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FAQs

General Questions

What is a DNP degree?
DNP stands for Doctor of Nursing Practice. The Duke DNP program addresses the critical skills needed to translate evidence-based care into practice, to improve systems of care, and to measure outcomes of groups of patients, populations, and communities.

The Duke DNP program has two points of entry. The degree builds upon the experience and education of advanced practice master's-prepared nurses and also allows students who enter the program after earning a bachelor's degree in nursing to prepare for an advanced practice role as part of their DNP program.

The Duke University School of Nursing also offers a PhD in nursingfor those students who have a strong interest in research.

What kind of jobs are out there for people with a DNP?
The DNP program at the Duke University School of Nursing prepares you to be an interdisciplinary leader in a health setting. By providing care based on scientific knowledge, you will be able to improve safety, effectiveness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity in patient-centered care.

After graduating from the DNP program, you may decide to take a leadership role in a clinical practice. Perhaps you will decide to apply your skills in administration or combine teaching with clinical practice.

Should I get a DNP or a PhD?
When pursuing a nursing doctorate, should you choose the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, or opt for a PhD? Here are some things to consider.

The DNP degree is a practice doctorate. The PhD is a research doctorate. Graduates of PhD programs are prepared to conduct independent research and disseminate their findings, while DNP graduates use research to influence their practice.

Scholarship is an integral part of both doctoral degrees. See a table that compares the two degrees.

Post BSN Applicants

I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Am I eligible for the DNP program?
Yes, you may apply to the program. When you apply, you will need to declare your advanced practice specialty area. Currently you may choose between the nurse practitioner specialty and the nurse anesthetist specialty. Obtaining a slot within an individual specialty may be competitive due to limited space within the program.

How do you define advanced nursing practice ?
We use the definitions of advanced practice from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Administrator, and Nursing Informatics.

Please refer to Master of Science Nursing (MSN) for more information about the advanced practice specialty areas that are available through the Duke School of Nursing.

How many credit hours is the DNP program?
Between 73 and 94 credits are required for students with a BSN depending on the advanced practice specialty selected.

How long will it take me to complete the DNP program?
For a BSN prepared student, the program length varies depending on the advanced practice specialty selected. After students have completed their advanced practice specialty, they will need five semesters, on average, to complete their DNP.

Can I start during the spring or summer semester?
If admitted to the advanced practice specialty area of your choice, you will be able to begin classes the semester for which you applied and were accepted: spring, summer, or fall.

You will be able to begin the DNP core courses after you have completed a minimum of three-quarters of the coursework for your advanced practice specialty.

Will I be able to work while I am in school?
Most of our students work full- or part-time while they are in school, except for nurse anesthesia students who pursue full-time studies.

Are there online classes or distance-learning opportunities?
Please refer to our master's/advanced practice programs to see whether the advanced practice specialty area of your choice offers distance-learning opportunities. The DNP post-master's core courses are offered in a distance-based format, online with on-campus sessions typically one and no more than three per semester (often on weekends).

Is it possible to be accepted into an advanced practice specialty program at Duke, but not the DNP?
Yes. If you apply to the Duke DNP program, it is possible that you could be accepted to a advanced practice specialty, but not to the DNP program. In this case, you can attend and graduate with an MSN degree.

Post MSN Applicants

Do I have the proper preparation to enter the DNP program?
The DNP program is open to nurses who have earned a master's degree in nursing with an advanced nursing practice specialty.

How do you define advanced nursing practice?
We use the definitions of advanced practice from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Administrator, and Nursing Informatics.

I have a master's degree in nursing with a specialty in nursing education. Am I eligible to apply for the DNP program?
At this time we are limiting post-master's applications to the DNP to nurses with the advanced practice specialties described above.

I have a master's degree in nursing with a specialty in nursing education. Am I eligible to apply for the DNP if I also want to complete a post master's certificate as a Nurse Practitioner?
Yes, you would be eligible to apply to the DNP program.

I am looking for a program that will prepare me to become a nursing faculty member. Is this the program for me?
If you are seeking doctoral preparation because your primary goal is to become faculty in a nursing program, the Duke DNP curriculum may not be the best fit for you. If you want to combine teaching and clinical practice, you could take your DNP electives in the area of nursing education to help prepare you for that role.

Are there online classes or distance-learning opportunities?
All of the required courses are online with some, but not all, classes having an on-campus component of once a semester for a weekend or a Thursday through Saturday session.

Students may choose to take their elective courses online, on campus, or at another institution in consultation with their adviser.

How many credit hours is the DNP Program?
The number of credits for those with an earned master's degree in an advanced nursing practice specialty area is 35 credits, over 5-6 semesters.

How long will it take me to complete the DNP Program?
The DNP is a five-semester program for a master's prepared student who progresses through the program following the recommended schedule. Two courses are offered each semester.

Can I start during the spring semester?
Yes.

Will I be able to work while I am in school?
Yes. The matriculation plan includes two courses per semester, plus the capstone, affording students the opportunity to work while they are in the program. To date 100 percent of the students are employed while attending school.

Will I have to move to Durham, North Carolina?
The Duke University DNP program allows for out-of-area students to earn their DNP without having to move or leave their current employers.  Current DNP students live in  states representing all areas of the country and there are several international students as well.

How often do I have to come to the Duke campus?
Students will typically come to campus once a semester for a weekend or Thursday through Saturday session where they will attend intensive or executive sessions for those classes which require on-campus attendance. The remainder of the class content is delivered online.

How much of time should I expect to devote to the DNP program?
A post-master's DNP student who is following the recommended curriculum should expect to spend an average of 28 hours a week on class preparation, participation, and assignments.

Are there scholarships or financial aid?
We encourage you to contact the Duke School of Nursing Financial Aid Department to discuss financial aid opportunities

What is the capstone project?
The capstone project is a scholarly project, four semesters in length, designed to address a practice issue affecting groups of patients, health care organizations, or health care systems.

Students work with clinics, inpatient units, hospitals, or health care systems to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate an initiative jointly agreed upon by the practice setting, the students, and the student's advisory committee.

Where would I complete my capstone project?
The capstone project can be done at Duke or at your place of employment.