Best Nursing PhD ProgramThere are two types of doctorate degrees that a student can pursue in nursing, which are the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD in Nursing). Both of those degrees are represented in this ranking article. The main difference between these two degrees is how you would apply them professionally.

With a DNP, you could work as the chief nursing officer in a hospital or other medical setting; you can choose to specialize in an area of Advanced Nursing Practice. Overall, a Doctor of Nursing Practice is a more practice-focused degree that leads to that end of the nursing career spectrum. On average, someone with a DNP degree earns a salary of $96,807 per year.

As the name would suggest, a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing takes less of a practical approach and instead focuses on research or education. A PhD in Nursing would allow you to work as a Nurse Scientist, a research director at a university or hospital, various director positions in the field of nursing, or you could even go on to teach nursing at the collegiate level. Those who hold a PhD in Nursing have an average salary of $95,577. Factors such as place of employment, certifications, and experience all contribute to salary, so yours could be higher or lower than average depending on what you choose to work as.

Nursing is the largest healthcare profession worldwide and has a projected job growth of 16% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every year, there is a higher call for nurses, and every year there is a shortage that spills into the millions all over the world for graduates qualified to fill these roles. As long as the healthcare industry continues to grow, this will continue to happen.

Earning a doctorate in nursing will create a wealth of opportunities regardless of what particular profession calls out to you. It will provide you with extensive knowledge of every aspect of nursing and prepare you for anything you may face on the job, and prepare you to step up into key roles in healthcare. However, with the busy schedule that comes with working as a nurse, there can be some setbacks when it comes to making the decision to pursue your education further.

In this article, we have ranked 30 of the best online colleges with doctoral degrees in nursing. Obtaining your degree online is a more accommodating experience in terms of cost and time. You can work towards the degree you want while remaining at work, and grow your potential without putting your life on hold.

Methodology

Each school on this list was scored out of a possible 200 points. There is a range of degrees at the doctoral level in the field of nursing. All of them have been taken into account in the creation of this article. We have scored all of the schools in the United States that offer fully-online or hybrid doctoral degree programs in nursing according to the following:

  • 50%: Freshman Retention Rate and;
  • 50%: Graduation Rate

To gather the information that was required to rank each of these schools, the school’s own websites were used primarily. In the instances where a school did not provide the information that we needed on their website, we used the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and of National Center for Education Statistics. These two rates were added together to get the final score for each institution, and then they were ranked out of 30 based on this score.

In any instance where two or more schools would have tied for a spot in this Top 30, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as the designated tie-breaker. We chose these two ranking criteria, freshman retention, and graduation rates because when both rates are taken into account, they capture a good sense of a school’s overall performance. However, due to incomplete data, there are some schools that may not be represented here.

To qualify to be included in this ranking, schools must not be for-profit institutions. Additionally, no school was given any preferential treatment and the methodology stated will allow anyone else to draw the same conclusion.

30: University of Kansas

University of Kansas

University of KansasThe University of Kansas is a public research university that is located in Lawrence, Kansas and has satellite locations throughout the state. The university’s medical school and university hospital are in Kansas City, with two branches in Wichita and Salina. It is often abbreviated to just Kansas, or oddly enough, KU. The university was founded in 1863, and classes began only three years later. There are almost 400 degree programs available at KU, at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. Just about 30,000 students attend KU, and 21% of them participate in at least one of the many online courses or programs that the university offers. The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds seven programmatic accreditations from several different bodies. One of the things the university is known for is its computing department’s role in the creation of the Internet and the Lynx web browser.

The University of Kansas offers both a PhD in Nursing and a DNP. For both programs, you can complete a majority of the coursework at a distance, but some on-campus time will be required. The DNP program focuses on proficiency in healthcare by providing a curriculum that actively engages students. For the BSN to DNP track, you can choose from the following specializations: Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nursing Informatics, Organizational Leadership, and Public Health Nursing. The Post-Master’s option has two majors, Advanced Practice, and Leadership. Kansas’ PhD program was established in 1983 and can take as little as three years to complete. For both programs, some of the coursework is presented synchronously; in addition, they will require a week-long intensive at the beginning of the first three semesters.

Kansas Website: https://www.ku.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 63%
Final Score: 144/200

29: Georgia College and State University

Georgia College and State University

Georgia College and State UniversityGeorgia College and State University, or GCSU, is a public liberal arts university in Milledgeville, Georgia. It is a member of the University System of Georgia and was founded in 1889. At that time, it was primarily a vocational school with a focus on preparing women to be teachers. It became more academic in 1917, awarding its first degrees in 1921. A few years later in 1925, GCSU was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Today, students can earn degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. University status was granted in 1966, which is when the name officially became Georgia College and State University, after operating under a number of others in the past. These were the Georgia Normal and Industrial College, the Georgia State College for Women, the Women’s College of Georgia, the Georgia College at Milledgeville, and the Georgia College. Despite not truly becoming a university until the 1960’s, GCSU has been part of the University System of Georgia since the creation of the system in 1932.

GCSU offers an online DNP program that can be completed in five or eight semesters, depending on the student’s choice to study at a full- or part-time pace, respectively. All of the coursework can be completed online, but the program has a handful of on-campus requirements. Prior to the first semester, there is a four-day orientation; there are only two weeks of immersion throughout the duration of the degree program. The course styles are blended in that some of them are presented synchronously and include live lectures, and some of them are entirely self-paced. The program consists of 37 credit hours, and the cost per credit hour is well below the national average at just $473. The majority of students are able to maintain employment throughout the program, and there is a consistent 100% employment rate for graduates. Students are admitted once per year, starting in the summer semester.

GCSU Website: http://www.gcsu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Final Score: 144/200

28: Florida International University

Florida International University

Florida International UniversityFlorida International University is a public research university in University Park, Florida. It was founded in 1965 and was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges almost 50 years later. There are 191 programs of study available with almost 300 majors to choose from; at the graduate level, there are 81 masters degree programs, 34 doctoral programs, and three professional degrees. The university also provides students with the option of pursuing a variety of certificates at varying levels. FIU is one of Florida’s primary graduate research universities and has been classified as a research university with the highest research activity by the Carnegie Foundation. FIU is the second largest university in Florida and the fourth largest in the country by enrollment, with 55,003 students in total. Those 55,000+ students are enrolled across the 23 constituents of the university, and just under 20% of them are distance-learners.

The DNP at Florida International is 36-credit fully-online degree program that spans six semesters. This degree program offers a rich curriculum centered on evidence-based practice and patient safety. The goal of this program is to equip graduates with the skills to provide culturally competent care, so there is a high emphasis on diversity; in addition, students will also learn about the Organizational Dynamics of Health Systems to add depth to their leadership skills. Students are admitted twice per year in cohorts, in the fall and spring semesters. Courses are provided primarily online, but some of them may require up to three face-to-face sessions per semester. Even though some courses may require on-campus meetings, FIU boasts that the degree was specifically designed to fit into the busy life of a working professional. Only those who have completed a masters degree and are licensed Advanced Practice Nurses will be eligible to enroll, as this degree is designed explicitly for APRNs.

FIU Website: https://www.fiu.edu
Freshman Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 56%
Final Score: 144/200

27: University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas

University of ArkansasThe University of Arkansas is a public land- and space-grant research university that is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas system, and it serves 27,194 students. It offers over 200 programs of study at the undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels. In the beginning, it was called Arkansas Industrial University, and it opened in 1871. There are ten colleges on the campus, which are the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences; the College of Engineering; the College of Education & Health Professions; the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Law; the Sam M. Walton College of Business; the Graduate School and International Education; and the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. The business school is named after the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton. His son S. Robson Walton is one of several notable alumni of the university.

The University of Arkansas offers a DNP program with coursework that students can complete 100% online. Two concentrations are offered, one being Family Nurse Practitioner track and the other being an Adult-Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track. While there is a mandatory orientation before the first semester, the program has very minimal on-campus requirements. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for certification exams through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Typically, the BSN track will take students four years to complete, but there is an accelerated full-time option; the MSN track can take as little as two years when taken at a full-time pace. BSN track students will take courses in Role Development, Innovations in Nursing, and Healthcare Policy. Students who started with a Master of Science in Nursing will explore many of the same subjects. All students must complete a Capstone project prior to graduation.

Arkansas Website: https://www.uark.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 64%
Final Score: 146/200

26: Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University is a public research university in Richmond, Virginia. It was created by the merger of the Medical College of Virginia and the Richmond Professional Institute in 1968; the Medical College of Virginia to which the university traces its roots was founded as far back as 1838. Almost 30 of the 217 available degree programs have been ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report; 79 of the programs available are unique to Virginia. VCU also carries the highest distinction awarded by the Carnegie Foundation, which named them an R1: Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity. VCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and holds 25 programmatic accreditations. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing accredited all levels of the schools nursing education in 2016.

VCU offers two online doctoral programs in nursing, both a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a PhD in Nursing. The DNP offering is presented synchronously. The coursework is available entirely at a distance, but students will be required to sign in at specific times in order to participate in live lectures. There are only three on-campus meetings each year. The PhD in Nursing offers slightly more flexibility; it is a self-paced or asynchronous program. The PhD program will put students among the ranks of nationally recognized nurse scientists who conduct biobehavioral clinical research. The program has recently shifted to be presented in a hybrid format; however, the on-campus requirements are not currently outlined in the curriculum at this time. For questions concerning this, you can contact the program director Jo Lynne W. Robins, Ph.D, ANP-BC, CHTP, AHN-C, [email protected] is her email.

VCU Website: https://www.vcu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 62%
Final Score: 148/200

25: Regis University

Regis University

Regis UniversityRegis University is a private Roman Catholic Jesuit university in Denver, Colorado. It is one of just 28 member-institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. It was founded in 1877 in Las Vegas, New Mexico. When that school, the Las Vegas College, merged with the Sacred Heart College of Morrison, Colorado, the institution moved to its current campus. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are 8,368 students enrolled at the university, which is made up of five academic divisions. These are the Regis College; The Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions; the College of Contemporary Liberal Studies; the College of Computer and Information Sciences and; the College of Business and Economics. Regis University also has ranked consistently among the best universities for over two decades according to U.S. News & World Report.

Regis University’s asynchronous DNP degree program is convenient for a working nurse. The degree program fully accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing – Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The classes are provided in eight-week formats which allows you to complete your degree at an accelerated pace; full-time study leads to completion in just two years. The program offers two specializations; Advanced Practice Registered Nursing and Advanced Leadership in Health Care. The APRN degree program has a requirement of 30-31 semester hours, while the ALHC requires 30-36. Both specializations will provide a strong foundation for nurses, covering topics like informatics, leadership, and health policy. Regis admits students once per year in the summer semester and requires no on-campus meetings through the entirety of the program.

Regis Website: http://www.regis.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 68%
Final Score: 148/200

24: Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall UniversitySeton Hall University is a private Roman Catholic university in South Orange, New Jersey. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has maintained that accreditation since 1932. It was founded in 1856, making it the oldest diocesan university in the country. There are almost 10,000 students enrolled, and they have the choice of around 70 different areas of study. Seton Hall confers degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels through its 11 constituent colleges and schools. These are the College of Arts and Sciences; the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology; the College of Education and Human Services; the College of Nursing; the W. Paul Stillman School of Business; the School of Law; the School of Health and Medical Sciences; the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies; the School of Diplomacy and International Relations; the College of Communications and the Arts and; the School of Medicine. The School of Nursing was established in 1937 and is accredited at all levels by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

SHU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program was first implemented in 2009. It provides a curriculum that pushes students to perform at their highest ability, which helps shape the future of healthcare by cultivating dedication among its students. Graduates of this program will be fully-equipped to step into leadership roles or continue on the path of advanced practice. This DNP program is open to nurses who hold a BSN or an MSN and has ranked as one of the top 75 graduate nursing programs in America. All of the coursework is available at a distance and students will be required to complete a scholarly project in order to graduate. Courses that students of either track will take include Population Health in Advanced Nursing Practice, Quality and Information Management Systems, Leadership in Healthcare Business, and more. Seton Hall offered some of the first nursing programs in New Jersey and the graduate level programs are globally recognized for their excellence.

Seton Hall Website: https://www.shu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85%
Graduation Rate: 64%
Final Score: 149/200

23: University of Alabama

University of Alabama

University of AlabamaThe University of Alabama is a public sea- and space-grant research university. It is the flagship institution of the University of Alabama System and has its main campus in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was founded in 1820 by The General Assembly of Alabama. It is the oldest public institution in Alabama, and also the largest, serving 37,663 in total. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and holds an additional nine programmatic accreditations. Sometimes referred to just as Alabama, or UA, the university has graduated 12 Truman Scholars, 15 Rhodes Scholars, and 29 Goldwater Scholars. Alabama has consistently ranked among the top public universities in the nation in publications by U.S. News & World Report, as well as receiving recognition from other publications such as Business Insider and Washington Monthly. The university has programs available starting at the bachelors level through to the doctoral level, with a variety of certificates in between. There are currently 117 areas of study available from which students can choose.

The online doctorate program in nursing offered at the University of Alabama is a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Students are required to attend at least one DNP Intensive on campus and to attend graduation. Outside of that, the program is wholly online. The clinical component can be completed locally. This program is open almost exclusively to nurses who hold a masters degree and admits students once per year, in the fall. Residents of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi may be eligible for the program with a BSN. In addition to completing a scholarly project, students will take courses such as Health Policy and Politics: Implications in Health Care, Clinical Data Management and Analysis, and Population Health in Advanced Practice Nursing. Tuition for the program is one of the highlights, and it is only $375 per credit hour which is nearly half of the average per credit hour cost.

Alabama Website: https://www.ua.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 69%
Final Score: 155/200

22: Misericordia University

Misericordia University

Misericordia UniversityMisericordia University is a private Catholic university that was established by the Religious Sisters of Mercy under the name College Misericordia. The word misericordia comes from Latin and means “mercy.” Doors opened in 1914, and the inaugural class was only 37 students. Today, the school has a student body of 2,808, and while most of them attend their classes on campus in Dallas, Pennsylvania, close to 20% of them are taking their courses entirely at a distance. University status was granted to Misericordia in 2007. There are 34 majors that span the three academic colleges that the university is comprised of. These colleges are the College of Arts and Science; the College of Health Sciences and; the College of Professional Studies and Social Sciences. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education first accredited the university in 1935. A unique feature of Misericordia University is its Guaranteed Placement Program, for graduates who remain unemployed and are not accepted to a graduate program within six months of completing their degree, the university will provide them with a paid internship in their chosen field.

The DNP degree program at Misericordia University is open to both BSN and MSN graduates and is provided through the Center for Adult and Continuing Education. The BSN to DNP track has a total of 64 credits spanning nine semesters, or three years. All of the DNP level courses are online; however, students would have to take MSN level courses on-campus. Students on either track will be required to complete a capstone project. The MSN track takes two years to complete and is a 27-credit program. APRNs also have the choice of participating in a nine-credit specialization in nursing education that will prepare them to become educators at the collegiate level. All of the courses are designed in an integrated manner, building off of one another in such a way that no doctoral level transfer credits are accepted in order to preserve the integrity of the program.

Misericordia Website: https://www.misericordia.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 74%
Final Score: 156/200

21: Simmons College

Simmons College

Simmons CollegeSimmons College is a unique private university based in Boston, Massachusetts. The undergraduate college is described as women-focused, and the student population is made up of 99% women. The graduate college, however, is completely coeducational. It was founded in 1899 and has been heavily focused on inclusivity throughout its history. Students of color have always been allowed at the college and Simmons is one of the very few universities that never placed admissions quotas on Jewish students. There are just over 6,000 students enrolled, and the majority of them are pursuing degrees at the graduate level. 63% of those graduate students are doing so entirely through the distance-learning opportunities featured at Simmons. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education at all levels.

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice is offered through the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons. Subjects like ethics and the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical and organizational sciences come together in this curriculum with nursing practice to form the well-rounded curriculum of this degree program. Professional Practice Leadership is the primary focus of this offering, providing skills that graduates can use in clinical practice, research, and management. The coursework is delivered in a blended format; while there are two weekends per semester in which students must attend campus, the majority of the coursework is available online. Simmons College’s online DNP is made up of 30 credits; 24 of them are core courses like Epidemiology, Quality Improvement in Healthcare, and more; the remaining six credits are dedicated to the mandatory Capstone project required for graduation. Students can choose from full- or part-time paces and will be able to take advantage of the extensive partnerships Simmons has with world-renowned teaching hospitals and research facilities.

Simmons Website: http://www.simmons.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 74%
Final Score: 157/200

20: University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

University of Central FloridaThe University of Central Florida is a public space-grant research university in Orlando, Florida. Most often abbreviated to UCF, the university was founded in 1963. Classes didn’t start until 1968 when the Florida Technical University opened its doors. The university was founded with the goal of providing support to the nation’s space program. As academic programs at the school grew in numbers, it was decided in 1978 that the University of Central Florida was a more fitting name for the institution. The inaugural class of students was fairly large at almost 2,000 strong but today, UCF is the largest university in the United States by enrollment. There are 64,088 students currently, and almost 300,000 living alumni around the globe. Among those alumni, there are individuals who have been instrumental in the government, two astronauts, award-winning athletes, and entertainers, as well as high-level executives for Fortune 500 companies like Boeing, Google, and Darden Restaurants. There are 90 undergraduate programs and 118 graduate-level programs. 75% of the faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields, and thanks to the work of UCF professors in conjunction with the Florida Space Institute, UCF will soon become the first Florida university to lead a NASA mission.

There are three hybrid DNP programs offered to BSN students, in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care and; a DNP-FNP. The fully-online Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees are available only for post-MSN nurses. There is a DNP for APRNs who want to advance into leadership roles; this track explores health care systems and complex practice situations so that graduates can go on to lead confidently. Full-time students can earn this degree in five semesters, and part-time students in seven. The other available DNP is an Executive track that is only available part-time and lasts nine semesters. It is designed to equip graduates with the tools they need to take on administrative roles in healthcare. Both of these tracks offer entirely online courses but will require some face-to-face meetings for intensives.

UCF Website: https://www.ucf.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 69%
Final Score: 158/200

19: University of Iowa

University of Iowa

University of IowaThe State University of Iowa is the true name of what we call the University of Iowa, a public space-grant research university in Iowa City, Iowa. It was founded in the year 1847, just shy of three months after Iowa became part of the union. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state as well as the third largest. There are 32,011 students that are enrolled in more than 200 different areas of study; degrees from UI are conferred at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. The Carnegie Foundation has given the university the highest research activity designation, and it has also been ranked nationally in the fields of law, fine arts, and healthcare. The university pioneered the Master of Fine Arts degree and has been at the forefront of inclusive education throughout its history. The University of Iowa was the first public university to open as a coeducational institution, the first medical school to be coeducational at its inception, the first public university to open a Department of Religious Studies, and also the first university in America to officially recognize an LGBT student organization.

UI is a Public Ivy, which is a title given to public universities that demonstrate the same quality as that of Ivy League universities. It is a member of several prestigious research organizations and ranked among the top 50 public universities in America for 2017 (in the ranking published by U.S. News & World Report). The College of Nursing is one of 12 colleges and schools that make up UI, and it first opened in 1949. The Doctor of Nursing Practice at the university is open to nurses who hold a BSN or MSN and offers eight specialties. There are Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner tracks in Acute or Primary Care; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner tracks in Acute or Primary Care; a Family Nurse Practitioner track; a Health Systems/Administration track; a Nurse Anesthesia track and; a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track. Each option features a bulk of the coursework online, taught by faculty who are national leaders in clinical education.

UI Website: https://uiowa.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 72%
Final Score: 159/200

18: Drexel University

Drexel University

Drexel UniversityDrexel University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it was founded in the year 1891. It is a private research university that has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education for almost a decade. The university serves close to 25,000 students, and more than a quarter of them attend entirely online. Drexel has been offering online programs since 1996, making it one of the early-adopters of distance-education. Drexel University Online even partnered with the United States Distance Learning Association to create National Distance Learning Week in 2007. It was also recently recognized as one of the most innovative schools, coming in 14th in a 2017 ranking by U.S. News & World Report. There are over 70 programs of study at the undergraduate level and over 100 at the graduate level. Drexel confers degrees from the associates to doctoral levels, as well as a variety of different certificates.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel was added to the list of constituents in 2002 and offers more than 25 different programs of study. The Nurse Anesthesia program provided is among the top 50 in the nation. The online Doctor of Nursing Practice was designed to prepare students for advanced practice or leadership roles, but the research-intensive curriculum also covers the science developed by nurse researchers who hold research-focused degrees. There are three in-person requirements throughout the entirety of this asynchronous program that admits students four times throughout the year. Students will need to attend an orientation during their first year, a global immersion held in Canada during their third year, and a residency during the week of their graduation in order to present the capstone project they’ve completed. Each of these mandatory face-to-face visits will last one week.

Drexel Website: http://drexel.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 70%
Final Score: 159/200

17: Maryville University of Saint Louis

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Maryville University of Saint LouisThe Maryville University of Saint Louis is a private university in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, called Town and Country. It is one of the oldest private universities in the St. Louis area, founded in 1872. It began as an academy, but the curriculum and goals expanded rapidly, prompting the shift to a junior college in 1921 then to a four-year college in 1923. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are almost 7,000 students at Maryville today. It started as an institution for underprivileged youth and young women and didn’t begin admitting men until 1968. University status was finally granted in 1991. Today, there are almost 100 degrees provided at Maryville at the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are six academic units that the university is divided into, and these are the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Education; the Walker College of Health Professions; the John E. Simon School of Business; the School of Adult and Online Education and; the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing.

The founder of the Sisters of Mercy is the namesake of Maryville’s nursing school, that has graduated nearly 3,000 nursing students that completed their degrees online. There are several different doctorate programs in nursing offered at the university. There is a BSN-DNP degree program, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Additional DNP programs are available with concentrations including Adult-Gerontology Acute or Primary Care, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. All of the DNP-NP options are open only to MSN graduates, and allow them to become an NP for the first time or shift their specialty. Graduates of those options will be fully prepared to take the credentialing exams that lead to certification. A unique feature of Maryville’s online nursing doctorates is that each of them is 100% online, has no waiting list, and doesn’t require any visits to the campus. All clinicals can be completed locally.

Maryville Website: https://www.maryville.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 75%
Final Score: 161/200

16: Bradley University

Bradley University

Bradley UniversityBradley University is a private university in Peoria, Illinois. It was founded as the Bradley Polytechnic Institute in 1897. It was comprised of a four-year academy and a two-year college until 1920 when it shifted to become a four-year college. It has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1913 and adopted its current name when university status was achieved in 1946. Bradley University was ranked as #6 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 ranking of the top Regional Midwest Universities. Bradley boasts over 100 undergraduate programs and an excess of 30 graduate programs, and it currently serves 5,598 students. Of those students, 28% of them are taking at least some courses online, and roughly 20% are pursuing their degree entirely online. Bradley University is divided into the College of Education and Health Sciences; the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Foster College of Business; the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts; the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and; the Graduate School.

Bradley University has a very specific student-focused approach to education and is committed to flexibility without sacrificing quality. The university offers a BSN-DNP degree track online that leads to a Doctor of Nursing Practice and Family Nurse Practitioner certification. This program takes four years to complete and admits students three times throughout the year. All the coursework is available online and presented asynchronously so that you can work on your own time and at your own pace, you will never have to visit campus while pursuing this degree. Similarly, the MSN-DNP is also asynchronously and entirely distance-based. This particular track leads to a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Leadership and can be completed in as little as three years. Bradley’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. There are clinical hours required to graduate, but you will be able to select a location close to home in order to complete them.

Bradley Website: https://www.bradley.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 74%
Final Score: 161/200

15: Samford University

Samford University

Samford UniversitySamford University is the top-ranked institution of its kind in Alabama. It is a private Christian university located in the city of Homewood. It was founded in 1841 as Howard College. Because of the civil war, it operated solely as a military hospital for several years until resuming classes 1865. It has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges since 1920. Degrees are offered at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels with a range of certificates in between. There are nearly 6,000 students at Samford, which is a predominantly residential school. 16% of the students are solely distance learners, and an additional 9% take at least one online course. Samford University is made up of the following academic divisions: the School of the Arts; the Howard College of Arts and Sciences; the Brock School of Business; the Beeson Divinity School; the Orlean Beeson School of Education; the College of Health Sciences; the Cumberland School of Law; the Ida Moffett School of Nursing; the McWhorter School of Pharmacy; the School of Health Professions and; the School of Public Health.

Samford University offers a total of six online DNP programs. These are the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Administration; in Advanced Practice and; a Family Nurse Practitioner specialty. The remaining three are the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Systems & Administration, and two further specialties: Transformation of Care, and Informatics. Both the DNP in Administration and the DNP in Advanced Practice are only offered to those with a Master of Science in Nursing. The DNP-FNP program, as well as the Health Systems Administration offerings, are open to nurses holding a BSN. Additionally, the Health Systems options provide an RN to DNP option. All of the programs start in January and admit students only once per year. Full-time plans of study allow for graduation in as little as one year; however, the online option is primarily presented at a part-time pace that takes two years. Each of the degree options has been designed to prepare nurses to succeed at any level of nursing practice and administration.

Samford Website: https://www.samford.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 73%
Final Score: 162/200

14: University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire

University of New HampshireThe University of New Hampshire is a public research university headquartered in Durham, New Hampshire. It is the flagship university of the University System of New Hampshire. UNH is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, one of less than ten universities in America to be all three. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education and has 11 additional programmatic accreditations. The university was founded in 1866 as the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. After partnering with Dartmouth College and expanding the scope of its offerings, it officially became the University of New Hampshire in 1923. Now there are close to 100 different programs of study to choose from, at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. UNH serves 15,188 students in total, making it the largest university in the state. We have previously ranked UNH as the best online college in New Hampshire.
There are only two visits to campus required in the online Doctor of Nursing Practice at UNH; one is a 3-day residency for orientation, and the other is to defend your final project when you’re in your last semester. The university provides students with the utmost flexibility with two start dates a year, scheduled time off, and completely asynchronous online classes. This program is presented in a cohort model and consists of 11 courses totaling 33 credits. The typical student completes the program in 28 months, but because of a unique experiential credit opportunity and optional accelerated format, it can be completed in as little as 18 months. Courses are kept small, and students are assigned a full-time Nursing Department faculty advisor so that they don’t have to feel like choosing distance learning meant sacrificing essential resources and relationships with program staff.

UNH Website: https://www.unh.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 78%
Final Score: 164/200

13: Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis UniversitySaint Louis University is a private research university with a Roman Catholic affiliation. It is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and has an additional campus in Madrid, Spain. The university was founded in 1818, with its first location being a private residence near the Mississippi. SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River and the second oldest Jesuit institution in the country. Other accolades the university’s history include being the first integrated university in Missouri, the first federally licensed school of aviation, and it also awarded the first PhD in Aviation in the world. There are almost 17,000 students at this Higher Learning Commission-accredited university. They have almost 200 different programs of study to choose from at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels, with 25 programs available online. The university also holds 12 specialized accreditations.

SLU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is 100% online. BSN to DNP students have a requirement of four campus visits, two of them being a two-day orientation. MSN to DNP students are required to make two campus visits, one of them being a one-day orientation. There are 68 credit hours in total in the BSN-DNP program, which can be completed in either four or five years. The MSN-DNP program is just 28 credit hours. SLU also has a PhD in Nursing, which requires 51 credit hours. The majority of the coursework is synchronously presented, requiring students to log on at specific times to interact live with instructors or other students. Students in different time zones are taken into consideration when class times are set. The PhD can be pursued at a full-time pace of 6 credit hours per semester or a part-time pace of 3 credit hours per semester. A dissertation is required in order to graduate from the PhD program.

Saint Louis Website: https://www.slu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 74%
Final Score: 165/200

12: Duquesne University

Duquesne University

Duquesne UniversityDuquesne University is a private Catholic university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While it is best known as Duquesne University, the legal name of the school is the Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit. It is the only Spiritan institution of higher education that exists, and because of that, pulls students from more than 80 countries around the world. There are almost 10,000 students at Duquesne, which is a vast difference from the inaugural class of just 40 students in 1878 when it opened. It originally opened its doors in 1878 to an inaugural class of a mere 40 students. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Degrees are available at the bachelors level and up in 189 different areas of study. The university is comprised of ten different schools including the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts; the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences ; the Duquesne School of Law; the A.J. Palumbo School of Business Administration; the Mylan School of Pharmacy; the Mary Pappert School of Music; the School of Education; the School of Nursing and; the Rangos School of Health Sciences.

The School of Nursing was established as an independent college in 1937. The doctorate level programs are all accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Duquesne was the first university to offer an online PhD in Nursing and has expanded to provide three doctorate programs in nursing online. These are a PhD in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a one-of-a-kind PhD in Nursing Ethics. The DNP doesn’t require any campus visits; however, both of the PhDs do. There is a Doctoral Week during the first summer of both programs that serves as an orientation; during the second year, students of either PhD program will spend two weeks studying abroad at one of the international campuses in places like Ireland or Italy; the third year will see students getting dissertation topics approved if they are on the 4-year track but students on the 3-year track will be defending their dissertation. Students on the 4-year path will need to return to campus once more to defend their dissertation. However, all of the coursework is available entirely online including cognates to supplement your dissertation.

Duquesne Website: http://www.duq.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 79%
Final Score: 165/200

11: Endicott College

Endicott College

Endicott CollegeEndicott College is a private college in Beverly, Massachusetts. Endicott was founded in 1939 and began conferring associates degrees in 1944. It was accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education in 1952, the same year that it graduated its first class of students at the collegiate level. Endicott now offers degree programs at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. The first doctorate program was added to the curriculum in 2014. 4,835 students are enrolled at Endicott, and roughly 40% of them participate in online education. The college is made up of nine schools, which are the School of Arts and Sciences; the Gerrish School of Business; the School of Communication; the School of Education; the School of Hospitality Management; the School of Sport Science and Fitness Studies; the School of Nursing; the School of Visual and Performing Arts and; the Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Endicott College offers a PhD in Nursing that combines logical, critical, and scientific thinking with ethical integrity. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. It is made up of 45 credit hours and covers subjects like Philosophy of Science, Design and Methods for Clinical Nursing Research, and more. A dissertation is required to graduate. Online students will have access to the career resources provided by the Van Loan School at Endicott even after graduating. Services include resume support and continued advising. The PhD in Nursing is described as being presented in a blended format, designed to appeal to professionals who desire a rigorous doctoral educational experience in a more flexible and modern format. However, the on-campus requirements are not listed on the program website.

Endicott Website: https://www.endicott.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 80%
Final Score: 166/200

10: University of Massachusetts-Amherst

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

University of Massachusetts-AmherstThe University of Massachusetts Amherst is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts System. Appropriately, it is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. U.S. News & World Report has ranked them among the Top 50 Best Public Universities in the Nation, and among the Top 100 Best National Universities. The university was founded in 1863 but didn’t admit it first class until 1867. At that time, UMass (as the school is often called) only served 50 students. Today, there are 30,037 students in attendance, making it the largest public university in New England. These students have a broad selection of degree options; 111 undergraduate programs, 75 masters programs, and an impressive 47 doctoral programs. The university is accredited as a whole by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. All programs are offered through one of the nine schools and colleges that comprise the university.

The DNP program at UMass opened in 2006 and was one of the first BSN to DNP tracks ever created. The program has been awarded regionally and nationally for excellence in online education. The curriculum was designed to pave the way for graduates to manage patients, lead healthcare systems, evaluate clinical outcomes, apply research, and ultimately strive towards efficient and sustainable healthcare. Students can specialize in the following areas: Family Nurse Practitioner, Public Health Nurse Leader, Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. APRNs with a Master of Science in Nursing are eligible for a DNP completion program but must have at least 36 semester credits and submit a portfolio so that an individualized program of study can be created.

UMass Amherst Website: https://www.umass.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 167/200

9: Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Indiana University-Purdue University-IndianapolisIndiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The university, which is a member institution of both the Purdue University and Indiana University Systems, was founded in 1969. The university, usually abbreviated to IUPUI, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are almost 30,000 students enrolled in the 18 different schools that comprise the university; there are over 200 degree programs available at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. IUPUI is recognized for being the home of the largest nursing school in the country, which is accredited at all levels by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; it also operates the second largest medical school in the country.

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis has two online doctorate programs in nursing to choose from. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed for APRNs that are seeking to expand their skills in order to step into leadership roles whether that is at the system level, organizational level, or directly at the patient care level. The DNP is for nurses that already hold an MSN degree and therefore only consists of 37 credit hours. As part of this option, you will take courses in nursing informatics, healthcare outcomes and decision making, public health policy, and so much more. The PhD in Nursing Science is designed for those of you who are ready to break into the world of cutting-edge research spanning subjects such as nursing education, health systems, and clinical science. The PhD is 90 credit hours in total and is open students holding a BSN as well as those with an MSN. The BSN option also allows for participants to earn certification as a clinical nurse specialist.

IUPUI Website: https://www.iupui.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 167/200

8: Indiana University-Bloomington

Indiana University-Bloomington

Indiana University-BloomingtonIndiana University-Bloomington is the Bloomington, Indiana campus of Indiana University. It is the flagship institution of the Indiana University System, and also the largest by enrollment. There are an incredible 49,695 students in total. The university isn’t affiliated with any religious organizations, but it was founded as a seminary in 1820. It spent less than a decade as a seminary, though, because of the aggressive academic expansion taking place. It became Indiana College in 1829. By 1839, it was Indiana University. The first classes only had 12 students, and despite the continually broadening options for students, it took over two decades for enrollment to surpass 100 students. Degrees are offered at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. Programs at IU Bloomington are nationally ranked across the board in subjects like Nuclear Physics, Programming Languages, Public Finance, and more.

Indiana University offers two online doctorate programs in nursing, the same as those offered by IUPUI above. Coursework is described as being up to 99% available online. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is only open to nurses that already hold a Master of Science in Nursing and focuses on leadership in advanced practice. The DNP consists of 37 credit hours and costs the same for in-state students as it does for those out-of-state. The PhD in Nursing Science welcomes students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees as well as those with Master of Science in Nursing degrees. Courses for both programs are presented in a cohort model and are accessible completely online, and there are minimal face-to-face requirements throughout the duration of your study. The PhD program is a total of 90 credits and will cover subjects such as nursing theory, relationship-centered leadership, data analysis, and much more in order to create a solid foundation for the future of nurse science through empowering and educating students.

IU Bloomington Website: https://www.indiana.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 167/200

7: Creighton University

Creighton University

Creighton UniversityCreighton University is a private Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska. It is the largest university throughout the state, established in 1878 by The Society of Jesus. At the time, there were only 100 students, taught by seven faculty; the university has grown to over 8,000 students and has a student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1. Creighton was officially established as a men’s only school, but since becoming coeducational in 1951 has had a female majority. Creighton was accredited by Higher Learning Commission in 1916 and upgraded from college to a university in 1958. Degrees are offered at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in over 50 areas of study. Creighton University is divided into the following schools and colleges: The College of Arts & Sciences; the Heider College of Business; the College of Nursing; the School of Dentistry; the School of Medicine; the School of Pharmacy & Health Professions; the School of Law; the Graduate School and; the College of Professional Studies.

Doctoral programs were first added to the curriculum, and now there are 23 different options. Creighton’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program is one of them. Advanced scientific knowledge and practical hands-on skills converge in the rigorous curriculum that was created for the sole purpose of equipping nurses with an education that can be actively applied in leadership roles. Schools, correctional facilities, private companies, home health agencies, mental health settings, long-term care facilities, community health centers, research labs, government agencies, and so much more are seeing a growing needs for nurses, and Creighton’s program is seeking to fill those gaps. There are four specializations, six APRN tracks, and a Clinical Systems Administration track with three areas of concentration to choose from. No matter what aspect of nursing that you want to delve more deeply into and build up your career, Creighton has an option. Students with a BSN or MSN degree can apply to this 100% online doctorate program in nursing.

Creighton Website: https://www.creighton.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 79%
Final Score: 168/200

6: University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

University of PittsburghThe University of Pittsburgh is a public research university that is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with several other campuses across the state. Pitt was founded as a prep school in 1787, but higher demand for quality education in the area put pressure on school officials to expand the curriculum; it was granted university status in 1908 and was soon accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Pitt is one of the top schools regarding the number of Fulbright scholars produced, and it was the only public university to claim both Rhodes and Marshall scholars in 2007. Other alumni include Nobel Prize winners, politicians, athletes, and even the man who discovered the polio vaccine. There are 28,664 students in total, enrolled in any one of the 17 schools and colleges the Pitt is made up of. Degrees are offered from the associates to doctoral level.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program centered on clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills. It is a Post-Master’s program and is not open to nurses that don’t currently hold an MSN. Masters degrees from other fields are considered on a case-by-case basis. Graduates of this program will see themselves fulfilling leadership roles, establishing standards and policies, and most importantly, rising to meet the needs of today’s diverse healthcare systems and their patients. All coursework can be completed entirely online. Clinical hours can be completed at a location that is convenient for the student as long as it is approved, there are also authorized testing centers for the required proctored exams all over the country. In addition to the flexibility Pitt provides by allowing you to earn a degree online so you can continue filling your personal and professional obligations, there are ten opportunities for extensive customization. The 10 specialty areas available for students to explore are Clinical Nurse Specialist – Adult-Gerontology, Clinical Nurse Specialist – Psychiatric Mental Health, Health Systems Executive Leadership, CRNA MSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Family (Individual Across the Lifespan), Neonatal, Pediatric Primary Care, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Pitt Website: http://www.pitt.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 92%
Graduation Rate: 81%
Final Score: 173/200

5: George Washington University

George Washington University

George Washington UniversityGeorge Washington University is a private research university located in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1821, after being chartered by an act of the United States Congress. The first class of students graduated in 1824. The same year that it opened, it achieved university status and went on to be accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education a century later. There are ten specialized accreditations that the university has received as well across a range of fields. There are 27,159 students in attendance, coming from all 50 states and more than 130 countries around the world. GWU is considered one of the most prestigious universities in America and has been nationally ranked for research, producing billionaires, and in several degree concentrations from a variety of publications like U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. It is also classified as an R1: Doctoral University with the highest research activity, which is the highest distinction given by the Carnegie Foundation.

George Washington University’s School of Nursing provides students with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program that is tailored to meet the needs of the working professional while simultaneously providing an education that lives up to the name and history of the school. The DNP program has a BSN-DNP option that features minimal on-campus visits and has three concentrations available which are the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program, the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program, and the Family Nurse Practitioner program. The Post-Master’s DNP options for specialization provide more depth to the skills of students through programs in Executive Leadership, Health Care Quality, and Nursing Practice. The MSN-DNP program only requires two face-to-face meetings apart from the standard new student orientation. Depending on your chosen track, you can pursue your degree at a full-time or part-time pace.

GWU Website: https://www.gwu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 90%
Graduation Rate: 84%
Final Score: 174/200

4: Ohio State University

Ohio State University

Ohio State UniversityOhio State University is a public land-, sea-, and space-grant university based in Columbus, Ohio. The university was established as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1870, as a result of the Morrill Land Act of 1862. The inaugural class of merely 24 students first set foot on campus in 1873. OSU was very quick to expand; it was granted university status in 1878 and adopted its current title, and began adding graduate degree programs around that time. The Higher Learning Commission accredited the university in 1913, and it was elected into the Association of American Universities in 1916. The Association of American Universities is an organization comprised of 62 distinguished research universities. OSU is also one of the top three largest universities by enrollment with almost 60,000 students and has the third largest campus in the nation. Degrees are available at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels with many different certificates offered as well.

Ohio State Online provides students with the opportunity to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice through the university’s School of Nursing. The curriculum was designed for nurses that want to advance their career in direct clinical nursing practice, and for those who wish to initiate positive change as a nurse executive. This program ranked 5th in the country by U.S. News & World Report for the year 2018. The program encompasses core coursework, electives, and clinical immersion in such a way that allows students to take a customized approach to their learning. There is both a Post-Master’s and BSN track offered. Nurses that hold an MSN can choose from a Clinical Expert Track and a Nurse Executive Track. Either option can be completed in as little as two years at a full-time pace, but part-time study is also available. The BSN option takes four or five years depending on the student’s choice of full- or part-time study, respectively. The ten specializations that OSU has available for BSN-DNP students can only be completed on campus. All DNP courses are presented synchronously.

OSU Website: https://www.osu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 94%
Graduation Rate: 84%
Final Score: 178/200

3: University of Florida

University of Florida

University of FloridaThe University of Florida is a public land-, sea-, and space-grant research university in Gainesville, Florida. It was founded in 1853 and is a member of the State University System of Florida. UF is one of the largest universities in the nation, but it isn’t even the largest in its own university system. UF has degree programs from at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate students have the choice of 123 masters programs and 76 doctoral programs. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges accredits the university and has done so since the year 1913. The University of Florida is an incredibly active research university, with over 200 centers and institutes. It has been nationally ranked by The Milken Institute, the NSF, and more. U.S. News & World Report published a variety of ranking articles each year; for 2018, UF was named as #9 out of all the universities in America. There are 16 constituent schools and colleges that comprise UF.

Among those constituents is the College of Nursing, which was founded in 1956. The graduate programs are among the top 10% in the United States, and U.S. News & World Report ranked it as 32nd among all nursing schools. There are over 10,000 alumni of the college. The online nursing doctoral program was one of the pioneering DNP degree offerings in Florida. There are five specializations that students can select from, and these are Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Some of the courses will require students to attend campus, but traditional meetings are as limited as possible in order to maintain flexibility for the already busy nurse. All of the core courses for each program are entirely online. The DNP programs at UF allow students to choose from a full-time or part-time degree plan in order to work it into their schedules; UF states that some students may need to travel in order to fulfill their clinical requirements.

UF Website: http://www.ufl.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 97%
Graduation Rate: 87%
Final Score: 184/200

2: Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins UniversityJohns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the first research university ever to be established in America, back in 1876. Johns Hopkins, the school’s namesake, was the first benefactor of the university; his donation would be equal to 150 million dollars today. The university is referred to most often as just Johns Hopkins, but sometimes JHU as well. There are several satellite locations in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas, as well as internationally in China and Italy. Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It is a founding member of the American Association of Universities, an organization of highly recognized research universities. It was among the most cited institutions in the world for its research from 1999 to 2009, coming in third behind Harvard and the Max Planck Society. JHU has over 20,000 students and provides degrees at all levels; however, less than a third of students are studying at the undergraduate levels.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing ranks #1 nationally among graduate schools of nursing and #3 for online programs from U.S. News & World Report; it is also the top recipient of Federal Research Grants and National Institutes of Health funding. There are both a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing at JHU, but currently, the DNP is the only one offered online. Among graduates of these programs, over 90% pass the NCLEX on their first attempt; among faculty, almost 50% are ranked as Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing. The founder of modern American nursing theory and the world’s first professor of nursing both graduated from JHU. The Executive DNP is designed for nurses who hold a masters degree. There is also a BSN-DNP option in Advanced Practice. Degrees are only offered full-time and can take between three and four years to complete. Courses are presented in a blended format, so a few of them will require on-campus meetings; JHU doesn’t recommend students of the program work while pursuing their degree in order to focus on their studies.

Johns Hopkins Website: https://www.jhu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 96%
Graduation Rate: 92%
Final Score: 188/200

1: Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt UniversityVanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1873 and at the time was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. It ended up parting ways with the church in the early 1900’s. The university, often called Vandy or just Vanderbilt has the highest research distinction given by the Carnegie Foundation. It consistently ranks among the top 20 research institutions in America. Vanderbilt enrolls 12,587 students; at the undergraduate level, there are 70 programs of study that students can pursue or create their own major. The graduate options are just as extensive. Degrees available are bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The academic divisions that make up the institution are the College of Arts and Science; the Blair School of Music; the Divinity School; the School of Engineering; the Graduate School’ the Law School; the School of Medicine; the School of Nursing; the Owen Graduate School of Management and; the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has been in operation for over a century. The doctoral degrees in nursing that it offers are a Doctor of Nursing Practice (established in 2008) and a PhD in Nursing Science (established in 1993). The DNP is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Both degrees can be completed at a distance. For the PhD, there are two different concentrations available, Clinical Research and Health Services Research. There are also two tracks for the DNP, Advanced Practice and Executive Leadership. Students have the choice to study full-time or part-time based on the limitations of their schedule. The coursework is presented both synchronously and asynchronously. In the PhD, most courses, held weekly, will require students to participate in live classes via the web; in the DNP, the majority of the courses are self-paced and allow students to work at any time of the day. There are three block intensives each year that will require you to travel to campus, for no more than five days each time. Additionally, in the final year of study, PhD students will be required to defend their dissertations in person. DNP students may use a two-way interactive video option for defending their projects.

Vanderbilt Website: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 97%
Graduation Rate: 92%
Final Score: 189/200

Top 30 Online Colleges with the Best PhD in Nursing