How to Get a DNP Degree (Plus Definition, Benefits and FAQs)

Consisting of anywhere from 65 to 95 credits, and a minimum of 1,000 clinical practice hours, BSN to DNP programs may award students both an MSN and a DNP, or just a DNP upon graduation. A full-time BSN to DNP program typically takes three to four years to complete.

As a professional in the medical field, you may have heard of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This advanced degree is designed to prepare nurses for the highest level of practice in clinical nursing. As the field of nursing evolves, the demand for highly qualified practitioners with a DNP degree is increasing exponentially. In this blog post, we will explain the steps required to obtain a DNP degree, and provide you with resources to help you take the necessary steps to reach your goal. Whether you are a current nursing student or a practicing nurse, this guide can help you understand the process of obtaining a DNP degree, and will help you make informed decisions about your career.


Benefits of getting a DNP

You can benefit professionally in a number of ways by earning your DNP, including:

What is a DNP degree?

A DNP is the terminal degree option for clinical nursing. DNP is an abbreviation for Doctor of Nursing Practice. Registered nurses (RNs) have the opportunity to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) through DNP programs.

How to get a DNP degree

The nine steps to earning a DNP are as follows:

1. Get a high school diploma

Obtain a high school diploma or an equivalent credential, such as a GED. Obtaining a license to practice as an RN requires a high school diploma. Some of the fundamental abilities needed to become a nurse can be taught to students during their high school years, including fundamental math and reading comprehension.

2. Receive education

Follow a course of study that will enable you to become a registered nurse. The following are the most typical academic credentials that students pick up to help them become registered nurses:

3. Take the NCLEX-RN

Take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination’s test for registered nurses. Before starting their practice, prospective registered nurses must pass this exam, which is mandated by every state. The NCLEX-RN tests a potential nurse’s theoretical knowledge, ethical awareness, and problem-solving skills.

4. Earn a state license

Apply for licensure if required by your state. Before beginning their careers, some states require registered nurses to fulfill additional requirements, such as undergoing background checks. To find out whether you need a license or to take additional steps, research the particular requirements in your state. If you want to learn more about these requirements, it might be useful to get in touch with a registered nurse who is already working in your state.

5. Gain professional experience

Spend a year or more working as a registered nurse. Although it is not necessary, some DNP programs may favor applicants who have prior work experience as registered nurses. If you have a lot of clinical hours or other practical nursing experience, such as through an internship or research position, the school may waive this requirement.

6. Consider your education options

Choose the educational path that will lead to a DNP that is best for you. A variety of educational options are available to students who want to earn a DNP. Although the majority of professionals opt to complete their Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) first, you can also be eligible for a DNP with other types of degrees. If you have enough RN experience, you may even decide to apply directly to a DNP program without a degree. Which degrees you already hold, how much time you want to spend taking prerequisite courses while pursuing your DNP, and whether you want to enroll in a DNP program full- or part-time will all have an impact on the best educational path for you.

The following are the academic paths you can take to earn your DNP:

7. Consider choosing a specialization

Consider whether you want to enroll in a DNP program that offers a nursing specialization. Taking specialized courses as part of a degree focus or concentration is permitted by some DNP programs. These concentrations could equip students for particular APRN positions like family nurse practitioner (FNP) or CRNA, as well as for more specialized fields like executive nursing leadership or administration.

8. Research schools

Conduct research on DNP programs. It’s critical to select a DNP program that complements your educational background and professional experiences. Candidates with a BSN, for instance, might want to enroll in a BSN to DNP program, whereas those with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing would probably prefer a direct entry DNP program. When choosing a DNP program that best meets your needs, you should also take into account the following:

9. Submit your application materials

Collect and send in your application materials. Depending on the type of DNP program you’re applying to and the particular requirements of your school, these may change. The following are a few of the most typical DNP application requirements:

What courses are required for a DNP?

DNP courses can differ depending on elements such as the program’s special features and your choice of specialization. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) mandates that the following topics be covered in the curricula of all DNP programs:

FAQs about DNPs

The following are responses to some common queries about DNPs:

Whats the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing?

The nursing DNP and PhD are the two final degrees available to nurses. They can both assist nurses in developing their abilities, pursuing advanced positions, and obtaining certification as advanced practice registered nurses.

The main distinction is that a nursing PhD places more emphasis on research. Students who pursue a PhD in nursing frequently want to work in nursing positions associated with scientific or medical research. In contrast, those who obtain a DNP typically want to work in a clinical setting in an advanced position such as a nurse practitioner or health care administrator.

Does a DNP degree lead to becoming an APRN?

A DNP degree qualifies you to pursue APRN licensure. This indicates that you can use your DNP to advance into a position requiring APRN licensure, such as a nurse practitioner, CRNA, certified nurse midwife (CNM), or another.

Some students may enroll in DNP programs to pursue careers other than APRNs, such as those in public policy, administration, or leadership in the healthcare industry.

How does a DNP differ from a MSN?

Candidates can become eligible to obtain their APRN licenses with both DNPs and MSNs. An MSN is not a terminal degree, which is one distinction between these two degrees. After receiving their MSN, some nurses may decide not to pursue a terminal degree, while others may go on to obtain a DNP or a PhD in nursing.

Another distinction between the DNP and MSN is that the DNP can give applicants additional nursing-related skills. Candidates for a DNP program are likely to receive instruction in cutting-edge areas like health care policy, evidence-based practice, and healthcare systems.


How many years does it take to get DNP?

33 to 43 credits and at least 500 hours of clinical practice make up most DNP programs. This can equate to one to two years of coursework that must be completed full-time, which can be difficult to do while maintaining a full-time nursing career. A typical program requires two to three years of part-time study.

How hard is it to get a DNP?

You must complete at least 1000 hours of clinical practice to earn your DNP, but you can reduce this requirement by using some of the hours from your prior MSN degree. Online resources claim that you can submit applications for up to 500 hours.

Is DNP higher than PhD?

One is not superior to the other because it is comparing a certification to an academic degree, so which is higher, NP or DNP? An advanced practice registered nurse (NP) is a nurse with a master’s or doctoral degree who is certified and licensed as such. A DNP is a higher-education degree.

Is DNP higher than RN?

One is not superior to the other because it is comparing a certification to an academic degree, so which is higher, NP or DNP? An advanced practice registered nurse (NP) is a nurse with a master’s or doctoral degree who is certified and licensed as such. A DNP is a higher-education degree.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *