6 Best HBCU DNP Programs For 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) provided a gateway through which African American students with no other educational options could enter the nursing profession. More than one hundred years later, these educational institutions continue to provide a foundation of learning for African American students. Today, however, HBCUs have expanded their reach to include students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Among the many programs now offered at HBCUs, the Doctor of Nursing Practice is one of the most prestigious. In this article, I will share some of the best HBCU DNP programs for 2024 and give you information about each. As you continue reading, you will find out what students in HBCU DNP programs learn, the admission criteria for the programs, and information about career opportunities and job outlook for graduates.

What Exactly Is the Goal of an HBCU DNP Program?

If you understand why HBCUs were created, it will make the goal of HBCU DNP programs clearer. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, segregation meant many African Americans were restricted from enrollment in colleges and universities, as preferential admission was offered to white applicants. In fact, African American college applicants were often disqualified from enrollment based on race, even if they met or exceeded admission criteria. In response to the lack of structured higher education opportunities for black students, the Institute for Colored Youth was established in 1938, and soon other schools followed. Though they were commonly referred to as “institutes” or “colleges,” the earliest of these schools were a source of elementary and secondary education for students with no previous school experiences.

In the early 1900s, the schools commonly referred to as Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs began offering college-level classes and programs. In the United States today, there are just over one hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs continue to offer many college programs and degree options to a more diverse student population.

With a deep understanding of the importance of quality education for students of all races, HBCUs offer an environment for students who otherwise may not seek a doctorate in other settings. Like DNP programs at other colleges and universities, the goal of HBCU DNP programs is to educate students with the academic and clinical skills necessary to fulfill the role of a doctorate-prepared nurse.

4 Top Reasons to Pursue Your DNP Program at an HBCU

While Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer many of the same programs as other colleges, there are some great reasons for prospective students to pursue a DNP at an HBCU.

1. Get a top-notch DNP education:

HBCUs have excellent reputations for providing the best education to students.

2. Promotion of ethnic orientation and interests:

HBCUs strive to create an atmosphere that supports the interests of minority groups. Embracing one's ethnic or cultural interests and orientation helps individuals feel confident and encourages personal and professional growth, positively impacting success.

3. Experience a supportive campus community.

HBCUs are well-known for fostering a true sense of community among students. Many Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer resources to help students transition to life as college students as well as resources to help them move into professional roles after graduation.

4. Understand the Importance of Diversity:

HBCUs were initially developed to offer educational opportunities to African American students. However, today they have more diverse student bodies. Not only is the community of students diverse, but HBCUs also encourage students to learn about one another and promote acceptance of others.

How Long Are HBCU DNP Programs?

HBCU DNP programs vary in length. The two main factors that determine the length of time students take to graduate are whether their enrollment status is part-time or full-time and if their current degree level is BSN or MSN. Some programs offer only part-time or full-time options. BSN to DNP programs can take three to four years to complete, and MSN to DNP programs may take two or three years.

The following are a few examples of the program length for some of the best HBCU DNP programs mentioned in this article.

◦ Southern University A&M’s post-master's DNP can be completed in three semesters.
◦ Kansas State University offers a three-year post-baccalaureate DNP program.
◦ Coppin State University’s MSN to DNP program is designed to be completed in two years.
◦ Alcorn State University’s MSN to DNP can be completed in five semesters.
◦ Winston-Salem State University offers BSN to DNP option that typically takes three years and an MSN to DNP option that takes as little as eighteen months.
◦ Prairie View A&M’s post-master's DNP program offers part-time and full-time enrollment options. Part-time students can finish the program in twenty-eight months, and full-time students can complete it in nineteen months.

How Much Do HBCU DNP Programs Cost?

While doctorate programs can be expensive, students enrolled in HBCU DNP programs pay an average of twenty to thirty percent less than students enrolled in similar programs at other colleges and universities. Additionally, many Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer institutional grants and scholarships that are need-based and/or merit-based. Before grants, scholarships, or student loans, tuition for the best HBCU DNP programs averages $15,000 to $80,000.

The following are examples of the cost of HBCU DNP programs at some of this article’s featured colleges and universities.

Tuition at

Prairie View A&M University

is calculated with a per-year rate of $7,851 for in-state students and $17,071 for out-of-state students. The DNP program can be completed in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study. The average tuition for the program is $15,702 to $23,553 for state residents and $34,142 to $51,213 for non-residents, depending on part-time or full-time enrollment.

The per-semester tuition rate for DNP students at

Winston-Salem State University

is $2,936 for state residents and $7,993.50 for non-residents. The BSN to DNP program is typically completed in six semesters and two summer sessions. Tuition for the program averages $17,616 for in-state students and $47,961 for out-of-state students.

Southern University’s

per credit hour tuition rate is $1,226. The thirty-two-credit-hour DNP program costs approximately $39,232, excluding the costs of books, uniforms, and other applicable fees.


The curriculum for HBCU DNP programs typically follows the DNP Essentials, which outline eight foundational competencies required of all DNP graduates.

The foundations are:

1. Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
2. Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement
3. Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
4. Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Healthcare
5. Healthcare Policy for Advocacy in Healthcare
6. Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Outcomes
7. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation’s Health
8. Advanced Practice Nursing

The following are examples of some classes required in the HBCU DNP programs highlighted in this article.

The DNP program at

Prairie View A&M University

prepares students for leadership in system-based and direct patient care roles. The post-master's program builds upon the professional nurse's scope and depth of nursing knowledge challenging them to develop effective skills to apply evidence-based nursing practices. Students enrolled in the DNP program are required to complete thirty-nine hours of post-master's coursework and at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical practicum.

Sample Courses:

◦ Qualitative and Quantitative Methods of Evidence-Based Practice
◦ Analytical Approaches to Outcomes Management for Individuals and Populations
◦ Leadership in Complex Health Systems
◦ Healthcare Policy for Advocacy in Healthcare
◦ Translating Evidence into Advanced Nursing Practice

The five-semester program at

Alcorn State University

, one of the best accredited HBCU DNP programs available, is offered in a full-time format which includes thirty-six semester credit hours and five hundred forty practicum hours. The hours are divided into doctoral education essentials and specialty-focused content, including scientific underpinnings, technology, health policy, organizational and systems leadership, and interprofessional collaboration.

Sample Courses:

◦ Clinical Epidemiology
◦ Advanced Health Informatics
◦ Advanced Healthcare Policy and Politics
◦ Business Management in Clinical Practice
◦ Advanced Health Systems, Theoretical Foundations, and Ethical Issues

Kentucky State University’s

Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed for baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses who wish to become expert adult/gerontology primary care practitioners. The seventy-two-credit hour program can be completed in three years. Coursework is delivered asynchronously with limited face-to-face encounters required. Clinical practicum and residency hours are usually completed in the student's area of residence under the supervision of a program-approved preceptor.

Sample Courses:

◦ Evidence-Based Practice/Quality Improvement in Healthcare
◦ Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Practice Nursing
◦ Advanced Adult/Gerontology Nursing
◦ Research Designs and Methodologies
◦ Diversity and Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice

Clinical Training

Accredited HBCU DNP programs typically align with recommendations from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which suggest all DNP students complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours. Many schools allow students who enter the BSN program with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to transfer some clinical hours from their master's program. Students who wish to receive credit for previously completed clinical work should consult with nursing faculty and verify the procedure by which they should request the credit. While some nursing programs allow a higher number of clinical hours to be transferred, most set limits of five hundred transferrable clinical practice hours.

Clinical requirements for some of the best HBCU DNP programs are listed below.

Alcorn State University

offers one of our featured HBCU online DNP programs. Although the post-master's DNP program is offered primarily online, students may have up to two face-to-face requirements each semester. The program requires students in the post-master's DNP program to complete a minimum of five hundred forty clinical hours.
The DNP program at

Winston-Salem State University

is one of the best HBCU DNP programs we have found. The program is offered with post-baccalaureate and post-master's entry options. The BSN to DNP option is a seventy-eight-semester hour program and requires a minimum of 1,182 clinical hours. The MSN to DNP option is a thirty-three-semester hour program that requires at least five hundred ten post-master's clinical hours.
The DNP program at

Coppin State University

uses the undergraduate and master's-level nursing education as a foundation for developing doctorally-prepared nurse professionals capable of providing high-quality clinical nursing to populations, especially those in vulnerable, underserved urban and global communities. The post-master's DNP program requires students to complete thirty semester hours and a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours. Students may transfer up to seven hundred verified clinical practice hours from their master's nursing program.

Admission Requirements

Admission criteria for HBCU DNP programs may have some difference from school to school. However, minimum admission standards are common no matter what DNP program a student chooses. Generally, DNP programs require students to meet the following criteria to be considered an eligible applicant.

◦ Minimum BSN from an accredited nursing program
◦ Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Pass state and federal criminal background checks
◦ Pass a drug test
◦ Provide letters of professional recommendation
◦ Prepare a Personal Statement/Essay
◦ Interview with admission faculty


Alcorn State University

, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program is a post-master's option available to Certified Family Nurse Practitioners. The program emphasizes evaluating and applying evidence supporting nursing practices and creating healthcare delivery systems to improve patient outcomes.

◦ GRE Score including a minimum analytical writing score of 3.0.
◦ Goal Statement: This should be a narrative that explains how obtaining a DNP from Alcorn State University will help the applicant achieve their career path and should include areas of research interest and long-term career goals.
◦ At least one year of continuous, direct clinical experience as an RN and/or APRN within the previous three years
◦ Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework. The transcripts must reflect completion of an MSN with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialty from a CCNE or ACEN accredited nursing program.

The nursing faculty of the DNP program at

Southern University

focuses on preparing advanced nurse practitioners for leadership roles. Graduates of SU's program can evaluate using research for effective decision-making and implementing innovations to change clinical nursing practices. The post-MSN to DNP program requires students to complete thirty-two credit hours of course work and at least five hundred clinical practice hours.

◦ Master’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program
◦ Current certification as a nurse practitioner
◦ Overall GPA from master's program of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale
◦ Statement of Interest: The statement should be 500-1,000 words and include the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study and how a DNP education can help fulfill the applicant’s career goals

Coppin State University

, home to one of our featured HBCU DNP programs, offers a post-master's DNP option that incorporates the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing’s recommended guidelines for Advanced Practice and Graduate Nursing Education.

◦ MSN from a nursing program accredited by the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing)
◦ Three professional letters of reference
◦ National Certification in student’s preferred specialty
◦ Evidence of research activity
◦ After other admission requirements have been met, applicants will participate in an interview with program faculty before an offer of admission to the program is made

4 Tips for Finding the Right HBCU DNP Program

Deciding to pursue a doctorate is a significant career move. Once you have decided to become a DNP and know that you want to go to a Historically Black College or University, the next step is to determine which one is right for you. As you research HBCU DNP programs, these four tips may help you choose.

1. Verify the current nursing degree you need to be accepted.

Some HBCU DNP programs offer both the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP options. Others may only offer a BSN to DNP or an MSN to DNP. If you have not achieved the minimum nursing degree required for admission to a program, you can eliminate it from your list of possibilities.

2. Compare your goals and the timeframe in which you hope to achieve them with the program’s format.

Most DNP students already have a job or busy career. For some people, it is not easy to take time off work to go back to school. Even HBCU online DNP programs take serious commitment. Consider how much time you can devote to school weekly and what your work or personal obligations are. If you carefully weigh the amount of time you must dedicate to school and other responsibilities, you can decide if part-time or full-time enrollment is the best option for you. Then you can choose from programs that fit in your current schedule without causing too much disruption.

3. Check out the program faculty.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing suggests that DNP faculty should be participating in active nursing practice. Look at the school of nursing's webpage and see what certifications and experience the DNP faculty have. It's okay to look at the faculty's social media profiles, especially professional profiles. You have the right to want the most qualified instructors; so, don't be afraid to check out the faculty each program offers.

4. Accreditation is a must!

If you decide to dismiss any advice about DNP programs, do not overlook accreditation. Accredited HBCU DNP programs have gone through a rigorous review before accreditation is granted. The primary goal of accreditation is to ensure that programs have met designated standards of quality. Prospective employers typically prefer to hire graduates from accredited DNP programs because they feel confident that the applicant has received an education that has prepared them for their role.


(These HBCU-DNP programs are ideal for individuals who wish to pursue their DNP education at a Historically Black College or University.)

1. Prairie View A & M University - Houston, TX (Campus)

Programs Offered:


2. Winston-Salem State University - Winston-Salem, NC (Hybrid)

Programs Offered:

BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP

BSN to DNP Concentrations Offered:

Family Nurse Practitioner

MSN to DNP Concentrations Offered:

Family Nurse Practitioner

3. Alcorn State University - Natchez, MS (Online)

Programs Offered:


4. Southern University and A&M College - Baton Rouge, LA (Campus)

Programs Offered:


5. Kentucky State University - Frankfort, KY (Online)

Programs Offered:


BSN to DNP Concentrations Offered:

Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Practitioner

6. Coppin State University - Baltimore, MD (Online)

Programs Offered:



Career Opportunities After Completing This Program

Whether you prefer a clinical role where you can be actively engaged in hands-on patient care, a leadership role, or work in academia, HBCU DNP programs can help you be prepared. There are several career paths graduates of DNP programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities can pursue. A few examples include the following.

◦ Certified Nurse Midwife
◦ Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
◦ Clinical Nurse Specialist
◦ Nursing Faculty/Instructor
◦ Director of Nursing
◦ Chief Executive Nurse Officer
◦ Hospital Administrator
◦ Long-Term Care or Assisted Living Facility Director

Average Salary for Graduates of This Program

The nursing industry offers many opportunities for nurses on many levels to earn a significant income. Registered nurses who have achieved a Doctor of Nursing Practice are among the top money earners in nursing. In fact, graduates of the best HBCU DNP programs earn over $103,000 annually. The hourly rate of $49.80, equivalent to $8,630 monthly, is often a beginning salary for HBCU DNP graduates. With continued work experience, it becomes easier to negotiate higher wages. DNPs who work in administrative positions earn some of the highest DNP salaries.

Hourly $49.80
Monthly $8,630
Annual $103,591
(Source: Payscale.com)

Job Outlook for Graduates of This Program

There has been significant growth in job opportunities for doctorate-prepared nurses within the last decade. The aging of the baby boomer population, increased awareness of the importance of healthcare and preventative care, and the current shortage of qualified nursing instructors are all considered factors that indicate a promising outlook for the future of DNPs. In May 2018, the National Organization of Nurse practitioner Faculties announced all entry-level NP education programs must shift from MSN to DNP programs by 2025. Graduates of the best HBCU DNP programs position themselves to fill the roles that only DNPs will be considered for in the coming years, indicating significant promise for good careers for HBCU DNP graduates.


There are over one hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. They each offer excellent educational opportunities and encourage strong student communities, which help promote successful student outcomes. If you are considering a career as a DNP, the best HBCU DNP programs for 2024 are a great place to start.


Do HBCU DNP programs give preference to any applicant population for admission?

Although HBCUs were initially formed to offer educational opportunities to black students, today, the student population is diverse. Admission faculty at HBCUs prefer to extend admission to applicants who have established a nursing foundation that will help them succeed in the program. A person's race, sex, gender, or religion are typically not a factor when screening applicants for admission.

Do HBCUs require prospective students to take the GRE?

Colleges and universities determine admission criteria for their programs. While many schools have removed GRE scores as a requirement for admission, others still do request them. It is best to consult with the admission faculty of any program to verify their requirements.

What kind of financial aid is offered for students in HBCU DNP programs?

There are many options for procuring financial assistance for an HBCU DNP program. Some of the best HBCU DNP programs extend scholarship opportunities for students. Federal student loans or grants are available for students and are awarded based on need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to apply for both loans and grants backed by the government. Financial advisors at colleges and universities are excellent sources of information about public and private grants and scholarship opportunities.

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.