School of Nursing

DNP in Nursing

The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) prepares graduates to provide the most advanced level of nursing care for individuals and communities. This includes the direct care of individual patients, management of care for individuals and populations, administration of nursing systems, and the development and implementation of health policy. The DNP program places emphasis on practice related consideration beyond what a student typically acquires during their master's level education. The DNP is designed to prepare experts in specialized advanced nursing practice and focuses heavily on practice that is innovative and evidenced-based, reflecting the application of credible research findings. The practice-focused DNP generally includes integrated practice experiences and an intense practice immersion experience. Students in the DNP program generally carry out a practice application-oriented "final capstone project" which is an integral part of the integrated practice experience.

The DNP course of study is targeted to individuals with a master's degree in nursing. (e.g., advanced practice nurses [nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist], nursing management/administration, clinical nurse leader, etc.). In the future students will enter the DNP through additional entry options including BS in Nursing to DNP and Option (second degree) to DNP.

For current program information and admission procedures, please contact the DNP Coordinator.


The DNP program is approximately five academic semesters in length for full-time students and seven academic semesters in length for part-time students. A total of forty-three credit hours are required for completion of the DNP program; the total credit hours may increase if additional credit hours are needed to complete the capstone project. The number of required residency hours (contact hours) during the doctoral program is a minimum of 500 hours; when added to the clinical hours obtained in the applicants master's program the total should be a minimum of 1,000 contact hours.

Graduate Nursing Policies

Application Deadlines

Please contact the DNP Coordinator for the admission deadline.

Admission Information

Information on the application process can be found at

All application materials must be submitted by the deadline.

 Admission to the DNP program is on a competitive basis. The doctoral program in nursing seeks candidates whose master's preparation, scholastic achievement, professional experience, interest, motivation, and references are predictive of successful doctoral study. Applicants with a master's degree in nursing (e.g., advanced practice nurses [nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist], nursing management/administration, clinical nurse leader, etc.) are eligible to apply to the DNP program. Each student's application for admission will be evaluated based on a composite of the following recommended standards.

  • A master's degree in nursing from a degree program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing.
  • A minimum graduate cumulative grade point average of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale.
  • A graduate course in statistics taken within five years at time of application with a minimum grade of B or taken during the first year of matriculation into the DNP program.
  • Test Scores: MAT or GRE taken with five years of application submission
    • Miller Analogy Test (MAT): A score that ranks in the 45th percentile or higher for intended major.
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE):
    • Taken prior to August 1, 2011 - combined aptitude scores of 1,000 (V.Q.) or higher.
    • Taken after August 1, 2011 - a verbal reasoning score of 153 or higher; a quantitative reasoning score of 147 or higher; and, a minimum of 4.0 on the analytic writing sample.
  • Submission of official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS scores in addition to GRE scores if English is not first language.
    • Applicants whose native language is not English must have earned a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 on the computer-based test, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher.
  • The completed DNP application must include an essay describing the candidate's motivation for pursuing this degree and the vision he/she has for the role. The essay is an important part of the application since it demonstrates the applicant's ability to think, organize ideas, and express him/herself well in writing.
  • Special essay instructions: maximum three typed double-spaced pages
    • Discuss your specific career goals for pursuing the DNP.
    • Identify prior experiences that have contributed to your decision to apply to a DNP program
    • Discuss how the goals, objectives, and curriculum of USM's program will enable you to meet your post-DNP career goals.
    • Identify a specific clinical problem or issue that could be the focus of your capstone project.
  • Current resume.
  • A scheduled formal interview with graduate faculty from the School of Nursing will be required following a preliminary review of all required admission materials. Individual consideration will be given to each applicant based upon the total profile presented.
Application material

In addition to the material described in the Admission Information section, applicants must also submit:

  • A completed online USM graduate application and application fee.
  • Three letters of reference reflecting professional practice and/or academic achievement.
  • Evidence (photocopy) of unencumbered current RN licensure as a registered professional nurse.
  • Evidence (photocopy) of current national certification in advanced practice specialty and state certification in which currently practicing if applicable.
  • Completion of the "Verification of Post-Baccalaureate Clinical and Practice Hours" form.
  • Two sets of official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, including USM if applicable.

For forms and additional application information, please visit the Graduate Admissions web page

Sample: Full-Time Program Sequence (43 credits)
FALL I Credits
     NUR 700 Genetics and Immunology: Scientific Foundations for Practice 4
     NUR 702 Informatics Technology 3
     MPH 525 American Health System 3
          or Graduate Elective (600 or 700) 3
     Total credits 10
     NUR 701 Ethical Approaches to Practice Dilemmas 3
     MPH 670 Quality Improvement 3
     NUR 625 Principles of Health Care Finance 3
          or Graduate Elective (600 or 700) 3
     Total credits 9
     NUR 703 Professional Communication 3
     NUR 704 Models of Care: Transforming the Practice Environment 3
     AMS 535 Epidemiology 3
     Total credits 9
     NUR 705 Clinical Residency & Capstone I 6
     Graduate Elective (600 or 700) 3
     Total credits 9
     NUR 706 Clinical Residency & Capstone II 6
     Total credits 6
     GRS 701 Doctoral Continuation 1-3
     Total credits 1-3

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Courses - All NUR designated courses are "blended" format