Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Flexible Web-Based Programs Designed for Busy Nursing Professionals

Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed for the advanced practice nurse who has completed their master’s degree in nursing. Our online distance education program is designed to meet the needs of the working professional. The program includes the following integrated elements:

  • Web-based curriculum.
  • DNP practice hours working with an affiliated practice partner.
  • A culminating DNP scholarly practice project.

The University is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC). The DNP program is professionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

About the Program

WesternU’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.

The College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) DNP program is a distance based-hybrid model that provides maximum scheduling and pacing flexibility for the working professional. Course work is delivered through a combination of self-directed learning activities via asynchronous and virtual synchronous learning formats, including 3-practice immersion intensives (2 on campus face-to face sessions that are delivered at beginning and end of program) and 1-virtual synchronous session at midpoint of program. DNP students work closely with faculty team leaders and practice partners to fulfill the requirements of the DNP scholarly project.

The Curriculum

Full-time students complete the program in two years. An extended track option is available which students complete the program in three years. Each course listed under each semester is taken concurrently and NOT one course at a time

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. 97, CGN catalog)

An 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 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:

Donna M. Emanuele, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, ENP-C, CNS, FAANP
Director, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and Associate Professor

Kelley Montz, PhD(c)
Manager, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

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 Office at (909) 469-5335.

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.


There are (3) practice immersion intensives required at the beginning, midpoint, and end of program. The first practice immersion intensive is face-to-face (3-days) and occurs at the end of Welcome Week. The second practice immersion intensive is delivered virtually (2-days) at midpoint of the program. The final 3-day practice immersion intensive is face-to-face and offered at the end of the program, prior to graduation. These practice immersion intensives provide opportunity for faculty-student interaction, professional development activities, and student/group presentations.

All practice immersion intensives are mandatory but aligned with the on-campus requirements of Orientation/Welcome Week and Commencement.

To view the practice immersion intensives and other important college-specific dates, please view the Academic Calendar.

Practice Hours

A total of 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, practice immersion intensives participation, presentations, and scholarly written work, students will develop an individual portfolio integrating the DNP essentials to serve as a representation of their progression through the program and achievement of program outcome competencies.

Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP)

WesternU and CGN take part in the Health Resource and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Faculty Loan Program (NFLP).  The NFLP is a forgivable federally subsidized loan guarantee program available to individuals seeking doctoral preparation for the purposes of becoming a faculty member at an accredited school of nursing.  The NFLP is a loan forgiving program that covers the cost of tuition and fees for obtaining the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  

For more information about the NFLP program, please visit the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) web page.