14 Best Online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs For 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Have you reached a point in your nursing career where you feel it is time to take a step toward a higher degree? Does the idea of earning a doctorate in nursing sound exciting to you? Perhaps you have worked with newborns and their families, and you wish there were a way to combine caring for those patients with a doctorate. What's stopping you? Maybe the cost of programs, the time it takes to complete the program, or simply having unanswered questions has created a stall in your academic pursuits. If that sounds like you, you need to keep reading and learn about DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online. In the following sections of this article, you will find a list of the best online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs for 2024. You will also learn the requirements for acceptance into the programs, find out about the cost, curriculum, and the amount of time it takes to get involved. Your dream of earning a doctorate in nursing and continuing to care for infants and those who love them could become a reality!

What Is the Purpose of A DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program?

The purpose of DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner programs, like the online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs featured in this article, is to provide students with the education and clinical experiences necessary to provide nursing care to low and/or high-risk newborns and their families. Students learn family-centered, cultural-sensitive methods of administering nursing care to patients in diverse settings such as neonatal intensive care units, step-down units, neonatal surgery, and the delivery room. Graduates of these programs are prepared to manage neonatal care in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, conduct research, and educate family members and staff to improve patient outcomes.

7 Benefits of Pursuing DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

If you are considering pursuing a DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program but haven't made your mind up yet, the benefits listed below may be the information you need.

1. Earn the Ultimate Practice-Focused Degree:

Accredited online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs prepare students to practice with the highest level of proficiency while giving care to the most vulnerable patients.

2. Opportunities for Advancement:

A doctoral nursing degree coupled with a specialty concentration in neonatal care creates opportunities for career advancement on many levels in various settings.

3. Increased Income:

According to a survey conducted by Advance Healthcare Network, doctorate-prepared nurses earn $10,000 or more each year than nurses with a master's degree. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that neonatal nurse practitioners are among the top money-earners with specialty certification.

4. Step into Leadership Roles:

Doctorate-prepared neonatal nurse practitioners play an essential role in the mentorship, education, and leadership of neonatal care teams. Whether you choose a job in academia as a nursing professor or become a director of neonatal staff, your leadership can be valuable in transforming the delivery of healthcare and improving patient outcomes.

5. Sense of Accomplishment:

Anyone who ever said DNP school is easy has never been a DNP student. Although the program may be intense, graduating and having a successful career as a DNP-Neonatal NP is achievable. Each day you choose to push through the difficult days and keep going is another day close to reaching your goal. When you graduate, you will have a sense of accomplishment that no one can take from you.

6. Increase your marketability:

When you choose to enroll in DNP-Neonatal NP programs like the DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online featured in this article, you will learn from faculty and preceptors who have years of experience. Their knowledge will help develop a solid foundation for your nursing knowledge and clinical expertise that can be used in your role as a DNP-Neonatal NP, increasing your marketability.

7. Experience personal and professional growth:

Nursing is an ever-changing industry, and healthcare professionals must grow and learn to keep up with those changes. As a DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, you will use skills to communicate with patients, their loved ones, and other healthcare professionals that will help you experience personal growth. With continued learning and by applying your knowledge and skills, you will grow professionally, as well.

How Long Are Online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs?

Online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs can take from two to seven years to complete. Students who enter with a bachelor's degree may take an additional year or more to finish their degree than master's-prepared students. Part-time enrollment also extends the length of time it takes to complete a program. Some colleges and universities set a time limit on how long students have, to complete a given program. However, most students do not take the maximum amount of time unless there are extenuating circumstances.

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

Baylor University

offers accredited online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs with BSN to DNP and Post-Master's DNP study tracks. Students can complete the BSN to DNP program in three years and the Post-Master's DNP program in as little as two years.

Ohio State University

, students can earn a DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree in four years of full-time study and five years part-time.
Students entering the

University of Illinois at Chicago

with a BSN can typically complete the DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program in three to five years.
At the

University of Utah

, the DNP-Neonatal NP program can be completed in as few as three years, including two summer semesters.

How Much Do Online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?

When deciding which college or university to attend, one factor that most commonly influences a potential student’s decision is the cost of the program. The best DNP-neonatal practitioner programs online can cost anywhere from $34,000 to over $120,000. It is important to keep in mind when researching schools that tuition rates listed on school websites or in student handbooks typically do not include the cost of books, supplies, uniforms, or other applicable fees. A financial aid advisor can give you a list of additional estimated expenses.

The cost of some of our featured online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs is listed below.

The goal of the

University of Maryland’s DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program

is to prepare students for roles where they integrate practice, management, research, and education to provide primary and acute care in the treatment of neonates. The program is available in three, four, and five-year formats. BSN to DNP Neonatal NP students complete eighty credits, including 1,080 clinical hours. All students are required to complete at least forty-eight credits to receive a DNP with Neonatal NP specialty. However, the number of credits MSN to DNP students need are based on their individual educational background and approved transferrable credits. The maximum number of credits needed for the degree is eighty. Maryland residents pay $824 per credit, and out-of-state students pay $1,461, making the cost of tuition for the programs between $39,552 and $116,880, depending on resident status and the number of credits needed.

Rush University

offers a DNP-Neonatal NP program that encourages students to manage the complex needs of critically ill and convalescing neonatal patients and their families. Students are prepared to work in various settings, including intermediate nurseries, neonatal ICUs, and delivery rooms, and to collaborate with members of the interprofessional healthcare team to provide optimal care to neonatal patients. This DNP program requires a minimum of sixty-eight term hours of BSN to DNP coursework or fifty-six term hours of MSN to DNP coursework. The total tuition, which is calculated at $1166 per credit hour, ranges from $56,296 to $79,288.
The DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at

Baylor University

is highly ranked by US News & World Report. It is CCNE-accredited, making it one of the best online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs. The BSN to DNP option requires seventy-five credits and can be completed in a little over three years. The MSN to DNP is typically completed in two years, with students completing thirty-one to thirty-seven credits. Both these DNP programs cost $1,100 per credit hour, with tuition ranging from $34,100 to $82,500.
The online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the

University of Alabama

is designed for nurses who have achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The program, which is offered part-time, combines DNP core curriculum with advanced practice core and specialty coursework that includes didactic and clinical practice hours. Students must complete seventy-nine credit hours at $656 per credit hour each, making the average tuition $51,824.

Thomas Jefferson University

takes pride in preparing graduates who are clinical and health systems experts and can create, reform, and lead nursing practices. The sixty-nine credit-hour DNP-Neonatal NP program costs $1,200 per credit, totaling $82,800 in tuition.


Online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs have a rigorous curriculum that includes core coursework and classes specific to the neonatal concentration. Students typically study Core Courses such as Statistics and Data Analysis for Evidence-Based Nursing Practice, Epidemiology, Practical Ethics in Healthcare Settings, and Healthcare Law and Policy. Specialty Role Courses typically include Neonatal Assessment and Management, Advanced Neonatal Assessment, and Management of the High-Risk Newborn.

The following are a few examples of the coursework for some of the programs mentioned in this article.

Ohio State University

combines coursework, research, and field experience to give students a learning experience filled with knowledge, skills, and values necessary to meet advanced practice nursing certification guidelines. The university has options for BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP pathways to the DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree.

Sample Courses:

◦ Nursing Policy for Doctoral Nursing Practice
◦ Developmental Physiology and Pathophysiology for the High-Risk Neonate
◦ Advanced Newborn/Infant Pharmacology
◦ Developmental Care of the High-Risk Neonate and Family


University of Pittsburgh

prepares DNP-Neonatal Nurse practitioner students to blend clinical expertise, disease prevention, and health management to offer a holistic approach to neonatal healthcare practices. The online DNP-Neonatal NP option is only available to nurses with a master's degree in nursing. The BSN to DNP track includes fifty-eight credits, and the MSN to DNP track has forty.

Sample Courses:

◦ Pediatric Well Child Theory
◦ Comprehensive Neonatal Assessment Theory
◦ Human Genetics and Clinical Applications
◦ Neonatal Disease Process I and II

The DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the

University of South Alabama

is designed for bachelor’s- and master’s prepared nurses. BSN to DNP students complete all coursework to fulfill the MSN specialty, DNP Core, DNP Project Planning and Development, and the Residency courses, totaling sixty-nine credit hours. MSN to DNP students earn a minimum of thirty-six credits.

Sample Courses:

◦ Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Neonatal/Pediatric Acute Care
◦ Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Physio-pathological Basis of Advanced Nursing
◦ Advanced Nursing Assessment of the Neonatal/Pediatric Patient

At the

University of Illinois at Chicago

, graduates of the DNP-Neonatal NP program have a 100% pass rate on the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner certification examination, making it one of the best DNP-neonatal practitioner programs online. The program is presented on the framework of patient- and family-centered care (PFCC), which encourages caring for neonates, infants, and families with respect, empowerment, and effective communication.

Sample Courses:

◦ Biological Basis for Women’s Health I and II
◦ Advanced Neonatal Management I, II, and III
◦ Essentials of Patient and Family-Centered Care
◦ Applied Pharmaceutical Intervention in Advanced Practice Nursing

Students enrolled in the DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Utah Health develop a solid foundation in the study of the physiologic, embryologic, and pathophysiologic basis of acute and chronic neonatal disorders.

Sample Courses:

◦ Clinical Genetics
◦ Human Embryology
◦ Advanced Health Promotion and Developmental Assessment for NNPs
◦ Application of Outcome Measures for Clinicians

Clinical Training

DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online typically require students to achieve at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours to satisfy graduation criteria. Students whose prior clinical hours are confirmed may be given credit for up to five hundred master’s program clinical practice hours. When applying to any DNP-Neonatal NP program, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure proper documentation to validate previous clinical experience is requested from the school where the master’s degree was issued.

The following are examples of clinical training requirements at some of the best online DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs mentioned in this article.

The DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at

Stony Brook University

requires students to complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours. Admission faculty conduct a gap analysis to confirm previous coursework and validate the number of clinical hours a student earned at the master's level.
The program at the

University of Alabama at Birmingham

requires from 1,080 to 1,620 post-BSN clinical hours. Post-master's students will complete at least 540 clinical practice hours, depending on the number of transferrable clinical credits they have.
Students enrolled in the DNP-Neonatal NP program at the

Ohio State University

complete at least 600 post-master's clinical practicum hours to complete the program.

Jefferson Davis University’s

DNP-Neonatal NP program requires students to complete 1,212 clinical practice hours to meet graduation criteria.
At the

University of Maryland

, students are engaged in clinical practice experiences with Level II, III, and IV neonatal intensive care units, newborn nurseries, primary care practices, and developmental and subspecialty clinics. Students must accomplish 1,080 hours of clinical practicum.

Admission Requirements

The School of Nursing at colleges and universities determines the admission criteria for their programs, such as accredited DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online. Although some admission requirements may vary from one school to another, most programs have similar minimum criteria for admission.

Typically, admission to online DNP-Neonatal NP programs includes meeting the following criteria.

◦ Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Minimum Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) OR a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from an accredited nursing program
◦ Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
◦ ACT or SAT scores (Each score determines the minimum allowable score.)
◦ Statement of Intent
◦ Letters of Recommendation

The following are a few examples of the admission requirements for some of the programs mentioned in this article.

Creighton University

provides a graduate nursing degree designed to foster ethical leadership, service to diverse populations, creative problem solving, and interpersonal collaboration. Program graduates are eligible for national certification through the National Certification Corporation. The program requires sixty-eight credits.

◦ At least 4,000 hours of direct patient care in Level III or IV Neonatal ICU
◦ Personal Statement explaining short- and long-term goals
◦ Undergraduate statistics course with a grade of "C" or higher
◦ Possess a BSN from a CCNE or ACEN accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better

The online DNP-Neonatal NP program at

Thomas Jefferson University

is committed to offering student-focused learning experiences that are easy to navigate and streamlined. The university offers a rolling admissions policy which means a decision to offer admission to the program can be made as soon as the student’s file is complete.

◦ Three letters of recommendation: Letters of reference should come from professional or academic sources, including charge nurses, supervisors, instructors, or clinical nurse educators.
◦ Clinical Hours Verification Letter from MSN degree-granting institution verifying the number of clinical hours completed on a post-baccalaureate level
◦ Copies of professional certifications and licenses, when applicable, including RN license, national certification, and expiration date, ACLS and/or PALS certification

Like many DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online, the College of Nursing at

Rush University

utilizes Nursing's Centralized Application Service (Nursing CAS) to receive required admissions documents. Applicants are evaluated when all the necessary information is received.

◦ Personal Essay with substantive answers as outlined in the Program Materials
◦ Resume or Curriculum Vitae including scholarly activities, educational, leadership, and professional organization activities, and community services
◦ Personal interview with faculty
◦ A minimum of six months experience working in a Level 3 or higher NICU

Baylor University’s

DNP-Neonatal NP program is designed for actively practicing registered nurses. Prospective students can apply to the BSN to DNP program option or the MSN to DNP option, depending on their current degree level.

◦ Minimum one year of full-time Level 3 or higher NICU clinical practice experience. Experience must have occurred within the last five years of RN practice
◦ Unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher on all post-secondary coursework

DNP-Neonatal NP students at

Wayne State University

are prepared for advanced practices that emphasize their capability to impact clinical settings and use their education and skills to transform healthcare.

◦ BSN from a regionally accredited institution
◦ Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75
◦ Statement of Intent


1. Rush University Medical Center - Chicago, IL

Programs Offered:

BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP

2. University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL

Programs Offered:


3. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

Programs Offered:

MSN to DNP (Online)

4. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

Programs Offered:


5. University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Programs Offered:


6. University of Tennessee Health Science Center - Memphis, TN

Programs Offered:


7. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MD

Programs Offered:

BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP

8. Baylor University - Dallas, TX

Programs Offered:


9. University of Utah - Salt Lake City, UT

Programs Offered:


10. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL

Programs Offered:

BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP

11. Stony Brook University - Stony Brook, NY

Programs Offered:


12. Wayne State University - Detroit, MI

Programs Offered:

BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP

13. Thomas Jefferson University - Philadelphia, PA

Programs Offered:


14. Creighton University - Omaha, NE

Programs Offered:



Career Opportunities After Graduating with This Degree

Although many DNP-Neonatal NPs work in newborn intensive care units, the Scope of Practice for DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioners includes caring for patients from birth to two years of age. Graduates of DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online can find career opportunities in various settings with a broad range of job titles and responsibilities. A few examples are as follows.

Level III NICU DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner:

Works in collaboration with neonatologists and other healthcare professionals to plan, implement, and evaluate nursing care to newborns in the intensive care unit.

Flight Care DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner:

Responsible for coordinating the transport and care of infants from one facility to another; uses advanced knowledge of technical skills and pathophysiology to provide management of neonate care in referring facilities and during transport.

Nursing Instructor:

DNP-Neonatal NPs may choose to work in the classroom or clinical settings as members of the nursing faculty for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

Earning Potential for Graduates of This Degree

After completing one of the best DNP-neonatal practitioner programs online, graduates earn an average hourly wage of $53.84, the equivalent of $111,994 yearly. DNP-NNPs may negotiate higher earnings, depending on where they work and the amount of previous experience they have. Benefits packages, such as insurance, paid time off, paid sick days or retirement plans add value to one's earnings when the cost of each is considered separately.

Hourly $53.84
Monthly $9,330
Annual $111,994
(Source: ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Graduates of This Degree

Neonatal nurse practitioners are a high-demand specialty, especially among US secondary and tertiary NICUs. Because NNPs can make primary decisions about the care of high-risk newborns and can work with autonomy, they are a great choice to fill the need of neonatal healthcare providers. Additionally, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has established guidelines that include all graduate nursing programs should transition to DNP programs by 2025. The impact of this decision and the need for qualified neonatal healthcare providers to care for these patients makes the job outlook for graduates of accredited DNP-neonatal nurse practitioner programs online quite promising.

The Bottomline

If you have considered a career as a DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, there is no better time to get started! The best online DNP-neonatal practitioner programs for 2024 in this article are an excellent resource of information to help you decide which school or program will best meet your academic and professional needs.


How many credits can I transfer from my previous nursing degree to an online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program?

The school of nursing where you choose to enroll will determine how many credits if any, you may transfer and apply toward your DNP-NNP program requirements. It's always a good idea to speak with academic advisors personally so you can review your transcript and create a study plan with their guidance.

Can I work full-time if I am enrolled in a DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner online program?

Some students choose to work while enrolled in a DNP-NNP program. Others feel it is not conducive to their success in the program. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of working full-time and be honest with yourself about how much time you can dedicate to both work and school before deciding.

Do students in online DNP-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner programs have any required campus time?

The requirements for each DNP-NNP program are determined by the college or university's school of nursing. While some programs do not require any campus attendance, others may require students to come to campus once or twice per semester or yearly. Typically, on-campus requirements are for lab simulations or conferences.

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.