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Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Frequently Asked Questions

Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurse and Student

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you'll find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the online DNP program from Sacred Heart University.

What is a practice doctorate?

The practice doctorate in nursing is a degree reflecting the highest level of educational preparation for nurse practitioners and other master’s prepared nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has proposed that the DNP degree be the level of entry for all advanced practice nurses. It is designed to prepare you for the most advanced nursing leadership, practice, academic and research positions and focuses on bringing scientific excellence to nursing practice to transform healthcare delivery and impact patient outcomes. More information is available at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp-home.

Do I need a master’s degree in nursing to be admitted to the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program?

Applicants must hold a master’s degree in nursing or related field. If the master’s degree is not in nursing, the applicant must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

Do I have to be a Nurse Practitioner to be admitted to the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program?

No. This is an excellent program for an advanced practice nurse who wants to remain in clinical practice and have influence on healthcare outcomes at multiple levels. But it is also ideal for the Post-Master’s doctoral student who wants to be involved in practice changes from a leadership focus. You do not need to be a nurse practitioner for these studies.

Explore the Career Outlook for Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates.

Does implementation of the DNP requirement mean that advanced practice nurses will no longer be permitted to practice without a doctorate?

No, nurse practitioners with master’s degrees will continue to practice with their current certification and licensure. The scope of practice for NP’s is determined by State Nurse Practice Acts. They determine if the scope of practice changes over time.

How will the DNP program classes be delivered?

This 39-credit Post-Master’s cohort program is designed for the practicing nurse as a part-time three-year online program to offer flexibility and convenience.

Explore the full curriculum on the course descriptions page.

Sacred Heart’s online DNP offers unique advantages that give you a convenient, high-quality educational experience:

  • The DNP program is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Convenience for the online portion of the curriculum.
  • Small class sizes that facilitate interaction with our clinically active, award-winning faculty.

The Post-Master’s DNP program is also offered on-campus. Coursework is held at our main Fairfield, CT campus. For more information regarding the on-campus option, please visit us here.

Can I work during my doctoral studies?

The curriculum [link to course descriptions page] and plan of study was developed for doctoral students who will be working full-time during their coursework and dissertation process. During the first year, students will take three to six credits each semester (one to two courses). During the second year, students will take six credits per semester (two courses), develop the design of their DNP Scholarly project and present their project proposal. During the final year, the student will take the DNP Scholarship seminar courses (three credits each) where they will actively engage in clinical practice that includes data collection, analysis and recommendations for best practices based on your findings.

Do the DNP courses require an outside mentor and clinical practice hours?

You will be conducting a DNP scholarly project /practice change project in a healthcare setting, and work with an agency mentor on making a change to practice. Most of your third year will be spent working on your dissertation. You will be doing “practice hours” in an agency or healthcare setting collecting, analyzing, evaluating and disseminating data.

Do students need to locate a mentor and agency before DNP admission?

You will identify an agency mentor as you progress through the program. What is important is to decide before admission is what your area of research interest is.

Do I need to take a graduate-level statistics course prior to admission?

You are required to have, at minimum, taken an undergraduate statistics course taken within the past six years. If you do not have this prerequisite, you will take NU 522 Statistical Methods for Nursing Research in the summer of admission to the DNP program. At the discretion of the Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, you may take an online tutorial statistics review prior to the DNP orientation and will be required to take a proficiency examination during the orientation. If you don’t pass that examination with 80%, you will have to take NU 522 graduate level statistics course prior to NU 730.

Is the Doctor of Nursing Practice program accredited?

Yes. We have received full approval from the State of Connecticut College of Nursing of Higher Education to implement the DNP program and are fully accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about the online DNP program, please complete the form to learn more or call us toll free at (877) 791-7181 to speak with an admissions adviser.