Most Affordable Online DNP Programs

Explore affordable online DNP programs from accredited universities and see why you don’t need to overpay for a quality doctoral nursing degree.

Written by

PhDs.me Staff

Last updated

Nov 23, 2021

This page provides an inside look at the top-45 most affordable online DNP programs for 2021, including those in areas like advanced practice nursing, gerontology, acute care, psychiatric mental health, leadership, and more. Doctoral degrees can be expensive, so doing your homework and finding an online DNP program that fits both your career goals and budget is essential. From admission requirements and curriculum details to tuition expenses and funding options, this ranking provides the essential information you need to find a quality online DNP program at an affordable price.

45 Most Affordable Online DNP Programs for 2021

or
1
Type: Public
Cost: $

FHSU's online DNP program offers both BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP tracks. The BSN-to-DNP requires 75 credits for graduation, while the MSN-to-DNP requires 30 credits. DNP students must also complete a final project course, 900 clinical hours, and 600 project hours. BSN-to-DNP students must also pass a comprehensive exam with at least a 70% to graduate.

Prospective DNP students must submit online applications, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, resumes, and personal statements. Competitive applications possess a 3.0 or higher GPA. Applicants also need an RN license and a BSN or MSN from a nursing program accredited by the CCNE or NLNAC. Applicants with only a BSN must participate in an admissions interview with faculty.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN- and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 75 (BSN-to-DNP) or 30 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit:  $400
  • Est. Total Tuition: $30,000 or $12,000
  • Length: 4 years or 2 years (including summer semesters)
  • Format: Fully-online coursework with in-person clinicals.
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationHLC
2
Type: Public
Cost: $$

Northwestern offers remote learners an online BSN-to-DNP program with an emphasis on nursing practice in rural communities. The didactic portion of this family nurse practitioner curriculum is entirely online with in-person requirements for clinicals. Required classes for the 73-credit DNP include advanced holistic assessment, advanced pathophysiology, gerontology in primary care, and health promotion. Students at Northwestern choose from a three-year or four-year curriculum plan that includes the 1,020 required hours for clinical experiences and completion of a final project and portfolio.

Prospective online DNP students at Northwestern must possess a BSN from an ACEN, CCNE, or CNEA accredited school with a 2.5 or higher overall GPA and a 3.0 or higher required in the last 60 hours of bachelor's instruction. Applicants should possess an unrestricted RN license and have some experience working with patients within the previous three years.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) 

  • Credits: 73
  • Cost Per Credit: $389 (resident); $643 (non-resident)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $28,397 (resident), $46,939 (non-resident)
  • Length: 3-4 years
  • Format: Fully online coursework with in-person clinicals.
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
79%
AccreditationHLC
3
Type: Public
Cost: $$

The DNP program at NMSU features both online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP degrees. BSN-to-DNP learners choose from concentrations in family nurse practitioner or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. New for Fall 2021, the school also offers an MSN-to-DNP in population health leadership. NMSU is also planning to offer a concentration in nurse anesthesiology soon.

The school accepts only full-time BSN-to-DNP students and requires attendance at an in-person, two-day orientation on campus. Third-year BSN-to-DNP students also attend a weeklong clinical boot camp on campus during a summer semester. All DNP students complete in-person clinicals as well. Applicants for both programs should have 3.0 or higher GPAs and unencumbered RN licenses. Competitive applicants have passed undergraduate or graduate courses in statistics.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 74 (BSN-to-DNP); 32-45 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit: $329 (resident; up to 14 credits per semester); $398 (non-resident; up to 6 credits per semester)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $24,346 (resident, BSN-to-DNP); $29,452 (non-resident, BSN-to-DNP); $10,528-$14,805 (resident, MSN-to-DNP); $12,736-$17,910 (non-resident, MSN-to-DNP)
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Format: Fully online coursework with in-person clinicals, orientation, and boot camp (BSN-to-MSN)
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationHLC
4
Type: Public
Cost: $$

UN Reno offers both a BSN-to-DNP and an MSN-to-DNP for remote learners. Incoming students with an MSN can expect a fully online learning experience, while faculty deliver BSN-to-DNP coursework mostly online. BSN-to-DNP students at UN Reno choose from specialty tracks in adult gerontology and acute care, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health. MSN-to-DNP degree-seekers choose specializations in advanced practice, nurse executive, clinical education leadership, or health policy. BSN-to-DNP students complete in-person clinical residencies while MSN-to-DNP students complete final projects.

Applicants need a BSN and at least a 3.0 GPA or an MSN and at least a 3.5 GPA from a nursing program with NLNAC or CCNE accreditation. While the school does not offer internal scholarships for DNP students, it does try to connect incoming and continuing students with external scholarship opportunities. 

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 68-72 (BSN-to-DNP); 30 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit: $314 (resident)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $43,662-$46,188 (BSN-to-DNP); $19,245 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Length: 3-5 years (BSN-to-DNP); 2 years (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Format: Fully online or mostly online coursework plus in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationNWCCU
5
Type: Public
Cost: $$

UNLV offers two DNP options: the MSN-to-DNP advanced practice track and the nurse executive track. Upon completion of these programs, graduates can pursue leadership positions in clinical teaching and research, administration, and clinical practice. The MSN-to-DNP advanced practice program requires 31 credits for graduation. Major courses include population health analysis and evaluation, business management for nurse practitioners, and translational evidence for healthcare systems. Students must maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA to remain in good standing with the nursing department.

Prospective DNP students need an MSN with a 3.5 or higher GPA. Applicants also need an unencumbered RN license and an APRN license. Depending on the applicant's credentials, an admissions interview may be required.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 31-32
  • Cost Per Credit: $305.50 (resident); $641.50 (non-resident)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $9,776 (resident); $20,528 (non-resident)
  • Length: 2 years
  • Format: Fully online 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
32%
AccreditationNWCCU
6
Type: Public
Cost: $$

MSU Springfield offers remote and hybrid nursing students the BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP programs. Incoming students with an MSN can expect a fully online learning experience while the BSN-to-DNP is a hybrid program. The BSN-to-DNP program features a family nurse practitioner track that takes about four years to complete. The 79-credit program requires classes in advanced pharmacotherapeutics, emerging science methods of advanced practice, and health policy to improve health disparities as well as in-person clinicals. The MSN-to-DNP, which requires only 29 credit hours and no clinicals, takes about three years.

Students in the MSN-to-DNP programs may be able to secure one of two graduate assistantships where they receive money for tuition and living expenses in exchange for their contributions to the nursing program or graduate school.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 79 (BSN-to-DNP), 29 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit: $508.35 (resident, BSN-to-DNP); $645.58 (non-resident, BSN-to-DNP); $442.37 (online, MSN-to-DNP)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $40,160 (resident, BSN-to-DNP); $51,001 (non-resident, BSN-to-DNP); $12,829 (online MSN-to-DNP)
  • Length: 3 years (BSN-to-DNP); 2 years (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Format: Fully online or mostly online coursework with in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationHLC
7
Type: Public
Cost: $$

UCA is a public university with both BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP programs for remote learners. Most BSN-to-DNP courses are online with 1,125 clinical hours in person. In this family nurse practitioner track, students make three or four trips to campus every 15-week semester. Courses include population health and epidemiology, primary care for NPs, and care of adults across the lifespan. The MSN-to-DNP program is part-time with online courses and in-person clinical training over six semesters. Required classes include leadership principles for advanced practice nursing, health policy, and a DNP final project class in addition to 360 hours of fieldwork. 

Applicants for both tracks need a 3.0 or higher GPA for consideration. Interested students also need to submit personal statements and scholarly writing samples in addition to having an admissions interview.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 73 (BSN-to-DNP); 32-36 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit: $489 
  • Est. Total Tuition: $15,648-$35,697
  • Length: 3-4 years (BSN-to-DNP); 2-3 years (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Format: Fully online or mostly online coursework with in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationHLC
8
Ashland University Ashland, OH
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$

Ashland prides itself on offering a DNP curriculum focused on leadership development, cultural competence, organizational analysis, and evidence-based practice. Remote DNP degree-seekers can choose an online BSN-to-DNP or MSN-to-DNP depending on their educational levels. Outside of online courses, learners can expect to complete three to four days of in-person training on campus each semester.

BSN-to-DNP students choose from a family nurse practitioner or health systems leadership track. These tracks take three and four years to complete, respectively. Required core classes for both include research methods and evidence-based practice, health informatics, and health policy and advocacy. MSN-to-DNP learners pick from tracks in advanced practice nurse or health systems leadership. Expect to spend two to three years finishing these tracks.

Prospective students need a 3.0 or higher GPA. Applications must also include three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a description of interest are for the DNP final project.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP) 

  • Credits: 57-77 (BSN-to-DNP); 32-54 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Cost Per Credit: $695
  • Est. Total Tuition: $39,615-$53,515 (BSN-to-DNP); $22,240-$37,530 (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Length: 3-4 years (BSN-to-DNP); 2-3 years (MSN-to-DNP)
  • Format: Fully online coursework with in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
95%
AccreditationHLC
9
Type: Private, For-Profit
Cost: $$

Post online DNP students at Post University choose from programs in educational leadership, executive leadership, professional leadership, and informatics leadership. Since these programs are focused on nursing management, leadership, and technology, they do not require on-campus residencies. All requirements can be completed remotely except for the 1,000 clinical practice hours, and currently employed RNs can complete those hours at their place of employment.

All DNP tracks at Post require 42 credits for graduation, and most students complete their programs in two years. Core classes include health services research, health statistics, health policy, and quality management. Each track also requires the completion of two capstone project classes.  Post's programs feature flexible curriculums that allow students to tailor their degrees to fit their career needs.

Applications must include resumes, personal statements, and transcripts that reflect a 2.5 or higher GPA. You also need a master's degree in nursing or an outside field. Those with non-nursing masters may qualify for all tracks except for educational leadership. Incoming students can apply for several internal scholarships, some worth up to $10,000 per year.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 42
  • Cost Per Credit: $770
  • Est. Total Tuition: $32,340
  • Length: 2 years
  • Format: Fully online coursework with in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation:  Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationDEAC
10
Type: Public
Cost: $$

A&M-Corpus Christi's DNP program online includes two specialty tracks: nurse practitioner and executive leadership. This is a part-time program for those who already possess a master's degree and an RN license with the authority to practice in Texas. Candidates for the executive leadership track do not need a nursing master’s degree. One focused on administration in business, healthcare, or the equivalent is sufficient.

DNP degree-seekers at A&M-Corpus Christi must complete 1,000 hours of field experience. Incoming learners with an MSN can transfer up to 500 hours toward this requirement. Online students must also complete a DNP final project under the guidance of the nursing faculty.

Prospective students must submit online applications, personal statements, copies of their RN or NP licensure, and application fees online. Competitive candidates possess a 3.0 or higher GPA in the last 60 hours of their master's coursework. 

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 40
  • Cost Per Credit: $864 (resident); $1,354 (non-resident)
  • Est. Total Tuition: $34,560 (resident); $54,160 (non-resident)
  • Length: 3-4 years
  • Format: Fully online coursework with in-person clinicals
  • Accreditation:  Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationSACSCOC
11
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSACSCOC
12
Augusta University Augusta, GA
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
13%
AccreditationSACSCOC
13
Delta State University Cleveland, MS
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
66%
AccreditationSACSCOC
14
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationSACSCOC
15
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHLC
16
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHLC
17
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationSACSCOC
18
Aspen University Denver, CO
Type: Private, For-Profit
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationDEAC
19
East Carolina University Greenville, NC
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationSACSCOC
20
Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHLC
21
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationSACSCOC
22
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationHLC
23
University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationNWCCU
24
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHLC
25
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
74%
AccreditationSACSCOC
26
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationWSCUC
27
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
73%
AccreditationSACSCOC
28
Troy University Troy, AL
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationSACSCOC
29
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationSACSCOC
30
University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationHLC
31
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
89%
AccreditationSACSCOC
32
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
56%
AccreditationSACSCOC
33
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationSACSCOC
34
Idaho State University Pocatello, ID
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationNWCCU
35
Briar Cliff University Sioux City, IA
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHLC
36
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
68%
AccreditationHLC
37
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationSACSCOC
38
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
55%
AccreditationHLC
39
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationSACSCOC
40
Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
Type: Public
Cost: $$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
43%
AccreditationHLC
41
Type: Public
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHLC
42
Clemson University Clemson, SC
Type: Public
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationSACSCOC
43
McKendree University Lebanon, IL
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHLC
44
Clarke University Dubuque, IA
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
95%
AccreditationHLC
45
Type: Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost: $$$
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationHLC

Rankings Methodology

The rankings methodology used to develop this list began with government data from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). To be eligible for this most affordable DNP ranking list, colleges needed the following characteristics:

  • Annual graduate tuition and fees under $15,000.
  • At least one DNP program offered partially or fully online.
  • Accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Eligible colleges received scores based on their performance in the following categories:  

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list based on tuition and fees per academic year (heaviest weighting)
  • Institutional Aid: Percentage of students receiving financial aid from the school itself (second-heaviest weighting)
  • Online Program Availability: Number of fully-online or partially-online DNP programs reported.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online