12 Best Online DNP in Population Health Programs – 2023
Written By: Jessica Holbrook, RN, MSN, CCRN
Are you a registered nurse who loves helping people and is interested in serving your community? Have you considered earning a doctoral degree in nursing? If so, a DNP in population health program could be a great option for you. Perhaps you need the flexible scheduling of distance learning and wonder, "What are the best online DNP in population health programs?”
If that sounds like you, the information in this article may be what you need to help you find an academic path. In this article, I will share information about the 12 best online DNP in population health programs for 2023, including offering insight into their cost, admission requirements, and curriculum. You will also find tips for how to get into some of the nation’s top programs and information about potential jobs after you graduate.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOAL OF AN ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAM?
Online DNP in population health programs aim to prepare registered nurses with a doctoral degree in nursing specializing in population health. Students in online DNP in population health programs learn to develop policies regarding public health, advocate for patients and healthcare providers in legislative meetings, and organize healthcare programs aimed towards improving the health of a community. The programs offer curriculum plans tailored to population health interests, including classroom instruction and practical training experiences.
5 MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS AND ABILITIES YOU WILL GAIN IN AN ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAM
The best online DNP in population health programs prepare students with the knowledge and clinical experiences which lead to developing essential skills. The following are five of the most important skills and abilities you will gain in one of these programs.
1. You will learn to interpret healthcare policies and laws and suggest changes when needed:
Healthcare laws can be difficult to understand. DNP in population health online programs will teach you to interpret laws and fight for changes that will protect community health.
2. You will learn the skills needed to become an advocate for underserved populations:
Many population health jobs involve working with community members who have limited access to healthcare and limited education about how to care for themselves. The best online DNP in population health programs include courses about how to advocate for these at-risk populations.
3. You will learn to educate community members about how to stay healthy:
Population health nurses provide education resources to people on different levels. They educate people on how to care for themselves and also educate policymakers and healthcare administrators about how to create good healthcare programs.
4. You will develop the skills necessary for conducting research studies regarding public health issues:
It is hard to know how to improve population health without having a deep understanding of community health problems. Online DNP in population health programs emphasize how to conduct thorough, ethical research and how to interpret the results.
5. You will learn to promote evidence-based practice across healthcare systems:
Researching and understanding healthcare problems is just the first step toward improving outcomes. DNP in population health online programs teach their students how to take their research and implement findings by using evidence-based practices.
5 MAIN ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS
Online DNP in population health programs offer students excellent opportunities. There are many advantages to earning your degree through one of these programs, including the following.
1. You can make a real difference for vulnerable populations:
As a population health nurse, you will have the unique opportunity to not only help individuals improve their health outcomes but to create programs, change policies, and influence procedures that can help entire communities. Some population health nurses even have the opportunity to change health at a national level by working with the United States Legislature or for organizations like the Center for Disease Control.
2. You can be instrumental in improving the health of future generations:
Population health does not only affect patients who need care today. By advocating for policy changes or creating health initiatives like encouraging early intervention programs or improving access to clean water, you can impact families and communities for generations to come. A career in population health is an incredible opportunity to leave a legacy, and online DNP in population health programs make that a possibility!
3. You will have opportunities to work with patients from all age groups:
Many nursing specialties force you to choose between pediatrics, neonatal, adult, or geriatric care. Population health nurses, on the other hand, get to work with clients across all age groups, from the tiniest newborns to elderly populations. If you enjoy meeting people of different ages and from different backgrounds, pursuing your degree through DNP in population health online programs could be a great option.
4. You can participate in patient care roles away from bedside nursing:
Most people start healthcare careers because they want to help others. While bedside nursing allows you to improve the lives of patients each day, the long shifts on your feet can be draining. Population health nursing provides an opportunity to work with patients and help others without lifting patients or performing other highly physically demanding tasks.
5. You will work in an industry with a good job outlook and potential for long-term job security:
The average growth for all healthcare careers
, as estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 8.6%. Population health nursing jobs are expected to increase by more than 45% through 2031, which means this is the perfect time to pursue a career in this exciting field!
2 MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS
Like any graduate degree program, online DNP in population health programs have disadvantages as well as advantages. Weighing the advantages against the disadvantages is an important step in helping determine if this is the educational and career path you genuinely wish to pursue. The following are a few disadvantages you may encounter associated with these programs.
1. Population health jobs can be emotionally draining:
Working in population health means you may deal with less-than-ideal circumstances. You may work with underserved populations and people who have difficult life circumstances with few options for improving their situations. As a population health nurse, you have the opportunity to help people, but this means dealing with a lot of human suffering on a daily basis, which can be emotionally taxing.
2. Sometimes funding and resources for population health are limited:
Unfortunately, there are many times when there are few resources and funding opportunities available to get public health programs up and running. Getting programs up and running and starting health initiatives with an inadequate budget will require a lot of creativity and grit.
WHO ACCREDITS DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS?
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a college degree program is whether the program is accredited. The best DNP in population health online programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and/or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
WHEN DO DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS START?
Online DNP in population health programs offer different start dates. Some schools begin their programs once each year, and others offer multiple start dates. The following are examples of the start dates for five of the programs featured in this article.
HOW MANY CREDITS ARE THERE IN DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS?
The credit requirements for DNP in population health online programs vary, ranging from 30 to 100. The number of credits you need will be determined by your current degree level and the number of transferable courses and clinical credits you have. The list below reflects examples of the credit requirements for some of the nation’s top programs.
The online DNP in population health program at Quinnipiac University
features a 30-credit curriculum
At Xavier University
, students in the DNP in population health online program complete 40 credits
Students in the online DNP in population health program at New Mexico State University
complete between 36 and 45 credits
The DNP in population health online program at the University of Washington
is a 93-credit hour program
• Washington State University
offers two pathways for its DNP in population health program. Post-BSN students complete 72 credit hours
. Post-master’s students must earn 67 credits
HOW LONG ARE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS?
Online DNP in population health programs can last anywhere from 18 months to 6 years, depending on whether you choose to study part-time or full-time. Post-baccalaureate programs typically take between three and four years. Post-master's options can generally be completed in two to three years. A few examples of program lengths include the following.
The DNP in population health online program at Colorado State University-Pueblo
is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study
At Lourdes University
, students enrolled in the online DNP in population health program can choose two pathways
. Students may choose to study in six consecutive semesters, completing the program in two years, or take summers off and graduate in three years.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
offers a post-master's DNP in population health online program formatted to be completed in three years
The online DNP in population health program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
takes two to four years to complete
. MSN-to-DNP students take two years full-time or three years part-time. BSN-to-DNP students take three years full-time or four years part-time.
The MSN-DNP program at the University of San Francisco
is seven semesters long
, including two summer semesters.
HOW MUCH DO DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS COST?
DNP in population health online programs can cost as little as $25,000 to more than $140,000. The cost you pay could be determined by whether you live in the state where the program is offered or out-of-state.
At Rush University
, tuition for the online DNP in population health program costs $1,286 per credit. The program requires students to complete 31 credits, which means the program costs approximately $39,866
Tuition for the University of Illinois Chicago
is $999 per credit hour, or $59,940
total for the post-bachelor’s online DNP in population health program.
Tuition for the DNP in population health online program at the University of Alabama of Birmingham
is calculated based on the student’s state residence. In-state students pay $595 per semester hour, and out-of-state students pay $1,496. The program includes 50 credits, which makes tuition cost between $$29,750 and $74,800
based on where you live.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison
for the online DNP in population health program is $1,108 per credit for residents and $2,116 for non-residents. Students in the post-master's pathway complete 51 credits, making tuition cost $64,264 for residents and $122,728 for non-residents. The total cost for the BSN-DNP program is $75,334 for residents and $143,888 for non-residents based on a 72-credit hour curriculum.
Tuition at the University of San Francisco
costs $1,430 per credit hour, making the cost of the post-master's DNP in population health online program cost $62,920
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GPA REQUIRED TO GET INTO ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS?
Most online DNP in population health programs require candidates to have a college grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. Applicants with lower GPAs are still encouraged to apply, especially if the rest of their application demonstrates strengths and a likelihood of success.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS?
Admission criteria for online DNP in population health programs vary somewhat from one school to the next. Most schools require candidates to have a college GPA of at least 3.0 and one year of nursing experience. Below are a few examples of the admission requirements for some of the programs featured in this article.
to the online DNP in population health program at Colorado State University-Pueblo
requires having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited university and a college GPA of at least 3.0. Candidates must have an active Colorado or Colorado Nursing Compact State RN license and must submit three letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, official college transcripts, a copy of current CPR certification, and a copy of the latest immunizations.
At Lourdes University
for the DNP in population health online program must be graduates of an accredited Master of Science in Nursing program with an MSN grade point average of 3.0. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a written personal statement, and copies of official college transcripts. Additionally, proof of an active RN license, a completed interview, and a completed graduate-level statistics course with a minimum grade of “C” is required.
• New Mexico State University
offers an MSN-to-DNP option for its online DNP in population health program. Applicants
must be graduates of a nationally accredited master's nursing program, have a minimum nursing grade point average of 3.0, and possess an active, unrestricted RN or APRN license. Candidates must provide proof of clinical hours from their MSN program, official transcripts, a Statement of Intent, and complete an undergraduate or graduate level statistics course with at least a “C” average.
The University of Washington
requires DNP in population health online program applicants to complete an online DNP application
. Candidates must have a BSN or MSN degree earned at an accredited nursing school and a current, unencumbered RN license. Supplemental documents which should be uploaded with the application include a current resume, three letters of recommendation, an admissions essay, and English-language proficiency scores, if applicable.
At Washington State University-Vancouver
, online DNP in population health candidates
must have either a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing with a 3.0 or higher GPA for all nursing courses completed. Applicants must have a current RN license with one year of full-time nursing experience preferred. Additionally, candidates must provide a current resume or curriculum vitae, three letters of professional recommendation, and a 500-word Statement of Intent.
WHAT KIND OF COURSES WILL YOU TAKE IN ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS?
Online DNP in population health programs offer rich curriculum plans with classes focused on community health, business, disease prevention, and evidence-based practice. The following are some examples of classes you will take at five of the nation’s top programs.
At Rush University
, the post-master's DNP in Transformative Leadership: Population Health
program features classes, including Leadership in Evolving Healthcare Environments, Population Assessment & Health Promotion Frameworks, Environmental Health, Principles of Case Management for Advanced Nursing Practice, Population Intervention Planning, Implementation, & Evaluation, and Advanced Nursing Roles in Public Health Systems.
The online DNP in population health program at the University of Chicago Illinois
features a rich curriculum
with classes such as Leadership, Policy, & Interprofessional Collaboration, Quality & Safety Through Health Technologies, Implementing Evidence-Based Practice, Epidemiology & Statistics for Evidence-Based Practice, and Health Equity & Social Determinants.
Students enrolled in the DNP in population health online program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham study
Health Policy & Politics: Implications in Healthcare, Evidence-Based Practice Strategies, Population & Consumer Health Informatics, Principles of Epidemiology & Population Health Analytics, and Essentials of Population Health Science.
At the University of San Francisco
, the online DNP in population health programs features classes
, including Population Health Leadership & Teamwork Project Planning, Population Health Legal & Risk Management, Policy & Ethics in Population Health, Environmental & Occupational Effects on Health, and Theoretical Foundations of Population Health.
The DNP in population health online program at Colorado State University-Pueblo offers classes
such as Organizational & Systems Leadership, Biostatistics & Research, Epidemiology, Research & Evidence-Based Practice, and Healthcare Business & Finance.
WHAT KIND OF PRACTICAL TRAINING WILL YOU UNDERGO IN ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS?
All nursing programs, including DNP in population health online programs, feature some type of practical training. The number of clinical practicum hours required varies among schools. However, to remain in compliance with accrediting standards set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and outlined in the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice
, DNP programs require students to complete a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours.
Most schools allow students credit for some clinical hours earned in their MSN programs if those hours meet program criteria. The following are examples of some of the practical training required at five of the nation’s top schools.
At Quinnipiac University
, students in the online DNP in population health program complete a minimum of 480 clinical hours
. Practical training hours are earned through seminars, in-person fieldwork, and the development and presentation of a DNP Scholarly Project. All field training assignments are arranged by clinical faculty with consideration of the student's preferences and geologic location.
The DNP in population health online program at Xavier University
requires students to complete a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours
. At Xavier, you may transfer up to 500 clinical hours from your master’s nursing program, with departmental approval. Students usually complete clinical requirements close to their home regions and under the supervision of an experienced population health professional.
• New Mexico State University’s
online DNP in population health program includes 1,000 clinical hours
. Students earn direct clinical hours in approved clinical sites with program-approved preceptors. Up to 192 hours of the 1,000-hour requirement may be earned from the DNP Project.
Students enrolled in the DNP in population health online program at the University of San Francisco
complete 1,000 preceptor-supervised clinical hours
. Practicum experiences occur in private healthcare systems and community organizations, allowing for diverse population health experiences. Clinical placement assistance is offered by the university to ensure adequate learning opportunities.
At the University of Chicago-Illinois
, the online DNP in population health program includes three clinical courses with corresponding clinical practicum opportunities
. Clinical requirements include the development, planning, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of a DNP Scholarly Project.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS IN THE NATION?
(Based on our ranking methodology
, the following are the 12 Best Online DNP in Population Health Programs in the nation for the year 2023.)
1. Rush University - Chicago, IL
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
2. University of Illinois Chicago - Chicago, IL
Programs Offered: BSN-to-DNP
3. University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP
5. University of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
6. Quinnipiac University - Hamden, CT
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
7. Xavier University - Cincinnati, OH
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
8. New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP
11. Colorado State University Pueblo - Pueblo, CO
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
12. Lourdes University - Sylvania, OH
Programs Offered: MSN-to-DNP
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
WHERE DO GRADUATES OF ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS MOSTLY WORK?
Graduates of online DNP in population health programs find work in a variety of settings. Some of the most popular places where graduates work include the following.
1. Government agencies:
Graduates of DNP in population health online programs who work in government agencies may create programs designed to educate the public and reduce rates of disease and injury in their communities.
2. Rural Health Centers:
Rural communities often have fewer options for healthcare, including limited resources to provide education on the prevention and treatment of illness. As such, it is common to find graduates of online DNP in population health programs working in these settings. In this setting, you may offer educational resources to individuals, families, and communities about ways to promote healthy living and reduce the risk of disease and promote good prenatal and wellness care.
3. Non-profit organizations:
Many non-profit organizations employ graduates of DNP population health online programs to help set realistic goals designed to improve the health and well-being of at-risk, often underserved populations.
3 BEST JOBS FOR GRADUATES OF ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS
Graduates of DNP in population health online programs can work in many jobs. Your preference of setting and the type of role you want in population health will determine which jobs are most appealing. The list below is three of the best jobs for program graduates.
1. Maternal and Infant Public Health Nurse Program Director:
In this role, graduates of online DNP in population health programs may lead a hospital, non-profit, community, or government program aimed at ensuring the health of mothers during pregnancy and after delivery and the health of infants after birth.
2. Disaster Management and Preparedness Program Director:
DNP in population health graduates in this job specialize in managing crisis situations. The role involves developing plans to address population health risks associated with natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, or earthquakes and other emergencies or disasters such as biological or chemical attacks.
3. Nursing Faculty:
With a degree from online DNP in population health programs, you will be perfectly positioned to take on a job as an instructor at a college or university nursing school. You may work as an adjunct instructor while continuing to work a job in population health or devote yourself to nursing education full-time.
WHAT STARTING SALARY CAN NEW GRADUATES OF THIS PROGRAM EXPECT?
New graduates of online DNP in population health programs can expect starting salaries of $31.54 per hour, $1,262 per week, $5,470 per month, or $65,610 per year.
WHAT AVERAGE SALARY CAN GRADUATES OF DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS EXPECT?
With some experience, graduates of DNP in population health online programs see increases in pay. The average DNP population health employee earns $46.86 per hour, $1,874 per week, $8,120 per month, and $97,460 per year. This is about 75% higher
than the national average salary in the United States.
10-YEAR JOB OUTLOOK FOR GRADUATES OF DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH ONLINE PROGRAMS
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for population health nurses in the areas of public health and government, such as jobs for graduates of online DNP in population health programs, is expected to increase by 45.68% between 2021 and 2031. This increase is much faster than all other jobs reported by the Bureau.
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
IS THE COST OF AN ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAM WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?
On average, DNP in population health programs cost about $85,000. DNP in population health graduates earn about $97,460 per year on average. Although schooling is expensive, the average DNP in population health earns nearly double the salary of the average full-time worker in the United States. This makes getting a DNP in population health well worth the upfront cost.
Besides the higher compensation, public health nurses report
high levels of job satisfaction and are less likely to suffer from physical injuries compared to other nurses who work in bedside jobs. Population health nurses are often less likely than other healthcare providers to have to work night shifts, holidays, and weekend shifts, which improves their work-life balance.
Overall, if population health interests you, it is well worth the ROI to complete a DNP in population health online program.
BONUS! 5 MUST-FOLLOW TIPS TO GET INTO TOP ONLINE DNP IN POPULATION HEALTH PROGRAMS
DNP in population health online programs have relatively high acceptance rates. However, it is best that you do not rely on good acceptance rates to get into a top program. There are a few things you can do to make yourself appear a more attractive candidate and increase your chance of getting into a top program. The following are a few tips to follow.
1. Get some community service experience.
DNP in population health is all about serving the community. Show that you are committed to improving the health of those around you by participating in service projects in your area.
2. Write a compelling admissions essay.
Online DNP in population health programs are interested in admitting students who are passionate about their programs and whose values align with the schools. Show your passion by writing an admissions essay that expresses a deep commitment to earning a DNP in population health.
3. Get meaningful letters of recommendation.
While letters of recommendation from coworkers are fine, try to get letters from people who have been positively impacted by your care. It is also impressive if you can get letters of recommendation from people who have already earned a DNP in population health since they will know whether you have what it takes to succeed in the program.
4. Introduce yourself to the program directors in person.
If you can, schedule a tour of the schools that interest you before or shortly after applying. Showing up in person will help program directors remember you and shows that you have a genuine interest in the school and program.
5. Get some leadership experience.
Leadership is a big part of many population health programs. Show off your leadership skills and initiative by taking the lead on a policy change and implementing a new way of doing things at your current job. Make sure to document the experience well.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If you are interested in a doctoral degree in nursing with a focus on population health, asking the question, "What are the best online DNP in population health programs?” is natural. The 12 best online DNP in population health programs for 2023, featured in this article, offer excellent opportunities to learn and develop your knowledge and skills related to doctoral-level practice in population health. There is no time like the present to start pursuing your dream. So, if this is the career path you want to follow, I encourage you to start your journey today!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
1. What Is The Best Online DNP In Population Health Program In The Nation?
Rush University is home to the best online DNP in population health program in the nation.
|Rush University - Chicago, IL|
2. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into DNP In Population Health Online Programs?
Most DNP in population health online programs require candidates to have a college GPA of at least 3.0.
3. What Is The Typical Cost-Per-Credit For DNP In Population Health Online Programs?
The cost per credit for DNP in population health online programs ranges from $999 to $2,116.
4. Can I Work Part-Time And Complete This Program?
Many online DNP in population health programs offer students the option to complete their coursework through part-time study, which makes working part-time easier.
5. Can I Work Full-Time And Complete This Program?
Working full-time while enrolled in DNP in population health online programs will be difficult, but it is possible. If you stay disciplined and have help managing home and family responsibilities, you should be able to work full-time and complete the program.
6. How Much Do New Graduates Of This Program Make?
New graduates of online DNP in population health programs earn an average of $65,610 per year.
7. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Make Per Hour?
Experienced graduates of DNP in population health online programs make $46.86 per hour, on average.
8. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Per Month?
The average monthly pay for graduates of online DNP in population health programs is $8,120.
9. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of DNP In Population Health Online Programs Make Per Year?
The average annual salary for graduates of DNP in population health online programs is $97,460.
Jessica Holbrook, RN, MSN, CCRN
Jessica currently works in an adult intensive care unit as an ECMO specialist and as part of the medical flight team. She also works as a patient and new nurse educator in the hospital and loves to research and share information with the people she teaches. Jessica received her MSN from Weber State University in 2019. She graduated #1 in her class and was the selected speaker at the honors student graduation ceremony. She has special certifications in pediatric care, critical care, and cardiopulmonary bypass.