What Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a uniquely practice-focused program, compared to the PhD in nursing, which is research-oriented. Grand Canyon University’s DNP degree is ideal for nurse leaders, public health nurses, nurse informaticists and advanced practice registered nurses who wish to remain at the forefront of patient care. This degree, offered by the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, guides nurses in applying current research to improve health care systems and enhance patient outcomes.
Examine and expand upon the theoretical and scientific foundations of health care through engaging peer discussions and scholarly activities led by instructors who are experts in their fields. Work through practice immersion activities designed to propel you to the highest level of nursing practice. Continue to meet your current professional obligations while progressing through a rigorous curriculum, which culminates in an evidence-based research Direct Practice Improvement project.
Achieve the Highest Level of Nursing Education with a DNP Degree
The online DNP degree at GCU stimulates personal and professional growth, allowing master's prepared RNs to work toward the pinnacle of their career. Explore principles in organizational change leadership that you can apply to your current healthcare organization. Become a compassionate servant leader who inspires nursing teams to continually strive for health care excellence. Examine best practices in clinical solutions. Demonstrate your advanced knowledge and skills by identifying a health practice or organizational change leadership topic for your direct practice improvement (DPI) project.
As a modern university, GCU is committed to offering a flexible learning path for professional learners. Earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree via our dynamic online platform. The online DNP program requires a total of 36 credits for graduation. Online courses are eight weeks in length.
Expand Your Theoretical Knowledge with an Online DNP Program
The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is a comprehensive program that blends theoretical knowledge with clinical application. Some of the courses you will take include:
- Emerging Areas of Human Health
- Scientific Underpinnings
- Patient Outcomes and Sustainable Change
- Leadership for Advanced Nursing Practice
- Health Care Informatics
Students study the establishment of programs of clinical excellence and explore a holistic perspective on coaching individuals and families through developmental, health-illness and situational transitions. Learners develop core competencies in nursing science and consider ethical issues in health care research. There is an emphasis on the application of evidence-based nursing science to optimize patient outcomes.
Advance to the Top of Your Field
Doctor of Nursing Practice degree holders are sought after by employers for their advanced knowledge and skills, and for their leadership qualities. Graduates of GCU are prepared to effect positive change in health care organizations by applying research-based principles to nurture favorable patient outcomes. Healthcare organizations may extend offers of employment to DNP degree holders who pursue positions as nurse executives. Some DNPs prefer to continue working directly with patient populations as advanced practice registered nurses. Others may undergo additional training to pursue specialized career paths, such as the role of nurse educator. Some employment settings may include the following:
- Hospitals & clinics
- Public health offices
- Research facilities
- Physicians’ offices
- Independent practice
For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university licensures, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page.
What Is the Difference Between a DNP and a PhD? What Jobs Do These Degrees Prepare Me for?
Both the DNP and the PhD are considered the highest forms of education available for nurses, and both prepare students to generate new knowledge. While equally recognized, there are differences. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is aimed at translating evidence-based research into clinical practice and impacting clinical settings through quality improvement processes. Whereas, the Doctor of Philosophy is more aimed at original research and is generalizable.
Graduates of both research- and practice-focused doctoral programs are prepared to generate new knowledge. However, research-focused graduates (PhD) are prepared to generate knowledge through rigorous research and statistical methodologies that may be broadly applicable or generalizable. Practice-focused graduates (DNP) are prepared to generate new knowledge through innovation of practice change, the translation of evidence, and the implementation of quality improvement processes in specific practice settings, systems, or with specific populations to improve health or health outcomes. New knowledge generated through DNP practice innovation, for example, could be of value to other practice settings. This new knowledge is considered transferrable but not considered generalizable.
GCU’s DNP helps prepare graduates to work as highly skilled nurses, step into healthcare management roles, or assume a role in academia within practice-based nursing programs. PhD graduates are equipped to become a nursing researcher, hold various health policy positions, or assume full-time teaching and administrative positions in academia.**
* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.
* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.