50 Best DNP Programs Online 2022

Are you considering furthering your career opportunities by completing an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program? An online DNP program allows for flexibility while pursuing your degree, and programs typically allow students to continue to work for their current employer.

This list of the best online DNP programs is a great place to begin your search for a top online DNP program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are currently over 300 DNP programs in the United States, including brick-and-mortar programs, hybrid programs, and online programs. If you are looking for an online DNP program with little to no on-campus requirements, check out this list of 50 best online DNP programs to get started with your search for a program that meets your academic and career aspirations. 

Best Online DNP Programs 

Methodology

Out of an initial pool of 103 programs that were listed as having online DNP programs, this list of 50 top online DNP programs was derived. Programs listed are accredited, and they are ranked with consideration to national recognition, tuition cost, unique program attributes, on-campus requirements, and length of the program. Tuition costs are from the NCES College Navigator website. Profile information is from program websites. Check out your program of interest directly for the most recent program information, and for tuition and fee information.

  1. The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
  2. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  3. University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
  4. Duke University, Durham, NC
  5. University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO
  6. Florida International University, Miami, FL
  7. Rush University, Chicago, IL
  8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  9. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  10. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  11. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 
  12. The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IO
  13. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  14. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
  15. Yale University, New Haven, CT
  16. Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  17. The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
  18. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
  19. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
  20. University of California, San Francisco, CA
  21. Washington State University, Pullman, WA
  22. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  23. Frontier Nursing University, Versailles, KY
  24. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
  25. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  26. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
  27. Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS
  28. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
  29. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
  30. University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  31. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
  32. Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
  33. Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN
  34. Boise State University, Boise, ID
  35. Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
  36. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  37. Maryville University of Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO
  38. Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
  39. Thomas Edison State University, Trenton, NJ
  40. Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin
  41. Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
  42. Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  43. Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  44. Lasalle University, Philadelphia, PA
  45. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA
  46. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  47. Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC
  48. Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  49. Graceland University, Lamoni, IO
  50. University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL

 

50. University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL

In-State Tuition: $7,956

Out-of-State Tuition: $15,912

WEBSITE

This top online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program prepares graduates to provide advanced nursing care, address issues within healthcare, transform research to practice, and fill leadership roles in healthcare and healthcare education. DNP students are required to complete a major project that translates research evidence into practice. This online DNP program is designed for working professionals, so students are able to maintain their career while pursuing this degree. Students have access to professors through email, phone, and other forms of technology. Students may enter this program as a BSN-to-DNP student, earning their MSN during their studies. All clinical-hour requirements are completed in the student’s region with an approved preceptor. Incoming students complete an on-campus, three- to five-day orientation, and they may be required to visit campus, depending on their DNP track. 

49. Graceland University, Lamoni, IA

Tuition: $17,430

WEBSITE

Graceland University’s best online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is an online DNP in clinical leadership. This program promises to prepare nurses for advanced practice roles, application of research, evidence-based practice, and clinical practice with improved patient outcomes. Faculty members in this online DNP program are experienced educators holding doctoral degrees. DNP students are required to submit verification of practice hours completed in their master’s and/or post-graduate certificate program upon admission to the program. This online DNP program can be completed in as little as two years of study.

48. Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Tuition: $20,618

 WEBSITE

This fully online top Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a master’s-to-DNP program that is flexible and can be completed in just six semesters of study. Student’s may transfer up to six credits to this program. NSU’s fully online courses are taught by experienced and accessible faculty members. This online DNP program focuses on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems thinking that promises to turn research findings into applications in healthcare. Students complete four capstone courses, with a final capstone project that helps students find their passion. Students can expect to develop expertise that inspires them throughout their career. DNP students attend a three-day intensive summer institute at NSU’s campus. 

47. Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC

In-State Tuition: $4,749

Out-of-State Tuition: $17,898

WEBSITE

This online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from ECU has options to meet educational needs in their region and beyond. All faculty maintain active clinical practice or research, promising to bring their broad experience in advanced clinical practice, leadership, and patient safety to the classroom. Students receive personal mentoring and advising from experienced faculty members throughout their time in this program. As a nationally recognized leader in online education, ECU uses the most recent computer and digital technology, which includes their innovative virtual clinic pioneered at ECU. Students can choose from five specialty areas: nurse anesthesia, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership, and the post-master’s DNP specialty.

46. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

Penn State--Top Online HR Degrees

In-State Tuition: $22,464

Out-of-State Tuition: $38,198

WEBSITE

This best online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed for qualified nurses wishing to be leaders that deliver expert nursing care to improve patient outcomes. PSU’s DNP program is a professional practice-based doctoral program. The MSN-to-DNP track requires 38-46 credits to complete, and it can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. Students in the BS-to-DNP program are required to complete 61 credits and will be enrolled full time, taking three courses per semester in the spring and fall. This rigorous and flexible online DNP program requires on-campus intensive sessions. Students are required to complete a qualifying examination, comprehensive examination, and a DNP project and oral presentation.

45. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Tuition: $25,400

WEBSITE

This 100% online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program from Wilkes University is an accelerated program that can be completed in less than two years of study. This online DNP is focused on research application, emerging technologies, and strategic thinking. Students have the opportunity to connect with passionate nursing leaders and develop skills to apply in healthcare in this program that promises to influence change through relevant coursework. Flexible and accelerated, student progress in this program is monitored to ensure student satisfaction and progress.

44. LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PAA logo of Community College of Philadelphia for our ranking of the most affordable online schools in Philadelphia.

Tuition: $25,680

WEBSITE

This fully online post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program promises that graduates will be equipped as innovative practitioners capable of improving healthcare outcomes. This program includes a yearly immersion experience. This DNP program is a practice-focused doctorate with a strong clinical component that provides ample opportunity for knowledge and skill development through clinical requirements and the completion of a DNP scholarly project. Each student has an individualized program plan that includes at least 500 clinical hours built in. This online post-master’s DNP program may be completed on a full-time (six credits/semester) or part-time (three credits/semester) basis. 

43. Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Tuition: $36,234

WEBSITE

Drexel University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed for nurses in pursuit of their terminal degree in nursing practice. This DNP promises to prepare graduates for leadership roles as nurse executives or practitioners with the skills and knowledge to apply evidence-based practice to improve health outcomes. Students entering this online DNP program meet for a required interactive virtual DNP orientation. Courses are organized into four 10-week quarters per year, enabling students to complete more courses in less time. 

42. Georgetown University, Washington, DC

 Tuition: $53,136

WEBSITE

This online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program from Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies (NHS) promises to prepare graduates as leaders in healthcare. With two entry points, students can enter the BSN-to-DNP track or the post-master’s DNP track. The BSN-to-DNP program can be completed in as little as 33 months, with graduates completing both master’s and doctoral coursework while preparing for APRN certification. Students in the BSN-to-DNP program can choose to specialize in one of four areas: adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, dual nurse-midwifery/women’s health nurse practitioner, or women’s health nurse practitioner. The post-master’s DNP program builds on clinical experience and can be completed in as few as 20 months. Some on-campus intensives are required for this robust DNP program. 

41. Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA

Tuition: $21,420

WEBSITE

This top online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program from Thomas Jefferson University is a practice-focused program that promises to prepare graduates for scholarly practice. Graduates of this online DNP program are clinical and health-system experts that have the knowledge and skills needed to lead improvements in practice, policy, populations, organizations, and government. This post-master’s program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. This program has a focus on leadership, systems thinking, reflective practice, health policy, implementation, and evidenced-based clinical practice. With a doctoral project requirement, students have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in their courses.

40. Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin

Tuition: $11,340

WEBSITE

Concordia University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program promises to help nurses reach their full potential. Students in the BSN-to-DNP program can specialize as a family nurse practitioner or adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. The BSN-to-DNP online program requires 1000 hours of hands-on practicum experience to solidify knowledge and skills. The post-master’s online DNP program offers accelerated classes in a flexible online format that is designed for the working professional. Students complete practicum hours in areas of their choice to develop practice and leadership skills.

39. Thomas Edison State University, Trenton, NJA logo of California University-Bakersfield for our ranking of the top online colleges for military.

Tuition: $12,024

WEBSITE

Thomas Edison University’s best online DNP program is an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program with a specialty area in systems-level leadership. This 36-credit online DNP program can be completed in just 18 months if students enroll in two three-credit classes each term for six consecutive terms. Students may also wish to enroll in one three-credit class each term and complete this online DNP program in 36 months. Graduates of this online DNP program are prepared with the skills and knowledge needed for leadership roles in healthcare organizations. Students may transfer up to nine doctoral-level course credits toward the DNP. Courses are asynchronous, allowing for flexibility. This program focuses on evidence-based outcomes and improvements, preparing nurse leaders with competencies in advanced nursing practice, organizational leadership, finance, healthcare policy, and healthcare technology. 

38. Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Tuition: $18,306

WEBSITE

This best online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed with the post-master’s nurse in mind. This 27-credit DNP program is one of the fastest DNP programs available, and it can be completed in three to five terms. It includes 500 practice hours, online courses are 15 weeks in length, and one brief on-campus residency is required. This robust online DNP program has an emphasis on innovative, evidence-based practice with application of research findings to the healthcare system. Students can individualize their learning toward their clinical interests and their preferred area of focus. Graduates of this online DNP program will have the skills and knowledge needed to lead organizational change to improve system and patient outcomes. 

37. Maryville University of Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO

A logo of California University-Bakersfield for our ranking of the top online colleges for military.

Tuition: $14,346

WEBSITE

Maryville University of Saint Louis offers a top online DNP program that is 100% online with no on-campus requirements. Courses are asynchronous, allowing students the ultimate flexibility. Programs begin in fall, spring, or summer. Students may be able to transfer credits to their online DNP program. This BSN-DNP program offers many tracks, including acute care or primary care adult gerontology NP, pediatric primary care NP, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Check out this 100% online top Doctor of Nursing Practice Program today. 

36. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

In-State Tuition: $13,224

Out-of-State Tuition: $24,996

WEBSITE

This top online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a post-master’s DNP program who want to become leaders in the complex field of healthcare. Applicants to this online DNP program must have completed their master’s in nursing from a program that leads to certification as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, in community/public/occupational health, nursing administration, nurse anesthesia, or nurse midwifery. Students choose a DNP project study area relating to their advanced practice specialty and will impact outcomes at the system or population level. Students defend their work and submit a written manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Students also complete three project-focused DNP practicum courses. Also, there are some on-campus requirements. 

35. Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID

In-State Tuition: $7,982

Out-of-State Tuition: $24,604

WEBSITE

Idaho State University’s top online DNP program is a BSN-DNP degree program that leads to a family nurse practitioner or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Students from a Master’s in Nursing program will also be considered for admission. This top online DNP program includes coursework delivered online and clinical requirements that can be completed in a student’s location in the United States. DNP students go to the ISU campus for two to three days each semester to complete clinical intensives. This online best DNP degree promises to prepare leaders that influence health outcomes through evidence-based application. 

34. Boise State University, Boise, ID

In-State Tuition: $7,110

Out-of-State Tuition: $24,030

WEBSITE

Boise State University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Leadership program is a post-master’s DNP program. Courses are delivered online, and students take part in four, two-day, on-campus executive sessions that include orientation, and in delivery of scholarly project proposals and final reports. These on-campus opportunities promise students and faculty valuable time to engage and interact. The DNP scholarly project is a project leading to improving nursing practice and health outcomes, and students begin upon enrollment. 

33. Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN

In-State Tuition: $7,668

Out-of-State Tuition: $15,066

WEBSITE

This best online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program offered by Indiana State University promises to prepare nurses to be leaders and agents of transformation in the field of healthcare delivery. This online DNP program promises to broaden graduates’ ability to translate evidence-based research into desired outcomes, improving nursing practice. This 37-credit, post-master’s online DNP program requires 350 clinical preceptorship hours. Students complete a DNP scholarly project that is based on the student’s individual interest and expertise. Students in this online DNP program must reside in the U.S.

32. Liberty University, Lynchburg, VALiberty University-Most Affordable Master of Public Administration 2019

Tuition: $7,935

WEBSITE

Liberty University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is designed to be a flexible and affordable program that provides students with the skills to translate evidence-based research into practice. Graduates can expect to have the ability to lead collaborative teams to implement innovations in healthcare that improve systems, policies, and patient outcomes. With 41 credits required, students complete this program in an average of two to three years. Online courses are eight weeks in length. Students may request approval to transfer up to half of the required credits. Qualified military service members, as well as veterans and their spouses can receive additional tuition discounts for eligible programs. 

31. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY

In-State Tuition: $9,900

Out-of-State Tuition: $13,950

WEBSITE

This 100% online post-master’s DNP program promises to prepare graduates to be innovating leaders who work to improve patient outcomes. EKU’s top online DNP program is practice-based, equipping students with the tools to implement real-world solutions using evidence-based improvements in care. This online DNP program can be completed with 32-38 credits, and students may transfer up to 12 approved credits. With eight-week accelerated classes and no required campus visits, EKU is a flexible program ideal for working students. Students complete a culminating project that addresses a healthcare problem, and they implement practice changes to improve delivery and outcomes. Students have individualized mentorship for this project and for career success.

30. University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

In-State Tuition: $6,786

Out-of-State Tuition: $22,590

WEBSITE

This nationally ranked, practical, and fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) through CU Online can help you to advance to the highest level in the field of nursing. Students can enter the DNP program through five pathways, each designed to meet the needs of the DNP candidate. Entry options include: BS to DNP, Post-graduate DNP Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (DNP-APRN), DNP-PHN Program, DNP/MPH Dual Degree Program, and Post-graduate DNP Health Systems Leadership Program. This DNP has a practice-oriented leadership curriculum, focusing on evidence-based medical practice and research aimed at improved clinical care, patient outcomes, and system management. Students can apply to the DNP program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

29. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

In-State Tuition: $5,675

Out-of-State Tuition: $21,328

WEBSITE

This top online DNP program from the University of Nevada is a post-master’s DNP program. Graduates of this program are prepared to assume leadership positions in clinical practice, administration, and research. DNP graduates may be specialists in an advanced practice clinical role, healthcare executives, or program and policy analysts, to name a few. Students have six years to complete the graduation requirements. 

28. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA

In-State Tuition: $4,986

Out-of-State Tuition: $19,890

WEBSITE

Georgia Southern University’s top online DNP program is a MSN-to-DNP degree program, preparing advanced practice nurses to provide the highest level of nursing care. Students entering this online DNP program are required to have their Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license and certification to enter this program. This six-semester online DNP program promises students the flexible schedules they need to earn this degree. Both synchronous and asynchronous class formats are used. Courses aim to translate evidence into clinical practice to improve patient outcomes, and they focus on health policy, management of care, and nursing and healthcare systems. 

27. Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS

In-State Tuition: $3,726

Out-of-State Tuition: $10,602

WEBSITE

This top DNP online program from Fort Hays State University is offered as a BSN-to-DNP or MSN-to-DNP program. Graduates of this robust DNP degree program can expect to be prepared to provide high-quality, efficient, patient-centered nursing care with an emphasis on collaborative, evidence-based practices. DNP graduates can expect to be ready to assume leadership and decision-making roles to improve patient outcomes. This program requires a DNP project that addresses an identified clinical problem, and it requires 600 hours to complete, transcribing research into practice. 

26. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

In-State Tuition: $7,752

Out-of-State Tuition: $21,032

WEBSITE

With 100% online coursework and minimal campus visits, the University of Arkansas’ top DNP program offers the BSN-DNP or MSN-DNP flexible options. The BSN-to-DNP program offers a family nurse practitioner track and an adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner track. Students complete this program in about four years, and it includes 1,125 to 1,080 clinical hours. The MSN-to-DNP program can be completed full- or part-time, taking two to three years to complete. These students complete 500 clinical hours. If you’re ready to advance your career, check out the University of Arkansas’ flexible online DNP program to get you on your way.

25. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

In-State Tuition: $16,285

Out-of-State Tuition: $35,274

WEBSITE

This Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) online from Wayne State University can be completed either locally or at a distance, with distance-enabled learning spaces at the College of Nursing. These rooms have audiovisual technology, enabling distance students to participate and see and hear everything being shared by the instructor and other students who are participating in the discussion. Distance students attend classes, do presentations, collaborate on projects, and take exams, all while being off campus. DNP students can expect to have some scheduled on-campus requirements. Check out WSU’s clinical specialties to find a DNP program that meets your career aspirations. 

24. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

In-State Tuition: $12,703

Out-of-State Tuition: $26,041

WEBSITE

Virginia Commonwealth University’s top online DNP program is offered in an online format, and it is designed for the working professional nurse, with students having an on-campus requirement at the beginning of each semester for two to three days. This program is for the master’s-holding nurse who is working as an advanced practice nurse or in an executive nurse position, and it requires 39 credits to complete. Students can complete this program on a part-time or full-time study plan. This DNP program has a focus on patient safety, quality improvement, leadership, health policy, and organizational systems.

23. Frontier Nursing University, Versailles, KY

Tuition: $18,617

WEBSITE

Frontier Nursing University’s top online DNP program provides a robust education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership. Master’s-prepared, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners coming into this DNP program need 30 credits of online courses to complete. Students entering the MSN program at FNU who wish to complete their DNP at the university have the advantage that the MSN curriculum has DNP core competencies incorporated into the program, which requires just 21 credits to complete this best online DNP program. If you’re ready to take your career, leadership skills, and clinical expertise to the next level, check out this online Doctor of Nursing program from FNU.

22. University of Florida, Gainesville, FLA logo of California University-Bakersfield for our ranking of the top online colleges for military.

In-State Tuition: $10,770

Out-of-State Tuition: $27,335

WEBSITE

This top online BSN-to-DNP program from the University of Florida offers specialty tracks in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, pediatric acute care nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and dual pediatric acute and primary care nurse practitioner. Each track requires 75-78 credits, along with clinical hours and a DNP project. All classes are taught online, with campus visits including orientation, a three-day health assessment course, and two-day DNP project dissemination (students on the psychiatric mental health track may have additional in-person requirements). Clinical requirements must be completed within the state of Florida. 

21. Washington State University, Pullman, WA

In-State Tuition: $11,781

Out-of-State Tuition: $25,879

WEBSITE

Washington State University’s top online DNP program is a flexible program offering full- or part-time study options for the working professional nurse. This program offers online instruction with some on-campus requirements. In-person classes are offered in one- to two-day blocks, with these in-person courses offered at WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, and WSU Vancouver. Some courses may be available at Yakima, Walla Walla, and Puyallup. Clinical course requirements may be completed in healthcare settings in the Northwest region based on student requests and availability.

20. University of California, San Francisco, CA

In-State Tuition: $11,442

Out-of-State Tuition: $26,544

WEBSITE

This best online DNP program, offered by the University of California, San Francisco, is the first to be developed and established in the UC system. This innovative, seven-quarter program couples online courses with in-person immersions. This program promises to prepare innovative clinical experts and leaders in the nursing profession, leading the way in advancing improved patient outcomes and policy in the healthcare environment. Students have clinical practice requirements, and this program builds leadership and practice skills. Students apply evidence-based practices; evaluate organization systems and their impact on health outcomes; and develop understanding in health policy, patient advocacy, quality improvement, and safety. 

19. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Tuition: $20,817

WEBSITE

This top-rated online DNP program is a post-master’s DNP that is designed for master’s-prepared nurses who are licensed advanced practice nurses or have a health systems/organizational leadership focus with at least one year of experience. Students should expect to visit campus at least twice each year. Some students may be required to include additional clinical hours in their DNP program. Although students may complete this robust program in up to four years, the DNP program is designed to be completed in just two years. This program promises to prepare practice-focused graduates for leadership roles to identify, develop, and evaluate innovative solutions to improve patient outcomes.

18. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

In-State Tuition: $10,134

Out-of-State Tuition: $26,154

WEBSITE

West Virginia University’s School of Nursing’s post-master’s DNP program can be completed in as few as 32 credits, and it includes clinical immersion and DNP project courses. This top online DNP program is offered through web-based modalities, with the DNP project proposal and final presentation taking place on campus. Graduates of this program can expect to practice at the highest level of professional nursing practice and apply nursing knowledge through translation and implementation of evidence-based practice to improve patient outcomes. Graduates of this robust DNP program can expect to be well prepared for roles such as clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse entrepreneur, nurse administrator, or healthcare advocate, to name a few. 

17. The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

In-State Tuition: $6,666

Out-of-State Tuition: $23,537

WEBSITE

The University of Utah’s top DNP program is a distance-accessible program that promises to prepare professional nurses to work at the highest level of practice. Graduates of this program can expect to be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to be leaders in healthcare systems, drive innovation in healthcare, and apply best practices to improve patient outcomes. Students more than 60 miles from campus participate in synchronous classes, with priority admission given to students living in the intermountain West region (Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico) and guaranteed clinical placement along the Wasatch Front (students needing clinical placement outside this region will work with their advisor). Distance students can expect to travel to campus no more than five times a semester.

16. Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

In-State Tuition: $11,560

Out-of-State Tuition: $36,276

WEBSITE

Ohio State University’s best online DNP program provides two pathways to the Doctor of Nursing degree: BSN-to-DNP or post-master’s DNP. Graduates of this top DNP program are prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to improve patient outcomes. BSN-to-DNP students may pursue an online advanced practice specialty to become a family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Post-master’s students choose from the clinical expert track or the nurse executive track, both of which can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Students in either pathway are required to participate in one on-campus orientation session at the start of their program studies.

15. Yale University, New Haven, CT

Tuition: $44,500

WEBSITE

Yale University’s post-master’s Clinical Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was designed to enhance clinical leadership skills and further develop expertise in a practice area. This DNP program is designed for the working APN, and students are enrolled as part-time students. Graduates of this top online DNP program will have the skills and knowledge needed to work and collaborate to develop new clinical practices, processes, and roles to improve patient outcomes and contribute to better health for all people. There are on-campus requirements scheduled throughout this program, as well as project and clinical hour requirements.

14. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

Tuition: $32,220

WEBSITE

Texas Christian University’s best online DNP program is an online practice doctorate program that prepares master’s-prepared nurses for this terminal degree. Applicants should be active in nursing practice with the desire to be healthcare experts and leaders in advanced nursing practice. This post-master’s DNP can be completed in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study. Students can expect the first year to be dedicated to didactic coursework, the second year to fulfillment of practice, and the final year to completing the DNP project. Students attend a two-day, on-campus program orientation and are encouraged to come to campus at the end of their program for DNP project presentations.

13. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

In-State Tuition: $24,344

Out-of-State Tuition: $49,120

WEBSITE

This post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Michigan is designed for graduates of a nursing master’s program such as a MS, MSN, or MN. This top DNP program focuses on translational and information science for evidence-based practice, but it does not provide the skills needed to work as an independent researcher. This program requires 37-40 credits, and students will need to meet the 1000 clinical hours required for the DNP certification. If the master’s program was 500 hours, students will need to supplement clinical hours to meet DNP requirements. This program is designed with the working professional in mind, with courses offered online, with certain on-campus requirements. 

12. The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IO

In-State Tuition: $10,079

Out-of-State Tuition: $26,026

WEBSITE

This online DNP program from the University of Iowa’s top-rated nursing program is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to provide the highest level of care across the lifespan. Graduates of this robust program are prepared to navigate the complex and ever changing healthcare system. UI’s health systems DNP and post-APRN DNP are completely online. Students can expect to travel to campus at times for seven of the courses for the DNP. This flexible DNP program from the University of Iowa also requires a practicum and an in-depth project that is completed over three semesters. 

11. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

Tuition: $47,920

WEBSITE

Case Western Reserve University’s nationally ranked DNP program is a post-master’s DNP program in an executive format. This robust program is a 34-credit program that includes executive leadership courses that expand student focus on leadership. With three courses taught online, the remaining courses are taught as five-day intensives that can be on-campus or taught in 20-student, off-site cohorts arranged in partnership with other institutions. This program promises to prepare students with skills and knowledge in integrated care delivery; collective systems thinking; designing and implementing strategic goals, initiatives, and best nursing practices; data synthesis and integration; and finance. 

10. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

In-State Tuition: $10,552

Out-of-State Tuition: $28,278

WEBSITE

This best online DNP program from the University of North Carolina offers an online program that includes on-campus immersions. Courses incorporate both asynchronous and synchronous classes. On-campus immersions may be required each semester. Students can complete their 37-41 credit DNP on a full-time or part-time basis in the MSN-to-DNP program, for nurses who are master’s-prepared as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). The online BSN-to-DNP is in Health Care Leadership and Administration, and it must be completed on a full-time basis and takes three years to complete the required 66-75 credits. 

9. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

In-State Tuition: $12,189

Out-of-State Tuition: $31,867

WEBSITE

This Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program from the University of Kentucky is a top online DNP program that is designed for students to develop the skills needed to provide complex nursing care and improve patient outcomes. Graduates of this rigorous program become leaders with the knowledge needed to design, implement, evaluate, and manage complex healthcare systems. Students complete 34 credits of didactic coursework online, and they attend on-campus immersions of one to three days on the Lexington campus twice each semester. Immersion blocks give students the opportunity to attend orientation; participate in networking events; and complete program requirements such as testing, skill assessments, and standardized patient modules.

8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Tuition: $57,010

WEBSITE

Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing offers one of the best online DNP programs, which promises to unlock student potential to drive healthcare innovation with a DNP degree from this top online DNP program. Students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to become leaders in healthcare. Check out this program to advance your career with a DNP track that fits your interests and career goals. DNP programs that are online with on-site immersions include: adult-gerontological acute care NP, adult-gerontological primary care NP, family primary care NP, pediatric primary care NP, pediatric dual primary/acute care NP, adult-gerontological health CNS, adult-gerontological critical care CNS, and pediatric critical care CNS. In addition to these specialties, the DNP executive track is a two-year, online program for nurses with a MSN degree in an advanced practice area who are actively practicing in a healthcare setting. This program includes four on-campus immersions with a small cohort. Students can expect to gain skills to transform healthcare at the organizational and system level.

7. Rush University, Chicago, IL

Tuition: $37,201

 WEBSITE

Rush University’s top online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program offers the DNP in a number of specialties that can be completed online. Online DNP programs include: adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), neonatal nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), acute care pediatric nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), primary care pediatric nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner DNP, advanced public health nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), transformative leadership: population health Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and transformative leadership: systems Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Each program has its own requirements for graduation. Check out the website for more information on these top online DNP programs.

6. Florida International University, Miami, FL

In-State Tuition: $8,912

Out-of-State Tuition: $21,393

WEBSITE

Florida International University’s top online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a 36-credit program that requires a residency in the student’s advanced practice specialty and the completion of a capstone project. This program is designed to fit into the busy schedule of the professional nurse, and it may include up to three on-campus class sessions each semester that are scheduled with sufficient time to make arrangements. This online DNP program focuses on improving patient safety, evidence-based practice, promoting culturally competent care, and developing nursing leaders for the future. 

5. University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO

In-State Tuition: $9,761

Out-of-State Tuition: $25,202

WEBSITE

This Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) online from the University of Missouri promises to advance your career in an advanced role in nursing. This program is online with a generally once-a-year campus visit. Fitting for working professionals, the program can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. Graduates of this Doctor of Nursing Practice program online can gain employment in a variety of positions, which may include nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, chief nurse executive, academic leader, academic researcher, health policy expert, or healthcare entrepreneur. Graduates of this program will develop their nursing skills to the highest level, while also developing their skills in leadership and business management. With a minimum of 32 credits required to complete, this online DNP program may be the one for you. 

4. Duke University, Durham, NCA logo of University of New England for our ranking of Most Affordable Animal Behavior Degrees

Tuition: $57,900

WEBSITE

Duke University’s top online DNP program offers many advantages. DNP students are able to pursue this degree while continuing to work at their current location and conduct the DNP project at their place of employment. Students complete online courses and have four on-campus sessions that last two to three days per session, as well as new student orientation. With a minimum of 35 credits required to complete, this top-rated online DNP program prepares graduates to take their career to the next level. Earning a DNP promises to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to improve healthcare systems, improve patient outcomes, and assess published evidence to carry into practice. Graduates of this DNP program are skilled nurse leaders that will work in interdisciplinary health care settings, working to improve quality, safety, and systems of care. 

3. University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

In-State Tuition: $15,132

Out-of-State Tuition: $32,971

WEBSITE

This Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Maryland’s nationally ranked nursing program promises to prepare nursing professionals as leaders in the increasingly complex system of healthcare. This top online DNP program has options that are sure to fit your professional goals and experience. DNP students can focus on taking only those courses needed to achieve their goals. This program of study allows students to receive a top-tier education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and leadership systems. Graduates of this program will have the highest level of nursing education and can expect to be prepared for leadership in the healthcare field. This online program includes synchronous and asynchronous web conferencing, and students can anticipate having synchronous web conferencing five times per semester at scheduled times. With no required visits to the University of Maryland campus, this best rated DNP program can be completed with a minimum of 36 credits.

2. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

In-State Tuition: $23,530

Out-of-State Tuition: $39,898

WEBSITE

University of Pittsburgh’s post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a nationally ranked, practice-focused program that promises to prepare nursing leaders for the highest level of nursing practice. Advanced practice nurses in today’s healthcare environments have a need for clinical skills and knowledge to provide evidence-based care. Graduates of this top online DNP program can expect to have the skills and knowledge needed to influence healthcare delivery, lead in clinical practice, determine standards and policies in the workplace, meet patient needs, and improve patient outcomes. Students in this DNP program can complete their degree totally online with no campus visits required. Students complete a minimum of 30 credits and study advanced nursing skills, in addition to taking leadership and management courses. 

1. The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

In-State Tuition: $10,780

Out-of-State Tuition: $30,250

WEBSITE

The University of Alabama’s top online DNP program is a practice-focused degree program that is designed to prepare graduates in specialty practice or leadership roles in health care. All courses are offered in an online format, with students required to complete a scholarly project. Graduates of this online DNP program can expect to have the knowledge to improve healthcare quality and access to underserved and diverse populations. This robust program requires 40 credits to complete, with on-campus requirements including one spring DNP intensive class and graduation. Students have a clinical requirement and are responsible for identifying their site and clinical advisor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree? 

The DNP degree is one of two terminal degrees in the field of nursing. The DNP is a practical professional degree leading to a wide variety of career paths, from health policy advocate to clinic manager. DNPs often practice medicine and work as advanced practice nurses. They may also work in clinical research. By contrast, the PhD in nursing provides training that is focused on scholarly research. 

Is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree going to be required?

The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) announced in 2018 that all entry-level nurse practitioner education programs will shift from MSN to DNP by 2025.

How will this change in education requirements be fulfilled by 2025?

There are currently 357 DNP programs in the United States, with an additional 106 new DNP programs in the planning stage. There are programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

What kinds of DNP programs are available?

There are both post-baccalaureate and post-master’s programs leading to the DNP terminal degree. Candidates must have completed their bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to be admitted to a DNP program.

Has there been an increase in enrollment in and graduates from DNP programs in recent years? 

Yes, there has been an increase in enrollment and an increase in graduates from DNP programs in recent years. From 2018 to 2019, the number of students enrolled in a DNP program went from 32,678 to 36,069. During that timeframe the number of yearly graduates from DNP programs increased from 7,039 to 7,944.

 Are there some states that have a lot of DNP programs? 

States that have 10 or more programs include California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. With more DNP programs being added yearly, check out your own state’s DNP programs to take advantage of in-state tuition costs. 

What are some of the areas DNP students focus their studies in?

DNP students have the opportunity to focus their studies in what they find to be most important to them. Specialties may include: family care, pediatric primary care, adult-gerontology primary or acute care, and psychiatric mental health.

Why get a DNP? 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree prepares nurses to lead healthcare teams and improve patient outcomes. This degree also prepares nurse practitioners for success in other health professions, including medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pharmacy. 

Why pursue the DNP in an online format?

Students pursuing their degree online have high expectations, and an accredited DNP program will be sure to meet or exceed those expectations. Many of these best online DNP programs do not require residencies, or if they do, the time requirement is brief in many cases. All coursework and student/faculty interaction can be done completely remotely. Students complete clinical practice hours locally in their own community. An online program is tailored for practicing nurses with busy lives. 

Can I earn my DNP on an accelerated path?

Graduating from an online BSN-to-DNP program may be the most streamlined course of action when compared to the traditional path of earning a master’s before earning a doctorate. A BSN-to-DNP program allows students to bypass this extra step. You can expect to spend a minimum of three to four years of full-time study to go from BSN to graduating with your DNP, but some programs may help nurses reach their goals even faster. 

Is it possible to be self-employed with my DNP?

Some DNP-holders enjoy working independently, and many states allow DNPs to open their own independent clinics. With clinical shortages looming, some think independent nurse-run clinics may be an integral part of primary care in the near future. 

What is the job outlook for DNP holders?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners are in high demand, with expected growth of 45% from 2019 to 2029. This is a much faster growth than all other occupations. Growth in this field is expected as the population ages and more focus is placed on preventative care. 

What is the payscale for DNP holders?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for professional nurses with at least a master’s degree was 117,670 in May 2020. This included nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.

Can I expect increased job security with a DNP degree?

With an anticipated nursing and physician shortage, DNP-level nurse practitioners may have the capacity to fill the gap. Earning the DNP can help ensure that you are competitive enough to get the job you want. 

What should I know before starting an online DNP program?

Online DNP students should prepare for online classes and review course requirements prior to the start of classes. Gather materials, know how classes are structured, and plan ahead for any on-campus requirements. It’s also good to know the requirements for dropping a course with as little financial and time commitment as possible, in case you find you cannot continue in the course for any reason. 

How do online classes work for an online DNP program?

Online courses typically work in a similar way, no matter what level of courses you are taking. You can expect to have a username and password to log into a learning management system, or LMS, such as Canvas, Blackboard, or Moodle. These LMSs serve as the portal where students attend class, interact with fellow students, obtain class materials, monitor progress and grades, take class assessments, and more. Students can also contact teachers through this system, and teachers may have office hours through the LMS.

Is it possible to access my classes on devices other than my computer?

Check with your school of interest to see if the LMS is available on other devices, as not all schools offer this. If you have a demanding schedule and you need to fit your schoolwork in, having classes available on other mobile devices is the ultimate flexible classroom.

How are online DNP classes structured?

Online DNP class structure may vary from one teacher or class to another, but some common things can be expected. All online DNP students can expect to log into their LMS portal on a regular basis. In the portal, they complete or post assignments, respond to classmates’ posts, and attend class. 

Do online DNP students need to be in class at a specific time?

Online courses are either synchronous or asynchronous. Asynchronous classes are accessible whenever students want to access them. This is the most flexible option, with students meeting weekly deadlines at their own pace. Synchronous classes take place at a specific time, with students needing to be present at that time just as if they were in a classroom setting. Sometimes a course may have a combination of the two, with students needing to be present for a synchronous class only at certain times during the semester. 

What are some advantages and disadvantages of doing the DNP degree online?

Some advantages to an online DNP program include flexibility to study anywhere that has internet access, continuing to work while completing the online DNP program, and having more options for programs since it is not location-dependent. Some potential disadvantages include the fact that students must be self-motivated to do the work, and that they often have less of a sense of community.

How do I find work/life balance when pursuing an online DNP program?

Clear communication with family, friends, employers and those in your support network is key in helping to ease any strain in balancing work and online DNP classes with other responsibilities. Setting up a plan before each semester to use time strategically and know when you will be needing time off and help from others will help your life progress more smoothly. 

Why would there sometimes be in-person learning on campus for an online DNP program? 

In-person requirements may occur before or during the online DNP program. In-person requirements typically include things like team-building activities, networking sessions, and intensive education sessions.

Can online DNP students get financial aid?

Students in an online DNP program at an accredited college or university are eligible for financial aid just as students attending in-person are. Online DNP students can apply for grants, scholarships, and loans. The first step in getting financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is filled out online each year starting October 1. This helps students get need-based financial aid and may also open up scholarship opportunities. Checking with the financial aid office at your school of choice to ask about local scholarships and financial aid may also help finance your online DNP degree. Also, be sure to check with your employer about tuition assistance. 

What should I look for in an online DNP program to find a program that’s right for me?

Some things to ask when finding an online DNP program that is a good fit for you include: How long is the program? How long can I take to complete the program? Is it affordable to me? Does the school offer financial assistance? Is the program one that will help me reach my professional goals? Can I transfer credits? How are classes structured (synchronous or asynchronous)? What kind of on-campus requirements are there? Asking lots of questions will help you find an online DNP program that will help you be successful and meet your education and career goals. 

What is the professional organization for those holding a DNP degree?

National organizations include The American Association of Nurse Practitioners and Doctors of Nursing Practice. Also, each state has its own professional organizations for nurses and nurse practitioners. 

Why join a professional organization?

Professional organizations are your go-to for continuing education, important information, and trends in the profession. These organizations work hard to keep their constituents up to date on the state of their profession. 

 

By Carol Dolan BS RN BSN CDCES

August 2021

Carol graduated with her BS in Nutrition from Montclair State University and her BSN in Nursing from Rowan University. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) currently working with adults and children living with diabetes in both outpatient and inpatient settings.

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This concludes our ranking of the best DNP programs online.