August 8, 2023

The Top 10 Online DNP Programs for 2024

Top Online DNP Programs | Nurse.org

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree rooted in clinical practice and intended for nurses who want to take their careers a step further. DNP graduates are leaders in advanced nursing practice who bring evidence-based knowledge into the clinical setting to help improve healthcare outcomes and strengthen the leadership role of nurses in both clinical and academic settings. 

Fast Facts About DNP Programs

Salary

Nurses with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree earned an average base salary of $110,000 as of August 2023, per Payscale.

Program Length

1-5 years

30-40 credit hours of didactic coursework

1,000 clinical hours

Requirements

BSN (for hybrid units only) or MSN degree

Top 10 Online DNP Programs 2024

Choosing a DNP program is a very large decision. Nurse.org has determined the best DNP programs online for 2024. Our ranking system takes numerous factors into consideration, including location, graduation rate, cost, credit hours, and accreditation, as well as other factors.

1. Rush University

  • Tuition: $1,286 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 30 credit hours and 1008 clinical hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Hybrid (online and in-person)
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 312-942-7117

2. Johns Hopkins University

  • Tuition: $1,901 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 78 credit hours and 1008 clinical hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Modified Distance Learning, including time on campus throughout the program 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 410-955-2768
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: son-webmaster@jhu.edu

3. University of Washington

  • Tuition: $944 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 3 years
  • Are Online Options Available? Distance Learning with in-person clinical experience
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 206-543-8736
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: asknursing@uw.edu

4. University of South Alabama

  • Tuition: $408 per credit hour (in-state), $816 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: 36 credit hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 251- 445-9400
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: condnpadmit@southalabama.edu

5. University of North Georgia

  • Tuition:  In-State: $6,006 per year Out of State: $18,354 per year
  • Program Length: 38 credit hours, 5 semesters (full-time) or 8 semesters (part-time)
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes, but each core DNP course meets one day per month; typically on the third Monday.
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 706-867-2997
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: elaina.butler@ung.edu

6. Walden University*

  • Tuition: See the school website for tuition details
  • Program Length: 45 credit hours and 1,000 clinical hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 855-688-4122
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: Fill out the form on this page

7. Aspen University

  • Tuition: $28,320 for entire program
  • Program Length: 42 credit hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 800-373-7814
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: N/A

8. University of Missouri

  • Tuition: $278.40 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 72 to 74.5 credit hours plus 1000 clinical hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 573-882-0277
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: nursing@missouri.edu

9. Jacksonville State University

  • Tuition: $18,432 total program cost or $512 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 36 credit hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 256-782-5425
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: Online Contact Form

10. University of Virginia

  • Tuition: $30,240 total program cost
  • Program Length: 39 credit hours and 500 clinical hours
  • Are Online Options Available? Yes
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: 434-924-0067 or 434-243-1957
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: Online Contact Form

>> Show Me DNP Programs

What to Expect in an Online DNP Program

Though every DNP curriculum is different, all accredited nursing programs follow the framework provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. 

Online DNP Classes

Individuals should expect to take the following classes:

  • Advanced Health Assessment and Measurement
  • Advance Healthcare Policy
  • Advance Leadership
  • Clinical Information Systems
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Clinical Reasoning
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethics and Legal Issues
  • Evidence Appraisal
  • Health Policy 
  • Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Across the Lifespan
  • Informatics
  • Professional Leadership and Practice Change
  • Project Development
  • Research
  • Statistics

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DNP Online Program Prerequisites

Though every online DNP program is different, most have similar entry requirements, which generally include:

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nursing license
  • Application fee (varies based on program)
  • Current, unencumbered nursing license
  • Current Resume/CV
  • Goal statement
  • GPA of at least 3.0 or higher in the Master’s program
  • Interview with faculty (if moved forward by the admissions committee)
  • Letters of Recommendation (both academic and professional references)
  • MSN degree from a regionally accredited higher education institution and a nationally accredited school of nursing
  • Official Transcripts (from all previous colleges/universities)
  • Personal essay
  • RN experience 
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if applicable 

>> Show Me DNP Programs

Online DNP Program Tuition

Online DNP programs vary greatly in cost. Factors include school, location, online versus in-person, and degree. 

Online programs are generally cheaper than traditional in-person programs. However, even some programs that are online for didactic coursework may still require in-person clinicals. This is something to take into consideration when applying to a DNP program. 

Credit hours can vary between $500 to $4,000, depending on the program. Part of this will depend if the program is public versus private. Furthermore, DNP programs are more expensive because of the increased number of credit hours and complexity of coursework. Overall tuition costs also include program fees, lab fees, course materials, and other associated expenses. 

DNP Accreditation

The two main accreditation bodies in the United States are as follows:

>> Show Me DNP Programs

How Hard is an Online DNP Program?

DNP programs are very difficult as this is a terminal degree for advanced practice registered nurses. The purpose of a DNP program is to prepare individuals to assume leadership roles as executives or advanced practice nurses. 

Furthermore, DNPs are expected to apply evidence-based practice to improve individual, family, and community health outcomes. Individuals are expected to have a higher level of thinking as well as analyzing research and data.

While a DNP program is very challenging regardless of employment status, it can be even more challenging if working during the duration of the program. 

How to Pick the Right DNP Program for You

Picking the right DNP program can be overwhelming, especially with the increasing number of available programs throughout the country and the ease and accessibility of online programs.

Online programs have given access to top-tier programs for those who are unable to relocate. Unfortunately, some of the best DNP programs in the country do require some in-person learning that is generally completed over several days and/or a weekend. If it is feasible to travel to the campus for in-person learning, then this will open even more DNP programs to you. Additionally, the in-person campus dates are identified at the beginning of the program so that you can plan accordingly. Additionally, all DNP programs, regardless of specialization, do have in-person clinical requirements. 

The most important determining factor when choosing a program is understanding if the state in which you reside allows students to enroll in distance education programs and therefore participate in clinical practicums within the state. It is important to check with your state board of nursing to see if your state allows this. Licensure requirements vary from state to state and by a professional organization. Any questions regarding state eligibility, you can also contact the University’s Office of Enrollment and Student Affairs.

Other factors include, 

  • Am I able to travel to campus for in-person days?
  • Consider the entry prerequisites for which you qualify.
  • Consider the program’s accreditation and graduate certification rate.
  • Does Your Current Job Have an Affiliation with a Specific DNP Program?
  • Do you want a program that will find your clinical placements?
  • How will I pay for the degree? Loans? Scholarships? Tuition Reimbursement?
  • Is there program flexibility?
  • What is the job placement rate for the DNP program?
  • What is your goal after graduation? Hospital? Private practice? Strictly academia? Research?
  • Will I need to work during the program, or can I take time off?
DNP Career Overview >> Top DNP Programs >> Top BSN to DNP Programs >> DNP Meaning >>

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