Shorten your search for a quality DNP in Minnesota! This practical guide & directory contains rankings of the best and most affordable DNP programs in Minnesota, notes on online & hybrid MN doctorates, and tips on comparing BSN to DNP options. Already have a school or two in mind? Skip ahead to our listings.
Top Minnesota DNP Programs
To locate the best DNP programs in Minnesota, we evaluated independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees, prioritizing any MN school with a high DNP placement in U.S. News & World Report (e.g. UMN). However, we also considered factors such as certification pass rates, clinical connections, and research opportunities.
1. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
UMN’s DNP program stands head & shoulders above other Minnesota offerings—it’s regarded by U.S. News as one of the top 20 of DNPs nationwide. The School of Nursing has excellent NP certification pass rates (e.g. 100% for the PMHNP) and it’s nationally ranked in specialty areas like Nursing Informatics (e.g. top 3), Nurse Midwifery (e.g. top 5), and Nursing Anesthesia (e.g. top 30). At UMN, you’ll have access to expert faculty, state-of-the-art clinical training facilities, two School-run Nurse Practitioner Clinics, opportunities in global health, and an Office of Student and Career Advancement Services. These are just some of the reasons UMN has a long list of awards for the School & its faculty.
One of UMN’s key strengths is nursing research, especially in the areas of vulnerable populations, chronic health conditions, symptom management, and informatics. The School has a dizzying number of active projects and centers, and students in each NP track are exposed to interprofessional learning (e.g. AGNP students can get involved with the Center for Aging Science and Care Innovation and the Minnesota Center on Aging). But the thing that impresses us most? The quality of reviews on independent sites & messageboards. Graduate students love the School. They say nursing professors are caring & supportive, coursework is rigorous & innovative, and clinical opportunities are superb. Their sole quibble is cost—UMN is expensive. Be sure to check the section on DNP Cost & Financial Support, which has info on relevant scholarships (e.g. Bentson Scholarship). You can also contact DNP alumni for their unvarnished opinions.
2. St. Catherine University
St. Kate’s DNP program deserves its place here. To start with, the Department of Nursing has a history of achieving excellent NP certification pass rates and employment rates for DNP graduates. It offers intriguing dual-degree options. And it structures the DNP in a flexible format that might work well for busy nurses (the Graduate College is open to all genders). The Department is located in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health (HSSH). Here you’ll find nursing faculty who are involved in all kinds of faculty research & scholarship projects. HSSH also runs the Women’s Health Integrative Research Center (WHIR) and hosts an interprofessional Annual Summit for Health.
Another bonus? Clinical opportunities. The HSSH is connected to thousands of state-wide and national clinical sites. It has affiliation agreements with major health systems in the Twin Cities area (e.g. Allina, Fairview, HealthEast, HealthPartners North Memorial, Park Nicollet, Benedictine Health Systems, etc.). And it works with the Twin Cities Somali community and Powderhorn/Phillips Cultural Wellness Center to honor its commitment to promote health among underserved and immigrant communities. Like UMN, St. Kate’s is not cheap. However, graduate scholarships are available for DNP students.
3. Winona State University
WSU’s DNP program hit the #3 spot on the strengths of its affordable tuition, solid independent reviews, and sturdy NCLEX & NP certification exam pass rates (e.g. 100% for the FNP). The Department of Nursing is fairly well-known in Minnesota, although it often goes unranked by U.S. News & World Report. Nursing faculty are active in the field—check out their faculty publications and grants & projects—and engaged. One graduate reviewer noted that professors were easy to get in touch with, helpful, and passionate about their careers.
WSU is also committed to making your life easier. In the graduate nursing section, WSU states that practicum and clinical placement is arranged for all students admitted to the programs. For example, common leadership practicum sites include the Mayo Clinic, Winona Health, Gundersen Health System, Winona Public Health, Mayo Clinic Health System – Austin, and healthcare organizations in the Twin Cities area. WSU also has a dedicated coordinator on the WSU-Rochester campus who can help with locating clinical settings. You can get a sense of WSU’s doctoral pathway by looking at examples of past DNP projects. We also recommend you check out the School of Nursing’s Resources section, which has ideas for funding opportunities.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Minnesota
To come up with this list of the cheapest DNP programs in Minnesota, we ranked each school by the per credit tuition rate. For public universities (e.g. Winona State), we also factored in mandatory fees.
1. Winona State University
The DNP tuition rate at this Minnesota public university is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Having said that, certain nursing courses are charged at a much higher Advanced Practice Nursing Differential Rate (especially in NP specialties). Ask the DNP program coordinator for a sample budget.
2. Capella University
Capella is a for-profit, private university, which means the tuition rate for its online post-master’s DNP is the same for all students. It appears to be 100% online, but you may wish to check if you’ll need to visit the campus for a residency (some Capella doctoral programs have them).
3. Walden University
Walden charges students by the “per quarter hour,” not by the usual “per credit.” The per quarter hour tuition rate for the 100% online post-master’s DNP is reasonable for a private school, but we should point out that there are a large number of quarter hours in the program. There will also be a per quarter technology fee.
Online DNP Programs in Minnesota
Distance learning is alive & well and Minnesota—you’ll find plenty of online or blended DNP programs in our Minnesota listings. When we were assessing each option, we noticed that Minnesota universities tend to favor a hybrid format for BSN to DNP programs. For instance:
- Online BSN to DNP Programs in MN: Bethel is the one school in Minnesota that promises an online experience for bachelor’s degree holders, but its dual-degree tracks (DNP/MBA or DNP/MA in Strategic Leadership) are not intended to lead to APRN certification. Online programs include one week of mandatory intensives in St. Paul.
- Hybrid BSN to DNP Programs in MN: If you’re interested in APRN tracks, you’ll need to allow for some time on the campus. For example, Augsburg has classes at least 1-2 times per month; MSUM has face-to-face meetings once per month in Edina; and WSU has a blend of on-campus, hybrid, and fully online courses. This is just a sample—have a look at the listings for more from other universities.
Things get a little easier at the post-master’s level, where certification isn’t as much of an issue. When you’re looking at MSN to DNP programs, you’ll discover a few more choices in the “online” category.
- Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in MN: For 100% online programs, try Walden and Capella. Walden states up-front that there are no residencies; you’ll have to double-check on Capella. Other programs such as Bethel (e.g. one week of intensives) and CSS (e.g. on-campus presentation of clinical project proposal & final project) may have a short campus component.
- Hybrid Post-Master’s DNP Programs in MN: Top-ranked schools with established DNP programs still lean towards a hybrid format, even at the MSN to DNP level. For example, St. Kate’s post-master’s DNP includes two sessions per semester on the St. Paul campus. And Augsburg’s courses are taught in an immersion format for two days a month. You’ll find more options in the listings.
Coming from out-of-state? Check with the DNP program coordinator to make sure that you’re eligible to apply. Because of state authorization & distance learning restrictions, schools are sometimes unable to accept certain DNP candidates.
Note: Want to compare online degrees in neighboring areas? Check the directory of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Minnesota
Looking for a particular APRN specialty? You’ll find them laid out under each school in the listings. Here are a few general facts to keep in mind when you’re putting together a shortlist.
- Multiple APRN & Leadership Specialties: UMN is going to give you the most options, especially in rarer tracks such as Nurse Midwifery and Nursing Informatics. If you’re interested in adult care, WSU and CSS have a number of possibilities, including PMHNP tracks. (Like UMN, WSU is also willing to offer the AGCNS.) If you favor primary care, St. Kate’s has tracks in pediatrics and adult gerontology.
- FNP Only: Schools that specialize in the FNP for the BSN to DNP range from Metropolitan State University and MSUM, which are public, to Augsburg University, which is a private Lutheran university. Despite this, tuition rates at all three programs are in the same ballpark.
- Nurse Anesthesia: UMN and the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences have established DNAP programs that are ready & willing to accept candidates. As of 2020, the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota were in the process of converting their MSN programs to DNP programs. Pending COA approval, these will be available in 2021.
- Dual Degrees: Minnesota universities specialize in unusual dual degrees. We’re talking about Bethel’s DNP/MA in Strategic Leadership and DNP/MBA, and St. Kate’s DNP combos with the MBA in Healthcare, Master of Health Informatics, MA in Organizational Leadership, or MA in Holistic Health Studies.
Minnesota Nursing Organizations
- Minnesota Board of Nursing
- Minnesota APRN Coalition
- Minnesota Nurse Practitioners (MNNP)
- Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MNANA)
- Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing (MOLN)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Minnesota.