Jun 23, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION]

Doctor of Nursing Practice, Organizational and Systems Leadership (DNP)

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Doctor of Nursing Practice (Post MSN)

To be eligible for the Post MSN option of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, an applicant must have a master’s degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school of nursing. Students with a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program who wish to proceed directly to a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree should refer to the specialty areas available under the BSN to DNP option .

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 doctoral 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 Post MSN option of 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
  • Satisfactory completion of a graduate course in research with grade of B or better

Admission  requires submission of the online application, application fee, and official transcripts to Graduate Studies. Applicants must also submit the following items:

  • A copy of unencumbered RN license(s)
  • A resume/curriculum vitae
  • Two professional references
  • A one- to two-page description of a practice-related issue that will serve as the focus of your DNP 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 6.5.

Once admission to 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. 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.

Concentrations (Post MSN option)

Students admitted to the Post MSN option of the DNP program may select from two areas of study: Advanced Nursing Practice or Organizational and Systems Leadership. In both concentrations, the plan of study is the same with all students enrolling in the 12 required 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.

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.

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.

Two Year Plan of Study (Full Time)

Three Year Plan of Study (Part Time)

First Year

Fall Semester (3 Hours)

Spring Semester (4 Hours)

Second Year

Third Year

Spring Semester (3 Hours)

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