MSN to DNP Degree Programs

If you are an advanced practice nurse with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, you can choose to further your education with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. There are various tracks within DNP degrees to help nurses reach their career goals.

Comparing MSN to DNP Degree Programs

MSN to DNP for Advanced Nursing Practice

Advanced practice nurses (nurses with an MSN degree) who want to move into the top positions within their specific area of clinical practice can go back to school for a DNP degree. The DNP degree is the terminal (or highest possible) degree in the nursing field. DNP students take advanced nursing theory, healthcare policy, and research courses that can be used to improve practice in their current specialty. Because students have already completed clinical hours while pursuing their master's degree in nursing, they may be able to waive some of their DNP program's mandatory clinical hours. In fact, some courses are offered online, and these programs can be completed in far less time than a DNP degree for students who do not have previous advanced practice nursing experience. To finish a program, students must lead a project wherein they translate their research into evidence-based practice to improve healthcare outcomes in their community.

MSN to DNP in a Second Advanced Nursing Practice Specialization

Another option for DNP students is to gain certification in a second area of nursing practice. For example, a nurse who has been practicing in pediatrics but wants to move into women's health nursing can go back to school for a DNP in women's health nursing. For this program, students receive an individualized plan of study based on their previous experience and coursework. These tracks require students to complete more coursework and in-person clinical hours than a traditional MSN to DNP program so that students can gain real-world practice in their new area of nursing.

MSN to DNP in Executive Leadership

This type of DNP degree program prepares graduates for positions as managers and administrators within healthcare systems. Through a DNP Executive Leadership program, nurse practitioners can move from clinical practice to leadership roles. The courses focus on the entrepreneurial side of nursing management and healthcare delivery. Rather than develop nursing skills in one specific area of patient care, students research healthcare policy, fiscal management, and other topics important to the structure of healthcare delivery. To graduate, students must complete a unique research project. Because these programs do not focus on clinical practice, many are offered 100% online. The goal of a program is to train senior-level nurse executives to lead and transform healthcare systems.

MSN to DNP in Health Policy

This program helps students develop a deep understanding of the interaction between healthcare policy, the economy, the legal system, and the legislative system. Students learn how political and economic forces shape healthcare outcomes. They analyze complex healthcare issues in order to write, advocate for, and debate healthcare policy. To apply for the program, students need an MSN degree in nursing administration/leadership or any other field of advanced practice nursing. Graduates can go on to analyze, research, and develop policy in both public and private settings.

Degree Program Program Requirements Related Careers
MSN to DNP in Advanced Practice Nursing*Master of Science in Nursing
*Unencumbered nurse license
*Adult Nurse Practitioner
*Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner
MSN to DNP Advanced Practice Nursing (for a second NP specialization) *Master of Science in Nursing degree
*Unencumbered nursing license
*Family Nurse Practitioner
*Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
MSN to DNP in Executive Leadership *Master of Science in Nursing degree
*Unencumbered nursing license
*Vice President of Nursing
*Chief Nursing Officer
MSN to DNP in Health Policy*Master of Science in Nursing *Healthcare Policy Analyst
*Healthcare Policy Consultant

Application Requirements for an MSN to DNP Degree

To be eligible for an MSN to DNP degree program, applicants must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and a valid nursing license. Programs in executive leadership might also require up to two years of related managerial experience.

Prospective students for any type of MSN to DNP program are typically required to send in letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a proposal for their independent research project. Applicants might also need to send in detailed records of their previous nursing education and clinical experience to help the university design a student's individual plan of study. A minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 is also common.

A DNP is the terminal (highest possible) degree in the field of nursing. Whether you want to advance your clinical practice, move into a new area of nursing, research policy, or move from practice to leadership positions, there are DNP degree tracks that can help you meet all of those goals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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