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

The Minnesota Department of Health launched a $45 million research project in February 2013 with the aim to discover more innovative ways for Minnesotans to access and pay for their health care needs. The funds were awarded to the state through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Officials are expected to conclude their findings by October 2016, at which point innovative new healthcare models will be integrated into the state’s system.

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As Minnesota pushes forward to raise the bar by ensuring that primary care and specialized medical services are readily available, the demand for highly trained nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses continues to rise. The University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing has gone so far as to release a position statement, declaring that Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduates have become essential as policymakers in the state look for ways to improve health outcomes and care for people with complex, chronic conditions amid a shortage of physicians.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Minnesota

Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are structured in one of two ways to accommodate both BSN and MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs:

  • Post-bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP – For BSN-educated RNs looking to attain initial certification in an APRN role and patient population focus or otherwise pursuing an organizational and systems track in an area like nursing administration or informatics.
  • Post-master’s MSN-to-DNP – For MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs preparing for leadership roles or looking to further develop their expertise in an area of direct patient care. This may involve adding additional certification in another patient population focus or specialty area.

In keeping with accreditation standards established by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), all DNP programs are offered in one of two general track types:

  • APRN direct care focus (nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist,)
  • Aggregate/systems/organizational focus (administration, clinical instruction, informatics, executive leadership, public health)

In spite of the numerous on-site programs available in Minnesota, a growing majority of students pursuing DNP degrees in the state are turning to accredited online programs that better accommodate the working schedules of RNs and APRNs.

Doctorate-Level Coursework and DNP Projects

As the ultimate terminal practice-focused degree available in the field of nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice programs for APRNs are designed to develop students’ knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Theoretical principles and practical application of advanced physical assessment
  • Clinical judgment and reasoning to establish differential diagnoses
  • Pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and genomics
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating common acute and chronic health conditions
  • Health promotion, screening, and lifestyle modification techniques
  • Utilization of diagnostic procedures, diagnosis, symptom management, and disease treatment

In general, DNP programs consist of the following components:

  • DNP Core These core courses are relatively universal across most DNP programs, both those designed for APRNs and those with an aggregate/systems/organizational focus:
    • Advanced Nursing Roles
    • Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Practice Nursing
    • Scientific and Analytic Approaches to Advanced Evidence-Based Practice
    • Epidemiology and Health Promotion
    • Health Policy, Ethical, and Legal Perspectives of Health Care
    • Promoting Optimal Models and Systems for Health Care Delivery
    • Ethical Dimensions for Nursing Practice
    • Foundations of Integrative Care
    • Research Methodology
    • Advanced Biostatistics in Health Research
  • Specialty CourseworkThese courses delve into the specific area of focus chosen by the student at an advanced practice level
  • Final Project At the close of their studies, students are required to complete a final DNP Project, which will enable them to showcase the practical and clinical knowledge they have gained within their chosen specialization.

In addition to lecture-format coursework, students in the DNP program must complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised post-baccalaureate practice in order to satisfy the degree requirements. As many as 500 hours gained during a master’s program can be applied to the 1,000-hour total, provided the master’s program was in the same area of focus as the DNP.

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

Candidates who hold BSNs can apply to post-bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs designed to introduce master’s and doctoral level curriculum progressively in one accelerated program. This provides RNs with a pathway towards obtaining a DNP while earning an MSN, certification in an APRN role and patient population focus, and state APRN licensure in the process. BSN-to-DNP programs are also available in non-APRN tracks for those interested in becoming administrators, informaticists and more.

BSN-DNP students will complete approximately 30 credits of core MSN courses before moving on to finish the remaining 60 credits in doctoral level coursework.

Just like traditional post-master’s DNP programs, these programs are available in various specialty tracks that may include:

  • Executive Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Transcultural Nursing Leadership
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing and Organizational Leadership
  • Nurse Educator

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

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).

Both CCNE and ACEN-accredited DNP programs are often available online to students in Minnesota.

  • Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
      • Family Nurse Practitioner (post-BSN)
      • Transcultural Nursing Leadership (post-MSN)
  • Capella University in Minneapolis, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
      • Advanced Nursing Practice
  • The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN:
      • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
      • Adult Health/Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist
      • Adult Health/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Health Innovation and Leadership
      • Integrative Health and Healing
      • Nurse Anesthesia
      • Nurse Midwifery
      • Nursing Informatics
      • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
      • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
      • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan)
      • Public Health Nursing
      • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Walden University in Minneapolis, MN
    • Post-MSN
      • Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Winona State University in Winona, MN
    • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
      • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
      • Nursing and Organizational Leadership
      • Nursing Practice and Leadership Innovations
  • St Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN
    • Post Master’s Track:
      • Secondary Nurse Practitioner Certification
    • Dual Degree Options:
      • Holistic Health Studies
      • Organizational Leadership
      • MBA

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 Minnesota

Obtaining a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree has inherent value for RNs and APRNs interested in clinical leadership positions and roles that don’t involve direct patient care.

The following job listings for doctorate-prepared nurses in Minnesota were surveyed in April 2016. They are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide any assurance of employment.

Advanced Practice Nurse/Mental Health Team for Veteran’s Affairs in Minneapolis, MN


  • Master or Doctorate degree in Nursing, with certification in specialty field


  • Determine potential needs for patients’ therapeutic changes, diagnostic workups, etc.
  • Collaborate with the patient/family to establish physical, mental, cultural, and environmental factors that facilitate or impede realistic goals and activities

Advanced Practice Nurse Leader –Oncology for The University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN


  • DNP or MS in Nursing
  • 3-5 years clinical RN experience


  • Clinical leader in patient population-based specialty area of nursing practice providing service, education, and consultation to patients and their families/healthcare team
  • Establishes and monitors standards of care
  • Leads an outcome-based approach to patient care

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