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How Long Is the DNP Program: Timeline & Concentrations


The future of America’s healthcare system can only be as strong as its leadership. The influx of millennials entering the field, coupled with the healthcare needs of the aging baby boomer generation, calls for healthcare professionals with expertise and leadership skills.


The role of nurse practitioner (NP) is in higher demand than ever, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the job to grow 45 percent between 2019 and 2029. To practice as a nurse practitioner, registered nurses must earn a master’s degree in nursing as well as the necessary licensure. In recent years, however, there has been an ongoing conversation regarding the educational requirements for this position.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that all nurse practitioners earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and other bodies, such as the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, have pushed for the degree to be mandatory by 2025. Therefore, nurses who are looking to further their careers may want to consider pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

How Long Is a DNP Program at Maryville University

While programs across the country vary in length, most BSN-DNP programs take three to four years of full-time coursework, while MSN-DNP programs take about one to two years. With that in mind, how long is a DNP program? There’s not a simple answer for that, as a number of factors can come into play. DNP programs usually consist of 33 to 43 credits and at least 500 clinical practice hours. This can translate to one to two years of full-time coursework, which can be challenging while balancing a full-time nursing career. On a part-time basis, a typical program requires two to three years of study. Online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs can make it possible to seize the many available opportunities in healthcare while enjoying more flexibility. Students can complete their coursework from home and look into completing their clinical hours at local healthcare facilities*.

Benefits of DNP Programs and Timelines

Students wondering “how long is a DNP program?” due to concern about a time commitment may find an online program more convenient for their educational goals. The online DNP program at Maryville University offers 24/7 access, allowing students to balance careers and family commitments while earning their advanced degree. The online learning model provides an ease and flexibility to students who want to move forward in their careers efficiently, on their own time. Students at every level of education are supported, expanding their knowledge through research via clinical inquiry and gaining exposure to faculty and nursing leaders who share their experience in the profession.

Online DNP Programs

Maryville offers two programs for students considering a DNP: the DNP and the DNP-NP program.


The DNP program is designed for advanced practice nurses who have already completed their MSN and wish to lead at the highest level. It consists of 11 courses and 33 credit hours. Students take Advanced Health Care Policy, Ethics for Advanced Nursing Practice, and Organizations Theory and Systems Leadership, among other courses.


The DNP-NP program allows nurses to earn their DNP while completing the tasks needed to earn the NP certification. It is designed for nurses who have their MSN and wish to become nurse practitioners while also working through their terminal Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. Nursing students in this program take five core courses for 15 credit hours and six capstone courses for 18 credit hours; the DNP-NP candidate will also select one of five concentrations. How long the DNP-NP program is will ultimately depend on which of the following five concentrations students choose.

Concentration Options in Maryville’s DNP-NP Program

Maryville’s DNP-NP program offers five concentrations:


  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): The FNP concentration focuses on family care for people of all ages. It consists of 18 credit hours and can be completed in as few as 36 months.
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP): The AGPCNP concentration focuses on developing the skill set to provide care for adults of varying ages. It consists of 12 credit hours and can be completed entirely online.
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP): The AGACNP concentration focuses on care for adults of varying ages facing more serious health conditions, including those pertaining to oncology, cardiovascular, and intensive care. It consists of 18 credit hours on top of the core DNP-NP courses.
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP): The PNP concentration focuses on care for children of all ages, from birth to young adulthood. It consists of 15 credit hours, with courses in pediatric assessment and diagnosis.
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP): The PMHNP concentration is designed to help professionals develop the skills to promote mental health and treat acute and chronic illness pertaining to mental health. The concentration consists of 21 credit hours and can be completed entirely online.

Pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Higher education in the healthcare profession is more important today than ever. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors by 2030. As the availability of qualified physicians shifts in the wake of a volatile healthcare landscape and a need to reduce costs, the role of nurse practitioners has moved to the forefront. In fact, the Affordable Care Act formally acknowledges nurse practitioners, along with doctors, as two of the three categories of primary care providers.


Now that you have discovered how long the DNP program is, you can prepare to take your career to the next level. Explore how the online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at Maryville University can help you can pursue a satisfying nursing career.

"Note. Clinical hour requirements for state licensure may vary by state. Students are encouraged to visit the Board of Nursing website for the state in which they intend to practice to verify specific requirements. Students may also reach out to our team of enrollment advisors for guidance."


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