Nursing: DNP

Nursing DNP Alumnus Brett Burns sitting in the simulation lab

Take your passion for patient care to the next level. A DNP allows you to expand your scope of practice, pursue leadership and teaching roles, and continue to advance in your nursing career.

Why Earn a DNP for Advanced Practice Nursing?

A DNP is now considered the gold standard in education for today’s advanced practice nurses.

To meet the demands of an increasingly complex healthcare landscape, many clinical and leadership roles in nursing that once required a master’s degree now often prefer a doctorate of nursing practice.

Gain In-Demand Skills for an In-Demand Field

Advanced practice registered nurses are in high demand. Aside from gaining technical skills in a population focus, the doctorate of nursing practice also develops you into a versatile, strategic healthcare professional by covering topic such as:

  • Practice management
  • Risk management
  • Outcomes measurement
  • Patient advocacy
  • Health information
  • Research and scholarship

Prepare to Lead in the Nursing Profession

With an unprecedented demand for nurses of all career levels there comes a growing need for qualified nurse-leaders. A doctor of nursing practice can also open doors to executive-level leadership roles and qualify you for teaching positions.

Increase Your Earning Potential

Advanced practice registered nurses with a DNP typically earn a higher salary than their master’s-level counterparts. Additionally, a higher-level degree helps you pursue advancement opportunities, which often lead to higher pay and more flexibility in the job market.

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Career Outlook & Success


employment rate for nursing graduate students within six months


average annual salary for professionals with a DNP (, 2021)


growth rate predicted for nurse practitioners through 2030 (

Why USF for Your DNP?

USF’s Franciscan values and the Nursing Code of Ethics have a lot in common. When you pursue your DNP at a school like University of Saint Francis, you’ll not only gain skills and knowledge to provide quality care to patients; you’ll also develop into a healthcare professional who reveres each person’s dignity, respects all creation, and is dedicated to serving others.

Our strong reputation, quality education and flexible format makes our program ideal for working nurses across the Midwest and beyond:

Strong Reputation

Our doctorate of nursing practice program builds upon our long history of outstanding nursing education. The most respected healthcare organizations in the region trust graduates of University of Saint Francis to be well-prepared and ready to serve.

Flexible Structure & Schedule

USF understands that many of our students are working nurses; that’s why we offer a flexible hybrid model. You’ll spend time on campus twice a semester for what we call “intensives.” During this in-person learning portion, you’ll participate in lectures, group work, simulations, patient visits and more. The rest of the semester involves flexible synchronous and asynchronous online learning.

Excellent First-Time Exam Pass Rates

USF students are well-prepared for their board certifications exams through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Pathways to the DNP: Course Options

No matter where you are in your nursing career, USF has a path for you to move forward toward the DNP degree:

Post BSN to DNP

Designed for bachelor’s degree-level nurses who want to pursue a DNP, this program track is available in four specialty areas:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP Leadership

Post ASN to DNP

This track allows associate-level RNs to work toward a DNP.

Post MSN to DNP

If you already have a master’s of science in nursing and want to advance to the doctorate level, this pathway is for you.

DNP Tracks: A Closer Look

Our DNP program offers these advanced practice registered nurse tracks:

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners can offer a full range of primary healthcare services to patients of all ages. Especially in demand in rural and underserved areas with limited access to physicians, FNPs also focus on patient education, disease prevention and health promotion.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Help fulfill the nation’s growing need for compassionate, quality mental health services. Psychiatric-mental health NPs help assess, diagnose and treat patients of all ages, in a variety of settings, who may be experiencing substance abuse disorder, behavioral issues, and other psychiatric conditions.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

Assess, provide and manage care for adults, with a focus on acute and critical illness, injury and conditions. Adult-gerontology acute care nurses can work in a variety of in-patient and hospital settings, including the ER and ICU.

DNP Leadership Track

The non-clinical DNP tracks allow students to take courses from USF’s acclaimed MBA, MHA, and master’s of art in education programs.

Female USF student practicing on another student in the classroom.

Advanced Practice Nurse Career Opportunities

Once you’ve passed your APRN certification exam, you can work as a nurse practitioner in a wide range of health care settings from hospitals and specialty clinics to outpatient and comm centers.

Additionally, your prior nursing experience coupled with a DNP degree can open you up to other career opportunities, including:

  • Chief nursing officer
  • Director of nursing
  • Nursing administrator
  • Nursing educator
  • Program director
  • Healthcare consultant

DNP Careers: Where You’ll Find Our Graduates

USF graduates have found advanced practice registered nursing positions and other clinical and administrative nursing roles at places such as:

  • Adams Health Network (inpatient services nursing director)
  • Beaufort Memorial Hospital (AVP patient safety)
  • Clean Recovery Centers (nurse practitioner)
  • Illinois Department of Corrections (psychiatric nurse practitioner)
  • Indiana University Health (VP/chief nursing officer)
  • Manchester College (director, health services)
  • Methodist Hospitals (critical care registered nurse)
  • Northeast Internal Medicine Association
  • Parkview Health (SVP, nursing professional development)
  • St. Vincent Health (trauma intensive care nurse)
  • U.S. Navy Reserve (critical care nurse)


The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at USF is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Accreditor-Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program and/or post-graduate APRN certificate programs at University of Saint Francis is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

  • Original Date of Accreditation: 2019
  • Date of Most Recent Review: 2019
  • Results of Most Recent Accreditation Review: Initial accreditation was granted for 5 years in 2019.
  • Date of Next Review: 2024

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