Best MSN to DNP Programs

An MSN to DNP program is designed for master’s-prepared nurses who wish to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). There are many tracks one can follow towards a DNP, including nurse practitioner, certified nurse anesthetist, nursing education, and executive leadership. NPs and CRNAs are more likely to pursue this degree as it relates directly to clinical practice.

Essentially, DNP graduates are advanced nursing practice leaders who bring evidence-based knowledge into the clinical setting to help improve health care outcomes and strengthen the leadership role of nurses in nursing. clinical and academic settings.

Quick Facts About MSN to DNP Programs


The salary of a nurse who has earned a DNP degree is, on average, $120,000+ per year, with nurse anesthetists being the highest paying specialty.

Program duration

36 months+


  • Registered Nurse License
  • Relevant clinical experience
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Interview with the candidate, if applicable
  • Minimum GPA greater than 3.0
  • Transcripts from all educational institutions
  • GRE if applicable
  • TOEFL if applicable

Top 10 MSN to DNP Programs

Each MSN to DNP program has its own benefits and features, and the program that is best for one potential participant may not be the right choice for another. When assembling our list of the best programs, we paid close attention to objective criteria, paying particular attention to ensuring that each is accredited and has proven results for its graduates.

Our selection process took into account the following factors:

  • Cost of attendance

  • Program duration

  • Conditions of admission

  • Variety of programs available

  • Ranking according to US News & World Report

  • Additional honors the program has received

1. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University leads the way in education, research, and practice, both locally and globally. The DNP track prepares nurses for advanced roles as clinical and health care leaders. Students will participate in a final DNP project that will establish them as Hopkins Nursing Clinical Investigators.

2. Duke University

Duke University is a world-class university with a top-notch school of nursing. MSN programs at DNP are taught by world-renowned faculty. Several courses are offered leading to a final diploma. Students must complete a DNP science project to show their commitment to evidence-based research.

  • Tuition fees: $1,910 per credit

  • Program duration: varies by track

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Entry Deadline: Varies by track

  • Contact email address: [email protected]

  • Phone number: (877) 415-3853

  • Online options available? Varies by track

3. Top University

Rush University graduates will be prepared to provide comprehensive health care to individuals throughout their lives. Graduate education will focus on clinical excellence and leading initiatives to improve health outcomes. An interested student can choose from several majors including Adult Gerontology, Acute and Primary Care, Anesthesia, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health, Public Health, and Leadership.

  • Tuition fees: $1,224 per credit

  • Program duration: 2.5 to 3.5 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: January 3

  • Phone number: (312) 942-7100

  • Online options available? Hybrid

4. University of Washington

The University of Washington empowers students with world-class faculty to do good and succeed. Students are offered several tracks which include, but are not limited to, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, psychiatric nursing, and more.

  • Tuition: $29,802 per year full-time

  • Duration of program: Three years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: January 15

  • Terms

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Phone number: (206) 543-8736

  • Online options available? Yes

5. Columbia University

Columbia University prepares nurses to provide comprehensive patient care in their specialty area. Columbia offers DNP opportunities in family medicine, midwifery, psychiatric mental health, and more. Students graduate with the knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary for comprehensive care.

  • Tuition: $68, 144 per year full-time

  • Program duration: 2.5 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: January 31

  • Phone number: (212) 305-5756

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Online options available? Yes

6. Emory University

Emory University empowers students to transform health care as nurse leaders. Courses prepare nurses to lead in the areas of innovation, interprofessional team collaboration, and health policy. Program benefits include online learning, the opportunity to work full-time, gain leadership skills, and learn from nationally recognized faculty.

  • Tuition: $1,671 per full-time credit

  • Length of program: Two to three years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: March 15

  • Phone number: (404) 727-7980

  • Contact email address: [email protected]

  • Online options available? Yes

7. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

The University of Michigan MSN to DNP programs are offered by world-class faculty to provide students with the training necessary to become healthcare leaders. Students have several program plans to choose from. Classes are offered in a hybrid setting with no weekly in-person meetings.

  • Tuition fees: $1,383

  • Program duration: 2-3 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: March 15

  • Phone number: (734) 763-5985

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Online options available? Yes

8. University of Minnesota (Twin Cities)

The University of Minnesota focuses on planetary health in which nature is an essential partner in human health. Some points of pride for the University of Minnesota School of Nursing are: excellence in graduate education in diversity, as well as significant funding for NIH research. The school regularly organizes information sessions for all study programs.

  • Tuition: $27,486 per year

  • Duration of the program: two to three years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: October 15

  • Phone number: (612) 625-7980

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Online options available? Yes

9. University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh prepares nurses to deliver care guided by research, intellect, and passion. The program is led by highly awarded nursing faculty who engage in research and evidence-based practice. The programs offered are Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner, Head Nurse, and Nurse Midwife.

  • Tuition: $943 credit hour

  • Duration of the program: 2 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: February 15

  • Phone number (412) 624-6910

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Online options available? Yes

10. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University’s MSN to DNP program prepares leaders for advanced nursing practice. The program offers practice integration, collaboration with practice partners and active faculty as mentors. Students are required to attend an intensive on-campus session and complete an evidence-based DNP project.

  • Tuition fees: $1,793 per credit

  • Duration of the program: 2 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application deadline: October 15

  • Contact Email: [email protected]

  • Phone number: (615) 322-3800

  • Online options available? Yes

Types of MSN to DNP Programs

On the campus

MSN at DNP programs require you to take in-person classes with your cohort as well as clinical experiences.

On line

MSN to DNP online programs are offered strictly through a learning management system to which the student must log in regularly to access courses and assignments. It also allows students to communicate with professors and their peers.


A hybrid MSN to DNP program requires students to engage both online and in person. Students may be required to attend in-person classes on certain days and participate in other online classes.

MSN to DNP Program Overview

MSN to DNP programs are designed to help advanced practicing nurses with an MSN degree pursue their professional goals and earn a DNP in several areas of nursing. The benefits of a DNP program according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) are,

  • Improving knowledge to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes

  • Improved leadership skills

  • Increase in the number of professors for clinical teaching

  • Development of the advanced skills necessary for an increasingly complex clinical, teaching and leadership role

Program cost

The cost of the program for MSN to DNP programs varies greatly from institution to institution. Students should take the time to compare different programs to determine which tuition plan best meets their financial needs. Variables include,

  • The reputation of the program

  • Faculty quality

  • Number of specialized tracks offered

  • The program is offered by a private or public institution

  • Online versus hybrid versus in-person instruction

  • Full-time or part-time participation


Classes will focus on the track chosen by the student. Supervised clinical experiences will also be required.

Students can expect to complete approximately 800 to 1,000 clinical hours, but this will vary by program and state. Specific courses will vary by program and specialty, but general MSN to DNP courses include:

  • Health Economics

  • Management of complex health problems

  • scholarly writing

  • Advanced Search Methods

  • Computer science

  • Ethical and legal issues

  • Quality improvement

  • Health policy

  • Biostatistics

  • Epidemiology

  • Leadership and management in healthcare

MSN to DNP Programs FAQ

Comments are closed.