Find an accredited Virginia DNP to suit your goals! Our guide & directory contains rankings of the best and most affordable DNP programs in Virginia, details on online & hybrid VA doctorates, and tips on BSN to DNP pathways. Interested in a particular school? Skip ahead to our listings.
Top Virginia DNP Programs
This list of the best DNP programs in Virginia is based on a range of quality factors, including independent rankings (e.g. U.S. News & World Report), reputation, independent reviews, and clinical connections. All three of these schools have strong alumni networks—if you want to talk to former DNP students, you should be able to find them pretty easily!
1. University of Virginia
UVA’s DNP program was a no-brainer for the #1 spot. It comes from a School of Nursing (SON) with strong national rankings (e.g. top 20 for the DNP), an excellent local reputation, and skilled instructors. It has a high-tech Clinical Simulation Learning Center (CSLC). It runs multiple centers & initiatives in areas like compassionate care, diversity, and trauma (e.g. Gender, Race, Equity and Trauma (GREAT) Lab). It’s made a commitment to interprofessional healthcare and multiple research foci. And it gets great reviews.
In fact, we’ve seldom seen better. Reviewers of the nursing graduate programs praise the approachable, experienced, and caring professors. They like the challenging coursework and NP training. They appreciate the career support & great facilities. And they love the fact that the School is part of the UVA Health System. That means the SON has clinical and faculty affiliations with Virginia’s #1 medical center and a top-ranked children’s hospital. Some SON scholarships are open to DNP students. You may also wish to ask the DNP program coordinator for current certification pass rates.
2. George Mason University
GMU’s DNP program is another solid Virginia pick. The doctorate may not rank as high as UVA in U.S. News & World Report (it’s usually in the top 40), but the School of Nursing in the College of Health & Human Services (CHHS) has plenty to recommend it. Here you’ll have access to Simulation & Skills Labs, experienced faculty, School of Nursing scholarships, and intriguing CHHS resources. For example, the College has research centers in health informatics, chronic illness & disability, health policy, and population health.
Better yet, GMU runs its own Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinics, which are designed to serve the uninsured and refugee community within Prince William and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia. Plus reviews are good. Graduates tend to like the knowledgeable professors, diverse practicum experiences, small classes, and on-point material. According to GMU, NP certification pass rates for the ANCC are well-above the national mean, but you’ll need to ask the DNP program coordinator for actual numbers.
3. Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU’s DNP program is located in the School of Nursing, which is part of a medical campus that’s anchored by the VCU Health System. That gives it a connection to a Level I Trauma Center with Magnet status. The School has respectable national rankings for its nursing graduate programs (e.g. top 50); a dedicated Langston Center for Innovation in Quality and Safety; and strengths in biobehavioral research. See the Center for Biobehavioral Clinical Research (CBCR) and Biobehavioral Research Laboratory (BRL) for further proof.
But you’ll discover the DNAP program in the Department of Nurse Anesthesia in the VCU College of Health Professions. According to U.S. News & World Report, this is one of the best programs in the country. It has convenient distance education elements, sturdy first-time pass rates on the NCE, and excellent clinical affiliations, including links with VCU Health/MCV Hospitals. The Department even has its own Center For Research in Human Simulation and research arm. If you’re interested in this program, be sure to examine the section on DNAP scholarships.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Virginia
To create this list of the cheapest DNP programs in Virginia, we ranked each school by the lowest per credit tuition rate for the doctorate. In the case of public universities, this was usually the in-state rate. If you’re looking at public options, watch out for fees (e.g. program fees, nursing course fees, etc.)—Virginia schools have a lot of them.
1. Radford University
There are separate in-state & out-of-state tuition rates for the DNP—the VA resident rate is reasonable; the non-resident rate is expensive. We included the mandatory technology & online program fees in the total per credit cost.
2. Old Dominion University
ODU’s distance learning graduate tuition rate is different for VA residents & non-residents. Fortunately, the out-of-state rate is quite close to the in-state rate for online programs. We included the mandatory per credit fees (general services & technology) in our calculation. Bear in mind that there will be different tuition prices for the Nurse Anesthesia program.
3. James Madison University
When you’re looking at the graduate tuition rate for JMU, be sure you include the per credit nursing differential in the price. The in-state tuition rate for the post-master’s DNP is similar to ODU. The out-of-state rate is comparable to expensive private universities.
Online DNP Programs in Virginia
Virginia universities are gradually coming around to the idea of distance learning—you’ll find a number of online & hybrid DNP programs in our state listings. Each one is unique, so it pays to talk to the DNP program coordinator about campus expectations. For example:
- Online BSN to DNP Programs in VA: Liberty’s program is online, but there are required intensives. Radford states that it has an online BSN to DNP, but it doesn’t provide any details about intensives, orientations, or project defenses. These are typical components of distance programs in NP specialties, so it’s best to ask for clarification.
- Hybrid BSN to DNP Programs in VA: Other schools in Virginia have opted for a more blended approach. GMU has an executive format where students meet approximately once every three weeks. And Shenandoah has campus coursework for core & NP specialty credits and online classes for DNP credits. These are just two examples—see each program website for more details.
Once you reach the post-master’s level, you’ll have more choice. The majority of MSN to DNPs are targeted at current APRNs, which means universities don’t have to worry about providing clinical coursework. For instance:
- Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in VA: Programs like Liberty, Radford, JMU, and Shenandoah may be 100% online (you’ll need to check). Other schools will have periodic visits. Hampton’s DNP has three campus residencies; ODU and VCU have visits at the beginning of each semester; and Marymount has a 2-day executive experience at the end of each semester.
- Hybrid Post-Master’s DNP Programs in VA: Top-ranked schools still tend to lean toward the hybrid model, even at the MSN to DNP level. You’ll see this with UVA and GMU’s executive formats and VCU’s hybrid DNAP for current CRNAs.
Check with the DNP program coordinator and your State Board of Nursing before you apply to any online doctorate in Virginia. Because of distance learning restrictions & state authorization issues, some universities simply can’t accept students from certain states. Liberty is one example—it has an entire section on State Approval Disclosures.
Note: Wondering what else is out there? See our directory of Online DNP Programs. They are organized by state.
BSN to DNP Programs in Virginia
To make your life a little easier, we’ve provided links to individual BSN to DNP tracks under each school in the Virginia listings. While we were researching programs, we noticed that these tended to fall into a few broad categories.
- Multiple APRN Specialties: UVA is your best bet for pediatrics, neonatology, and acute care specialties. GMU has a number of tracks, but they’re centered on leadership, family, and adult gerontology.
- PMHNP & FNP: These are the most popular BSN to DNP tracks in Virginia. In addition to GMU and UVA, you can consider private schools (e.g. Shenandoah, Marymount, and Liberty) and affordable public options (e.g. Radford).
- Leadership: A couple of schools offer BSN to DNP pathways in leadership—GMU’s program in Nursing Administration and ODU’s program for the Nurse Executive.
- Nurse Anesthesia: As of 2020, Virginia had two COA-accredited programs in the state: ODU and VCU. Both of them are hybrid in nature and both of them list attrition & NCE exam statistics on their program websites.
Virginia Nursing Organizations
- Virginia Board of Nursing
- Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners (VCNP)
- Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists (VANA)
- Virginia League for Nursing (VLN)
- Virginia Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders (VONEL)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Virginia.