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Top 20 Online BSN-to-DNP Programs for 2021

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, is typically considered an entry-level degree in the field of nursing. Like all healthcare-related occupations, nursing is one of the most in-demand jobs in the U.S. Many people with BSN degrees become registered nurses, or RNs, and these jobs are expected to grow by a much faster than average rate over the next several years.

But while BSN degrees are still a popular way for professionals to earn their way to RN licensure, for many of these people, their goals are loftier. This is why many schools of nursing now offer a BSN-to-DNP pathway, which allows a BSN-holder to attain the education necessary to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

And in many cases, this type of degree can be earned online. We wanted to compare programs that offer such degrees to find out which are the best for the average BSN-holder.

About These Rankings

Today, there are more than 350 DNP programs in the country, and more than 100 are in the planning stages. Many colleges and universities that offer DNP degrees give students multiple ways to earn them, either by starting out with a BSN or an MSN, a Master of Science in Nursing. In fact, BSN-to-DNP paths are becoming more popular, as about 60% of the in-the-works DNP programs are designed for post-baccalaureate students.

That leaves students with a lot of details to sort through when it comes to picking the best online BSN-to-DNP program for them. To create our ranking, we compared all the DNP programs in the country, filtering out those that don’t offer any online coursework, which narrowed the list to just under 50. From there we awarded 20 schools based on cost, reputation and value for the money.

BSN vs. MSN

Before we dive into the rankings, we wanted to discuss some reasons why applicants to these programs might have a BSN vs. an MSN degree. As we mentioned, a BSN is a bachelor’s degree, while an MSN is a master’s degree.

Aside from the obvious difference that one is more advanced than the other, it’s typical for professional nurses to seek a master’s degree after a few years on the job if they either want to earn more money by virtue of adding to their educational achievements or, more commonly, they want to pursue specialty nursing education.

This is typical for those who want to seek training as nurse practitioners, teachers or even nurse administrators. Because of this, most BSN-to-DNP programs offer students the chance to choose a specialty area, such as family nursing practice or pediatric acute care.

Also, it’s currently more common for online DNP degrees to admit only those students who have an MSN. In fact, of the roughly 70 online DNP programs, 68 of them offer MSN-to-DNP tracks, while only 49 offer BSN-to-DNP tracks. Still, that means well over two-thirds of programs offer this path, but it may be difficult for students to find these programs since there simply are fewer of them.

This also means that BSN-to-DNP students will have to complete many more hours of coursework and clinical experience than their MSN counterparts.

Best Online BSN-to-DNP Degrees

Online BSN-to-DNP degrees are offered across the country, with programs available throughout a diverse geographic region. It’s important to note that while we’re considering these programs online because a significant portion of work is done virtually, in most cases, in addition to clinical work, some classwork requires visiting the campus.

Schools Included in This Ranking

  • University of Florida
  • University of Alabama Birmingham
  • Bradley University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Northwestern State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Arizona
  • Southeastern Louisiana University
  • University of Nevada Reno
  • Fort Hays State University
  • Wichita State University
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • University of Central Florida
  • Ashland University
  • Idaho State University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Delta State University
  • University of South Carolina
  1. University of Florida

The University of Florida’s BSN-to-DNP program earns the top spot on this list by virtue of its academic rigor at an affordable price. It doesn’t hurt that the program offers multiple DNP program specialties for BSN graduates, which makes it ideal for those who want to pursue a specific focus in advanced nursing.

All coursework is done online, but about six campus visits will be required depending on the focus area. Students can pursue a total of five specialty tracks — adult-gerontology acute care, family nurse practitioner, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care and psychiatric/mental health. BSN-to-DNP students also are required to complete about 1,000 hours of clinical hours.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: At least 6 required visits
  • Cost Per Credit: $552
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $41,400
  • Credits Required: 75
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Alabama Birmingham

Most specialty areas in the University of Alabama Birmingham’s BSN-to-DNP program are offered online, giving BSN students a huge range of specialty options that can fit in their lives and helping put UAB’s program in our second spot.

Specialty track options include family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, women’s health care, psychiatric/mental health, pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, neonatal nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Most specialties require annual on-campus orientation and intensive; only first semester of nurse anesthesia program is online
  • Cost Per Credit: $656
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $74,784
  • Credits Required: 114
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Bradley University

Bradley University’s 100% online BSN-to-DNP includes no campus residency requirements, but students are expected to complete 1,000 clinical hours en route to their degree, which they’ll earn over the course of 12 semesters, or four years.

This family nurse practitioner program requires 68 credit hours for those who begin with a BSN degree.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: None reported
  • Cost Per Credit: $930
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $63,240
  • Credits Required: 68
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Cincinnati

With a total of six specialty areas, five of which are offered entirely online, the BSN-to-DNP pathways at the University of Cincinnati are broad and diverse. Most students will need to complete 75 credit hours of coursework, though some specialties require up to 79.

Online specialties are: adult-gerontology primary care, family nurse practitioner, nursing administration, pediatric acute care and psychiatric/mental health, and two more are offered on-campus only, adult-gerontology acute care and nurse anesthesia. In most cases, applicants must have at least one year of acute RN experience before seeking admission.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Some campus visits required depending on specialty
  • Cost Per Credit: $761
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $57,075
  • Credits Required: 75
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Massachusetts Boston

After they complete 48 credits and at least 665 clinical hours, students in the University of Massachusetts Boston’s BSN-to-DNP program will complete their MSN degree, with just 30 more hours to go before they earn a DNP.

The hybrid program includes a total of 78 credits and 1,065 clinical hours for those starting with a BSN, and while all DNP-specific courses are online, students must complete a hybrid MSN program before advancing on, and they can choose from two specialties — adult-gerontology primary care and family nurse practitioner.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Program is mixed delivery
  • Cost Per Credit: $575
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $44,850
  • Credits Required: 78
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Northwestern State University

Northwestern State University’s BSN-to-DNP pathway provides a pair of focus areas students can choose — organizational systems leadership and nurse anesthesia. Both require at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience, with students completing a total of 128 hours with their academic work and clinical equivalent combined.

Only the first two semesters of the BSN-to-DNP path are delivered online, so students who need to continue working while they earn their degrees likely will have a difficult time after that first portion.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Coursework after first two semesters is on-campus
  • Cost Per Credit: $475
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $32,300
  • Credits Required: 68
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Ohio State University

Ohio State University’s BSN-to-DNP program offers a huge range of specialty areas, but only a few are available for online learning. Family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner are all BSN-to-DNP specialties that students can earn online. Other specialties include adult-gerontology primary, clinical and acute care, nurse midwifery, and pediatric primary care and acute care.

While students in the three online specialties don’t attend classes in-person, it’s recommended they visit the campus for an orientation in their first year, and they’ll be required to visit near the end of their BSN-to-DNP program to present and defend the work in their final project.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: On-campus orientation recommended; students must make visit to campus at end of program to present and defend final project
  • Cost Per Credit: $973
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $72,975
  • Credits Required: 75
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Purdue University

Purdue University’s hybrid DNP degree offerings include both an MSN-to-DNP and a BSN-to-DNP, both of which include some online courses mixed with on-campus experiences. Students in the BSN-to-DNP track can choose from four academic pathways: pediatric primary care, family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.

Most students will be required to complete 76 hours of coursework, in addition to 1,000 hours of clinical experience, but students in the family nurse practitioner and psychiatric specialties will complete 78 hours.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid program
  • Cost Per Credit: $950
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $72,200
  • Credits Required: 76
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s DNP offerings are largely online, though some pathways include in-person coursework, and most require on-campus intensives. BSN-to-DNP students can choose from a few specialty tracks, including adult-gerontology acute care, family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, all of which have full-time and part-time options, or nurse anesthetist, which is a full-time-only program.

Most tracks require 64 credits, though that ranges up to 68 and beyond, as the nurse anesthetist track requires a total of 85 credits for BSN-to-DNP students, in addition to 2,000 clinical hours, while other tracks only require 720 clinical hours.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid; 3 on-campus intensives
  • Cost Per Credit: $975
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $62,400
  • Credits Required: 64
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Southeastern Louisiana University

Southeastern Louisiana’s BSN-to-DNP program is designed for registered nurses seeking a career as a family nurse practitioner, and this is the only track available for those with a BSN. Most classwork is done online, and students can choose to exit after earning their MSN with about 46 credits.

If they complete the entire BSN-to-DNP path, they’ll have earned 67 credits for coursework and about 1,110 hours of clinical or practicum experience.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Orientation and project defense required
  • Cost Per Credit: $286
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $19,162
  • Credits Required: 67
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Nevada Reno

Three possible specialty areas are on offer at the University of Nevada Reno for BSN-to-DNP students, and most coursework is done online, giving students both flexibility and academic options. A handful of on-campus experiences are required, in addition to clinical hours that must be completed.

All three specialties are offered either full-time or part-time, with credit requirements ranging from 72 to 76, and students can focus on psychiatric/mental health, adult-gerontology or family nurse practitioner specialties.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: 2 on-campus meetings in first year and 1-3 days per semester for immersion
  • Cost Per Credit: $1,033
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $74,376
  • Credits Required: 72
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Fort Hays University

A hybrid BSN-to-DNP program at Fort Hays University makes our list thanks to its balance of academic rigor and affordability. Students are expected to attend on a full-time basis, and they should be able to complete the 75 hours required in about four years.

While no specialties are available, the program provides a broad basis of education in major focus areas offered in other programs, such as pediatric care, gerontology and family practice. Because of licensure limitations, the program currently is only accepting applications from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid program; several semesters can only be completed online
  • Cost Per Credit: $400
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $30,000
  • Credits Required: 75
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Wichita State University

Three possible specialties are offered at the hybrid BSN-to-DNP program at Wichita State University. In each case, though, the program requires 74 credits hours to earn the DNP, with many courses offered online; this can change by the semester, however.

As part of their 74 required courses, students must complete at least three credit hours in their electives, which can also include residency hours. Specialty tracks offered are: adult-gerontology, family nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid; some courses only offered on-campus
  • Cost Per Credit: $308
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $22,792
  • Credits Required: 74
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Central Arkansas

The University of Central Arkansas offers BSN-to-DNP students a rigorous and affordable hybrid program that allows them to pursue certification as a family nurse practitioner. While the majority of courses are online, periodic campus visits and assessments are required, about three or four each 15-week semester.

In addition to a majority of coursework being offered online, the program is also designed for part-time education, helping students fit their degrees into their lives. A typical student will be able to complete the BSN-to-DNP track in 11 consecutive semesters, which equates to less than four years.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid; some courses on-campus; regular campus visits required
  • Cost Per Credit: $327
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $23,871
  • Credits Required: 73
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of Central Florida

With three specialty areas each offered both full-time and part-time, BSN-to-DNP students should be well-served by the hybrid program at the University of Central Florida. In most cases, students will need to complete 76 credit hours, with the bulk of that coming online, though some in-person coursework is required.

Students can select from three specialties — adult-gerontology primary, adult-gerontology acute and family nurse practitioner, each of which also requires the completion of more than 1,000 clinical hours.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid; on-campus intensives and some coursework is on-campus
  • Cost Per Credit: $327
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $24,852
  • Credits Required: 76
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Ashland University

Ashland University’s BSN-to-DNP includes entirely online coursework delivery and allows students to choose from two divergent paths — family practice and healthcare leadership. The BSN-to-DNP track for family nurse practitioner is the more popular option, but it requires a much greater time commitment — to the tune of nearly 20 credit hours.

Students in the health systems leadership track can earn their DNP in just 57 credit hours, or as little as three years. Clinical hours totalling at least 1,000 are required for both.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: None
  • Cost Per Credit: $725
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $55,825
  • Credits Required: 77
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Idaho State University

Idaho State University’s online BSN-to-DNP pathways offer students the option of attending either full-time or part-time as well as choosing one of two focus areas — family nurse practitioner or psychiatric/mental health.

Students who opt for the psychiatric care track will have to complete 80 total hours instead of 78, though in all cases, they must complete at least 1,000 clinical hours, though these can be done at sites near their location.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Students must visit campus for clinical intensives for a few days each semester
  • Cost Per Credit: $345
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $26,910
  • Credits Required: 78
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University’s Waters College of Health Professionals offers four tracks in its online BSN-to-DNP program. Students can select from adult-gerontology acute or primary care, family nurse practitioner or psychiatric/mental health.

While the programs are designed for students to complete the necessary coursework from start to finish and emerge with a DNP, those who choose can exit after completing their MSN degree in specialty courses. A range of 1,220 to 1,350 clinical hours are required for degree completion.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: No campus sessions, but some live remote sessions may be scheduled
  • Cost Per Credit: $389
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $29,953
  • Credits Required: 77
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. Delta State University

Delta State University’s online BSN-to-DNP is designed to give BSN-holders, or master’s degree graduates in areas other than family nursing practice, the training necessary to become licensed family nurse practitioners.

For BSN graduates, they’ll need to complete 80 classroom credit hours, in addition to a total of 1,020 clinical hours, which must be completed in Mississippi or Arkansas. Students can attend full-time or part-time, ideal for maximum flexibility.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: 1-3 on-campus visits per semester
  • Cost Per Credit: $442
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $35,360
  • Credits Required: 80
  • Learn More: Click here
  1. University of South Carolina

BSN-to-DNP students at the University of South Carolina can choose their course load (full-time or part-time) as well as their specialty (adult-gerontology, family, psychiatric or nurse executive leadership). All coursework is completed online with the exception, of course, of required clinical hours, but in some cases, students can complete these hours at their current workplaces.

Three of the four specialty areas require 74 credit hours for completion, with the exception of adult-gerontology acute care, and all require at least 1,000 clinical hours for successful completion of the degree.

Program Overview

  • On-Campus Requirements: Some on-campus immersion events
  • Cost Per Credit: $572
  • Total Expected Tuition Cost: $41,756
  • Credits Required: 73
  • Learn More: Click here

Conclusion

Jobs across the healthcare landscape are in high demand, particularly jobs for those with advanced nursing degrees, such as a BSN-to-DNP. While it’s a major time and monetary commitment, such a degree can pay dividends, not just for an individual’s career but for improving the health and lives of their community.