DNP Executive Leadership Specialty & Certificate

Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership Specialty: Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders Today

The Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership Specialty (ELS) equips accomplished nurse leaders with the needed knowledge and skills to lead complex and ever-changing organizations and health care systems. This specialty is offered as a track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program.

For those who have already received their DNP degree but would like to add to their expertise, we offer an Executive Leadership Specialty Certificate. This certificate program is comprised of three courses and can be completed in a year. Candidates must already have a DNP degree and be in a current leadership role in their health care organization.

The ideal candidate for the Executive Leadership Specialty and Certificate is an experienced nurse leader who meets the requirements of our DNP applicant profile and:

  Five+ years of progressive, professional leadership experience

  Fiscal management experience

  Completion of a graduate-level finance and advanced leadership course/training 

The curriculum of this specialty provides students the knowledge and skills to:

  • Lead complex organizations by understanding people, environments, strategic planning, and the advanced use of multiple sources of data to initiate change.

  • Forecast and monitor trends in patient care, health care legislation and more.

  • Develop skills in designing, implementing and evaluating care of populations to meet organizational goals.

  • Comfortably and authoritatively manage urgent care situations, such as illness outbreaks, organizational emergencies or workforce issues.

The courses in the Duke Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership Specialty include:

  • Advanced Decision-Making in Health Care explores financial management, and fosters understanding of the multiple sources of data used for executive decision-making in health care.

  • Planning and Evaluating Care for Populations focuses on the strategic use of population health data in planning systems of health care. Students develop advanced understanding of population health and learn to propose, plan, and evaluate models of care.

  • Advanced Topics in Health Care Leadership builds on foundational principals of leadership to prepare students for the complex issues faced by the corporate health care leaders of today.

The Duke DNP ELS Program and Certificate are designed to meet the needs of a working professional in demanding career. Classes are distance-based with on-campus sessions each semester to deepen the understanding of the coursework and to create a collaborative network of nursing leaders within the program and beyond graduation. The on-campus intensives include visiting lectures and student interaction in engaging learning experiences.

During the program, students are provided one-on-one support in their academic development mentored by faculty attuned to each student's individual needs. Students enroll in small class cohorts for a unique academic experience.


Learn more about our curriculum and matriculation plan.

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