What Are Some Types of DNP Specialties?

A nurse practitioner talks to an adult patient about their healthcare options.

As a nurse who wants to take their education to the highest level and achieve their career goals, you may be considering pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Within a DNP degree program, students learn to apply theoretical knowledge with clinical application that will prepare them to work in a variety of different settings. 

Additionally, after earning your DNP degree, you can choose to pursue a career that will best suit your goals, as there are many different DNP specialties to choose from. DNP graduates are qualified to pursue high-level careers in nursing specialties that can allow them to use their advanced knowledge and leadership skills to help improve patient care and outcomes in healthcare. Keep reading to learn about some DNP specialties you can pursue as a DNP graduate.

APRN DNP Specialties

When you earn a DNP degree, you are qualified to pursue a career as an advance practice registered nurse (APRN), a popular career path among DNP graduates. This career path is best suited for those who want to continue working in a clinical setting. Within the APRN career path, there are a variety of specialties that you can pursue, including:


An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner can work in either a primary or acute care setting providing care to adult and geriatric patients. A professional working in this DNP specialty should be ready to work with both male and female adult patients, being able to correctly diagnose and treat medical conditions. These nurse practitioners also work in a variety of healthcare settings, including emergency settings, specialty clinics and long-term care facilities.


APRNs can also specialize in pediatrics, providing care to children in either a primary or acute care setting. This includes caring for needs of patients from birth to young adulthood, ensuring that the needs of each patient are handled with the highest-quality care possible. These professionals also work in a variety of settings, such as within a clinical setting or a hospital.

Family Lifespan

If you don’t feel strongly called to a specific population, consider the role of a family nurse practitioner. These nurse practitioners provide care to men, women and children of all ages, focusing mostly on preventive care, health education and treatment of common illnesses. They typically work within a clinical setting or family practice, often alongside other medical professionals.

Nurse Midwifery

A nurse practitioner working as a certified nurse midwife provides care to women in the stages of reproduction, including preconception, prenatal, childbirth and postpartum care. This DNP specialization has a very specific population, helping new and expectant mothers through the journey of reproduction and ensuring their physical and mental well-being through it all.


While working in anesthetics, a DNP graduate will provide any anesthesia-related care to a wide variety of patients, ensuring that these patients are well cared for before, during and after any procedure that requires the use of anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists can work in both high-risk situations and in less stressful situations delivering anesthesia to patients. In either case, they must work toward providing the best and safest patient outcomes.

Non-APRN DNP Specialties

Although many graduates of a DNP degree program will pursue a DNP specialty within the APRN career path, there are other specialties that could be a good fit for those who aren’t as interested in continuing to work in a clinical setting. These include the following:

Nurse Education

Nurse educators are highly trained and experienced nurses that have chosen to continue their career in a college or university, educating and inspiring the next generation of nurses. These professionals are vital to the healthcare system, as they are leaders who act as role models for nursing students and educate them to provide high quality patient care.

Some DNP degree programs have an option to specialize in nursing education. This role will help future educators learn to shape healthcare systems and build effective curricula that will adhere to industry standards and teach essential skills, strategies and methods to nursing students.

Management and Executive Leadership

Along with a multitude of other DNP specializations, a DNP degree can also prepare you to serve as a healthcare manager or in an executive position within a healthcare organization. A DNP program teaches the value of leadership and other skills that are essential for someone to possess in a high-level position; for example, learning the business side of healthcare through classes in healthcare informatics and data analytics in addition to healthcare-based topics.

Other Areas of Study in DNP Degree Programs

In addition to learning about different DNP specialties, you will learn about a variety of topics while completing your DNP degree. Although specifics may vary depending on your program, some areas you should expect to study in a DNP degree program include the following:

  • Emerging Areas of Human Health: This topic helps students understand how to stay on top of health and disease trends, studying the latest known diseases to learn about associated risk factors, treatment options and further research
  • Population Management: This topic furthers students’ analytical skills and teaches how to combine specific patient data to determine health trends and risk factors for a particular group
  • Patient Outcomes and Sustainable Change: This topic dives into patient outcomes and the success rate among certain treatments along with how to encourage sustainable change to encourage healthier habits and improve patient outcomes

Grand Canyon University aims to provide an exceptional academic experience for every student. If you would like more information about GCU’s doctoral nursing and healthcare programs, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, visit the College of Doctoral Studies or click the Request More Information button at the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.