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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.
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.
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.