Doctor of Nursing Practice (post-master's)

The DNP charts a course for master's prepared nurses to achieve the highest level of nursing practice, and all the personal, financial and professional benefits a doctoral degree confers.

  • Full- and part-time programs available
  • 21 months to degree (FT), 39 credits beyond an MSN
  • The opportunity to complete a final scholarly project
  • Some classes available online, others offered in executive format (1x/month, 2x/semester)
  • Application deadline: Nov. 1 for entry the following fall (notification by Feb. 1)


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Who is the DNP program for?
The DNP prepares nurses for specialty practice at the most expert level. Nurses who earn DNPs practice across a broad spectrum of health care settings, teaching in nursing education programs, as unit managers or assuming upper-level nurse administrator roles.

Applicants to the post-master's DNP should have advanced education in a clinical specialty. Candidates who are eligible for clinical certification as APRNs should have valid APN licenses. Graduates from other advanced specialty areas such as public health or health administration do not need these certifications.

MSN-prepared individuals with generalist/non-specialty MSNs (such as in education or Clinical Nurse Leader) should pursue a post-master's program to obtain clinical specialization before pursuing a DNP. A BSN to DNP pathway is also available, and includes preparation for NP or CNS certification.


  • Small, intimate classes with world-class faculty
  • Full- and part-time programs available, with many courses offered in executive format and online
  • The opportunity to complete a final scholarly project


To be considered for the post-master's DNP, 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 GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale across 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*

A competitive applicant has:

  • an MSN GPA of 3.50 or higher
  • Completed the statistics requirement or be currently enrolled in a course
  • An 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

*Submission of GRE scores is optional. If you wish to submit your scores, UVA's Institutional Code is R-5820. The School of Nursing accepts GRE scores that are more than five years old (please submit a copy of the student report).

**The University is in transition as it establishes regulations to support out-of-state students for distance-learning. If you are a non-Virginian interested in enrolling in a distace-learning program, please contact the Office of Admissions & Student Services (434-924-2743), for eligibility.


Financial Aid
Students applying for or enrolled in either DNP or PhD programs may apply for the Virginia Doctoral Nursing Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program administered by UVA. Full-time doctoral students are eligible to borrow up to $25,000 per year during the coursework phase of their programs (years 1 and 2), loans that are cancelled if a teaching position at a public or private nursing program in Virginia for four years (two years of teaching for each year of loan) is assumed after graduation.

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

Technology requirements

All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop; Information about these requirements will be sent to enrolling students in the summer before classes begin.


All DNP students pursue some courses in common - the 'core curriculum' - and select six credits of cognates (with guidance from their faculty mentors) drawn from nursing and non-nursing courses that contribute to the student's final scholarly project. Required core classes are offered in a variety of ways: some are online while others meet face to face in Charlottesville once a month or at the beginning and end of each semester. 

Professional nursing standards and guidelines incorporated in the curriculum are guided by The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (AACN, 2006).

The DNP program culminates in the successful completion of a scholarly project - a significant, evidence-based contribution to existing nursing knowledge suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal or a book - designed by the student in collaboration with a three-member committee. Previous projects have focused on needs assessment with program development and evaluation, evaluation of an existing program, development of an assessment instrument or protocol, and a cost/benefit analysis of program models.

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 final scholarly 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.

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. 

Plan of study


The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing mandates that all DNP graduates complete at least 1,000 hours of precepted clinical experiences in their specialty area. As most MSN programs and advanced practice certifications require only 500 hours, most DNP students in the post-MSN entry track need to complete 500 additional practica hours. DNP faculty mentors help students create individualized clinical plans to meet their professional, specialty and geographic goals.

Clinical requirements do not need to be met at the UVA Medical Center; the School has existing clinical contracts across the Commonwealth and beyond and students may also ‘bring their own’ clinical sites from the area or outside of Virginia (those wishing to establish new practica sites must communicate their intentions to faculty mentors well in advance to meet the two to three months it takes to establish new contractual arrangements). Clinical/practicum activities are generally conducted within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Clinical/practice activities may be conducted in a different state as long as that state participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. A list of participating states can be accessed at



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.