Find all of Iowa’s DNP programs in one easy directory! This practical guide also contains rankings of the best and most affordable DNP programs in Iowa, details on online & hybrid IA doctorates, and ideas for BSN to DNP options. Hoping to compare programs in specific DNP specialties? Jump ahead to our listings.
Top Iowa DNP Programs
To locate the best DNP programs in IA, we evaluated independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees, prioritizing any Iowa school with a high DNP placement in U.S. News & World Report. In the final analysis, we also considered factors such as independent reviews, pass rates, reputation, and state board approval.
1. University of Iowa
Superb national rankings, great student reviews, fantastic professors—these are just a few of the reasons why UI’s College of Nursing (CON) and its DNP program made our #1 spot. Sure, we were impressed with the College’s top 20 ranking for the DNP and its top 10 rankings for many specialties (e.g. Nursing Anesthesia, AGACNP, AGPCNP, CNL, etc.). But we also liked seeing all of the other quality markers. Practicum preceptors are arranged for students. University DNP scholarships are available. Faculty continue to practice in community health care clinics and in-home geriatric care. And pass rates for NP certification exams hover around 100% (rates are often published in the College’s Annual Report).
One of the College’s key strengths is research, especially in areas of gerontology, health systems improvement, and pain. The College has been designated as an NIH Center for Excellence in Pain Education (COEPE) and its maintains partnerships with a number of outside institutions (e.g. Veterans Health Administration). It runs the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness (CNC) and the Center for Advancing Multimorbidity Science (CAMS), and invests in plenty of outreach programs. As you might expect, reviews of UI’s undergraduate & graduate nursing programs on independent sites are universally positive, but you can contact DNP alumni directly for an insider’s opinion!
2. Clarke University
Can’t afford UI? Clarke University’s hybrid DNP program is an excellent alternative for Iowa residents. It typically ranks in the top 120 DNP programs in the nation and it’s available in a number of specialties. The Department of Nursing is staffed by experienced professors, class sizes are small, and the university has ties to local healthcare providers (e.g. Unity Point Health/Finley Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, etc.). Better yet, pass rates on national certification exams are strong (e.g. 100% for FNP); the Department assists with clinical locations; and all students are precepted one to one.
This DNP program may be a particularly good fit for folks who are interested in rural healthcare. The university is located in Dubuque, near the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. According to one graduate reviewer, this means Clarke DNP students have opportunities to work in clinically underdeveloped areas and gain exposure to patients of different backgrounds. Clarke is a private Catholic university, so it’s not the cheapest option in Iowa. But it’s certainly nowhere near the most expensive. If you need ideas for funding, the university has a listed of external graduate scholarships for DNP students.
3. Graceland University
Graceland’s DNP in Organizational Leadership made our #3 spot on the strength of its graduate nursing student reviews, its top 100 ranking for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (this includes the DNP), and its approval from the Iowa Board of Nursing. The online doctorate is the brainchild of Graceland’s School of Nursing, which has solid NCLEX pass rates and a good reputation among FNP graduates. Reviewers often say that graduate programs are rigorous and nursing professors are caring, helpful, and communicative. In particular, one DNP student loved the online learning experience and the participation that was required.
Graceland’s DNP is no-nonsense, distance learning program for post-master’s candidates. If you’re looking to compare NP specialties, you could also throw Morningside College’s DNP program into the mix. It often has a highly respectable ranking for Online Graduate Nursing Programs and it offers plenty of tracks. You may want to double-check that its DNP has been approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Iowa
Our ranking of the cheapest DNP programs is Iowa in based on the lowest per credit tuition rate for the Doctor of Nursing Practice. When we were analyzing public universities in Iowa, we opted for the in-state rate. Unfortunately, UI is—by far—the most expensive school in the state. You pay for quality in Iowa.
1. Briar Cliff University
Even when you add the mandatory student fees to the per credit tuition rate, this is still the most affordable online post-master’s DNP in Iowa. Bear in mind that there may be fees for any clinical courses.
2. Morningside College
Morningside’s per credit tuition rate is around $150 more than Briar Cliff’s rate. But its doctorate is also offered in a lot more specialties, including BSN to DNP tracks. When you’re putting together your budget, be sure to factor in fees (e.g. clinical tracking program fee for practicums, graduation fee, etc.).
3. Allen College
Allen’s graduate tuition rate is around $270 more than Briar Cliff’s rate. You may also need to pay for fees (e.g. lab & clinical fees). However, according to the school, students enrolling in the DNP program are automatically eligible for a 25% tuition scholarship.
Online DNP Programs in Iowa
All of the Iowa DNP programs in our listings are either hybrid or online. Each one is structured a little differently, so we recommend you talk to the program coordinator to establish how much time you’ll need to spend at the university.
Online BSN to DNP Programs in IA: Iowa BSN to DNP programs are almost always going to be hybrid, with some campus elements. For example:
- Clarke’s cohort-based BSN to DNP program includes face-to-face meetings on the first and third Thursdays of each month.
- Morningside’s online BSN to DNP includes at least one on-site residency; more residencies may be required for students in NP tracks (we noticed that the MSN has three residencies).
- Allen’s BSN to DNP is a bit of a mystery—we’re assuming it’s hybrid, with online coursework, but you’ll need to check with the coordinator.
- UI’s BSN to DNP programs are a mix of on-site and online coursework. Some tracks are predominantly online (e.g. Health Systems). Others will have on-campus components and required visits (e.g. NP specialties).
Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in IA: Post-master’s students will have more freedom. All of the schools in our Iowa listings try to keep the campus time to a minimum. For example:
- Briar Cliff, Allen, and Graceland don’t mention any campus components on their post-master’s DNP program websites (check with the program coordinator).
- Morningside’s online post-master’s DNP only has a one-day, on-site residency.
- Clarke’s MSN-DNP has occasional required face-to-face meetings on campus.
- UI’s Post-MSN/ARNP to DNP program has an on-campus orientation and a poster defense at the end of the program; there are no other on-site components.
Whichever online DNP program you choose, be sure to ask about state authorization for NP specialties and distance learning restrictions. For example, as of 2020, Graceland University’s nursing program could not accept students who lived in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina or Tennessee.
Note: Want to expand your search beyond Iowa? Check out the directory of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Iowa
You’ll find plenty of choice for Iowa BSN to DNP programs in our listings. The most prestigious pick is the University of Iowa. It offers the only COA-accredited Nurse Anesthesia DNP program in the state. It has also developed BSN to DNP tracks for aspiring AGNPs, FNPs, PNPs, PMHNPs, and healthcare administrators. Whatever specialty you’re interested in, this top-ranked university is almost bound to have it.
Because UI is both expensive and competitive, you may also want to take a closer look at BSN to DNP programs in private Iowa universities. These include:
- Allen College, which has a dizzying array of specialties in adult NP areas, leadership, community nursing, and healthcare information.
- Morningside College, which might appeal to FNP, AGNP, and CNL candidates.
- Clarke University, which offers hybrid tracks in the FNP, PMHNP, and Health Leadership & Practice.
Note: Looking for more options? Consult our listings of on-campus and online BSN to DNP programs.
Iowa Nursing Organizations
- Iowa Board of Nursing
- Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners (IANP)
- Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society (INPS)
- Iowa Association of Nurse Anesthetists (IANA)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Iowa.