7 Best Online DNP In Nursing Informatics Programs For 2024

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

Healthcare informatics is the collection and analysis of data that can facilitate the delivery of more effective medical care; nursing informatics is a subset of healthcare informatics. Though Florence Nightingale was using applied statistics to curb high patient mortality rates in hospitals as early as the 1850s, it wasn’t until 1988 that nursing informatics became a systematic science, and the first graduate programs in nursing informatics were established.

Graduates of online DNP-Nursing Informatics programs learn how to assess and analyze healthcare-related technology needs as well as how to help ensure the medical centers where they’re employed remain in compliance with data-driven laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If you’ve been considering a career in nursing informatics, keep reading to find out more about the best DNP in nursing informatics online programs for 2024.

What Exactly Is The Goal Of A DNP In Nursing Informatics Program?

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees are geared toward nurses who hope to assume leadership roles within the nursing profession. DNP in nursing informatics online programs are advanced practice degrees designed to educate those nurse leaders who will be using their knowledge of statistics and quantitative analysis to develop, recommend and support evidence-driven policy changes.

DNP-prepared nursing informatics professionals go far beyond offering technical support to coworkers. DNP nursing informatics curricula focus on teaching advanced practice nurses how to retrieve statistical data from a range of sources and how to use that data to provide rationales for evidence-based practice. DNP-prepared nursing informatics professionals are vital collaborators in formulating the future of nursing.

DNP-Nursing Informatics VS. MSN-Nursing Informatics: What Are The Benefits?

DNP-nursing informatics online programs don’t have any inherent benefits over MSN-nursing informatics online programs. It all depends upon where you see yourself going with your own professional career.

While there’s considerable overlap in the curricula of MSN- and DNP-nursing informatics degree programs, the two types of programs have substantively different goals. Master of Nursing Science (MSN) degrees are clinical degrees that aim to help graduates improve patient care, so an MSN-nursing informatics degree will help you identify potential practice problems across a continuum of clinical settings. DNP degrees, on the other hand, are likely to focus up the use of data to construct useful practice models with a much broader application because a DNP degree prepares graduates to influence population healthcare outcomes rather than individual healthcare outcomes.

If you’re interested in using your graduate degree to teach, advocate or effect policy changes, then DNP in nursing informatics online programs are a better fit for your ambitions. If you want to continue working within the clinical healthcare environment, then pursue an MSN in nursing informatics.

3 Major Challenges DNP-Nursing Informatics Students Face And How To Overcome Them

A career in nursing informatics is likely to take you in directions that do not involve direct patient care. Instead, your informatics work will be used to support the needs of other direct caregivers. If you are someone who was drawn to nursing initially because you enjoyed interactions with patients and their families, pursuing one of the best DNP in nursing informatics online programs may take you far afield from your comfort zone. DNP-nursing informatics students face other challenges, too.

1. Communication skills:

As a nurse informaticist, you are going to find yourself acting as a liaison between caregivers, organizations and technological support teams. Make sure you are up to the challenge of explaining how a proposed technological solution can meet organizational needs while improving patient care. Practice engaging colleagues in discussion and learn how to benefit from honest feedback.

2. Quantitative analysis:

In order to succeed at DNP-nursing informatics online programs, you must have a solid background in quantitative analysis and information technology (IT). Chances are that statistics class you took while you were pursuing your Bachelor’s in Nursing Science (BSN) will not be enough preparation. Look into taking some online refresher courses while you’re gearing up to submit your DNP-nursing informatics applications.

3. Competitive edge:

Nursing informatics is a relatively new discipline, and that means as yet there are relatively few educational programs in the field. The ones that exist are highly competitive. Give yourself a leg up in the application process by becoming involved in the technology adaptation process in the hospital or clinic where you work. Join the focus group that’s testing out a new technology or that’s tracking the progress of newly implemented patient care programs. Volunteer to serve as a liaison between your nursing unit and the technology department.

How Long Are Online DNP-Nursing Informatics Programs?

The length of any DNP program typically depends upon whether it’s a BSN-to-DNP program or an MSN-to-DNP program. BSN-to-DNP programs usually take three to four years for full-time students to complete while MSN-to-DNP programs usually take one to two years. Ultimately, however, the amount of time you spend on your degree will depend upon the total number of credits you’re responsible for completing and the number of credits you’re comfortable enrolling in each semester.

The DNP-Nursing Informatics online programs at the University of Arizona at Tucson and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are both MSN-to-DNP programs that take two to three years to complete because they can only be pursued part-time. The University of San Diego also offers an MSN-to-DNP nursing informatics program that full-time students will be able to complete in two years and part-time students will be able to complete in three years. The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis offers a BSN-to-DNP nursing informatics program, which can be completed in either three years by full-time students or four years by part-time students. The University of Kansas in Lawrence also offers a BSN-to-DNP program, which can be completed in four years.

How Much Do Online DNP-Nursing Informatics Programs Cost?

Attending one of the best DNP-nursing informatics programs online can set you back anywhere between $10,000 and $42,000 a year. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, for example, estimates its post-Master’s nursing informatics DNP will set you back $23,252.

You’ll usually pay lower tuition and fees at a public university than you will at a private university. Public universities frequently impose price hikes on out-of-state students, however: At the University of Minnesota, for instance, in-state students pay $16,728 a year while out-of-state students pay $25,884 a year even though the curriculum is mostly taught online. The University of Kansas also charges out-of-state students significantly more than it charges in-state students: Kansas residents pay $11,166 a year; non-residents pay $28,034 a year. But even private universities may charge out-of-state residents more: San Diego University—a private Catholic university—charges students from outside California $30 more per credit than it charges residents of The Golden State.

Most programs charge on a per-credit basis. The University of South Alabama charges out-of-state students $756 per credit—which is twice what it charges residents of The Yellowhammer State. The University of Arizona assesses a per-unit cost of $975 for both in-state and out-of-state students.


Courses you take while enrolled in DNP in nursing informatics online programs are designed to help you gain an in-depth understanding of healthcare data and health information systems. Individual classes cover topics like nursing research methodologies, data management, system design and optimization, and healthcare law and policy. The nursing informatics DNP curriculum at the University of South Alabama, for example, includes “Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice,” “Data Management & Decision Making in Complex Healthcare Systems” and “Nursing Administration Finance.” American Sentinel University in Denver, Colorado, offers a class entitled “Application of Nursing Informatics in Clinical Practice,” which explores the application of informatics concepts to clinical practice situations.

Many of the best DNP-nursing informatics online programs contain a campus component. The University of Minnesota’s program, which is ranked number two in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report,” requires all students to participate in a four-day session each semester that takes place on campus; this session is devoted to enhancement programming, skill labs and advisor meetings. The University of Arizona’s program includes a week-long Resident Intensive Summer Experience (RISE) in Tucson.

In accordance with guidelines used by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the best DNP in nursing informatics online programs also include an evidence-based scholarly project that results in a quality improvement change and has a substantial effect on healthcare and patient outcomes. This project is supposed to be based upon research students perform during their residencies. At the University of Kansas, you will devote at least six credit hours to the completion of this doctoral capstone project.

Admission Requirements

In order to be accepted into one of the best DNP-Nursing Informatics programs online, you’ll need to hold an unencumbered RN license. Additionally, depending upon whether you’re applying to a BSN-to-DNP or MSN-to-DNP program, you’ll need a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree or a Master’s of Nursing Science degree. Other requirements include:

• Official transcripts from each college or university program you attended
• A resume or curriculum vitae
• A personal statement that speaks to your professional goals and how a particular school’s programs will help you achieve those goals
• At least three professional references

Some schools require more than one essay. For example: In addition to a personal statement, the University of Minnesota requires admission candidates to submit an essay describing why diversity, equity and inclusion are important in the healthcare workplace. San Diego University requires a writing sample, which can be a paper you wrote to fulfill class requirements while pursuing your BSN or MSN.

Interviews are often part of a successful application process as well. Sometimes, they’re part of the standard application process, but often they’re reserved for the top tier of applicants. The University of San Diego, for example, only grants interviews to the most qualified applicants.

Most DNP in nursing informatics programs online also require successful applicants to have worked for at least one year in an informatics or technology-based nursing leadership role, though the University of San Diego waives that requirement for students applying to their nursing informatics program.

Many DNP-nursing informatics online programs, like the University of South Alabama, will only accept candidates who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston will only accept applicants who are residents of Texas into its post-Master’s DNP programs, and while the school will accept students whose degrees were earned outside the U.S., those students will need to include a course-by-course evaluation approved by Educational Credential Evaluators.

Clinical Practicum

In its NP doctoral guidelines, the AACN stipulates that students enrolled in the best DNP in nursing informatics online programs must complete 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours. These practice hours do not involve hands-on patient care because nursing informatics is not a clinical care specialty; instead, they are more like residencies in healthcare settings where students can polish their technical and problem-solving skills. Students at schools that offer MSN-to-DNP programs like the University of Minnesota and the University of Kansas may be able to apply some or all of the preceptor-supervised clinical hours earned during their Master’s nursing program toward this 1,000 hours requirement.

Best DNP-nursing informatics online programs like the University of South Alabama encourage students to complete their residencies at a medical center, hospital or clinic close to where they live. Some programs like the University of Arizona allow students to pursue residencies at medical centers where they’re already employed.

7 Tips To Get Into Top DNP In Nursing Informatics Online Programs

The complex process of integrating electronic health recording systems into bedside care ensures that the field of nursing informatics will continue to grow. At present, DNP in nursing informatics online programs are relatively few, which means getting into one is a highly competitive process. Here are some tips for making sure your application stands out from the rest.

1. Research schools carefully:

Find out as much as you can about the online DNP-nursing informatics programs you’re thinking of applying to. Some of them will be good fits for your needs and your goals, but some of them won’t. Don’t waste your time applying to a program that’s wrong for you.

2. Tailor your application:

DNP applications are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Every admissions committee has a vision of the ideal candidate for that school. Try to discover what that vision is, and then customize your application and supporting documents accordingly.

3. Submit applications and documents in a timely manner:

Applications and supporting documents have strict timelines. Make sure you adhere to them. You could be the strongest candidate applying, but if you submit materials late, you may be disqualified.

4. Showcase your previous experiences with technology:

Many of the best DNP-Nursing Informatics programs online require at least one year of professional experience in an IT-related field. Even those that don’t, though, will prefer someone who’s already familiar with data collection and analysis. Start attending informatics meetings at the hospital where you work. Consider taking some continuing education classes and applying for your basic RN-BC informatics nursing certification.

5. Select your references carefully:

References can make or break an admissions application. Make sure the people who write your reference letters are people who can speak to your professional strengths in an eloquent manner. Workplace references that address your ability to solve problems by using data are preferable to personal or academic references.

6. Spend time developing personal statement:

Your personal statement should include a list of the goals you hope to achieve by obtaining your DNP in nursing informatics.

7. Demonstrate leadership:

DNP programs train nursing leaders, and the ability to initiate and follow through on projects independently is a very important quality in someone who hopes to become a nursing leader. Volunteer to lead in-service presentations on data-related subjects in the hospital where you work.


1. University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN

2. University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

3. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston - Houston, TX

4. University of San Diego - San Diego, CA

5. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL

6. University of Kansas - Lawrence, KS

7. American Sentinel University - Denver, CO


What Kind Of Career Opportunities Exist For Graduates Of This Program?

Nursing informatics can help identify the sources of medical errors that cost the healthcare industry approximately $40 billion a year. Nursing informatics also helps identify and address inefficiencies, which leads to cost reductions and enhanced nurse productivity. Small wonder, then, that DNP-nursing informaticists are in high demand in medical centers, hospitals and urgent care clinics. They’re also valued employees in government agencies that parse healthcare statistics, pharmaceutical and medical device companies that need to project demand for their products, and colleges and universities that are educating tomorrow’s nurses.

Average Earnings For Graduates Of This Program

IT professionals command handsome salaries, and nurse informaticists are no exception to that rule. On average, DNP-nurse informaticists earn $102,230 a year, which works out to nearly $50 an hour and $8,520 a month.

(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Market For Graduates Of This Program

As a DNP-nurse informaticist, you can be confident there will always be a need for your services. Nurse informaticists can be thought of as a hybrid of two types of professionals: IT specialists and nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both professionals are projected to continue to be in high demand over the next decade. The BLS predicts that job prospects for information systems managers will grow by 10 percent between 2019 and 2029 while job prospects for registered nurses will grow by 7 percent.


If you’re a nurse with an aptitude for information technology, and you’re looking for a career that promises job security and a comfortable salary, DNP-nursing informatics is an attractive choice. Keep in mind, though, that this professional trajectory is likely to take you away from bedside nursing. Attending one of the best DNP in nursing informatics online programs for 2024 is the right way to transition into this dynamic career arc.


1. What’s the difference between healthcare informatics and nursing informatics?

Nursing informatics is a subset of healthcare informatics. Healthcare informatics refers to the application of information technology to healthcare-related issues in general while nursing informatics specifically pertains to the application of information technology to patient care issues.

2. Will I need to be certified after I graduate from a DNP in nursing informatics online program in order to work as a nursing informaticist?

No state stipulates that nurse informaticists have to be certified in order to practice their chosen profession, but many hospitals, medical centers and other healthcare facilities require certification as a condition of employment. Two organizations offer certifications in this field:

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC):

The ANCC sponsors the most popular nursing informatics credential, the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC). Requirements for this certification include an unencumbered nursing license, a BSN, at least 2,000 practice hours in the field of nursing informatics and at least 30 hours of continuing education credits in informatics.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS):

HIMSS sponsors two nursing informatics certifications, an entry-level credential called Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) and an advanced credential called the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS). The former credential has no degree prerequisite but does require at least 45 credit hours in courses related to healthcare informatics. The latter credential has experience prerequisites that depend upon the type of academic degree an applicant holds.

3. Are graduates of DNP in nursing informatics online programs considered to be advanced practice nurses?

Yes. An advanced practice nurse is any nurse who has completed either an MSN or a DNP degree.

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.