Class in Health Sciences Simulation Center

Doctor of Nursing Practice

SMU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice is a clinical-focused doctorate designed to develop nurse leaders who will transform health care on a local and national scale.

Format

  • Online

Program Duration

  • 24 Months (Six Semesters)

Deadlines

Spring Application

Fall Application

Spring Application

Advance to the Highest Level in the Nursing Profession

In the mid-2000s, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing issued a position statement that included a goal of transitioning advanced nursing programs from master’s of science in nursing into doctorate programs. In response to this vision, SMU established its DNP program.

SMU’s post-MSN doctorate is geared toward advanced practice nurses—such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives—as well as nurses in organizational leadership roles.

Our DNP offers a flexible, online format intended to allow practicing nurses to continue working full- or part-time while earning their advanced degree.

Opportunities for DNP Graduates

As the health care field advances and populations diversify, nurses must keep up with new areas of knowledge, including genetics, biomedical science, health information systems, environmental health, global health, and chronic diseases. Our DNP program, which is grounded in patient-centered, evidence-based practice, prepares nursing professionals for leadership roles as:

  • Chief nursing officer

  • Director of nursing

  • Nursing administrator

  • Nurse researcher

Post-Baccalaureate DNP Option

SMU also offers registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree the option to pursue their Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) master’s degree and DNP simultaneously. This 44-month program is offered through a combination of online and on-campus classes.
 

Learn More

What’s the Difference Between a Ph.D. and DNP?

Both the Ph.D. and DNP are terminal degrees in the nursing field and can lead to advanced career opportunities. The difference lies in the desired outcome: research or application. Ph.D. programs typically are rooted in academic and clinical research and prepare students to work in nursing education. The DNP, however, focuses on the clinical practice of nursing.

What We Look For

  • A commitment to improving healthcare outcomes via practice, policy change, and leadership
  • An accredited master’s degree in nursing (other graduate degrees also considered if applicant demonstrates competency in American Association of Colleges of Nursing master’s essentials)
  • Residency in one of these states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, Texas or Virginia
  • Current RN license in their resident state
  • Successful completion of a statistics course within past three years
  • Proficiency with computers, including internet applications and document management and creation

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Program Requirements & Info

Applications for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program are accepted using theCentral Application Service for Nursing Schools (NursingCAS). Students are admitted on a rolling basis until space is no longer available, and the program starts once per year in January.

The admission review process is fairly quick once all documents have been received and your application has been verified by NursingCAS. In general, once a complete application is verified by NursingCAS, you will be contacted for a phone interview. Upon successful completion of the interview, your admission will be processed and you will be notified within a week.

After admission, you will also have to provide the following:

  • Program orientation

  • Criminal background check

  • Proof of health insurance coverage

  • CPR certification

  • Completion of required student health forms

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To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (master's degrees in other health-related fields along with a BSN will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Current unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license in state of residence.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher on MSN coursework.
  • The need for a TOEFL will be assessed based on information provided by applicants on the application for admission. If required, a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test) must be achieved and official score results must be provided.

A complete application will include the following:

  • Official transcripts from every school attended since high school (see information about Transcripts in the Application Process section).
  • A copy of your CV/Resume.
  • A copy of your nursing license.
  • Two letters of reference attesting to your academic and clinical expertise.
  • Responses to two personal statements. The first is a short example of academic scholarship and the second an elaboration on how the DNP degree will advance your professional goals (please see the NursingCAS application for more information).  
  • Certification of your clinical practice hours (please see the NursingCAS application for more information).

Students Educated Outside of the United States

TOEFL

The need for the TOEFL will be assessed based on information provided by the applicant on the application for admission. If the TOEFL is required, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test). Scores must be submitted during the application process.

International Transcript Evaluation Agencies

Students who have completed their degrees outside of the United States will have to have their degrees evaluated for United States baccalaureate equivalency, also known as a course-by-course/comprehensive evaluation. Please click here for a list of international transcript evaluation agencies.

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

Samuel Merritt University is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for Nurses include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email.

finaid@samuelmerritt.edu or 510-879-9200

Full-time MSN-DNP Course Sequence (2 years)

First Year
Semester 1 Spring   
Nursing and Healthcare Science for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0
Population Health and Clinical Prevention 3.0 

Semester 2 Summer   
Evidence-Based Translation for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0 
Advanced Nursing Practice Project Conceptualization and Design 2.0 

Semester 3 Fall   
Policy and Advocacy for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0 
Advanced Nursing Practice Project Management 2.0
 

Second Year
Semester 4 Spring   
Leadership, Quality, Safety, and Improvement Science in Complex Healthcare Systems 3.0 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 1 1.0 

Semester 5 Summer   
Information Systems and Technology for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 2 2.0

Semester 6 Fall   
Interprofessional Practice 3.0 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 3 2.0
 

Part-time MSN-DNP Course Sequence (4 years)
Semester 1 Spring
Nursing and Healthcare Science for Advanced Nursing 3.0

Semester 2 Summer
Evidence-Based Translation for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0

Semester 3 Fall
Policy and Advocacy for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0

Semester 4 Spring
Leadership, Quality, Safety, and Improvement Science in Complex Healthcare Systems 3.0

Semester 5 Summer
Information Systems and Technology for Advanced Nursing Practice 3.0

Semester 6 Fall
Interprofessional Practice 3.0

Semester 7 Spring
Population Health and Clinical Prevention 3.0

Semester 8 Summer 
Advanced Nursing Practice Project Conceptualization and Design 2.0

Semester 9 Fall 
Advanced Nursing Practice Project Management 2.0

Semester 10 Spring 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 1 1.0

Semester 11 Summer 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 2 2.0

Semester 12 Fall 
Advanced Nursing Practice Residency 3 2.0

Graduation Rates*
2014-2015 Cohort     40%
2013-2014 Cohort     71%
2012-2013 Cohort     78%

*% of Entering Cohort Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time

First-Year Retention Rates
2016-2017 Cohort     92%
2015-2016 Cohort     92%
2014-2015 Cohort     93%

Employment Rate in the Profession (within one year of graduation)**
2015-2016 graduating class     100%
2014-2015 graduating class     100%
2013-2014 graduating class     100%

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni Survey; employment rate not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni Survey.

Licensure Pass Rates (First-Time Takers Only)
Not applicable.

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; (510) 748-9001. WSCUC is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program (post-master's degree and FNP-DNP degree) at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001. 202.887.6791.  Direct contact information for CCNE staff is accessed via the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Staff Directory.

DNP Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: September 24, 2012
Most Recent Accreditation Date: September 25, 2017
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2028
Last On-Site Evaluation: September 2017
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2027

Trained to Lead Change

Our DNP grads improve health care outcomes through clinical practice, policy change, and leadership.

100%

Employed Within 6 Months

Our DNP graduates are in high demand.

1,000 Clinical Practice Hours

Students receive hands-on training in a supervised educational environment with expert mentors.

$135K

Median Salary for DNP Graduates

Nurse practitioners improve health systems care while also making a good living.

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