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Earn your online DNP from the leader in doctoral nursing education.1

The Executive Leadership specialization in Walden’s online DNP program can academically prepare you to make an even greater impact on your patients’ healthcare experience. Gain the systems thinking, knowledge, and confidence to implement and lead quality improvement initiatives across teams and organizations. Become a catalyst for improved patient care and better patient outcomes.

A DNP nurse executive program prepares nurses to pursue leadership positions in a variety of healthcare settings.

Gain Hands-On Experience

Develop impactful nursing leadership skills through expert-guided practicums that take place in actual healthcare settings.

Focus on Critical Issues

Our DNP program emphasizes topics that matter—such as evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership.

Showcase Your Skills

In your DNP project, you’ll build a portfolio by working directly with a local healthcare partner to solve a challenge they face.

Skip the Traveling

The only travel required is to your local practicum. We can even help you find the ideal preceptor and clinical site for you.

Program Savings

Speak with an Enrollment Specialist to learn about our current tuition savings.


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Curriculum

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • 45 quarter credits
    • Doctoral Writing Assessment (0 cr.)
    • Foundation course (5 cr.)
    • Core courses (30 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (10 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)

Walden students have up to eight years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.

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.

Please refer to Walden’s catalog for more information about degree requirements.

This represents the minimum credit requirement for program completion. The number of credits for completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits
NURS 8002/8006
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.

-
(5 cr.)
NURS 8114
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.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8201
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 using qualitative and quantitative methods for nursing and the other healthcare professions. Essential topics 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.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8302
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.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8702
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.

(0 cr.)
NURS 8210
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.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  • NURS 8000 or NURS 8000A or NURS 8000C or NURS 8000F or NURS 8000S

PhD in Nursing

  • NURS 8110N

(5 cr.)
NURS 8504
Evidence Based Practice for the Executive Leader l

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 will 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.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8310
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.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8505
Evidence Based Practice for the Executive Leader II

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 will complete a self-evaluation, reflect on their personal growth, and explore post-graduation plans.

Prerequisites

  • NURS 8504

Note: These 2 credits of practicum hours have a 1:80 ratio of credit to practicum hours, resulting in 160 practicum hours.

(5 cr.)
NURS 8100
Healthcare Policy and Advocacy

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.

Prerequisites

  • NURS 8000 or NURS 8000A or NURS 8000C or NURS 8000F or NURS 8000S

(5 cr.)
NURS 8601
DNP Field Experience

The purpose of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to complete required practicum hours to fulfill the 1,000-hour requirement of the DNP program of study. Students may take the DNP Field Experience course up to six times based on practicum hours attained prior to DNP admission. Students will develop practicum objectives aligned to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials, professional standards, and specialty guidelines. Students work with an approved practicum mentor to generate practicum evidence. Students complete practicum journals and time logs to support the practicum objectives.

Note: This 1-credit practicum course has a 1:8 ratio of credit to practicum hours, resulting in 80 practicum hours.

(1 cr.)
NURS 8703
DNP Project Completion

This course is designed for the student to complete their DNP project. The final DNP project demonstrates students' ability to integrate knowledge into practice and to demonstrate the competencies of the AACN DNP Essentials. Students will demonstrate organizational/systems leadership, translation of evidence, and quality improvement processes of 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 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

NURS 8702, DNP Project Mentoring (0 credits), is taken concurrently with the core courses. It will serve as a platform for the ongoing collaborative learning communication between students' and their DNP Project chair and as a repository for drafts and documentation materials related to the DNP Project. Students will be assigned to sections of NURS 8702 based on their DNP Project chair. There is no cost for the course.

The DNP requires a minimum of 1,000 post-BSN practicum hours, with at least 400 hours at the DNP level. Students who need more practicum hours to meet this requirement may take NURS 8601 for additional credits. Each credit hour is equal to 80 practicum hours to help students reach a total of 1,000 practicum hours.

NURS 8703 DNP Project Completion: This additional 3-credit course is only needed if the student has not completed the DNP project by the end of NURS 8100. If needed, students are continuously enrolled in NURS 8703 until completion of their doctoral study with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.

Eight-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 eight years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the eight-year maximum timeframe, 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.

Tuition and Fees

Curriculum Requirements Cost AMOUNT *
Tuition-Coursework 45–53 quarter credits (coursework credits will vary based on incoming practicum hours) $850 per quarter hour for coursework credits $38,250$45,050^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  0–78 quarter credits $850 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits Up to $66,300
Technology Fee $160 per quarter $960–$5,120*
Estimated Range:     1.5-Year Minimum 8-Year Maximum
:
$39,210
$116,470+

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.

FINANCIAL AID

Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.

*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.

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Program Savings

Speak with an Enrollment Specialist to learn about our current tuition savings.


Get Started Now

Admission Requirements

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.

Become a Healthcare Change Agent

In this online DNP specialization, you’ll gain a top-down clinical perspective of healthcare and develop the skills and knowledge to become an impactful nursing leader. Learn how to analyze and evaluate data from evidence-based research to create opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Prepare to guide strategic initiatives within your healthcare system and further your nurse executive career.

Meet Your Academic Team

  • Nancy Moss

    Program 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.

    Read Nancy's Bio
  • Carolyn Sipes

    Core 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).

    Read Carolyn's Bio
  • Fischer-Shelly

    Shelly Fischer

    Contributing Faculty

    Dr. Fischer has taught at the undergraduate and graduate nursing levels since August 2013 and has maintained an active practice in acute and long-term care nursing. She holds certification as a nurse educator and nurse executive, advanced.

    Read Shelly's Bio

Career Outlook

Walden’s online DNP Executive Leadership specialization can academically prepare you to meet new and emerging healthcare demands as a nurse executive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 32% through 2029.2 Shape a fulfilling career and make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of patients in your community.

A DNP – Executive Leadership degree can academically prepare you for roles such as:

  • Chief nursing officer3
  • Clinical director4
  • Nursing manager4
  • Nursing director4

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can academically prepare you for career opportunities in settings such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Offices of physicians
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Government agencies
  • Outpatient care centers

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

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