The DNP Degree at USM

The Doctor of Nursing Practice- or DNP is a practice doctorate degree designed for nurses who want to achieve the highest level of academic preparation for nursing practice. This program of study encompasses didactic courses, practice experiences and a scholarly project that synthesizes the DNP student’s learning.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice  (DNP) degree at USM is a low residency program that prepares graduates to provide the most advanced level of nursing care for individuals and communities. This practice doctorate provides graduates with the skills and tools necessary to assess the evidence gained through nursing research, to evaluate the impact of that research on their practice and, as necessary, make changes to enhance quality of care. 

As an integral part of this degree, students must successfully complete a DNP project at the conclusion of this program. This scholarship must demonstrate the students ability to bring evidence-based knowledge into the practice arena and should embrace learning from both coursework and practice application.  The competencies attained by this degree are guided by the AACN Level 2 Essentials (AACN, 2021).

The DNP program will prepare nurse scholars to:

  1. Assess, analyze, evaluate, and manage complex health environments that serve diverse populations to improve patient and population health outcomes.
  2. Apply practice scholarship and available evidence to make clinical and system level decisions by incorporating professional values and ethical principles.
  3. Support and improve patient care and health care systems through the use of clinical practice models, health policy, informatics and organizational leadership skills.
  4. Advocate for clinical prevention, population health initiatives, and evidence-based health policy through interprofessional and stakeholder collaboration.
  5. Achieve a terminal degree that supports foundational practice in an academic institution.



USM DNP Program Highlights 

  • USM wholeheartedly supports continuation of nursing education to a doctoral degree that  builds on the MS in nursing foundation . To demonstrate this support, USM prioritizes admission for our graduate nursing students to the DNP program after they complete their Masters requirements. 
  • The DNP student is required to complete a total of 1000 practice hours post- baccalaureate. Up to 600 hours (direct) may come from an MS program resulting in national certification (such as the USM Nurse Practitioner degree) with most DNP students left to complete 400 DNP practice hours (indirect) as part of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. 
  • Those nurses entering with a non Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)  master’s degree will be asked to submit a minimum of 200 verified practicum clinical hours. A portfolio of practice experience  may be submitted for consideration towards DNP contact hours.
  • Most coursework, scholarly research and practice application will take place online. This degree is low residency where the majority of the coursework will be asynchronous distance education. 
  • In an effort  to create a community of learners who move through the program simultaneously, a cohort approach for engaging students in their final project work will be emphasized using on campus seminars 1-2 times during the last four semesters.
  • Part or full time courses of study

For more information and to apply, please click here: