Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Admission Information

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has two tracks. The first is a 24-month post-MSN professional program and the other is a 44-month post-baccalaureate professional program designed to prepare graduates to practice at the highest level of advanced nursing practice. More information about the post-BSN program


The 2-year Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program prepares nurses to apply research and evaluate data at the highest levels of clinical practice. Nurses interested in the DNP degree will have the drive and commitment to improve healthcare outcomes via clinical practice, policy change and leadership.

The post-MSN DNP program is offered entirely online* and is available in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • Texas 
  • Virginia 

Why should I get a DNP?

New areas of knowledge such as genetics, environmental health, care of diverse populations, and global health require new models for education and practice. The nursing profession is the critical link for delivery of safe, effective, and patient-centered care. DNP education will produce the profession's future leaders. SMU's DNP program is designed to develop nurse leaders who will transform health care on a local and national scale.

An individual with a DNP-level education will be able to:

  • Design programs of care delivery that are effective, acceptable to patients and care providers, and economically feasible
  • Significantly impact health care outcomes
  • Critique and apply scientific clinical findings
  • Transform health care delivery by applying best practices to the clinical care of individuals, families, and communities
  • Develop advanced competencies for increasingly complex care and leadership in global health, genetics, and biomedical sciences

"SMU's DNP program was everything I hoped for and more.  As a direct result of my DNP training, I was selected for a full-time tenure-track teaching position in a school of nursing and invited to join the Board of Directors of three federally-qualified community health centers where I completed my DNP capstone project. Thanks to SMU and my DNP training, I have the requisite knowledge, skills, and ability to make a real difference in the quality of patient care."

-- Dr. Ellen Christiansen, Class of 2013

"I had a wonderful experience at Samuel Merritt! The DNP program was well integrated and provided the opportunity to build a robust and complete DNP Project. Each course provided a piece that led to the overall project completion. I especially appreciated the DNP Project proposal course early on in the program. A very challenging course but it paved the way and provided the framework for the DNP Project. All of the faculty were accessible and able to assist me or direct me to the appropriate resource. I recommend the SMU DNP program wholeheartedly!"

-- Dr. Dana Stieglitz, Class of 2015

How does the DNP compare with the PhD?

The PhD prepares the nurse to discover new data through research. The DNP prepares the nurse to apply research and evaluate data in clinical practice. The two roles are complementary and both are needed to forward practice through collaborative teamwork. The DNP provides an advanced educational credential for those in pursuit of expertise in evidence-based practice implementation. It also provides a better match of program requirements with the credential earned.

Learn more about the DNP program, including a list of commonly asked questions.

Applying to the DNP Program

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for a January start date using the centralized application service for nursing schools, NursingCAS. More information about admission requirements and the application process are available in the following pages. We highly recommend that nurses interested in the program contact the individuals below to discuss enrollment opportunities.

Questions about the DNP program can be directed to Dr. Ellen Darozewski, Associate Dean of the School of Nursing at

Questions about the application process can be directed to Allyson Purcell, Admission Counselor, at or 510-879-9219.

* The DNP program does require an annual visit to campus in December. 

In less than two years, my family has a better life. It was a fast program and I spent many nights studying after the kids went to bed, but now I’ve got a lot to show for it: A new career Alejandra Villegas FNP
Our background in sports and passion for physical performance drove us to study the science of human movement. Tino and Tron Tino & Tron Hardy Physical Therapy
So many foot problems can be successfully treated if they are identified early, and corrective measures are taken. Then, there are patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases that require specialized, ongoing foot care. We see everything in our clinics. Samantha Ralstin Samantha Ralstin Podiatric Medicine

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