Oct 25, 2020  
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021 
    
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021

Nursing Practice: Post-Master’s, D.N.P.


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The Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree prepares graduates to analyze systems of care and provide transformational leadership to improve patient safety, quality of care, and implement evidence-based culturally competent care practices.  Graduates from this program are able to interpret and apply research findings to practice settings, determine and measure system and population outcomes, manage information systems, and use appropriate technology for health and risk communication.

Upon completion of the DNP program, graduates are able to:

  • Analyze and integrate evidence from nursing science with evidence from other relevant scientific disciplines to form a scientific foundation for advanced practice in nursing.
  • Apply clinical scholarship, scientific evidence, and analytical methods to improve health care outcomes.
  • Develop and evaluate systems to enhance safety and quality of healthcare.
  • Advocate and participate in collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes at the practice/organization, community, state, and national levels.
  • Engage in culturally competent and ethically sound advanced nursing practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the improvement of patient outcomes and transformation of health care delivery.
  • Manage directly the complex problems of clients/populations and systems to facilitate access and navigation of the health care system to improve health outcomes.

The DNP Program is a Dual DNP Program offered with Western Carolina University.  Courses alternate between campuses and are taught in an executive format.  Students are expected to travel to either campus and participate in campus immersion activities that occur at the beginning of each semester.

Admission Requirements


  • An overall GPA of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program as documented by official transcripts
  • Earned master’s in nursing in an advanced nursing practice specialty from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body
  • Current RN licensure in the U.S. at time of application with eligibility for NC licensure; NC licensure must be obtained prior to clinical practice experiences in NC
  • GRE/MAT scores are not required for applicants to the Post-Master’s DNP Program who already hold a graduate degree in nursing or applicable graduate program in an advanced nursing practice specialty from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNS) must provide evidence of current national certification and meet the state requirements for practice in their state of licensure
  • An essay that addresses: 1) advanced practice expertise, 2) career goals, 3) how earning the DNP degree will foster achievement of these goals, and 4) plans for DNP project
  • Resume/curriculum vitae
  • Three professional recommendations that address the practice capabilities of the candidate
  • For international students: submission of TOEFL scores with a minimum score of 557 for the paper test and 83 Internet-based test
  • Additional evidence for consideration of the application can be uploaded (e.g., publications, posters, evidence-based practice projects)
  • Evidence of 500 supervised clinical hours within the MSN program (to be completed by MSN program officials); applicants who do not meet the clinical hours criteria can meet with the Graduate Program Director to discuss a plan to meet the requirement

Degree Requirements


The DNP program requires 42 post-master’s graduate credit hours and completion of a total of 1000 clinical practice hours (includes 500 hours from the MSN program).

Degree Total = 42 Credit Hours


Grade Requirements


A student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all coursework taken in the program. A student who accumulates two grades of C or any grade of U will automatically be terminated from the DNP Program.

Clinical Residency and DNP Scholarly Project


Project Description

Students complete a DNP Scholarly Project in conjunction with their clinical residency or project development courses.  The DNP Scholarly Project is a project that brings together the practice and scholarship aspects of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.  It is designed to address complex practice issues that affect groups of patients, healthcare organizations, or healthcare systems while utilizing informatics, technology, and in-depth knowledge of the clinical and behavioral sciences.  The clinical scholarship required in the DNP Scholarly Project reflects mastery and competency in the student’s area of expertise.

The DNP Scholarly Project continues throughout the program, culminating in a scholarly public defense.  The DNP Scholarly Project requires students to demonstrate expert practice, the use of evidence-based practice, translational research, and use of skills necessary to lead interdisciplinary teams to improve patient/client outcomes and health status individually, organizationally, or within a community. Students may choose to work in settings related to their specialty practice.

Project Approval

The DNP Scholarly Project is guided by the DNP Scholarly Project Committee.  The composition of the DNP Scholarly Project committee includes:  1) a chair who is a doctoral-prepared faculty member in the School of Nursing with regular graduate faculty status at UNC Charlotte; 2) an expert clinical mentor (Ph.D., DNP, M.D. or other doctoral prepared individual; 3) one additional faculty member; and 4) a faculty member appointed by the Graduate School at UNC Charlotte.  It is the responsibility of the DNP Scholarly Project Committee to guide the student through project planning, implementation, and evaluation process.

Upon approval of the DNP Scholarly Project topic, the student begins to develop the project.  Once the project development is complete, the student presents to the committee and DNP faculty the final proposal for the project.  The student’s DNP Scholarly Project proposal serves as the primary component of the qualifying examination for the DNP program.  To be eligible to defend the DNP Scholarly Project proposal, a student must have completed the written proposal and orally presented the proposal to the committee.  This written and oral presentation is used to evaluate if the student is prepared and qualified to begin work on the project. 

Institutional Review Board Approval

The DNP Scholarly Project must be collectively agreed upon by the student, the practice setting, and the student’s DNP Scholarly Project Committee.  Prior to beginning the DNP Scholarly Project, the project may require approval of the UNC Charlotte Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Review Board at the agency where the project will be conducted.  If required, all IRB requirements must be fulfilled prior to launching the project.  Any additional agency requirements must be completed prior to beginning implementation of the project.

Project Defense

After completion of the DNP Scholarly Project, the student orally defends the written project to the Project Committee in a public defense.  The outcome of the project defense is pass or no pass.  The student is allowed two attempts to present/defend the DNP scholarly project.  Failure to successfully defend after two attempts results in dismissal from the program.  Details regarding timelines and benchmarks in conducting and defending the project are available in the DNP Student Handbook.

Student Handbooks


The policies and procedures guiding the program, progression, and expectations can be found in the Graduate Student and DNP Student Handbooks.  Clinical concentrations may have additional handbooks related to clinical performance and expectations.

Time Limits for Degree Completion


All graduation requirements must be completed within 6 years after enrollment in the first course.

Transfer Credit


DNP students may transfer up to 6 graduate credit hours (with a grade of B or above) with approval of the DNP Graduate Program Director.  No course being transferred may be older than 6 years at the time of graduation.

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