Jun 15, 2024  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Nursing Practice, DNP

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The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree is a practice-focused terminal degree earned by specialists in advanced nursing practice. The DNP focuses on developing nursing experts in translating and applying research findings into clinical practice rather than in generating new knowledge. The post-master’s DNP curriculum expands the competencies of the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) from the master’s level to encompass knowledge required as nurse leaders in increasingly complex healthcare systems to assess published evidence informing practice, improve systems of care to improve healthcare outcomes, and to make changes to enhance the quality of care.

The location and mission of the College of Nursing as well as the expertise of the faculty provide a unique opportunity for the application of research in the identification and resolution of individual and aggregate health systems problems related to nursing and health issues in rural underserved areas. The DNP will provide the knowledge base to:

  • Implement and evaluate clinical practice based on scientific knowledge.
  • Assume advanced practice nursing roles as an expert clinician.
  • Demonstrate advanced leadership skills necessary to meet the challenges of increasingly complex healthcare organizations.
  • Demonstrate analytical methodologies for the evaluation of clinical practice and the application of scientific evidence to improve professional practice.
  • Apply clinical scholarship methodologies for organizational quality improvement, evidence-based practice, and healthcare outcomes.
  • Use advanced skills to design, develop, and implement the use of contemporary technological information systems.
  • Demonstrate expertise in the analysis, formulation, and implementation of healthcare policy.
  • Collaborate with interprofessional teams necessary to meet healthcare needs of individuals and populations.
  • Apply ethical theories, legal and practice standards, and advocacy to decision-making in healthcare issues.
  • Apply population-based methodologies for health promotion and disease-prevention in advanced practice.

Upon graduation, students are prepared to assume leadership positions as clinicians, administrators in public and private health care organizations, policy makers and analysts, and university faculty. Additional course work may be required, depending on student objectives and focus.

Admission Requirements:

  • One official transcript from each college or university attended.
  • A master’s degree in nursing in an advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) specialty (nurse anesthesia, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwifery, nurse practitioner) with evidence of completion of graduate level pathophysiology, pharmacology and advanced physical assessment courses from an accredited school*.
  • Certification as an APRN (if applicable).
  • A minimum grade-point average of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale on all graduate work.
  • Evidence of current unrestricted RN licensure from North Carolina or a National Council of State Boards of Nursing compact state. International applicants must work with the Commission of Graduate of Foreign Nursing Schools to validate credentials before applying for RN licensure.
  • Satisfactory performance on Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores where English is not the first language. Students on foreign student visas must present evidence of professional standing in their respective countries.
  • Computer competency with proficiency in development and use of databases, patient information systems, statistical sets, and use of various statistical packages for data analysis.
  • A graduate statistics course taken within the past 5 years which included inferential statistics.
  • A graduate research methodology course.
  • Satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) within five years prior to admission. Scores will be individually evaluated in relation to all other admissions requirements.
  • Written statement of personal career, educational, and scholarship goals; identification of practice interests, leadership goals consistent with program goals.
  • Three written professional references from individuals with expertise to comment on the applicant’s capability for doctoral scholarship (for example, university professors, employers). At least one of the references must be from a doctoral prepared nurse.
  • A current curriculum vita.
  • A representative portfolio limited to no more than 25 pages demonstrating evidence of professional practice accomplishments, community service and scholarship.
  • An interview with members of the DNP admission committee to include a discussion of congruence between the student’s practice interests/career goals and the expertise and research of the faculty.


The post-master’s DNP program admits 20 students each year. Applications for study to begin in the fall semester will be accepted until the end of the first full week in January. Applicants are expected to ensure that the Graduate School and the College of Nursing receive all supporting credentials by the final filing date. Applicants are evaluated in five areas: GPA, GRE, references, essay, and interview. Completed applications are considered in a competitive review process. All completed applications received by the final filing date will be given careful consideration. All completed applications are reviewed by the DNP admission committee shortly after the admission deadline. All completed applicant packets are discussed among the DNP admissions committee until consensus has been attained for competitive rankings for admission decisions. Every effort is made to complete the competitive admission process by the last week in February with admissions notifications by the first week of March. Each applicant will be notified in writing of the admission decision after the admission process is completed.

Preference is given to those who demonstrate a capacity for creative inquiry, critical thinking, scholarship, and leadership. In the case of equally qualified applicants, preference will be given to individuals who intend to pursue doctoral study on a full-time basis. Students will be assigned an academic advisor at the time of admission. All admitted DNP students are required to attend a College of Nursing orientation session at the beginning of the fall semester.

Degree Requirements

The post-master’s DNP is offered as an online, 36 semester hour post-master’s program of study for advanced practice nurses. Students are required to complete a minimum of 36 semester hours beyond the master’s degree. Campus requirements and group learning will serve as a foundational component of the DNP program of study. A minimum of 12 scholarly practicum credit hours will be divided over 4-5 semesters depending on capstone project complexity. In order to achieve the DNP competencies, students must complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practice hours as part of a supervised academic program. Practice hours earned in accredited MSN/APRN programs are included in the total of the minimum required hours. Students may enroll in either full-time or part-time programs of study, completing their degree requirements in 4 or 6 semesters, respectively.

As in other programs of doctoral study, students in this program may expect to enroll in more than the minimum required credit hours and to be aware that study opportunities that focus on particular areas of study are in addition to the basic program requirements. Additional study is individualized and depends on the student’s background and graduate preparation as well as the employment role identified as a career focus. This program of study enrolls both full- and part-time students. Students need to closely adhere to the plan of study, as some courses are offered only once a year. To deviate from the plan of study will mean a delay of one or more semesters before course enrollment is again possible.

Post-Master’s DNP Requirements - 36 s.h.:

  • 36 credit hours (beyond the MSN requirements)
  • Capstone: A minimum of 12 scholarly practicum s.h. divided over 4-5 semesters depending on capstone project complexity.
  • In order to achieve the DNP competencies, programs should provide a minimum of 1,000 hours of practice post-baccalaureate as part of a supervised academic program.
  • 36 TOTAL Post-MSN/DNP Credit Hrs.


Graduate credits earned at other institutions may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral program. Courses offered for transfer credit will be evaluated individually relative to Graduate School requirements, program requirements, and the student’s plan of study. Please refer to the Graduate School Transfer Credits Policy located at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/grcat/regulations.cfm#transfer.

Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) throughout the program. Academic progress will be evaluated at the end of each semester by the academic advisor, who is responsible for notifying the associate dean for graduate programs if a student’s academic status is in jeopardy.

Students are required to complete a scholarly practicum project, which informs practice, improves systems of care to improve healthcare outcomes, or make changes to enhance the quality of care. Scholarly projects are completed under the direction of the scholarly project committee consisting of a faculty advisor, faculty committee member and a clinical mentor with expertise in the scholarly project domain. The scholarly practicum project consists of a minimum of 12 scholarly practicum s.h. divided over 4-5 semesters depending on capstone project complexity. Successful progression through each phase of the scholarly development project must be approved by the scholarly project committee.

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