NP to DNP Degree Programs

This article summarizes a range of program options for nurse practitioners (NPs) who want to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These programs cater to licensed advanced practice nurses who want to further their education, receive the top qualification in their field and advance their nursing careers.

Comparing NP to DNP Degree Programs

DNP Advanced Nursing Practice (Choose One Specialization)

Advanced practice nurse practitioners (who hold a valid license) can pursue a DNP degree to develop their expertise in whatever specialization they already have. For example, a practicing nurse practitioner can build on their skills and earn a DNP in family practice, pediatric primary care, nurse midwifery, adult gerontology, psychiatric mental health nursing, or neonatal care. Because these students have already completed clinicals while pursuing their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), they may be able to waive some (or all) of their mandatory clinical hours. In fact, some DNP programs for practicing nurse practitioners are offered 100% online and can be completed in far less time than a DNP program for students who do not have previous advanced practice nursing experience. To finish the program, students must design and lead projects wherein they translate academic research into evidence-based practice and improve healthcare outcomes in their home communities.

DNP Executive Leadership

This program focuses on the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial sides of nursing management and healthcare delivery. Rather than develop clinical evidence-based nursing skills in one specific area of care, students study healthcare policy, ethics in nursing, and other high-level topics important to the structural components of healthcare delivery. The program is designed for professionals who already have experience taking on leadership roles within a healthcare environment. Students tailor their programs to their personal and professional research interests and receive support from faculty in how to translate their academic studies into evidence-based practice. The goal of the program is to train senior-level nurse executives to lead and transform healthcare systems.

DNP Health Policy

This program can help students to 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 for patients. They also practice analyzing complex healthcare issues in order to write, advocate for, and debate healthcare policy. To apply for the program students need an MSN degree in healthcare policy/leadership and a valid NP license (usually with at least 5 years of experience as an advanced practice nurse practitioner). Graduates can go on to analyze, research, and develop policy in both public and private settings.

DNP Nurse Anesthetist

A nurse anesthetist is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in helping doctors safely administer anesthesia and monitor patients under the influence of intense painkillers. This program allows students who already hold a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) license to advance their skills beyond the initial requirements for licensure. Classes prepare nurses to integrate up-to-date academic research in their clinical practice and prepares nurses for the complex situations that may arise over the course of their careers. Applicants must have an MSN and a valid CRNA license. The coursework may also include classes like healthcare informatics, management theory, and regulation and reimbursement in nurse anesthesia.

Degree Program Program Length Program Requirements Related Careers
DNP in Nursing Practice2-4 yearsMSN degree
Active RN license
*Advanced practice adult gerontology nurse practitioner
*Primary care nurse practitioner
DNP in Nursing Leadership 2-4 yearsMSN degree
5 years' nurse leadership experience
Active RN license
*Chief nurse executive
*Nurse manager
DNP in Healthcare Policy 2 yearsMSN degree
Active RN license
*Patient advocate
*Policy advisor
DNP in Nurse Anesthesia 1-2 years MSN degree
CRNA license
*Nurse anesthetist
*Nurse administrator

Admissions Requirements for an NP-to-DNP Degree Program

Certified nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses who have already obtained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). A nurse practitioner's previous education and work experience qualify them for admission into a range of accelerated DNP degree programs. Rather than complete their program in 2-3 years like most DNP students, nurse practitioners can complete their degree in 1-2 years full-time or 3 years part-time. They may be exempt from some or all of their clinical/practicum hours, because they have already gained experience working as an advanced practice nurse. They may even be able to complete the degree online (and/or part-time) while maintaining their full-time nursing position.

A post-master's DNP program provides registered nurse practitioners the opportunity to develop their skills and rise to the top of their profession. Practicing NPs can choose from a variety of DNP programs based on their past educational experience and career 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.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

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