Speed your way to a first-class Colorado DNP! In addition to detailed listings, this guide contains rankings of the best and most affordable programs in Colorado, advice on online & hybrid CO doctorates, and notes on BSN to DNP options. Ready to make a decision? Jump ahead to our program listings.
Top Colorado DNP Programs
To find the best DNP programs in CO, we analyzed independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees, prioritizing any Colorado school with a high DNP placement in U.S. News & World Report. In the final reckoning, we also considered factors such as resources, clinical affiliations, and independent reviews.
1. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado College of Nursing is—hands-down—the #1 pick for doctoral nursing programs in Colorado. It offers a wide range of pathways & specialties in the DNP program, including a dual DNP/MPH and a special Veteran and Military Health Care Leadership DNP. It achieves a sturdy place in national rankings (e.g. top 50 for DNP). It has strong certification exam pass rates (e.g. 90.9% for first-time nurse midwifery candidates and 100% retake). It’s affiliated with two major Colorado hospitals on the Anschutz Medical Campus. It owns and operates four nurse-led practices in nine locations. And it created the first Nurse Practitioner program in the country.
But we’re just getting started! We also love the fact that CU Nursing graduates on independent review sites have nothing but praise for the helpfulness and practical expertise of nursing faculty, the usefulness of their clinical placements, and the rigor of the graduate programs. The school has a high-tech Simulation Center and Clinical Education Center (CEC) and professors are involved in multiple research projects, including an Initiative for Promoting Healthy Lifestyles Across the Lifespan. Perhaps best of all, tuition is relatively affordable for in-state students.
2. University of Northern Colorado
UNC’s flexible DNP program is run by the UNC Extended Campus and the UNC School of Nursing. Over the years, the School has earned respectable national rankings (e.g. top 120 for nursing graduate programs) and strong NCLEX pass rates. Nursing faculty are experienced and alumni are switched-on. It’s also fairly affordable. The Extended Campus flat tuition rate is the same for in-state and out-of-state students and there are no student fees.
UNC may be a good pick if you want a School of Nursing with a small, supportive feel. One reviewer of the BSN program was quick to point out that the School had great clinical sites & internship opportunities and a reputation for thoroughness. To ensure students are ready for the real world, the BSN to DNP pathway contains a minimum of 1,245 clinical/simulation/lab hours (more than some other BSN to DNP programs) and plenty of practical work.
3. Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mesa University and Regis University were in close competition for the #3 spot—they can often be found right next to each other in national rankings. But, in the end, CMU’s practitioner-focused DNP won by a hair. You’ll find this hybrid BSN to DNP-FNP in the Department of Health Sciences. Under the guidance of health sciences faculty, FNP students can take advantage of intensive work in the Clinical Education Center and clinical placements in a variety of health care organizations and rural hospitals.
When we looked at independent reviews, we found that CMU students particularly liked the accessibility of nursing faculty, the intimate feel, and the online format. In fact, one BSN alumnus said that everything about the Department was top-notch. If you’d like to get a better sense of the graduate program, head over to the campus during the drop-in advising sessions—no appointment is needed. We also recommend you ask the program coordinator for the latest FNP certification pass rates.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Colorado
This ranking of the cheapest DNP programs in CO is based on the per credit tuition rate (in-state or online) for the most inexpensive DNP offering. If a university charged different rates for BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP pathways (e.g. Regis), we selected the lower price.
1. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University is a regionally accredited, for-profit university with CCNE accreditation. That means the per credit tuition rate for the online Post-Master’s DNP is the same for all students. But there are extra fees. DNP students are charged a technology fee, graduation fee, and a symposium fee for on-campus intensives.
2. Colorado State University-Pueblo
CSU-Pueblo is a public university with separate DNP tuition rates for in-state students and out-of-state students. When you start your calculations, remember that the final tuition rate is going to be the baseline CO resident graduate rate plus the differential tuition rate for the DNP.
3. Colorado Mesa University
In addition to appearing in our top rankings, Colorado Mesa University also makes our affordability list! CMU is a public university, but the DNP is classified as an “online program” with a single tuition rate for all students (Graduate Health Sciences Online Programs). Bear in mind that there may be additional fees (e.g. online course fee).
Online DNP Programs in Colorado
Our listings are stuffed with online options, but not all distance learning degrees are created alike. To help you avoid surprises, we took a closer look at the fine print on program websites.
- Hybrid BSN to DNP Programs in CO: Even if they have “online” in their name, BSN to DNP offerings in Colorado are technically hybrid, with mandatory on-campus components. For example, CMU’s program includes focused sessions at selected points during each semester; CU Anschutz’s NP tracks have a number of classes with campus intensives; and courses in the first two years of Regis and UNC’s programs are taught face-to-face (e.g. one day per week).
- Hybrid Post-Master’s DNP Programs in CO: Many Colorado universities like to see their MSN students at least once during doctoral studies. For instance, although all of the coursework in UNC’s Post-Master’s DNP is online, the program includes three required campus visits. You’ll see a similar set-up with CTU (e.g. two on-campus symposia) and CU Anschutz (e.g. occasional campus days for your project).
- 100% Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in CO: If you really can’t make it to Colorado, have a look at ASU, Regis, and possibly UCCS. ASU is a nationally accredited, for-profit university, but it does promise that all of its DNP tracks can be completed with “virtual” residencies. And Regis states plainly that no campus visits are required for online students.
A note of caution—due to state authorization and distance learning restrictions, you may not be able to apply for certain DNP programs in Colorado. As of 2020:
- Regis couldn’t accept students from Louisiana, New York, North Dakota, and Oregon (APRN only).
- Colorado Technical University couldn’t consider residents of Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
- UNC was not authorized in every state (see the Eligibility section on the program page).
- And UCCS had multiple state restrictions.
These are just a few examples. Check the eligibility or admissions section and contact the program coordinator to ensure you can apply.
Note: Want to expand your search beyond Colorado? Have a look at the listings of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Colorado
Interested in an NP specialty? Take your pick! Because of their hybrid nature, the BSN to DNP programs in our listings are best suited to Colorado residents (or anyone who lives nearby). But you’re free to roam around the state.
Overall, CU Anschutz is going to give you the most choice. Our top-ranked school offers 10 different BS-DNP specialties, including tracks in traditional NP areas (e.g. FNP), nurse midwifery, nurse leadership, and the CNS. Other opportunities include:
- FNP: CMU, Regis, and UNC offer this track. CSU-Pueblo has also developed a dual AGACNP/FNP.
- PMHNP: You can compare CU Anschultz’s PMHNP program with CSU-Pueblo.
- NNP: Regis may be the only school in Colorado with a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner option.
- AGACNP: Try matching UNC and CSU-Pueblo side-by-side.
The outlier in this mix is UCCS. It has a Post-BSN program in Primary Care, with clinical coursework that covers a range of ages. We’re assuming this will prepare you for FNP certification, but we recommend you check!
Colorado Nursing Organizations
- Colorado Board of Nursing
- Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses (CSAPN)
- Colorado Organization of Nurse Leaders (CONL)
- Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Colorado.