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Washington State University Graduate School

Chapter 13: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Requirements

A. Program Overview

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, like other graduate programs offered by the College of Nursing, is open to students seeking advanced education in nursing. The DNP program prepares nurses to be leaders in clinical practice (primary care, independent practice, and/or specialty), public health, organizational systems, policy development, and political action. It prepares graduates to be collaborative in practice commensurate with other doctorally prepared health care providers and leaders such as those in medicine and pharmacy. The DNP program provides students the opportunity to work in various health care settings, performing individual, family, and community health assessment and management. Students are guided by experienced faculty mentors, preceptors, and community experts. An integral part of the program is the completion of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Project, which provides students with the knowledge and skills to translate health science and policy evidence into meaningful quality improvement projects to improve practice and the healthcare system, lead interdisciplinary care teams, measure health-related outcomes, and improve the health of individual patients, groups, populations, and communities.

Prospective students who have earned the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree select one of three areas of emphasis in the DNP Program: DNP Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), or DNP Advanced Population Health (APH). Along with completing required didactic coursework, students will complete a minimum of 1,000 practicum hours. Graduates of the FNP and PMHNP programs are eligible to complete a national certification examination leading to state licensure as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners.

Prospective students who have earned the master’s degree in nursing as population health/public health specialists, or nurse practitioners and want the DNP, complete an individualized Program of Study that includes a minimum of 32 credits and requires the completion of a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate practicum hours.

B. Admission Criteria

Post-bachelor’s and post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, additional admission criteria

C. Obtaining A Master of Nursing (MN) Degree While Enrolled in DNP

Students may have the option to earn a Master of Nursing while enrolled in the DNP

D. Maximum Time Limits for Completion of DNP

Most students enrolled in the DNP-FNP or DNP-PMHNP degree program require 3-5 years for completion of their program. The maximum time allowed for completion of the DNP degree for these specialty students is 5 years, from the beginning date of the earliest course applied toward the degree, in order to be eligible to sit for licensure as an NP. If courses are older than 5 years, the student will need to repeat the major courses in pathophysiology, advanced physical assessment, and advanced pharmacology.

DNP Advanced Population Health (DNP-APH) graduate students are not bound by the 5-year rule and may need longer to complete their clinical hours. DNP-APH students who anticipate a program of study longer than 5 years must work closely in collaboration with their advisor and set a graduation goal that is reasonable but no longer than ten years to completion.

E. Program of Study

University requirements, course requirements, and practicum experiences and requirements

F. DNP Project

Project requirements and required courses

G. Program Completion

  1. The DNP Program Completion Form is to be completed and signed by the DNP Program director whose signature verifies that the student has met all of the program requirements, including coursework and practicum hours, and is ready for final degree clearance at the Graduate School. The form should be submitted to the Graduate School immediately after final grades are submitted for NURS 559.
  2. Students must complete an Application for Graduate Degree following the instructions found here: no later than the beginning of the semester in which the student enrolls in NURS 559. The graduation fee must be paid when submitting the Application for Degree online.
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