In the 2020s, more schools than ever are offering online degree programs to help nurses advance in their careers, enrich their skills, and get higher salaries. Many of the highest positions in nursing today require a doctor of nursing science, and online DNP programs are offered by major universities that have national recognition and accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education. Often, the schools provide the same education online as they do on their campuses. It follows the same curriculum but is set up differently to accommodate the online environment.
Doctor of nursing science programs online and other online programs are becoming more well known. Employers may have once discredited online degree programs and felt a student may not be adequately prepared for the job, but nowadays, employers are recognizing that online degrees are the only way some people can acquire an education. Plus, they’re preparing students adequately.
Our Method: Ranking the Best Online DNP Programs
Best Health Degrees editors are most interested in providing professionals with educational opportunities that will really have a positive impact on their careers. That’s why BHD focuses only on accredited, trusted institutions. We rank programs according to their cost, salary expectations, and reputation, using data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, Niche, and U.S. News.
1. Purdue University Global
The online Purdue Global Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program assists students in preparing for leadership and clinical roles in addition to working within the health care system and improving patient care. Within their leadership roles, they can assist in analyzing data and research projects to create best practices within the industry. The program also strives to improve how policies are developed within the industry by evaluating social, ethical, and legal aspects within the system. Purdue Global offers one of the best online DNP degree programs for students looking to secure themselves as leaders in their field.
Purdue Global is a 100% online university. The DNP degree programs provide students with personalized education options that are both convenient and capable of meeting their individual needs.
Favorite Facts: As one of the most sought after schools in the country when it comes to medical and health care degree programs, Purdue Global provides students access to some of the most respected professors and educators in the medical and nursing industries.
2. University of Florida
The University of Florida Doctor of Nursing Practice online degree program offers coursework that assists students going from a BSN/MSN to a DNP degree. The program provides students with what they need to be prepared to work in advanced and highly specialized practice roles within the nursing field. By using evidence-based practices, the DNP program provides innovative teaching techniques that allow nurses to get the practice they need to move forward in their careers. The University of Florida offers one of the best DNP online programs available.
Located in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida DNP degree program offers BSN/MSN students a convenient way to earn their doctorate. The university offers technological resources and an innovative program that links students with diverse populations. This combination provides an outstanding educational experience.
Favorite Facts: The faculty at the University of Florida offers a level of excellence in education that is hard to match.
3. Ohio State University
The Ohio State University online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program provides an advanced education that will allow BSN/MSN students to pursue one of two career paths. Some students may choose to work in an executive position in healthcare organizations providing innovative ideas that can be used to improve healthcare on various levels. Ohio State University offers one of the best DNP online programs for students who want to take their careers to a more advanced and professional level.
Ohio State University offers options to students who are interested in advancing their nursing careers. Students are provided with the tools and resources that will allow them to not only improve the healthcare industry but also transform their patients’ lives. By pursuing a DNP online degree at Ohio State University, students can rest assured that their education will be of the highest possible caliber.
Favorite Facts: As a catalyst for positive change, the online DNP programs offer leadership skills that are based on health and wellness concepts.
4. University of Utah
The online University of Utah Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program has been developed to provide BSN/MSN students who are interested in pursuing their doctorate the knowledge they need to be successful, no matter what direction they follow. Online courses provide students with the skills they need to manage and evaluate healthcare protocols while offering the highest standard of patient care. Considered to be one of the best online DNP programs, available, the University of Utah provides students what they need to achieve their goals.
The University of Utah is well known for its innovative concepts and in-depth, evidence-based teaching methods. No matter what field the student chooses, the University of Utah can provide them with the personalized education and expertise they need to accomplish any goal they set their mind to. The University’s online DNP program, as well as its certification programs, allow students to continue to work while earning their advanced degrees. This gives them an opportunity to gain experience along with their education.
Favorite Facts: By using evidence-based teaching methods and concepts, professors teach students every aspect of the nursing field including ethics, analytics, and various sciences that work together to create the industry’s best practices.
5. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program offers online courses that have been developed to allow students to be a positive influence on how nursing is practiced as well as in how patients are cared for. Students are taught ethics and professionalism in addition to compassion and accountability. The University of Minnesota offers one of the best online DNP programs available for students who are ready to take their education to the next level.
The University of Minnesota is well-known for providing quality educational programs that incorporate innovative techniques and resources into the learning process. Their online programs are structured so that returning BSN/MSN students can continue to work at their current employment while studying for their doctorate degree. The University takes great pride in being able to offer each student an individualized course plan that will allow them to reach their goals.
Favorite Facts: The University of Minnesota offers DNP programs for a variety of specialized areas including gerontology, family practice, and integrative healthcare.
6. University of Iowa
The University of Iowa online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program offers BSN/MSN graduates an opportunity to continue their education in an industry that is ever-changing. The University of Iowa’s online degree program provides students with the skills they need to excel in their craft as well as the knowledge they need to find positive solutions to issues that arise in both patient care and administrative situations. With our current health care systems being complex and difficult to navigate, having the right knowledge and expertise can make a world of difference. Each student, whether they are following a path to administration or patient care, is provided with one of the best DNP online programs available.
At the University of Iowa, the ultimate goal is to create online degree programs that meet or exceed the students’ expectations. Each student is different in terms of their final goals. With that taken into account, the professors at the University work with the student to make sure they receive the skills, knowledge, and general expertise that will allow them to succeed in their chosen career.
Favorite Facts: The University of Iowa incorporates the latest technology and state of the art resources to give each graduate the best possible advantage.
7. University of Massachusetts Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program offers an online learning experience second to none in the northeast. Established professors help students learn how to analyze, evaluate and apply the knowledge and evidence they have to find positive solutions to issues they are presented with. They are taught both clinical care as well as administrative procedures so that they fully understand the scope of their reach as a doctor specializing in nursing practices. Each student is taught skills and techniques they can apply to find effective ways of handling almost any situation they find themselves in.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the most well-respected and honored schools in New England. Students who attend UMass are given every advantage when it comes to renowned faculty members, state of the art technology, and the highest educational standards in the industry.
Favorite Facts: UMass offers one of the best online DNP programs for BSN/MSN graduates who are ready to continue their education.
8. Florida State University
The Florida State University Doctor of Nursing Practice online degree program has been developed to provide nurses with an education that is of the highest quality. Each program is designed to meet or exceed the expectations of organizations that govern the industry. Florida State University offers one of the best online DNP programs for BSN/MSN graduates who are looking to complete their education at one of the most well-established schools in the southeast.
Florida State University has over 70 years of experience teaching future DNP graduates. Their ultimate goal is to provide the best possible online degree programs who are committed to continuing their education and bettering their lives as well as the lives of others. At the University of Florida, each student’s degree program is customized according to their own specific needs and goals.
Favorite Facts: FSU’s online DNP program offers both clinical practices in a healthcare setting to administrative experience that can be used to effectively manage a facility’s staff as well as its operations.
9. University of Portland
The University of Portland Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is designed to allow future graduates to be certified as Family Nurse Practitioners. This online degree program offers students the skills and knowledge they need to work with other professionals in the health care field. Nurses are able to both diagnose and treat a variety of health conditions as well as provide sound advice on proactive health and wellness. The University of Portland offers one of the best DNP online programs for students who are planning to continue working while they attend school.
The University of Portland goes to great lengths to provide the highest level of quality education to each student who enrolls in their online degree programs. Well-respected faculty and in-depth coursework that is designed to provide graduates every opportunity to succeed are what make their online programs so beneficial.
Favorite Facts: Every student who enrolls in the University of Portland’s DNP program is provided with a personalized degree program they can use to reach their own individual goals.
10. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program offers nurses the highest quality education in terms of clinical practice and administrative/research. Their online degree program gives nurses the knowledge, experience, and skillsets they need to work at the highest level of their field. The best online DNP programs offer future graduates a way to earn their degree while still taking care of their families and working in the field they love.
Over the last 40 years, the goal of Texas Tech University has been to provide students with everything they need to succeed. This means the best instructors, innovative technology, respected resources, and degree programs that can be completed online, allowing students to continue to work and gain the experience they need to advance in their careers. Texas Tech University makes it easy to succeed with every customized degree program they offer.
Favorite Facts: Innovative ideas combined with state of the art technology offers students a new way to earn their degree.
11. University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is designed for nurses who have already earned their MSN degree and are interested in advancing on to the next step. The curriculum for the DNP program continues to expand on ideas and concepts that were included in the MSN core program. As part of the online program, students also receive in-person clinical practicum and instructional experiences.
The University of Alabama Birmingham works diligently to provide each student enrolled in one of their best online DPN programs an opportunity to get the knowledge and skills they need to be a success in whatever nursing role they choose. Well-respected professors and state of the art technology are used together to provide each student with the best possible education. Online programs are developed so students can get the most out of their education while continuing to work and care for their families.
Favorite Facts: University of Alabama’s DNP online program provides graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue a variety of careers, including Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Health Administration or a Health Systems Leader, among others.
12. Saint Louis University
The online DNP program at Saint Louis University is a model of online nursing education. Designed for post-MSN students (working professionals who already have their MSN), SLU’s DNP program emphasizes leadership throughout the healthcare system, from administration to cooperation between healthcare facilities and systems. In addition to the highest quality of education, SLU provides online students with dedicated mentors, an online library, and an online writing center.
Saint Louis University is the oldest university west of the Mississippi, and has been critical to professional education in health for generations. They haven’t rested on their laurels, though, developing some of the strongest online degree programs in the US.
Favorite Facts: The SLU School of Nursing is over 90 years old and was a pioneer in accelerated nursing education, online nursing education, and advanced nursing degrees.
13. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program provides nurses with the skills and experience they need to better serve the communities they work in. They graduate with the ability and skill they need to work with other healthcare professionals to improve both the quality of care patients receive and the operations of facilities that provide that care. The University of Alabama offers the best DNP online programs for MSN graduates who are ready to take their education to the next level.
The University of Alabama has a long-standing history of providing the best graduate and post-graduate degree offerings in the southern states. Respected and well-known faculty members instruct each course in the degree programs that are offered to ensure that students get the highest quality education possible. With an online DNP degree program from the University of Alabama, students can continue to move forward with their education while gaining hands-on experience in the workplace.
Favorite Facts: Popular career choices include the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner. There is also a dual nurse practitioner program that allows you to integrate the two.
14. University of Texas Houston Science Center at Houston
The University of Texas Health Science Center DNP degree program provides MSN graduates a doctorate in nursing practice that will allow them to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in both clinical and administrative settings. They will be taught the skills and abilities they need to make positive changes in the field of nursing which ensures that patients receive the highest quality of care. They will also learn the skills that will be needed to effectively manage a facility and its staff.
The University of Texas is well-known for its exceptional degree programs, especially when it comes to graduate and post-graduate programs. Their online programs are specifically designed for professionals who are already established in their chosen field but are looking to continue their education to further advance their careers.
Favorite Facts: The University of Texas – Health Science Center – Houston offers some of the best online DPN programs in the country for MSN graduates.
15. University of San Diego
The University of San Diego online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program allows BSN and MSN graduates to pursue their education in an online format. Students are taught using a practice-based curriculum with advanced directives that provide students with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to provide advanced care to patients. They are also taught how to effectively manage their staff in a variety of settings.
The University of San Diego has received numerous awards and achievements for the quality of education it provides to each of its students, whether they physically attend the campus or using the online portal. The University offers online courses that are designed to meet and exceed the needs of students who are looking to further their education while working in their chosen field.
Favorite Facts: The University of San Diego offers some of the best online DPN programs available on the west coast.
Degree: BSN to DNP (campus) or MSN to DNP (Online)
Will Employers Trust an Online DNP?
Just like on-campus programs, a person can find accredited DNP online programs with merely a search for “DNP programs online accredited.” Just like on-campus programs, the standards to receive recognition for accredited DNP online programs are stringent. The programs must meet certain criteria and have the ability and curriculum to properly educate a student. In some cases, a student never needs to share that he or she went to an online school, unless it’s a strictly online school.
When searching for “DNP programs online accredited,” a student will notice CCNE is one of the major accredited agencies for doctor of nursing science programs online and other doctorate nursing programs. The CCNE is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. This particular organization is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Not only does it evaluate bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, but it also accredits doctor of nursing science programs online. Therefore, CCNE accredited online DNP programs are acknowledged by employers.
Do I Need an MSN to Get Into a DNP Program?
For many of the programs, a person must first possess a registered nursing license and a master’s degree in nursing. Students who don’t already have a master’s in nursing but have one in another field may find programs that allow them to convert their credits toward the degree program.
Another option a person has when earning a DNP is to find BSN to DNP programs. These programs are for individuals who already have a bachelor of science in nursing (DNP). They’re considered to be accelerated programs.
Many of the BSN to DNP programs are BSN to DNP programs online. Some BSN to DNP programs online will want a student to have at least one year of practicing as a nurse before applying. Often, the GPA requirements for online BSN to DNP programs are stringent. In online BSN to DNP programs, a student studies advance nursing topics in subjects like epidemiology, healthcare policy, pathophysiology, and comprehensive health assessment.
What Can a DNP Do?
Although in many states a person can become a nurse practitioner with only a master’s degree, some states require a person to have a DNP. The DNP job description may include practicing as a primary care practitioner. In over 20 states, what does a DNP do includes assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients. In fact, in these states, what does a DNP do may include opening his or her own practice. However, in many other states, the DNP job description includes working under the direct supervision of a medical doctor.
When a person becomes a primary healthcare practitioner, he or she gets to see patients just like a medical doctor does. The DNP job description for these individuals may include reading laboratory results, and in some states, prescribing medications. It’s also possible to become a midwife or nurse anesthetist.
Besides becoming a practitioner, what can you do with a DNP in nursing also includes becoming an educator. Individuals with a doctorate can take on the role of teaching others how to practice as a nurse at different levels. What can you do with a DNP in nursing may also include becoming a director of nursing in a healthcare facility.
What are the Most In-Demand DNP Specializations?
When comparing DNP specialties, a nurse anesthetist is one of the more in-demand options. These individuals work alongside dentists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other professionals who may need to administer anesthesia to patients. A person can choose to specialize in this at a master’s degree level and continue on to earn a doctorate. On average, a nurse anesthetist earns $174,790 per year, which is the same as $84.03 hourly.
Another one of the popular DNP specialties is a midwife. These are the individuals who take care of patients during pregnancy. These individuals can assist women during uncomplicated labor and deliveries. A nurse midwife makes an average of $106,910 yearly.
Someone who is looking into DNP specialties may also look at different nurse practitioner programs in different areas of medicine. One of the more common ones is a general practice nurse practitioner. However, an individual can also choose to earn a degree in pediatrics, gynecology/obstetrics, or neonatal nursing, among others.