Nurses who strive to improve patient care outcomes and change healthcare policy at the executive level would benefit immensely by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice. A DNP is a terminal, or highest, degree available to nurses. Not only can DNP-prepared nurses work as advanced-practice clinicians, but they can also work in many areas of healthcare and many different roles such as:

  • Nurse executive
  • Nurse informatics expert
  • Nurse leader

The DNP program can take between two and six years to complete depending on the student's entry point. The BSN to DNP track takes longer as they must earn an MSN along the way before focusing on DNP content. Additionally, some programs offer part-time status which can take more time. One unique aspect of a DNP program is the project requirement, in which nurses identify a healthcare-related issue and the nurse proposes evidence-based solutions that lead to improved patient care outcomes.

Choosing a DNP Program

Many nurses who decide to return to school have been out of academia for a while. They may not know where to begin, or what is essential when choosing a program. Rhode Island has two accredited DNP programs to choose from. The following are points that may help students decide which program is right for them.

What to Consider When Choosing a DNP Program

  • Cost– One DNP program in Rhode Island currently charges $825 per credit and another $706 per credit. It’s important for prospective students to realize that this is only the cost of tuition; university fees, supplies, and other expenses are not included in this figure. Additionally, tuition fees may change each year-students are encouraged to check the school website for up-to-date tuition information.
  • Online Options– One DNP program in Rhode Island offers a hybrid learning option. This means that both online and in-person coursework is required. Typically, schools that require in-person coursework arrange it, so the classes are on weekends, or in "intensive" formats to minimize campus visitation requirements.
  • Accreditation– In the United States, nursing programs must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This ensures that nursing programs offer standardized curricula throughout the U.S. Rhode Island has two accredited DNP programs, both of which are approved by the CCNE.
  • Residency Options– DNP students are required to complete a minimum of 1,000 supervised clinical hours to graduate. MSN to DNP students may be able to apply a specified number of hours from their MSN programs towards the DNP. Additionally, the DNP project hours may count toward this requirement.

Another type of residency option is post-graduation clinical experience fellowships. Rhode Island has one fellowship/residency option at Brown Alpert Medical School. The program is 12 months and trains "physician extenders" (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) in emergency medicine.

The University of Rhode Island offers a DNP program for both BSN and MSN students. For MSN students, a total of 42 credits are required to graduate as well as 500 clinical practicum hours (MSN hours may be applied to the 1,000 hours total required hours). The MSN to DNP track builds upon the nurse's current area of specialty with courses such as:

  • Research methods
  • Scientific thinking
  • Informatics
  • Leadership
  • Evidence-based strategies

The BSN to DNP track prepares nurses for advanced clinician roles such as:

  • Adult/Gerontology Acute Care
  • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. The BSN to DNP program is 72-74 credit hours in length (depending on the track), and a master’s degree may be earned along the way.

Admission & State Licensing or Certification Requirements


Admission requirements may have slight variations between different schools, but general admission requirements may include:

  • Current RN or APRN license
  • BSN or MSN degree
  • Transcripts from all educational institutions
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Letters of professional recommendations
  • Written statement of purpose (or other writing samples)
  • Resume/CV
  • Completion of a statistics course
  • Liability insurance
  • Interview with faculty


In many states, certification is required for licensure. Rhode Island is one of them and recognizes the following APRN specialties:

  • Adult/Gerontology NP or CNS
  • Family/Individual across the lifespan NP or CNS
  • Neonatal NP or CNS
  • Pediatric NP or CNS
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health NP or CNS
  • Women's Health NP or CNS
  • CRNA

Certification is not just for advanced-practice clinicians such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse anesthetists. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers board-certification in areas including:

  • Informatics Nursing
  • Nurse Executive
  • Nurse Executive-Advanced
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Public Health Nursing-Advanced

While nurses may become certified in these areas, it is not required for licensure.


Specialty certification is required for licensure in Rhode Island. For new BSN to DNP graduates who are new to the APRN role, additional licensing requirements include:

  • Current RN license
  • MSN or DNP degree from an accredited educational institution
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from the school
  • Official letter from certifying agency
  • Complete application/ pay any fees
  • Background check

Rhode Island BSN to DNP Options

Both accredited DNP programs in Rhode Island offer BSN to DNP options. The BSN to DNP path usually is no more than 79 credits and can take three to six years to complete (based on full or part-time status).

Salve Regina University offers a hybrid-style learning format, and classes are provided in the evenings. After 48 credits, an MSN is awarded. The students then complete an additional 30 credits for the DNP and are then eligible to sit for FNP certification. For more information, students may review the school's online brochure.

Related Education Paths

Helpful DNP Agencies and Organizations in Rhode Island

List of Campus and Online DNP Programs in Rhode Island

Kingston, RI

Newport, RI

100 Ochre Point Avenue
Newport, RI 02840
(401) 847-6650

Providence, RI

DNP Programs
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 456-8000

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

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