The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the terminal practice degree in Nursing. This
degree builds upon the student's current knowledge of clinical practice. The DNP will
prepare students to practice at the highest clinical level and provide leadership
in our dynamic healthcare systems. Graduates of the program will be able to analyze
systems of care and provide high level leadership to improve patient safety and quality
of care and to implement evidence-based culturally competent care practices.
The School of Nursing at Western Carolina University (WCU) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) have partnered to offer a post-masters DNP consortium program. As a student, you will have access to expert faculty from both universities.
The DNP is a hybrid program designed to prepare nurses for leadership in clinical practice. The DNP program can be completed in five semesters. New cohorts begin each Fall semester. Students will be required to attend 3 to 3 1/2 day immersion sessions at the beginning of each semester alternating between UNCC and WCU.
The DNP requires 42 post-master's graduate semester credit hours of coursework and completion of a total of 1,000 clinical practice hours (includes 500 from MSN program). All students will be required to complete the curriculum that includes a sequence of courses as listed below:
Theoretical Base (15 semester credit hours)
NSG 822 Healthcare Policy and Ethics (3)
NSG 826 Leadership and Healthcare Systems (3)
NSG 816 Global Health and Social Justice (3)
NSG 823 Economic and Financial Aspects of Healthcare System (3)
NSG 827 Technology for Communication and Transforming Healthcare (3)
Methodological Issues (15 semester credit hours)
NSG 815 Healthcare Program Evaluation and Quality (3)
NSG 814 Foundations and Applications of Evidence-based Practice (3)
NSG 818 Leadership and Project Planning (3)
NSG 802 Community Epidemiology (3)
NSG 817 Applied Biostatistics (3)
Elective Courses (3 semester credit hours)
One elective in a chosen area of interest selected mutually with the advisor.
Clinical Residency and Project (9 semester credit hours)
NSG 883 Clinical Residency and Project Development I (2)
NSG 884 Clinical Residency and Project Development II (2)
NSG 885 Clinical Residency and Project Development III (3)
NSG 886 Clinical Residency and Project Development IV (2)
Click here to review the DNP Program of Study.
The Clinical Residency and Project
Students will complete a DNP Project during their clinical residency courses. The
DNP Scholarly Project is a project that brings together the practice and scholarship
aspects of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. It is designed to address complex
practice issues that affect groups of patients, health care organizations, or health
care systems while utilizing informatics, technology, and in-depth knowledge of the
clinical and behavioral sciences. The clinical scholarship required in the DNP Scholarly
Project reflects mastery and competency in the student's area of expertise.
The DNP Scholarly Project begins in the first semester of study and continues throughout the program, culminating in a scholarly public defense and manuscript prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The DNP Scholarly Project requires students to demonstrate expert practice, the use of evidence-based practice, translational research, and use of skills necessary to lead interdisciplinary teams to improve patient/client outcomes and health status individually, organizationally, or within a community.
Students may choose to complete the required 500 clinical practicum hours in a private
practice, clinic, inpatient unit, hospital system, or other institution or community.
These hours will be a component of the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation
of outcomes of the DNP Scholarly Project.
- Earned master's in Nursing or applicable graduate program in an advanced nursing practice specialty* from a nationally accredited program
- An overall GPA of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program
- Current RN licensure in the U.S. at the time of application with eligibility for NC licensure
- Evidence of a satisfactory national standardized test score (e.g., GRE, MAT, GMAT)
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNS) must provide evidence of current national certification and meet the state requirements for practice in their state of licensure
- An essay that addresses 1) advanced practice expertise, 2) career goals, 3) how earning the DNP degree will foster achievement of these goals, and 4) plans for a DNP project
- Resume/curriculum vitae
- Three professional recommendations (should address the practice capabilities of the candidate)
- For international students, submission of TOEFL scores with a minimum score of 557 for the paper test and 220 for the computer test
- Additional evidence for consideration of the application can be uploaded to the online application (e.g., publications, posters, evidence-based practice projects)
- Evidence of 500 supervised/precepted clinical hours**
- Submit a completed application to Graduate School
*The DNP Program invites applications with master's degree in nursing fields such
as Nursing Administration, Nursing Anesthesia, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse
Specialist. Students with a master's degree in Nurse Education are encouraged to explore
programs that offer a PhD or EdD.
**Students must submit a complete, notarized Clinical Hours Documentation form with the Graduate School application. Students with less than 500 hours must meet with the DNP Program Director to develop a clinical plan.
1. Visit the Graduate School website to create an online graduate program application.
2. Upload your resume and program application essay to your application.
3. Upload a copy of your APRNS certification to your application.
4. Upload a complete, notarized Clinical Hours Documentation form.
5. List the names, titles and contact details of three individuals in your application who will submit recommendations on your behalf. These individuals will receive an email from the Graduate School containing a link to complete the online recommendation form.
6. Request that official copies of your transcripts be sent to the Graduate School on the main WCU campus in Cullowhee, NC.
7. Request that an official copy of your national standardized test score (and TOEFL, if applicable) be sent to the Graduate School on the main WCU campus in Cullowhee, NC.
Click here to start the online Graduate School application. For more information or assistance, please contact Dr. Jessica Shirley, Director of Student Services for the School of Nursing: firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-654-6499.