DNP Frequently Asked Questions

What is DNP?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a practice doctorate for nurses.  It represents the highest level of academic preparation for nursing practice (www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/index.htm).

What is the difference between a PhD and a DNP?

The DNP curriculum emphasizes advanced nursing practice and building leaders in practice, education, and management whereas the PhD curriculum emphasizes the research process and dissemination of results.  Both DNP and PhD  graduates work together to shape nursing practice based on evidence based care.

Why is the DNP degree desired?

Nursing practice is influenced by the rapid expansion of knowledge, increased patient complexity, demands for quality of care and patient safety, and need for nursing personnel and faculty who have the highest level of educational preparation.  Graduates of DNP programs will function as nursing leaders that advance clinical practice to improve health systems and outcomes for diverse patients, patient groups, populations and communities.  DNP graduates will have the skills necessary to translate nursing research into practice.  The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) identifies the need for nursing education to meet the demands of an increasingly complex health care system and recommends the DNP as the terminal degree for advanced practice nurses.

What is an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN)?

According to the American Nurses Association (http://nursingworld.org/EspeciallyForYou/AdvancedPracticeNurses) advanced practice nurses include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives.  Advanced practice nurses are instrumental in the future of health care.  APRNs serve as primary care providers and are at the forefront of providing preventative care to the public.

Will this program prepare me for any of the APRN roles?

The DNP program at Nebraska Methodist College is intended to prepare APRNs that function as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP).   The demand for FNPs will increase with implementation of health care reform, the growing complexity of health care, and the shrinking number of primary care physicians.  APRNs are prepared to provide essential health services while maintaining quality and controlling costs (http://www.aannet.org/assets/docs/implementinghealthcarereform.pdf). FNP can manage acute and chronic illnesses to a diverse population across the lifespan.

Why choose a DNP over master’s level preparation?

Ongoing health care reform will increase the demand for quality and affordable care for all Americans.  This mandate will create a dramatic need for more primary care providers and the need for more APRNs is expected to escalate.  While many APRNs complete the requirements for advanced practice through a master's (MSN) program, the DNP program offers additional competencies related to organizational leadership, information systems, patient care technology, health care policy, interprofessional collaboration, and clinical prevention for individuals and populations. 

These additional competencies will better prepare the graduate to assume a primary role in meeting the health care needs across populations and communities.  The DNP provides equity with other discipline's professional doctorate programs (Institute of Medicine, 2011).  The AACN position statement (2006) advocated the transition from specialty nursing practice at the master's level to the DNP.  The target goal for this transition is 2015 http://www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/pdf/DNProadma­preport.pdf

Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health. Washington DC: National Academies Press.  The 2010 electronic version of this document may be retrieved online at http://thefutureofnursing.org/IOM-Report.

Is a dissertation required?

A hallmark of the practice doctorate is the completion of a scholarly capstone project that demonstrates the synthesis the DNP role through translational research within a population.  As part of the scholarly capstone project, the student will prepare a manuscript describing the scholarly project and present the project findings.

The program is online, what does that mean?

The DNP program at Nebraska Methodist College will be completed using in an online environment that has synchronous and asynchronous components.  Students will complete a large portion of the classwork in an asynchronous environment completing and submitting work online.  Synchronous meeting via a conferencing platform that allows for audio and videochat will be used throughout the semester.  These synchronous meetings will be scheduled for late afternoon/evening hours.

Will I ever have to come to campus? If so how often?

You will be expected to come to campus three times during the program.  These campus visits will be over a weekend beginning on a Thursday evening and ending on a Sunday afternoon.  Campus attendance is required in the summer prior to program start, the summer after completing the Advanced Health Assessment course and the summer before beginning the Capstone I course. 

If the program is online, how will I complete my clinical hours?

Students will complete 1080 preceptor guided clinical hours throughout this program.  Students will be asked to secure their own preceptors as they complete the program so that preceptor hours may be completed in or near where students live or work.  Guidelines for clinical experience requirements and preceptor requirements will be provided.  Preceptors must be approved by the program chair or designated faculty member prior to starting clinical experiences.  The program chair or designated faculty member will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the student and preceptor to ensure the rigors of the clinical experience.

I already have a master’s degree in nursing? How will that affect my admission?

Students who already have a master's degree in nursing are eligible for admission.  Credit for previously completed courses will be examined on a case by case basis.  Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours at Nebraska Methodist College to graduate with a DNP.

Are there special computer requirements for this program?

Computer requirements for the asynchronous components of the DNP program can be found at http://www.methodistcollege.edu///about/online-technology-requirements.  Computer capability to audio and videochat will be required for the asynchronous components of the DNP program. 

Will I be able to work full time while I am in the DNP program?

Students who wish to work while attending the DNP program are encouraged to take classes on a part time basis.  The rigors and time requirements of full-time attendance would limit the student ability to work.

Is your DNP program accredited?

BSN and MSN nursing programs at Nebraska Methodist College are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HCL) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the accrediting body affiliated with AACN.  In August 2013, the HCL granted Nebraska Methodist College approval to begin the DNP program.  Once the DNP program has begun, an accreditation visit with CCNE will be scheduled.  Once accreditation is granted, it will be retroactive to program start.

How do I apply?

To be considered for admission the following items must be submitted to the Admissions Office prior to the application date:

  • NMC online nursing application
  • Current unencumbered licensure as a Registered Nurse
  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Written statement
  • Official college transcripts from graduating institutions and official transcripts confirming completion of the required undergraduate courses
  • Interview with two NMC nursing faculty members using a standardized interview process and scoring method
  • Three professional letters of recommendation - Reference Form

What is the criteria for admission?

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Minimum of a Baccalaureate in nursing (BSN) from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
  • A grade point average (GPA) >3.0 on a 4.0 scale in last nursing program.
  • Undergraduate completion of the following courses:
    • statistics,
    • undergraduate health assessment
    • research
    • anatomy and physiology
    • undergraduate pharmacology
    • microbiology
    • chemistry
    • community nursing
    • pathophysiology
  • Current unencumbered Registered Nurse licensure at time of application. Practice as a RN is encouraged but not required. 
  • Fulfillment of the technical standards


What is the class size for the DNP program?

Anticipated class size is ­<16 students.

How long will it take me to get a DNP?

For a BSN prepared student, the program length varies depending on the advanced practice specialty selected. After students have completed their advanced practice specialty, they will need five semesters, on average, to complete their DNP.

For a MSN prepared student taking courses full time, the program can be completed in 36 months.

Is there funding available for DNP students?

Information on financial aid at Nebraska Methodist College can be found in the Financial Aid section.