Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

"Now that I have my DNP, not only do I still get to help families, but I also get to focus on improving the process at a higher level for our team. I'm able to perform literature reviews, data collection, and change our process using my clinical background."

Adam Schneider, DNP '17, Senior Organ Procurement Coordinator, UW Organ and Tissue Donation

7
Specialty tracks

100%
APRN certification pass rates

#1
DNP program in Wisconsin

About Our DNP Program

The DNP program develops expertise in specialized advanced practice with additional competencies in leadership, policy development, and practice-based scholarship. These enrichments prepare advanced practice nurses for the highest levels of practice and career advancement.

Designed for adult learners, the UW–Madison program offers a hybrid format for students in one of five APRN clinical tracks and a fully online program for those focusing on Population Health or Systems Leadership and Innovation.

Hybrid Programs – Advanced Clinical Practice (APRN) Specialties

Students Claire Johnson and Sarah Smith share a hallway conversation

Our APRN students complete their education and training through a hybrid format — some content is posted and completed online, and regular portions are delivered in person.  In general, a clinical DNP student’s schedule requires them to be on campus one or two days each month. There is one semester in which they are required to attend weekly for a hands-on advanced assessment course.

A hybrid format provides students with regular opportunities to learn hands-on clinical skills from experts in practice.  The ability to demonstrate new skills and receive immediate, in-person coaching is key to our students’ practice-readiness and professional success.

Regular campus visits provide students with a sense of belonging and access to all the advantages UW–Madison has to offer. Importantly, periodic meetings with faculty and peers provide the opportunity for dynamic discussions and friendships. We have learned this way of delivering DNP education builds a sense of community and professional support that lasts long past graduation.

All clinical education is in person and students complete a minimum of 1,000 practicum hours. The School of Nursing arranges and oversees practica with established academic and community partnerships in independent practices and major health care systems across Wisconsin.

Advanced clinical practice specialties include:

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Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

  • Specialize in the care of children and adolescents.
  • Act as primary care, diagnose patients, perform exams, prescribe medication, order tests, educate patients and families, provide treatments, and manage patient records.
  • Prepare to sit for PNCB Primary Care Pediatric NP (CPNP-PC™) certification.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Program Basics

Delivery: Hybrid
Credits: 68 (with bachelor’s degree)
32 (with master’s degree)
Commitment: 2-4 years
Tuition: Resident $1,108.16 per credit
Nonresident: $2,116.15 per credit
Eligible Applicants: BSN or MS degree holders

Online Programs – Advanced Non-clinical Practice (non-APRN) Specialties

Doctor of Nursing Practice students talk with faculty.

Our online specialty tracks focus on advanced nursing practice in non-clinical settings, population health, and systems leadership. Both specialties aim to improve health outcomes, systems of care, and the contexts of health from a leadership level.

Experienced faculty certified in their respective field teach each specialty track. All coursework is completed asynchronously online (on your own schedule), and practicum hours are accomplished in quality sites close to home. To further enrich the experience, students can opt to engage in synchronous office hours or live discussions with faculty and peers several times each semester.

These online specialty tracks prepare students for expert nursing practice. Graduates will be positioned to lead systems, shape policy, design new models of care, and foster population health improvement.

Advanced non-clinical specialties include:

  • Population Health
  • Systems Leadership and Innovation

With a DNP in Population Health or Systems Leadership and Innovation, you can:

  • Achieve careers as nurse executives, program managers, public health directors, or quality improvement specialists.
  • Develop organizational policies and procedures.
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate health-related programs
  • Integrate nursing science and systems leadership to improve the health of populations.
  • Use data and evidence to Improve patient care outcomes and nursing processes.
  • Educate future and practicing nurses.

Program Basics

Delivery: Online
Credits: 58
Commitment: 3 years
Tuition: $1,150 per credit
Eligible Applicants: BS or MS in nursing degree holders

DNP Alumni Leadership & Careers

Rewarding careers in health care await our graduates after they complete our DNP program. Our alumni have moved into positions across the state and country.

DNP Curriculum

Students progress in a group, following the same course sequence of the program. This cohort model builds a community that challenges each other academically and professionally.

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Clinical and Leadership Practicum Experiences

Post-BS students complete a minimum of 1,000 practicum hours: 500 hours in clinical practice and 500 hours in clinical leadership.

Post-MS students complete a minimum of 500 hours in clinical leadership.

The School of Nursing arranges all clinical placements with established academic partnerships with major health care systems across Wisconsin.

The School of Nursing tries to honor student requests to complete clinicals near their home community or another site of interest, provided the site meets the requirements for the course and a qualified preceptor is available.

Requirements

The curriculum is organized around three components: Systematic Evaluation of Practice, Leadership/Policy, and Clinical Practice.

Students meet requirements through coursework, a scholarly project, and supervised clinical hours.

Post-BSN Option

The Post-BSN option requires a minimum of 71 credits (68 in the program plan plus a 3-credit graduate statistics requirement).

Students with a non-APRN master’s degree in nursing are considered post-BSN students. They can waive up to 18 credits based on previous graduate coursework.

Three-year and four-year program options are available.

Note: Whether three- or four-year, most students reduce work hours when completing their clinical courses.

Post-MS Option

Only students with an advanced practice nursing certification or that are eligible for certification can pursue the post-MS option.

The Post-MS option requires a minimum of 51 credits (32 in the program plan plus up to 18 credits recognized from the MS degree). Two-year program options are available.

Students with a non-APRN master’s degree in nursing are considered post-BSN students. They can waive up to 18 credits based on previous graduate coursework.

Nurse Educator Certificate Option

Students interested in dual preparation as advanced practice nurses and nurse educators may add a nine-credit nursing education focus.

Program Learning Outcomes

Each academic program at UW–Madison has student learning outcomes that describe what students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of the program.

The DNP program’s learning outcomes are listed in the Guide.

Scholarly Project

In the final year of the program, each student completes a scholarly project, which represents the culmination of a student’s doctoral education.

The project uses evidence to improve either practice or patient outcomes. It may take the form of a program evaluation, program development proposal, or quality improvement project.

Students develop their scholarly projects over three semesters to produce a paper of publishable quality and deliver an oral presentation to faculty, students, and the community.

Program Standards

The program meets the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice and the NTF Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs. The DNP program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

DNP candiate presents their scholarly project for an audience

DNP Request for Information

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive communications from UW–Madison School of Nursing. We value your privacy and will never sell your email or information about you.

How to Apply

Post-BSN

Post-BSN applicants have a bachelor of science in nursing. If you are an applicant with a non-APRN master’s degree (i.e., nurse education), you are considered a post-BSN applicant. You can waive up to 18 credits based on previous graduate coursework, pending a review of syllabi.

Post-BSN Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduation from an accredited baccalaureate program
  • RN license (unencumbered, active)
    • If you do not have a Wisconsin RN license, you must be eligible to obtain one
  • GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits for the baccalaureate degree
  • One year of professional nursing experience
  • Grade of B or better in a graduate-level statistics course within the last 5 years. (Note: The course can be taken after applying but must be completed before the start of the fall term.)

Post-MS

Post-MS applicants are certified (or eligible for certification) as advanced practice nurses (APRNs) with a master’s degree in a specialty track.

Post-MS Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduation from an accredited baccalaureate program
  • RN license (unencumbered, active)
    • If you do not have a Wisconsin RN license, you must be eligible to obtain one
  • Master’s degree in a specialty track from an accredited nursing program
  • GPA of 3.5 for the master’s degree
  • Certification or eligible for certification as an advanced practice nurse
  • One year of professional nursing experience
  • Grade of B or better in a graduate-level statistics course within the last 5 years. (Note: The course can be taken after applying but must be completed before the start of the fall term.)

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

  • CGFNS Certification
  • Minimum English proficiency scores in one of the following:
    • TOEFL (600 PBT, 100 iBT)
    • IELTS (8)
    • MELAB (85)

Applies to Population Health and Systems Leadership and Innovation Specialties

Post-BSN

Post-BSN applicants have a bachelor of science in nursing. If you are an applicant with a non-APRN master’s degree (i.e., nurse education), you are considered a post-BSN applicant. You can waive up to 18 credits based on previous graduate coursework, pending a review of syllabi.

Post-BSN Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduation from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program
  • RN license
  • GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits for the baccalaureate degree
  • At least one year of experience in nursing, public health, or a health-related field
  • Grade of B or better in a graduate-level statistics course within the last 5 years. (Note: The course can be taken after applying but must be completed before the start of the fall term.)

Post-MS

Post-MS applicants are certified (or eligible for certification) as advanced practice nurses (APRNs) with a master’s degree in a specialty track.

Post-MS Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduation from an accredited baccalaureate program
  • RN license
  • Master’s degree in a specialty track from an accredited nursing program
  • GPA of 3.5 for the master’s degree
  • Certification or eligible for certification as an advanced practice nurse
  • At least one year of experience in nursing, public health, or a health-related field
  • Grade of B or better in a graduate-level statistics course within the last 5 years. (Note: The course can be taken after applying but must be completed before the start of the fall term.)

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

  • CGFNS Certification
  • Minimum English proficiency scores in one of the following:
    • TOEFL (600 PBT, 100 iBT)
    • IELTS (8)
    • MELAB (85)

DNP students pay a differential tuition. Rates can change each term.

The current tuition estimates for APRN tracks are:

  • Resident $1,108.16 per credit
  • Nonresident: $2,116.15 per credit

The tuition rate for non-APRN tracks (Population Health or Systems Leadership and Innovation) is $1,150 per credit. DNP online/distance students are not charged segregated fees and do not have access to the associated services, programs, and facilities.

The Graduate School Cost of Attendance may help in estimating costs:

  • substitute the DNP tuition rate (for APRN)
  • substitute the DNP online/distance tuition rate (for non-APRN)

Financial Support

Graduate students in the School of Nursing can apply for traineeships, fellowships, scholarships, loans, and research and teaching assistantship positions that may come with full tuition remission.

Most funding decisions are made in the Spring for the next academic year. All students are encouraged to apply for funding.

Visit the Costs & Financial Aid page for full information about financial support.

The faculty admissions committee will review applications once a year for fall admission. All DNP program applicants must complete the Graduate School’s online application and submit the required supplementary materials.

Application opens: Early September
Deadline: December 1
Extended Deadline: April 1 (CNS, Population Health, and Systems Leadership & Innovation tracks) (interviews to be scheduled later)
Interviews: January 13-14, 2022. The School of Nursing will assign interview dates and times.

You must:

  • Apply to one specialty track
  • Select a three- or four-year program plan

You may upload unofficial transcripts to the application for application review. The Graduate School will request official records for all candidates recommended for admission.

Requests to switch population focus areas after starting the program are rarely possible.

After an initial application review, eligible applicants will be invited for an interview mid-January through late February. Eligible applicants must participate in an interview to be considered for this program. The School of Nursing assigns the interview dates and times.

Application Materials

Supplemental application materials

  • Transcripts from all previously attended and currently attending institutions
  • Copy of all nursing and professional licenses
  • Three (3) professional letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • If you are an international applicant, you must submit:
    • CGFNS Certification
    • Official TOEFL, ILETS, or MELAB scores
  • Reasons for Graduate Study/Statement of Purpose.
    • Upload your Statement of Purpose document to both:
      • the Supplemental Apps tab
      • the Statements & CV tab
    • DNP students must possess strong writing abilities
    • Your statement will be assessed based on the following:
      • Ability to address the entire prompt
      • Ability to write in a logical, analytical, and meaningful manner
      • Ability to be concise and utilize proper grammar and syntax
      • Before writing your Statement of Purpose, please review the Essentials of DNP Education.

Statement of Purpose Instructions

Share your experiences and motivation for pursuing a DNP degree at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing. Your statement must address all the following questions in 1,600 words or less (5 pages maximum, double-spaced, PDF format):

  1. Share your motivation for pursuing a practice doctorate in nursing. Describe your professional goals and the specific skills and knowledge you hope to gain from this program.
  2. What has inspired and prepared you to pursue your chosen specialty track (i.e., Adult/Gerontology Acute Care, Adult/Gerontology Primary Care, Adult/Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Primary Care, Psychiatric Mental Health, Population Health, Systems Leadership & Innovation)?
  3. A key role of the DNP-prepared nurse is to translate evidence into practice. Describe a significant clinical, population health, and/or system problem in healthcare that you have encountered firsthand. Address the following questions in your response.
    1. What was the problem?
    2. Who was most impacted?
    3. What research, best practice guidelines, or innovations could provide potential solutions to the problem?
    4. Identify how the role of a DNP could impact change for this problem.
  4. Each student will bring a unique set of personal attributes, characteristics, culture, and experiences to contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment.
    1. What have you done to further your knowledge about diversity, equity, and inclusion?
    2. How have you demonstrated what you have learned?
    3. What are your greatest opportunities for growth in this area?

Optional statement

If you believe that your academic record or test scores do not accurately reflect your ability to be successful in graduate work, you may submit a statement that describes additional factors that you feel merit consideration. This optional statement must be 250 words or less (1 page maximum, double-spaced, PDF format).

Connect with Us

If you have any questions, would like to discuss visit options, or want to connect with faculty members, please contact us. We are happy to arrange connections with current students as well. They can often provide special insight into the program, academic services, and life at the University and in Madison.