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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 terminal practice degree are prepared for roles in direct care or indirect, systems-focused care.

In today’s health care environment advanced practice nurses require 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 Completion

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 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:

  • A baccalaureate degree in nursing or RNs pursing a BSN from an NLN, CCNE, ACICS or ACEN accredited program in nursing
  • A competitive Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • A current license to practice nursing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the state or U.S. territory where DNP clinical or capstone requirements will be completed is required prior to enrolling in relevant courses. Foreign applicants should see section on Admission of Students from Other Countries.
  • A pre-admission interview. If the applicant resides at a great distance, a telephone interview may be substituted.
  • Personal essay (submitted online)
  • Pre-requisite statistics course
  • Competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination. This is not required if applicant is an RN with a BSN and has a master's degree with GPA of 3.5 or above except for Anesthesia.

Applicants to the BSN-DNP program are required to submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination. Applicants to one of the post-master's DNP areas must have a master's degree in the DNP post master’s track being pursued. Applicants interested in pursuit of a new area offered within the DNP will be required to complete relevant master's level coursework of the new area. With the exception of the Nurse Anesthesia area of concentration, applicants who have demonstrated successful completion of an MSN program with a competitive GPA (3.5 or above) may not be required to take a Graduate Record Examination. There may be additional requirements depending on the choice of a major.

Application Procedure

  1. Applications must be completed and submitted on-line.
  2. Academic Credentials:
    • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work must be mailed in a signed and sealed envelope directly from the institution.
    • If transcripts are not in English, certified translations of academic credentials are required.
  3. Submit official admission test scores, if applicable.
  4. Letters of recommendation.  Three recommendation letters submitted via on-line application (see instructions) or mailed in sealed envelopes to address given below.  Letters should be from a former/current faculty member, a current supervisor and a professional colleague.   
  5. Application fee of $50 paid on-line with a credit card.  This fee is non-refundable.
  6. Personal essay (submitted online – see instructions) stating your philosophy of nursing, your reasons for wanting to study in a particular area of specialization, what you expect from the program, and your future career goals.
  7. Current resume/curriculum vitae
  8. A statement reflecting the clinical area of interest for the required Capstone project. This should include a population and clinical diagnosis of interest, for example, persons over 65 years of age with diabetes. Identify a problem that might be addressed through a quality improvement project.

Transcripts, test scores, and other required materials should be mailed to:

University of Pittsburgh
School of Nursing
3500 Victoria Street
239 Victoria Bldg.
Pittsburgh, PA  15261

Graduate Clearances

All admitted students are required to submit Act 33, 34 and 78 clearances completed within 3 months of admission.

Admission of International Students

Applications from international students are reviewed according to the DNP program admission criteria stated above. The on-line application must be accompanied by official academic credentials with notarized English translations.  A DNP applicant must have evidence of the receipt of a degree comparable to the  USA master’s degree in nursing for admission to the MSN to DNP program or a degree comparable to the USA  baccalaureate degree in nursing for admission to the BSN to DNP program. 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.

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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This page was last modified on Mon Jun 16 14:21:57 EDT 2014.