fbpx

Best 12 DNP Programs in California in 2021

March 24, 2021 | Staff Writers

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

As the healthcare industry evolves it is crucial for those within leadership roles to have the education required to guide them to gain the knowledge and skills to progress the field in a direction that is optimal for healthcare outcomes as well as organizational outcomes.  The best DNP programs in California provide the necessary education and practicum for these outcomes.  The following is a list of the best DNP programs in California.  Every program is accredited.  Programs are ranked using a matrix of cost, faculty to student ratio, admissions requirements, and graduation rate.  

1. Loma Linda University

The DNP program at Loma Linda University is designed to prepare registered nurses holding a bachelor’s degree or higher for an advanced level of nursing practice and participate in clinical research.  LLU offers two pathways to earning a DNP, a BSN to DNP or a MSN to DNP.  Each provides the outcome of students demonstrating advanced levels of clinical judgement, systems thinking, and leadership roles.  The BSN to DNP path is designed for working professionals to accommodate their schedule while advancing their degree.  The majority of coursework will be completed online with a few required days on campus.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Loma Linda, Claifornia
  • Tuition: $840 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 3 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN with current unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 90.5%

2. Samuel Merritt University

With the advancement of the medical and healthcare fields the need for nursing professionals to have advanced knowledge in various areas has also increased.  WIth medical fields including biomedical science, genetics, health informatics systems and more, it is imperative that nursing professionals gain the knowledge and skills to further the care and education of communities.  Samuel Merritt University offers an online DNP program for both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP.  Through this program students will participate in an evidence based practice that is patient centered, and prepares them for leadership roles within the healthcare industry and clinical research.   

At A Glance

  • Location: Oakland, California
  • Tuition: $1,387 Per Semester Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 10 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN with current unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 98%

3. Brandman University

The DNP program at Brandman University is designed to prepare and graduate clinical practice nurses to be leaders within the healthcare industry.  Nurses will build on skills they already exhibit as they learn how to integrate these skills in innovative ways to advance healthcare.  Graduates will have extended knowledge of scientific underpinnings and practice of nursing, understand and be part of the organizational leadership of a healthcare team, gain clinical scholarship, influence healthcare policy, and much more.  There are four entry options to this program; an MSN to a DNP, an MSN to a DNP with a speciality, a BSN to DNP and last an MSN to DNP who does not hold an APRN.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Tuition: $1,175 Per Credit Hour
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 15 to 1
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements:  Unrestricted RN license, GRE Score
  • Graduation Rate: 81%

4. California State University Fullerton

California State University Fullerton is a pioneer in DNP education.  As one of the first institutions to offer a BSN to DNP program for nurses.  RN”s that hold a BSN are able to enroll in a three year program that will culminate in them earning a DNP in Anesthesia or DNP post Master’s.  Students can choose which program they want to enroll in.  The application requirements are different for each so be sure to read and fulfill the correct requirements for the desired degree path.  Coursework includes theoretical perspectives for advanced nursing practice, data management, informatics in healthcare and more.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Fullerton, California
  • Tuition: $8,304
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 25 to 1
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN and current unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

5. Point Loma Nazarene University

Point Loma Nazarene University has designed the DNP program to work with and for every aspirin student seeking to advance their nursing career.  The program itself is a hybrid model that allows for flexibility and face to face learning opportunities.  Professional nurses are able to continue their career while they earn their DNP with minimal residencies on campus.  The program is offered within a cohort model where students will work with and collaborate with other professional nurses throughout the program.  There are also multiple entry points to accommodate students where they are at in their education.  With a BSN to DNP and a MSN to DNP pathway students can enter at their level.      

At A Glance

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Tuition: $1,160 Per Credit Hour
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN and current unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 71%

6. University of California Irvine

At the University of California Irvine provides a DNP program that is designed for MSN prepared students.  This particular program is available in both online and hybrid formats to fit the needs of the professionals that are attending. Once per quarter students will have opportunities to meet with their cohort on campus for highly  focused sessions where they can collaborate with and learn from one another.  The curriculum includes education in organizational and systems leadership, research and analytical methods, policy, and population health.  The program can be completed in two years while students continue their current career path.    

At A Glance

  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Tuition: $9,025 Per Quarter
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN and unrestricted active RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

7. University of California San Francisco

For nursing professionals seeking to further their education and move into leadership roles, earning a DNP is crucial to making that career move a reality.  At the University of California San Francisco students of the DNP program will increase their foundation in scientific and theoretical concepts that support advanced nursing concepts.  The curriculum is two-fold, students build leadership skills as well as practice based skills.  They learn evidence based practice methods, how to improve health outcomes of individuals and populations, advanced health policy and more.  Prior to graduation students will need to complete 17 units of DNP residency.  

At A Glance

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Tuition: $1,480 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: MSN and current unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 91.9%

8. University of San Diego

For those already in the nursing profession that are seeking to do more, to help make positive changes for patients and within the healthcare system, earning a DNP is where that begins.  The University of San Diego provides a comprehensive DNP program with multiple entry points to allow such nursing professionals to begin their path to advanced practice and policy making.  Students can enter the BSN to DNP program or the MSN to DNP program.  Within this program students learn how to integrate research into developing better healthcare and actively designing better healthcare delivery systems.  Students can choose what they intend their focus to be as they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to advance healthcare in an evolving world.    

At A Glance

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Tuition: $1,620 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 12 to 1 
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN, unrestricted and current RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

9. California Baptist University

At California Baptist University those aspiring to earn their DNP will be engaged in an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the tools to transform healthcare.  Students will participate in didactic and practice experiences where they can apply advanced nursing knowledge and skills.  The program allows for collaboration among students and mentorship from expert faculty as they solve real-world problems facing vulnerable and underserved populations.  Graduates will learn to be leaders and help develop and solve problems facing communities within the healthcare context.  They are also prepared to be first responders in natural disasters.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Riverside, California
  • Tuition: $650 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 14 to 1
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: Master’s Degree, Active RN Licensure
  • Graduation Rate: 58.2%

10. University of California Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles is a globally recognized research institution with world-renowned faculty.  The nursing department is no different, students will learn at the hands of highly educated and experienced nursing professionals that hold the terminal degree within the profession and numerous years of experience and research.  The DNP program will prepare students to translate research into clinical practice, elevate leadership skills, understand and influence policy, and more.  Students of this program are expected to complete it within two years.  The program is offered in a flexible online format that allows students to continue their career while they advance their education.    

At A Glance

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Tuition: $36,004 Per Year
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 18 to 1 
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: MSN and unrestricted, current RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 91%

11. University of San Francisco

At the University of San Francisco, students of the DNP program are to prepare to become leaders within the field of nursing, education and the healthcare industry.  The design is interdisciplinary as students learn healthcare informatics, nursing, business, administration, as well as advanced practice within clinical settings.   The current tracks available for the DNP program include a BSN to DNP as well as a MSN to DNP track. The focus and leadership curriculum does differ between the two.  For those desiring greater than an FNP the MSN to DNP program would be the trach to lead to leadership roles as well as mental health nurse practitioner.  

At A Glance

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Tuition: $1,480 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Accreditation:  CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: BSN or MSN, current unrestricted RN license.  
  • Graduation Rate: 71.3%

12. California State University Fresno

The DNP program at California State University Fresno is a practice focused program that prepares participants for advanced practice, leadership and teaching roles within the healthcare industry.  The evolving demands of the healthcare industry requires individuals that are educated to be critical thinkers, have leadership skills to promote ethical policies, gain a greater understanding of theory and practice.  Students will engage in coursework in teaching strategies, curriculum development and they have the option to complete a nursing education practicum if they are aspiring to enter faculty roles.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Fresno, California
  • Tuition: $8,045 Per Semester
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 23 to 1
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Applicant Requirements: Master’s Degree, Hold current, unrestricted RN license
  • Graduation Rate: 62%

Points Methodology

  • Cost: Under $40K Entire Program  (MSN to DNP) Points:  5
  • Between $40K and $65K Entire Program (MSN to DNP) Points: 3
  • Above $65K Entire (MSN to DNP) Program Points: 1
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 10 to 1 and Below  Points:  5
  • Between 10 and 20 to 1  Points:  3
  • Above 20 to 1  Points:  1
  • Graduation Rate:  Above 85%  Points:  5
  • Between 75% and 85%  Points:  3
  • Below 75%  Points:  1
  • Programs Tracks Available:  Both BSN and MSN to DNP  Points:  3
  • Just MSN to DNP:  Points 1
  • Just BSN to DNP  Points:  1

Scroll to Top