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

The president of the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Linda L.M. Bennett, recently won the Evansville 2015 Rotary Civic Award, presented to her in April 2016. This award, designed to recognize people for outstanding charitable, civic, cultural and/or humanitarian services to the city of Evansville and its people, was bestowed upon Bennett for many reasons, one of which is that she brought the school and the city its first doctoral program – which just happened to be the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

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Bennett, like other leaders in Indiana, recognized that the DNP is the future of nursing, not just in Indiana but across the country. The Indiana Center for Nursing’s Campaign for Action, an initiative created to help promote and shape the future of nursing in the state, has stated its goal to “increase funding to support nurses returning for additional education leading to either an APN (advanced practice nursing) role or a doctorate.” This goal will be accomplished through a variety of platforms including fundraisers for nursing scholarships and an educational campaign to inform and recruit potential and current nurses statewide.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2015 there were 258 students enrolled in Indiana DNP programs, only four percent of whom were male. If the Indiana Center for Nursing achieves its goal, these numbers will be on the rise, with more students enrolling in the state’s six DNP programs, as well as in online DNP programs.

A survey conducted by the Indiana Center for Nursing found that the number of RNs and APNs in the state holding DNPs has been on the rise over the past decade, increasing from 172 in 2001 to 282 in 2011. These numbers are in line with the national trend, which has seen the number of RNs earning DNPs increase 19 percent during the same time period.

The highest degree available, a DNP can help APNs achieve additional patient population or specialty certification within their advanced practice role, advance exclusively within their current patient population focus, or attain positions in areas like executive leadership, nursing education, public health, informatics and more. DNP programs are also increasingly becoming the choice for RNs seeking initial APN certification and licensure.

Just a few of the DNPs in Indiana to hold influential positions in the state include:

  • Julie Koch, DNP, FNP: Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses of Indiana, Region 1 Director
  • Tracy Magee, DNP, CPNP: National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Indiana Chapter, Education Chair
  • Connie Cole, DNP, RN-BC, MDI, NP-C: Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Indiana

Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are structured as either post-bachelor’s programs that accommodate BSN-educated RNs or post-master’s programs that accommodate MSN-educated RNs and APRNs:

  • Post-Bachelor’s BSN-DNP programs are designed for RNs who hold a BSN, allowing them to complete the requirements for the MSN first then move on to DNP requirements. It may also be used as a pathway to advanced practice nursing (APN) licensure and certification. Typically, students taking classes on a full-time basis will complete 90 credits over three years (depending upon the focus area chosen).
  • Post-Master’s MSN-DNP programs are designed for RNs that hold an MSN and who may already be certified APNs. It allows them to complete requirements for a DNP and prepare for advanced practice nursing roles in chosen focus areas. APNs may choose to enhance their knowledge and skills within their present APN role, or add one (or more) additional certification areas in other foci. Students taking classes on a full-time basis will complete 36 credits in about a year and a half (again, depending upon the focus area chosen).

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits DNP programs in Indiana. In order to earn accreditation, a DNP program must require a minimum of 1000 post-baccalaureate practice hours and give students the option of specializing in one of the following focus areas:

  • Direct care in advanced practice nursing (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife)
  • Systems, aggregate, or organizational focus including nursing leadership, informatics, public health and healthcare policy

Indiana’s working RNs and APRNs are more often looking to earn their DNP through an accredited online program. These programs give students the flexibility they need to earn a DNP while maintaining professional commitments. Students complete clinical requirements in-person at facilities chosen by the online school. For that reason, some online programs in Indiana will not admit students from certain states or countries.

Students may choose the following types of DNP programs at online or campus-based institutions:

  • Traditional DNP programs, which average a year and a half to two years to complete
  • Accelerated DNP programs, which average a year to complete
  • Part-time DNP programs, which average two and a half to three years to complete

Regardless of time commitment, a DNP curriculum will be structured to include:

  • DNP core – Core courses of the DNP program, such as:
    • Theory based models of care
    • Statistics for health care research
    • Population focused care
  • Specialty courses – consistent with the chosen focus area, whether in an APN track or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus
  • Final project this will give DNP students the chance to demonstrate their proficiency in their chosen focus area. DNP projects usually consist of a written paper fit for publication in addition to a formal presentation

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

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) (current as of 2016). 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.

CCNE and ACEN-accredited programs are generally available online to advanced nursing students in Indiana.

  • Ball State University, Muncie
    • Program is offered online
    • Advanced practice nursing focus
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis
    • Program is offered online
    • Advanced practice nursing focus
  • Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion
    • Program is offered online
    • Advanced practice nursing focus
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette
    • Also available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specialization in:
      • Adult gerontology primary nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
  • University of Southern Indiana, Evansville
    • Program is offered online
    • Specializations in:
      • Advanced practice nursing focus
      • Organizational and systems leadership
  • Valparaiso University, Valparaiso
    • Also available as a BSN-DNP
    • Advanced practice nursing focus
  • Indiana State University, Terre Haute
    • Advanced practice nursing focus

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Indiana

A DNP will open many doors for Indiana nurses, in a myriad of areas ranging from advanced practice nursing to systems-related roles, including (but not limited to):

  • Clinical nursing faculty staff
  • Nurse executive positions within healthcare organizations and institutions
  • Contributors to healthcare initiatives and policies
  • Advisors to healthcare organizations and facilities

The following job listings (sourced in April 2016) reflect current job opportunities and offer insight into the numerous types of professional opportunities available to DNP graduates in Indiana, but are not intended to imply any guarantee of employment:

Executive Director, Genesis Health/St. Mary’s Health System:
(Evansville, IN)


  • Analyze and prepare departmental financial reports and budgets
  • Provide forecasts, analyses, and budgets for product lines
  • Directs and manages staff


  • MSN required, DNP preferred

Faculty- Nursing, Simulation, Ivy Tech Community College:
(Valparaiso, IN)


  • Instruct nursing students at Ivy Tech Community College
  • Provide coaching and mentorship to retain students and contribute to their success
  • Participate in professional development activities
  • Contribute to community relations on behalf of the college


  • MSN required, DNP preferred
  • Simulation teaching experience preferred
  • Current, unencumbered Indiana RN license

Intensivist Nurse Practitioner, RH Neonatology, Bloomington Hospital
(Indianapolis, IN)


  • Educate families and patients on medications, diseases, proactive health care and treatment plans
  • Assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients
  • Ability to handle life-threatening situations


  • MSN required, DNP preferred
  • Current, unencumbered Indiana RN license
  • Board certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner required

Clinical Research Scientist-Neuroscience, Eli Lilly and Company: Indianapolis, IN


  • Provide scientific and clinical support to enhance customers’ experiences
  • Participate in development of product journey and its strategic plan of medication for Alzheimer’s disease, Amyvid
  • Provide medical support for new and supplemental new drug submissions


  • Advanced health/medical/scientific degree such as MSN, DNP, PhD or PharmD, with an advanced clinical specialty
  • Three to five years of clinical or pharmaceutical experience, two of which is in clinical development
  • Experience with Alzheimer’s disease and/or Amyvid preferred but not required

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