The terminal degree type within the field of nursing is the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. The DNP degree is considered ‘terminal' because it's the highest ranking degree type within nursing education and in the field. Depending on the pathway a nursing student chooses to take, DNPs can prepare them to work either in organizational/educational settings or in clinical settings.

Depending on the state and depending on the university program, BSN to DNP students will be expected to successfully complete 65 to 95 unit hours along with a number of supervised clinical clerkship hours to be awarded the degree. Most MSN to DNP programs will expect students to complete at minimum 39 unit hours to earn the degree. Depending on the prospective students starting place prior to matriculating (i.e. BSN or MSN), the amount of time it will take to complete a DNP program will vary. In most cases, a full-time BSN to DNP program will take most students approximately three to four years to complete, whereas a full-time MSN to DNP program takes only two years.

Core competencies to be mastered by students during DNP programs will include:

  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Health and Physical Assessment
  • Clinical Research for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Quantitative Research Methods and Evidence Based Practice
  • Public Policy

Choosing a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

The state of Illinois offers eleven different DNP programs. There are a few important factors to consider before applying.

What to Consider When Choosing a DNP Program

  • Program Cost— Tuition costs for DNP programs in Illinois vary. For in-state students, prices can range from $950 to $1,100 per unit hour. For out-of-state students, DNP programs will cost around $1,200 to $1,500 per unit hour. Online DNP programs will typically cost students anywhere from $850 to $1000 per unit hour regardless of whether they are in-state or out-of-state.
  • Online Campus options
  • Accreditation— DNP programs in Illinois are accredited by the Commission on Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Clinical Residencies—Residencies or fellowships are a stage in a nurse practitioner's clinical education where they provide care to patients under the supervision of either a physician or another nurse practitioner, while being paid a salary. Options in the area include:

Admission & State Licensing or Certification Requirements


  • Although admission requirements to DNP programs in Illinois will vary from university to university, generally, to be accepted for admission to most programs in the state, candidates must meet the following prerequisite requirements:
  • Be in possession of an unencumbered RN license
  • Possess a BSN or MSN degree issued by a CCNE or ACEN accredited program
  • Minimum of two years of professional nursing practice as a Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Have maintained a 3.0 grade point average, based on a 4.0 system in either undergraduate or graduate degree programs
  • Provide academic transcripts
  • Write a Statement of Purpose
  • Pass a drug and background test
  • Provide resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Verification/documentation of clinical hours
  • Provide two letters of recommendations from professions with graduate level education


Accredited DNP programs in the state of Illinois allow successful students to sit for certification upon completion of programs. DNP tracks offered at universities in Illinois allow students to become certified in the vast majority if not all advanced practice nursing specialty disciplines.


Illinois advanced practice nurses are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDPR). Becoming licensed as an APRN requires the following:

  • Complete an application
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Provide transcripts from all educational institutions
  • Submit proof of all clinical hours worked during your graduate studies, as well as any other clinical experiences acquired
  • Submit verification of specialty certification
  • Complete fingerprinting
  • Apply for prescriptive authority

Illinois BSN to DNP Program Options

Six universities have programs that offer BSN to DNP pathways in the state of Illinois:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options
  • Rush University, Chicago— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options
  • Loyola University Chicago, Maywood— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options
  • DePaul University, Chicago— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downers Grove— Post MSN and BSN-DNP options

Related Education Paths

Helpful DNP Agencies and Organizations in Illinois

List of Campus and Online DNP Programs in Illinois

Chicago, IL

DeKalb, IL

1425 W. Lincoln Hwy.
DeKalb, IL 60115
(815) 753-1000

Decatur, IL

DNP Programs
1184 W. Main St.
Decatur, IL 62522
(800) 373-7733

Edwardsville, IL

1 Hairpin Dr
Edwardsville, IL 62025
(888) 328-5168

Joliet, IL

DNP Programs
500 Wilcox St
Joliet, IL 60435
(800) 735-7500

Normal, IL

Campus Box 4040
Normal, IL 61790
(309) 438-2583

Peoria, IL

1501 W Bradley Ave
Peoria, IL 61625
(309) 676-7611

Rockford, IL

Romeoville, IL

One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446
(815) 838-0500

Springfield, IL

DNP Programs
One University Plaza
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 206-6600

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