Online BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP Programs Available in Alabama

Doctor of Nursing (DNP) programs prepare nurses with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed at the highest levels of clinical practice and nursing administration. RNs tracking toward advanced practice roles as NPs, nurse-anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists, as well as those getting into executive leadership roles outside of the clinical environment, will find the DNP not only comes with a higher paycheck, it also satisfies Alabama’s need for highly educated nursing professionals to serve in primary care roles.

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Featured DNP Programs:

The increasing number of DNP graduates entering advanced practice in recent years is great news for a state that’s dealing with a shortage of physicians. In fact, according to the 2018 Annual Report for the Alabama Board of Nursing, APRN licenses totaled 6,597 in 2018—that’s an increase of 761 in just one year.

But the DNP isn’t just for RNs making the transition to advanced practice. Many current NPs and other APRNs enroll in post-master’s DNP programs as a way to add an additional specialty or patient population focus, or was a way to transition from direct patient care to administration.

Pursuing a DNP in Alabama has become easier in recent years as more colleges and universities begin to offer these programs with online coursework that keeps the on-campus obligation to a minimum. DNP programs are designed with two entry points to accommodate both bachelor’s-prepared RNs and master’s-prepared APRNs.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Alabama

DNP programs offer nurses from a variety of educational backgrounds the opportunity to advance in their careers by earning this terminal degree. In addition to programs designed for nurses with BSNs and MSNs, Alabama offers a program that allows nurses with ADNs and diplomas to earn a DNP.

  • RN-DNP programs offer nurses who lack a BSN the option to earn a DNP through a non-traditional path. These nurses will complete five bridge courses before they advance to DNP-level studies.
  • BSN-DNP programs offer nurses the chance to earn an MSN and then seamlessly transition into their core DNP studies. One advantage of getting an MSN is that students can then sit for national certification and earn their APRN license. Another is that nurse faculty positions often require an MSN in addition to a doctoral degree. Transitioning from a BSN to a DNP typically involves at least 3 years of full-time study and taking about 90 credits. These programs are also available in aggregate/systems/organizational focus areas like administration and informatics.
  • MSN-DNP programs provide MSN-educated nurses tracks in which they would further their expertise in advanced clinical practice or other advanced roles that don’t involve direct patient care. Nurses in these programs have the option to advance in their current role and patient population focus or become certified in an additional patient population focus or specialty. These programs usually involve at least 1.5 years of full-time study and 30 credits. These programs are also available in aggregate/systems/organizational focus areas like administration and informatics.

Although Alabama offers a number of campus-based DNP programs, nurses in the state are increasingly applying to accredited online programs. Such programs offer a greater degree of flexibility in their coursework and thus make it easier for the nurses enrolled to continue practicing while they attend school.

Both online and campus-based programs frequently offer accelerated programs that take about a year as an alternative to traditional full-time study. Another common option is part-time study, which typically takes about 2.5 years.

DNP programs have these three main components:

  • DNP core – The core courses of DNP programs include topics such as transforming the healthcare organization, evidence-based practice, scientific underpinnings for practice, and epidemiology.
  • Specialty courses in the student’s chosen focus – The nurses have the option to specialize in either advanced practice nursing or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus.
  • DNP Project – The culmination of a DNP education is the student’s DNP Project. Such projects involve high-level research in the students’ specialty and usually result in the production of a manuscript suitable for publication. Sometimes, the students will present their findings at a conference as an alternative to having it published.

Clinical Practice Hour Requirements for DNP Students

DNP students must complete at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours. Students that have already completed some clinical hours of post-baccalaureate practice can apply them to the 1,000 hour requirement.

Students must check with their programs to find out what clinical options are available. Programs faculty will assist in locating appropriate sites, but it is the student’s responsibility to secure a site.

Clinical sites for DNP students in Alabama have included, but are not limited to these healthcare organizations:

  • Alabama Department of Public Health
  • Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
  • AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc
  • American Family Care, Inc
  • Andalusia Regional Hospital
  • Baptist Health System
  • Baptist Medical Center South
  • Beverly Healthcare
  • Brookwood Health Services, Inc.
  • Cathedral Place Apartments
  • Covenant House
  • Cullman Regional Center
  • East Alabama Medical Center
  • Fox Army Health Center
  • Gordon Oaks Health and Rehab
  • Greenville Clinic Corp.

RN-DNP, BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Program Available in Alabama

CCNE and ACEN accredited DNP programs are available at 6 universities in Alabama, two of which offer an entry point for BSNs. Nurses who have an Associate of Science in Nursing or a hospital diploma can apply to Samford University. (Other DNP programs not shown here may hold regional accreditation or specialty accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education):

  • Samford University, Birmingham
    • RN-DNP (for ADN and diploma prepared RNs)
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Health Systems Administration
    • Post-MSN program
      • Administration
      • APRN
  • The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
    • MSN-DNP APRN track
  • The University of Alabama, Birmingham
    • BSN-MSN and MSN-DNP
      • APRN
      • Administration
    • Post-MSN CRNA track
  • The University of Alabama, Huntsville
    • BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP
      • APRN
  • Troy University, Troy
    • BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • University of South Alabama
    • BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP
      • Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Adult-Gerontolotical Clinical Nurse Specialist
      • Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP
      • Executive Nurse Administrator
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
      • Nursing Informatics
      • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Psychiatric (Family) Nurse Practitioner
      • Public Health Administration
      • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Alabama

Opportunities for DNP nurses abound in Alabama, particularly as primary care provider and nursing faculty shortages remain. For example, according to the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the state is experiencing a severe physician shortage, particularly in rural areas.

The following recent job posts reveal just some of the opportunities available to DNP-prepared RNs and APRNs in Alabama:

Assistant/Associate Professor at Troy University, Phenix City, AL

  • Doctoral preparation in a nursing or related field (DNP or PhD)
  • Active, unencumbered Alabama RN license
  • Advanced practice certification as a family nurse practitioner

Faculty Position, School of Nursing, University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL

  • Expertise in pediatric nursing encouraged to apply
  • Minimum master’s degree in nursing required; doctorate in nursing preferred
  • Active license or be eligible for licensure as an RN in Alabama

Assistant Professor, Graduate Nursing, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL

  • Master’s degree in nursing, with a focus on FNP clinical specialty; doctorate in nursing preferred
  • Current, unencumbered license as an RN and NP with FNP
  • Certification to practice in State of Alabama


Examples of DNP nursing positions were taken from a survey of job listings in January 2020 and are shown for illustrative purposes only. These examples do not represent job offers or positions that are currently available.

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