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Online MSN to DNP Programs

There are a few MSN to DNP degree programs offered completely online. Learn about some of the differences between these programs and a traditional MSN to DNP program format and get information on common admission requirements.

It is fairly common for Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (MSN to DNP) degree programs to offer online courses, but there are some of these programs that are available completely online. Here we discuss some of the differences and similarities between online and traditional, on-campus MSN to DNP programs.

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Comparing Online vs. Traditional MSN to DNP Programs

Online MSN to DNP

MSN to DNP degree programs that are available completely online typically offer the same kind of coursework as on-campus programs, but they do not require campus visits or intensives and allow students to complete their clinicals (hands-on experience) locally. These programs also offer greater scheduling flexibility with coursework. Class materials can be accessed at any time, though assignments and discussion sessions might have set dates for completion to keep students on track. As a result, another big difference between online and on-campus programs is the ability to work at your own pace and finish a DNP in as little as 20 months or a DNP-Nurse Practitioner (NP) program with additional training in a specialty area in as little as 36 months.

Students in these online programs usually complete capstone courses that require research-based projects and/or practicums as well as coursework in topics like ethics, statistics, research and leadership related to health care. Graduates of these programs are equipped for a variety of nursing careers in their chosen concentration, such as a family nurse practitioner, nursing professor, nursing director, pediatric nurse practitioner or nursing administrator.

Traditional MSN to DNP

As mentioned, traditional, on-campus MSN to DNP programs might offer at least some online courses in addition to on-campus classes and intensives. These programs can be completed in around 27 months and may offer additional majors, such as nurse-midwife, clinical nurse specialist or health systems executive leadership. Students in these programs take courses in many of the same topics as online programs, like health care policy and finance, ethics, leadership and clinical research, and complete a culminating research-based DNP project. Graduates of traditional MSN to DNP programs can work in pretty much the same sort of positions as graduates of online programs, including as nurse practitioners, directors, clinical leaders and chief nursing officers.

Common Entrance Requirements

Online MSN to DNP degree programs usually do not require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores, while some on-campus programs do. Both the online and traditional formats require applicants to have an MSN and to submit their official transcripts, RN license verification and proof of work experience or clinical hours. Many traditional programs and some online programs may require students to also submit letters of reference, a personal essay and a resume/CV. Students might have to undergo an interview process as well. Some online MSN to DNP programs guarantee that students will not have to stay on a waiting list after being accepted.

Online and traditional MSN to DNP degree programs are fairly similar, but online programs tend to provide students with greater scheduling flexibility and allow them to complete their program faster. Online programs still require students to gain hands-on learning experience through clinicals and practicums.


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