Frequently Asked Questions – Doctor of Nursing Practice


What is the application deadline?

We offer admission twice a year in the fall and spring. Priority deadlines are February 15 for the fall semester and October 1 for the spring semester. We will continue to accept applications after that date until all seats are filled with qualified candidates.

Will I need to come to campus?

The graduate nursing program is online, with occasional pre-arranged campus meetings.

What is the program’s cost?

Courses average $732.06 per credit hour. You will need 76 credits for the BSN to DNP program. The post-master’s DNP requires 26-35. Please refer to the NIU planning and cost estimator for a personalized estimate.

May I transfer course work?

Upon admission and with the approval of the director of nursing graduate studies, you may transfer up to six semester hours of applicable nursing coursework from outside of NIU. Additional credit may be granted for coursework completed in the master’s degree in the nursing program at NIU.

May I complete the program part-time?

The DNP program is an online program; students may pursue the degree either full-time or part-time. You have 10 years to complete the program from the time all your prior coursework has been transferred to NIU.

What are career possibilities for DNPs?

Your degree will prepare you to work as a family nurse practitioner, high-level administrative positions in all parts of the healthcare system, faculty positions, policy positions in governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and other positions that require systems-level expertise.

Should I get a DNP or a Ph.D.?

The DNP degree is a practice doctorate. The Ph.D. is a research doctorate. Graduates of Ph.D. programs are prepared to conduct independent research and disseminate their findings, while DNP graduates use research to influence their practice.

What is the DNP project?

As a DNP candidate, you will conduct a scholarly project, three semesters in length, designed to address a practice issue affecting groups of patients, health care organizations or health care systems. Students work with clinics, inpatient units, hospitals or health care systems to assess, plan, implement and evaluate an initiative jointly agreed upon by the practice setting, the student and the student's scholarly project team.

How many credit hours is the B.S.N. to DNP degree path?

Post-BSN students are required to complete 76 credits and will complete an advanced practice specialty as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) along with the DNP. If you’re pursuing a DNP after earning your B.S. degree, you will be required to complete the Family Nurse Practitioner advanced role coursework. After completing the advanced role component, B.S. to DNP students may enroll in the DNP Leadership Component courses. Please note that clinical internship rotations in NURS 653, 663 and 673 must be completed with a preceptor in Illinois.

How many credit hours is the M.S. to DNP degree path?

Students are required to complete 35 credits, over five to six semesters. If you’re pursuing a DNP after earning your M.S. degree, you will need to complete the DNP Leadership Component courses. The coursework is divided between core leadership courses and Scholarly Project courses plus an elective course. You can complete these 35 credits full-time or part-time.

Do I have the proper preparation to enter the DNP program?

The post-masters degree DNP path is open to nurses who have earned a master's degree in nursing with a preferred current national certification as an advanced practice nurse in one of four roles: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Midwife.

I have a master's degree in nursing with a specialty in nursing education. Am I eligible to apply for the DNP program?

At this time, current licensure without encumbrances as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) in one of the four roles for the DNP is preferred, not required.

Will this program prepare me to become a nursing faculty member?

Yes. If you want to combine teaching and clinical practice, you could take electives in the area of nursing education while completing your DNP to help prepare you for that role. NIU School of Nursing offers a post-master’s certificate in nursing education.