The DNP charts a course for nurses with a speciality MSN to achieve the highest level of nursing practice, and all the personal, financial and professional benefits a doctoral degree confers

  • Guaranteed admission for UVA School of Nursing alumni
  • Full- and part-time programs 
  • Two years (full-time) or three years (part-time) to degree
  • 39 credits beyond the MSN degree
  • Some classes are available online, while others are offered in an executive format
  • Application deadline: January 5

Summer/Fall 2023 Class Dates:

  • Summer: May 30, June 13, June 27, July 11, and August 1
  • Fall: August 22, August 29, September 19, October 10, November 14, and December 5

Who should apply?

The post-baccalaureate pathway is designed for nurses seeking educational preparation for national specialty certification as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) and progressing seamlessly to earn the DNP degree.

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 APRN licenses. Graduates from other advanced specialty areas such as public health or health administration do not need these certifications.

Candidates with generalist MSN degrees (CNL, nursing education, informatics, etc.) should pursue a post-master's program to obtain clinical specialization before pursuing a DNP. Alternatively, a BSN to DNP pathway is also available and includes preparation for NP or CNS certification.


Admission Requirements

To be considered for the post-master's DNP, applicants must:

  • Submit a completed application and an $85 application fee.
  • Have an MSN degree from a nationally accredited (CCNE or NLN ACEN) school.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale across undergraduate and graduate study.
  • 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 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 resume or CV.
  • Send official transcripts for all post-secondary studies.
  • Be available for an interview if requested.
  • International applicants have additional admissions requirements.

Competitive applicants

A competitive candidate for admission has the following at the time of application:

  • MSN GPA of 3.25 or higher
  • Active nursing practice at an advanced level
  • Demonstrated scholarship through conference presentation, publication, or other academic avenues 
  • Active participation in a professional nursing organization at the regional or national level
  • Experience with evidence-based practice implementation at a place of employment
  • Excellent writing skills as demonstrated by essay prompts

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

Financial Aid

Students applying for or enrolled in either DNP or PhD programs may apply for the National or Virginia Nurse Faculty Loan Programs administered by UVA. 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. For more information, contact the School of Nursing at

Visit our tuition and financial aid webpages for more information.


The DNP educates nurses at the highest level of nursing practice. Entrance to the post-master's DNP is for MSN-prepared nurses with specialty training and advanced certification.

Required core classes are offered in a variety of ways: some are online while others are offered in executive format, meeting face-to-face in Charlottesville once a month or at the beginning and end of each semester. The aim of the executive format in the DNP program is to accommodate the professional nurse in the student role. Typically, faculty require attendance in person on a monthly basis. We attempt to schedule DNP executive format classes on the same day to minimize the need to travel to the UVA Grounds. Web conferencing may be an option for some courses.

The length of time required to complete the program depends on several factors: whether you are a full-time or part-time student; the number of practicum hours required; and your final scholarly project.

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 studies.

Post-MSN students are granted 500 DNP practicum hours towards their DNP requirement upon admission. During their DNP practicum courses, the students complete the remaining 500-hour requirement.

Plans of study


The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) mandates that all DNP graduates complete at least 1,000 hours of precepted DNP practicum in their specialty. Most MSN programs and advanced practice certifications require only 500 hours, so most DNP students in the post-MSN entry track need to complete 500 additional practicum 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. 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.

Technology Requirements

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.