Illinois DNP Programs

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Online DNP Programs & nursing PhD programs may be available for Illinois students. Check current course listings.

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Illinois DNP Program

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctoral level nursing degree that focuses on direct care, differentiating this degree from the research-focused PhD. Illinois is among the states with the most DNP programs in the country. There are currently 9 programs offered in the state, but many DNP programs are in development throughout the country, so this number is expected to grow in the following years as advanced practice certification requirements may begin to shift from master's degrees to doctorate degrees.

Illinois offers various DNP programs. The mission of these programs is to raise the level of advanced practice care and teach leadership and autonomy in nursing. The programs also wish to help prepare nurses for a more advanced role in the changing healthcare field and for dealing with evidence-based practice.

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Some Illinois DNP Programs are online and some are in a traditional classroom setting. Kaplan Institute is one example of an online DNP program. Such programs as this offer flexibility, as students can choose from multiple start dates and have more control over when and where coursework is completed.

Most DNP programs in Illinois offer multiple entry points. While some students choose to pursue the DNP following an MSN program, others choose to do so after completing a four-year degree. Naturally, there are additional credit requirements for a student who enters into a DNP program earlier in his or her education.

The DNP curriculum for post-master's students at Governor's State University, for example, is comprised of 44-47 credit hours, including hours of core classes, 10-13 hours of role development/specialization courses, and 5 credit hours devoted to the capstone project. The curriculum at this same university for post-baccalaureate students ranges from 86-89 hours, including 42 hours of Nursing Administration or Clinical Nurse Specialist course requirements that must be completed before beginning the post-master's degree curriculum. Many DNP programs also require students to complete a final project in order to obtain the degree.

Other DNP programs, such as the cohort program offered by Loyola University, are open only to post-MSN students. Similarly, Kaplan Institute requires post-baccalaureate students to complete a master's program prior to beginning to DNP coursework.

Application Requirements

The application process for most DNP programs is largely online. Application deadlines for the fall term are as early as February 1st (UIC) and as late as July 1st (Loyola). Most programs begin in the fall. Applicants are often required to submit transcripts, 2-3 letters of recommendation, a 500-1000 word essay, and evidence of licensing and experience in registered nursing or advanced practice nursing. The cumulative GPA requirement is typically 3.25-3.5. Some programs, such as Loyola and UIC, will still accept students between 3.0-3.25 depending on GRE scores. There is often an admissions interview.


The programs range in price, with tuition for out-of-state applicants costing slighting more than in-state. For example, Governor's State University charges in-state tuition of $615 per credit and $900 per credit for non-Illinois residents. Other programs seem to range between $600 and $750 per credit hour for in-state tuition.

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Other Schools with DNP Programs in Illinois

Loyola University
1032 W. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60660
Rush University
1653 W. Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60612
University of Illinois at Chicago
601 South Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Governors State University
1 University Parkway
Park Forest, IL 60484
Governors State University
1 University Parkway
University Park, IL 60484

Illinois Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs (IL)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a post-graduate level practice nursing degree. A DNP focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing as opposed to working on medical research or teaching.

Due to the fact that most Illinois DNP degree seekers are working professionals, there are a number of flexible educational options available including RN-DNP (BSN-DNP) bridge programs and specialized programs for certified advanced practice nurses.

Illinois DNP Degree Prerequisites

In Illinois, nurses seeking DNP certification must already hold both BSN and MSN degrees. Being the final and most advanced degree offered to professionals in the nursing field, there is strict educational criteria. Since the DNP is a relatively new status in the profession, there has not been much national standardization of academic criteria. Therefore, it is essential for you to check with your Illinois educational institution of choice to find out what specific prerequisites they require for program admission. You can also check with the Illinois Board of Nursing to find out more about how Illinois recognizes DNPs.

Although every school has differing entrance requirements, here is an example of one Illinois schools current DNP program prerequisites(Rush University - PDF.

Online DNP Programs for Illinois Nurses

Online education is also known as distance learning. As this level of certification becomes increasingly popular in Illinois, more and more Illinois higher learning institutions are offering their DNP programs online. This will make it far more convenient for current RNs to take the next step without having to sacrifice time on the clock or professional responsibilities.

Benefits of DNP Certification

There are benefits in Illinois to holding this advanced degree. Having a strong focus on advanced practice, leadership, and actual application of clinical research, DNPs are often depended on to fill the gap between doctors and nurses.

Also, Illinois nurses holding this certification are quickly becoming favored for parity with other health professionals when and where a doctorate status is required. This includes being called upon for involvement in advanced diagnosis, legal consultation, and highly specialized clinical research. With their focus on actual clinical application, DNP nurses are typically viewed as the most experienced.

As a nurse, earning a DNP degree will also foster enhanced leadership skills and the knowledge to deliver superior healthcare service to patients, which will in turn advance you professionally.

Resources for Illinois Nurses Seeking a DNP Degree

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