Online DNP Acute Care NP Programs – What’s the Best Program for You?

Last Updated/Verified: Feb 16, 2024

As an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), if you desire to attain the highest level of education and nursing practice, you should consider earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. With options focused on different patient populations and numerous online pathways available, earning a DNP can take ACNPs to new heights in their careers.

Why Get a DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Degree?

With a DNP degree, an acute care nurse practitioner becomes a true leader in every setting. As a valued member of an inter-professional healthcare team, you’ll use critical thinking skills, your expertise, and a broad knowledge base to provide exemplary care to patients.

An acute care nurse practitioner who has earned a DNP degree works in a high-intensity environment. This could range from a research lab to an urban emergency room. You might opt to craft policy changes that better protect the health of patients or educate the next generation of nurses. The bottom line is that a DNP-educated ACNP has a wealth of employment opportunities at their disposal.

Because of the time commitment and effort this degree requires, it demonstrates the dedication you have in furthering your career. In the future, some positions that now accept acute care nurse practitioners with MSNs might require you to have a DNP instead. Consider the following factors to see if the DNP is the right choice for you.


  • A DNP in the acute care NP field will open up the most prestigious job opportunities and highest salaries
  • Those who wish to enter administrative or teaching positions may find that the DNP curriculum supports their goals
  • Multiple online routes available: BSN to DNP or MSN to DNP


  • The DNP is usually a more expensive route than an MSN or post-grad certificate
  • The ACNP curriculum at the DNP level can be intensive; some may find it hard to continue working or juggling other responsibilities while studying
  • For those starting with less than an MSN, the program can be lengthy

How to Choose an Online DNP ACNP Program

In order to successfully fulfill the requirements for a DNP degree, many programs require between 60 and 70 credit hours. The majority of online DNP programs are set up so students attend on a part-time basis, though some allow full-time enrollment.

An acute care nurse practitioner DNP program is a serious commitment. Ensuring that the school and program is properly accredited is of great importance. In addition, making sure that the online ACNP-DNP program prepares you for the patient population you wish to work with (i.e. adult-gerontology) should be a top consideration.

A capstone project or dissemination is nearly always required for acute care NP programs at the DNP level. While some programs allow you to complete this final step online or via video chat, others might require you to visit their campus.

DNP ACNP Curriculum

Be prepared to take a variety of courses in order to earn your DNP. If your ACNP program focuses on a patient population, you will take specialty courses that correlate with it. The amount of courses a student will complete in the acute care nurse practitioner DNP program depends on the degree level they come into the program with (BSN vs. MSN). Other required courses may include:

  • Genetics for Health Care Providers
  • Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Health Care Quality Improvement

Acute care nurse practitioner programs at the DNP level typically require over 1,000 clinical hours – both direct and indirect. Online students can arrange their preceptors in their local area, and often even at the hospital or medical center they are employed at.

List of Online DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

Finding an online DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program is easy with our listings. Browse below to get started on your journey today.

Florida State University

  • DNP - Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Tallahassee, FL

Johns Hopkins University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Hybrid
Baltimore, MD

East Tennessee State University

  • BSN to DNP: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Hybrid
  • MSN to DNP: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Hybrid
Johnson City, TN

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