Online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in North Dakota

North Dakota’s nurse practitioners are autonomous clinicians who deliver outstanding, cost-effective primary care. Thanks to the 2011 legislation that eliminated the physician oversight and collaborative agreement requirement, NPs and other advanced clinicians are enjoying more independence than ever and reaping the rewards of a supportive healthcare community. It all comes together to make North Dakota a great place to be an advanced practice nurse.

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A 2017 report published by the University of North Dakota, College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines found that since 2009, the number of NPs in North Dakota increased 129%—no doubt largely as a result of being granted independent practice privileges during that timeframe.

In addition to larger numbers of NPs, many aspiring and practicing APRNs in other roles are also choosing to pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in an effort to futureproof their careers and advance their profession. Greater professional opportunities and bigger paychecks are just two of the benefits of earning the DNP.

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And while the DNP does serve as a direct path to initial APRN certification, this highest clinical nursing degree is also open to APRNs with their sights set on administration, nursing education, or adding another population focus or specialty to their certification.

Fortunately, more colleges and universities than ever before are offering the DNP with online coursework and class sessions, and most offer entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in North Dakota

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree designed to prepare nurses to assume leadership roles as executives or advanced practice nurses.

North Dakota nurses may enter a DNP program with either a BSN or MSN:

  • BSN-to-DNP programs accept BSN-prepared RNs and include the components of both an MSN and DNP, consisting of about 90 credits and three years of full-time study. BSN-DNP programs allow BSN-prepared nurses to first complete the components of their MSN, which includes choosing an APRN role and population focus and earning national certification in an APRN role, and then transition to the DNP. BSN-DNP programs are also available in executive leadership tracks.
  • MSN-to-DNP programs are designed for MSN-prepared nurses. Depending on the institution, nurses may specialize their MSN-DNP in one of a number of areas, such as nursing informatics, administration, and advanced practice nursing. DNP programs in advanced practice nursing roles generally require students to hold national certification in the chosen APRN specialty upon entering the program.

Accredited programs generally require at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours (500 of which may be transferred from an MSN program) and offer students the ability to specialize in at least one of the following:

  • An advanced practice nursing direct care focus
    • Nurse practitioner
    • Clinical nurse specialist
    • Nurse anesthetist
    • Nurse-midwife
  • An aggregate/systems/organizational focus, such as:
    • Clinical education
    • Nursing informatics
    • Executive leadership
    • Public policy
    • Public health
    • Administration

A large number of institutions now allow students to complete some or all of the components of their DNP program through distance-based study. On-campus requirements for online DNP programs are generally limited to an immersion experience, which provides DNP students with the opportunity to meet and interact with faculty and peers. Like their campus-based counterparts, online students work alongside a faculty advisor who ensures they meet program requirements and who helps coordinate their clinical rotations.

Depending on the institution, students of online and campus-based DNP programs may complete their program via a full-time, part-time, or accelerated format. While a traditional, full-time DNP program takes about 18-24 months to complete, part-time programs take about 32 months and accelerated programs take about 12 months.

DNP programs include three, main components:

  • DNP Core: This includes a core course of study in topics such as:
    • Scientific Foundation of Nursing Knowledge Development
    • Qualitative Methods in Clinical Nursing
    • Leadership in Organizations and Systems
    • Quantitative Methods for Practice-Based Nursing Inquiry
  • Specialty courses in line with the chosen focus – Specialty coursework focuses on an advanced practice nursing focus or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus
  • Final Project – DNP programs culminate in a final project. Final projects may consist of a pilot study, a program evaluation, a quality improvement project, or an evaluation of a new practice model, among others.

In an effort to prepare a greater number of DNP nurses, many institutions offer a point of entry for BSN-prepared nurses. These programs involve completing an MSN (usually in an advanced practice role) before transitioning to the DNP program.

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Similar to MSN-DNP programs, students may complete BSN-DNP programs in part-time, accelerated, or full-time formats, and many are offered in an online format.

CCNE-Accredited Post-MSN and BSN-DNP Programs Available in North Dakota

The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) (current as of 2016).


North Dakota State University

School of Nursing


Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (campus)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner


University of Mary

School of Health Sciences



Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (online)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Organizational Leadership


University of North Dakota

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines

Grand Forks

Accreditation: CCNE and COA


  • Clinical Leadership (online)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (hybrid)

A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are 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 North Dakota

DNP-prepared nurses in North Dakota possess the knowledge required to translate research into practice and the advanced competencies to lead within the clinical environment.

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The following job postings shed light on just some of the exciting professional opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in North Dakota:

CRNA, Dickinson West, Sanford Health, Dickinson, ND

  • BSN; master’s, DNP, or PhD preferred
  • Current unencumbered licensure to practice as a CRNA

Nurse Midwife – OB/GYN, Southpointe, Sanford Health, Fargo, ND

  • Master’s degree, DNP, or PhD required
  • Unencumbered license as an APRN and CNM


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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