Jun 19, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin 
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION]

Doctor of Nursing Practice, Organizational and Systems Leadership

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Doctor of Nursing Practice

The College of Nursing and Health Profession’s commitment to quality nursing education and responsiveness to regional and national healthcare needs serve as the foundation for our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. This practice-focused doctorate will prepare nurses in multiple roles to make contributions to healthcare and nursing through scholarly practice, healthcare leadership, and nursing education. Course content builds upon the master’s degree and includes a minimum of an additional 36 hours. The curriculum consists of a two-year (full-time) or three-year (part-time) plan of study for doctoral level coursework which will culminate in the completion of an evidence-based capstone project.

Program Objectives

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepares experts in advanced nursing with emphasis placed on innovative, evidence- based practice that reflects the application of credible research findings. The expanded knowledge base in nursing will broaden the DNP graduate’s ability to translate that knowledge quickly and effectively to benefit patients, to improve outcomes, and to contribute to the profession. 

The graduate nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, Suite 530, Washington D.C. 20036, 202/887-6791. 

Upon completion of this program, the DNP graduate will be able to: 

  • Integrate nursing science with knowledge from ethics, and biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for the highest level of nursing practice.
  • Develop and evaluate care delivery approaches that meet current and future needs of populations based upon scientific findings in nursing science, clinical sciences, and organizational, political, and economic sciences.
  • Use analytic methods to appraise existing literature and other evidence to determine and implement the best evidence for practice.
  • Serve as a leader in the development and implementation of institutional, local, state, federal, and international health policy.
  • Advocate for the clients and the nursing profession within government, business, education, and health care communities.
  • Collaborate with interprofessional teams to analyze complex practice and organizational issues in leading change and to improve client, population, and system health outcomes.
  • Analyze epidemiological, bio-statistical, environmental, and other scientific data related to individual, aggregate, and population health.
  • Integrate advanced level of judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, teaching, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve client and health care outcomes.
  • Develop and lead quality improvement initiatives within diverse health care environments.
  • Develop and disseminate practice-based initiatives that promote patient safety and the reduction of medical error.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, an applicant must have

  • A master’s degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school of nursing;
  • A minimum graduate GPA of 3.00 on a 4.0 scale or the equivalent; and
  • Satisfactory completion of a graduate course in research with grade of B or better.
  • Applicants who seek admission to the DNP program must first achieve admission to the Office of Graduate Studies. Admission requires submission of the online application, application fee, and official transcripts to the Office of Graduate Studies. Applicants must submit the following items to the Graduate Nursing Office.
  • A copy of unencumbered RN license(s)
  • A resume/curriculum vitae
  • Three professional references - a minimum of one reference should be from faculty in your graduate program
  • A one- to two- page paper describing your practice experience and your professional goals. Include the area of nursing practice that you will concentrate on in this program.
  • A one- to two-page description of a practice-related issue that will serve as the focus of your capstone project. Include the significance and impact of the project to nursing and healthcare.
  • Non-native speakers of English must provide an official report confirming a TOEFL score of 525 (paper test) or 71 (Internet based) or ILELTS score of 6.

Once admission to the Office of Graduate Studies is attained and all application materials have been received by the graduate nursing program, the applicant will be considered for admission to the DNP program. The application deadline is January 15 of each year. Admission to the DNP program is competitive. Faculty may request an interview with an applicant once all of the admission criteria as listed above have been met. Additional information about the DNP program and admission process may be found on the college web site at health.usi.edu.

DNP Curriculum

The DNP program requires a total of 78 graduate nursing semester hours. The student must have completed a masters degree in nursing to be eligible to enroll in the DNP program and may apply a maximum of 42 graduate credits toward the required 78 hours for the degree. Integrated practice hours within the curriculum will provide DNP students with learning opportunities to gain expertise in their area of specialization. The USI DNP curriculum is built upon three distinct areas of graduate nursing content as determined by the AACN Essentials document. The three content areas with the 36 hours of DNP courses are presented below.

Two Year Plan of Study (Full Time)

Three Year Plan of Study (Part Time)


Students admitted to the USI DNP program may select from two areas of study concentration: Advanced Nursing Practice or Organizational and Systems Leadership. In both concentrations, the plan of study is the same with all students enrolling in the required 15 DNP courses. Students complete assignments within each course that address the identified study concentration. The capstone project focuses on an endeavor consistent with the student’s identified study concentration.

Practice Hours

The AACN DNP Essentials require 1,000 practice hours as part of this degree. Practice hours in the masters in nursing program will be recognized as partial fulfillment of the 1,000 hours. The remaining practice hours will be completed as part of the DNP courses.

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