BSN to DNP Degree Programs

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BSN to DNP programs offer students the opportunity to quickly progress through their nursing studies. By moving directly from a bachelor of science in nursing program (or BSN) to a doctorate of nursing practices program (DNP), students could potentially shave years off of their education timetable.

Even though there is a shorter timeline, courses within these programs still cover vital information necessary to effectively function in the nursing field.

What Are BSN to DNP Programs?

BSN to DNP programs are when students who have earned a BSN have the chance to immediately apply to a DNP program without first earning a master of science in nursing (MSN). By doing so, students could potentially earn two degrees in a shorter amount of time than normal. In the process of pursuing a DNP, these students may also earn a MSN midway through their program.

Many students choose to pursue BSN to DNP online programs because it could decrease the amount of time they spend on their graduate education. Since you might be simultaneously earning a MSN and DNP degree, you may not have to spend additional years earning them separately.

BSN to DNP Program Concentrations

In these programs, you could choose to concentrate your studies on areas of nursing. For instance, many programs offer concentrations in the following.

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthesia
  • Clinical Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Women’s Health Nurse

These are only a few types of DNP program concentrations. Typically, your preferred concentration is declared at the time of application. By doing this, schools could ensure that there are enough advisors to meet the demands of incoming doctoral students.

The BSN Program

BSN stands for a bachelor of science in nursing program. In these programs, courses teach the basics required in the nursing field. This could include instructing students in common practices such as:

  • Patient safety
  • Population health
  • Nursing technology
  • Evidence-based medical practice

Courses within this program could include some of the following.

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Organic Biochemistry
  • Nursing Fundamentals
  • Health & Illness for Adults and Children

These are only a few topics you may cover in your bachelors in nursing program. Reach out to admission teams at potential schools for a complete course guide.

Students may have to earn a BSN degree prior being admitted to BSN to DNP programs. This includes completing around 120 credit hours’ worth of courses.

You could potentially earn a BSN degree in 4 years depending upon your enrollment.

Applying to BSN Programs

As part of the BSN application process, students may be asked to submit a GPA of 3.0 or higher from a high school or associate degree. Some schools may specifically request that applicants have previously earned an associate degree in nursing prior to applying.

Additionally, some states may require that students earn their registered nursing license before they’re admitted. By doing this, students could then have the chance to participate in clinical hands-on scenarios as part of their curriculum.

The DNP Program

DNP stands for doctor of nursing practice programs. Courses within this degree program deal with advanced nursing topics. Instead of focusing on the typical day-to-day knowledge needed to function within a nursing environment, the DNP program focuses on leadership techniques. In short, the DNP program covers material to potentially make nursing more effective.

As part of the doctorate in nursing practice program, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.

  • Theoretical and Scientific Underpinnings for Nursing Practice
  • Approaches to Regional and Global Population Health
  • Data-Driven Evaluation and Clinical Analytics for Outcomes Improvement
  • Strategic Planning in Healthcare Administration

These are only a few examples of potential classes you could take during your DNP program.

While the DNP program may consist of fewer credit hours, additional semesters may be spent writing and researching your capstone project.

Applying to DNP Programs from a BSN Program

When applying to a DNP program as part of BSN to DNP programs, you may be asked to submit a 3.0 or higher bachelors GPA.

Supplemental materials may be requested along with your initial application. These could include:

  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Professional resume or CV 
  • A career goal statement
  • A letter of intent

It is also common for schools to request an in-person interview with admissions candidates. Online students may be able to take part in an interview over video conference instead of traveling to campus.

In addition to these criteria, you may also be asked to submit evidence that you’re a licensed registered nurse in your state of residence.

Capstone Project

DNP program capstone projects usually consist of students investigating and offering solutions to current obstacles in their field of nursing. To do so, you may be tasked with completing your own research into the issue. Data collection could be conducted with the aid of a faculty advisor.

After gathering and analyzing your data, you could then present your finding to a board of department faculty. Typically, students collect their data in a research paper and then open the floor to additional questions from the committee. Faculty members may request that additional research be completed. But, in many cases, the presentation is the conclusion of the capstone project.

In some cases, student may need to travel to their school’s campus to use certain pieces of nursing equipment. Schools often make necessary technology available to enrolled students. Online students should be aware of that some travel may be necessary as part of their final project.

Finding a BSN to DNP Program for You

Choosing a perfect BSN to DNP online program that fits into your lifestyle could include many different factors. Things like (1) program length, (2) online courses, and (3) in-person clinical requirements could affect your choices.

Below are a few suggestions as to where you could take the next step in your nursing education.

Bradley University

Bradley University’s BSN to DNP programs online are great for students who want to take digital classes but still have a hands-on experience. During this program, student take their classes entirely online. Then, during certain semesters, they could have a chance to participate in clinical practicums that place them in real-world nursing positions.

While in these clinical semesters, you could have the chance to work alongside fellow nursing professionals and interact with actual patients. This could be a great test of your theoretical nursing knowledge.

And, you could potentially list this experience on your resume. Employers may be interested to know that you’ve taken part in a professional nursing experience.i

Clinical experiences may be able to be completed locally. This could be convenient for online students who may be unable to attend healthcare facilities closer to Bradley’s campus.

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University offers one of the shorter BSN to DNP programs. Students who have earned their BSN degree could complete the program in as little as 4 years. They also offer an extensive list of potential concentrations for their programs.

If your pursued your degrees at TJU, you could have the chance to concentrate your studies in the following areas.

  • Adult-Gerontology
  • Community Systems Administration
  • Family & Individual Lifespan Care
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health & Gender Related Nurse Practitioner

As part of this program, students could also earn their national nursing certification. Like the masters degree, the essential coursework to earn this certification is compiled into the DNP program.

University of St. Augustine

The University of St. Augustine might be a perfect choice for students who still want to take part in some on-campus education. While the majority of classes are conducted online, clinical courses are held on its campus.

Inside the physical classroom, you could receive individualized attention from your nursing professors. Not to mention, you could have the chance to practice nursing methods on volunteer patients or in mock scenarios.

What distinguishes St. Augustine’s BSN to DNP programs is their push for interprofessinal education (IPE). The IPE courses combines students with varying nursing concentrations. The intent of this is to have students communicate differences between their specific fields. Through this, you might then have a more holistic view of the healthcare field.

How Long Is a BSN to DNP Program?

Completing a BSN to DNP online program could take anywhere from 4 to 9 years.

While this may seem like a long period of time, it is a shorter option than the alternative. If you chose to pursue a BSN degree, MSN degree, and a DNP degree separately, the process could take up to 11 years.

What Could You Do After Completing a BSN to DNP Program?

After earning a doctorate of nursing practice at the end of a BSN to DNP online program, you could go on to pursue a career as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). It’s common for these positions to require entry-level applicants to hold a masters in nursing. But, in some cases, they may also look for perspective employees to have a doctor of nursing practice.i

Some states may require practicing APRNs to have a registered nursing license. To do so, professionals may be required to pass a national certification exam. In addition, licensees might also be asked to earn a graduate degree from an accredited university. Your DNP degree could potentially fulfill this requirement.i

In 2016, these roles earned a median salary of $107,460. And, the number of available positions in this field is currently growing much faster than the national average.

The amount of nursing positions is projected to grow by 31% from 2014 to 2024.ii


[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-1

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