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

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there were nearly 11,000 students enrolled in baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing in Michigan in 2015, resulting in more than 3,800 graduates across all program levels. Among these, an elite few, counted at just 567, were Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students.

Sponsored School

Featured DNP Programs:

Doctoral nursing education remains strong, with DNP enrollments in the U.S. up nearly 22 percent between 2012 and 2013 alone. Many RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), both in Michigan and throughout the country, are pursing the DNP as a way to future-proof their careers by earning the highest level terminal practice-focused nursing degree available.

DNP-prepared nurses possess the skills to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex healthcare system, manage health care delivery systems and influence health policy. Just a few of the DNP-prepared nurses in Michigan serving in high-profile leadership positions include:

  • Lisa A. Evans-Thomas DNP: Michigan Institute of Urology
  • Sheri Lynn Giordana, DNP, MSN BSN: Michigan Task Force on Nursing Education
  • Michelle Witkop, DNP, FNP-BC: American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Nurse of the Year, 2015

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Michigan

The esteemed DNP degree is available to both BSN and MSN-Prepared RNs and APRNs in Michigan:

  • Post Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs allow BSN-prepared nurses to first complete their MSN and then easily transition to DNP curriculum all in one streamlined program. This type of program is commonly used as a path to initial APRN certification and licensure and would consist of about 90 credits taken over 36 months of full time study.
  • Post Master’s MSN-to-DNP programs allow MSN-prepared nurses who may already be certified and licensed as APRNs to complete a DNP. These programs provide a path for APRNs looking to advance within their current APRN role or add additional certification in another patient population focus or specialty. These programs would typically consist of 30-36 credits taken over at least 18 months of full time study depending on the specialization.

Both types of programs are available in advanced practice and organizational leadership tracks.

Nurses in Michigan looking to earn their DNP have access to a wide array of online programs. These programs allow students to complete the didactic portion of the program through distance-learning technologies and then satisfy the clinical requirements through partner sites close to home. Some online programs also require that students complete on-campus intensive sessions a few times throughout the course of the program. These sessions allow students to engage in networking and social events with other doctoral students and faculty.

Michigan is home to several DNP programs with accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which requires all DNP programs to offer one of the following: (1) an advanced practice nursing direct care focus, (2) an aggregate/systems/organizational focus, or (3) both.

DNP programs educate APRNs (nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives) and RNs in advanced clinical roles, leadership roles, management and teaching, health policy, and areas of specialization, such as integrative health and healing.

The CCNE requires all DNP-accredited programs to include at least 1,000 practice hours completed in a supervised academic program. Post-bacc hours gained in an MSN program in the same track would be applied to this total.

DNP Program Structure

Most students entering a DNP program with a master’s degree would complete it in 18-24 months. Students can complete accelerated programs in about one year, while part-time programs allow about 2 ½ years of study.

The core of a DNP program includes:

  • Scientific Foundations for Practice Doctorate
  • Ethics, Policy, and Advocacy or Population Health
  • Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Population Health
  • Clinical Decision Making
  • Statistics in Health Sciences
  • Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
  • Management of Organizations and Systems

Additional coursework in the DNP program focuses on the chosen concentration. For example, an executive leader specialization likely includes courses such as:

  • Healthcare financing/budgeting
  • Healthcare information technology
  • Human resources management
  • Leadership, behavior, and organizational theory

A nurse practitioner specialization (with a focus on adult and family), on the other hand, includes courses such as:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced diagnostic reasoning
  • Primary care for the nurse practitioner
  • Primary care of adolescents and adults

Most DNP programs culminate in a DNP or scholarly project, designed to demonstrate an amalgamation of the student’s academic experience.

BSN-to-DNP Programs: DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses

Many DNP programs accept BSN-prepared nurses. Students of BSN-DNP programs first complete MSN curriculum and then seamlessly transition into the DNP curriculum in one progressive program. Many programs require students to earn their MSN in an APRN specialty and earn national certification as an APRN before progressing to the DNP program, while others allow students to choose an aggregate/systems/organizational focus, such as executive nurse leader.

MSN programs consist of about 30 credits of core coursework, along with additional courses in their chosen concentration or APRN specialty. Core coursework in an MSN includes study in:

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

BSN-DNP programs consist of between 70 and 95 total credits, and between three and four years of full-time study, depending on the chosen APRN specialty. Students must complete the clinical requirements of their MSN program, which often consist of about 500 hours, then apply those hours toward the 1,000 hours of clinical practice for the DNP mandate.

Similar to post-master’s DNP programs, BSN-to-DNP programs may be offered as online, part-time, and/or accelerated programs.

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available at Campus Locations in Michigan

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

  • Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids
    • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
      • Advanced Nursing Practice (child/adolescent or adult/older adult)
      • Health Systems Leadership
  • Madonna University, Livonia
    • Post-MSN
      • APRN roles
      • Nursing administration
      • Organizational leadership
      • Health policy
      • Clinical education
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing
    • Post-MSN
      • APRN roles
  • Oakland University, Rochester
    • Specializations in APRN roles
  • Saginaw Valley State University, University Center
    • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • University of Detroit – Mercy, Detroit
    • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
      • APRN roles
      • Nurse administration
      • Executive leadership
      • Nursing informatics
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
      • APRN roles
      • Leadership
  • University of Michigan – Flint, Flint
    • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
      • NP roles for BSN nurses and APRN roles for MSN nurses
  • Wayne State University, Detroit
  • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
    • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner-acute care
    • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner –primary care
    • Family nurse practitioner
    • Neonatal nurse practitioner
    • Nurse-midwife
    • Pediatric nurse practitioner -acute care
    • Pediatric nurse practitioner – primary care
    • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

Both CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are often available online.

Other DNP programs in the state not shown here 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.

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Michigan

DNP programs prepare nurses to fill some of the highest positions in nursing and important roles in leadership, management, clinical teaching, health policy, and clinical settings. As such, graduates of Doctor of Nursing programs often enjoy significant advancement in the field and additional professional opportunities with their current employer.

The following job listings (sourced in April 2016) provide DNP graduates with a glimpse into the many job opportunities available to DNP nurses in Michigan (shown for illustrative purposes only and not meant to imply any assurance of employment):

Chief Nursing Officer: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Ann Arbor


  • Provide leadership in all aspects of nursing
  • Actively lead nursing services to execute nursing priorities
  • Work alongside fellow executives in the planning of patient care activities


  • At least 7 to 10 years of administrative responsibility with progressive leadership experience in nursing
  • BSN in Nursing with a master’s in nursing, hospital administration, business, public health, or a related healthcare field required; DNP preferred

Vice Chair for Academic Programs: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


  • Provide leadership and oversight of graduate curriculum development and implementation
  • Oversee effective and efficient program delivery and program evaluation


  • Doctorate in nursing required
  • Be able to demonstrate excellence in clinical teaching ability

Nurse Practitioner, Neonatology: Aureus Medical Group, Grand Rapids and Muskegon


  • Deal with high-level complex patients


  • Masters or DNP

Back to Top