FAQ: Are there any online BSN to DNP AGNP programs?

Yes! Several high-quality, accredited online programs enable registered nurses (RNs) who have a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) to earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and become adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNP).

As long as the licensed RN has received his or her BSN from an accredited program, there are many full- or part-time BSN to DNP options available. Online BSN to DNP AGNP programs typically require 65 to 85 credits and 800 to 1,300 clinical hours. They generally take three to four years to complete as a full-time student.

When considering an online BSN to DNP with an AGNP focus, RNs are committing to working with people ranging in age from 13 to older adulthood. The type of care is broken into two specialties: acute and primary care. Students are required to know which specialty they would like to pursue before admission:

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

AGACNPs train to provide care for acute and critically ill adolescents and adults. RNs who become AGACNPs understand how to manage a patient’s care in clinical settings such as urgent care, emergency rooms, hospitals, critical care units, or inpatient medical-surgical units. AGACNP is a fast-paced specialty built for those who thrive in high-intensity environments.

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)

AHPCNPs train to provide primary care to patients ranging from adolescence and adulthood. Focused on prevention, health management, and continuity of care, AGPCNPs provide comprehensive healthcare services to individuals, families, and within communities. Working in clinical settings such as primary care clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, teen clinics, rural health clinics, and other outpatient settings, AGPCNPs provide holistic, lifelong care.

Generally, programs to train AGACNPs and AGPCNPs within a university are similar in length, clinical hours, and course units required. In some circumstances, AGANCP programs require one or two extra courses. AGACNP and AGPCNP students also complete the same MSN and DNP core coursework. The major difference between a BSN to DNP program in acute or primary care is the required specialty coursework and clinical practicum settings.

Keep reading to learn more about the admission requirements, duration, and typical curriculum for an online BSN to DNP AGNP programs.

Online BSN to DNP AGNP Program Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for BSN to DNP programs vary by school. It is important that prospective DNP students familiarize themselves with individual application requirements at each institution by thoroughly reading through each application page, or by contacting admissions officers. There are, however, general requirements that can be expected across the various BSN to DNP programs available.

BSN students are expected to have an unencumbered nursing license in at least one of the fifty states. While some schools leave that requirement open to the state of the RN’s residence, other schools require the RN to have licensure eligibility in the state where the university is located.

Not all programs specify that an applicant has to have a certain amount of nursing experience, but the majority of them do require letters of recommendation from professional connections. When specified, the minimum nursing experience required for admission often falls between one and two years—particularly for AGACNP programs. When experience is required, schools often specify that the nursing experience of the applicant be related to the DNP program to which they are applying.

Proving academic competency is a major part of the BSN to DNP application. Students can demonstrate academic competency through undergraduate GPA and sometimes through the submission of GRE scores. The minimum GPA requirement is often a 3.0, although some schools have a higher minimum threshold of 3.2.Some schools calculate GPA from all undergraduate coursework, while others calculate only from nursing-specific undergraduate coursework.

It is also expected that students graduated from a BSN program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). In addition to GPA and accreditation requirements, some schools require students have completed certain courses (e.g., statistics) before enrolling. To demonstrate GPA, proper program accreditation, and successful completion of coursework, applicants need to submit official transcripts from all previous academic institutions.

GRE requirements vary depending on the program. Some BSN to DNP programs do not require GRE scores, while others waive GRE obligations for students with a competitive undergraduate GPA (e.g., 3.4 or higher). In other cases, even though GRE scores are not required, students whose GPA falls between 3.0 and 3.4 may submit GRE scores to strengthen their application.

Another application requirement that prospective BSN to DNP students may encounter is the need to apply to two schools: the university’s graduate school and the nursing school. In these circumstances, acceptance into the graduate school is a precursor to admission into the nursing school.

While many online programs do not require in-person interviews, some do. Students may need to plan travel to a physical campus to complete an in-person interview. Upon acceptance, many DNP programs also require that students pass health screenings.

Online BSN to DNP AGNP Program Requirements

Each online program BSN to DNP has its own unique structure and flow of courses but generally consists of three basic requirements: academic coursework, clinical experience, and on-campus activities. The number of credits required to graduate from an online BSN to DNP program ranges from 65 to 85 credits.

Programs comprise MSN and DNP core classes, as well as coursework related to either the primary or acute care AGNP specialties. In some cases, students can transfer in coursework to reduce the number of required courses; in others, students must complete prerequisite coursework before beginning the program. This prerequisite work may be required before being admitted or can be completed after. Most programs require that students earn a “B” grade or higher in each course to graduate.

Students also need to complete between 900 to 1,300 clinical hours throughout the program. With rare exception, online programs are structured to enable students to complete their clinical hours through local preceptorships. Some universities provide students with preceptor-matching assistance, while others make students find a preceptor themselves. In some cases, online programs require students to complete some of their clinical hours in specific university-linked locations. Some AGNP programs also require that a specific number or percentage of clinical hours are precepted.

For many online AGNP programs, the majority of didactic coursework can be completed entirely online without requiring a physical visit to campus. However, most online BSN to DNP AGNP programs do have on-campus requirements. On-campus intensives, residencies, and learning experiences often require students to come to campus for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for a concentrated learning experience that cannot be done remotely. Many DNP programs require students to complete a culminating project or comprehensive assessment at the end of the program. Presenting projects or taking these assessments often require students to come to campus.

Online BSN to DNP AGNP Program Length

How long it takes a student to complete an online BSN to DNP program depends on several factors, including program structure, student commitment, and whether a student decides to enroll full- or part-time. Some programs are available exclusively full-time or part-time, but many have both options. Some programs are flexible with students who do not enroll in classes one semester, while others are more strict and require reapplication in the case of delinquency. Students should carefully consider requirements, credit-hours, and full- and part-time offerings before they apply.

Depending on the structure of the program, a student can expect to complete an online BSN to DNP program in three to four years when enrolled full-time. Enrolling full-time is the fastest path to program completion. Part-time enrollment decreases the weekly time requirements but can extend the length of the program by one to two years.

Students who wish to work full-time while enrolled in a BSN to DNP program are often encouraged to enroll part-time to create the necessary balance. When enrolled part-time, the general timeline for completion is four to six years. While flexibility is available, many programs do have a cap on the number of years a student has to finish their full- or part-time course of study.

Online BSN to DNP AGNP Program Curriculum

BSN to DNP AGNP programs take students directly from a BSN towards a DNP in the most streamlined way possible. Choosing this course of study eliminates the need for reapplication to a DNP program following the successful completion of an MSN program, and reduces coursework redundancies.

A typical online BSN to DNP program takes students through core MSN and DNP coursework, and, depending on the student’s chosen focus, specialty classes in either acute or primary care. While course titles and content vary widely from program to program, below are examples of courses BSN to DNP students may encounter in online programs:

Core MSN courses

  • Human physiology and pathophysiology for advanced nursing practice
  • Leadership and quality
  • Epidemiology for advanced practice in healthcare
  • Scientific underpinnings for advanced practice nurses

Core DNP courses

  • Clinical inquiry
  • Translating research into practice
  • Organizational and administrative theory
  • Data management and decision making in complex healthcare systems

Acute care courses

  • Adult-gerontology acute care diagnosis and management
  • Complex and chronic disease management, adolescents to frail
  • Health promotion/disease prevention and issues for adult-gerontology acute care
  • Care of older adults with acute and chronic illnesses

Primary care courses

  • Advanced practice nursing: care of older adults
  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP): adolescent and adult
  • Health promotion/disease prevention and issues for adult-gerontology primary care
  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP): adult older/frail