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Doctor of Nursing Practice FAQs

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Q: How does the DNP program at SMU differ from other doctoral nursing programs?

A: A graduate from our DNP program will be a valuable counterpart to colleagues prepared in a PhD nursing program. The DNP focuses on research utilization to promote evidence-based practice, while PhD nursing programs tend to focus on research to generate new knowledge.

Q: Is the DNP Program at Samuel Merritt University taught in an online or face-to-face format?

A: The Post-Master's DNP program is offered online with the exception of one 3-day session on-campus each year in December related to the presentation of their capstone project proposals and outcomes. The FNP/DNP curriculum includes blended online and face-to-face teaching.

Q: When is the deadline for applying?

A: Applications will begin to be reviewed August 1st for the class that starts in January. Although applications will continue to be accepted until the class is filled, space in the DNP program is limited and interested students are encouraged to apply early in the admission cycle.

Q: When does the program start?

A: The Post-Master's cohort is admitted to start the DNP program every spring (January) and FNP/DNP students begin in summer (May).

Q: How long is the program?

A: The program consists of 36 semester units and can be completed in a two-year period for full-time students. The FNP/DNP program consists of 79 semester units and can be completed in ~3.5 years.

Q: What are the academic prerequisites for admission?

A: A college or university level Statistics course must have been completed within the past three years ago with a grade of "B" or higher.

Q: What if my Statistics course is older than three years?

A: If your Statistics course is older than three years, you have two choices: you may choose to take another Statistics course or you may choose to provide verification of successful completion (CE Certificate) of the LEARNWELL CE statistics course, (C110 & C111).

Q: What makes Samuel Merritt University special?

A: Samuel Merritt University is a premier health science institution with a reputation for educating outstanding clinicians. With more than a decade of experience in distance education we have the technology and faculty expertise to effectively deliver a curriculum that is approximately 93% online.

Q: What accreditation does Samuel Merritt University have?

A:SMU is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), 510.748.9001. The DNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Senior Commission of WASC.

Q: Are there clinical requirements?

A: Yes. At the conclusion of the DNP program, you will have obtained 1,000 clinical practice hours accrued between your Master's (if applicable) and doctoral programs. These hours are completed in a supervised educational environment with an expert mentor.

Q: Does the DNP program prepare me to teach?

A: While the DNP program will include educational components that are central to both education and practice, it is not specifically designed for those who wish to teach.

Q: Do SMU BSN or MSN graduates have an advantage in the admission process?

A: While we welcome and encourage SMU BSN or MSN graduates to apply to the DNP program, all students will be evaluated equally in the admission process.

Q: Is the GRE required?

A: No, the GRE is not required.

Q: Is an interview required?

A: An interview may be scheduled. If scheduled, the purpose of the interview is to assess "fit" between your career goals and the DNP program at SMU. Additionally, your leadership, communication and decision making skills will be evaluated. The interview also provides an opportunity for you to address questions you may have about the program. Interviews may be conducted by phone or in person.

Q: How many students are admitted into the DNP program?

A: We expect to admit 18-20 students to the first several cohorts.

Q: What does the DNP program cost?

A: Please visit the tuition page for the costs.

Q: Is there financial aid available?

A: Yes. More information about financial aid is available on the financial aid page on the SMU website,