Types of Doctor of Nursing Practice Degrees: MSN to DNP, No GRE, Accelerated, and Direct Entry

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Types of DNP programs, doctor of nursing practice

The different types of DNP programs include options that allow you to earn your degree in less time, don’t require the GRE, and bridge programs to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Check out some of these options and a few schools that offer each to find the perfect program for you.

What are different Types of DNP Programs?

The types of DNP programs are:

  • MSN to DNP
  • Online DNP Programs No GRE Required
  • Accelerated DNP Programs
  • Direct Entry DNP Programs

As you’ll see below, there are many types of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs to fit the needs of students based on educational experience, flexibility needs, and whether you need to take the GRE as part of admissions requirements.

A DNP is one of two terminal degrees in nursing and is more focused on researching and analyzing methods of patient care to improve the practice of nursing. Check out some of the different types of DNP programs below and some of the partner schools that offer that type of program.

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MSN to DNP Programs

MSN to DNP are specially designed for students who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and who are licensed registered nurses (RNs). Normally, these dual degrees allow you to earn your degrees in less time than it would take to earn them separately.

Most programs are designed so that you are required to complete and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) before starting coursework on the DNP. However, it’s important to check with each school to see specific requirements.

Learn more about any of our partner schools listed below for more information about their DNP programs.

Created to help adult learners earn a degree around their busy schedules, Purdue University Global offers an innovative approach to teaching and learning because they understand that adult learners are different than traditional college-aged students.

MSN to DNP Programs at Purdue University Global

The online MSN to DNP programs at Purdue Global are designed so that you may pursue your degree around your busy schedule. Each of your options cover a balanced core curriculum and specialized courses in organizational theory, healthcare finance, and healthcare technologies.
By offering innovative, individualized, and quality classroom and clinical learning environments, the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences strives to develop professional healthcare providers.

MSN to DNP Program at St. Augustine

By allowing you to complete your degree entirely online, the program at St. Augustine offers flexibility to fit into your busy schedule. Plus, you can complete your practicum hours in your own community and partner with a faculty mentor and preceptor of your choice. In addition, the school offers three concentrations so you can choose the path that fits you. Depending on the number of credits you transfer or if you start the program from scratch, you’ll need to earn 42 to 52 credits to earn your degrees.
The programs at Loyola University New Orleans strive to help you find out who you want to be. Founded in 1912, Loyola now offers 66 undergraduate and 17 graduate programs and serves more than 3,500 students.

MSN to DNP Programs at Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola New Orleans offers two different tracks for their MSN to DNP programs:
  1. Nurse Practitioner Track: this track is designed to teach clinical practice and healthcare leadership
  2. Executive Leader Track: this track prepares students to champion the mission of a healthcare organization
Both tracks strive to prepare students to work in interdisciplinary teams, make informed and ethical decisions, and translate research evidence to solve healthcare challenges.

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What are requirements for online DNP Programs that don’t require GRE scores?

Online programs that don’t require the GRE do have other admissions requirements, which usually include:

  • Earned an MSN
  • Active RN license
  • At least one year of employment after MSN
  • Statement of vision
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts

If you didn’t earn as a high of a score as you would’ve liked on the GRE, or if you don’t want to stress about preparing for and taking the GRE, there are many online DNP programs that don’t require you to submit GRE scores.

Some schools have stricter requirements than others. For instance, some schools will look for applicants with a 3.2 MSN GPA, while others may not be as strict. Check with any of the partner schools listed below for specific admissions requirements.

Online DNP Programs No GRE

Through a well-rounded education designed to challenge you academically while nourishing your spiritual and ethical development, Duquesne University is the only Spiritan institution of higher learning in the United States.

Online DNP No GRE at Duquesne

With your years of education and professional experience, Duquesne knows that you already translate evidence-based care into practice. As a result, their is designed to give you the tools and analytical experience to put you in a position to transform the future of healthcare. In addition, the program offers:
  • Three start dates per year
  • Study abroad options
  • One-on-one faculty mentorship
For more than 65 years, Grand Canyon University has been Arizona’s premier higher education institution. Plus, their commitment to a Christian worldview provides greater unity across the university and is carried out in a loving way.

Online DNP No GRE at GCU

Designed for advanced-practice registered nurses, nurse informaticists, and nurse leaders, the online DNP programs at Grand Canyon offer peer discussion and in-depth application-based activities integrated into your current or desired future practice environment.

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Are there Accelerated DNP Programs?

If you’re looking to earn your DNP in less time, an accelerated DNP may be the perfect choice for you. Usually, these programs may be completed in two years or less by motivated students.

In addition, some are BSN to DNP programs that offer the ability to overlap courses so you may be able to earn you combined degree in less time than it would take to earn each degree separately.

Check out the sponsored listings below of schools that offer accelerated DNP programs for more information.

With more than 5,400 students and more than 185 degree programs, Bradley University offers the opportunities and resources of a larger university and the exceptional learning and personal attention usually found at smaller schools.

Accelerated DNP at Bradley

The accelerated DNP at Bradley is their BSN to DNP program that offers a Family Nurse Practitioner track. This program is designed for students who already have a RN license and offers three different start dates per year to offer you the flexibility you need. This program requires you to earn 83 credits, which includes supervised clinical practicum and may be completed 12 semesters and four years.
Founded in 1963 as an independent Catholic university, Sacred Heart University challenges you to be fearless in your curiosity and courageous in your service to others. The school is passionate about helping you discover your own talents, abilities, strengths, and dreams.

DNP Program at Sacred Heart

The accelerated DNP at Sacred Heart University may be completed in a year and a half, though many students choose to earn their degree in two years. The practice-focused DNP is designed to build upon your masters-level education. Your curriculum and assignments strive to develop your expertise in various leadership and teaching roles in the nursing profession and the healthcare delivery system.
The University of Saint Joseph offers a welcoming community that offers personal attention and challenging academic programs to those who want to make a difference in society. Founded in 1932, the school has evolved into a vibrant educational complex that holds true to its commitment to prepare students for insightful leadership and service to others.

Accelerated DNP at the University of Saint Joseph

The accelerated online DNP at the University of Saint Joseph strives to teach a strong knowledge of nursing scholarship, clinical practice, health promotion, disease treatment, and the skills necessary to work in an evolving healthcare environment. This program may be completed in two years and offers three tracks to customize your degree to meet your professional goals:
  1. Clinical Leadership
  2. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  3. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

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What are Direct Entry DNP Programs?

Designed for students who have a non-nursing master’s degree, direct entry DNP programs usually offer some type of bridge program to get you caught up to speed on terms, techniques, and research to prepare you for the DNP.

Depending on the program, this usually includes about three courses. And, if you only have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, there are other direct entry nursing MSN programs to help you enter the field and earn a master’s degree.

Dedicated to providing exceptional, professionally-aligned programs, Capella University combines a challenging, competency-based curriculum with real-world applications. In addition, the school offers a vibrant community of professionals and an engaged and experienced faculty.

Direct Entry DNP Programs at Capella:

Specifically designed for students who have a master’s degree in a non-nursing field, the direct-entry DNP program at Capella is structured with:
  • Three preparatory courses
  • Nine core courses
  • Four capstone courses with practicum
The bridge courses are designed to prepare students of the challenges and rigors of the DNP program and for the challenges of being a leader in the field of nursing.

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DNP Essentials

A Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, is one of two types of terminal degrees, or the highest degree you can earn, in nursing. As a result, these programs cover topics centered around nursing leadership, methods of improving patient care, and the practice of nursing through an in-depth analysis of current research in the field.

Through a core curriculum and evidence-based practice, these programs emphasize topics such as:

  • Systems management
  • Quality improvement
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Improving healthcare delivery systems
  • Improving patient outcomes


The main difference between a DNP and a nurse practitioner (NP) is that an NP is a job title and a DNP is a doctoral degree. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in order to become an NP you need to earn either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a DNP.

There are many types of NPs, including Family Nurse Practitioners and Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioners. Read our complete list of NP and DNP specialties, which may help you decide which is perfect for you.

DNP vs PhD in Nursing

The main difference between the DNP and the PhD in nursing is the DNP is more focused on practice and the specific application of lessons, whereas PhD programs strive to prepare nurses to conduct research and advance the science of nursing.

When searching for the perfect program for you, these differences are important to understand. If you’re interested more in practice than in research, choosing the DNP may be right for you. However, take time to research all of your nursing doctorate options.

How Long Is a DNP Program?

Many DNP programs can be completed in three to four years for full-time students. Plus, there are some part-time programs that are structured so some students may complete them in three years.

In addition, many schools require that you complete the program within a certain number of years of starting so that all the material stays fresh. Normally, this requirement ranges from five to seven years, depending on the program.

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Nurse Practitioners
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$146,050680
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$131,4302,450
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$129,040170
Stockton-Lodi, CA$127,330110
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$123,5704,260

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top States for Employment for Nurse Practitioners
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York13,450$115,030

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find the Perfect DNP for You!

With all of these options, it’s easy to find the perfect DNP for you, that meets your expectations and fits your schedule. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to contact the schools directly to find out when the next start date is and how to apply.

Or, complete the form on this page and we’ll match you to the perfect program for you! You can also find more Nursing Practitioner programs (no GRE), DNP programs, direct entry MSN programs, and nursing programs that accept low gpa.

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