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

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maine’s advanced nursing professionals, those most likely to hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), enjoy outstanding employment and salary conditions. As of 2018:

  • Maine is ranked third in the nation for its number of nurse practitioners.
  • Bangor is ranked fourth in the nation for its concentration of nursing instructor jobs.
  • Southwest Maine ranks among the top nonmetropolitan areas for its employment of nurse administrators.

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The DNP comes with its share of outstanding perks for the nurses who choose to earn it –whether it’s RNs choosing it as a pathway into advanced practice or as a way to transition out of direct patient care, or existing APRNs interested in adding to their clinical skills with an additional specialty or patient population focus or otherwise moving into administrative or executive positions.

One of the biggest perks is the fact that DNP-prepared NPs and other APRNs earn $9,000 more on average than their MSN-prepared counterparts.

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Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Maine

Maine’s DNP programs are available to both BSN and MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs:

  • BSN-DNP (post-bachelor’s for BSN-educated RNs) programs generally offer their students the chance to earn an MSN before transitioning into the DNP program. This enables RNs in an APRN track to obtain national certification and initial APRN licensure in their chosen role (nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist). Programs are also available in tracks like executive leadership, informatics and health policy that don’t involve direct patient care. BSN-to-DNP programs typically involve at least 3 years of full-time study and approximately 90 credits. The number of credits varies somewhat depending on the specialty.
  • MSN-DNP (post-master’s for MSN-educated APRNs) programs are designed for nurses that already possess an MSN, offering APRNs the option to advance to leadership roles in clinical practice, add an additional specialty or patient population focus, or choose a track outside of direct patient care in such areas as executive leadership or informatics. MSN-DNP programs typically involve at least 1.5 years of study and consist of about 30-36 credits.

Maine’s nurses are increasingly seeking out the flexibility of accredited online programs as an alternative to the state’s one campus-based program. While courses will be online, DNP students complete their practicum requirements at local partner sites. Thus, they will have to work with school advisors to identify local partners that have established arrangements with their school. Flexible formats that are frequently offered by both online and campus-based programs include:

  • Traditional DNP programs: 1.5-2 years
  • Accelerated programs: 1 year
  • Part-time study: 2.5 years

DNP programs have these three main components:

  • DNP core – The core courses of DNP programs include topics such as methods for epidemiology and social determinants of population health, evidence-based practice, transforming the healthcare organization, and scientific underpinnings for practice.
  • Specialty courses in the student’s chosen focus – Advanced practice or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus
  • DNP Project – The finale of a student’s DNP studies offers the chance to showcase their training by analyzing an aspect of advanced practice to produce original research on their topic. These DNP Projects end up being either papers published in a research journal or formal presentations at a conference.

Nurses in Maine who seek a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited DNP-level education at a campus site currently have the following option:

University of Southern Maine, Portland

  • BSN-DNP program will become available in the future
  • Post-MSN program currently available

In the future, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish will offer a DNP program to the residents of the state.

Other DNP programs in the state may be regionally accredited or hold specialty accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.

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A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)- accredited DNP programs are available online to students in Maine.

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

Virtually all of the country’s BSN-to-DNP programs enable students to earn both an MSN and a DNP in the same accelerated program. Nurses seamlessly transition to their DNP program after completing their MSN. Typically, such combined programs entail about 4 years of study.

BSN-DNP programs that are specific to one of the four APRN roles (nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialists) require their students to earn an MSN in the student’s chosen advanced practice nursing specialty. Doing so entails obtaining about 500 hours of clinical training and qualifies the nurses to obtain national certification and state licensure in their role.

Although the MSN component of these programs varies based on the track, these programs typically have the same core courses:

  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Policy and advocacy
  • Informatics
  • Quality and safety
  • Program evaluation for improving patient and population outcomes
  • Organizational and systems leadership
  • Clinical prevention/population health

MSN programs for students seeking to become APRNs also include core courses in:

  • Advanced health assessment, including the assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques, and concepts and approaches
  • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the lifespan
  • Advanced pharmacology, including:
    • Pharmacokinetics
    • Pharmacodynamics
    • Pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Maine

A wealth of opportunities exist for DNP-prepared nurses in Maine, ranging from practicing at an advanced level to serving in executive leadership positions.

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The following job posts reveal just some of the outstanding professional opportunities for Maine’s DNP-educated nurses:

Assistant Director of Didactic Education/Assistant Clinical Professor, MSNA, University of New England, Portland, ME

  • Clinical practice degree (DNP, DNAP) or research doctorate required
  • Current RN licensure and certification as a CRNA in ME

APRN-FNP Track Coordinator/Faculty, Husson University, Bangor, ME

  • Earned doctorate in nursing or a related field is preferred; applicants nearing completion of a doctorate should also apply
  • Current RN and FNP license in ME

Chairperson, School of Nursing, Husson University, Bangor, ME

  • Registered nurse license
  • Academic doctorate and graduate degree in nursing
  • Minimum of 7 years of teaching experience in higher education


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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