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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

Our faculty have supported the national movement for advanced practice nurses to be prepared at the clinical doctoral level. Early on we transitioned our MS degree to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. We believe advanced practice nurses need to be prepared as expert clinicians and also possess advanced knowledge and skills in systems, leadership, program evaluation, informatics and policy in order to evaluate, influence, and lead practice.

To that end, the curriculum is organized around three components: Systematic Evaluation of Practice, Leadership/Policy, and Clinical Practice. These core components are met through a combination of coursework, a scholarly project, and supervised clinical hours.

Post-BS Program Option

The Post-BS option prepares advanced practice nurses at the doctoral level and requires a minimum of 71 credits. Nurses who have a non-APN master’s degree in nursing are considered Post-BS students, follow the 71 credit program, and are able to waive up to 18 credits based on previous graduate coursework.

Part-time and full-time program options are available which allow students the flexibility to balance school, work, and life. Students enrolled part-time complete the program in five years and usually take two classes each semester. Students enrolled full-time complete the program in three years and take three to four classes each semester. Most students, whether enrolled part-time or full-time, reduce work hours during their tenure as a student, primarily during the semesters when they are completing their clinical courses with preceptors. See below for the program plan options for Post-BS students.

 Post-BS graduates are prepared to sit for the following professional nursing certification examinations.

Population Focus  Role Focus Professional Certification Examination

Clinical Nurse Specialist

ANCC Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner ANCC Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
 Adult-Gerontology Primary Care  Nurse Practitioner  ANCC Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner PCNB Primary Care Pediatric NP -or-
ANCC Pediatric Primary Care NP
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

ANCC Psychiatric-Mental Health NP

Post-MS Program Option

The program of study for Post-MS students who have a master’s degree in a specialty track and are certified (or eligible for certification) as advanced practice nurses requires a minimum of 51 credits; 32 credits completed as part of the DNP program with up to 19 credits recognized from the MS degree.

Nurse Educator Option

Students interested in dual preparation as an advanced practice nurse and nurse educator may add a nine-credit nursing education focus.


Cohort Model

Our DNP program utilizes a cohort model - students follow the course sequence designated in the program plan and progress as a group. By taking classes with the same people every semester, our students are able to strengthen their relationships with their student colleagues and build on their shared experiences to challenge each other academically and professionally.

Course Delivery

Our hybrid classes offer the best of both worlds: the convenience of online classes combined with the optimal learning opportunities that occur within the classroom. Most courses meet on campus once a month (a few courses meet on campus once a week), which allows students to commute from surrounding areas. Our students tell us they enjoy attending classes on campus because they really get to know their classmates and professors, and studies have demonstrated improved learning outcomes and decreased attrition for students in blended learning programs in comparison to both traditional in-person as well as online programs.

Clinical and Leadership Practicum Experiences

As part of the DNP program, Post-BS students complete a minimum of 1000 practicum hours:  500 hours in clinical practice and 500 hours in clinical leadership. Post-MS students complete a minimum of 500 hours in clinical leadership.  All clinical placements are arranged by School of Nursing faculty and staff. The School of Nursing has established academic partnerships with major health care systems in Wisconsin. We do consider student requests to complete clinicals in or near their home community or in a clinical site of interest provided the site meets the requirements for the course and a qualified preceptor is available.

Scholarly project

In the final year of the program each student completes a scholarly project, which represents the culmination of a student’s doctoral education.  The project may take the form of a program evaluation, program development proposal, or quality improvement project, and uses evidence to improve either practice or patient outcomes. Students develop their scholarly project over three semesters to produce a paper of publishable quality and deliver an oral presentation to faculty, students, and the community.