Western University of Health Sciences College of Graduate Nursing Western University of Health Sciences
College of Graduate Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Flexible Web-Based Programs Designed for Busy Nursing Professionals

The Western University Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed for nurses who have completed their master’s degree in nursing, either in an advanced practice specialty or in an advanced nursing role, and wish to continue onto doctoral work in nursing practice focusing on the care of vulnerable populations while continuing to practice, keep family commitments and live in their community. The Web-based design of this program is especially convenient for students living in rural areas, small communities, or who are on active military duty. The program consists of three integrated elements:

The DNP program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

About the Program

Western University’s DNP program provides comprehensive preparation for nursing at the highest level of practice. The practice doctorate is firmly established as the terminal degree in nursing practice. The DNP prepares students for the expanding role, functions and needs of future practice. Transforming health care delivery recognizes the critical need for clinicians to design, evaluate, and continuously improve the context in which care is delivered. Nurses prepared at the practice doctoral level with a blend of clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills, will be able to significantly impact health care outcomes. DNP graduates will practice in diverse leadership roles in a variety of settings, designing the future health care system, managing population-based and clinical quality initiatives, as executives of healthcare organizations, as directors of clinical programs, and as faculty responsible for nursing educational program delivery and clinical teaching.

“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things always have been done… I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”

-Clara Barton on opposition to the development of the American Red Cross

To provide maximum scheduling and pacing flexibility while eliminating the need to commute daily to campus, the College of Graduate Nursing uses a combination of self-directed learning activities, collaborative practice projects, and intensive weekend seminars.

The Curriculum

With the pre-program course CGN 5000: Communication and Information Management (1 unit) the DNP curriculum consists of 56-62 semester unitsCGN 5000 is Mandatory and offered through the College of Graduate Nursing during the summer prior to the start of the program in the fall. Please note that CGN 5000 is not covered under financial aid because it is a pre-program course and not part of the core curriculum. Full-time students complete the program in two years. An extended track option is available which students complete the program in three years.

Please click on the links below to view the DNP program curriculum (course number/title and unit value by semester):

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Curriculum (**p. 90, CGN catalog)

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Curriculum *Extended Track Option (**p. 92, CGN catalog)

*The extended track option is available for students that choose to take one additional year to complete the program. Students may choose the extended track option if they feel more time is needed to complete their education in order to meet career, family, and other outside commitments/obligations. The extended track is also a viable option for students who feel that the additional year will allow them to complete the program at a pace that better suits their learning goals. Students who choose the extended track option will still be eligible for financial aid.

**You can also access the curriculum grids by visiting the first page of the College of Graduate Nursing Student Catalog and scrolling to the respective page within the catalog or by clicking on the respective section in the Table of Contents.

Please visit the Course Descriptions section within the College of Graduate Nursing Student Catalog to obtain course description information.

For more information regarding the DNP curriculum, please contact:

Rod Hicks, PhD, APRN, FAANP, FAAN
Director, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and Professor
E-mail: rhicks@westernu.edu   

Admissions Information

For information regarding prerequisite coursework and application requirements, please review the DNP admissions information, or if you are ready you may submit an online application. If you have any questions regarding the application requirements, please contact the Admissions Counselors: Julie Smith at (909) 469-5442, Michelle Cowling at (909) 469-5540, or Elaine Gonzalez at (909) 469-5337.

Self-Directed Learning Activities

The World Wide Web provides a unique opportunity to offer students an individualized learning community that would be impossible through other media. Online education provides an environment which facilitates critical thinking and interactive learning. Learning activities include discussion forums, presentations, and scholarly papers.

Weekend Seminars

Twice during each semester, students are required to convene on campus for an intensive weekend of instruction. The weekend seminars provide an opportunity for faculty-student interaction, didactic instruction and demonstrations, student presentations, and group project work. To view Weekend Seminars and other important college-specific dates, please view the Academic Calendar.

Practice Hours

1000 hours of practice experience (direct or indirect) are required to meet the DNP standards. A minimum of 500 of the required hours must be obtained at the Post-Masters DNP level. Practice hours will be recorded and monitored throughout each semester and a faculty member serves as a coordinator for the practice experience. In addition each student will have a clinical resource person at each agency in which they complete practice hours. As a practice-based program, it is expected that students complete all practice hour requirements and the practice project.

Student Assessment

Graduates of the DNP program will have knowledge, skills, and abilities that are important across health care settings including an advanced understanding of nursing and health care science; health care system leadership; clinical scholarship and evidence-based practice; transformational information systems; health care advocacy and policy; interdisciplinary collaboration; care delivery improvement; and population-based care of vulnerable populations. Besides course specific assessment such as discussion forums, seminar participation, presentations, and scholarly written work, students will develop an individual portfolio to serve as a representation of their progression through the program and achievement of program outcome competencies.

Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP)

The College of Graduate Nursing, through the DNP program, is a participant in the NFLP program.  The intent of this program is to prepare future nurse educators at the doctoral level and give the individuals specialized course work relevant to nursing education (GN 8001, GN, 8002). Participation in this program is voluntary but all participants must complete the two educator courses.

Students selected to participate in this program obtain a guaranteed student loan with a fixed interest rate set to 3% and enter into a service obligation agreement.  The amount borrowed under the program can cover tuition, fees, and a book allowance for each of the semesters enrolled.  The amount available each year is contingent upon the University’s renewal of the NFLP grant and the number of individuals seeking support.

Following graduation, students then are expected to obtain a faculty position in an accredited school of nursing.  Participants retire the guaranteed loan at a rate of 20% per year for the first three years and 25% for the fourth year (plus all accumulated interest) of full time teaching. This leaves a residual balance of 15% for the borrower to pay back to the NFLP program over a period of more than 6 years.

For more information, contact the NFLP coordinator, Dr. Rod Hicks at rhicks@westernu.edu  or the DNP Program Administrator, Mr. Matt Durkin at mdurkin@westernu.edu