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

The number of APRNs in Texas continues to rise, reflecting what many in the healthcare community already know: these advanced nursing clinicians are vital members of the healthcare team and are crucial for ensuring access to affordable and reliable healthcare throughout the state, from the largest metropolises to the smallest rural communities.

While their value is evident throughout the nation, their importance is particularly significant in Texas which, as of 2019, ranked 41st in the nation for access to physician care. By 2030, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services projects that there could be a shortage of 3,375 primary care physicians throughout the state.

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The good news is that more and more RNs are choosing to make the move to advanced practice, serving as nurse practitioners and in other advanced practice roles. According to the Texas Board of Nursing, there were 19,109 APRNs licensed in the Lone Star State in 2017. By 2018, this number had risen to 26,336, and by 2019, it reached 30,600—an increase of nearly 12,000 licenses in just two years.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) has become the degree of choice for Texas’ APRNs—both aspiring and currently practicing. RNs often choose the DNP as a path to initial APRN certification and clinical leadership, while many practicing APRNs choose to earn the DNP when they want to specialize or advance in clinical practice or move into administrative, university faculty, or executive positions.

DNP-prepared RNs and APRNs also have the ability to step into organizational leadership and health policy roles, where they can effect meaningful change from within. From their extensive education and experience to the unique role they play as leaders and change agents, DNP-prepared nurses are the key to combating the shortage of primary care providers in Texas.

Universities now offer DNP programs with entry points for both BSN and MSN nurses with online curriculum as a way to make these programs more accessible to working RNs and APRNs.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Texas

DNP programs offer two entry points to accommodate nurses that hold either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN):

  • BSN-DNP (post-bachelor’s) programs, which allow nurses to earn both a master’s and a doctorate degree in one program, are often used as a path to initial APRN certification and licensure for aspiring nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists. Although credits may vary according to the nurses’ chosen specialization, most programs will consist of about 90 credits completed over 36 months. Tracks in organizational leadership, informatics and more are also available.
  • MSN-DNP (post-master’s) programs are for master’s-prepared nurses looking to advance their clinical career opportunities or pursue non-patient care tracks in executive leadership, informatics, health policy and more. Some master’s-prepared APRNs pursue a DNP degree in order to add an additional patient population focus or specialty. Depending on specialization, MSN-DNP programs generally consist of 36 credits taken over 18 months.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and/or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) maintain national accreditation standards for DNP programs. Accredited DNP programs must meet two basic requirements:

  • Graduation is contingent upon completing at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours (500 hours earned during a master’s program can be applied to the total)
  • Programs must allow students to specialize in either an advanced practice nursing direct care focus or an aggregate, systems, or organizational focus

Currently, Texas offers 9 CCNE accredited traditional in-state DNP programs. Nurses interested in pursuing a DNP degree may also choose from a variety of accredited online programs. Offering flexible coursework, the opportunity to complete clinical hours close to home, and fully accredited curriculum, online degree programs are a practical option for many professional nurses.

Both traditional and online DNP programs are heavily made up of practicum requirements, requiring nurses to log extensive hours in hospitals, physician’s offices, and clinics in order to fulfill degree requirements. Nurses enrolled in DNP programs in Texas would fulfill practicum requirements in clinics and hospitals that partner with their university.

Online and traditional programs often offer three pace options to accommodate the professional nurses’ schedule:

  • Traditional programs, which can be completed in 18-24 months
  • Accelerated programs, which can be completed in 12 months
  • Part-time programs, which can be completed in about 30 months

DNP Program Structure and Components

DNP programs are made up of three main components: DNP core classes, additional credits focusing on the nurses’ chosen specialization, and a DNP project.

The core classes will focus on the scientific foundations of nursing, evidence-based practice, transforming health policy, health promotion, epidemiology, and leadership development.

Specialty courses will vary according to the nurses’ focus. APRN focuses cover topics such as theories and foundations of advanced practice nursing, as well as pathophysiology and clinical assessment. If nurses have chosen an aggregate, systems, or organizational focus, classes will focus on leadership techniques and organizational management.

DNP projects, the final component of the DNP program, generally consist of both a written paper and a presentation, focusing on the nurses’ chosen specialization within advanced practice nursing.

When completing coursework at the doctorate level, nurses will become competent in scientific foundations of nursing and epidemiology. Earning a DNP gives nurses the unique opportunity to effect change in health policy from a clinical standpoint. In order to pursue leadership roles, DNP nurses must be well-versed in advocacy, ethics, and policy as it relates to population health. In addition, nurses will complete coursework on clinical decision making and study healthcare organization leadership in preparation to lead their own team of nurses.

BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses

BSN-to-DNP programs are intended for bachelor’s-prepared nurses to earn both their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree while becoming eligible for either advanced practice licensure or for roles in informatics, policy and leadership that don’t involve direct patient care. BSN-DNP programs provide the most direct route to the doctoral degree for bachelor’s-prepared nurses.

Master’s level coursework consists of 30 core credits, as well as additional credits focusing on the nurse’s specialty track, whether in advanced clinical practice or in an aggregate/systems/organizational focus. Those in an APRN track must pass national certification in one of the four roles before moving on to doctoral level coursework:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist

Core courses at the master’s level cover the following topics:

  • Practical Application of Statistics in Healthcare
  • Population Health and Epidemiology
  • Informatics & Technology to Improve Health Care
  • Advancing Policy and Politics in Health Care
  • Systems Leadership for Effectiveness and Quality
  • Financial Intelligence for the DNP Leader
  • Leading Teams in Complex Health Care Environments
  • Health Care Economics
  • Integrating Community Mental Health into Health Care Systems
  • Ethical Dimensions of Nursing

Additional courses (APRN core) for programs that offer an APRN track cover the following topics:

  • Advanced Practice Development
  • Advanced Practice Physiology/Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Practice Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Advanced Practice Health Assessment

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

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

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.

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

 

Abilene Christian University

School of Nursing

Abilene

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (online)

  • Executive Leadership

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Executive Nursing Leadership
  • Advanced Practice Nurse

 

Baylor University

Louise Herrington School of Nursing

Waco

Accreditation: CCNE and ACME

Post-BSN-DNP

  • Executive Nurse Leadership (online)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Nurse-Midwifery (online)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Anesthesia Nursing (campus)

 

Prairie View A&M University

College of Nursing

Prairie View

Accreditation: CCNE and ACNE

Post-Master’s-DNP (campus)

  • Nurse Leader

 

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Corpus Christi

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Leadership

 

Texas Christian University

Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Fort Worth

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (online)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (hybrid)

Post-Master’s-DNP (online)

  • Leadership

 

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

School of Nursing

Lubbock

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Executive Leadership

 

Texas Woman’s University

Nursing

Denton

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Scott & White School of Nursing

Belton

Accreditation: CCNE

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • Advanced Practice Leadership
  • Executive Administration

 

University of Texas at Arlington

College of Nursing and Health Innovation

Arlington

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (hybrid/online)

  • Leadership

 

University of Texas at Austin

School of Nursing

Austin

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Executive Leadership

 

University of Texas at Tyler

School of Nursing

Tyler

Accreditation: CCNE

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice
  • Leadership

 

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Cizik School of Nursing

Houston

Accreditation: CCNE and COA

BSN-DNP

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (campus)

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • NP/CNS
  • Nurse Executive
  • Informatics
  • Nurse Anesthetist

 

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

School of Nursing

San Antonio

Accreditation: CCNE and COA

BSN-DNP

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care (hybrid)
  • Public Health (hybrid)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (campus)

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • Advanced Practice Leadership
  • Executive Administrative Management
  • Public Health Nurse Leader

 

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

School of Nursing

Galveston

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

University of the Incarnate Word

Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions

San Antonio

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Texas

Graduates of DNP programs in Texas have the opportunity to pursue the highest level nursing careers, both in the clinical environment and in roles outside of direct patient care. Whether hands-on or in the boardroom, DNP nurses in Texas fulfill critical leadership roles.

The following job listings provide insight into some of the exciting opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in Texas:

Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Rio Grande Valley, TX

  • Master’s degree in nursing; doctoral degree in nursing or a related discipline
  • Minimum of five years of experience in academic nursing
  • Current license or eligible for licensure to practice as an RN in Texas

Clinical Assistant Professor – Palestine Campus, the University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX

  • Earned doctorate in nursing
  • Online 3-5 years of teaching experience
  • Eligible for TX licensure

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Faculty, University of the Incarnate World, San Antonio, TX

  • Earned doctorate in nursing or a closely related discipline with a master’s in nursing
  • Completion of an advanced practice graduate educational program with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner focus

Director of Nursing Education and Research, CHI St. Luke’s Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, Houston, TX

  • PhD or DNP
  • Registered nurse – RN, BSN
  • Minimum of seven years of experience in the discipline and five years of leadership experience

Nurse Practitioner -ERF, BRS, San Antonio, TX

  • MSN and/or a DNP
  • Must be a registered nurse
  • Minimum of three years in active clinical practice within the past four years

 

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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