17 Best Online (30-Credits) DNP Programs For 2023

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you someone who dreams of establishing a long-term career in nursing? Are you pursuing or have you already completed a master's degree in nursing (MSN)? Does the idea of going another step further and accomplishing an even higher degree in a short amount of time sound like something that interests you? If so, pursuing a thirty-credit Doctor of Nursing Practice degree may be a perfect fit for you. While there are on-campus, hybrid, and online options available for students who want to pursue this degree, in this article, we will discuss the option of online DNP 30-credits programs. As you read further, you will learn about the best online 30-credits DNP programs for 2023, including admission criteria, what coursework you will be required to complete as well as some general FYI topics.

What Exactly Is the Purpose of A 30-Credits DNP Program?

Thirty credit DNP programs are designed to give registered nurses who have accomplished a master’s degree in nursing an opportunity to obtain the highest nursing degree possible, a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The purpose of thirty credit DNP programs is to build upon a registered nurse's clinical skills by offering courses explicitly tailored for doctorally-prepared nurses and allowing them to accomplish this goal in a shorter amount of time.

5 Major Benefits Of Online (30-Credits) DNP Programs VS. Regular Online DNP Programs

Weighing the pros and cons of pursuing a higher degree can help you decide what school to attend. Here we will discuss five major benefits of online DNP 30-credits programs.

1. Finish your degree faster.

Online DNP programs 30-credits are designed to give master’s prepared registered nurses the chance to earn a terminal nursing degree in a short amount of time, compared to other DNP programs.

2. Save money.

Although an online 30-credit DNP program is not cheap, but because they require students to complete fewer credits than typical online DNP programs, they tend to be less expensive.

3. Maximize your time.

Online 30-credit DNP programs often deliver courses in shorter terms rather than traditional four-month terms, and campus visits are limited if they are required at all.

4. Keep your job.

Because an online 30-credits DNP program offers shorter courses along with the benefit of studying when and where you want, something that is appealing to working professionals, you may be able to continue working throughout the duration of the program.

5. Increase your income in a shorter amount of time.

The old saying, “time is money and money is time” is no joke. By enrolling in a 30-credits DNP program online, you can finish your degree in a shorter amount of time and position yourself to negotiate a higher salary.

How Long Are Online DNP (30-Credits) Programs?

Online 30-credits DNP programs are some of the shortest DNP programs available for nurses who want to continue their education. They vary in length from twelve to twenty-four months, typically. Factors such as whether a student enrolls in the program full-time or part-time, must repeat any coursework, or take a leave of absence from school may also contribute to how long it takes them to complete a program. In general, when a school says that a student can complete a program in a certain amount of time, it implies that they can graduate within that time if there is no interruption in study or skipped semesters.

A few examples of the length of some of the best 30-credits DNP programs online include the following.

• The post-master's DNP program at

Georgetown University

is designed to be completed in as little as twenty months of part-time study, which involves five fifteen-week terms. Although the program does not provide clinical preparation for specialty areas of study, the university does offer an online Post-Graduate Certificate program which includes the option to choose from four APRN specializations.
• Students enrolled in the Post-MSN to DNP program at

Simmons University

in Boston, Massachusetts, also complete the program on a part-time schedule. To graduate from this program, students must complete seven fourteen-week terms and a total of one thousand clinical hours.
• Although the

University of North Carolina in Greensboro

offers on-campus and hybrid classes, they also offer a 100% online DNP thirty-credit program. The program is five semesters in length. Classes begin in the school’s fall semester and end in the second year’s spring semester.
• Bouve’ College of Health Sciences at

Northeastern University

in Boston, Massachusetts, offers both part-time and full-time enrollment options in their online 30-credits DNP program. Students who enter the program having already completed a master’s degree in nursing can complete the DNP program in sixteen months if they enroll on a full-time basis.

Frontier Nursing University’s

DNP students enrolled in the online DNP program have the option to complete the program in fifteen or eighteen months.

How Much Do Online DNP (30-Credits) Programs Cost?

Like any college program, online 30-credits DNP programs vary in cost. On average, students pay from $18,000 to over $60,000 in tuition for online DNP programs requiring thirty credits for completion. The cost of textbooks, testing, and technology fees are additional expenses prospective students should factor in. Also, travel to and from clinical practice sites will add to the total cost of the program.

A few examples of the cost of online DNP 30-credits programs include the following.

• At the

Concordia University

in Wisconsin, the DNP program costs $830 per credit, which is an average of $25,170.

Wake Forest School of Nursing

students pay approximately $1,305 per credit, making the cost of a DNP degree at this university $39,150.

Frontier University

calculates tuition each term at $618 per credit hour. Completion of the post-master's DNP program at Frontier typically costs a student $18,540.

Northeastern University’s

tuition rate is $1,622 per credit hour, totaling $48,660.


The coursework that is required in online DNP 30-credits programs is quite similar. These programs are designed to build upon the education and skills that master’s-prepared RNs have already acquired.

• Students enrolled in the DNP program at Colorado Christian University are required to complete

ten courses

. A few examples of course curriculum include Theoretical Foundations of DNP Studies and Visionary Leadership, Translational Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Ethics and Advocacy, Leadership in Healthcare Policy, and Business and Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurial Nursing.

Fort Hays State University’s

MSN to DNP online program can be completed in two years. Coursework at Fort Hays includes Foundations for the Doctoral Leader, Evidence-Base Practice and Scholarly Tools, DNP Research Methods, and Advanced Nursing Leadership.

Salve Regina University’s

DNP students registered in the thirty-credit online program must pass the following classes: Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing, Epidemiology, Organizational and Systems Leadership in Healthcare, Research Methods, and three DNP projects including Development, Implementation and Evaluation.

Concordia University Wisconsin’s

coursework includes Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Advanced Evidence-Based Practice, Economics and Public Policy of Healthcare, Ethics and Organizational Leadership, and Healthcare Informatics.

Clinical Training

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) maintains a model of Nurse Practice Acts and examples of administrative rules. However, under the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, each state has the right to "individual state jurisdiction with its inevitable variations and uniqueness." This Amendment supports the right of State Boards of Nursing to set guidelines for nursing schools regarding the minimum number of clinical hours students are required to complete. While you may find that even the best online 30-credits DNP programs have different minimum clinical standards, DNP students are generally required to have a minimum of one thousand post-baccalaureate supervised clinical practicum hours.

Students enrolled in the online DNP 30-credits program at

McKendree University

are expected to meet the AACN requirement of one thousand clinical hours. Up to five hundred clinical hours from the student’s master’s program may be credited to the one-thousand-hour requirement with proper documentation of those hours.
Clinical practicum hours at McKendree University include the hours required for students to complete the Advanced Nursing Project. The clinical hours taken in a master’s advanced practice nursing program are credited to MSN to DNP students at

Fort Hays State University

. Students are, however, required to complete six hundred project hours to qualify for graduation. The project course includes a combination of leadership, theory, and research courses.

Alverno College

offers two 30-credit DNP tracks to prospective students: Leadership and Direct Care. Students are required to have a minimum of one thousand post-baccalaureate supervised clinical practice hours. At Alverno College, the program chair of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program has the authority to determine if an applicant has sufficient documentation to support the transfer of credit of up to six hundred supervised clinical hours. Transferred clinical practice hours must be from a regionally accredited MSN program.

Admission Requirements

While every college or university reserves the right to decide individual admission requirements, there are some general requirements that DNP applicants must meet before being accepted into any of the best online 30-credits DNP programs. For example, minimum admission requirements for thirty-credit Doctor of Nursing Practice programs typically include the following.

○ Graduate from an accredited MSN program
○ Possess a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in the state where you will complete your clinical practicum
○ Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary learning institutions
○ Letters of academic or professional recommendations
○ Curriculum vitae or a current resume
○ A personal statement that addresses personal goals, nursing experience, and an explanation for choosing to pursue a DNP

Scranton University’s

DNP applicants must possess a master's degree in nursing from either an ACEN or CCNE accredited program with preparation in an advanced practice specialty. Additionally, they must have a cumulative MSN grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale and be licensed as a registered nurse in Pennsylvania. They must submit a three to four-page essay which describes their current or past clinical nursing experience, career achievements, and a proposed topic for their scholarly project.
• Applicants to

Frontier Nursing University's

(FNU) post-master's online 30-credit DNP program must possess one of the following degrees granted from a regionally accredited school: 1. a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) 2. a master's in nursing (MN) 3. a master's degree in a related field such as Master of Public Health (MPH). If the applicant holds a master's in a related field, the institution that issued the degree must have had a nursing program that was accredited through either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) at the time of graduation. An applicant's official transcripts should reflect a 3.0-grade point average from a master's nursing program. To be accepted into the program at FNU, an applicant must hold current national certification in one or more of the following specialty areas:

○ Certified Nurse-Midwife
○ Adult Nurse Practitioner
○ Family Nurse Practitioner
○ Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
○ Geriatric-Adult Nurse Practitioner
○ Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
○ Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
○ Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Quinnipiac University

in Hamden, Connecticut, offers a thirty-credit DNP program with the option of choosing from two career-focused specialty concentrations: nursing leadership or care of populations. Candidates for admission must be a registered nurse with a current, unencumbered license or an NCLEX eligible nurse and possess a master’s degree in nursing or a healthcare-related field. Additionally, applicants must have obtained a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
• Located in Romeo, Illinois,

Lewis University

offers a 100% online DNP program to qualified applicants. Admission requirements to their program include graduation from an MSN program accredited by the ACEN or CCNE with a specialty focus, at least two years of nursing practice as an RN, two professional letters of reference from professionals who have a graduate-level degree in the applicant's specialty practice area.
• In addition to the minimum admission requirements mentioned at the beginning of this subsection, applicants to

Colorado Christian University’s

online DNP program must complete a criminal background check and drug screen and participate in a web-based admissions interview. Additionally, prospective students must submit a personal narrative (1 to 2 pages) detailing practice experience, professional goals, and why the applicant has chosen to pursue a DNP credential.
• Some colleges, like

Marquette University

, offer a post-master's online DNP program 30-credits to nurses who already hold an MSN with specialization in a specific field. For example, at Marquette, applicants to the post-master's DNP program must already have specialty certification in an advanced practice nursing role, health care policy, or nursing administration/leadership. Prospective students who possess an MSN but who do not have specialization in one of these specialty areas are required to complete a post-master's certificate in one of these specialties while pursuing the DNP degree.

6 Things To Keep In Mind Before Enrolling In An Online DNP (30-Credits) Program

Making sure you are prepared before enrolling in any college program is essential. When you take on the responsibility of pursuing a doctoral degree, preparation is no less key to success. Before enrolling in one of the best 30-credits DNP programs online, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. 30-Credits DNP programs are rigorous

and require students to be committed to study. Many DNP students continue to work at least part-time while pursuing their degrees. Therefore, it is crucial to be consistent with scheduled study times.

2. Can you afford to pursue your DNP?

Students enrolled in online DNP 30-credit programs can qualify for financial assistance just like students enrolled in other programs. If you think you may need help to pay for your doctoral degree, it is a good idea to apply as early as possible. Don't forget to fill out a FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Also, some employers offer employer-sponsored education programs for employees who wish to continue their education.

3. Clinical Sites and Preceptors:

Schools that offer online nursing programs, such as online DNP programs 30-credits, often require students to find clinical sites and preceptors to supervise their practicum hours. If the school you choose to attend expects you to do this, it is essential to begin the approval process as soon as possible. Suppose your choices are not approved, and you have not given yourself enough time to find sites and preceptors who are approved. In that case, this could result in denial of your participation in clinical practicum, therefore delaying your completion time.

4. Make sure the program is accredited.

When a program is accredited, a prospective student can have confidence that the courses will include current information, instructors are using effective and up-to-date methods of teaching. Credentialing agencies such as the ACEN and CCNE can verify if a school has met accreditation requirements.

5. Does the school you are considering require any on-campus presence during the program?

While a school may offer a program online, some schools require one or two days of on-campus instruction or meetings per semester or yearly. If you are unwilling to travel or the school is too far for you to attend these required days, you will need to choose a thirty-credit doctoral program that does not have this requirement.

6. Are instructors and/or advisors accessible to students within a reasonable timeframe?

Distance learning is an excellent opportunity for professionals who want to continue working or managing personal responsibilities for pursuing a higher degree. Even the most dedicated thirty-credit doctor of nursing practice student may need extra guidance or clarification from an instructor or advisor from time to time. Ensuring you will have a way to communicate and expect responses is vital to your success and will help decrease the chances of frustration.


1. University of North Carolina-Greensboro - Greensboro, NC

2. Frontier Nursing University - Versailles, KY

3. Marquette University - Milwaukee, WI

4. Georgetown University - Washington, DC

5. Quinnipiac University - Hamden, CT


Care of Populations and Nursing Leadership

6. Northeastern University - Boston, MA

7. University of Scranton - Scranton, PA

8. Simmons University - Boston, MA

9. Lewis University - Romeoville, IL

10. Colorado Christian University - Lakewood, CO


Visionary Leadership

11. Salve Regina University - Newport, RI

12. McKendree University - Lebanon, IL


Ethical Leadership

13. Fort Hays State University - Hays, KS

14. Alverno College - Milwaukee, WI


Direct Care

15.Concordia University Wisconsin - Mequon, WI



16.Wake Forest School of Medicine - Winston-Salem, NC

17. Francis Marion University - Florence, SC


What Kind of Career Opportunities Exist for Graduates of This Program?

After graduating from any of the available online DNP 30-credits programs, a DNP can pursue several avenues of employment. Knowing what type of environment you prefer to work in and how much of hands-on contact you want with patients will likely determine the type of jobs you pursue. A few examples of DNP positions that may interest you include the following.

• Nursing Faculty
• Healthcare Executive
• Clinical Nurse Researcher
• Chief Nursing Officer

Average Earnings for Graduates of This Program

While there are multiple sources of information that detail the average earnings for DNP graduates, the overall average annual income, as reported by Payscale.com, is $103,471. Some factors may impact the salary that a DNP is offered. For instance, the kind of work a graduate from any of the accredited online DNP 30-credits programs does and the setting where they work may help determine one's income. Additionally, years of professional nursing experience before graduating from any DNP program may also be considered. Working in underserved areas or where graduate-level nursing care is in demand can benefit a graduate who is trying to negotiate a salary, as well.

(Source: payscale.com)

Job Market for Graduates of This Program

There has been an increased need for experienced nursing instructors in both undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States. Additionally, as the baby boomer population ages and tends to live longer lives, the need for qualified nursing professionals also increases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of APRN jobs is expected to grow by forty-five percent between 2019-2029. These all indicate a positive outlook for online DNP graduates.


With a made-up mind and dedication to your goal, you can join the growing number of doctorally-prepared nurses who are dedicated to taking on larger roles and acting as patient advocates on multiple levels. After learning about some of the best online 30-credits DNP programs for 2023, as discussed in this article, you now have the information you need to help you choose the program that will best help you reach your professional nursing career goals in the shortest possible time.


Why do so many students seem to favor online 30-credits DNP programs?

30-credit DNP programs can typically be completed in a shorter amount of time than regular DNP programs, which means that students can begin to reap the benefits of a higher degree. Furthermore, taking classes online offers students the opportunity to study when and where they are most comfortable while still engaging in work or family roles.

Can I go from a BSN to DNP in an online 30-credits DNP program?

30-credit DNP programs are designed to accommodate RNs who have achieved a minimum MSN degree. However, some BSN nurses transition from BSN to MSN and then enroll in a 30-credits DNP program without interruption in their college schedule, meaning they go from one program directly to the other.

Is there anything negative about an online 30-credit DNP program?

Every learner has his own opinion about the type of program and learning environment best suited for them. One of the downsides to taking online classes is that students do not have instructors or peers to interact with personally. If you are comfortable with independent learning, though, that shouldn't be a problem.

What makes a person the right candidate for an online DNP 30-credit program?

To be successful in a program like a 30-credit DNP program online, a candidate should be self-motivated, dedicated to a rigorous routine of study and work, and have experience working as a master's-level RN.

Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.