Best Online DNP-FNP Programs For 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Are you a registered nurse or considering becoming one? Has the thought of becoming a nurse practitioner or earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree ever crossed your mind? Did you know you can do both? Even if you don't want to quit your job or feel like you don't have enough time to go to school on-campus, DNP-FNP online programs are a great option to consider for accomplishing the goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner and achieve the highest degree in nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice. If this sounds interesting to you, continue reading this article for information about the 10 best online DNP-FNP programs for 2021.
What Exactly Is The Goal Of A DNP-FNP Program Online?
The goal of DNP-FNP online programs is to provide nurses access to resources that teach them to diagnose and manage chronic health conditions across patient lifespans without having to attend school on a school campus. These resources include becoming proficient in both psychosocial and physical assessments, disease prevention, health promotion, and decision-making. Online DNP-FNP programs are designed to help registered nurses become clinical scholars who specialize in advanced roles of family practice nursing care. These advanced roles include incorporating research into the practice of patient care, monitoring the outcome of patient health, and participating in the improvement of healthcare systems.
How Many DNP-FNP Online Programs Are Currently Being Offered in the U.S.?
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners
(AANP), there are currently one hundred sixty-six DNP-FNP online programs being offered nationwide. Of those programs, thirty-six offer coursework exclusively online. The other one hundred thirty offer between 51% and 99% of the classes online and the rest in the classroom, a process often referred to as hybrid learning. With hybrid learning, students may take some classes online and may also be required to attend specific lectures or laboratory demonstrations on-campus.
|Programs Offering 100% Online Education|| 36|
| Programs Offering 51% to 99% Online Education||130|
| Total|| 166|
5 Advantages Of Pursuing DNP-FNP VS. MSN-FNP
Deciding which path of study you want to pursue is a significant decision and one that should be weighed carefully. The best online DNP-FNP programs
and online MSN-FNP programs prepare students for various roles in independent practice that is far-reaching concerning patient care. One thing to consider when deciding which path of study to follow is where you want to be career-wise in the next ten years or even longer. If your primary interest is to work in a medical clinic and treat patients, or if you have no desire to work in a leadership role, an MSN-FNP program could be a good fit for you.
However, there are advantages to pursuing an online DNP-FNP degree. A few examples include the following.
There is a high demand for nursing educators who are DNP-prepared and who specialize in specialty areas such as family practice (FNP). According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
, ninety-one percent of colleges and universities with open positions for nursing faculty prefer to hire staff with a doctoral degree.
Having an MSN-FNP degree will allow you to meet the requirements to work as a family nurse practitioner in various health care settings. However, individuals with a DNP-FNP degree have an edge of competitiveness regarding the job market.
Most employers make offers for wages that are commensurate with a person's work experience and degree level. Practitioners who have completed online DNP-FNP programs are prepared to handle management responsibilities and are typically better positioned to negotiate a higher salary. Accomplishing a DNP-FNP degree means you have obtained the highest level of skills and knowledge related to nursing.
After completing one of the best DNP-FNP online programs, graduates are prepared to take on the responsibility of leadership roles. Part of the DNP-FNP students' curriculum includes quality improvement, risk management, cost measurement strategies, and practice management.
DNP-FNP students are exposed to curricula that include using technology and information systems to improve patient care by using that technology for decision-making and quality improvement measures.
How Long Are Online DNP-FNP Programs?
The best DNP-FNP programs online can take anywhere from twelve months to eighty-four months to complete, depending on whether you enroll in a BSN to DNP-FNP or MSN to DNP-FNP program. One more important factor that plays a role in deciding the length is if you choose to attend the program part-time or full-time. As per the chart below, on average BSN to DNP-FNP programs may be completed in as little as thirty-six months but may take up to eighty-four months. MSN to DNP-FNP programs can take from one to four years to complete.
’s BSN to DNP-FNP pathway can be completed in three to four years. At the University of Chicago at Illinois
, students entering the BSN to DNP-FNP program can complete the program in three to five years. Those entering the MSN to DNP program may complete the program in as little as two to four years. Applicants who have a license to practice as an RN but have bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field usually complete the program in four to six years.
| BSN to DNP||36 to 84 Months|
| MSN to DNP||12 to 48 Months|
How Much Do Online DNP-FNP Programs Cost?
The cost of online DNP-FNP programs vary. One factor that will influence the cost of the program includes whether you are entering the program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, because a BSN to DNP-FNP program takes longer than an MSN to DNP-FNP. Some schools require non-resident students to pay out-of-state tuition, which could mean a higher tuition rate.
Typically, the average BSN to DNP-FNP program costs anywhere from $26,490 to over $250,000. An MSN to DNP-FNP program may cost just under $18,000 up to almost $170,000.
The University of Iowa
offers two options for DNP-FNP online programs, the BSN to DNP-FNP and MSN to DNP-FNP program. A three-year plan of study in the BSN to DNP-FNP program costs $75,978 for Iowa residents and $141,816 for out-of-state students. The four-year BSN to DNP-FNP plan of study averages $86,047 for in-state students and $164,139 for out-of-state students. The university’s MSN to DNP-FNP program is a three-year plan of study. Tuition for this program is $32,677 for state residents and $51,649 for non-residents.
|Pathway|| Tuition Cost|
| BSN to DNP||$26,490 - $254,260 |
|MSN to DNP||$17,660 - $169,510 |
While each school may require different coursework to complete its program requirements, the charts below give examples of what is generally required for various BSN to DNP-FNP and MSN to DNP-FNP programs. As you research, you will find that the best DNP-FNP programs online have similar required coursework. However, be sure to pay attention to some of the differences in the programs, as well.
BSN to DNP: Emory University
in Atlanta requires BSN to DNP-FNP students to complete 77 credit hours of coursework. Ohio State University
students must complete a minimum of 72 credit hours of classwork.
Some of the BSN to DNP-FNP courses that students may be required to take are listed in the chart below.
MSN to DNP:
| Adv Health Assessment-APRN Across Lfspn|| Leadership in Evol Healthcare Envir|
| Adv Hth Assmt-APRN: Lab|| Major Psychopathological Disorders|
| Advanced Pathophysiology|| Management: Adult/Gerontology I|
| Advanced Pharmacology|| Management: Adult/Gerontology I|
| Advanced Physiology|| Maternal Child Mgt for FNP|
| Applied Epidemiology Biostats Nursing|| Organizational & Systems Leader|
| Diagnostics for the APRN|| Pharmacotherapeutics Primary Care|
| DNP Immersion Residency|| Population Assessment & Health Promotion Frameworks|
| DNP Project Planning and Implementation|| Program Evaluation|
| DNP Project Proposal Seminar|| Research for Evidence-Based Practice|
| DNP Specialty Practicum|| Transition to the APRN Role|
| Healthcare Economics, Policy, Finance|
|(Source: Rush University)|
A few examples of DNP-FNP online programs for students pursuing the MSN to DNP path include the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland. The University of Pittsburgh’s
MSN to DNP-FNP program requires completion of forty-one credits and successfully passing the DNP Comprehensive Exam. The MSN to DNP-FNP program at the University of Maryland
requires students to complete at least 48 credits (28 total core and a minimum of 20 FNP specialty courses) to complete a DNP with an FNP specialty. However, credits that are necessary for a student to meet DNP and certification requirements are determined upon admission, and some students may require up to 80 credits.
The chart below reflects some courses that may be required of students enrolled in MSN to DNP programs.
| Adv Health Assessment-APRN Across Lifespan|| DNP Specialty Practicum|
| Adv Health Assessment-APRN: Lab|| Healthcare Economics, Policy, Finance|
| Advanced Pathophysiology|| Leadership in Evol Healthcare Environment|
| Advanced Pharmacology|| Major Psychopathological Disorders|
| Advanced Physiology|| Management: Adult/Gerontology|
| Diagnostics for the APRN|| Maternal Child Mgt for FNP|
| DNP Immersion Residency|| Pharmacotherapeutics Primary Care|
| DNP Project Planning and Implementation|| Population Assessment & Health Promotion Frameworks|
| DNP Project Practicum|| Program Evaluation|
| DNP Project Proposal Seminar|| Transition to the APRN Role|
|(Source: Rush University)|
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, all students in DNP-FNP programs online must complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours. Each college/university has the right to establish clinical requirements over the 1,000 post-BSN hours.
For example, the DNP-FNP online program at the University of Alabama
requires BSN to DNP students to fulfill a clinical component of 1080-1620 clinical hours. MSN to DNP students are required to complete 540 clinical hours. The University of Pittsburgh’s
MSN to DNP-FNP program requires 1,000 clinical hours post-BSN. Students can apply to have 500 clinical hours from their MSN program credited to the 1,000-hour requirement. John Hopkins University
requires students enrolled in their DNP-FNP program online to complete 784 clinical hours in primary family care and 224 DNP clinical practice hours.
Each college or university reserves the right to set admission requirements for applicants, based on their course of study and entry-level. While many DNP-FNP programs online share similarities in admission requirements, there are some differences.
A few examples of BSN to DNP-FNP admission requirements follow here:
• Duke University
requires BSN nurses who wish to pursue the DNP-FNP program to meet the following criteria:
o Earn a BSN from a school of nursing that is ACEN or CCNE accredited
o Complete an undergraduate statistics course
o Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools where any college credit was earned
o Provide three professional letters of recommendation
o Submit a personal statement that includes six comprehensive essays based upon questions provided by the school
• The University of Chicago at Illinois
o A baccalaureate degree with an upper-division major in nursing from an NLN or CCNE accredited program OR,
A few examples of MSN to DNP-FNP admission requirements follow here:
o A baccalaureate degree from an accredited school in a field of study other than nursing PLUS a license to practice as a registered nurse
o Applicants who have a cumulative post-secondary GPA of less than 3.25 on a 4.0 scale must submit GRE scores.
• The University of Pittsburg’s
admission requirements include:
o Current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in the state where the student will complete clinical training
o Minimum 3.0 GPA in MSN or master’s related field. If the applicant has an MSN, it must be from an accredited program. Those with a master’s in a related field must possess a BSN degree from an accredited program.
• The University of Iowa
requires applicants for admission to submit the following:
o Statement of Purpose
o Copy of RN license. The license must be active and unencumbered.
o Contact information for three references who will be contacted by the school and asked to complete a form of recommendation
o Statement of Disclosure
o Official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
Tips To Pick The Right DNP-FNP Online Program
Deciding to pursue a DNP-FNP degree is a significant decision. The program is rigorous and requires dedication. Therefore, picking the best DNP-FNP online program that fits your goals is essential. There are some things to consider when you get ready to choose an online DNP-FNP program.
1. What percentage of graduates pass the certification exam and find gainful employment?
If you do not already possess an MSN degree, including license and certification, you will be working toward national certification while enrolled in your doctoral FNP program. Most schools have information regarding pass rates for students who take the national certification exams and often provide employment statistics. If the school website does not have that information published, ask an academic advisor or admissions counselor. You want to choose a school that has a high FNP certification exam pass rate and whose graduates easily find employment.
2. What percentage of enrolled students complete their chosen program?
It is not uncommon for a student to have to take some time off from college or decide to drop out of a program because they find that it is not a good fit for them. However, if a school has a drop rate of ten percent or more, this could be a sign that the program is not providing the essentials that DNP-FNP students need, and they choose to find elsewhere to go to school.
3. Is the faculty experienced and participating in active practice?
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the faculty of DNP programs, including online DNP-FNP programs, should be full-time professionals who are working in adjunct roles. These roles may include being nurse supervisors, student advisors, or working in a specialty field like research or policy development.
FOLLOWING ARE THE 10 BEST ONLINE DNP-FNP PROGRAMS FOR 2020-2021
1. Duke University – DurhamPrograms Offered: BSN to DNP
and MSN to DNP
2. Rush University - Chicago, ILPrograms Offered: DNP
(BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP)
3. Emory University - AtlantaPrograms Offered: BSN to DNP
4. Johns Hopkins University - BaltimorePrograms Offered: BSN to DNP
5. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MDPrograms Offered: DNP
(BSN to DNP & MSN to DNP)
6. The University of Alabama at Birmingham - BirminghamPrograms Offered: BSN to DNP
7. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OHPrograms Offered: BSN to DNP
8. The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) - Chicago, ILPrograms Offered: DNP
(BSN to DNP & MSN to DNP)
9. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PAPrograms Offered: MSN to DNP
10. University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA Programs Offered: DNP
(BSN to DNP & MSN to DNP)
View Ranking Methodology
How To Become Certified As A DNP-Family Nurse Practitioner?
The process of becoming certified as a DNP-family nurse practitioner can be lengthy. The first step is to become a registered nurse by completing either an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed. Next, enroll in an accredited BSN to DNP or MSN to DNP degree program and choose the family practice specialty. After completing a DNP-FNP, which includes coursework and clinical hours, apply for, and pass the certification examination. Alternatively, after completing your associate or bachelor’s you can earn your MSN and then enroll in a DNP-FNP program.
What Certification Options are Available:
There are a few options available for FNP certification.
• The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
: After passing this certification exam, you will be awarded the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC) credential.
• American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP)
: After completing an accredited program, post-graduate or DNP-FNP level nurse practitioner graduates can take the AANPCP certification examination.
Candidates for the FNP certification examination must meet the following eligibility requirements:
1. Graduate from an accredited master's, post-graduate or doctoral program with a specialization in family practice nursing
2. Possess an active license to practice as a registered nurse
3. Complete the required supervised clinical hours
Initial certification examination through the American Nurses Credentialing Center is $295.00 for American Nurses Association members and $395.00 for non-members. Renewal is $275 for ANA members and $375 for non-members. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program fees for certification are $240 for AANP members and $315 for non-members. Recertification by practice hours and continuing education is $$120 for members and $195 for non-members.
Both the ANCC and AANPCP family nurse practitioner certifications are renewable every five years. You must keep your nursing license active and unencumbered and meet any certification renewal requirements that are valid at the time your certification renewal is due.
Scope Of Practice For DNP-Family Nurse Practitioners In Your State
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners
(AANP) defines the scope of practice for family nurse practitioners as defined by the Nurse Practice Act. Scope of practice is governed by each state's Board of Nursing. Some state laws and regulations may affect how much freedom to practice independently that an FNP has.
When it comes to DNP-family nurse practitioners, independent practice refers to the FNP's ability to provide care to clients without having direct oversight from a physician. These FNPs can assess, diagnose, and treat clients without having a contractual agreement with a physician to oversee their work.
Scope of practice for DNP trained family nurse practitioners may involve full practice, reduced practice, or restricted practice, depending on the state where the FNP is licensed and works.
• Full practice authority
means an FNP can assess and diagnose patients, order, and interpret diagnostic testing, and establish care plans, including prescribing medications.
In reduced practice states
, licensure law reduces an FNP’s ability to independently act in at least one area of nurse practitioner practice. These states require that NPs have a collaborative agreement with an overseeing physician.
• Restricted practice states
require that FNPs have supervision, team-management, or delegation of responsibilities by a physician with whom they have a collaborative agreement to provide patient care.
The chart below lists which states authorize full practice, reduced practice, and restricted practice for family nurse practitioners.
| Full Practice States|| Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming|
| Reduced Practice States||Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin|
| Restricted Practice States|| California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia|
Career Opportunities For DNP-FNP Graduates
After graduating from either one of the top DNP-FNP programs online, there are many career opportunities available. A few examples include the following.
• Clinical Researcher:
After completing a DNP-FNP program, joining the field of clinical research would allow you to use your practice to gather evidence that suggests guidance for changes to nursing practice that will improve patient health outcomes.
• College Professor/Faculty:
Many graduates of online DNP-FNP programs decide to share their knowledge with future generations of nurses by becoming a nursing instructor. This role includes responsibilities such as performing research, supervising nursing students, following approved curriculum to teach courses, and advising students.
• Healthcare Lobbyist:
For individuals who are interested in politics and would like to impact healthcare policies, a career as a healthcare lobbyist could be an excellent choice for you. With a DNP degree and FNP specialization, you can work with professional nursing organizations, insurance companies, and other agencies to lobby for changes related to family health care regulations and legislation.
How Much Does A DNP-FNP Make?
The average income for a DNP-FNP, according to ZipRecruiter
, is $113,556 annually. This annual salary is equivalent to $54.56 hourly or $9,460 monthly. Some people with a DNP-FNP may make more or less. Factors that often influence the compensation that someone is offered include the number of jobs in demand for someone with your credentials, geographical location, and years of experience.
| Per Hour|| $54.59 |
| Per Month|| $9,460|
| Per Year|| $113,556 |
How Much More Does A DNP-FNP Make Compared To An MSN-FNP?
Both DNP-FNPs and MSN-FNPs typically earn six-figure incomes. An MSN-FNP's average income is approximately $107,468. A DNP-FNP can expect to make almost six percent more annually at about $113,556. This means a DNP-FNP makes about $6,000 more than an MSN-FNP yearly.
| MSN-FNP|| DNP-FNP || Difference|
| Number|| % |
| $107,468|| $113,556|| $6,088|| 5.66%|
Top Paying States
As previously mentioned, the geographical area can have an impact on one's earning potential. The chart below shows the top ten paying states for those with a DNP-FNP degree. There is a little less than a $12,000 difference between the tenth paying state and the state ranked as top paying. Vermont, coming in at number ten, pays DNP-FNPs approximately $112,760 each year, while New York pays the highest salary at $124,556.
| Rank|| State|| Per Hour|| Per Year|
| 1|| New York|| $59.88|| $124,556|
| 2|| Massachusetts|| $59.32|| $123,378|
| 3|| Washington|| $58.90|| $122,517|
| 4|| New Hampshire|| $57.73|| $120,076|
| 5|| Hawaii|| $56.97|| $118,496|
| 6|| Maryland|| $54.97|| $114,342|
| 7|| Connecticut|| $54.95|| $114,306|
| 8|| Rhode Island|| $54.51|| $113,376|
| 9|| Alaska|| $54.44|| $113,230|
| 10|| Vermont|| $54.21|| $112,760|
Job Market For DNP-Family Nurse Practitioners
Because of the number of people living longer lives, reaching retirement age, and the increase in both acute and chronic illnesses, the job market for qualified healthcare providers, such as DNP-Family Nurse Practitioners, is expected to increase. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for DNP prepared providers is likely to increase by thirty-one percent through the year 2026.
Organizations & Associations
After graduating from one of the best DNP-FNP online programs, joining an organization or association that is dedicated to family nurse practitioners is a great way to learn from peers and to make acquaintances who can add value to your career. A few examples of organizations include:
• American Family Nurse Practitioner
is an organization designed to provide a place for FNPs to gather and share knowledge. According to their website
, the organization’s goal is to “enhance your practice and to inspire future family nurse practitioners to enter our incredible profession.”
The American Nurses Association’s
(ANA) mission statement is to “lead the profession to shape the future of nursing and healthcare.”
In this article, we have discussed the requirements to become a DNP-FNP, admission policies, and curriculum, and have shared information on the 10 best online DNP-FNP programs for 2021. If you have found this information helpful and are still interested in pursuing an online DNP-FNP degree, start today! Reach out to colleges and universities and send those applications for admission. A great career could be one application submission away!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
What do schools look for regarding academic preparation in DNP-FNP candidates?
Schools that offer DNP-FNP programs online require that candidates possess either a BSN or MSN degree to be considered for admission to the program. Having a strong foundation in areas of study such as microbiology, pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, and physical health assessments should be supported by transcripts reflecting a 3.0 GPA or higher are also something that admissions advisors favor.
Do all online DNP-FNP programs require applicants to submit GRE scores for admission?
No, many online DNP-FNP programs no longer require students to submit GRE scores for admission to their programs. However, it is essential to review the admission requirements of any school you hope to attend and speak to admissions advisors to make sure what that school's policy is regarding the GRE.
How do online DNP-FNP students get clinical experience?
Typically, students in online DNP-FNP programs work with their school's placement coordinator to help coordinate clinical assignments and preceptor approval at sites where the student is geographically located. Many students are given credit for work at their regular nursing job toward their clinical component requirement. It is imperative for students to begin planning for clinical practicum ahead of time as not all preceptors or clinical sites are approved by some schools.
Can online DNP-FNP students get financial assistance to pay for school?
There are several ways to apply for and receive financial aid to pay for a DNP-FNP degree. First, fill out a Free Application for Financial Student Assistance (FAFSA). Some employers offer employer-sponsored education contracts, private loans, and payment plans through schools may also be an option.
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.