Nursing Degrees & Schools / MSN to DNP
Nurses with a master’s of science in nursing degree often take the next step to obtain a DNP or doctor of nursing practice. The MSN to DNP path is the traditional way students earn the DNP, and it can be a big step forward. Many nurses choose to earn a DNP degree because it offers more career opportunities and other benefits you’ll discover in this post.
Specifically, this post will cover:
- What can a nurse do with a DNP?
- What are MSN to DNP admission requirements?
- What is the DNP curriculum like?
- What are the top DNP programs?
- How do you pay for a DNP program?
- Are you ready for an MSN to DNP program?
What can a nurse do with a DNP?
Nurses who receive a DNP set themselves to move into a new field or gain a competitive advantage over the nurses in their respective fields. The two settings that most DNP graduates work in are:
- Leadership and administration
- Advanced Practice Registered Nursing
The difference in these two settings comes down to whether the nurse wants to work with or without patients.
Leadership and administrative roles
Going from MSN to a DNP degree allows nurses to help make overarching policy changes on an administrative level.
Specifically, DNPs with a leadership and administrative focus work in:
- Organizational leadership
- Health policy
- Health informatics systems
- Nurse management
Advanced Practice Nursing
This setting is for nurses who wish to work with patients directly. While obtaining a DNP to work in specific APRN roles is not necessary, earning this degree can set nurses up for a raise or give them a competitive advantage over their peers.
DNPs who want to become an APRN need to take the APRN certification exam. They also may need to seek out advanced specialty certification.
The DNP typically works as a:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP) – These are health care professionals who often work independently from a doctor’s supervision to help prevent illness and teach wellness practices to patients. They do not currently need a DNP degree, but this is likely to change by 2025.
- CRNA or Nurse Anesthetist – These clinicians work with nurses and physicians to administer anesthesia. Currently, you only need an MSN. However, this is also slated to change by 2025, and CRNAs may start requiring a DNP.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist – These are clinicians who work with nurses and patients in the role of a nurse. Currently, you only need an MSN for this position.
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What are MSN to DNP admission requirements?
Every MSN to DNP program will have different standards for admission. However, the general requirements are as followed:
- Having an MSN degree from an accredited university
- Having an active nursing license in the school’s state you want to attend
- Personal essay
- In-person interview
- Letters of recommendation
- Having a competitive GPA
What does the DNP curriculum look like?
The DNP aspect of the MSN to DNP program will include courses like:
- Interprofessional Collaboration
- Health Policy and Advanced Nursing Practice
- Health Care Delivery Systems
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Clinical and DNP Project
- Leadership in Healthcare
- Project Management
- Clinical Informatics
DNP programs require 1,000 hours of practice experience (500 can be transferred from the MSN program).
After the DNP program, the student will have to submit a final project. They will have a chance to work with a mentor for the project.
Full-time students can complete the MSN to DNP program in one to two years.
What are some of the top MSN to DNP programs?
According to US News & World Report, the top five universities with MSN to DNP programs are:
- Johns Hopkins University – A private school in Baltimore, MD, with an application deadline of January 1, and an application fee of $75 for US residents.
- Duke University – A private school in Durham, NC, with an application deadline of December 1, and an application fee of $50 for US residents.
- Rush University – A private school in Chicago, IL, has an application deadline of January 2, and an application fee of $115 for US residents.
- The University of Washington – A public school in Seattle, WA, with an application deadline of January 15, and an application fee of $85 for US residents.
- Columbia University – A private school in New York, NY, with an application deadline of January 20, and an application fee of $75 for US residents.
How do I pay for an MSN to DNP program?
Once you pick a program, you need to decide if you will apply for financial aid. DNP programs can cost a lot, so look closely at your finances to determine if you need financial assistance.
If you need help, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Any DNP program you want to attend will use the FAFSA to determine your needs.
If you feel worried about taking on loans, some companies and programs offer student loan forgiveness following graduation.
Are you ready for an MSN to DNP program?
Determining whether you’re ready for an MSN to DNP program means assessing your career goals honestly. If you are happy in your current role making the salary you are, then it may not be best to spend time and money on a DNP program. But if you want to learn new things, work with patients or administrators in new ways, earn more money, or go deeper into your nursing specialty, a DNP program might be right for you.
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