Take the guesswork out of choosing a Kentucky DNP! Our practical guide & directory contains rankings of the best and most affordable doctoral programs in Kentucky, details on online & hybrid KY doctorates, and notes on BSN to DNP options. Want to view all the DNP programs in the state? Skip ahead to our detailed listings.
Top Kentucky DNP Programs
To come up with this list of the best DNP programs in KY, we evaluated independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees, giving an extra boost to schools with multiple achievements. In the final reckoning, we also considered quality factors such as certification pass rates, independent student reviews, and faculty experience.
1. Frontier Nursing University
FNU’s versatile DNP program leaps to the head of our Kentucky rankings thanks to excellent U.S. News & World Report spots for specialties (e.g. top 10 for FNP and top 25 for Nurse Midwifery), great certification pass rates, superb student reviews, and a reputation for providing care to rural & underserved areas—the university has the oldest and largest continually operating nurse-midwifery education program in the country. We’re particularly pleased that FNU also posts employment & retention data within its statistics section.
Another bonus? FNU appears in our Most Affordable rankings, with a per credit tuition rate that’s remarkably reasonable for a private school, backed by FNU scholarships. FNU also caters to distance learners, with occasional skills-intensive experiences at FNU’s new campus in Versailles (Clinical Bound). Because it’s such a popular program, you’ll find plenty of opinions about FNU on independent review sites. The comments we read were glowing. Graduate students say that FNU’s programs are rigorous, nurturing, and flexible. They love that the professors are passionate, helpful, and committed to real-life skills. And they often comment on the family feel.
2. University of Kentucky
UK’s College of Nursing is an established player in the field. Its DNP program often receives an excellent national ranking (e.g. top 35 in the country). Its nursing faculty are deeply experienced, with a list of fellowship & research credits after their names. It offered the first DNP program in the country. Its PhD program is ranked among the top 10 programs in the U.S. by the National Research Council. Its BSN graduates have outstanding NCLEX pass rates (e.g. 97% over 10 years). And it has close ties to the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky at UK HealthCare.
If you love research, UK may be an especially attractive pick. The College is in charge of a number of research centers & programs—including the Perinatal Research and Wellness Center—and it receives a great deal of NIH funding. We also like the fact that the College has made a commitment to the community. It runs a faculty practice clinic in Wilmore and it supports UK nursing professors who are engaging with local healthcare partners. While you’re on the College website, you may wish to explore the Clinical Simulation and Learning Center, the samples of DNP projects, and the section on DNP financial resources. College of Nursing graduate scholarships are available.
3. Western Kentucky University
Our #3 spot goes to WKU’s DNP program, which comes from a School of Nursing and Allied Health with solid U.S. News & World Report rankings for graduate nursing programs (e.g. top 100 for DNP and top 130 for MSN). Its a hybrid program that places a good deal of emphasis on face-to-face interaction. This means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to network with fellow students and professors. Faculty are involved in a variety of research & scholarship areas; student reviews of WKU’s nursing programs are uniformly positive; and the School achieves strong NCLEX pass rates.
WKU had some competition for this placement! If you want more options, you might also consider the University of Louisville’s DNP program. UofL is a big public research university with a whole lot of resources at its disposal. The School of Nursing has plenty to offer in the way of nursing research & clinical training opportunities, and reviews of its graduate nursing programs are strong. UofL nursing scholarships are also available.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Kentucky
This ranking of the cheapest DNP programs in Kentucky is based on the per credit tuition rate for the DNP (e.g. the in-state graduate rate, the online tuition rate, or a special rate for the DNP). But it’s just an estimate! The final cost will depend on the total number of credits, fees, and associated expenses.
Kentucky State University
For KSU, we chose the per credit hour rate for part-time, online graduate students. It appears that the resident and non-resident tuition rate is the same for online DNP students. However, this is a 9-semester program that contains significant fees (e.g. technology fee, nursing course fee, etc.). So have a look at the DNP budget in the nursing FAQ section before deciding.
2. Frontier Nursing University
FNU makes things easy by charging a flat tuition rate for all of its nursing programs—you multiply the rate by the number of credits to come up with the total costs. There will be some additional fees (e.g. technology fee per term, application fee, graduation fee, etc.) and costs for travel to Clinical Bound.
3. Murray State University
To determine MSU’s cost, we combined the per credit tuition rate for the DNP with the mandatory per credit hour online course fee. Keep in mind that the per credit rate for the Nurse Anesthetist DNP is higher than the rate for the FNP and post-master’s. There’s also an additional per semester program fee for the DNP itself.
Note: Other contenders for the third spot included WKU, NKU, and EKU. All three of these public universities have similar per credit tuition rates, though some may have higher rates for out-of-state residents.
Online DNP Programs in Kentucky
Kentucky universities have embraced distance learning with a vengeance. In our KY listings, you’ll see plenty of schools with online or hybrid DNPs. To give you a clearer sense of expectations, we dug down into the program descriptions and DNP handbooks.
- 100% Online BSN to DNP Programs in KY: On the program website, Bellarmine states that its Leadership DNP is fully online. Students are required to participate in an orientation and per semester class meetings, but these are available through recorded video.
- Online/Hybrid BSN to DNP Programs in KY: BSN to DNP tracks in APRN specialties are almost always going to have campus components. For example, FNU has Clinical Bound, MSU has campus visits in the 2nd and 3rd years of the program, KSU has a few face-to-face assemblies, and WKU has weekend coursework. Generally speaking, well-known schools in Kentucky (e.g. UK and UofL) tend to favor a hybrid format. And DNAP programs will always be intense. At NKU and MSU, anesthesia specialty courses are taught on-site.
Once you reach the post-master’s level, where coursework is primarily focused on leadership & administration, you’ll find plenty of Kentucky DNP programs that don’t require face-to-face instruction.
- 100% Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in KY: Examples in our listings include Bellarmine, EKU, MSU, Spalding (it has virtual immersion residency experiences), and NKU. Even NKU’s track for current CRNAs is completely online, with no campus attendance required.
- Online/Hybrid Post-Master’s DNP Programs in KY: But big name universities may still like to include the human touch. For its post-master’s offerings, FNU has on-campus experiences, UK has meetings 1-2 times per semester, WKU has weekend seminars, and UofL has frequent classes.
Before you make your final choice, make sure you are eligible to apply. Online nursing programs are often subject to distance learning restrictions. Talk to the DNP program coordinator and/or check the website. For example, EKU Online has a Program Map and FNU has an Accreditation & State Authorization page where students can determine state authorization and eligibility.
Note: Wondering what’s available nationwide? Check out the listings of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Kentucky
You won’t be lacking for options in Kentucky! Our listings contain all kinds of BSN to DNP specialties, including a range of APRN tracks. When we were analyzing the programs, we noticed a few trends.
- Multiple APRN Specialties: Universities with top rankings and big reputations (e.g. FNU, UK, and UofL) tend to have the most choice. FNU plays to its strengths in family care (e.g. nurse midwifery). UofL is willing to offer an NNP track. And UK has routes for aspiring PNPs.
- AGPCNP: If you’re considering adult gerontology primary care, you may wish to compare & contrast UofL and KSU.
- FNP: Alternatively, you could consider schools that specialize in the FNP. Examples include MSU and WKU’s hybrid BSN to DNP programs.
- Leadership: Take a look at Bellarmine’s 100% online BSN to DNP in leadership, WKU’s hybrid program for the Nurse Executive, or UK’s track in Executive Leadership in Health Care.
- Nurse Anesthesia: Your two choices in Kentucky are NKU and MSU. Both programs are blended—DNP core courses are online, but specialty courses involve clinical training on-campus.
Note: You can expand your search parameters beyond Kentucky with our directory of on-campus and online BSN to DNP Programs.
Kentucky Nursing Organizations
- Kentucky Board of Nursing
- Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse-Midwives (KCNPNM)
- Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists (KyANA)
- Kentucky League for Nursing (KLN)
- Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders (KONL)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Kentucky.