The purpose of the Post-Master’s DNP track is to prepare Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including Nurse Practitioners, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Nurse-Midwives, Nurse Administrators and Nurse Educators with advanced knowledge in evidence-based practice, organizational leadership, and financial acumen to lead innovation in nursing practice and health care.

The DNP is a practice focused doctoral program which prepares students to translate nursing science into clinical practice to improve health care outcomes for patients in the clinical and community settings.

The Post-Master’s DNP offers several options of study.  The curriculum is designed for the working professional to complete the DNP in five consecutive semesters (full-time), eight consecutive semesters (part-time), or eleven consecutive semesters (flex). For descriptions of the full-time, part-time and flex options, please review the Plan of Study information.

The DNP and PhD are committed to advancing the profession of nursing through scholarly efforts. However the PhD is a research focused doctorate. The PhD student is prepared to generate new knowledge in nursing. The DNP is a practice focused doctorate designed to implement nursing knowledge to improve clinical practice.

The Post-Master’s DNP track is designed to meet the needs of the working professionals. The curriculum is implemented using a distance learning approach complemented by on-campus sessions. The on-campus sessions begin with a one-week information and educational seminar the summer of the first semester. Students then have the opportunity to come to campus each semester to meet with their cohort and faculty.  

In order to meet the DNP requirements, students must complete a minimum of 1000 practice hours. APRNs may transfer 500 practice hours from their MSN program. NEs and APRNs with less than 500 clinical hours from their MSN Programs can take NUR 9002 (Independent Study in Nursing) to obtain the required 500. An additional 500 practice hours are required to complete the DNP.  The 500 practice hours include in-depth experiences with nursing and interdisciplinary professionals to acquire advanced knowledge to assist with collecting, synthesizing and disseminating the acquired knowledge into the DNP project. These practice hours are focused on the DNP curricula content and DNP Project. 

The curriculum is offered predominately online but offers students the opportunity to come to campus each June and during semesters when they are taking DNP Seminar courses to meet with their cohort and faculty.  Students can expect to meet online two evenings a week each semester. The on-campus sessions begin with a one-week information and educational seminar the summer of the first semester. Students will then meet on campus for 1 or 2 days in both fall and spring semesters and again for 1 week in the summer. 

32 credits are required.

No, transfer credits are not accepted. 

For a detailed curriculum plan for the current Post-Master’s DNP cohort, please refer to our website.

Completed applications for early admission must be received by January 1st for a January 30th decision. Completed applications for standard admission must be received by March 1st for a mid-April decision.   

Students are required to complete a DNP Scholarly Project under the direction of a DNP Project Faculty and DNP Project Clinical Mentor.  The DNP Project exemplifies the culmination of advanced nursing knowledge and expertise in clinical practice at doctoral level intensity.

The emphasis of the Post-Master’s DNP track is on broad “systems thinking” in order to facilitate the design and implementation of models of patient care and clinical practice. A scholarly DNP project offers students the opportunity to apply advanced empirical and theoretical knowledge to design, implement, evaluate and intervene in the clinical environment based on the evidence. A DNP advisor assists the student through the DNP project process. It is expected that students will focus on clinical issues and/or organizational systems that promote safe, effective, efficient and accessible care for individuals, groups or populations.

The Post-Master’s DNP track is primarily a distance learning program.  Please review the computer requirements for distance learning to ensure your computer and communications hardware and software meets or exceeds Villanova’s distance learning requirements. 

The distance learning classes will be offered online Tuesday and Thursday between 6:30pm and 8:30pm Eastern Time. 

The Post-Master’s DNP track is designed to prepare APRNs and nurse executives with the highest level of education in nursing practice.  DNP graduates may teach in academic settings however the course work does not prepare the student with the science of pedagogy.  Students interested in receiving courses in education may consider a Post-Master’s certificate in Nursing Education to build on their clinical degree.  Students may also consider our PhD program which prepares teacher-scholars for academic settings. 

No.  GRE scores are not required. 

Students must have completed a graduate level research course and received a grade of B or higher.  Students should be familiar with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

The Post-Master’s DNP track is highly competitive. A 3.5 grade point average is required for admission.

Applicants must hold a national certification in their area of specialty. For nurse executives, the approved certification is the ANCC’s NE-BC or NEA-BC certification.

The tuition is $44,480 and accepted students pay a non-refundable $1,000 seat deposit for graduation expenses.  This fee is not applied towards tuition. The University bills a student fee of $50 per semester. Military (veterans, as well as active duty and reservists), as well as employees of clinical partners may be eligible for a 15% tuition reduction; please contact the Assistant Director of the Program for more information. 

Yes, you can obtain information about financial assistance at the Financial Assistance website

Program Director
Debra Shearer, EdD, MSN, FNP-BC


Doctoral Programs Assistant Director
Sandi Schultz