What is a BSN to DNP Program?
BSN to DNP programs help nurses transition into advanced practice nursing (APRN) roles. The BSN-DNP degree, or post-bachelor’s DNP, allows students to complete a curriculum for both MSN and DNP degrees in one streamlined program.
Some advanced nursing degree programs require nurses to first obtain a master’s degree and then work another four years before earning their DNP. Going with a BSN-DNP program relieves them of these requirements, makes the DNP accessible to more nurses, and speeds the time needed to obtain the designation.
In BSN-DNP programs, which are available in many schools across the country, students receive an education in the foundations of nursing practices, nursing theory, and research methods.
Why Should I Consider a BSN to DNP Program?
The healthcare industry faces a growing shortage of nurses, with 1.2 million vacancies expected by 2022. For this and many other reasons, getting more qualified professionals into the field is crucial to the quality of patient care.
BSNs who pursue a DNP degree are able to upgrade their credentials, increase their professional prospects, and prepare for the current and future needs of the patient population. Additionally, obtaining a DNP degree opens the door to career paths that can lead to high level roles in healthcare policy creation, as top clinicians, and as leaders in the charge to improve healthcare delivery.
What are the Requirements for a BSN to DNP Program?
Many BSN-DNP programs provide both online and campus-based courses. Students are typically asked to complete anywhere between 65 and 90 credits; the amount required varies based on the specialization track chosen by the student. Full-time students can expect to finish the program in around 36 months (three to four years). Those taking online courses may choose to continue working while pursuing this advanced degree, as they gain 24/7 access to course content and can learn on their existing schedule. Some working may consider part-time or accelerated program options as well.
Some programs have mandatory campus-based experiences that give students the chance to meet faculty and discuss their education with peers. Online students must work with faculty to arrange set times at practical/clinical sites to complete any requirements for clinical experiences associated with their specialty.
General Prerequisites for BSN-DNP Programs
Many programs ask that their applicants possess:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited institution
- A high-enough GPA for admission, usually at least a 3.0
- A score of 500 or better on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- A current, clean nursing license or eligibility to obtain a nursing license in the school’s state
- A CV or resume outlining previous nursing experience
Other common requirements:
- An in-person interview with a program representative
- An essay submission that highlights the student’s goals
- Letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant’s academic abilities, personal character, and professional competency
What is the Curriculum for a BSN to DNP Program?
Several BSN-DNP programs provide students with the opportunity to specialize in various patient care roles, including the role of advanced practice registered nurse, or APRN. The following BSN to DNP specialties also require students to complete clinical hours and obtain state licensing:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Clinical Nurse Practitioner (CNP)
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
Students choosing to pursue a CNS or CNP role will pick at least one population on which they will focus. This means they will work toward specific NP roles, including:
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/ Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP or PNP – AC)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
- Dual Role Adult-Gerontology/Family Nurse Practitioner
- Dual Role (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care) Emergency Specialty
The number of clinical hours that must be completed varies depending on the program and the requirements for the state in which the school is based. When researching educational institutions, students should contact the relevant State Board of Nursing and validate what schools have programs meeting their requirements.
Some institutions offer students the opportunity to prepare for careers outside of direct patient care. These students are able to focus their BSN-DNP degrees in preparation for high level careers in areas like:
- Healthcare policy
- Information systems
Common BSN to DNP Program Requirements
Most BSN – DNP programs require students to finish their master’s degree requirements before moving on to other advanced courses. Additionally, those with an APRN focus must complete courses in the following areas:
- Advanced Health Assessment
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced Pathophysiology
Additional courses to be completed include:
- Health Promotion
- Ethics in Nursing and Healthcare
- Principles of Practice Management
- Principles of Epidemiology
- General Research Methods
Once students have passed these courses, they can then move on to more advanced DNP program requirements.
DNP Program Requirements
The following are standard requirements for the DNP portion of a program:
- Health Policy and Advanced Nursing Practice
- Clinical Informatics
- Inter-professional Collaboration
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Leadership in Health Care
- Clinical and DNP Project
- Health Care Delivery Systems
- Project Management
Most DNP programs include a minimum of 1,000 hours of practical experience, with 500 of those transferrable to the MSN portion of the program. Students must typically complete a final project while working alongside an approved mentor. They can shape their final projects by utilizing resources like:
- Consulting projects
- Practice portfolios
- Quality improvement projects
- Research utilization projects
- Pilot studies
What Certifications Would I Need Upon Completing a BSN to DNP Program?
Most BSN-DNP programs require students to complete around 500 hours of clinical rotations and then pass the certification exam related to their area of specialty. Students should check with one of the following nationally-recognized organizations for specific certifications related to their specialty.
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- AACN Certification Corporation
- Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
- National Certification Corporation
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
What are the Tuition Costs for a BSN to DNP Program?
Tuition costs can vary depending on the school and the number of courses required for a specialization. Students must be prepared to cover mandatory fees and expenses for any course materials like textbooks. Additionally, the cost of tuition can differ if a student is looking to attend an out-of-state school versus an in-state option.
Students should compare costs between institutions once they have located those with accredited programs that suit their needs and current lifestyle.