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Doctor of Philosophy/ Doctor of Nursing Science to Doctor of Nursing Pathway

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)/Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) to Doctor of Nursing Pathway provides Ph.D. and DNSc-prepared nurses with the ability to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in either Leadership or Advanced Practice upon review of prior master’s and doctoral coursework. Individual PhD and DNSc transcripts will be reviewed by the DNP Program Chair to identify if prior doctoral coursework is eligible for transfer to the DNP program. A maximum of 12 credits (four 3-credit courses) will be accepted for transfer into the DNP program. Admitted students will complete the remaining coursework required for their specialty concentration with an individualized degree plan. DNP project courses are ineligible for transfer credit. Each student will be required to complete a year-long evidence-based DNP project and 1,000 post-baccalaureate experiential engagement hours. Nationally board-certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses will be awarded 500 hours of credit upon admission to the program. Nurse leaders may be awarded credit for practicum/clinical hours completed during graduate coursework.

Program Competencies

Outcome competencies for the DNP program are derived from The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (AACN, 2006). Upon completion of the DNP program, graduates will be able to:
1. Evaluate the scientific underpinnings of practice.
2. Apply systems leadership skills to develop and evaluate care delivery approaches while leading quality improvement activities to improve clinical outcomes.
3. Apply clinical scholarship and analytical methods to appraise existing literature and other evidence to determine and implement the best evidence for practice.
4. Appraise information systems technology and patient care technology to transform health care.
5. Serve as a health care policy advocate by critically analyzing health policy proposals, health policies, and related issues.
6. Lead interprofessional teams in the analysis of complex practice and organizational issues to improve patient and population health outcomes.
7. Synthesize and utilize individual, aggregate, and population data to promote the highest quality of care.
8. Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in selecting, implementing, and evaluating care.

Program Information

WilmU's DNP program delivers an innovative curriculum emphasizing healthcare engineering and interdisciplinary collaboration among clinicians, educators, health systems, community leaders, and policy makers. Students learn to utilize both theory and evidence-based data to promote the highest level of professional practice.

To best serve working nurse professionals, WilmU offers flexible schedules that enable students to balance work, personal, and educational commitments. Core courses are offered in 7-week blocks, experiential engagement courses are offered in 15-week semesters, and DNP Project courses are offered in 15-week semesters.

Interested candidates must have a master’s degree in nursing or a related field and a PhD in nursing or DNSc.

The DNP program is offered in two formats: (1)100% online to provide the most flexibility for students. However, two optional online synchronous course meetings are offered during each course to facilitate student and faculty interaction. There are no on campus residency requirements and students have the option to present their final doctoral project virtually or on campus. (2) Hybrid with weekend intensives at the Brandywine campus in Wilmington, Delaware. The hybrid option requires one on weekend of on-site classes per semester.

Online cohorts begin every Spring, Summer and Fall.
Weekend intensive hybrid cohorts begin every Fall.

Students must earn a B or better in all DNP courses, maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, and complete all degree requirements within seven (7) years. If less than a B is earned in a DNP course, students may re-take the course one (1) time and a maximum of two (2) courses may be repeated. Continuous enrollment is required during the DNP Project phase of the program (DNP 8000, DNP 8001, DNP 8002 and DNP 8004 as needed).

Experiential Engagement Hours

The DNP is a rigorous, practice-leadership focused degree. Experiential engagement experiences afford students the opportunity to synthesize and utilize theory and research data to promote the highest quality of care at an advanced level of professional nursing practice. Students currently licensed as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse will complete five hundred (500) experiential engagement hours aligned with the AACN DNP Essentials. Leadership students will complete one thousand (1,000) experiential engagement hours aligned with the AACN DNP Essentials and AONE Nurse Executive Competencies. Doctoral faculty will provide oversight and guidance while students work closely with an experiential engagement mentor.
DNP Project
The DNP program exists within a framework of professional, academic rigor that culminates requires planning, implementing, and evaluating an evidence-based doctoral project. The DNP Project highlights the scholarly contribution of DNP-prepared nurses to the ever-changing health care landscape. Within the framework of evidence-based practice, students identify a pertinent topic to further study, most commonly within their workplace. The project begins in DNP 8000 and culminates with completion in DNP 8002. A majority of the experiential hours are devoted to the doctoral project; however, other courses do incorporate experiential academic engagement hours. The final project manuscript details the nature and scope of the project, and students are required to disseminate their findings to the health care community. Students are encouraged to individualize their project toward their career focus as a DNP prepared nurse and will be assigned to a DNP faculty advisor who will serve as the DNP Project Chair, providing guidance throughout the three sequential semesters of project completion. The DNP Project Team will be mutually agreed upon between the student and faculty advisor.


DNP Project

The DNP Program exists within a framework of professional, academic rigor that culminates requiring planning, implementing, and evaluating an evidence-based doctoral project. The DNP Project highlights the scholarly contribution of DNP-prepared nurses to the ever-changing health care landscape. Within the framework of evidence-based practice, students identify a pertinent topic to further study, most commonly within their workplace. The project begins in DNP 8000 and culminates with completion of DNP 8002. A majority of the experiential hours are devoted to the doctoral project: however, other courses do incorporate experiential academic engagement hours. The final project manuscript details the nature and scope of the project, and students are required to disseminate their finding to the health care community. Students are encouraged to individualize their project toward their career focus as a DNP prepared nurse and will be assigned to a DNP faculty advisor who will serve as the DNP Project Chair, providing guidance throughout the three sequential semesters of project completion. The DNP Project Team will be mutually agreed upon between the student and faculty advisor. 

Course Requirements

The DNP curriculum builds upon master's and doctoral preparation for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Nurse Leaders. Students will complete core courses taught by scholar practitioners in preparation for a year-long DNP Project designed to bridge the gap between original research and clinical practice. Experiential engagement experiences afford students the opportunity to integrate and synthesize the AACN DNP Essentials into clinical practice.

Individualized degree plans will be developed for each student.




This information applies to students who enter this degree program during the 2019-2020 Academic Year. If you entered this degree program before the Fall 2019 semester, please refer to the academic catalog for the year you began your degree program.