Doctor of Nursing Practice

The WVU School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program prepares nurses to practice at the highest level of professional nursing. Graduates of the DNP program advance the application of nursing knowledge through the translation and implementation of evidence for practice to improve health outcomes for diverse populations. This expert level practice builds on past advanced practice education, experience and certification. At the completion of the program, the DNP graduate will be able to practice at the highest level of professional practice in accordance with the progression outcomes.

The DNP program can be completed in as few as 32 credit hours. Additional clinical and project credits may be required to meet program outcomes. The time to completion of the DNP program varies depending on the length of the DNP project.

The student plan of study for the DNP degree requires 1,000 post-baccalaureate hours of precepted clinical experience. A minimum of 300 precepted clinical hours must be earned at the DNP level. Many traditional advanced practice Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs require 600 hours of precepted clinical practice. Previous precepted master’s level clinical hours, which must be verified, evaluated and approved by the program director and associate dean of Academics, may be included in the required hours to complete the DNP.

At least 400 hours must be obtained in this program, though more may be required. For example, if a student shows evidence of 600 hours of precepted clinical practice from his/her MSN program, and the hours are approved, that leaves 400 hours to complete (to equal 1,000 post-BSN). Students in the program are allotted 100 hours for the DNP project, resulting in 300 hours of immersion (clinical practice) remaining to meet the requirements for the degree.

The program includes implementation of a DNP Project. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), doctoral education is distinguished by the completion of a specific project that demonstrates synthesis of the student’s work and lays the groundwork for future clinical scholarly work directed at improving health or organizational outcomes in the area of focus. The DNP curriculum primarily involves mastery of an advanced specialty within nursing practice and methods of practice improvement and change. The DNP Project is used to demonstrate mastery of the DNP curricular content. Guided by faculty and with assistance of a consultant in the area of interest, the DNP Project demonstrates the student’s ability to identify a practice or system-related problem through clinical immersion, to synthesize and critically appraise the evidence related to addressing that practice problem, to negotiate within the system, to implement evidence-based change within an organization, to implement that change, and to systematically measure the results of the practice or system-related change initiative. The DNP Project documents outcomes of the student’s educational experiences and summarizes the student’s growth in knowledge and expertise. The DNP Project experience serves as a foundation for leadership in future scholarly practice within the clinical setting.

Throughout the curriculum, students are guided in the processes of self-development aimed at pursuing excellence in scholarly, clinical, and professional endeavors. Courses are offered via web based modalities in asynchronous and synchronous formats. The student should communicate with the course coordinator when determining what courses are offered synchronously or asynchronously. Students should assume that they will be assigned to a regular day and time for the course offering unless told otherwise. Class attendance and participation are expectations in the DNP program.

It is a strong University and WVU School of Nursing recommendation that students employed in full-time work should enroll for no more than six hours of doctoral level course work at any time. The DNP project proposal and presentation takes place on either the Charleston or Morgantown campus depending on the preference of the faculty of record.

DNP Progression Plan

View the DNP progression plan for more information.

Post-MSN to DNP Course Descriptions

Students should work with their advisors to ensure they are completing the agreed upon progression plan.

View the list of course descriptions

State Approvals for Clinical Immersion Placements 

Universities offering distance education must abide by the laws of each state in which students are placed for their clinical immersion experience. There are several states at this time that may not allow WVU nursing students to participate in a clinical immersion experience, and therefore a site placement cannot be guaranteed. A State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) must be in place to allow a WVU nursing student to participate in clinical immersion. Visit WVU Online to determine if your state has been approved for clinical placements.

Information Request

Our Student Services staff will be glad to answer your questions in person, by phone or by e-mail. To learn more about our program, complete the WVU Online information request and someone will be in touch.