Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Offered By: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Pursue the Highest Level of Nursing Education With a DNP

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at Grand Canyon University can be an ideal option for nurse leaders, including nurse informaticists and advanced practice registered nurses, who wish to remain on the forefront of patient care. In this evening or online DNP program, you can examine and expand upon the theoretical and scientific foundations of healthcare through engaging peer discussions and scholarly activities led by knowledgeable instructors. 

You will have the opportunity to expand your healthcare knowledge and nursing skills through immersion activities designed to help you advance to a high 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.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nurses who hold a DNP are “well-equipped to fully implement the science developed by nurse researchers” and are prepared to work toward better patient outcomes through evidence-based practices.1 This DNP degree at GCU is designed to empower nurse leaders to effect positive change within their healthcare facilities and for their patients. 

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Get Your Doctor of Nursing Practice From GCU

The online DNP degree at GCU can stimulate personal and professional growth,2 allowing masters-prepared RNs to position themselves to work toward the pinnacle of their career. Explore principles in organizational change leadership that you can apply to your current healthcare organization. You may have the opportunity to position yourself to become a compassionate servant leader who inspires nursing teams to continually strive for healthcare 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.

GCU is committed to offering a flexible learning path for professional learners. Earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree via our online platform.2 Our Doctor of Nursing Practice online degree may enable you to fit coursework and practicum hours into your existing schedule, allowing you to continue to work while earning your degree. The online DNP program requires 39 credits for graduation. Most courses are eight weeks in length, with the exception of the three project courses, which are 16 weeks in length. 

For learners who prefer to receive in-person instruction, GCU offers the DNP degree in the evenings. If you live within commuting distance of our campus in Phoenix, you’re invited to join an evening cohort. Earn your DNP while taking flexible evening courses and enjoy academically stimulating discussions with your instructors and members of your cohort. Be introduced to a broad range of perspectives as you collaborate with your peers and build your professional network. 

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 39
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 3 doctoral credits
TUITION RATE:
Online: $740 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

 

Coursework Taught in the DNP Degree

Participate in immersion activities designed to help you advance to a high level of nursing practice. Continue to meet your current professional obligations while progressing through an advanced nursing curriculum, which culminates in an evidence-based research Direct Practice Improvement project.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program blends theoretical knowledge with clinical application, teaching nursing concepts and skills that are immediately applicable in your clinical practice. This program covers a broad array of nursing competencies, including:

  • Foundations of healthcare informatics, exploring how to implement HIPAA-compliant technology in ways that improve patient outcomes and programs of care
  • Establishing programs of clinical excellence to address emerging areas of human health
  • The development of nursing theories and concepts to guide nursing practice
  • Public health principles, including the promotion of community, environmental, occupational and cultural dimensions of health

Learners can 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.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Career Paths 

Graduates of GCU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program are taught to effect positive change in healthcare organizations by applying research-based principles to nurture favorable patient outcomes. Some DNP degree holders prefer to continue working directly with patient populations while pursuing leadership roles. If you would like to continue working directly with patients, you might consider becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), such as a nurse practitioner (NP) or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The pathway to becoming an APRN requires a graduate degree in nursing, such as a DNP, followed by obtaining board certification as an APRN.3

Alternatively, you may decide to become a nurse instructor or teacher. While a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally the minimum requirement to become a nurse educator, earning a DNP can provide a pathway toward working at a research hospital, and conducting and leading clinical studies intended to expand the body of knowledge in the field.4

Some employment settings may include the following:4,5

  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Research facilities
  • Physicians’ offices
     
  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Academic settings

GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Nursing Programs

Just as patients rely on you to know how to best help them recover, you need to rely on your university to provide quality nursing education. At GCU, we are proud to be an institutionally accredited school that prioritizes academic excellence and a comprehensive nursing curriculum. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university approvals, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page.
 

Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree FAQ

If you’re determined to reach a high level of nursing practice, you’ll find a supportive learning community at GCU. Take a few minutes to read through our frequently asked questions to gain more information on enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice online or on campus in an evening cohort.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a practice-focused program that confers a terminal degree, representing the highest pinnacle of academic achievement in the field. An on-campus or online program is designed to empower you to apply current research to improve healthcare systems and enhance patient outcomes.

DNP programs are intended to prepare you to work collaboratively as an interprofessional partner with any doctoral-level peer to participate in and/or translate research that can improve the healthcare system and population health outcomes. You will be taught how to serve as a nurse leader to properly implement evidence-based practices and quality improvement processes in healthcare settings. 

Both the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are considered the highest forms of education available for nurses; in other words, they are both terminal degrees. 

However, there are some differences. The DNP is aimed at translating evidence-based research into clinical practice. DNP graduates seek to impact clinical settings and improve the health outcomes of patients. A DNP-prepared nurse typically continues to provide direct patient care, sometimes with greater autonomy than BSN-prepared RNs. In contrast, the PhD is a research-focused degree that may enable graduates to work in clinical research settings with the intention of advancing the body of knowledge in the field. Both the DNP and PhD are appropriate choices for aspiring nurse educators who wish to work in academia.6

A DNP can help 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 can be equipped to become nursing researchers, hold various health policy positions or assume full-time teaching and administrative positions.

If you decide to enroll in a Doctor of Nursing Practice online program, you will complete coursework online via the university’s e-learning platform.2 Digital learning platforms generally provide learners with access to course materials, lectures and discussion boards for communicating and sharing ideas with peers and instructors. However, it’s not possible to complete this degree program entirely online. You will also be required to complete a minimum number of hours at a healthcare facility near you. This provides opportunities to put what you’ve been taught into practice.

Earning any terminal degree is a significant investment of time and resources. However, doing so may indeed be worth it for those who aspire to reach the height of academic achievement. Nurses who hold a DNP may be better prepared to contribute to better patient outcomes and to improve the overall healthcare system.1 They may be able to practice with greater autonomy, and they may decide to pursue board certification as an APRN.3,6 If you value the implementation of evidence-based practices for the sake of saving lives, then earning a DNP can certainly be worth the effort.

Take the next step in your journey toward pursuing clinical excellence in nursing. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice at GCU.

Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§

1 American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2023, June). AACN fact sheet – DNP. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2023.

2 Online courses exclude programs with residencies and field experience.

3 Bal, D., MS.Ed. (2023, Jan. 10). How to become an APRN. Nurse Journal. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2023.

4 Nurse Journal. (2022, May 11). How to become a nurse educator. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2023.

5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners: work environments. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2023./p>

6 Gaines, K. (2023, Nov. 7). DNP vs. PhD in nursing – what is the difference? Nurse.org. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2023.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-July2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in July 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

Major:
39 credits
Degree Requirements:
39 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces learners to the skills and mindset necessary for success on the doctoral journey. These skills include critical thinking and analysis, navigating resources, academic writing for the doctoral level, identifying and understanding scholarly research, and the role of the practitioner-scholar.

Course Description

This course provides the foundations for using information systems/technology to support and improve patient care and health care systems. The course is designed to provide the tools needed to manage individual and aggregate level information and use information systems/technology to evaluate programs of care, outcomes of care, and care systems using industry standards and related ethical, regulatory, and legal principles. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice. Prerequisite: DNP-801A.

Course Description

Advanced nursing practice requires practice expertise and specialized knowledge in making diagnostic and practice management decisions. This science-based course gives learners insight into emerging areas of human health to improve health outcomes and establish programs of clinical excellence and emphasizes guidance and coaching of individuals and families through developmental, health-illness, and situational transitions from a holistic perspective. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice. Prerequisite: DNP-805A.

Course Description

This course creates a base for the application of science into advanced nursing practice and includes philosophical, ethical, and historical foundations. Nursing science frames the development of theories and concepts to guide nursing practice and determine the nature and significance of health and health care delivery phenomena. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace. Practice immersion hours: Learners are required to document a minimum of 50 practice hours (25 direct and 25 indirect) in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 100. Prerequisite: DNP-810A.

Course Description

This course focuses on a core set of skills and knowledge application activities related to the translation of research into practice, the evaluation of practice, and improvement of health care outcomes. Learners examine evidence to guide improvements in practice and outcomes of care. Literature reviews focus on gaps or tensions in the translation of research into practice. Ethical considerations are also examined in the context of health care research. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice. Prerequisite: DNP-815A.

Course Description

This course examines ideas that promote understanding of aggregate, community, environmental/occupational, and cultural/socioeconomic dimensions of health. Learners analyze epidemiological, biostatistical, occupational, and environmental data in the development, implementation, and evaluation of clinical prevention and population health. Evidence-based recommendations for health promotion and risk reduction for individuals and families and concepts of public health are emphasized. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice. Prerequisite: DNP-820A.

Course Description

This course prepares learners to develop effective strategies to ensure safety and quality health care for patients and populations and includes evaluation of health care outcomes. Learners engage in inquiry into the state of health care delivery, patient-centered care, sustainable change, and ethical principles surrounding practice. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace. Prerequisite: DNP-825A.

Course Description

Advanced nursing practice requires political skills, systems thinking, and the business and financial insight needed for the analysis of practice quality and costs related to caring for the needs of a panel of patients, a target population, a set of populations, or a broad community. Learners conceptualize new interprofessional care delivery models that are based in contemporary nursing science and that are feasible within current organizational, political, cultural, and economic perspectives. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace. Practicum hours must include a minimum of 25 direct and a minimum of 25 indirect logged and approved practice hours in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 100. Prerequisite: DNP-835A.

Course Description

This course focuses on the analysis of data that is grounded in clinical practice and designed to solve practice problems or to inform practice directly. It emphasizes the use of analytic methods to critically appraise gathered evidence to determine and implement the best evidence for practice. Learners also learn to disseminate findings from evidence-based practice and research to improve health care outcomes. Learners are expected to integrate and synthesize core program competencies and specialty practice requirements necessary to demonstrate proficiency in advanced nursing practice. Practicum hours must include a minimum of 25 direct and a minimum of 25 indirect logged and approved practice hours in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 125. Prerequisite: DNP-840A.

Course Description

Learners finalize an issue in health care that will become the basis of an evidence-based research project to be carried out prior to completion of the doctoral program. Learners leave this course with a project goal/topic, a literature review, a proposed methodology, and a clear description of how addressing the issue presented will improve patient care. A project proposal is written in preparation for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) review. Learners are required to plan and document their learning goals and activities using the DPI Project Milestone Guide. Learners also continue work as necessary in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace to ensure that all programmatic requirements have been met. Practicum hours must include a minimum of 75 direct and a minimum of 50 indirect logged and approved practice hours in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 225. Prerequisite: DNP-830A.

Course Description

Learners submit a project for approval to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Once IRB approval is obtained, the learner conducts the project. Data are appropriately gathered for future analysis to determine if the practice investigated in the project brought about improved outcomes. Learners are required to plan and document their learning goals and activities using the DPI Project Milestone Guide. Learners also continue work as necessary in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace to ensure that all programmatic requirements have been met. Practicum hours must include a minimum of 75 direct and a minimum of 50 indirect logged and approved practice hours in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 225. Prerequisite: DNP-955A.

Course Description

Data gathered during the project is analyzed and evaluated to determine the outcomes garnered by the project. A proposal for dissemination and mass implementation is created. Learners identify areas of future research and practice change for the continued improvement of health care. Learners are required to plan and document their learning goals and activities using the DPI Project Milestone Guide. Learners also continue work as necessary in the DNP Practice Immersion Workspace to ensure that all programmatic requirements have been met. Practicum hours must include a minimum of 50 direct and a minimum of 50 indirect logged and approved practice hours in association with this course. Practicum/field experience hours: 225. Prerequisite: DNP-960A.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* 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.