Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Illinois

Illinois has been a leader when it comes to preparing doctorate level nurses. In 2004, when the AACN Task Force set out to examine doctoral nursing programs, Rush University was one of only four schools in the nation offering a practice doctorate. As such, it got a fair amount of attention from the committee. They wanted to know what the goals were, and how those goals were being met. The Task Force ultimately decided that a doctorate level education offered the best preparation in our increasingly complex healthcare system. Courses in health informatics, leadership, and research-based decision making would put nurses in a position to plan and implement programs that could improve the health of the population as a whole.

Featured Programs:
Sponsored School(s)
Purdue Global Visit School's Website
Selected Program:
  • Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees and Postgraduate Certificates in Nursing
Grand Canyon University Visit School's Website
Selected Program:
  • Online Nursing Degrees
Liberty University Visit School's Website
Selected Program:
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing for the Registered Nurse
Walden University Visit School's Website
Selected Program:
  • Online Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Nursing Programs and Certificates

In the years since the AACN recommendations, the number of DNP programs in the United States has grown to 120. Illinois boasts seven of them, and the state continues to serve as a model for the nation. Rush University and St Xavier formed a partnership to make a smooth transition for master’s trained St Xavier nurses who wanted complete their doctorates at Rush. It’s an ideal partnership offered up as an example on the AACN website.

The AACN has urged that by 2015 all programs for advanced practice nurses be transitioned from the master’s level to the doctorate level. Since the mandate is about schooling, not licensing, it primarily impacts future students. Many nurse practitioners are voluntarily returning to school for their doctorates, though. In 2010, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners gave a survey to those who attended their annual conference, which was held in Chicago. The survey yielded 892 responses. 158 of the nurses responded that they either had a DNP, were currently pursuing one, or planned to by 2015. An additional 279 were either unsure of their plans or required more information before making a decision. 68 had a PhD or other doctorate degree, while 49 noted they would be retired by 2015.

Types of DNP Programs

Because of the mandate, many people associate the DNP with nurse practitioner programs. There are other types of practice doctorates, though, and other reasons people choose to pursue them. Edith Brous and Diane Kjervik, authors of Law and Ethics for Advanced Practice Nursing, note that the DNP is preparation for a broad leadership role.

Programs may concentrate on leadership in a variety of contexts. St Francis offers a program in nursing management while Loyola University focuses on public health. New offerings include the Healthcare Quality Using Education in Safety & Technology (H-Quest) DNP and the Population-based Infection Prevention & Environmental Safety (PIPES) DNP. These programs are somewhat longer than other postmasters programs; this allows them to incorporate the AACN Essentials within the framework of very specialized coursework.

Nurse practitioners generally enroll in courses in their specialty area, be it family care or mental health. If a nurse is not preparing for a particular advanced practice nursing role, though, she faces an array of choices. How does a nursing generalist know whether to pursue a PhD or a DNP? A PhD program prepares a student to conduct original research. She might, for example, head an independent study funded by grant money. A DNP, on the other hand, uses research to inform her own practice. While a PhD candidate concludes her education with a dissertation, a DNP does a capstone project of some sort. Sometimes this is carried out at her own place of employment. Traditionally, PhD candidates have occupied high level faculty positions, but the DNP is also a respected credential for nurse educators.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Illinois

Learn about some of the schools offering DNP Programs Online in Illinois.

Governors State University

Contact Information:
1 University Parkway
University Park, Illinois 60484-0975
PH: 708-534-5000


Loyola University Chicago

Contact Information:
Building 105, Room 2840
2160 S. First Ave.
Maywood, IL 60153
PH: 708-216-9687


Rush University


Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

Contact Information:
511 NE Greenleaf Street
Peoria, Illinois 61603
PH: 309-655-2201


University of Illinois at Chigago

Contact Information:
845 South Damen Avenue MC 802
Chicago, IL 60612
PH: 312-996-8066


University of St. Francis

Contact Information:
500 Wilcox St.
Joliet, IL 60435
PH: 800-735-7500


Please let us know when new programs become available as well as if we missed one.

Back to Top