Skip to main content

BSN to DNP: How Long Does It Take to go from BSN to DNP


Nurses seeking career advancement are increasingly turning to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2010, 6,599 nurses were enrolled in DNP programs; by 2021, enrollment had increased to 40,834.


DNPs have greater autonomy in patient care than registered nurses (RNs), and the benefits of a DNP degree are numerous. DNPs who work as nurse practitioners, for example, can diagnose patient illnesses, treat patients, and prescribe medications; in many states, they also can operate independent medical practices.


Healthcare organizations are relying on DNPs for not only patient care but also leadership, nurse education, and patient education. It’s a role that requires academic preparation and clinical experience, but many students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) choose an online BSN to DNP program for a faster route to this terminal degree. Students who consider this career path often wonder, How long are BSN to DNP programs?

How Long Are Typical BSN to DNP Programs?

The length of a BSN to DNP program can vary based on factors such as the number of credits individuals take each semester and the particular DNP concentrations they pursue. Typically, individuals who enroll on a full-time basis earn their DNP in three to four years, while those enrolled on a part-time basis earn their DNP in four to six years.


However, students can reduce the time to DNP degree completion if they enroll in an accelerated program. For example, Maryville University’s accelerated BSN to DNP program offers students the opportunity to earn their DNP in as little as 40 months. The unique features of this program make this possible. Specifically, Maryville’s program:


  • Offers all coursework online and requires no on-campus visits
  • Provides three entry points each year: spring, summer, and fall
  • Is based on a 24/7 online learning model that promotes flexibility and convenience


Maryville’s program also offers a streamlined curriculum. All students complete 56 credits in core courses in areas such as evidence-based practice and advanced health assessment. Depending on their chosen concentrations, they also complete from 68 to 77 additional credits. The curriculum prepares students for various roles in advanced clinical work, research, education, and leadership.

BSN to DNP Program Length: Concentration Variations

Exploring various concentrations can help potential students refine their estimates of how much time a BSN to DNP program will require.

BSN to DNP Concentration Lengths

Common program concentration areas include the following:


  • Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. AGACNPs offer care to patients ranging in age from adolescents to the elderly. They work in settings such as intensive or critical care units treating patients with complex health issues, such as traumatic injuries or serious illnesses. Their work is fast-paced, and they need to react quickly to the critical needs of their patients. Students in Maryville’s AGACNP concentration complete a total of 74 credit hours: 56 credit hours in core courses and 18 credit hours in courses such as acute care diagnosis and management.
  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. AGPCNPs also treat patients ranging from adolescents to the elderly, but they focus on strengthening patients’ overall health and preventing disease. AGPCNPs provide services such as checkups and ordering and reviewing tests. Students in Maryville’s AGPCNP concentration complete a total of 68 credit hours: 56 credit hours in core courses and 12 credit hours in topics such as treating chronic health conditions and managing multiple health challenges.
  • Family nurse practitioner. FNPs are nurse practitioners who provide healthcare services across their patients’ entire lives. They have the opportunity to create long-term relationships with their patients, and they can even serve as their patients’ primary care providers. Students in Maryville’s FNP concentration complete a total of 74 credit hours: 56 credit hours in core courses and 18 credit hours in topics such as treating common acute and chronic health issues and strategies to manage patients’ health issues.
  • Pediatric nurse practitionerPNPs care for children throughout various stages of their development. They provide services such as well-child exams and treatment of childhood illnesses. Students in Maryville’s PNP concentration complete a total of 71 credit hours: 56 credit hours in core courses and 15 credit hours in areas such as pediatric development and pediatric assessment and diagnosis.
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. PMHNPs are nurse practitioners focusing on the mental health of individuals, as well as families and other groups. Working in hospitals, nursing homes, or independent practices, they perform mental health assessments and devise and assess treatment plans. Students in Maryville’s PMHNP concentration complete a total of 77 credit hours: 56 credit hours in core courses and 21 credit hours in topics such as psychopathology and psychiatric mental health disorders.

Demand for Nurse Practitioners Is Growing

According to the BLS, employment of nurse practitioners will grow by 40% between 2021 and 2031, a growth rate that far surpasses the BLS’s projection of 5% growth for all occupations. Factors such as the increasing health needs of an aging population and an increase in demand for preventive care will drive this significant growth in nurse practitioner employment.


Salaries for nurse practitioners also are attractive. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives was $123,780 as of May 2021.

Medical Professional Shortage

Taking the time to complete a BSN to DNP degree positions nurses well for in-demand careers. According to the BLS, the need for nurse practitioners is increasing. Healthcare organizations find nurse practitioners to be assets because they offer increased patient care options, especially in rural or other settings that are experiencing shortages of medical professionals.


As a 2023 report in PatientEngagementHIT noted, several states that temporarily granted nurse practitioners full practice authority during the COVID-19 pandemic are making those changes permanent. This expansion in autonomy will further enable nurse practitioners to alleviate shortages of medical professionals.

Need for Nurse Leaders and Nursing Instructors

In addition to working as nurse practitioners, BSN to DNP program graduates can work in healthcare organization executive leadership, as healthcare policy advisors, and at research institutions where they study healthcare best practices.


Graduates of BSN to DNP programs also can help to address the ongoing shortage of nursing instructors by working as part of a nursing school’s faculty. According to AACN, in the 2021-2022 academic year, nursing schools had to turn down 91,938 qualified applications for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in part due to faculty shortages.

Pursuing Career Advancement by Earning a DNP

Investing the time to complete a BSN to DNP degree program could be a wise career move. Whether working as a nurse practitioner, in executive management, or as part of a nursing school’s faculty, nurses who earn a DNP have the chance to make a lasting difference in healthcare. Individuals who are interested in earning a DNP can explore Maryville’s online BSN to DNP degree program to learn how it can help them achieve their professional goals. Offering an accelerated path to the DNP degree and five nurse practitioner concentrations, the program can be the springboard to a fulfilling career. Start advancing your nursing career today.


Student support specialist helping online student in café

Learn more about our programs.

Student sitting outdoors on her computer

Take your next step.

Stay in the know

Program Type
Program Name
Total tuition:
Program Type
Program Name