BSN to DNP Bridge Degree Programs

BSN to DNP programs prepare students to assume leadership positions within the nursing field. In contrast to a PhD, which is theory and research based, the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) is widely referred to as the “practical doctorate” since the course of study emphasizes the development of advanced clinical practice skills, along with the principles of healthcare leadership.

The DNP is a versatile degree and will prepare students to work as advanced practice nurses (clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioners) to provide leadership in private and public health facilities, participate in health education, perform research and contribute to the body of knowledge within certain practice areas, develop and implement new facility-based procedures, and become involved with health policy planning and formation.

DNP programs serve full-time students who are preparing for advanced nursing careers, as well currently employed nurses seeking to advance their skill-base and knowledge to assume leadership roles.  The DNP is a terminal degree meaning that it is the highest educational credential that a student can obtain in the field of clinical nursing practice.  Many healthcare employers hire DNP graduates to work as Advanced Practice Nurses (APN).  Where at one time a master’s degree was sufficient to work as APN, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has, in recent times, recommended the DNP as the entry-level credential for these roles.

See the below list for featured DNP programs. You can directly get in touch with these DNP programs and request some more information from them.

BSN to DNP Program Benefits

  • Expanded job opportunities: DNP are considered experts within th nursing field and are eligible to assume a wide range of leadership and advanced practice roles within nearly any healthcare setting.
  • Skills Development: A hallmark of DNP programs is their rigorous academic preparation enabling graduates to successfully navigate the increasing complex and sophisticated healthcare environment.
  • Earnings Potential: DNP graduates hold the highest level positions and therefore command the highest salaries of all nursing professionals. For example, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), perhaps the most highly paid nursing specialty, could earn a median salary of $155,989, while a General Nurse Practitioner may earn upward of $90,000 or more.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the anticipated growth rate of advanced practice nurses will be 30 percent through the year 2018 far outstripping the rate for most other occupations. The reasons for this growth are two-fold: 1) the continuing aging of the population with increased health care needs; and 2) the need for advanced practice nurses, who have been provided with prescriptive authority in many states, to relieve the severe doctor shortage in all areas of the country.

Overview of BSN-to-DNP Programs

  • A BSN to DNP program is typically three to four years in length and include classroom and clinical training.
  • The curriculum will include both nursing foundation coursework in nursing theory and research, as well as training in advanced clinical skills. Most programs will require a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical training before graduation.

BSN to DNP Admission Requirements

Admission to the DNP program tends to be highly selective and applicants must meet certain stringent requirements before being accepted. These requirements include graduation from a BSN program that has received accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This agency has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education an official accreditation body for nursing education at the bachelor, master’s and doctorate levels.. For a listing of accredited BSN-to-DNP programs visit Web site of the National Council for State Boards of Nursing ( or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (

Aside from accreditation, admission requirements also include the following:

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher from BSN program
  • Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)  or Miller Analogy Test (MAT)
  • Valid and unrestricted registered nurse (RN) license
  • Admission interview faculty admissions committee
  • Submission of curriculum vitae to include education, nursing experience, research conducted and publication history, personal goal statement, certification in specialty area for all nurse practitioners, and a minimum number of documented clinical hours in master’s level advanced practice nurse preparation (i.e. as a CRNA, Nurse Mid-wife, Nurse Practitioner).
  • Post BSN students must complete the MSN portion of the program satisfactorily before admitted to being admitted to DNP coursework.
  • Three letters of recommendation from colleagues who can verify academic and professional qualifications.
  • Current Basic Life Support (BLS) and CPR certification.

BSN to DNP Program Curriculum

As noted, students must first complete the MSN portion of the program before officially being accepted in the DNP program, Core courses in for the MSN program include:

  • Health Assessment and care Planning
  • Electronic patient Documentation (Nurse Informatics)
  • Research Methodology in Nursing
  • Management Theory and Practices in Nursing
  • Health Policy and Planning
  • Pediatric and Adult Health
  • Family medicine
  • Current issues in Healthcare Technology
  • Community Health /Public Nursing
  • Advanced Clinical Nursing Practice
  • Instructional Methodologies in Nursing
  • Testing Assessment and Evaluation
  • Professional Ethics for Nurses

Core Courses for the DNP program include:

  • Biomedical Ethics in Nursing Practice and Leadership
  • Biometric for advanced Practice Nursing
  • Leadership and Management  in Nursing Practice
  • Health care financing and policy formation
  • Outcome management for improved health care
  • Capstone Practicum:  During the capstone experience students will utilize competencies developed in leadership, collaboration, consultation, and analytical thinking to solve a real-world health care issue. Students will work under the supervision of a faculty advisor and complete a certain number of hours at an approved health care setting.
  • Clinical Immersion Project:  This replaces the dissertation which is not required in the DNP program. DNP students must complete a clinical-based research project in an advanced area that provides evidence of the student’s ability to develop effective solutions to complex health care issues.

BSN to DNP Programs – Selected Programs List

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and is considered one of the most prestigious schools in the country to attain a medical professional degree.  The school of nursing prepares students for careers in the healthcare field.  A high level degree, such as a doctorate, will allow you to get higher level positions and achieve a higher salary throughout your career. The program of BSN to DNP offers extensive opportunities for advanced studies in a program concentration of your choice.  The DNP program provides students with the education necessary to attain upper level nursing positions after graduation.

University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota offers a BSN to DNP program for RNs who already hold a BSN degree or equivalent.  The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed to prepare nursing students for advanced positions as nurses, clinicians, health care executives, and health policy experts.  The DNP program at UM is a three year program that includes both classroom study and practical experience.  The University provides much of the coursework online; however, students must participate in practical labs on campus.  The program is set up to allow flexibility to nurses who are working while completing the program. UM offers a large selection of specialties to choose from.

University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago offers a BSN to DP program designed to prepare nursing leaders for high level professional nursing careers.  The DNP program consists of three areas of competency for advanced practice in clinical care or systems.  The program is provided on-campus through the UIC location in Chicago.  There are three post-master’s DNP paths including a post-master’s curriculum, executive nursing leadership, and new specialty.  Most of the courses are taught through online learning while those seeking a new specialty must also take online courses to gain working knowledge of the new nursing area.

University of Arizona
University of Arizona College of Nursing in Tucson offers an accredited BSN to DNP program.  The program is designed for students enrolled in the BSN program.  The BSN to DNP curriculum is 74 to 77 credits depending on the specialty.  Most students will be able to transfer credits to effectively lower the number of credits necessary to fulfill the degree requirements.  Students must apply and must meet the minimum admission requirements for the program.  Both full and part-time options are open to advanced nursing students.

University of Florida
The University Of Florida College Of Nursing is located in Gainesville, Florida.  UF was the first university in the state of Florida to offer the BSN to DNP program and the first program to be approved by the Board of Governors. The program requires 93 credits and takes 2 ½ years when attending full-time or up to 5 years when attending part-time.  Some students may be allowed to take core courses through the web-based program.  Specialties include acute care, adult nurse, family, and pediatric nurse practitioner.