, evidence-based practice, patient outcome measurement and the transformation of healthcare systems to deliver quality and safety services.

The faculty and staff of the university hold doctoral degrees and are experienced educators themselves. They are the ones behind the successful nursing graduates, those who excel in the field of healthcare, academe and other related fields. Graceland University offers a small class size and a more personalized education to its DNP students. Since the classes are usually held online, students will have more flexibility for their work. There are some instances where they need to complete a few hours in clinical practice, but this can be done in a healthcare facility nearby. Students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will have great opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in the profession. They are not only guided in their educational needs, but also supported in their DNP degree program.

Making a decision to enroll in a doctoral program is life-changing, as a number of leadership and critical thinking skills will be developed over time, and you will become a true leader in the field of nursing. Still, there are a lot of things to take into account like your personal and career goals.

Before the start of the course, DNP students must submit verification of the practice hours completed for their post-graduate certificate or Master’s program. It should show 80 to 100 clock hours of supervised practice across a 16-week trimester. The goal of the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program is to prepare nurses for advanced practice roles, and these students should be able to collect, interpret and use knowledge from nursing practice and implement or evaluate it in practice interventions.

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice program of Graceland University is approved by the State Board of Nursing and accredited by several reputable organizations. Graduates of the program receive a doctoral level credential and go on to embrace various opportunities in different clinical settings. They will have better chances of getting immediate employment, especially given that more and more healthcare facilities are looking for individuals with the highest level of post graduate knowledge.

New Mexico State University

new-mexico-state-universityThe School of Nursing at New Mexico State University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in four areas: Family Nurse Practitioner, Public/Community Health Nursing, Family Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Students can choose any of these fields of specialization. The Doctor of Nursing Program is the highest degree nurses can obtain. It is a practice-focused doctoral degree program that prepares nurses for the highest level of practice in the healthcare field. The coursework is usually done online and the clinical part is completed in an accredited medical facility. It is important for students to take into account that the clinical component should consist of more than 1,000 contact hours completed to graduate from the program.

The changing demands of the healthcare environment require nurses to have the highest level of expertise and scientific knowledge. It has been noted that the effectiveness of nurses is related to the type and quality of their education, which is why having a DNP degree is a clear link to better patient outcomes.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program should not be confused with a PhD in Nursing because the PhD program is a research-focused degree offered to nurses who wish to pursue an academic or research career.

The road to earning a DNP degree can be done in two ways. The first is through a BSN to DNP track that requires students to study full time. The second is through a Post MSN to DNP track which can be done full or part time. The Post MSN to DNP program requires all applicants to have an active and current certification as an advanced practice nurse practitioner to be considered. Aspiring students of the DNP program should take note that it is not possible to change one specialty track for another because of curriculum differences and the limited number of slots for each cohort. Students have a fixed choice in their field of specialization to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

The web-based DNP program of New Mexico State University is one of the most affordable programs in the state. The university is recognized as one of the best institutions in the field of nursing, as its graduates receive employment quickly and are praised for their excellence. Graduating from the DNP program at New Mexico State University provides many future opportunities in the healthcare field, especially to those who have performed well academically and have proven themselves in clinical work.

Loyola University New Orleans

loyola-university-new-orleansThe Loyola University – New Orleans offers a Doctor Nursing Program that can be taken in two ways; the Post-Master’s to DNP track or the Post-BSN to DNP track. Nurses with MSN degrees or certified nurse practitioners seeking executive leadership can choose the Post-Master’s to DNP track, while the Post-BSN to DNP track is for BSN nurses to become family nurse practitioners in a primary care setting. Graduates of the BSN to DNP track will ideal for Family Nurse Practitioner certification.

The mission of the DNP program at Loyola University is to provide a comprehensive Jesuit education, prepare advanced nursing practice leaders of inter-professional teams and direct healthcare systems, refine ethical decision-making and critical thinking skills to lessen health disparities, improve the quality of care, perform new practice options for DNP nurses in healthcare systems and translate the science of healthcare and nursing to clinical practice.

The Post BSN to DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner program for those who qualify will immerse students in didactic theory and clinical practice to help them develop diverse skills. These skills combine healthcare leadership, informatics and advanced nursing practice with hands-on experience. The university’s comprehensive curriculum and their step-by-step guidance from an award-winning faculty let students unlock their full potential, making them eligible for the AACN FNP certification exam.

Students who follow the Post-Master’s to DNP track have a different curriculum to follow, but they also gain a number of skills and a solid foundation throughout the course. They will be supported by the university’s faculty and will be able to maximize the resources available in the facility. Online classes help disseminate a thorough understanding of the course material. Despite the challenges of distance learning education, students still receive the best training in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. They will have hands-on practice in an accredited healthcare facility which allows them to get a good clinical experience during the program.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice at Loyola University is a higher level graduate studies program that needs participants’ commitment and full attention. Applicants should take note that the admission process is competitive and requires them to meet all the school’s demands. There will be challenges encountered throughout the program, but completing the course entitles graduates to a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and awards them with many opportunities for better employment, promotion or an increased salary. Loyola University will help students to achieve their educational goals through full support, personalized teaching and one- on-one supervision.

Duke University

duke-university1The School of Nursing at Duke University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice program for post-BSN or post-MSN applicants who want to advance their skills and gain a higher level of nursing credentials. The DNP program at DU provides its students with necessary tools and skills to assess published evidence, improve systems of care to create positive patient outcomes and make changes to improve quality of care. Graduates of the program are professional nurse leaders in interdisciplinary healthcare teams who also work to improve patient outcomes, systems of care and quality and safety services. The program offers flexible schedules to accommodate both nurses who are already working in advanced practice positions, as well as the students who have recently earned a baccalaureate degree in nursing and want to pursue a DNP program while gaining an advanced nursing practice specialty.

There are a lot of reasons why Duke University should be your top choice when it comes to an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The university offers a comprehensive two-day on campus orientation, and online courses with four executive on-campus sessions, usually two to three days per session in October, February, August or June. Students of DU will get the best DNP education as a result of the university’s faculty that has broad experience in leadership, patient safety and advanced clinical practice. Those with current employment do not need to leave their jobs because the DNP program has flexible class schedules, and it can be adjusted to a specific place of employment.

Pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Duke University can be done in three different pathways. Individuals who graduated from a BSN program can use the BSN to DNP pathway. Students can also choose the MSN to DNP or PhD to DNP pathways, if their qualifications suit these categories. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program provides a higher level of learning, especially as students can choose any field of specialization, subject to availability. Classes are often taken online to accommodate the needs of students currently employed. The clinical practice does not only take place in the affiliated healthcare facility of DU, but can also be done within the area of the students residence.

Duke University offers a number of learning opportunities to accommodate students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Other than an excellent curriculum, they also have great tools and resources that students can make use of throughout the program. They offer full support and guidance students to meet their educational needs and help them excel in the future.

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

clarion-university-of-pennsylvaniaNursing career provides a diverse range of employment opportunities, which is why Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers a degree ladder approach to students starting from the Associate degree level, all the way up to a doctorate degree. The university’s nursing faculty consists of experienced educators offering expert knowledge in various nursing specialties. The campus has great learning facilities and classrooms where students can study and enhance their skills and know-how in certain areas.

For individuals who have already completed a bachelor’s degree and have passed their licensure exam, but still wish to gain more in-depth expertise, a Doctor of Nursing Practice program is ideal. This 34-credit program can be done online and through real life clinical practice. Students in will gain the highest level of education available for nurses as they learn to implement their skills. They will be taught various concepts and ideas needed to become leaders in their fields. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program is a good place to gain valuable knowledge, especially in one’s chosen field of specialization.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers specialty electives in clinical nursing education and advanced clinical practice. These courses can either be taken full-time, part-time or in an online format over a period of six semesters. Students can choose the type of study they want and complete it at their own pace. Individuals currently working may choose the online DNP program in order not to compromise their schedules and careers. However, the clinical practice should be done in an approved healthcare facility and completed before graduation to receive the DNP degree.

Students in the DNP program are admitted in cohorts of 27 and courses starts in the summer. The program has flexible schedules, affordable tuition fees and professional clinical instructors. Students receive all of these benefits as soon as they enroll. They will be nurtured and transformed into well-equipped professional nurses who are an experts in their fields of specialization. They will have great employment opportunities in the future, especially if they perform well in their academic and clinical practice.

The tuition cost for the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Clarion University of Pennsylvania is around $13,800, not including uniforms, books, medical supplies and other miscellaneous fees. CUP is among the most affordable schools in the country for this degree. Finishing the DNP program at Clarion University of Pennsylvania allows graduates to receive quality education without compromising their budgets.

East Carolina University

east-carolina-universityThe East Carolina University offers also a Doctor of Nursing Practice program which can be taken in two different pathways; the BSN to DNP pathway and the post-master’s DNP pathway. The BSN to DNP pathway is for students who have completed their four-year baccalaureate degree in nursing and want to specialize in certain areas and become either a Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Moreover, individuals who already have a Master’s Degree in Nursing can pursue the Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program which has two different fields of specializations; leadership and advanced practice registered nursing. Students in either of these DNP pathways will receive highest quality education and solid support from the university’s faculty and staff.

The East Carolina University (ECU) has one of the best faculties out there to maintain research projects and supervise clinical practice. They offer a valuable nursing leadership experience. The faculty is fully dedicated and committed to mentoring the next generation of healthcare providers and nurse leaders. ECU uses innovative technology to support the teaching of its students. An inter-professional curriculum is utilized by the institution to prepare students for a future career in healthcare. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program of East Carolina University focuses on rural and underserved populations, while allowing students to experience the best clinical practice needed for future employment. The university takes pride personalized faculty mentoring throughout the course of the DNP program. There is an online coursework available, with a requiredone to five campus days each semester (in February, June and September).

The Doctor of Nursing Practice of East Carolina University prepares students to assess and understand published evidence necessary for practice. It also helps them make changes or improve systems of care to enhance nursing services and influence patient outcomes. Students in the DNP program should be aware that most of the classes are done online, via distance education, although some are held on campus.

The School’s College of Nursing at ECU is nationally recognized for their online DNP education because of the latest computer and digital technologies, as well as an innovative virtual clinic. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at East Carolina University has gained accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and is widely regarded as one of the best. Graduates will be prepared and well-equipped for the future demands of the profession, especially as they assume leadership roles and higher positions in the medical field.

Duquesne University

duquesne-universityDuquesne University offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree which enables graduates to innovate the healthcare delivery system and design new ones to improve the context in which nursing services are offered. Nurses who earn a DNP degree from DU will function as healthcare professionals with a strong evidence-based foundation, fantastic organizational skills, systematic healthcare policy assessment and the skill to design innovative concepts for patient care services based on economic trends. The doctorate degree is designed for professional nurses seeking to obtain the highest degree in nursing practice as it serves as an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.

Based on the DNP Essentials of AACN 2006, students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program must complete 1,000 advanced practice post-BSN practice hours to be considered. Duquesne’s DNP program builds on the student’s MSN degree, and the number of practice hours awarded will be based on their official transcripts, feedback from prior schools and course descriptions. As many as 500 hours can be awarded to a student from his/her MSN program. These accepted hours should come from the courses listed on the official transcript of the nationally-accredited institution, and students should possess academic stamina, as well as critical engagement with subjects relevant to the degree competencies. DNP students must complete at least 500 practice hours during the program, and a DNP residency is required for graduation. The residency practice is usually tailored to suit the unique professional goals of each student.

Graduates of the Doctor in Nursing Practice degree will demonstrate great real life judgement through correct analysis and interpretation of various informational sources. They will function as mediators to patients, families and local communities, and actively seek opportunities to guide, teach and help their colleagues’ professional growth and development. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at Duquesne University provides plenty of opportunities to students. It is important to take note that the minimum educational requirement of the program is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Other requirements can be found on the school’s website or through the admissions office.

Duquesne University enrolls more than 5,500 graduate students for their online and offline programs, with 99% of them having access to federal financial aid programs. The school has an average classroom size of 13, allowing for a much more personalized learning environment to students who want to gain a higher level of nursing education.

University of Pittsburgh

university-of-pittsburgh1The University of Pittsburgh or UPitt has been widely consideredone of the best nursing schools in the country. Their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is among the best post graduate programs in the state and the country as a whole. It hastens the knowledge and skills of nurses to evaluate evidence- based research, implement new techniques or methods of treatment and healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes and utilize the best practices to individuals and populations who suffer from a specific medical condition. The Doctor of Nursing Practice at the University of Pittsburgh was introduced in 2006, designed the meets the AACN mandate and required competencies to integrate preparation and specialties that require advanced knowledge, expertise and mastery in a certain area of nursing practice.

The majors offered by the university includes the Nurse Specialty Role – Administration, Nurse Practitioner with six concentrations, Nurse-Midwife, Nurse Anesthesia and Clinical Nurse Specialist. The coursework of the DNP program explores topics like healthcare policy and financing, advanced evidence-based practice, organizational and systems leadership, ethics, analytical methods, patient care technology and informatics,  population health outcomes and inter-professional collaboration for improving quality services. Clinical experiences, which are also a part of the DNP program, are carefully supervised by the university’s faculty and staff to sharpen competency in the student’s chosen area of specialization.

The Doctor of Nursing Program at the University of Pittsburgh has a scholarly component wherein students have to complete a project that analyses and uses necessary knowledge to test and improve a solution significant to the level of care given. The DNP degree program is designed to prepare clinicians to utilize science developed by researchers to enhance patient outcomes. The University of Pittsburgh has developed two pathways for the DNP program, including a BSN to DNP and a MSN to DN track.

The two DNP tracks have several key differences in terms of student qualifications, and finishing the program leads to a doctorate degree in a specific field of specialization. Students who prefer distance learning can take the DNP program online in order avoid putting their job commitments and responsibilities at risk. The DNP program at UPitt is taught by faculty members who have a solid foundation in research, and administrative as well as clinical practice experience. These individuals work together to provide the best learning experience to students who want to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Walden University

walden-universityWalden University offers a competitive online Doctor of Nursing Practice program that allows its graduates to reach the highest level of nursing practice and enhance their services in providing effective and efficient healthcare. The program gives students the credentials to assume a higher leadership role in the organization, helping them contribute to desirable patient outcomes and the healthcare delivery system. Students will learn how to expand their expertise to improve patient care, gain the necessary skills and knowledge to train other nurses, and translate theory to an advanced nursing practice.

During its forty years of operation providing quality education, Walden University has helped numerous professional nurses reach their educational goals. Students at WU are taught by fantastic faculty members and staff who are qualified nursing practitioners and scholars themselves. They bring a unique academic perspective and practical experience to the online learning environment. The DNP program at Walden University is designed to help students gain relevant skills and explore current market trends, both necessary to create a positive change in the lives of people and the local communities.

The diverse community of the university allows students to gain valuable experience in their fields of specialization. Although the DNP program has online classes, students still must to attend a number of classroom lectures and laboratory training. While doing this, they will receive solid first-hand support from the university’s faculty. Walden University is also a member of the North Central Association and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.