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

With the shortage of primary care physicians in Colorado’s rural, frontier, and underserved urban areas, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) fill the void by providing vital primary care services to the state’s residents. Colorado’s nurse practitioners can practice independently of physicians and prescribe medication once they fulfill the requirements for prescriptive authority.

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Featured DNP Programs:

Their role is a vital one, given that the demand for primary care practitioners is projected to reach 4,640 in 2025—an increase of 1,130 since 2013, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

While an MSN meets the base requirements for APRN certification and licensure, in recent years the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) has become the go-to degree for those looking to future-proof their credentials by earning the ultimate terminal practice-focused degree.

Educating nurse practitioners and other advanced clinicians capable of serving as primary care providers at the doctoral level will have positive ramifications on the quality and availability of healthcare in Colorado. These programs are open to both students with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or to those with a master of science in nursing (MSN).

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Colorado

All accredited DNP programs are available with specialty tracks in one of two general areas:

  • An advanced practice registered nursing direct care role (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife)
  • Aggregate/systems/organizational focus in preparation for roles in executive leadership, informatics, public health, healthcare policy, and more)

Post-bachelor’s DNP programs for BSN-educated RNs – Many of the DNP programs available in Colorado are open to BSN-educated nurses. Often nurses enrolled in these BSN-DNP programs obtain an MSN before progressing to the DNP component of the program. Doing this enables these nurses to obtain national certification and state licensure in an APRN role and patient population focus. Typically, BSN-DNP programs involve taking about 90 credits over a 3 to 4-year period of full-time study.

Post-master’s DNP Programs for MSN-educated RNs and APRNs – Nurses that already possess an MSN can enter the post-MSN phases of DNP programs or enroll in post-master’s programs exclusively designed for MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs. Usually they have the choice of an APRN track through which they can further their education in an existing patient population focus or add additional focus areas. Post-master’s DNP programs are also available with an aggregate/systems/organizational focus. Students in post-MSN programs typically earn about 30 credits over an 18 to 24-month period to obtain their DNP.

Colorado’s nurses can find alternatives to the state’s campus-based DNP programs in the many accredited online DNP programs. These programs typically offer a high degree of flexibility and thus enable the students to continue working in their field as they advance their education. DNP programs often offer options such as accelerated study that takes about a year or part-time study that can take about 2.5 years.

DNP Program Components and Clinical Hour Requirements

DNP programs have three main components:

  • DNP core
  • Courses in a chosen focus
  • DNP Project

DNP students must obtain at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours. Those who may have already completed post-baccalaureate hours during a master’s program can apply these hours to the 1,000-hour requirement if they have the proper documentation.

Students will perform their clinical practice at sites that have an affiliation with their program, so they must consult with their school ahead of time to identify an appropriate clinic and a preceptor to supervise them.

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Program Available in Colorado

The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and/or the American Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). 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:

  • American Sentinel University, Aurora
    • Post-MSN program in Executive Leadership
  • Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction
    • Available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Regis University, Denver
    • Available as a BSN-DNP
    • Post-MSN program in Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
    • Post-MSN program
  • University of Colorado Denver
    • Available as a BSN-DNP
    • Offers dual degrees in:
      • DNP/Master of Public Health
      • DNP/Public Health Nursing
  • University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
    • Available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Colorado

DNP-educated nurses are exceptionally valuable in Colorado because they help ameliorate the shortage of primary care physicians in much of the state by independently providing high-level care to patients in areas lacking an adequate number of physicians.

In addition, DNP-educated nurses who trained in an aggregate/systems/organizational track can serve as nursing faculty. DNP programs are gaining traction in Colorado, with no less than 8 such programs available as of 2019, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

An examination of recent job posts reveals exciting opportunities for DNP-prepared nurses in Colorado:

Director Simulation, Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO

  • Doctorate in nursing with an emphasis in simulation preferred; MSN is required
  • Simulation certification (preferred), simulation laboratory experience required
  • Current RN license in Colorado
  • Two years of full-time professional nursing clinical experience

Advanced Nurse Practitioner – Urgent Care, Rocky Mountain Healthcare Companies, Englewood, CO

  • DNP
  • Licensed in Colorado as an ANP
  • Urgent care experience required; must have knowledge and experience in working with acute and chronically ill patients

Assistant/Associate Tenure-Track Professor of Nursing, University of Northern Colorado, Greely, CO

  • 9-month tenure-track required a research doctorate in nursing or DNP


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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