The School of Nursing doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program prepares nurses for leadership roles as advanced practice nurses (clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners) who provide direct care and lead practice development and evaluation. Students in the DNP program choose from three population foci: adult/gerontology (acute care or primary care), pediatrics, or psychiatric mental health. Those interested in dual preparation as an advanced practice nurse and nurse educator may add a nursing education focus.

The program is available for nurses with a baccalaureate degree in nursing (post-B.S. option) and nurses with a master’s degree in nursing (post-M.S. option). The post-B.S. option can be completed in three years of full-time study or five years on a part-time basis and requires a minimum of 71 credits. The post-M.S. option is designed to be completed in three years on a part-time basis and requires a minimum of 51 credits. Up to 18 credits will be accepted from the student’s M.S. degree; a minimum of 32 credits must be completed as a graduate student on the UW–Madison campus. Students admitted to either option follow the course sequence designated in the program plan and progress as a group.

The program of study features a combination of formal course work, clinical practice and scholarly inquiry. Most course work is delivered in a hybrid format, utilizing both in-person class sessions and distance learning technologies.

Several forms of financial aid are available for graduate students in the School of Nursing. These include fellowships, scholarships, project and teaching assistantships and loans. Most graduate assistantships cover the cost of tuition and provide a monthly stipend. Awards are made in the spring or early summer for the following academic year.

Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are designed to support highly qualified underrepresented students in the doctoral programs. Doctoral students who are preparing to be full-time faculty in nursing programs are also eligible for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP). These loans, supported by the federal government, are available to cover tuition and other educational expenses. When graduates become full-time faculty members, up to 85 percent of the NFLP loan will be canceled over a four-year period.

Additional information on financial aid including application procedures is available in the School of Nursing Academic Programs Office.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees

DNP

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

Post–B.S.: 71 credits
Post–M.S.: 51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

Post–B.S.: 54 credits
Post–M.S.: 32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the University's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Post–B.S.: With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 18 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Graduate work should be less than five years old to be considered; additional justification and/or documentation are needed for work taken between five and tens years. Work more than ten years old will not be considered.

Post–M.S.: With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 18 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Graduate work should be less than five years old to be considered; additional justification and/or documentation are needed for work taken between five and tens years. Work more than ten years old will not be considered unless students are board certified advanced practice nurses (ANP) and have continuous practice as an APN.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No undergraduate coursework will be allowed to count toward DNP requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. These credits are considered part of the total allowable credits available for a student to transfer. coursework should be less than five years old to be considered; additional justification and/or documentation is needed for work taken between five and ten years. Work more than ten years old will not be considered.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact the School for a list of specific courses.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

DNP students are not required to complete a doctoral minor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

A student may not receive more than one grade below a B (or a U grade) in any 12 month period.

Probation Policy

A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a student has not returned to satisfactory progress by the determined deadline, a decision about whether the student will be permitted to continue will be made by the graduate programs committee (or appropriate subcommittee) with input from the student’s advisor.

Advisor / Committee

Progression is reviewed each semester by academic programs office staff and advisors.

Assessments and Examinations

No examinations are required.

Time Constraints

Post–B.S.: Students must complete the requirements within six years of admission. Upon the advisor’s recommendation, the associate dean for academic programs may grant a one-year extension.

Post–M.S.: Students must complete the requirements within four years of admission to the program. Upon the advisor’s recommendation, the associate dean for academic programs may grant a one-year extension.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Admission requirements for the DNP program (post-baccalaureate) are:

  • Bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited (CCNE or NLN) program with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the last 60 credits of the most recent baccalaureate degree
  • Licensure as a professional nurse with one year of professional nursing experience required, preferably related to the population of interest
  • Application essay (see School of Nursing website for specific criteria)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • English proficiency scores: Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admission term. See the Graduate School's Admission Requirements for more information on the English proficiency requirement.

Additional admission requirements for the DNP program (post-master's) are:

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.5 (4.0 basis) for the M.S. degree in nursing
  • A graduate level statistics course with a grade of B or better completed within five years of application
  • Evidence of certification as an advanced practice nurse, if applicable

All application materials must be received by February 1 for admission in the fall semester.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Integrate nursing science with knowledge from the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for advanced level nursing practice.
  • Use information systems technology to evaluate outcomes of care, care systems, and quality improvement.
  • Develop and evaluate new practice approaches based on nursing theories and theories from other disciplines.
  • Employ consultative and leadership skills with intraprofessional and interprofessional teams to create change in complex health care delivery systems.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the development of institutional, local, state, federal, and/or international health policy.
  • Function as a practice specialist in collaborative knowledge-generating research.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to improve health status and access patterns, and to address gaps in care of individuals, aggregates, or populations.
  • Design, implement and disseminate results of a scholarly endeavor that uses evidence to improve practice or patient outcomes.
  • Employ consultative and leadership skills with intraprofessional and interprofessional teams to create change in complex health care delivery systems.
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.
  • Lead the evaluation of evidence to determine and implement best practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the development of institutional, local, state, federal, and/or international health policy.
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.
  • Critically evaluate how social determinants of health, cultural background and physical environment impact health outcomes.
  • Communicates complex research findings and implications in a clear and understandable manner to lay and professional audiences.

Professional Conduct

  • Guide, mentor, and support other nurses to achieve excellence in clinical nursing practice.
  • Function as a practice specialist in collaborative knowledge-generating research.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of professional obligations, codes of ethics and institutional policies and procedures that guide nursing scholarship and practice.

Faculty: Professors May (dean), Bowers, Brennan, Kwekkeboom, Lauver, Oakley, Zahner; Associate Professors Tluczek, Ward; Assistant Professors Bratzke, Gretebeck, King, Roberts, Steege, Torres, Yoon; Clinical Professors Kruger, Pinekenstein, Solheim; Clinical Associate Professors Greene, R. Gretebeck, Williams; Clinical Assistant Professors Bryan, Dwyer, Eisch, Endicott, Fiegel-Newlon, Fisher, Gilmore-Bykovskyi, Halm, Lothe, McGranahan, Newton, Saladar, Sasse, Williams; Clinical Instructors Dachel, Hermsen, Kobernusz