Get the inside track on Wisconsin DNPs! This practical guide & directory contains rankings of the top and most affordable DNP programs in Wisconsin, details on online & hybrid WI doctorates, and tips for comparing BSN to DNP options. Have a school in mind? Jump ahead to our listings.
Top Wisconsin DNP Programs
A large number of quality factors went into this list of the best DNP programs in WI. First, we evaluated independent rankings for nursing graduate degrees (e.g. U.S. News & World Report). But we also considered the school’s reputation, research opportunities, clinical connections, and student reviews. If you’re interested in BSN to DNP tracks, be sure to ask the school for recent certification pass rates.
1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
A top national ranking for the DNP. Superb clinical connections. A thoughtful degree model from a Public Ivy. UW Madison’s hybrid DNP program is tough to fault! It’s the brainchild of the School of Nursing, which is conveniently located in Wisconsin’s only academic health center—the Health Sciences Learning Center (HSLC). Here you’ll find multiple research centers & institutes, innovative community health partnerships, and financial support for graduate students. And some pretty swank training facilities.
This is a deep-dive, cohort-based doctorate. All clinical placements are arranged by the School of Nursing. The School is in close proximity to American Family Children’s Hospital, UW Health University Hospital, and William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. As part of the global health experience, DNP students collaborate with PAs to provide primary care in Belize. Plus—thanks to a partnership with Monroe Clinic-SSM Health—there are Wisconsin-based rural practicums. If you want independent opinions, you can contact folks in the directory of DNP students.
2. Marquette University
Marquette’s DNP program shot to #2 on the strength of sturdy national rankings (e.g. top 60 for the DNP & MSN) and a great reputation within the state. At this private Jesuit university, you’ll find a College of Nursing with a well-equipped Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center for Clinical Simulation, knowledgeable nursing faculty, and a number of interesting research institutes and university partnerships (e.g. Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center (WGEC)). Granted, it’s expensive, but so are the public universities in this ranking.
Clinical connections are another big plus. For instance, CRNA students rotate through the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, Ascension, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center. And AC PNP students train at Children’s Hospital and spend an entire semester in a 72-bed pediatric ICU. Better yet, independent reviews are positive. Graduates often mention the useful networking & career opportunities, small class sizes, knowledgeable & supportive instructors, well-organized online classes, and excellent facilities.
3. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
UWM’s DNP program rounds out the list at #3. The College of Nursing runs Wisconsin’s largest nursing program and it’s a well-known name in Milwaukee. Thanks to its status, it has long-standing relationships with healthcare providers (e.g. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora Health, etc.) and research consortiums (e.g. Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin). The College has its own Doctoral Student Nurse Organization (DSNO) and some fellowships are open to DNP students.
As you might expect, the College is particularly interested in urban issues. For example, it runs the Institute for Urban Health Partnerships (IUHP), which provides organizational support for the UWM-run House of Peace Community Nursing Center and Silver Spring Community Nursing Center. When we went looking for reviews, we found great ones for the graduate programs—with praise for the mentorship, rigorous coursework, online convenience, and supportive instructors—and distinctly mediocre reviews for the BSN. So we recommend you talk to recent DNP alumni for a nuanced perspective.
Most Affordable DNP Programs in Wisconsin
This list cheapest DNP programs in Wisconsin is based on the lowest per credit tuition rate for the doctorate. At UW schools, this was frequently the in-state rate. The final cost will depend on the pathway (e.g. BSN to MSN vs. MSN to DNP) and the total number number of credits.
1. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
The in-state, per credit graduate tuition rate at UWEC is pretty reasonable; the out-of-state rate is comparable to big private universities. There’s a reduced MN Reciprocity rate, but the DNP does not qualify for the MSEP discount. UWEC also points out that 800-level DNP courses involve mandatory per credit course fees. This can bump the cost for the Post-Master’s DNP up by $250+ per credit (a price which is still lower than UW Oshkosh).
2. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Although UW Oshkosh is a public university, the DNP tuition rate appears to be the same for all students. We included the mandatory per credit segregated fees and special course fees in our calculation. The Nurse Anesthesia program will have a separate cost structure.
3. Concordia University-Wisconsin
CUW is a private Lutheran university in Mequon, so the per credit DNP tuition rate is the same for all students, regardless of their state of residency. You’ll need to budget for additional fees (e.g. per semester techology fee).
Online DNP Programs in Wisconsin
Wisconsin schools have yet to throw themselves heart & soul into distance learning. A number of the DNPs in our state listings are more hybrid than online. Having said that, you do have options. Here’s what we found when we went digging into the program websites.
- Hybrid BSN to DNP Programs in WI: This is the primary method of instruction at schools like Marquette, Viterbo, and UW schools. To accommodate working professionals, they often try to limit face-to-face classes to one day per week (e.g. Viterbo, UW Oshkosh, UWEC, etc.). Don’t be afraid to ask the DNP program coordinator for a sample schedule.
- Online Post-Master’s DNP Programs in WI: It gets easier at the MSN to DNP level. For example, CUW’s program only has 2 mandatory on-campus meetings and Edgewood allows online students to participate in evening classes by logging in remotely. Even UWM has an online doctorate.
- Hybrid Post-Master’s DNP Programs in WI: But hybrid is still the favored format, especially at universities that have already developed blended BSN to DNP pathways. We’re talking about schools like Marquette, Alverno, UWEC, and more. Details can be a little sketchy on the university websites, so it’s best to check with the DNP program coordinator.
Before you commit to an online Wisconsin DNP, make sure you are eligible to apply. Because of distance learning restrictions & state authorization issues, some schools may be unable to accept certain applicants. This is often more of an issue at the BSN to DNP level, but it never hurts to send an email.
Note: Our directory of Online DNP Programs has listings for doctorates nationwide.
BSN to DNP Programs in Wisconsin
Aspiring APRNs will find plenty of choice in Wisconsin! To help you create your shortlist, we’ve provided links to individual BSN to DNP tracks in our state listings.
- Multiple APRN Specialties: Top-ranked universities like UW Madison, Marquette, and UWM offer the widest range of tracks in pediatrics, acute care, and dual degrees. UWM also has a range of CNS tracks. Intriguingly, Marquette and UW Madison have shied away from the FNP.
- AGPCNP & FNP Tracks: On top of UWM, you could consider more affordable public options like UWEC and UW Oshkosh or comparably priced private schools like Viterbo. UWEC even has an AGCNS track.
- Leadership & Administration: Aspiring nurse leaders may wish to check out UWM’s separate leadership/systems tracks in nursing informatics and the nurse executive or UWEC’s program. Viterbo and UWM also have dual DNP/MBAs.
- Nurse Anesthesia: As of 2020, Wisconsin had 3 COA-accredited schools—all of them offer hybrid DNPs. Viterbo’s program is the oldest one in the state and it’s nationally ranked. It’s run through a partnership between the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia, UW La Crosse, and Viterbo.
Wisconsin Nursing Organizations
- Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS): APN
- Metro Milwaukee Nurse Practitioners (MMNP)
- Wisconsin Association of Nurse Anesthetists (WIANA)
- Wisconsin League for Nursing (WLN)
- Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Leaders (WONL)
Below you'll find a list of all of the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Wisconsin.