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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

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The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) is designed for the practicing clinician, preparing individuals to assume leadership roles as practitioners and to apply evidence-based practice to improve individual, family, and community health outcomes.  The program delivery consists of online courses that includes an Executive Session (face-to-face learning) on the first night of each class. To allow for flexibility, students may Skype in for the majority of sessions. Take one course at a time and finish in two years on a part-time basis.  This practice-focused DNP has a strong clinical component that builds on the current clinical master’s degree program for nurse practitioners (NP), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), and certified nurse mid-wives (CNM).   The DNP will include course and clinical work including a scholarly project addressing an area of advanced nursing practice. 


Executive Sessions

Admission Requirements

Course Descriptions




The DNP curriculum is comprised of 39 credits to include 400 clinical hours.  This program is delivered through 7-week online courses with a face-to-face Executive Session delivered on the first night of each course in a traditional semester.  Courses in the summer are accelerated 6-week sessions.  All courses are 3 credits.

Executive Sessions

Each course in the DNP includes an Executive Session on the first night whereby students come together as a group to network face-to-face, review the syllabus, and meet other APNs.  The first session begins with the first online course.  All students are permitted to Skype in for the majority of sessoins.

Admission Requirements

A master’s degree in advanced practice nursing (APN) from an institution accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Nursing Education or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education with a graduate cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above.

1. Completed online application.
2. Satisfactory achievement on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
    a. Waived for applicants with a graduate GPA of 3.5 or greater.
3. Current professional certification as an APN.
4. Official SEALED transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
    a. Undergraduate Statistics course equivalent to (3) semester hours.
    b. Undergraduate and graduate Physical Health Assessment courses.
5. Current RN licensure in one of the 50 states or U.S. territories.
6. Copy of current professional liability insurance.
7. Resume/CV reflecting a minimum of (2) years prior clinical experience as an APN.
     a. Recent graduates may apply but APN certification must be obtained before beginning clinicals.
8. Three letters of reference from a APN, one may be from a physician.  NR Recommendation DNP.doc (doc)
9. Personal Goal Statement.   NR Goals Statement DNP.doc (doc)
10. Personal interview once application is complete.

Course Descriptions

Core Courses - 21 credits
NUR 700  Healthcare Ethics for the APN
NUR 701  Statistical Analysis for Evidenced Based Practice
NUR 720  Organizational Behavior & Social Policy
NUR 721  Leadership as an Advanced Practice Nurse
NUR 722  Technology for Advanced Practice Nurses
NUR 730  Research Utilization
NUR 731  Evidenced Based Practice
Clinical Core Courses - 18 credits
NUR 800  DNP Scholarly Project 1
NUR 810  DNP Scholarly Internship 1
NUR 810  DNP Scholarly Project 2
NUR 811  DNP Scholarly Internship 2
NUR 820  DNP Scholarly Project 3
NUR 821  DNP Scholarly Internship 3

NUR 700 Ethics-Examines ethical concepts foundational to advanced nursing practice.  Application of a variety of decision making frameworks to address ethical dilemmas arising from complex care, use of technology, health care resources, health care policy, national and international health issues.

NUR 701 Statistics-Develop the statistical skills necessary to critically evaluate advanced practice nursing research using qualitative and quantitative methods to identify appropriate techniques for interpretation of results of independent research, and for presentation of results to improve clinical practice. Develop beginning proficiency for performing the analysis of clinical datasets using software programs such as SPSS, Excel and SAS/STAT.

NUR 721 Leadership as an APN-Explores leadership of the advanced practice nurse as it relates to clinical practice, improving health outcomes, and ensuring patient safety.  Leadership and communication strategies will be examined in the role of the advanced practice nurse.

NUR 720 Organizational Behavior-Explores the advanced practice nursing role in health care delivery systems and outcomes in the delivery of health care.  Health care delivery models and reimbursement mechanisms from policy and economic perspectives are examined.   The advanced practice nursing role in applied research and formation of health care policy is emphasized.

NUR 722 Technology for APN’s-Designed for the advanced practice nurse, this course examines computer applications within nursing administration, research, clinical practice, education, and health care.  Critical thinking concerning the social, legal and ethical aspects of computer technology is emphasized.

NUR 730 Research Utilization-Builds on prior knowledge of the nursing research process to support practice-based problems, interpretation and analysis of current evidence and literature.  The analysis and interpretation of data from qualitative and quantitative research designs will be emphasized.   The interrelationship of theory, research and practice will be analyzed.

NUR 731 Evidenced Based Practice-Focuses on the review, analysis, synthesis, and application of scientific evidence for advanced practice nursing and health care.  The ethical, legal, cultural, and financial implication of evidence based advanced nursing practice is examined.  Tools to develop a evidenced based practice project are explored.   

NUR 800 DNP Scholarly Project 1-This is the first course of three courses developing a evidenced based scholarly project for advanced practice nursing.  The student will conceptualize a scholarly research project in an area of advanced practice nursing.  Synthesize knowledge and skills learned in previous courses to develop a evidenced based research project that makes a contribution to advanced practice nursing.  

NUR 801 DNP Scholarly Internship 1-Clinical practice component complementing the didactic of APN Scholarly Project 1 that requires 135 clinical hours.    This course integrates previous knowledge and skills as an advanced practice nurse and focuses on the development of the scholarly project question.  The experience provides additional opportunities for clinical practice and expertise development.

NUR 810 DNP Scholarly Project 2-This is the second course of three courses in the development of  a evidenced based scholarly project for advanced practice nursing.  In this course the student will continue with the evidenced based nursing project.  The focus is the completion of data collection, analysis and preparation of all components of the project.  The student will work closely with an advanced practice nursing faculty in the preparation of the evidenced based research.

NUR 811 DNP Scholarly Internship 2- Clinical practice component complementing the didactic of APN Scholarly Project 2 that requires 135 clinical hours.   Students will continue to refine advanced practice nursing skills and integrate the data collection component of their scholarly project.

NUR 820 DNP Scholarly Project 3-Final course of the three courses for the development of the evidenced based scholarly project in advanced practice nursing.  The focus is the completion, defense and dissemination of the evidenced based project.

NUR 821 DNP Scholarly Internship 3-Clinical practice component complementing the didactic of APN Scholarly Project 3 that requires 135 clinical hours.    Students will continue to engage in clinical practice and expertise development.  The course will offer the student a venue to complete, evaluate and disseminate the evidenced based project.

NUR 830 DNP Scholarly Advisement-Provides ongoing faculty advisement until completion and defense of the capstone project.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a DNP in nursing? 
The DNP is a practice focused doctorate designed to prepare APRNs for a variety of nursing practice roles.  The DNP prepares APRNs to translate nursing science into clinical practice to improve health care outcomes for patients in the clinical and community settings.

How is the DNP different from a PhD? 
A PhD prepares a nurse to be a nurse scientist and researcher who generates new knowledge.  A DNP prepares a nurse for advanced practice and the application and utilization of research into evidence based practice.

Will the DNP be required for licensure as an APRN?
None of the state boards of nursing has changed rules to require a DNP for new applicants for licensure as an APRN.  When state boards of nursing have changed rules to require a master’s or graduate degree for licensure as an APRN, the requirement has not applied to already licensed ARPNs.

What is the program design?
The DNP, built on current master’s degree programs, provides doctoral level content in research, evidenced based practice, social policy, theory, leadership, systems management and nursing informatics.  All courses are taught online and offered in 7-week sessions (fall,spring) and 6-week sessions (summer) that include a face-to-face Executive Session attached to the first night of each course. Courses are offered through Blackboard (Bb). The curriculum is comprised of course and clinical work including an evidenced based scholarly project. The curriculum is guided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice and The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) DNP curricular guidelines. 

What are the expected competencies for nursing professionals completing a DNP program?
The (NONPF) has developed competencies for nurse practitioners completing study in DNP programs. These competencies build on the NONPF core competencies for all master’s prepared nurse practitioners and the competencies developed for each specialty with national stakeholders.  The eight areas of competency at the practice doctorate level include: skill in conducting practice inquiry, advanced scientific foundations for practice, leadership and inter-professional collaboration, quality improvement and leadership in promoting a culture of excellence in practice, skill in the application of technology and information literacy to complex decision-making, analytical and advocacy skills in health policy, strong organizational leadership and risk management skills, and competency in ethical decision-making regarding dilemmas in health care.

Is the DNP program a full-time or part-time program?
The DNP is offered both part-time and full-time. Complete the program in two years as a part-time student, taking one course at a time, or one year as a full-time student.  

How are the distance learning classes scheduled?
The seven core courses are offered online through Blackboard (Bb) with an Executive Session scheduled on the first night of class. The online component requires weekly learning activities such as narrated PowerPoint, video, audio, readings, and other educational exercises. Some of these activities are synchronous while others are more independent and in an asynchronous format.  Various online formats such as visuals, graphics, audio, video, case studies, Wikis, blogs, discussion boards and journals will be used.  Additional tools include Adobe®, Acrobat Chat, discussions groups and Adobe ®Connect. 

What is the mandated Online Readiness Course?
This Online Readiness course is required to ensure that you are comfortable with Bb and that your computer meets minimum IT requirements.  It is free and not credit bearing, consisting of various learning modules and short assessments.  All students are required to complete this course.  Failure to complete this course will result in withdrawal of program.  Two weeks before the first course starts, all students receive registration notification.

Will I be able to meet the other students in the cohort? 
Yes, through a series of Executive Sessions, (meeting students face-to-face) students will have the opportunity to meet and network with the other students in the cohort.  Each course in the DNP includes an Executive Session on the first night of class whereby students come together as a group to network, review the syllabus, and meet other APNs.  The first session begins with the first online course.    

What are Executive Sessions?
All courses are taught online to include an Executive Session (face-to-face time) attached to each course. Students may Skype in for nine sessions...the remaining three sessions would be required face-to-face learning time. The first session begins on the first night of each course. Executive Sessions are held at the Gwynedd Valley campus in the evening.

What are the arrangements for securing clinical sites?
The quality of work expected of graduates with graduate degrees in Nursing requires that students in the program must work one-on-one with a professional preceptor in the clinical setting.  Because of the Gwynedd Mercy University’s outstanding reputation in nursing, students historically have not had a problem in securing clinical sites.

How many years do I have to complete the program? 
Students are required to complete the program within five calendar years.  Under written approval, students may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the DNP Program Director.

What is a LOA? 
A DNP student forced to interrupt his/her studies is required with the approval of his/her advisor, to write to the Dean of the School of Nursing requesting a leave of absence, stating the reasons for requesting the leave.  This request must be officially granted in writing by the Dean of the School of Nursing.  To be eligible for a leave, a student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0.  The period of a Leave of Absence will not be counted toward the time limit applied to the degree.

What are my computer requirements?

Is there a dissertation requirement?
No, there is an evidenced based scholarly project that focuses on a clinical problem.  This is an application research project that requires public dissemination under the direction of a DNP Scholarly Advisor.  The DNP Project exemplifies the culmination of advanced nursing knowledge and expertise in clinical practice at doctoral level intensity.  Discussions on the scholarly project begins on the first day.

What is the policy on transfer credits into the DNP program?
A maximum of six credits of relevant graduate/doctoral level courses taken prior to admission to the DNP program may be transferred in the DNP program with approval. Students must submit a course syllabus and an official transcript including the course grade to determine transferability. Courses must have been taken with five years of admission to the DNP program with a grade of B or better.  Students are not permitted to take courses outside Gwynedd Mercy University for credit towards the professional doctoral degree once admitted to the DNP program.

What are the admission requirements?

What is the tuition for the DNP Program?
The tuition is $860 per credit hour.

Are other resources are available for funding?
Yes, the following nursing websites provide a multitude of information on financial aid resources, general scholarship opportunities, scholarships for minorities or disadvantaged students, loan repayment or forgiveness programs for undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate nursing students. 

American Association of Colleges of Nursing:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing    

NOTE: International applicants must receive a minimum score of 575 on the TOEFL examination.



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