Graduate students

Requirements for Doctoral Degrees: D.N.P.

Policy Number: 100802

Current Policy

Category: Academic » University Requirements



The following section describes the general requirements for our Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) program. Find additional information about this degree through Degree Search or by contacting the School of Nursing.

The D.N.P. is a terminal degree in nursing. This post-master’s degree consists of approximately 70-75 units and is designed for nurses who hold both a master’s degree and a national certification in an advanced practice nursing specialty.

The degree is a clinical doctorate with emphasis on expert clinical practice. It requires one thousand hours (1,000) of clinical practice with a minimum of 240 hours completed at NAU. Students must complete a minimum of 30 units of coursework at NAU that directly supports the D.N.P. requirements.

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (on a scale where 4.0 = “A”).

Admission Requirements

Applicants must:

  • have completed a Master’s degree in nursing from a regionally accredited University and a nationally accredited nursing program. If the institution and the program are outside of the US, equivalent accreditation standards must be met.
  • have a current national certification as a Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist, or Clinical Nurse Specialist.
  • have a current Registered Nurse License in good standing
  • have completed college or university courses in the following areas, with a grade of “B” or better:
    • graduate-level descriptive and inferential statistics
    • graduate-level pathophysiology
    • graduate-level pharmacology
    • graduate-level physical assessment (comprehensive history, physical, and psychological assessment)
  • present letters of recommendation from three professional persons knowledgeable about the applicant’s potential to work effectively in advanced professional and scholarly roles.
  • prepare a comprehensive statement about their experiences, interests, and goals.

There are no required admission exams, such as the GMAT or GRE.

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

A structured interview with faculty may be required.

Following admission, an advisor will analyze prior academic credit and will develop an individualized plan of study. 

Curriculum and Competencies

The curriculum has been designed to fulfill the eight foundational end-of-program competencies deemed essential by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), for all graduates of a D.N.P. program, regardless of specialty or focus:

  • Essential I: Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
  • Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking
  • Essential III: Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
  • Essential IV: Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care
  • Essential V: Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care
  • Essential VI: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes
  • Essential VII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation’s Health
  • Essential VIII: Advanced Nursing Practice

Application for and Admission to Candidacy

There is no discrete candidacy stage associated with this degree.

Scholarly Project

Rather than a dissertation or thesis, the culmination of this degree is a scholarly project, which includes an oral defense, and which demonstrates an integration and translation of research evidence for the purpose of enhancing clinical practice.

Each student is expected to participate in a real-time final oral presentation (Project Defense) of the completed project with all project committee members present. The required number of project committee members is two.

Transfer Credit Available

Students may transfer up to 41 credit hours of coursework that were completed as part of their advanced practice specialty master’s degree. Acceptance of transfer credits is subject to approval by the School of Nursing Graduate Committee and the NAU Graduate College.

Time Parameters to Complete Degree

Students who are admitted to the D.N.P. program with an earned master's degree have eight years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. The eight year period starts with your first semester of doctoral study at Northern Arizona University. If you do not complete the degree in eight years, you may petition the Graduate College for one extension of this time limit.

Students who start the D.N.P. program with a bachelor's degree, have ten years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree.

Students can petition for exception

Students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related,graduate regulation, in writing, to the associate dean of the Graduate College. The student’s letter of petition should be endorsed by his/her advisor and department chair.

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