Doctor of Nursing Practice


Welcome to the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program.  Our DNP program is a practice-focused doctoral program designed to prepare Post-Master’s Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and nurse administrators to lead innovation in nursing practice and healthcare. This fully CCNE-accredited program enjoys a 100% completion rate.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed to meet the needs of the working professional.  The full-time option is offered in five consecutive semesters; the part-time option in eight consecutive semesters. Online synchronous classes are offered two nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday (EST) for full-time study and one night a week for part-time study, to accommodate the practicing clinician and nurse administrator.  The program begins early summer with an on-campus seminar.  Students meet on-campus one weekend in fall and spring and one week in summer.  Whether you are on campus or at home, the College provides you with a personalized experience – one of the hallmarks of a Villanova Nursing program.

The goal of the DNP program is to prepare APRNs, including Nurse Practitioners, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Nurse-Midwives, and nurse administrators with advanced knowledge in evidence-based practice, organizational leadership, and financial acumen to lead innovation in nursing practice and healthcare. The complex issues and changing landscape of healthcare have created a need for nurse leaders to respond effectively and implement solutions with interdisciplinary teams or independently in order to achieve positive healthcare outcomes for individuals and populations.

What do alumni say? 

MSN and DNP alumni rate programs with top scores

College of Nursing DNP alumni from 2014 and 2015 were surveyed on key satisfaction measures relating to their respective programs through Educational Benchmarking, Inc. (EBI).  EBI is a national standardized survey that is recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to be an important program outcome measure. The program earned high scores.

The DNP program scored highly in the realms of overall program effectiveness, learning and satisfaction and, like the MSN program, exceeded the scores of its well-known, six peer institutions from across the country. The Villanova DNP alumni ranked this program higher than peer alumni did for their respective programs in learning and satisfaction areas including:  importance of and enhancement of learning outcomes; interactions, networking and educational activities contributing to practice; and provision of necessary skills and knowledge and promotion of a successful career.

About us

The program is driven by Augustinian Catholic values that characterize the mission of the University: the unity of knowledge, the holistic nature of human beings, the importance of community, the discovery of truth and a commitment to addressing the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

The Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, established in 1953, has a reputation of excellence and is highly respected for its contribution to graduate education, which commenced in 1980.  Nursing deans, faculty, and leaders in healthcare throughout the United States and abroad are alumni of its programs.

A unique approach: the DNP Project

The emphasis of the DNP program is on broad “systems thinking” in order to facilitate the design and implementation of models of patient care and clinical practice. The 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. 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 DNP Project should reflect learning from course work and application to clinical practice.  Students will complete a minimum of 500 practice hours while working on the DNP Project. The final project will be a scholarly, tangible deliverable in the form of a publishable manuscript.  The project will be reviewed by a committee and formally presented at the project’s clinical site and with the broader community.


The DNP program is designed to ensure that the graduates attain the required advanced knowledge and skills to navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.

Graduates of the DNP program will be able to:

  • Integrate nursing science with advanced levels of systems thinking and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based practice to improve healthcare quality, safety, and outcomes.
  • Provide leadership in the development and implementation of patient-driven, institutional, local, state, federal and/or global health policy in a select content/specialty area.
  • Use leadership skills to design, direct, implement and execute a scholarly project.
  • Effectively collaborate with nursing and other disciplines in clinical practice.
  • Promote cultural competence in response to the healthcare needs and concerns of society.
  • Provide guidance, mentor and support other nurses to achieve excellence in nursing practice.
About the classes

The DNP is designed as a 32 credit full-time or part-time program. Online synchronous classes are offered two nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday 6:30-8:30pm (EST) for full-time study and one night a week for part-time study, to accommodate the working professional.  The program begins early summer with an on-campus seminar.  Students also meet on-campus one weekend in fall and spring and one week in summer. (Please see the Plan of Study to review list of courses and on campus dates.)

"I want to express my sincere thanks to the DNP program for preparing me so well to be a clinical nurse leader. I utilize the DNP Essentials daily, and have become the team expert in quality projects. I rave about my superb Villanova DNP education to everyone who will listen!" --Janet Dunn, DNP, CRNP, ACNP-BC,CHFN

Request Information
Apply Now!

Interested in applying? To join the June 2018 cohort, start your application here by reading Admission information and clicking on Apply Now. Completed applications will be accepted until April 3, 2018.

IF YOU ARE EMPLOYED BY AN AFFILIATE OF THE FITZPATRICK COLLEGE OF NURSING, you will be considered eligible for a 15% tuition discount. Questions? Contact DNP Program Director Dr. Debra Shearer at or 610.519.8337.

Are you dedicated to the care of children with spina bifida? If so, learn more about our Ashley Rose Pitek Nurse Scholars Fellowship and apply.


Open House

Learn more about the DNP Program by attending an Open House. The Fitzpatrick College of Nursing application fee is waived for attendees. Register here

Can't make Open House? Start getting to know us by reviewing this site, watching the Information Session below and contacting us to learn more.


Chat with us at our next Meet & Greet


DNP Program Overview with Dr. Debra Shearer

DNP Program Overview

DNP Information Session with Dr. Debra Shearer and DNP Student Matt McCoy

Important Notices for Online Prospective and Current Students

The following page includes important information regarding the University’s authorization status, students’ responsibilities related to relocation and programs leading to professional licensures, and the complaint process for online students.

>>Notices for Distance Education Programs.pdf

My view

“When exploring doctoral programs, it was important to me to find a program that had an extensive clinical option that would advance my current nursing practice. The DNP Program has already greatly enhanced both my clinical knowledge and leadership skills. By completing its requirements, I am preparing for the future of health care. As a practicing DNP clinician, I have the opportunity and necessary skills to transform the health-care system.”
—Matthew McCoy ’13 DNP, CRNA


Contact Us


Debra Shearer, EdD, MSN, FNP-BC
Director, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

Rachel N'Diaye
DNP Program Assistant

Doctor of Nursing Practice