Debating whether a GW or Georgetown DNP is worth the price? We’re here to help! This guide contains rankings of the best and most affordable DNP programs in Washington, D.C., details on online & hybrid D.C. doctorates, and notes on BSN to DNP options. Looking for a list of specialties? Skip ahead to our detailed program listings.
Top District of Columbia DNP Programs
For this list of the best DNP programs in D.C., we evaluated independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees, paying special attention to DNP rankings in U.S. News & World Report. However, for the final ordering, we also considered factors such as student reviews and clinical support.
1. Georgetown University
Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies hits our #1 spot for a few key reasons. It’s an NLN Center of Excellence. It achieves solid national rankings for its graduate programs (e.g. top 60 for DNP; top 30 for MSN; top 10 for Nursing Anesthesia). It offers its DNP program in a wide range of specialties, including nurse midwifery. It has excellent first-time pass rates for certification exams (e.g. 95% for CRNAs). It has a clinical placement team that partners with students to secure clinical sites and nurse preceptors near their home communities. And it has impeccable research credentials.
But the real proof of this Jesuit University is its reputation among DNP and MSN students. Reviews of Georgetown’s graduate nursing programs on independent review sites are absolutely glowing. Alumni say the online learning experiences are intense, innovative, and incredibly interactive. They praise the world-class instructors, the supportive staff, the nurturing environment, and the quality of the campus intensives. They love the diversity of the student body and the small class sizes. They rave about the nurse anesthesia clinical training. We could go on! In fact, the only downside that people consistently mentioned was the price.
2. George Washington University
GW’s School of Nursing and its DNP program aren’t far behind Georgetown when it comes to quality factors. National rankings for the doctorate and distance learning degrees are excellent (e.g. top 40 for DNP; top 10 for Online Graduate Nursing Programs). GW Nursing has plenty of research centers & initiatives, including the interdisciplinary Center for Aging, Health and Humanities. Nursing instructors & professors are involved in a number of intriguing research projects (e.g. acute & chronic care). Simulation professional development is emphasized. And 65% of faculty are active in practice.
GW is also less expensive than Georgetown, a factor which may tip the balance for BSN to DNP candidates. Having said that, when we looked at reviews on independent websites and messageboards, we noticed that many NP students had trouble locating clinical sites. According to GW Nursing’s section on clinical rotations, students are responsible for identifying and securing their own sites and preceptors (except for students in the AGACNP track). So we recommend you talk to alumni, ask the program coordinator for NP certification pass rates, and consider how you’ll handle the practicums.
3. Catholic University of America
The online DNP program in CUA’s Conway School of Nursing is best-suited to aspiring APRN nurse leaders. It’s flexible, practice-focused, and relatively straightforward. If you’re interested in on-the-ground connections, the school has clinical partnerships with 15 healthcare facilities across Washington D.C. and adjoining areas of Maryland and Virginia. Faculty are still involved in direct clinical practice and many of them lead their own research projects.
Overall, student opinions of CUA’s graduate nursing programs are fairly positive. Reviewers on independent websites say that CUA faculty are extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They like the rigorous coursework and the good instructor to student ratios. And, of course, they can study online.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Washington, D.C.
This ranking of the cheapest D.C. universities in our listings was calculated using the per credit tuition rate. Unfortunately, there only three schools in D.C. that offer DNP programs. And they’re all expensive. Even CUA, our #1, is going to be costly. Look for scholarships & funding wherever you can!
1. Catholic University of America
We used the graduate rate for fully online programs in the Conway School of Nursing. You may also have fees for certain graduate nursing courses.
2. George Washington University
The graduate nursing rate at GW is around $200 more than the per credit rate for CUA. Plus there are additional nursing fees.
3. Georgetown University
Georgetown charges slightly different tuition rates for the DNP and DNAP; see the tuition page for full details. You can get a real sense of the budget by examining the tables for the total cost of attendance.
Online DNP Programs in Washington, D.C.
All three universities in our listings offer online/hybrid DNP programs. Because a lot of aspiring NPs end up being torn between GW and Georgetown, we’ve put together a summary of their distance learning elements. You’ll also find this debate being played out on nursing messageboards (e.g. allnurses).
- GW’s Online BSN to DNP: This is a hybrid program—the NP tracks have a number of on-campus requirements, including a new student orientation, a Campus Learning and Skills Intensive (CLASI), Object Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), a final skills assessment, and a project presentation.
- Georgetown’s Online BSN to DNP: NP tracks are delivered in 15-week terms. Coursework is online, but there are limited immersion experiences (e.g. 2-3 on-campus intensives). Full-time or part-time study is available. Georgetown also offers a 3-year DNAP program, but it’s a campus-based degree.
At the post-master’s level, you’ll be able to choose between Catholic University of America and GW. (Georgetown has a part-time, post-master’s option, but it appears to be on-campus.)
- CUA’s Online Post-Master’s DNP: This is primarily online. However, there is a 4-credit clinical residency course that requires 360 clinical hours. Clinical hours are based upon student goals.
- GW’s Online Post-Master’s DNP: All three tracks in this online DNP program have an on-campus student orientation and a project presentation at the end of the third year.
A word of caution. If you live outside of D.C., check with the program coordinator to make sure you are eligible to apply. District of Columbia schools can’t accept online DNP students from a number of states. See Georgetown’s section on state restrictions; GW’s page on state authorizations; and CUA’s footnote on the DNP.
Note: Want to expand your search beyond Capitol Hill? Check out the listings of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Washington, D.C.
As we mentioned in the online section, GW and Georgetown have similar BSN to DNP programs. If you’re interested in the FNP or the AGACNP, you can compare them side-by-side! But they’re not exactly the same.
- Georgetown’s BSN to DNP: In addition to the FNP and AGACNP, Georgetown offers tracks in WHNP and a combo Nurse Midwifery/WHNP concentration. It also has a separate, on-campus Nurse Anesthesia program that takes three years to complete on a full-time schedule.
- GW’s BSN to DNP: On top of the FNP and AGACNP, GW has an AGPCNP track (i.e. adult gerontology primary care)
In the admissions section of the DNP, Catholic University of America talks about the possibility of a BSN to DNP, but it doesn’t provide any details. Check with the program coordinator to determine if it’s a valid option.
District of Columbia Nursing Organizations
- DC Health: Board of Nursing
- Nurse Practitioner Association of the District of Columbia (NPADC)
- American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL)
- National League for Nursing (NLN)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in District Of Columbia.