Doctor of Nursing Practice: Post-Baccalaureate (BSN to DNP Pathway)
The BSN to DNP pathway offers a course for nurses with a BSN or generalist MSN degree to achieve the highest level of nursing practice
- #9 public DNP program (U.S. News & World Report, 2023)
- Full- and part-time programs available
- A path for BSN graduates to complete MSN coursework and progress seamlessly to a DNP
- 2 + 2 years for the standard plan of study, or a 3-year accelerated plan with approval from the program director
- Application deadline: December 1
Who should apply?
The post-baccalaureate pathway is designed for nurses seeking educational preparation for national specialty certification as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and to progress seamlessly to earn the DNP degree.
The post-baccalaureate DNP pathway (BSN to DNP) has eight distinct tracks available:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
- Family NP
- Neonatal NP
- Pediatric NP: Acute Care
- Pediatric NP: Primary Care
- Psychiatric-Mental Health NP
Students who attain the DNP—the highest practice degree in nursing—often practice as nursing experts in academia, work as advanced practice nurses, or assume mid-level or upper level administrative positions in health care facilities.
Graduates of the various tracks are eligible for the following national certification exams:
- AGCNS: graduates may sit for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS certification exam from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) or American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC)
- AGACNP: graduates are eligible for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP certification exam from AACN or ANCC
- FNP: graduates are eligible for the Family NP certification exam from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANPBC) or ANCC
- NNP: graduates are eligible for the certification exam administered by National Certification Corporation (NCC)
- PNP-Acute Care: graduates are eligible for the PNP-AC certification exam administered by Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
- PNP-Primary Care: graduates are eligible for the primary care PNP exam administered by ANCC or PNCB
- PMHNP: graduates are eligible for the PMHNP certification exam from ANCC
To be considered for the post-baccalaureate DNP pathway, applicants must:
- Submit a completed application and submit an $85 application fee.
- Have a baccalaureate or master's degree in nursing from a nationally accredited (CCNE or NLN ACEN) school.
- Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate and graduate study.
- Have completed an undergraduate or graduate-level course in statistics within five years of program start.
- Be licensed as a registered nurse in the US, with eligibility to transfer your license to Virginia. All matriculating students who are not active-duty military nurses must have a Virginia RN license before the first day of classes.
- Submit a total of three satisfactory recommendations (academic, professional, and clinical), one of which should be from an APRN.
- Submit a resume or CV.
- Send official transcripts for all post-secondary study.
- Be available for an interview, if requested.
- International applicants have additional admissions requirements.
- Applicants should have at least two years of full-time RN experience before entering the program.
- Applicants to the NNP track must have at least two years of full-time clinical practice experience (within the last five years) as an RN in the care of critically ill neonates or infants in critical care inpatient settings, typically in a NICU. This experience is mandatory.
We no longer require GRE scores as a component of the DNP application.
A competitive candidate for admission has the following at the time of application:
- BSN GPA of 3.5 or higher;
- More than two years of relevant, full-time RN experience;
- Active membership in a national nursing organization (preferably in applicant’s practice area);
- Exhibiting leadership behaviors in a nursing practice setting (mentoring other nurses, participating in unit or hospital-based leadership teams, engaged in practice change and evidence-based practice projects);
- A clinical certification, or on pathway to obtaining one or more certifications;
- Excellent writing skills.
Candidates with generalist MSN degrees (CNL, nursing education, informatics, etc.) should apply to the BSN-to-DNP pathway. Enrolling students may petition to transfer up to 12 credits from their prior MSN degree to the DNP.
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 canceled if a full-time 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 web pages for more information.
The length of time required to complete the program depends on several factors: whether you have a BSN or MSN degree; whether you are a full-time or part-time student; the number of practicum hours required; and your final scholarly project. Full-time students with a BSN degree can typically complete the DNP pathway in 33 months; students in the combined Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS and NP can complete the program in 36 months. Part-time students complete the program in 5-6 years.
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 project team. Students are encouraged to discuss concepts for the scholarly practice project early in their study.
Standard Plans of Study
Two years of MSN coursework:
Followed by two years of DNP coursework:
Accelerated (3 year) Plans of Study
An accelerated plan of study is available to full-time students who wish to complete the program in three years, pending meeting with and approval from the program director.
Plans of Study for Previous Years
- Archived Plans of Study for prior years (requires login via NetBadge)
The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) mandates that all DNP graduates complete at least 1,000 hours of precepted clinical experiences, referred to as DNP practicum hours, in their specialty area. 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. If a new contractual arrangement must be established for the student’s practicum, be advised that this process can take two to three months. Clinical/practicum activities are generally conducted within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Clinical/practicum activities may be conducted outside Virginia if the University is authorized to place students in that state and pending faculty approval.
All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop; information about these requirements will be sent to enrolling students before classes begin.
Please see the School of Nursing Computing Policies for more guidance on laptop ownership requirements.
State Authorization and Professional Licensure Disclosures
As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement, the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)).
Upon completion of the Master of Science in Nursing, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state.
Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))
Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).
The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record is the official repository for academic program requirements.