DNP Frequently Asked Questions

What is the DNP degree?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal practice degree. The DNP program prepares nurses to assume leadership roles in clinical practice. With additional education courses, DNP prepared nurses can serve as nurse educators. The DNP emphasizes advanced clinical practice, implementation of best practices and evaluation of practice and care delivery models.

Do you offer a doctorate degree in nursing practice at the University of Nevada?

Yes. The University of Nevada in Reno, Orvis School of Nursing offers two paths for earning a DNP: a Post-Master's DNP program and a BSN to DNP program.

Is the program offered online?

The Post-Master's DNP program consists of online classwork plus requirements to visit the University of Nevada, Reno campus for a two-day orientation the first year and later for a one-day defense of the DNP dissertation. The BSN to DNP program consists of online coursework and a two-day on-campus meeting the first year for orientation to the program and one to three days each semester for onsite immersion days. Additional time on campus is required for the defense of the proposed DNP Project and the final defense of the DNP Project.

Why start a doctorate program if I'm already a nurse practitioner?

Many nurse practitioner programs already require more than 60 credits and 3 years for completion. Despite this there is a need for additional training and education. Essentially, current NP education is more demanding than most terminal master's degrees. In response, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommended the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree "for the highest level of nursing practice beyond the initial preparation in the discipline." Nursing as a profession competes with other health sciences specialties, including pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and audiology. These specialties have moved to the professional or practice doctorate.

Do you have different options for the DNP degree?

Yes, there is both a Post-Master's DNP program and a BSN to DNP program. The Post-Master's program is aimed at applicants who already have a master's degree while the BSN to DNP program is for those who have only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Each program offers multiple specialty tracks for students to choose from.  

With the Post-Master's DNP you can select one of two tracks:

  • Advanced Practice Nurse
  • Nurse Executive

With the BSN to DNP program you can choose one of three tracks:

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

How many credits do I need to take to complete my degree program?

The Post-Master's DNP requires 30 credits to complete. The BSN to DNP requires 72-76 credits, depending on which track you choose.

How long is the program?

The Post-Master's DNP takes five semesters to complete (including one summer) for full-time study and eight semesters for part-time study (including two summers) The BSN to DNP takes eight semesters to complete, including summers, for full-time study.

How often do you admit students into your program?

Students applying for the BSN to DNP are admitted into the program annually and begin classes in the fall semester. Students applying for the post-master’s DNP program are admitted both spring and fall semesters.

What are the requirements for admissions into your DNP program?

Requirements vary depending on the track you choose -- see the Application Guidelines tab on the main DNP page.

All Post-Master's DNP applicants must:

  • Hold a MS degree with a concentration in nursing from an accredited institution
  • Be licensed at a level consistent with the focus of DNP study
  • Hold national certification (or be eligible for certification) in an advanced practice role
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 at the graduate level
  • Provide documentation of clinical and leadership excellence
  • Have completed graduate-level course work (with a grade of B or better) in pathophysiology, pharmacology, physical assessment, research & nursing theory (clinical track applicants)

For the BSN to DNP, all applicants must:

  • Hold a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN)
  • Have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
  • Have completed graduate-level course work in statistics

How do I apply for admission to the program?

Contact the the Orvis School of Nursing at 775-784-6841. Online applications may be found at the University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School.

Are scholarships or financial aid available to students?

Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA.

How long do I have to complete the program?

You must complete all coursework and your culminating project within six years.

Does the DNP require a dissertation?

No. The DNP is an applied practice degree, so it is required that you complete a capstone project that applies to your advanced practice or role as an administrator. You will begin work on the project in the second semester of the program, culminating with a project defense at the end of the last semester of the program.

What is the tuition cost?

DNP tuition is consistent with the standard UNR graduate school tuition plus the nursing school differential fees. See the UNR course catalog for details.