Is a BSN-to-DNP Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Are you a registered nurse considering earning a higher degree? Do you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and wonder what options you have? One option is to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Maybe you’ve already considered becoming a Doctor of Nursing practice, but wonder, “Is a BSN-to-DNP worth it?” Taking a step forward in your professional life is a major decision with many things to consider. To help make your decision easier, in this article, I’m going to share 25 reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it and also seven reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.
WHAT IS A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE?
A BSN-to-DNP degree is one of the highest possible nursing degrees attainable. This doctoral degree allows registered nurses to be leaders in their field by improving the quality of care for patients and incorporating research into their clinical practice. This degree program is designed to equip you with scientific knowledge and graduate-level skills that you can use to provide high-quality evidence-based patient care and become an effective leader in healthcare.
HOW LONG DOES A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE TAKE?
The length of a BSN-to-DNP degree varies somewhat from school to school. Of course, students who study full-time can complete the program in a shorter time than those who pursue part-time study. For example, Georgetown University
offers a BSN-to-DNP program that can be completed in 33 months full-time or in 38 months part-time. Johns Hopkins University
offers three- or four-year study plans.
HOW MUCH DOES A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE COST?
A BSN-to-DNP degree program can cost from $50,000 to more than $200,000. A few factors that determine your overall cost include whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, attend part-time or full-time, and the number of credits you need.
For example, Ohio State University’s
BSN-to-DNP program costs between $78,580 and $225,103. Students who reside in Ohio and attend full-time pay $78,580. Non-resident full-time students pay $158,983. Part-time resident students pay $106,462, and non-residents attending part-time end up paying approximately $225,103.
At Johns Hopkins University
, BSN-to-DNP students pay an average of $51,669 annually for tuition. The program is available with three and four-year study plans, meaning tuition can cost between $155,007 and $206,676.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE?
The admission requirements for a BSN-to-DNP degree may vary slightly from one school to the next. However, general admission requirements are similar. The following are a few examples of some of the general criteria applicants must meet.
• Have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from an accredited nursing program
• Possess an active, unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse
• Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all undergraduate coursework
• Provide 3 letters of recommendation (These should come from someone who can speak to your likelihood of success in the program.)
• Goal statement
• Provide a Current CV or Resume
WHY IS A BSN-TO-DNP WORTH IT? – THE PROS
(The following are the 25 top reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it in 2023.)
REASON #1: Expansion and growth for your career opportunities
One of the top reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it is because it allows nurses to work in more advanced career positions. With a DNP degree, you can pursue various career paths, including Nurse Practitioner (many specialties to choose from), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Healthcare Executive. You may even start your own private practice. A BSN-to-DNP degree can open the door to the nursing career you have always wanted.
REASON #2: Preparation to be a leader in the nursing field
When you complete a BSN-to-DNP program, you will have the knowledge and ability to engage in leadership roles in many healthcare settings. From lobbying for healthcare politics, working as an executive leader in healthcare administration, teaching nursing, or conducting research, a BSN-to-DNP degree is an excellent option to help you accomplish your leadership goals.
REASON #3: Qualification for the future of nursing
With the complexity of today’s healthcare environment, efforts are being made to require higher education for nurses in specific roles. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
recently made an announcement to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the DNP by 2025. Furthermore, starting in 2022, the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Program
has made it mandatory for all students in a CRNA program to be enrolled in a doctoral program. With these initiatives in mind, it is safe to say if you want a long-term career in nursing, especially in an advanced practice role, a BSN-to-DNP is worth it.
REASON #4: A BSN-to-DNP degree can help you provide the best care for patients
With the BSN-to-DNP curriculum being based on incorporating research, data, and evidence-based practices into your delivery of patient care, earning this degree will prepare you to carry out advanced, direct patient care that leads to the best health outcomes. With the skills and knowledge learned in the BSN-to-DNP education, nurses are better able to understand clinical cases and provide solutions to complex patient cases.
REASON #5: A BSN-to-DNP degree gives you the credentials to teach future nurses
If you find fulfillment in teaching others and desire to play a role in advancing the nursing profession, a BSN-to-DNP degree is a great option. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it. is that you’ll be prepared to work in academia, ushering in the next generation of nurses in the healthcare field.
REASON #6: You can further specialize in your field of choice
Most BSN-to-DNP programs offer different concentrations that can help specialize your field of study. For example, a DNP Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner concentration would enable you to focus your career on clinical care in a primary care setting. By specializing, you can further your expertise in a chosen niche.
REASON #7: A BSN-to-DNP degree will provide you with job security
Advanced practice registered nurse positions are in high demand and this job field is constantly growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
projects a job growth rate of 40% from 2021 to 2031. This growth rate is considered to be much faster than other occupations. Having a BSN-to-DNP degree will position you to take on these advanced practice roles that offer increased job security.
REASON #8: Better Income Earning Potential
The average annual salary of nurses with a BSN-to-DNP degree is $107,000. This is $22,750 more than that of a BSN degree holder, making an increased salary one of the top reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it. Although your salary greatly depends on several factors, a 2018 salary survey
conducted by the Advance Healthcare Network also revealed that nurse practitioners with a DNP degree earned around $8,000 more than those with a master’s degree.
REASON #9: You can use your previous education as a foundation for higher learning
Having a BSN degree means that you’ve had great nursing education experience and have become qualified for nursing practice. However, if you find yourself feeling stagnant or wanting to advance your education, a BSN-to-DNP degree is a logical choice. You can use your previous education as the foundation upon which you build your doctoral degree and increase your educational and professional development.
REASON #10: You are interested in healthcare research
Are you interested in research? Maybe you’ve wondered what it would be like to head up your own research projects. If so, you may feel a BSN-to-DNP degree is worth it. The BSN-to-DNP degree not only makes it possible to participate in others' research. You may find opportunities to conduct your own research projects. A few options include academic research and clinical trials.
REASON #11: You want to care for more than the individual
A BSN-to-DNP degree curriculum prepares you for several roles. While the DNP is designed for students pursuing a clinical role, it does not limit you to patient care only. The DNP degree opens doors for you to participate in systemic leadership, meaning that you learn to look at the larger picture in healthcare. You can look beyond the health of an individual patient to identify problems on a larger scale.
REASON #12: You want higher levels of independence in your practice
One of the biggest reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it is the amount of independence that comes with the degree. BSN-to-DNP degree holders are at the apex of the nursing field, allowing you to claim more freedom in decision-making and daily job duties. DNP degree holders who pursue advanced practice roles such as Nurse Practitioner, may practice with little or no physician oversight.
REASON #13: You want to be on the leading edge of the nursing field
Today's medical field is ever-evolving. As new discoveries and innovations occur, it is important to have qualified people at the forefront of healthcare. A BSN-to-DNP degree provides you with the most up-to-date and highest level of nursing education, preparing you to meet the demands and constant change in patient care.
REASON #14: BSN-to-DNP degree holders may have higher job satisfaction
As a BSN-to-DNP degree allows for more job opportunities, earning this degree may be worth it if you are unsatisfied with your current job. U.S. News
ranks nurse practitioner, a common job for BSN-to-DNP graduates, as the #1 Best Health Care Job and #2 in the 100 Best Jobs. These rankings are based on a variety of factors, including work-life balance and stress levels.
REASON #15: You are interested in health policy and politics
If you have strong ideas and want to influence healthcare policy on a local, state, or federal level, a BSN-to-DNP degree can help you pursue opportunities to do so. By drawing on your nursing experience and DNP education, you can share your ideas with the government and policyholders and advocate for change. The ability to broaden the reach of your practice and influence nursing as a profession is of the top reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it.
REASON #16: More opportunities in healthcare administration
As a BSN-to-DNP degree holder, you will find you are better positioned to take on roles in management or administration. You may consider exploring roles such as Chief Nursing Officer, Director of Clinical Operations, or Director of Nursing.
REASON #17: You want a confidence and ego boost
A BSN-to-DNP is worth it because of the feeling of accomplishment you will experience. A BSN-to-DNP degree is among the highest nursing degrees you can earn. When you accomplish this goal, it is certainly something to be proud of. Many nurses who earn a DNP express their feelings of personal and professional worth increased.
REASON #18: You would like to learn more about the healthcare system
Healthcare is sophisticated and elaborate. A considerable amount of experience and education is necessary to grasp a solid foundation in this field. A BSN-to-DNP education provides you with the opportunity to increase your knowledge and attain an advanced understanding of the world of healthcare and its inner workings.
REASON #19: You can expand your reach to underserved areas and populations
The healthcare system in rural areas is in constant need of medical professionals who can work independently and care for a wide variety of patients. With a BSN-to-DNP degree, you gain the knowledge and skills needed to practice at an advanced level, often without physician oversight. This means you are in a good position to provide care to individuals and families in underserved areas.
REASON #20: You value a higher education
One of the biggest reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it may be simply because you value the impact higher education can have on your professional life. While those with a Bachelor's degree in nursing have gone through a significant amount of education already, a BSN-to-DNP degree allows you to learn and understand a higher amount of knowledge and broaden the scope of your practice.
REASON #21: You believe in challenging yourself to grow
If you believe in growing and evolving, a career in nursing is an excellent choice. One of the most significant ways you can challenge yourself and grow professionally is to pursue a higher degree, such as by earning a BSN-to-DNP degree. As a high achiever, it is understandable that you may wish to accomplish challenging goals and have visions of what’s next in your future. A BSN-to-DNP program will certainly challenge you to grow and learn and will, inevitably, impact patient and organizational outcomes.
REASON #22: You want to pursue a respected role
Although intrinsic reasons should be the deciding factor in determining if a BSN-to-DNP degree is worth it, a doctoral degree typically results in higher levels of respect from those around you. Respect is earned as coworkers, peers, and family members understand the dedication and hard work it takes to earn a DNP and usually respect you for your efforts.
REASON #23: You want to share your knowledge with others
A BSN-to-DNP degree boosts your list of credentials. The higher your education and more experience you have, the more likely your chances of having opportunities to share what you know with others. You may speak at nursing conferences or seminars, conduct workshops at your place of employment, or be a guest speaker for a college lecture. This can be a great way for you to not only teach others but create professional connections with other nurses who share your passion for nursing.
REASON #24: A doctoral degree in nursing can help improve your chances of starting or advancing your healthcare entrepreneurship endeavors
Maybe you have a great nursing or healthcare business idea or are already in the process of building your business. A BSN-to-DNP degree might be what you need to acquire the knowledge needed to take your business to the next level. Earning a doctoral degree in nursing also lends to your credibility as you work to prove your business is the real deal.
REASON #25: You want to invest in yourself
Another excellent reason why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it is that it is a great investment leading to long-term rewards. The degree opens doors of opportunity that may not have otherwise been available. It also creates opportunities to expand your professional network, which means others can sew seeds of knowledge and experience into your life.
WHY A BSN-TO-DNP MAY NOT BE WORTH IT FOR YOU? – THE CONS
(Now that you have gone through the 25 reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it, here are 7 top reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.)
REASON #1: A BSN-to-DNP degree be quite expensive
The cost of earning a post-baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can be as much as $200,000 or more, which is one reason you may feel a BSN-to-DNP is not worth it. Having already spent significant tuition money to receive your BSN education, a BSN-to-DNP degree will only add to your educational costs.
If you are not financially prepared for the cost of the program, a BSN-to-DNP degree may not be the right choice for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead, save money, and apply for grants, scholarships, or loans to help make your dream become reality.
REASON #2: You do not have the time to pursue a BSN-to-DNP degree
Earning a BSN-to-DNP degree requires a significant time commitment. In addition to studying for tests, completing assignments, and working on your DNP Scholarly Project, you will also participate in clinical practicum experiences. If you already have a busy schedule or feel overwhelmed with responsibilities, you may conclude a BSN-to-DNP is not worth it.
If you truly want to earn this degree, look at your schedule, work and family responsibilities, and think of ways to lighten your load a bit. Family can pitch in and help with household chores, babysitting children, or running errands. You may be able to make changes to your work schedule to accommodate school.
REASON #3: You are satisfied with your BSN education and job
Maybe you are perfectly happy with your BSN degree and where you are in your career presently. If you are not looking for the next step in your education, then a BSN-to-DNP degree may not be worth it for you. It’s okay to be happy where you are.
REASON #4: You are not ready to return to school
Another valid reason a BSN-to-DNP degree is not worth it is that you are not prepared to return to classroom learning. You may have been working for a while and do not want to become a student again. A BSN-to-DNP degree requires a substantial amount of effort and time. If you are not ready to return to school, it may be best to postpone your academic pursuits until a later time.
REASON #5: You do not want to add stress to your life
Achieving a BSN-to-DNP degree is no easy task. The doctorate degree curriculum is rigorous and includes assignments, projects, tests, lab simulations, and clinical experiences. For some people, this can be very overwhelming. If you are not ready to take on deadlines and projects, then a BSN-to-DNP degree may not be right for you.
REASON #6: You do not want more job responsibilities
Earning a higher degree typically comes with more responsibilities at work. If you aren’t ready to advance to a role that requires more of you, you may find a BSN-to-DNP is not worth it. It’s important to consider your goals and what you’re willing to do, as working in jobs that require more of you than you’re ready to give can lead to higher stress and burnout.
REASON #7: I hate to tell you this, but a DNP does not mean you are a medical “Doctor.”
While you will be a Doctor of Nursing Practice, this degree does not give you the legal right to act in the capacity of a medical doctor. You may be addressed as “Doctor,” but it’s important that your patients understand you are not a medical doctor. Your level of autonomy and scope of practice is limited by the DNP scope of practice in your state and depends on any certifications you hold.
WHAT ARE THE 3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE HOLDERS?
An important factor to consider when choosing a career or deciding to further your education is whether there is a demand for the role you are considering. The following are a few examples of why there is a demand for BSN-to-DNP degree holders.
1. Job employers see those with a BSN-to-DNP degree as being at the top of the nursing field:
One main driver behind the demand for BSN-to-DNP graduates is the high level of expertise that comes from accomplishing this degree. Hiring managers recognize DNP degree holders as having received the highest level of nursing education and feel confident DNP nurses are well qualified to perform the job that is needed to be filled.
2. America’s aging population is increasing the need for specialized healthcare workers: By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be of retirement age
, People of retirement age experience age-related changes and have a variety of healthcare needs, which means that there will be a high demand for medical and healthcare services. By being a BSN-to-DNP degree holder, you are an exceedingly educated individual that will be prepared to be part of the supply for these services.
3. Higher educational standards for nurses are pushing the demand for BSN-to-DNP degree holders:
With nursing organizations and councils of accreditation pushing initiatives to increase minimum licensing standards to include the need for a DNP, the degree is becoming more of a necessity for some jobs and careers than an option.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE HOLDERS?
The average salary for BSN-to-DNP degree holders is $107,000 annually. This breaks down to $8,920 monthly, $2,058 weekly, or $51.44 hourly.
IS THE COST OF A BSN-TO-DNP WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?
A BSN-to-DNP degree program is expensive. Some of the most expensive programs cost $200,000 or more. Although this is a steep number, the average annual income for DNP nurses is $107,000. In just a few years, you can recoup the money spent on your education. Further, with better benefits packages, the total compensation for doctorally-prepared nurses is much higher. With these factors in mind, I believe the cost of a BSN-to-DNP degree is worth the overall return on investment.
WHAT ARE THE 3 BEST JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE?
A BSN-to-DNP degree opens the door to many career paths that are varied in roles and responsibilities. Here are three of the best jobs you can get with a BSN-to-DNP degree.
1. Nurse Practitioner:
As a nurse practitioner, you will take on a wide range of responsibilities, including assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing treatment, educating patients and families, making referrals, and even conducting research. A nurse practitioner's independence, scope, and salary make this one of the best jobs you can get with a BSN-to-DNP degree.
2. Health Care Executive:
You can use your clinical nursing experience to secure a job as a healthcare executive. Instead of directly providing patient care, a health care executive is a leader involved with the administrative and daily operations of health care systems. Taking on responsibilities that are different than bedside care makes this a unique job for those with a BSN-to-DNP degree.
3. Nursing Educator:
If you enjoy both patient care and teaching others, the Nurse Educator role could be a great fit for you! As a Nurse Educator, you can teach in colleges, universities, or larger healthcare organizations.
BONUS! 3 TIPS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WITH A BSN-TO-DNP DEGREE?
1. Choose a specialty:
When you choose a BSN-to-DNP specialty concentration, you can focus on a specific patient population or area of interest. The more you know about a particular field and the more experience you have, your marketability increases, which can result in higher earning potential.
2. Learn how to market yourself:
A BSN-to-DNP degree by itself may help you stand out from the crowd. But if you can also sell your unique strengths to potential employers, it may just land you a highly sought-after job that is well-paid.
3. Consider practicing in rural areas:
BSN-to-DNP degree holders are in-demand in most locations around the United States. This is especially true in rural areas where there is a markedly higher need for primary care providers to care for underserved populations. Because the need in these areas is so great, it is not uncommon to find jobs with excellent pay.
SO, IS A BSN-TO-DNP WORTH IT FOR YOU – MY FINAL THOUGHTS
It’s natural to think about a new career or education path and wonder if it’s a good choice for you. In this article, we attempted to answer the question, “Is a BSN-to-DNP worth it?” As you consider the 25 reasons why a BSN-to-DNP is worth it and also 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you we’ve discussed, I encourage you to take some time to think about where you are in your career and where you’d like to be five, ten, or twenty years from now. Consider your options and come up with your own reasons why a BSN-to-DNP degree may or may not be worth it for you. Once you determine the right course to help you achieve your career goals, I encourage you to pursue them.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. What Is The Best Age To Do A BSN-To-DNP Degree?
No age or age range is best to do a BSN-to-DNP degree. Regardless of age, you can pursue this degree if you have met the minimum admission requirements and have the motivation, finances, and time to dedicate to the degree.
2. How Hard Is It To Get Into A BSN-To-DNP Degree Program?
Admission to BSN-to-DNP programs can be competitive. However, acceptance rates differ from school to school. The top degree programs are generally more competitive, while the easiest BSN-to-DNP degree programs
have acceptance rates of 87% to 100%.
3. Is The GRE Required For Those Wishing To Pursue A BSN-To-DNP Degree?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have relaxed the requirement for standardized test scores, such as the GRE. However, if you’ve taken the test and scored well, it is appropriate to submit your scores for review.
4. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into A BSN-To-DNP Degree Program?
Most programs do require and or recommend at least one year of work experience as a registered nurse before pursuing a BSN-to-DNP degree.
5. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into A BSN-To-DNP Degree Program?
Most programs have a 3.0 GPA as the minimum GPA required for admission to a BSN-to-DNP degree program. However, it is best to consult with the school you’re considering and confirm their GPA requirements.
6. Can I Get Into A BSN-To-DNP Degree Program With A Low GPA?
While it may be possible to be accepted into a BSN-to-DNP program with a GPA closer to the minimum required, it is important to remember that schools look for candidates with a likelihood of success. Therefore, applicants with higher GPAs will likely be preferred over candidates with lower GPAs
7. Are Online BSN-To-DNP Degree Programs Worth It?
Online BSN-to-DNP degree programs provide you with education and training offered through in-person BSN-to-DNP programs. If you want a higher degree and the benefits that come with it but need the freedom distance-learning programs offer, an online BSN-to-DNP program can definitely be worth it!
8. Are Scholarships And Grants Available For BSN-To-DNP Degree Programs?
Yes, there are scholarships and grants offered for BSN-to-DNP programs. A large number of different organizations
provide grants and scholarships for nurses who are looking to further their nursing education.
9. Can BSN-To-DNP Students Have A Life?
Yes, BSN-to-DNP students have free time and enjoy a life outside of school. In fact, it’s important to take time for yourself so that you have a healthy personal life/school balance.
10. Can I Work Part-Time And Successfully Complete The BSN-To-DNP Degree Program?
Yes, it is possible to work part-time and successfully complete a BSN-to-DNP program. The most important thing is to plan your academic and work schedules carefully. Talking with your employer and academic advisor can help give you an idea of what each expects from you so you can plan accordingly.
11. Can I Work Full-Time And Successfully Complete The BSN-To-DNP Degree Program?
It is possible to work full-time and successfully complete a BSN-to-DNP degree program. Planning and flexibility with your work and school schedule are usually necessary for this to happen. Be sure to work with your academic advisor and employer to ensure a balance between work and school.
12. Do Students Fail In BSN-To-DNP Degree Programs?
Like any educational program, students can fail in a BSN-to-DNP program. However, with hard work, proper study skills, and a strong support system, you can succeed in your BSN-to-DNP degree program.
13. Will I Ever Regret Getting A BSN-To-DNP Degree?
Statistically, nurses who earn graduate degrees are happy with their decision. However, only you can determine if you will regret getting a BSN-to-DNP degree.
14. How Much Does A BSN-To-DNP Graduate Make Per Hour?
A BSN-to-DNP degree holder makes $51.44 per hour on average.
15. How Much Does A BSN-To-DNP Graduate Make Per Year?
BSN-to-DNP degree holders earn approximately$107,000 annually.
16. Will BSN-To-DNP Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?
With an increased demand for professional nurses and the current shortage of nurses nationwide, it is safe to say, it is unlikely that BSN-to-DNP degree holders will be paid less in the future. In fact, many employers now offer sign-on bonuses and increased pay to attract the most qualified nurses.
17. Are All BSN-To-DNP Graduates Successful In Their Careers?
Unfortunately, not all BSN-to-DNP graduates are successful in their careers. However, if you work hard and remain dedicated, success is possible!
18. Are BSN-To-DNP Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?
Most surveys and research indicate BSN-to-DNP graduates are happy with their jobs. Remember, a BSN-to-DNP degree will not automatically make you satisfied with your career. However, if you pursue the specialty or patient population that interests you most, the chances of you being satisfied with your job are much more likely
19. Can BSN-To-DNP Degree Holders Become Rich?
BSN-to-DNP degree holders generally earn an average income of $107,000. That salary is much higher than the national median income of $69,717. However, no matter how much money you make, building wealth takes discipline and time. Talking with a financial planner can help you get the most out of your money.
20. What Are Some BSN-To-DNP Degree Alternatives?
If you have a BSN degree and want to earn a higher degree but are not sure about pursuing a DNP, don’t worry! You have options. You could choose to pursue a master’s degree in nursing. An MSN is a graduate degree that can lead to an advanced practice role. It also prepares a more solid foundation for pursuing a DNP later.
Also, if you want to earn one of the highest nursing degrees but prefer a non-clinical role, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Nursing is another alternative. A Ph.D. in Nursing is a doctoral degree with more of a research or academic role.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).