How to Choose BSN to DNP Degree Program + Online Options

This article is about what a BSN to DNP degree program is. You will learn about why earning this degree could be desirable for your career. It also will discuss the knowledge and skills that you will develop in the program, the curriculum and more. Also described is a review of an available online BSN to DNP program.

What Is a BSN to DNP Degree?

A BSN to DNP degree is a graduate degree that is designed for an experienced RN who holds her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is an advanced degree program that will award the student both a MSN and DNP degree at the conclusion of the program.

The BSN to DNP degree program is becoming more common today. Nurses who wish to work as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) today may earn their MSN degree. However, in 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released a statement that supported the notion of the DNP degree becoming the required, standard degree to work as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife and related roles.

The AACN thinks that the DNP degree provides nursing students with the advanced clinical, administrative and leadership skills that are needed to prepare future leaders of the nursing profession.

This means that in the coming years, the DNP will be required to work as an APRN. Thus, practicing nurses with their BSN are increasingly choosing to earn their doctoral degree in BSN to DNP programs.

Your curriculum will depend partially upon your chosen specialty. Once you have completed the core courses required in your DNP program, you will then begin to study your specialty courses. A typical BSN to DNP nurse practitioner curriculum may include these types of courses:

  • Theory and research for advanced nursing practice
  • Physiology and pathophysiology for advanced nursing practice
  • Applied statistics
  • Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced nursing practice
  • Adult nursing – diagnostics and procedures
  • Common adult health problems
  • Family nurse practitioner: women, adolescents and children
  • Complex family healthcare
  • Professional issues in advanced practice nursing

Why Earn a BSN to DNP Degree?

As noted above, a major reason to earn your DNP degree is that it will become the standard, terminal degree over time. Eventually, aspiring APRNs will be required to hold a DNP degree. It makes sense to obtain your DNP and MSN concurrently now if you want to work a the highest level of nursing.

There are other benefits of getting your DNP degree as well:

High Demand for RNs

Nursing is one of the most popular and in demand professions in the United States. In fact, the entire healthcare industry will see nearly a 20% increase in jobs in the next several years. There are few specialities in the healthcare industry more important or needed than nursing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there will be a need for 16% more regular RNs by 2024. The increase in demand is due to Americans who are living longer and healthier lives. Naturally they will want more healthcare services as they age so that they can continue to live a productive life.

More Americans being able to access health insurance also is leading to more people seeking more health and medical procedures. More nurses are needed to follow the orders of healthcare professionals, whether they are doctors, physician assistants or nurse practitioners.

Higher demand also is being caused by technological advances. There are medical procedures available now that were just a dream a few decades ago.

The increase in need for nurses, however, has led to some problems for nursing schools. The AACN has reported recently that US nursing schools had to turn away more than 60,000 qualified nursing students because they did not have enough nurse educators. Approximately 66% of schools that responded to the AACN query stated that not having enough teachers was a the major factor that they had to turn away nursing school students last year.

Earning your DNP will allow you to become a nurse educator, if you choose to do so.

Higher Level of Respect

The DNP is the highest level nursing degree that can be earned. Only one percent of all nurses have a DNP degree. A DNP degree will arm you with the administrative, leadership and clinical skills that can provide you with the best possible positions in nursing leadership and administration. You will be a top candidate for top executive and managerial roles in healthcare systems, hospitals, nursing homes and more.

Record Demand for Skilled Nurses

The major reason that DNP degree holders are needed today is the country needs more APRNs. With the shortage of doctors as well as the cost of training and employing them, more healthcare systems today rely on highly skilled nurses to provide a similar level of care at a lower cost. A DNP holder is qualified to work in the following APRN roles:

  • Nurse educator: Teach the new generation of nurses the clinical and administrative skills they need to be successful. You could be a teacher for associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students.
  • Nurse practitioner (NP): Provide primary and secondary care to patients across the age spectrum. NPs also may order and interpret many diagnostic tests, and prescribe most prescription drugs.
  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM): Provide specialized care to women and their babies; also provide pre- and postnatal care.
  • Certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA): Provide anesthesia to a variety of patients who are undergoing many different medical procedures and operations.

In each of these specialties, there is a strong increase in demand.

For NPs, the increase in demand is a huge 35% by 2024, and for CNMs, it is 25%. CRNAs will see a 19% increase, and nurse educators will experience a similar trend.

High Salaries

Of course, many nurses want to earn their DNP so that they can enjoy a higher salary. Regular nurses earn a good income in the range of $60,000 to $70,000 per year. But APRNs in 2016 were found to earn a median wage of more than $100,000 overall. NPs earned approximately $107,000, and CRNAs made nearly $160,000 per year.

Online Option for BSN to DNP Degree

A solid choice for an online BSN to DNP is listed below.

Loyola University of New Orleans

This online program offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice that can be earned without having to earn your MSN degree first. This is a unique program that allows skilled nurses to take a direct approach to obtain their DNP. Students also are able to leverage the skills and expertise of the top notch faculty and academic resources of Loyola University.

This BSN to DNP degree program will give you the skills and knowledge to improve patient care, communities and healthcare teams. This program is focused on the family nurse practitioner specialty that will immerse you in practice and theory of nursing that will develop your primary care skills. Students learn advanced nursing practice skills, healthcare informatics and healthcare leadership principles.

The required curriculum for this CCNE-accredited program includes the following courses:

  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Theoretical Foundations and Role
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Advanced Health Assessment Practicum
  • Primary Care of Pediatrics
  • Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Advanced Research Methods
  • Primary Care of Adults
  • Primary Care of Adults and Women’s Health


The BSN to DNP degree will provide nurses with extremely bright career prospects in clinical care, administration and leadership, and a very high salary.

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