Oct 19, 2018  
Graduate Record 2008-2009 
Graduate Record 2008-2009 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Doctor of Nursing Practice

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The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Virginia School of Nursing enrolls master’s-prepared nurses with clinical specialty preparation. It builds upon the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice as ratified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and avails itself to the high quality of graduate education at the University of Virginia by encouraging DNP students to tailor an individualized program using cognate courses from any School or department throughout the University.

Purpose and Aims

  1. Prepare leaders in nursing practice.
  2. Expand knowledge base to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes.
  3. Develop competencies for complex leadership roles.
  4. Prepare educators for beginning levels of professional practice, e.g., BSN and CNL.
  5. Prepare educators for advanced practice programs.


The DNP program prepares graduates to: 

  • Integrate nursing science with knowledge from ethics, the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for the highest level of nursing practice;
  • Demonstrate organizational and systems leadership for quality improvement in healthcare systems;
  • Utilize clinical scholarship and analytical methods for evidence-based practice;
  • Apply information systems technology and patient care technology for the improvement and transformation of health care;
  • Demonstrate leadership in health care policy for advocacy in health care;
  • Utilize inter-professional collaboration for improving patient and population health outcomes;
  • Develop and apply strategies for clinical prevention and population health for improving the nation’s health; and
  • Demonstrate advanced nursing practice competencies for an advanced specialty area.


Admission Requirements

  1. Master’s degree in a nursing specialty area from a college or university accredited by either the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and
  2. Certification, where relevant, in an advanced nursing specialty area.
  3. Academic record that demonstrates a minimum of a B average.
  4. Capacity for doctoral study based upon achievement on the GRE.
  5. Three satisfactory letters of reference—two from doctorally prepared nurse educators and one from a current or recent employer—that speak to the applicant’s ability to pursue doctoral studies.
  6. Current curriculum vitae that reflects professional achievements and productivity.
  7. Clearly written essay of no more than 1000 words describing educational, research, and professional goals. This statement must include a specific description of the applicant’s focus of study and a researchable topic for development.
  8. One or two examples of scholarly work (master’s thesis, publications, formal papers).
  9. An unencumbered, valid RN license.
  10. A personal interview with one or more faculty members.

Admission Procedure Application forms may be obtained at http://nursing.virginia.edu/Programs/dnp.aspx. The School of Nursing prefers to receive the application online and all supporting materials in one separate package. The applicant must:

  1. submit official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work. If an institution will not release an official transcript directly to the applicant, the student may request that the transcript be forwarded to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences;
  2. obtain three letters of recommendation;
  3. arrange to take the Graduate Record Examination. Applicants are encouraged to take these examinations as soon as possible and to send test results to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Address inquiries to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08540 or to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 1502, Berkeley, CA 94701, or at www.gre.org.

The completed application with fee and all supporting data must be forwarded no later than February 1 for September enrollment. International applicants are encouraged to submit the admissions packet before January 1.

Degree Requirements

To earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, the student must:

  1. successfully complete the prescribed program of study, including cognates and electives;
  2. fulfill the minimum residence requirement of two consecutive semesters of full-time residential study during the academic year beyond the requirements for the master’s degree. Full-time graduate work consists of a minimum of twelve credits of on-Grounds course work per semester;
  3. successfully complete a practica experience;
  4. successfully complete all capstone requirements including (a) writing and defending a proposal, (b) conducting an appropriate research study, (c) submitting an acceptable written report of the research, and (d) passing an oral final examination on the conduct and conclusion of the capstone;
  5. complete all additional requirements as specified by the School of Nursing, the capstone committee, and the advisor.

Program Description

The DNP program of study requires a minimum of 38 credits, as follows:

Core Courses

All students take 13 credits of core courses, designed to emphasize competencies consistent with AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice.


In collaboration with their advisor, students choose a minimum of 9 credits of relevant cognate graduate courses (at the 500 level or above) to add depth and breadth to their nursing specialty focus. These credits may be chosen from within the School of Nursing or from a number of interdisciplinary programs and courses, including those offered by Law, Medicine, Engineering, and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS). This allows students to take optimal advantage of the richness and diversity of opportunities afforded by UVA.


Students do a minimum of 500 hours of clinical practica in their nursing specialty area. This addresses the AACN requirement for 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice for DNP.  (Note: MSN education and certification that are required for admission to the DNP program require 500 clinical hours, hence, the total MSN plus DNP equals 1000 clinical hours. At UVA 4 hours of clinical practice = 1 hour of class time). Students work with their faculty advisors to develop objectives and an individualized plan necessary to achieve the highest level of clinical expertise in the respective specialty area. 


The DNP program culminates in the successful completion of a 6 credit Capstone project. This project should begin in the early stages of the program and continue throughout. This scholarly project is planned in collaboration with a three-member committee and must be a significant, evidence-based contribution to existing nursing knowledge and be suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or a book. Examples include: a program needs assessment with program development and evaluation, evaluation of an existing program, development of an assessment instrument/protocol, a cost/benefit analysis of program models, or other scholarly project as approved. Through this scholarly project, students are intended to demonstrate synthesis of scientific knowledge in their specialty practice area, and contribute to existing nursing knowledge.

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