Doctor of Nursing Practice: Post-Master's (MSN-DNP)

nursing students in stairwell The post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice program enrolls master’s-prepared nurses with clinical specialty preparation. It builds upon the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, as ratified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and avails itself of the high quality of graduate education at the University of Virginia by encouraging DNP students to tailor an individualized program using cognate courses from any school or department throughout the University. The DNP Program enrolled its first students in 2007, and graduated its first degree recipient in December 2008.

The DNP program curriculum for most students with a MSN degree will be a minimum of 39 credits. All DNP students will pursue some courses in common (the core curriculum). With your faculty mentor, you will also select six credits of cognates drawn from the offerings of the University of Virginia or elsewhere to contribute to your scholarly project. Students will also complete additional clinical requirements to meet the mandated 1,000 hours of specialty training that is one of the hallmarks of a DNP graduate. The BSN-DNP program (which first enrolled students in fall 2013) includes preparation for NP or CNS certification in seven tracks.

The DNP program culminates in the successful completion of a scholarly project, which is designed by the student in collaboration with a three-member committee. The scholarly project must be a significant, evidence-based contribution to existing nursing knowledge and be suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal or a book. This scholarly 'Capstone Project' could be a program needs assessment with program development and evaluation, evaluation of an existing program, development of an assessment instrument/protocol, a cost/benefit analysis of program models, or other scholarly project as approved.

The length of time requires to complete the program depends on several factors: whether you have a BSN or MSN degree; whether you are a full-time/part-time student; the number of practica hours required; and your capstone project. Students are encouraged to discuss concepts for the capstone project early in their study, and could incorporate elements of the project in their clinical preceptorship.

The required core classes will use a combination of classroom and distance learning modalities. Face-to-face didactic classes will be scheduled with the working nurse (or nurse faculty member) in mind, in an "executive" format with classes meeting face-to-face at the beginning and end of the semester. Some of the core classes has synchronous class sessions (face-to-face, using the internet, or video-conferencing) to accompany classroom and distance learning during the semester. Each student will select 6 credits of cognate classes to complement their individual DNP program. These cognate classes could be graduate classes from any school at the University of Virginia (or transferred from elsewhere). 

Five of the core DNP classes meet monthly on-Grounds in Charlottesville; three of the core classes meet only at the beginning/end of the semester (the weeks prior and after the academic semester).

Information Sessions
We hold monthly DNP information sessions


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Dorothy Tullmann, DNP Program Director

Kathryn Reid, Assistant DNP Program Director‌

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Renee Breeden,
Program Manager

Faculty Leaders
DNP Program Director: Dorothy Tullmann, PhD, RN, CNL; (434) 924-0131;
Assistant DNP Program Director: Kathryn Reid, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, CNL; (434) 924-0115;

Questions on admissions and financial aid may be referred to Assistant Dean Clay Hysell, (434) 924-0066. 


Financial Aid

Students applying for or enrolled in the PhD in Nursing or DNP programs can apply for the Virginia Doctoral Nursing Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program administered through the University of Virginia. Full-time doctoral students are eligible to borrow up to $25,000/year during the coursework phase of their programs (Year 1 and Year 2 in either doctoral program). These loans would be cancelled if you taught full-time at any public or private nursing program in Virginia for four years (two year of teaching for each year of loan).

DNP students are also eligible for other School of Nursing aid (teaching assistantships, scholarships, nurse traineeship funds, and the Nurse Faculty Loan Program.) Visit our tuition and financial aid website for more information.



The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing have mandated that all DNP graduates have completed at least 1,000 hours of precepted clinical experiences in their specialty area. Most MSN programs and Advanced Practice certifications require only 500 hours.

All DNP students at UVA will complete at least 1,000 precepted clinical hours post-BSN. Students who are certified as Advanced Practice Nurses have completed 500 precepted hours for this certification. Most DNP students will need to complete 500 additional practica hours focused on the acquisition of abilities in the DNP Essentials document. Your faculty mentor in the DNP program at the University of Virginia will create an individualized clinical plan with you to meet the goals and objectives of your clinical practica.

Clinical requirements do not need to be met at the University of Virginia Medical Center; the School has existing clinical contracts across Virginia. Students are also welcome to ‘bring their own’ clinical sites from the area or outside of Virginia. Be sure that that you communicate your clinical site intentions with your faculty mentor since it may take 2-3 months to establish new contractual arrangements.



Students entering the Doctor in Nursing Practice program should have advanced education in a clinical specialty. Candidates who are eligible for clinical certification as Advanced Practice nurses should have valid APN licenses. Graduates from other advanced specialty areas (such as public health or health administration) need not have APN certifications.

MSN-prepared individuals with generalist/non-specialty MSNs (such as in education or Clinical Nurse Leader) should pursue a post-masters program to obtain clinical specialization prior to pursuing DNP study at the University of Virginia.


Admission Requirements for MSN-DNP program

Admission to the School of Nursing is competitive and based on evaluation of all portions of the application. To be considered for the Doctor in Nursing Practice, applicants must submit a completed application and:

  • Have a BSN or MSN degree from a nationally accredited (CCNE or NLN) school.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate and graduate study.
  • Have completed a course in statistics within the past 5 years.
  • Possess an unencumbered RN license in the state where you intend to do your clinical practica.  All matriculating students who are not active-duty military nurses who will be living in Virginia must have a Virginia RN license before the first day of classes.
  • Have a valid certification in specialty nursing (NP, CNS, etc), if applicable, by the time of entry into the program.  
  • Submit a total of three satisfactory recommendations (academic and/or professional).
  • Submit a copy of your resume or CV.
  • Send official transcripts for all post-secondary study.
  • Be available for an interview if requested.
  • International applicants have additional requirements.
  • Submission of GRE scores is optional*.

Please note: The University is in transition with establishing regulations to support out-of-state students for distance-learning.  If you are a non-Virginian student interested in enrolling in a distace-learning program, please contact Clay Hysell, the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at to see if you would be eligible to enroll.

Application deadline for fall entry: November 1

*If you want to send GRE scores to the University, the institutional code is R-5820. The School of Nursing accepts GRE scores that are more than 5 years old. If you have your 'older' scores, you may submit a copy of the Student Report.

A competitive candidate for admissions to the program would have the following at the time of application:

  • MSN GPA of 3.50 or higher
  • Completed the statistics requirement or be currently enrolled in a course;
  • Active nursing practice at an advanced level;
  • Publication in a peer-reviewed journal and/or presentation at a national meeting;
  • Active participation in a professional nursing organization at the regional or national level;
  • Experience with evidence-based practice implementation at place of employment;
  • Excellent writing skills.

Program of Study, Downloads & Links



The DNP at the UVA School of Nursing builds upon the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice as ratified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The DNP is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington DC 20036, (202) 887-6791.


For More Information

For additional information on admission to and programs of study at the UVA School of Nursing, please complete our inquiry form. You are also welcome to call the Office of Admissions and Student Services at (434) 924-0141 / (888) 283-8703.

Questions on admissions and financial aid should be directed to Clay Hysell, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid,