Accelerated BSN to DNP Programs Online

Written by: Applied Nursing Research Editorial Team   •  May 19, 2024

Accelerated Bsn to Dnp Programs Online

If you’re a nursing professional looking to advance your career, you’ve probably considered furthering your education. But with a busy schedule, it can be challenging to find the time for traditional, on-campus programs. 

That’s where online accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) programs come into play. These programs offer a flexible, efficient way to gain the advanced skills and knowledge you need to excel in the healthcare industry. 

What Is an Accelerated BSN to DNP Program?

An accelerated BSN to DNP program is designed for nurses who already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and are looking to quickly advance to a doctoral level by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

Unlike traditional DNP programs, which can take several years to complete, accelerated programs are structured to help you earn your degree in a shorter amount of time. This is achieved by offering a more intensive curriculum, often with fewer breaks between terms, allowing you to focus on your studies and complete your degree faster.

The “Accelerated” Aspect

The term “accelerated” in accelerated BSN to DNP programs refers to the program’s pace. Traditional DNP programs may take up to four years to complete, but accelerated programs can often be completed in as little as two to three years. This faster timeline is particularly beneficial for working professionals who are eager to advance in their careers but can’t afford to spend several years away from the workforce.

What Is an Online Accelerated BSN to DNP Program?

An online accelerated BSN to DNP program offers the same rigorous curriculum as its on-campus counterpart but delivers it through a digital platform. This allows you to attend lectures, participate in discussions, and complete assignments from the comfort of your home — or anywhere else with an internet connection.

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the most significant advantages of an online program is the flexibility it offers. You can often choose when to attend lectures and complete assignments, making it easier to balance your studies with work, family commitments, or other responsibilities. This flexibility is especially valuable in accelerated programs, where the pace is fast and the workload is heavy.

The Online Learning Environment

Online programs use a variety of tools to deliver an engaging and interactive educational experience. These may include video lectures, discussion forums, virtual labs, and other interactive elements. While you won’t be in a physical classroom, the online environment is designed to be just as enriching, allowing you to collaborate with peers and receive personalized attention from instructors.

By understanding what accelerated BSN to DNP programs online are and how they work, you can make an informed decision about whether this educational path aligns with your career goals and lifestyle. 

Why Earn an Accelerated BSN to DNP Program in Nursing Online?

The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly, with an increasing demand for highly skilled nursing professionals capable of providing advanced care and taking on leadership roles. Earning a DNP degree can open doors to these advanced positions, but traditional programs may not be feasible for everyone. Here’s why an accelerated BSN to DNP program online could be the right choice for you.

Meeting the Demand for Advanced Practice Nurses

The healthcare landscape is shifting towards more specialized care, and advanced practice nurses are at the forefront of this change. By earning a DNP, you position yourself as a leader in the field, capable of not just providing advanced care but also influencing healthcare policies and practices.

Flexibility for Working Professionals

If you’re already working in the healthcare industry, taking time off to pursue a traditional DNP program may not be an option. Online accelerated BSN to DNP programs offer the flexibility to continue working while you study, allowing you to gain practical experience and income as you advance your education.

Benefits of Accelerated BSN to DNP Programs Online

Choosing to enroll in an accelerated BSN to DNP program online comes with a host of benefits that can make your educational journey both rewarding and convenient.

Time Efficiency

One of the most compelling benefits is the time you save. Traditional DNP programs can take up to four years to complete, but accelerated programs can cut this time down to as little as two to three years. This means you can enter the workforce as an advanced practice nurse much sooner.


Online programs offer unparalleled flexibility. Whether you’re a night owl who prefers to study after work or a parent who needs to work around a child’s schedule, online learning accommodates your lifestyle.


Geographical location is no longer a barrier to quality education. Whether you live in a rural area or simply don’t want to relocate to attend a specific school, online programs bring the classroom to you.

Reasons to Study Online

While the accelerated aspect of the program is appealing, the online format offers its own set of advantages.


Forget about commuting, finding parking, or rushing from work to make it to class on time. Your classroom is wherever you have an internet connection, allowing you to fit study time into your day more easily.

Lower Costs

While tuition fees for online and on-campus programs may be similar, studying online eliminates several associated costs like commuting, housing, and meal plans, making it a more economical option for many students.

Networking Opportunities

Online programs often attract a diverse student body from various geographical locations and professional backgrounds. This can provide a rich networking environment, helping you make connections that could benefit your career in the long run.

How Much Does an Accelerated BSN to DNP Program Cost?

The cost of an accelerated BSN to DNP program online can vary widely depending on the institution, the length of the program, and other factors like additional fees for technology or lab work. It’s essential to consider not just the tuition but also other costs like books, software, and any required on-campus residencies. Financial aid, scholarships, and employer tuition reimbursement programs can also help offset these costs.

The average graduate school tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year was around $12,394 per year at public schools and $26,621 per year at private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics . These figures can vary widely depending on the institution and the specific program.

For an accelerated BSN to DNP program, which typically lasts between 2 to 3 years, the total cost could range significantly based on these averages. It’s important to note that these are just tuition costs and do not include additional expenses like books, fees, or living expenses.

For the most accurate and current information, prospective students should consult specific university websites or contact admissions offices directly.

Tuition Fees

  • Average Cost Per Credit Hour: Tuition fees are often calculated on a per-credit basis. For example, if the cost is $600 per credit hour and the program requires 60 credits, the total tuition would be $36,000.

  • Total Estimated Cost for the Entire Program: Based on the average costs reported, you could expect to pay between $25,000 to $80,000 for the entire program.

Additional Costs

  • Books and Materials: Expect to spend around $1,000 to $2,000 on textbooks and other study materials.

  • Software Subscriptions: Some programs may require specialized software that could cost up to $300 per year.

  • Lab Fees: If your program includes lab work, even if it’s virtual, there may be associated fees ranging from $50 to $200 per course.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Federal Student Aid: Filling out the FAFSA can qualify you for federal grants and loans.

  • Institutional Scholarships: Many schools offer scholarships based on academic merit or financial need.

  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement Programs: Some employers offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package.

Accelerated BSN to DNP Program Online Curriculum

An accelerated BSN to DNP program online offers a rigorous curriculum designed to prepare you for advanced nursing roles. While the exact courses can vary by program and specialization, here’s a general idea of what you can expect.

Core Courses

  • Advanced Pharmacology: This course focuses on the pharmacological treatment of illnesses, including drug classifications and side effects.

  • Health Assessment: Learn to perform comprehensive health assessments, including patient history and physical examinations.

  • Nursing Leadership and Management: This course prepares you for leadership roles by teaching management theories and practices specific to healthcare.


  • Family Nurse Practitioner: Focuses on providing comprehensive healthcare for families across the lifespan.

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: Specializes in mental health care, including diagnosis and medication management.

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Concentrates on acute care for adults and the elderly.

Clinical Hours

  • Requirement for Supervised Clinical Practice Hours: Most programs require between 500 to 1,000 supervised clinical hours.

  • How Online Programs Facilitate These Requirements: Online programs often have partnerships with healthcare facilities where you can complete your clinical hours locally.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Accelerated BSN to DNP Online Programs?

Admission into an accelerated BSN to DNP program online can be competitive, and requirements vary by institution. However, there are some common prerequisites you should be prepared for.

Academic Qualifications

  • Minimum GPA Requirements: Most programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0, although more competitive programs may require a higher GPA.

  • Prerequisite Courses: Common prerequisite courses include statistics, anatomy, and physiology.

Professional Experience

  • Required Years of Nursing Experience: Most programs require at least one to two years of professional nursing experience.

  • Current RN Licensure: You’ll need to have a current RN license to apply.

Additional Requirements

  • Letters of Recommendation: Usually, two to three letters are required, often from current or former employers or professors.

  • Personal Statement or Essay: This is your opportunity to explain why you’re pursuing a DNP and how it aligns with your career goals.

  • Interviews: Some programs require interviews, which can be conducted in person or via video conferencing.

Accreditation for Accelerated BSN to DNP Programs

Accreditation is a crucial factor to consider when choosing an accelerated BSN to DNP program online. Accreditation ensures that the program meets or exceeds quality standards set by the industry, which can be particularly important for licensure and employment.

Importance of Accreditation

  • Quality Assurance: Accreditation ensures that the program you’re considering meets the high standards required for advanced nursing practice.

  • Eligibility for Financial Aid: Many types of federal financial aid are only available to students attending accredited institutions.

  • Employer Recognition: Employers are more likely to recognize and value a degree from an accredited program.

Accrediting Bodies for Nursing Programs

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): One of the most recognized accrediting bodies for nursing programs in the United States.

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): Another reputable accrediting organization for all types of nursing education.

  • State Nursing Boards: Some states have their own accrediting bodies, so it’s essential to check your state’s specific requirements.

How to Check Accreditation

  • School Websites: Accreditation information is usually prominently displayed on a school’s website.

  • Accrediting Body Websites: You can also verify a program’s accreditation status directly on the accrediting body’s website.

  • U.S. Department of Education Database: Provides a searchable list of accredited institutions and programs.

Career Options for People With BSN to DNP Degrees

Earning a DNP opens the door to a variety of advanced nursing roles. These positions often come with increased responsibilities, but they also offer higher earning potential and more opportunities for leadership within healthcare organizations.

Nurse Practitioner

  • Roles and Responsibilities: Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medication, and may even serve as primary care providers.

  • Specializations: Family care, psychiatric health, and adult gerontology are common specializations.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

  • Roles and Responsibilities: Clinical nurse specialists focus on improving patient care within a specific setting, like a hospital, or a particular patient population.

  • Specializations: Emergency care, oncology, and pediatrics are some areas of focus.

Nurse Educator

  • Roles and Responsibilities: Nurse educators teach the next generation of nurses, either in academic settings or as part of a healthcare organization’s staff development.

  • Specializations: Curriculum development, educational technology, and clinical instruction are areas where nurse educators often focus their expertise.

Salary and Job Outlook for Accelerated BSN to DNP Program Online Graduates

Choosing to pursue an accelerated BSN to DNP program online is a significant investment, both in terms of time and finances. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the potential return on this investment. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced practice nursing professions like nurse practitioners have a promising outlook.

Average Salary

  • Nurse Practitioner: The median annual wage for nurse practitioners was $121,610 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: According to Payscale , the median salary for a clinical nurse specialist was around $98,000 as of August 2023.

  • Nurse Educator: Salaries for nurse educators can vary widely depending on the setting, but the median is around $78,580 per year, per the BLS .

Salary Range

  • Nurse Practitioner: Salaries can range from around $85,000 to upwards of $160,000 depending on experience, location, and specialization, according to the BLS.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: Salaries can range from approximately $70,000 for entry-level positions to over $120,000 for experienced professionals, according to Payscale.

  • Nurse Educator: The salary can range from approximately $50,000 for entry-level positions to over $120,000 for experienced educators in high-paying settings, per the BLS.

Ten-Year Job Growth Projection

  • Nurse Practitioner: Employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow 46% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS .

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: While specific growth rates for clinical nurse specialists are not available, the demand for specialized nursing roles is expected to increase.

  • Nurse Educator: Employment of nurse educators is projected to grow 22% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information for Accelerated BSN to DNP Programs

Pursuing an advanced degree like a DNP can be a significant financial commitment. However, there are various financial aid options and scholarships available to help offset the costs. Knowing what’s available can make your educational journey more affordable.

Types of Scholarships Available

  • Merit-Based Scholarships: These are awarded based on academic achievement and often require a minimum GPA for eligibility.

  • Need-Based Scholarships: These scholarships are granted based on financial need and usually require applicants to submit a FAFSA.

  • Specialized Scholarships: Some scholarships are designed for specific fields of nursing or for underrepresented groups in the healthcare industry.

Federal and State Financial Aid Options

  • Federal Student Aid: By completing the FAFSA, you may qualify for federal grants, which don’t have to be repaid, or federal student loans, which do.

  • State-Specific Grants and Scholarships: Many states offer their own financial aid programs for nursing students. Check with your state’s Department of Education for more information.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement Programs

  • Eligibility: Many healthcare employers offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package. Eligibility criteria can vary.

  • Reimbursement Limits: There’s often a cap on how much employers will reimburse, so it’s essential to know these limits.

  • Commitment: Some programs may require you to commit to working for the employer for a certain period after graduation.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): If you work in a qualifying public service job, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness after making 120 qualifying monthly payments.

  • Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program: This program offers loan repayment assistance for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse faculty who work in communities with a shortage of healthcare professionals.

Online Accelerated BSN to DNP Program FAQ

Navigating the world of advanced nursing education can be complex. Below are some frequently asked questions about accelerated BSN to DNP programs online.

How Much Can You Earn With an Accelerated BSN to DNP Degree?

Salaries can vary widely depending on the role, experience, and location. However, nurse practitioners, one of the common roles for DNP graduates, had a median annual wage of $115,800 as of May 2020 according to the BLS.

How Long Does it Take to Complete an Accelerated BSN to DNP Program?

The length of the program can vary by institution, but accelerated BSN to DNP programs are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe than traditional programs, often in as little as two to three years.

Is Getting an Accelerated BSN to DNP Degree Worth it?

While the answer can be subjective and depend on individual career goals, the advanced skills and leadership training provided in a DNP program can open doors to higher-paying roles and positions of influence in healthcare.

Can I Earn an Accelerated BSN to DNP Degree Entirely Online?

Many programs offer the coursework entirely online, but keep in mind that clinical hours will need to be completed in person. Some programs may also have occasional on-campus requirements.

What Careers Can an Individual With an Accelerated BSN to DNP Degree Get?

Graduates can pursue a variety of advanced nursing roles, including nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse educator.

What’s the Difference Between an Accelerated BSN to DNP Program and a Standard DNP Program?

Accelerated programs are designed for those who already have a BSN and wish to expedite their education to earn a DNP. Standard DNP programs may have different entry requirements and typically take longer to complete.

Do You Need a DNP to Be a Nurse Practitioner?

While a master’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a nurse practitioner in most states, a growing number of roles require a DNP for new hires, making it an increasingly valuable credential.

Explore Online Accelerated BSN to DNP Programs

Choosing to pursue an accelerated BSN to DNP program online is a significant decision that can have a profound impact on your career and personal growth. From the flexibility of online learning to the advanced career opportunities that come with a DNP, the benefits are numerous. 

While the journey will require a substantial investment of time, effort, and finances, the rewards — both tangible and intangible — can be immense. Whether you’re looking to specialize in a particular area of nursing, assume a leadership role, or even influence healthcare policy, a DNP can provide the tools you need to achieve your goals. 


For those looking to dive deeper into the subject of online accelerated BSN to DNP programs, here are some additional resources that can provide more information:

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