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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Information

Program Description | Admission Criteria | Application Procedure | Admission of International Students | Important Information for DNP Applicants from Other Countries | Length of Program | Curriculum

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DNP Program Description

This practice-focused doctoral program prepares nursing leaders for the highest level of clinical nursing practice. Throughout the program students develop the clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills to design and implement programs of care delivery which significantly impact health care outcomes and have the potential to transform health care. Graduates with this doctoral practice degree are prepared for roles in direct care or indirect, systems-focused care.

Advanced nursing practice in today’s health care environment requires complex clinical skills and sophisticated knowledge of the evidence-base for practice. Graduates of the DNP will be able to affect the healthcare delivery system by being superb clinicians, by evaluating the evidence base for nursing practice, by becoming leaders in the clinical arenas, by establishing standards and policies, and by meeting the needs of today’s diverse healthcare systems.

The DNP Program admits a FALL TERM COHORT only.  Application deadlines are February 15th and May 1st.  Complete applications received by February 15th will be reviewed and admission-decision notification sent by June 1st.  Admission decisions for complete applications received by May 1st will be communicated by June 30th.  International applicants are  advised to apply by February 15th in order to allow sufficient time for obtaining relevant documents.  Admission decisions  will be communicated by e-mail and also by mail.

The post-masters DNP program only is available online*. Both the post BSN and the post masters DNP are offered on site at the Pittsburgh campus. Additional information regarding the online option can be found at

*At this time, the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing IS AUTHORIZED to enroll online students from most US states. Pursuant to state laws and regulations, however, we are currently unable to admit online students from selected states. Please see: ( If your state is listed as one where we cannot enroll students, please contact Pitt Online ( or 412-648-9499) to determine if the status has changed.

 The following curriculum choices are


Post-Masters's DNP

Clinical Nurse Specialist Clinical Nurse Specialist

Nurse Administration (onsite)

Nursing Administration (onsite and online)


Nurse Anesthesia (onsite and online)

Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care (onsite)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care (onsite)
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) (onsite)
  • Neonatal (onsite)
  • Pediatric Primary Care (onsite)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (onsite)
Nurse Practitioner

Admission to the DNP Program

The DNP Program admits BSN graduates, post-baccalaureate nurses, advanced practice nurses and nursing administration practitioners who have completed a graduate  degree in nursing from  an NLN. CCNE, ACICS or ACEN accredited program in nursing. 

* BSN graduates with a master’s in other areas may be considered for admission.

Admission Criteria

All applicants must have:

  1. A competitive GPA: A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. On most recent degree (Bachelor of Science in Nursing [BSN] or masters).
  2. A current license to practice nursing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the state or U.S. territory where the student will complete the clinical practice requirements. International applicants should see the section below on Admission of Students from Other Countries and Policy 201
  3. A pre-admission interview. If the applicant resides at a great distance, a telephone interview may be substituted.
  4. Evidence of ability to communicate in writing through the required personal essay, and achievement of 3 or above on the analytical writing section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) when required (see item #8)
  5. Pre-requisite statistics course within the last 10 years with a grade of B or better
  6. Applicants to the DNP Program must have a BSN or an entry level MSN (that incorporated AACN BSN Essentials from an NLN, CCNE, ACICS or ACEN accredited program in nursing) or masters in a related field.
  7. Applicants to the Master DNP Program must have a master’s degree in nursing (from an NLN, CCNE, ACICS or ACEN accredited program) or masters in a related field.
  8. GRE is required for all BSN-DNP applicants and MSN-DNP applicants with GPA less than 3.5 (most recent degree). A competitive score is required. Competitive applicants are expected to score in the 50th percentile or above on both the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE and 3 or above on the analytical writing section. GRE scores are acceptable for five years after the test date.
  9. Specific Areas of Concentration/Majors may have additional eligibility criteria.

Application Procedure

An online application is preferred and may be made online at or in hard copy.  Application materials are available in the Student Services Office, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing,  3500  Victoria  Street,  239  Victoria  Building,  Pittsburgh,  PA  15261.  Each applicant should then submit the following:

  1. Completed application form
  2. A non-refundable application fee
  3. Complete official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate education
  4. Admission test scores if applicable
  5. Three letters of professional recommendation in sealed envelopes indicating the reviewer’s support of the student’s ability to successfully complete a demanding graduate level academic and clinical program. At least one recommendation should come from a current or recent direct supervisor.
  6. Personal essay stating one’s philosophy of nursing, reasons for wanting to study in a particular area of specialization, expectation of the DNP Area of Specialty, and future career goals
  7. Applicants to the DNP should include in their essay an area of interest for consideration as a capstone project
  8. Current CV or resume

Admission of International Students

Application is made through the Student Services Office, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 239 Victoria Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA. Applications from international students are reviewed according to the DNP programs admission criteria stated above and are admitted as stated above. The application must be completed in English and accompanied by official academic credentials with notarized English translations.  Applicants to the Post-Master’s DNP Program must have a degree comparable to the U.S. master’s degree in nursing.

Applicants to the BSN to DNP Program must have a degree comparable to the U.S. baccalaureate degree in nursing or entry level master’s degree in nursing. The official transcripts must show all high school and post-high school work, including grades in each course, examination grades and standing in examinations and classes, and whatever other credentials are available to give a clear description of the student’s academic accomplishments.  “Applicants to the DNP Programs from other countries should review Policy 201 INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADMISSION, GRADUATE PROGRAM for additional admission criteria for international students.

Admission of the RN-DNP program students

Applicants to the RN-DNP program must graduate from a CCNE, NLN, or ACEN accredited associate degree program or diploma school of nursing. A student may be admitted to the DNP program pending satisfactory completion of the 24 graduate bridge credits and completion of the BSN.

Graduate Clearances

All graduate students are required to submit the following clearances by the end of their first term of enrollment:

  • Child abuse clearance from the state where the student will be completing clinical requirements (in Pennsylvania, this is PA Child Abuse History: Act 33)
  • Criminal background check from the stat where the student will be completing clinical requirements (in Pennsylvania, this is PA Criminal Record Check: Act 34
  • FBI Fingerprint Criminal History: Act 73

Important Information for DNP Applicants from Other Countries

International students may not register until non-academic clearance has been issued by the University Office of International Services. It is especially important that the student have proof of  adequate financial support and a current Visa.

After admission, the School of Nursing reserves the right, even after arrival and enrollment, to require, at the student’s expense if necessary, individual curriculum adjustments whenever particular deficiencies or needs are found. This could include enrollment in courses prerequisite to the regular course of study or additional course work in English as a second language

To facilitate the educational experience and to help the student adjust to the United States, the University offers the support of the Office of International Services:

Office of International Services
706 William Pitt Union
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Please refer to Policy 201.

For international applicants whose native language is not English, successful achievement on the TOEFL (Test for English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing system) is required.

After admission to the DNP program has been granted, actual enrollment in courses is contingent upon successful completion of the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) and licensure as a registered nurse in the state of Pennsylvania. To be eligible to take the NCLEX in Pennsylvania, a candidate must have passing scores on the CGFNS (Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) examination.

Length of Program

RNs may be accepted to the DNP Program  while earning a BSN,  however a BSN is required to complete the DNP. A BSN is also required for those applicants with a MSN  or PHD in nursing degree. We will consider nurses with a master’s in areas other than nursing.  The duration of the full-time program will depend on the student’s preparation prior to entry: (1) Following a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing approximately 3 years full time. (2) Following a Master’s Degree in nursing approximately 1-2 years full time. The applicant’s master’s transcript will be compared with the DNP curriculum and their previous coursework will be reviewed for permissible transfer credits in keeping with University policy and program requirements. (3) Following a PhD Degree in Nursing approximately 1-2 years full time. The applicant’s PhD transcripts will be compared with the DNP curriculum. Academic credit for comparable coursework will be granted in keeping with University policy.


Course work and clinical practice are required in the DNP curriculum. The core theory content and set of core competencies for all DNP graduates are aligned with The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, defined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN].

The DNP focuses on evaluating evidence and using evidence in clinical decision-making, leadership skills, implementing viable clinical innovations, and through applying research and theoretical understanding to plan and make change in practice. There is also emphasis on a population perspective, assessment of populations, use of data to make programmatic decisions, and program evaluation.

Core courses of this curriculum focus on advanced evidence-based practice, organizational and systems leadership, clinical research and analytical methods for evidence-based practice, informatics and patient care technology for the transformation of health care, health care policy and finance, ethics, clinical prevention and population health, and interprofessional collaboration for improving patient and population health outcomes. This knowledge is then expanded upon through courses within selected areas of focus. The DNP educational experience culminates in a Capstone Project that reflects the practice interest of the student and the synthesis and application of knowledge gained through the curriculum. 

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  • Phone: 412-624-4586
    Toll Free: 1-888-747-0794
    Fax: 412-624-2409


This page was last modified on Thu Sep 11 14:54:45 EDT 2014.