Earn your online DNP from the leader in doctoral nursing education.1
As a nurse, you see the disparities and inefficiencies in healthcare delivery firsthand. Earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Walden can help you play a bigger role in creating the change that needs to happen. Turn your ideas for innovative nursing and healthcare practice into reality. Gain the knowledge and confidence to improve patient care, mentor future nurses, and be a voice for patients and families.
An online DNP degree program prepares nurses to influence patient outcomes and advance clinical practice in various types of leadership roles. Walden’s DNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), with curriculum aligned to the latest standards from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and National League for Nursing.
Why Choose Walden?
Select our DNP Program or one of six specializations, including five that prepare you to seek nurse practitioner certifications.
In your DNP project, you’ll build a portfolio by working directly with a local healthcare partner to address a challenge they face.
Explore the complex factors that affect health outcomes and become an advocate for improving healthcare in your community.
Many of our DNP specializations offer a BSN entry point if you’re ready to move your career forward—but don’t have your MSN.
Get the support you need for a successful experience at all stages of your nursing practicum.
In nursing, confidence is everything—and we want you to have confidence in Walden’s CCNE-accredited nursing programs. Accreditation signals program quality, and assures an educational experience aligned with the demands of today’s nursing field. 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 (www.ccneaccreditation.org). Be ready for what’s next with a Walden degree.
Minimum Degree Requirements
- 45 quarter credits
- Doctoral Writing Assessment
- Foundation course (5 cr.)
- Core courses (40 cr.)
- Field experience (up to 8 cr., for students with fewer than 600 documented clinical hours)
- Completion of DNP project
- DNP Project Mentoring course (0 cr.)
- Doctoral DNP Project Completion (if needed to complete DNP Project after all other coursework has been completed; 3 cr. per term, taken continuously until completion of the DNP project)
Foundations and Essentials for the Doctor of Nursing Practice
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and are provided with a foundation for academic and professional development in the DNP program. Students apply professional standards and explore the role of the doctorally prepared nurse as one who effects positive social change. They engage in course assessments focused on the practical application of scholarly writing, critical-thinking skills, and the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students also explore the essentials of being a Walden doctoral student, relevant professional and specialty standards of doctoral-level nursing practice, intra- and interprofessional collaboration, and the process of the DNP Doctoral Project.
Theoretical and Scientific Foundations of Nursing
In this course, students focus on the integration of scientific, philosophical, and theoretical concepts as the basis for the highest level of nursing practice. They examine the scientific underpinnings for nursing practice, including middle range nursing and interdisciplinary theories and they explore the interrelationship among knowledge, research, and practice. Students also explore clinical inquiry, models of evidence-based practice, implementation science, and translation of evidence for practice change and quality improvement. Students develop their own philosophy of nursing practice.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Prerequisite may be taken concurrently.
Research for Evidence Based Practice
The focus of this course is to integrate and extend the Doctor of Nursing Practice student's skills and knowledge of research methods to read, interpret and evaluate research studies. Essential topics will include overview of research concepts and the research process; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research methods and designs, including data collection, data analysis and interpretation techniques; ethical issues in research; and utilizing research findings to guide practice. Basic statistics will be reviewed, including the appropriate use of various statistics, underlying assumptions of the procedures, and the interpretation of results generated from statistical software. An analysis of how research designs and methods support the research process for the translation of evidence into clinical practice will also be examined.
Leading Organizations for Quality Improvement Initiatives
The focus of this course is the development of leadership competencies and strategies to support organizational and systems leadership for continuous improvement in health outcomes and the delivery of quality care. Emphasis is on understanding the challenges and complexity in the healthcare system and the development of skills and knowledge to lead, manage, evaluate, and innovate to transform the healthcare environment. Essential topics include leadership for change and transformation, quality improvement tools and methods, safety principles, and project management.
DNP Project Mentoring
This course provides students the opportunity to translate knowledge into practice and demonstrate the competencies of the AACN DNP Essentials. Students will complete the DNP project to demonstrate organizational/systems leadership, translation of evidence, and quality improvement processes on a change impacting health outcomes. Projects will follow the project management process and include components of planning, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination. Students complete the DNP project independently, with the guidance of a faculty advisor and an organization mentor. The order and format of the steps of the DNP project are outlined in the DNP Project Process Guide.
Note: Students are automatically enrolled in this course each term of the DNP project concurrent with courses required for the DNP program of study.
Transforming Nursing and Healthcare Through Technology
When used effectively, information technology can support generation of new knowledge and emerging information technologies. In this course, students examine the critical appraisal and use of information technology in advanced nursing practice. Students work to gain the skills and knowledge needed to research, develop, process, integrate, and manage data, communication and information systems, and programs through technology resources in consumer, clinical, and public health settings. Students engage in a variety of discussions and assignments designed to provide practical application of content on topics including retrieval and critical analysis of digital data and emerging technology to support healthcare quality improvement; electronic health records integration and evaluation; and web-based learning and intervention tools to support and improve patient care. They also explore ethical, regulatory, and legal issues as well as the healthcare standards and principles for selecting and evaluating information systems and patient care technology that effects positive social change. They engage in course assessments focused on the practical application of scholarly writing, critical-thinking skills, and the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students also explore the essentials of being a Walden doctoral student, relevant professional and specialty standards of doctoral-level nursing practice, intra- and interprofessional collaboration, and the process of the DNP Doctoral Project/dissertation.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
PhD in Nursing
Evidence Based Practice I
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with opportunities to create individualized objectives based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing DNP Essentials to develop leadership skills and competencies in their specific areas of interest. Students work with an approved practicum mentor to generate practicum evidence and complete practicum journal requirements. Students complete a self-evaluation and reflect on their personal growth.
Note: These 2 credits of practicum hours have a 1:80 ratio of credit to practicum hours, resulting in 160 practicum hours.
Epidemiology and Population Health
Students in this course are provided with an overview of epidemiologic methodology in the study of the distribution and etiology of disease and health-related conditions in human populations. They explore and discuss select global problems, such as infectious diseases, bioterrorism attacks, and effects of disasters and emergencies. Students apply epidemiologic and biostatistical methods to study factors related to aggregate, population, and individual health. Students will explore the importance of cultural sensitivity and an interprofessional approach, in caring for diverse and at-risk populations.
Evidence Based Practice II
In this DNP practicum course, students will create individualized objectives to continue completing the gap in practice activities identified in NURS 8502. Students will implement gap in practice activities, monitor, measure, evaluate outcomes, and disseminate results back to the organization. The course will focus on the continuation of the evidence-based practice problem identified in NURS 8502. Students will complete work under the guidance of an approved clinical mentor. Students will generate a practicum portfolio that drills down to the evidence regarding their clinical/administrative question and resulting findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Students complete the practicum journal requirements throughout the course. Students will complete a self-evaluation and reflect on their personal growth in their specific area of interest.
Note: This 2-credit practicum course has a 1:80 ratio of credit to practicum hours, resulting in 160 practicum hours.
Healthcare Policy and Analysis
In this course, students examine economic, financial, and political factors influencing the delivery of healthcare, and consider policy reform through legal, regulatory, ethical, societal, and organizational contexts. They examine the political and policy process, including agenda setting, stakeholder analysis, and application of policy analysis frameworks. Students also explore the importance of interprofessional collaboration in improving health outcomes through the policy process and advocacy for development and implementation of nursing and healthcare policies in organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels. Students engage in written analyses through which they develop new policies and/or critically evaluate existing policies though policy analysis frameworks.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
All Other Programs
DNP Field Experience
The purpose of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to complete additional practicum hours to fulfill the 1,000-hour requirement of the DNP. Students may take the DNP Field Experience course up to six times based on practicum hours attained prior to DNP admission. Students generate practicum portfolio evidence.
Note: This 1-credit practicum course has a 1:80 ratio of credit to practicum hours, resulting in 80 practicum hours.
DNP Project Completion
The purpose of this course is to serve as a platform for ongoing development, mentoring, and communication between students and their faculty advisor for the DNP Project. This course supports the required approval process for the DNP Project, including serving as a repository for drafts and final, approved documentation related to the DNP Project. Students will be assigned to sections of NURS 8703 with their faculty advisor. The student and faculty advisor will establish an ongoing, collaborative learning community that will support development and communication for the completion of the DNP Project.
Note: Students are automatically enrolled in this course each term while completing the DNP project after they have completed all other course requirements for the DNP program of study.
|(3 cr. per term as needed to complete the DNP Project)|
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
To be considered for this doctoral program, you must have a current, active RN license, a Master of Science in Nursing, or equivalent from an accredited school, and meet the general admission requirements. All applicants must submit a completed online application and transcripts. Depending on program specialization, additional requirements may apply. More information for international applicants.
At Walden, we’ll guide you every step of the way with a comprehensive suite of support resources designed to help you confidently pursue the finish line, including our Doctoral Degree CoachTM. Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?
A Personalized Guide to Completing Your Doctorate
Earning your online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) requires commitment, perseverance, and hard work. You can do it, and Walden is here to help—with our Doctoral Degree Coach™.
- Map and track milestones: Break your research down into manageable, sequential steps. See where you are, what’s ahead, and what you’ve already accomplished—all in one place.
- Meet weekly targets: No more guesswork. Set prompts based on your to-do list and receive reminders and updates directly to your inbox.
- Connect with faculty: Stay on the same page and keep your progress on track. With shared access to your dashboard, your chair can easily guide you through your checklists, goals, and timelines.
- Access helpful resources: Quickly find support from the right person at the right time. Our comprehensive resource guide points you in the right direction—no more frustrating searches.
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition-Coursework||45–53 quarter credits (coursework credits will vary based on incoming practicum hours)||$871 per quarter hour for coursework credits||$39,195–$46,163^|
|Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project||0–78† quarter credits||$871 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits||Up to $67,938|
|Technology Fee||$165 per quarter||$990–$5,280*|
|Estimated Range:||1.5-Year Minimum||8-Year Maximum|
These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.
Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.
^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.
†Based on a 1.5 -year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.
*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.
+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-768-0109.
- The BSN to DNP track is ideal if you are a registered nurse (RN) and have earned your bachelor’s in nursing degree.
- The MSN to DNP track is ideal if you are a registered nurse (RN) and have earned your master’s in nursing degree.
Gain the knowledge and confidence to lead significant, sustainable healthcare improvement with Walden’s DNP leadership program.
Build the knowledge and skills to care for patients 13 and older with complex acute and unstable chronic medical conditions.
Gain the advanced training to oversee the health and well-being of patients 13 and older and improve health outcomes.
Prepare to manage disease prevention, health promotion, and restorative care in patients of all ages.
Prepare to oversee the health and wellness of patients from birth to age 21 in pediatric primary care settings.
Learn to care for the mental and emotional well-being of patients with psychiatric disorders and emotional challenges.
Impact Patient Care at a Higher Level
You are a nurse and an advocate–you're a champion of more affordable, equitable, and accessible patient care. You’re a passionate problem-solver and innovator who’s always thinking three steps ahead. Earning your doctorate in nursing from Walden can help you maximize your talents and lead much-needed change in an evolving field. Improve your practice and your community through practical learning experiences and a curriculum focused on making a social impact.
Expand Your Possibilities. Inspire Change.
In an era of preventive healthcare and growing patient populations, advanced practice nurses play a vital role in improving patient care and outcomes. According to a report by the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), expanding roles and responsibilities for nurses with advanced degrees is essential to changing the trajectory of U.S. healthcare delivery.2
Earning a doctorate in nursing practice empowers you to unlock your inner leader—so you can have a stronger voice in how healthcare is delivered. Forge a clear path to new opportunities in administration, management, and policymaking. Use your unique educational perspective and experience to empower new nursing professionals to shape a brighter future for the industry.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can academically prepare you for a variety of roles, including:
- Chief nursing officer (CNO)3
- Nurse administrator4
- Clinical director4
- Nursing informatics specialist5
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this DNP program.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can academically prepare you for career opportunities in settings such as:
- Offices of physicians
- Nursing and residential care facilities
- Government agencies
- Outpatient care centers
Increase Your Earning Potential
Since high-level roles in healthcare typically come with more responsibilities, earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can potentially lead to a greater salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay for a chief executive in healthcare and social assistance industries is $160,950 per year. However, the salary range for chief executives typically falls between approximately $62,780 and $208,000.6
Salary ranges can vary widely for individuals, depending on prior education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years spent practicing, geographic location, place of employment, and other applicable factors.
Graduates of Walden’s online DNP program will be prepared to:
- Translate research findings to direct evidence-based nursing practice.
- Develop organizational system changes for quality improvement in healthcare delivery in response to local and/or global community needs.
- Apply optimal utilization of healthcare information technology across healthcare settings.
- Advocate for the advancement of nursing and healthcare policy through sharing of science-based knowledge with healthcare policy makers.
- Demonstrate leadership to facilitate collaborative teams for improving patient and population health outcomes.
- Utilize advanced nursing practice knowledge to implement methodologies to improve population health outcomes.
- 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 bodies.
Meet Your Academic Team
Nancy MossProgram Director
With more than 25 years of experience, Dr. Moss is a certified nurse-midwife and family nurse practitioner (FNP). With deep expertise in online learning, she has developed and implemented curricula for various nursing programs, including a university nurse-midwifery program and nurse-midwifery practices for rural communities.
Carolyn SipesCore Faculty
As a professor, Dr. Sipes has more than 35 years of clinical, research, academic, and informatics experience. She is certified as an advanced nurse executive (NEA-BC) and informatics nursing specialist (RN-BC) by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Diane WhiteheadSenior Core Faculty
Dr. Whitehead has been actively teaching and administering associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degree nursing programs for many years. She is a fellow in the Academy of Nursing Education. Dr. Whitehead received the Walden University Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence in 2020.
How One Walden Grad Is Serving Disadvantaged Communities in Texas
Dr. Alvin Mena Cantero is a Cuban refugee physician who came to the U.S. and started his educational journey with Walden University. He has been sowing seeds of social change in Houston, Texas, and around the globe.
I had earned my MSN with Walden. I considered going further, but when they let me know they also had a doctoral program, there was no hesitation to complete my terminal degree with Walden.
Allison Souza ’17 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Graduate
I have a support system from Walden that I never could have imagined.
Darcy Duncan ’14 MSN and ’17, DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Graduate
What I learned in the classroom, I immediately applied to my work.
James McDaniel ’16 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Graduate
FAQ About Walden’s Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program
Walden’s DNP program is taught by 100% doctorally prepared didactic faculty and designed by industry experts to ensure a high-quality learning experience. Walden’s program offers a team-based, interdisciplinary approach to further prepare you for a leadership position and to meet the demands of the healthcare system. You will receive doctoral support from day one. From writing and research assistance to one-on-one faculty guidance, robust doctoral study support is central to Walden’s DNP program.
Walden University’s DNP program’s online classrooms feature state-of-the-art learning technologies, media, and support materials. Students are matched as closely as possible with faculty who have the same area of interest to assist them with their DNP projects. With engaging case studies, a Writing Center, and a robust online library, you will be highly prepared to earn your credentials as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Walden’s program offers a robust support staff that is dedicated to your success, including academic advisors, graduation counselors, and practicum coordinators. Your practicum coordinators can assist you in securing your clinical practice site and help answer any questions.
Our program is developed by industry experts in their areas of practice. One hundred percent of College of Nursing didactic faculty hold doctoral degrees, and our curriculum covers relevant and realistic scenarios to prepare you with the skills you need to succeed.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and prefer an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. A DNP-prepared nurse is seen as a clinical expert and leader, able to translate research into practice to improve systems and patient outcomes. With a DNP, you will have earned the top-level credential you need to become a leader in the healthcare field. Combined with the right experience, your DNP can prepare you for such roles as chief nursing officer at a hospital, director of policy in government, nurse administrator, or other nursing leadership positions.
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the completion of this degree program.
For MSN-educated nurse leaders who strive to work at the peak of their profession, a PhD in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is the next logical step in their online education and career strategy. Whether they choose to earn a DNP or a PhD in Nursing, there are several reasons nurses decide to pursue a doctoral degree.
- A DNP or a PhD in Nursing can help you find your voice and gain the knowledge and confidence you need to reach your full potential.
- A doctoral degree can help you advance to the top of your profession to make a greater impact in the quality of patient care. A doctorate in nursing also opens the door to career opportunities in advanced leadership roles in administrative, academic, or clinical settings.
- Upon earning a doctorate in nursing, you will be qualified to mentor the next generation of nurses and fill leadership roles as a healthcare policymaker and advocate in a broad spectrum of public and private healthcare settings at the national, regional, state, county, and local levels.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
As a terminal degree for clinical nurses, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is becoming an increasingly valued and sought-after credential. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has encouraged the medical community to make the DNP the expected degree for those who want to become nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. Nurses who currently hold an MSN and would like to advance their clinical practice would also benefit from a DNP.
PhD in Nursing
Focused primarily on research, a PhD in Nursing is designed for nurses who want to help guide the future of healthcare. If you want to conduct scientific research at the highest levels in your field, shape healthcare policies as a government policymaker or program director, or educate the next generation of nursing professionals, a PhD in Nursing can give you the advanced expertise you need to succeed. This is a great nursing degree for any nurse who wants to make a difference in healthcare.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) gives you the top-level credential you need to become a leader in the healthcare field. Combined with the right experience, your DNP can prepare you for such roles as chief nursing officer at a hospital, director of policy in government, nurse administrator, nurse educator, or other nursing leadership positions. Additionally, a DNP elevates your career possibilities and increases your opportunity to drive social change in your organization and in the healthcare industry as a whole.
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the completion of this degree program.
Though this is primarily an institutional decision, a position statement from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) advises that a DNP competes favorably with other practice doctorates in faculty tenure and promotion decisions.*
In healthcare, nurses with advanced degrees such as DNPs tend to attract higher salaries than nurses with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. This is due in part to the higher-level positions that can be obtained with a DNP, which are also typically marked by broader responsibilities. These additional tasks often command higher compensation, although the actual salary of a position may differ based on the type of role. For example, according to PayScale, the average salary for a chief nursing officer can range from $92,000 to $201,000.*
*PayScale, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)/Salary (retrieved October 2020)
DNP-prepared nurses are leaders in their field, possessing a blend of clinical, economic, and organizational skills. The degree carries a certain level of influence that puts DNP-prepared nurses in a unique position to evaluate nursing practice, design patient care programs that are economically feasible and locally acceptable, and significantly impact healthcare outcomes.
Yes, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org).
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