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College of Nursing:
Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program builds on the student’s knowledge and expertise to strengthen advanced nursing practice, augment healthcare delivery, enhance organizational leadership, and improve patient outcomes. The program’s coursework covers a range of topics, including healthcare policy and advocacy, quality improvement, evidence-based practice, information systems/technology, advanced nursing practice, and organizational and systems leadership.

Accreditation, Licensure, and Certification


The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), post-graduate APRN certificate program, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

Note on Licensure

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Traditional Program and DNP Executive Leadership specialization program are not licensure programs and will not prepare students for practice as licensed nurse practitioners.

The DNP nurse practitioner specializations programs are designed to prepare graduates with an active registered nurse (RN) license or APRN license to practice in the U.S. as nurse practitioners in their program specialty area. However, each state has its own academic preparation and authority to practice requirements and issues its own credential for an RN to be permitted to practice as a nurse practitioner in that state.

No graduate program can guarantee that graduates will obtain licensure to practice as a nurse practitioner. We encourage students to consult the appropriate board of nursing or regulatory authority in the states or jurisdictions in which they reside or intend to seek licensure to determine specific requirements. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide general information relating to licensure; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to licensure for the state in which they intend to practice, as requirements vary widely.

Note on Certification

Walden’s DNP NP specializations are designed to academically prepare graduates to apply for national certification. Walden makes no representations or guarantees that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve national certification. We encourage students to consult an appropriate certifying body for the specific certification eligibility requirements. Students should also consult their state board of nursing or other state agency to determine what certifications are required or accepted in that state. It is an individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification, as requirements vary widely. For more information about nurse practitioner certification exams, students should visit the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board at, the American Nurses Credentialing Center at, or other nurse practitioner certification websites.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Translate quality research findings to direct evidence-based nursing practice.
  2. Develop organizational system changes for quality improvement in healthcare delivery in response to local and/or global community or workplace needs.
  3. Apply optimal utilization of healthcare information technology across healthcare settings.
  4. Advocate for the advancement of nursing and healthcare policy and standards to improve health outcomes by addressing positive social change and social policy through sharing of science-based knowledge with healthcare leaders and policy makers.
  5. Demonstrate leadership to facilitate collaborative teams for improving patient and populations health outcomes.
  6. Utilize advanced nursing practice knowledge to implement methodologies to improve population and community health outcomes among culturally diverse populations.
  7. Establish a foundation for lifelong learning for continual elevation of contributions to the field of nursing through active involvement in professional organizations and/or other professional and community bodies.

Minimum Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Nursing Practice offers several specializations, many of which have two entry options: BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP. See specialization pages for details on minimum required credits by specialization and track.

  • Foundation course (5 credits)
  • Core courses (40 credits)
  • Field experience (up to 8 credits, for students with fewer than 600 documented clinical hours)
  • Completion of DNP project
    • DNP Project Mentoring course (0 credits; starting after completion of NURS 8302, taken as companion course throughout the program of study until project completed)
    • DNP Project Completion course (if needed to complete DNP Project after all other coursework has been completed; 3 credits per term, taken continuously until completion of the DNP project)

Note: Completion of the DNP program requires a minimum of 1,000 post-BSN practicum hours, with at least 400 hours at the DNP level.

Entry Points

The DNP program offers several specializations with two admission entry options for registered nurses:

  • BSN-DNP entry: This option is for students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
  • MSN-DNP entry: This option is for students with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.


Foundation Course (5 credits)


BSN-DNP Entry Only: Essential Courses (10 credits)

Core Courses (40 credits)

  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.
  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.
  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.

Field Experience (up to 8 credits)

Students with fewer than 600 documented clinical hours take up to 8 credits of field experience (see Determining Clinical Hours for Admissions section)


Determining Clinical Hours for NURS 8601 DNP Field Experience

To determine how many clinical hours students have applied to NURS 8601, DNP Field Experience, upon entering the program, students must submit a Verification of Precepted Clinical Hours form from their previous master’s in nursing program. It must be sent from the program director, associate dean, or dean of their previous institution.  Students can request a blank copy of the Verification of Precepted Clinical Hours form from either their Enrollment Specialist or Student Success Advisor.

Admissions will determine how many documented post baccalaureate precepted clinical hours students have completed prior to DNP entry and how many credits of NURS 8601, DNP Field Experience, they will be required to complete in the DNP program.

For students who have completed less than 600 hours of verified precepted clinical hours, previous hours will be applied in 1 credit increments for each 80 hours completed. 

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level.

8-Year Maximum Time Frame

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements (see Enrollment Requirements in the student handbook). Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.

Note on Field Experience and Relocating

Students who are considering relocating are advised to contact their student success advisor prior to any decision to relocate in order to determine how relocation may impact progress in their program.  Advisors can provide information and guidance on how relocating may result in possible changes, restrictions, and/or additional requirements affecting field experience. Each Board of Nursing and Higher Education Authority governs the field experience rules and regulations in their respective states, and students may be unable to complete field experience in the state in which they plan to relocate. While Walden is committed to working collaboratively with students to secure field sites across the United States, it is imperative that students contact their student success advisor immediately when considering relocating.

Note for Prospective Washington State Students

Prospective Washington students: Walden University is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to provide practice experiences in Washington State for a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing; Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Education, Nursing Informatics, Leadership and Management, Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner; as well as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. For more information, go to the following website: