6 Best 1-Year DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) Program Online

The 1-year online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program prepares graduates for the highest level of advanced nursing practice based on a distinct and comprehensive practice-focused doctoral education. The 1-year DNP program is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts a 38% increase in the need for nurse practitioners between 2022 and 2032. This is an additional 123,600 new employees within this period to the already existing 323,900 as of 2022. This increase in the need for nurse practitioners is said to be due to the increase in the aging population and upcoming retirements among the baby boomer generation of healthcare professionals.

The DNP prepares graduates to practice at the most advanced level of nursing and have the skills and tools necessary to assess the evidence derived from nursing practice, as well as other disciplines, to improve healthcare practice and patient outcomes. Graduates of the DNP program will be distinguished by the excellence in which they provide patient care as well as their leadership skills in translating knowledge into practice.

The curriculum is built on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (AACN-DNP Essentials, 2006) to develop the practice-focused competencies for the DNP. This curriculum emphasizes evidence-based practice, interdisciplinary collaboration, leadership, and the development and implementation of healthcare policy.

Why 12-Month Online DNP Programs?

An online DNP program that can be completed in just 12 months is tailored for nurses seeking to achieve a terminal nursing degree as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in the most efficient manner.  For nurses who prioritize their professional growth and have additional responsibilities like childcare or caregiving, this option may be a suitable choice.

Advantages of 1-Year Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs

Online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs offer many advantages to fit the busy lifestyles of today’s professional RNs. For many, the ability to work full or part-time while advancing their education, on their own time, is essential to the decision to pursue a doctoral degree. In a nutshell, the following are the advantages of the online DNP program:

  1. An online DNP program allows students to attend class and complete coursework at the most convenient times.
  2. It provides many RNs the flexibility to maintain a work-life balance while advancing their education.
  3. As students can complete their coursework when convenient, it allows additional time for reflection and meaningful discourse with peers and faculty.
  4. Online DNP programs also provide a unique opportunity to learn new technologies that are becoming more and more prevalent in the healthcare working environment.
  5. Online DNP programs prepare advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to take their nursing practice to the highest level. Nurses who have been working in direct patient care will find that these programs prepare them to take on leadership roles that significantly affect healthcare outcomes.

Types of 1-Year DNP Programs Online

There are a few different types of 1-year DNP programs online to choose from, and it is important to pick the type that best fits your career and lifestyle.

  • The 1-year online BSN to DNP is designed for bachelor’s prepared nurses with no nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist specialty. This program is perfect for nurses who plan to become a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialists.
  • The 1-year online MSN to DNP is designed for nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists with the nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist specialty and is for those who want to upgrade to a DNP degree.
  • The 1-year online post-masters DNP is designed for nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists who have the nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist specialty and is for those who have decided to bypass a master’s level education and go straight through to a DNP degree.

Each program has its unique admission requirements, so be sure to choose the one most appropriate for your current credentials.

Online 1-Year DNP Program Admissions Requirements

The admissions requirements for online DNP programs vary from school to school. However, several requirements are standard across the board and include:

  • Students must be Registered Nurses (RN)
  • A bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN)
  • An MSN degree may be required by some programs.
  • Personal statements
  • Essays
  • Letters of recommendation

How long does it take to earn a DNP Online?

DNP programs are available for BSN and MSN-educated nurses. Program completion may be prolonged due to institution, specialty, and student background (BSN or MSN). Credit requirements for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs offered online might differ as, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program requiring a Master of Science (MSN) degree may require 31–40 credits, whereas a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree often requires 64–94 courses.

The duration of a BSN to DNP program typically ranges from three to four years. MSN to DNP programs with the lowest duration typically range from 12 to 18 months (that is 1 year to 11/2 years). Applicants for these programs are normally required to hold a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) and be actively working as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

 How Much Does It Cost to Earn a DNP Online?

The cost of a DNP program can vary greatly by institution. Some public schools typically offer lower tuition rates for state residents while many offer a flat rate for all students. In most institutions, students offering online nursing doctorate pay between $700 and $1200 per course credit.

As the duration of the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program varies due to the student’s education level (NSN – DNP or MSN – DNP), the cost to earn a DNP also varies based on the same. For the BSN to DNP program, the cost of tuition is between $45,000 and $100,000 or even more, while the MSN to DNP is around $11,000 to a high of $63,000.

NB: Calculating the total cost of tuition and fees for a 1-year online DNP program can be complicated, and we recommend contacting the school directly for a full cost breakdown.

How is Online 1-Year DNP Coursework?

DNP core coursework covers advanced research and writing methods classes as well as extensive coursework in leadership, epidemiology, biostatistics, and a clinical practicum. These courses provide a strong foundation in evidence-based practice, leadership, and quality improvement to build advanced practice skills in complex organizational and systems leadership, advanced clinical practice, and public policy.

These programs are designed sequentially building on the core and specialty competencies at the MSN-level. DNP coursework offers greater depth and breadth in health care policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, translating evidence to practice, information technology, and improving systems of care.

What Specialties are Available in an Online DNP Program?

Earning a doctorate in nursing practice opens up a wide field of opportunity to graduates, and there are a multitude of specialties one can aim for within the nursing profession. The highest degree in nursing practice will prepare you for leadership, administrative, and educational roles in the clinical environment.

Choosing an area of expertise will help you in selecting your future career and shaping how you wish to influence the nursing practice. The following specialties are some of the most common ones found in DNP graduates pursuing:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psych/mental health nurse practitioner
  • Healthcare systems leadership specialty
  • Nurse Anesthesia
  • Advanced clinical practice
  • Gerontology (acute and primary care)
  • Neonatal
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse-midwife
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (acute and primary care)
  • Women’s health nurse practitioner

How are DNPs Licensed and Certified?

The licensure and certification of Nurse Practitioners is a state-by-state affair, hence different states have their own requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to confirm whether the BSN to DNP meets the licensing requirements in the state in which they intend to practice. See DNP state approval for additional information. While the DNP is a terminal degree, there are currently no advanced practice nursing roles that require a DNP for licensure or certification.

How Much Does a DNP Earn?

According to the US-BLS, the Nurse practitioner’s median salary is $129,480 in May 2023, which is $62.25 per hour depending on the specific area of nursing, the region/state of the country, and the specialty.

Based on a July 2020 analysis by ZipRecruiter, the average pay for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in the US is roughly $115,944. This corresponds to a rate of $56 per hour, $2,230 per week, or $9,662 per month.

PayScale, a different employment website, indicates that DNPs have an average yearly salary of $101,932, which is over $15,000 lower than the national average provided by ZipRecruiter.

Top 1-Year Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs

6 Best 1-Year DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) Program OnlineBy far, the most efficient and convenient way to earn a nursing doctorate is through one of the highly acclaimed online accelerated BSN to DNP or MSN to DPN programs. Looking for where to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice online in one year? Here are some colleges to consider for your 1-Year DNP program online.

  • Grand Canyon University Online DNP
  • Capella University Online DNP
  • Purdue Global University Online DNP
  • Maryville University Online DNP
  • University of Florida Online DNP
  • Gwynedd Mercy University Online DNP

#1. Grand Canyon University Online DNP

Grand Canyon University’s online DNP curriculum provides students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to transform nursing practice in today’s complex healthcare environment. The program is designed to help current master’s level nurses develop advanced competencies for increasingly complex practice, teaching, and leadership roles in the healthcare environment.

The faculty are highly experienced in research and teaching, there is a comprehensive online library, and students will have support from dissertation committees to assist in the scholarly project. This is a good option for anyone wanting to pursue their DNP in a university that has a strong reputation in nursing education and with an institution that will prepare students well to generate changes in healthcare.

Program Details

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Total Credits: 39

Online: 8 weeks

Transfer Credits: Up to 3 doctoral credits

Tuition Rate: Online: $725 per credit

#2. Capella University Online DNP

The Capella University Online DNP program is designed to prepare future nursing leaders for advanced organizational decision-making and evidence-based clinical practice. Having a Master of Science in Nursing degree and a strong desire to assist other people, you are prepared to go to the next level. You may strengthen your leadership, administrative, and organizational abilities by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Capella. This will help you provide better care to patients and achieve your goals.

Program Details

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Total Credits: 52

Online: 12-Quarter

Transfer Credits: 0 Max transfer credits

Tuition Rate: Online: $825 per credit

#3. Purdue Global University Online DNP

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice from Purdue University Global is designed to prepare advanced practice nurses to thrive in today’s healthcare industry. Coursework is aligned with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice as well as the DNP professional core competencies. You can complete the program in as few as 15 months.

Learning from Purdue University faculty, you will develop the skills to make meaningful changes in patient care, shape healthcare policy, become a leader in the nursing field, and even launch your own healthcare initiative.

Program Details

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Total Credits: 50

Online: 15-18hours per week

Transfer Credits:

Tuition Rate: Online: $700 per credit

#4. Maryville University Online DNP

Maryville University offers a CCNE-accredited online doctorate of nursing degree program designed to transform students into leaders in nursing and healthcare practice. This is a post-master’s degree program focused on evidence-based practice, leadership, healthcare systems, and data-driven decision-making. The program is 100% online and designed to be completed in just 20 months. This is likely the fastest program among affordable online DNP programs.

Maryville’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are ideal for experienced nurses who want to prepare to advance their careers by earning the highest credential in nursing practice education.

Program Details:

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Total Credits: 11 courses, 33 credit hours


Transfer Credits:

Total Tuition: Online: $56,278 – $64,045

#5. University of Florida Online DNP

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at the University of Florida is a specialized doctorate that aims to provide experienced nurses with improved practice abilities. It is a terminal degree that does not focus on research. Instead, it focuses on applying the most recent research findings to develop practical solutions that enhance patient care and improve healthcare outcomes.

The University of Florida’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is highly focused on the theoretical and scientific underpinnings of advanced nursing practice. The program gives BSN and MSN graduates a chance to further their nursing practice in a flexible setting perfect for working professionals.

Program Details

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Total Credits: 35 for MSN to DNP, 75 or 78 for BSN to DNP

#6. Gwynedd Mercy University Online DNP

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has a strong focus on leadership and the Jesuit core values. This program is a post-MSN program (27 months) and a BSN to DNP (36 months) in length. The curriculum offers practice-focused doctorate education with an equal amount of focus on scholarly development.

Students graduate from the program as practice scholars with the ability to offer leadership, education, and practice change within the healthcare arena. Graduates can assume the highest levels of leadership in the healthcare sector and demonstrate an ability to apply research into practice for the effective delivery of care.

Program Details

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Total Credits: 39 Credits, 13 Courses


Nurse executives, professors, healthcare policy consultants, and clinical leaders are just a few examples of the many careers open to a DNP-prepared nurse. If you are already a nurse with the passion to improve patient care even more than you already do, taking the next step in your education by pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree may be the best thing you can do for your career and for today’s healthcare system.

Choosing the best 12-month DNP programs online can be a challenge, as there is a range of opinions when it comes to determining the top one-year online DNP programs. With this in mind, we have done a whole lot of work putting up the list of the best 1-year online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs for you. Look for the one that aligns with your dream career/aspiration and get started immediately.


Are the online DNP programs accredited?

Yes, accreditation is crucial for online DNP programs. DNP programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Look for CCNE or ACEN accreditation to ensure the program meets quality standards, allows you to get licensed, and potentially qualify for financial aid. Always verify accreditation before enrolling.

How do Online DNP Programs work?

If you choose to enrol in an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, you will be able to complete all your coursework through the university’s e-learning platform. This digital learning platform will give you access to course materials, lectures, and discussion boards where you can interact with both your peers and instructors.

What Jobs Can I Do with a DNP?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can provide graduates with the necessary skills to pursue careers as proficient nurses, take on leadership roles in healthcare management, or become faculty members in practice-focused nursing programs. On the other hand, those who obtain a PhD in nursing can be equipped to engage in nursing research, take up diverse health policy positions, or pursue full-time roles as educators and administrators.

What is the Difference Between a DNP and a PhD?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are regarded as the most advanced educational qualifications for nurses, also known as terminal degrees. However, there are notable differences between the two. The DNP utilizes evidence-based research in practical patient care, aiming to improve the health of patients in clinical environments. DNP graduates often deliver direct patient care with increased independence compared to RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. On the other hand, the PhD is a research-centric degree that can open doors for graduates to engage in clinical research and push the boundaries of the field.

What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is an advanced program that emphasizes practical skills and knowledge. It is considered the highest level of academic achievement in the nursing field. DNP programs aim to equip students with the ability to work alongside other medical professionals at the doctoral level. This includes conducting research and applying findings to enhance the healthcare system and promote better health outcomes for the general population.

Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice worth it? 

Obtaining a terminal degree requires a considerable amount of time and resources. Yet, for individuals with aspirations of attaining the highest level of academic recognition, the commitment may be justifiable. Nurses who possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree may demonstrate enhanced capabilities in contributing to improved patient outcomes and advancing the quality of healthcare as a whole. They may also have the opportunity to practice with increased independence and choose to pursue board certification as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). If you value the implementation of evidence-based practices to save lives, earning a DNP is definitely a worthwhile endeavor.


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