Online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Connecticut

By the end of 2017, 98 nurses in Connecticut earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), compared with just 10 nursing PhD graduates that year, according to the Connecticut League for Nursing.

Many of these students are RNs enrolled in BSN-to-DNP programs, preparing to join the 5,769 advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) practicing in Connecticut as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, or clinical nurse specialists, and distinguishing themselves with the ultimate practice focused nursing degree available.

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The DNP is also becoming more and more popular among existing APRNs, who enroll in post-master’s programs to prepare for executive or clinical leadership positions, furthering their expertise in their existing APRN role, or adding an additional patient population focus or specialty. For APRNs interested in moving into positions outside of direction patient care, earning a DNP also often lead to leadership and advisory positions within nursing advocacy groups, educational institutions, and healthcare institutions.

Both nurses with a bachelor of nursing (BSN) and those with a master of nursing (MSN) can take advantage of DNP programs offered online, gaining the skills necessary to provide high-level healthcare with minimal disruptions to their work schedules.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Connecticut

A DNP program must provide students with at least 1000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours, and allow them to specialize in one of the areas listed below, in order to earn Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accreditation:

  • An advanced practice registered nursing direct care role (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife)
  • A focus on aggregate, systems, or organizations (in preparation for roles in leadership, executive nursing and healthcare policy or advocacy)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is available to RNs who hold a BSN or MSN:

  • BSN-DNP programs offer RNs who have completed BSN requirements the chance to fulfill the requirements for an MSN, and then seamlessly transition into earning a DNP. BSN-DNP students can achieve initial advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) certification and licensure through these program or opt for a systems or organizational leadership track in an area like administration or informatics.
  • MSN-DNP programs offer RNs who have already completed MSN requirements the chance to fulfill the requirements for a DNP. Because RNs with an MSN may already be certified in an APRN area, they may opt to seek advancement in their current APRN role, or to add another certification in an additional specialty or patient population focus. These programs are also available in tracks that support careers in executive leadership, healthcare policy, public health, informatics and more.

RNs and APRNs often choose the flexibility of online DNP programs. Online DNP programs do require students to satisfy clinical requirements in-person at a participating facility that collaborates with the school.

DNP programs in Connecticut, whether campus-based and online, follow one of the following timeline formats:

  • Traditional DNP programs average 18 to 24 months to complete
  • Accelerated DNP programs average 12 months to complete
  • Part-time DNP programs average 30 to 36 months to complete

Nursing schools typically have the same type of curriculum for DNP programs, regardless of the timeline or delivery format:

  • DNP core – Core courses of the DNP program, such as:
    • Nursing science in practice
    • Healthcare quality and informatics
    • Management and leadership
    • Quantitative methods and biostatistics
  • Specialty courses – Specific to APRN role and patient population focus or specific to one of the aggregate/systems/organizational tracks
  • Final project – DNP programs typically include a final project, in which DNP students demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in their specialty area or within advanced practice registered nursing. DNP projects will use the evidence of what they have learned in a written paper, which may be published, and through an oral presentation.

Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses

A BSN-DNP program permits RNs who have earned their BSN to earn their MSN and DNP credits in one progressive and streamlined program. Students first complete MSN course requirements, then transition to DNP coursework. BSN-DNP programs typically take about four years to complete.

The MSN section of a BSN-DNP program usually focuses on a specialized APRN role, though programs are available in aggregate, systems, organizational tracks in areas like administration and informatics. A minimum of 500 clinical practice hours is incorporated.

Advanced practice registered nursing core courses would cover:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Advanced physiology and pathophysiology

Additional, specialized courses in an APRN role will be mandatory for those who have chosen to specialize in a role such as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist or nurse anesthetist.

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Connecticut

The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 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:

Fairfield University

Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies

Fairfield

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (campus)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan
  • Nurse Anesthesia
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • Clinical Nutrition

MSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Executive
  • Advanced Practice: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

 

Quinnipiac University

School of Nursing

Hamden

Accreditation: CCNE and COA

Post-Bachelor’s-DNP (campus)

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthesia

Post-Master’s-DNP (online)

  • Care of Populations
  • Nursing Leadership

 

Sacred Heart University

Dr. Susan L. Davis, RN, & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing

Fairfield

Accreditation: CCNE

Post-Baccalaureate-DNP (hybrid)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner

Post-Master’s-DNP (online)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

University of Connecticut

School of Nursing

Storrs

Accreditation: CCNE

BS-DNP (online)

  • Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner: Acute Care
  • Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner: Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner

Post-MS-DNP (online)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

University of Saint Joseph

Department of Nursing

West Hartford

Accreditation: CCNE

BS-DNP (hybrid)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

MSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Clinical Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Connecticut

Connecticut’s colleges and universities are increasingly offering the DNP to BSN- and MSN-prepared nurses with advanced clinical practice or leadership in mind. As of 2019, the Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported a total of 8 DNP programs in Connecticut.

DNP-educated APRNs in Connecticut, valued for their advanced level of clinical expertise, can also remediate the state’s persistent shortage of primary care practitioners. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Connecticut will have a supply of 2,860 primary care physicians in 2025 but a demand for 3,000 – that’s a deficit of 4.7%.

The following recent job posts reflect current job opportunities and offer insight into the numerous types of professional opportunities available to DNP graduates in Connecticut:

Director of Nursing, Emergency Department, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT

  • Bachelor’s degree in related field and master’s degree required; DNP/PhD preferred
  • Five-plus years of progressive nursing leadership in multiple service lines at a VP or director level

Nursing Faculty – Online DNP Program, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT

  • Required doctoral degree in nursing or related field
  • Demonstrated previous or current competence as a nursing faculty member, with teaching at the doctoral level, experience with guided clinical research projects, student advisement, and curricular development
  • Current RN license in Connecticut

RN Perinatal Educator – Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Trinity Health of New England, Waterbury, CT

  • Master’s degree in nursing required; APRN, CNS, PhD/DNP degrees or candidates encouraged
  • Current active license to practice professional nursing in Connecticut
  • Specialty or education certification preferred
  • 3-5 years clinical experience in an acute care setting required

 

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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