Requirements for the Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

The Department of Nursing offers a graduate program leading to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The program prepares nurses to assume leadership roles within health care systems in a variety of settings, to expand knowledge of the discipline of nursing, and to acquire the foundation for doctoral study and continued professional development. The ability to work collaboratively on an interdisciplinary team, provide patient-centered care, employ evidence-based practice, access information technology, and apply quality improvement strategies are basic competencies expected of all graduates of this program. The DNP program prepares graduates to provide primary care as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in one of two tracks: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP), or Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Additionally, the program offers nurses with an earned Master’s Degree in nursing the opportunity to complete a post-MS DNP degree, either in primary care or as an executive nurse leader.

Minimum Degree Requirements

The DNP graduate curriculum includes nine core courses essential for all students that address the theoretical foundation of nursing care, professional issues and role development of APRNs, evidence based research utilization and practice, health policy and finance, ethics, health care informatics, quality of health care delivery, leadership of health care systems, genetics/ genomics, population-based health, biostatistics and epidemiology. Students apply core content to their DNP Program. Upon successful completion of program requirements APRN students are eligible to complete a national certification exam as either FNP or AGNP.

Students on the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) track are required to earn 69.5 credits; students on the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track are  required to earn 76 credits. A course list for both tracks can be found on the College of Nursing and Health Sciences website.  

As a CNHS graduate nursing student, students are required to complete the CNHS mandatories prior to matriculating into the program. Students must keep these requirements current throughout their program: Immunizations, CPR, HIPPA/OSHA training, annual PPD, and RN License. Some clinical sites require a criminal background check as well. It is essential to be compliant with this process to participate in clinical courses/experiences. Complete details on CNHS Mandatories are available on the college website.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is conducted by the Graduate Program in the Department of Nursing. The examination is designed to allow the student to demonstrate analysis and synthesis of knowledge gained through the program. Students may take the examination any time after the majority of the core courses have been successfully completed, and must be completed prior to the final track courses and practicums. Students will be expected to orally present their DNP Project proposal, clearly articulating, synthesizing, and applying the DNP Essentials and the NP competencies and core content addressed throughout the program of study as they relate to their DNP Project.

The Comprehensive Examination is rated on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. In the event that the student does not achieve a satisfactory on the oral comprehensive exam, one opportunity to provide written evidence of satisfactory achievement of the goal of the comprehensive exam will be allowed and is to be submitted by two weeks following the oral attempt.

DNP Project

The project option is a capstone experience of the graduate program where students develop and conduct an innovative project/production relevant to advanced nursing practice with faculty supervision. Students are required to present and defend the project orally upon its completion.

Projects are usually completed during the last semester of the student’s program.