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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Preparatory Program

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

Capella University offers a DNP Preparatory Program for registered nurses who have a master’s degree in a field other than nursing. Learners in the DNP Preparatory program who do not have a master’s degree in nursing are required to successfully complete NURS6013, NURS6014, and NURS6038 with a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA prior to registering for NHS8002. An MSN degree will not be conferred as part of that offering.

The accredited† Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is designed for master’s-prepared nurses who want to move into administrative positions, nurse administrators who want to expand their leadership responsibilities, or nurse leaders who want to design and implement health care delivery programs. The curriculum emphasizes effective health care delivery; patient advocacy; and health care policy development, implementation, and reform. Throughout the program, learners gain competency in assessing and applying theory, building therapeutic relationships, designing and implementing therapeutic interventions, and leading and managing in the health care environment. Upon successful completion of this degree program, learners are prepared to apply the knowledge and skills needed to meet diverse patient needs and improve health care delivery. The DNP degree program is not designed to prepare advanced practice registered nurses for roles as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, or certified nurse anesthetists. Registered nurses who have a master’s degree in nursing, those who have a master’s degree in a field other than nursing, and those who have a BSN degree may pursue Capella’s DNP.

Preparatory Program

The DNP Preparatory Program provides registered nurses who have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a master’s degree in an unrelated field the opportunity to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP Preparatory Program curriculum incorporates The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and is designed to expand learners’ knowledge of nursing theory, advanced nursing practice, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, informatics, and leadership concepts in order to help them develop a practice framework that supports change and informs decision making in a complex health care environment. In addition, learners assess various factors that impact the delivery of culturally competent health care. Upon successful completion of the DNP Preparatory Program courses, learners pursue the program requirements for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree will not be conferred.

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Practicum Requirement(s):

Minimum of 1,000 supervised practicum hours. See the Practicum section, below, for more information.


DNP Preparatory Program



Three Required Courses



12 quarter credits

DNP Preparatory Program courses:

Principles of Advanced Nursing Practice

This course provides learners with an overview of the diverse roles and practice credentials of a master’s-prepared nurse. Learners gain insight into various aspects of master’slevel nursing practice, such as interpersonal collaboration, use of technology, and cultural competency, as well as ethical, regulatory, and legal principles as they relate to advanced nursing practice. Learners also identify the theoretical foundation(s) of current and future practice in nursing. ​ For MSN and DNP learners only.

4 quarter credits
Advanced Leadership for Contemporary Nursing

Learners in this course explore the leadership skills necessary for today’s nursing leaders. Learners develop and demonstrate the ethical, legal, and critical decision-making skills needed to support organizational and systems change and to promote critical high-quality safe care for the people they serve. Other leadership skills include addressing the needs of diverse populations, providing quality improvement and resource management, bolstering team and interprofessional relationship building, and participating in strategic planning. Throughout the course, learners also evaluate the leadership styles vital to effecting and sustaining change in today’s health care system. For MSN and DNP learners only.

4 quarter credits
Evidence-Based Practice and Technology for Nursing

In this course, learners analyze the diverse frameworks of research and evidence-based nursing practice. Learners differentiate between various types of research strategies, examine ways to search for evidence effectively and efficiently, and propose an evidence-based strategy to solve a clinical problem. Learners also evaluate ethical considerations associated with conducting research. ​ For MSN, DNP, and Graduate Certificate learners only.

4 quarter credits



Thirteen Required Courses



52 quarter credits

Collaboration, Communication, and Case Analysis for Doctoral Learners

This course prepares learners for doctoral-level coursework in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Throughout the course, learners analyze and evaluate how the scholar-practitioner model provides guidance for developing competencies in effective and ethical health care leadership, including professional and interprofessional collaboration, communication, inclusion, and decision making. Must be taken during the learner’s first quarter. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
21st-Century Health Care Improvement

Learners in this course build foundational knowledge and skills needed to shape the future of health care. Through the lens of a 21st-century health care leader, learners use critical thinking, analysis, and creative insights to examine a problem, gap, or opportunity for improvement within a health care or public health delivery system. Learners also complete a culminating project charter to further develop a coherent quality improvement plan for 21st-century health care. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Executive Leadership in Contemporary Nursing

Learners in this course analyze and evaluate interrelationships within complex health care delivery systems, including organizational stakeholders; executive power structures; and population, fiscal, and policy issues. Learners apply this knowledge as well as executive leadership skills to professional practice and recommend policy changes that support system-level strategic priorities. For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Nursing Technology and Health Care Information Systems

Learners in this course apply information technology and research methods used within the health care environment. In particular, learners evaluate the use of technology in health care information systems for the purposes of monitoring outcomes of care and assessing quality improvement.  For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS8014 *
Global Population Health

In this course, learners evaluate global health issues and propose and evaluate culturally sensitive interventions to address global health concerns. Throughout the course, learners build the knowledge and skills necessary to lead the development and implementation of institutional, local, state, national, or international health care initiatives. For DNP learners only. Prerequisite(s): NURS8010. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS8030 *
Evidence-Based Practice Process for the Nursing Doctoral Learner

In this course, learners apply the steps of the evidence-based practice (EBP) process to a health care challenge. Learners assess scholarly literature, evaluate research methods, interpret the results, understand the practical significance of healthcare data analyses, and prepare to use sound research practices in the development of a capstone project.  For DNP learners only. Prerequisite(s): NHS8002. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.​

4 quarter credits
NURS8045 *
Doctoral Writing and Professional Practice

Learners in this course write as doctoral professionals, including crafting a compelling argument and creating a literature review that supports a possible intervention or process change. Learners also obtain approval for their practicum site and preceptor and complete the related paperwork. For DNP learners only. Prerequisite(s): NURS8030, completion of or concurrent registration in NURS8012. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9100 *
Defining the Nursing Doctoral Project

In this course, learners finalize a project charter to address a clinical or organizational problem or take advantage of an opportunity for improvement within a health care or public health setting. Learners also meet a high standard for ethical, interprofessional practice. Learners begin precepted practicum hours in this course.  For DNP learners only. Special permission is required for registration. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. NHS8040,  NURS8010, NURS8012, NURS8014, NURS8030, NURS8045, and RSCH7864. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9901 *
Nursing Doctoral Project 1

Learners in this course obtain university approval to begin the implementation phase of their project. At the completion of the course, learners associate project outcomes with a quality/performance improvement framework and formalize the project implementation plan. This course requires completion of practicum hours. For DNP learners only. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): NURS9100. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9902 *
Nursing Doctoral Project 2

In this course, learners implement their projects and reflect on the process and lessons learned. Learners also conduct an exhaustive search of the literature, critically appraise the evidence, and develop a coherent interpretation and synthesis of the main themes and relationships among sources. This course requires completion of practicum hours. For DNP learners only. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): NURS9901. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9903 *
Nursing Doctoral Project 3

Learners in this course begin the process of documenting their project in a scholarly manner. Throughout the course, learners evaluate data, incorporate evidence, draft analysis, and develop the first part of their report on their doctoral project. This course requires completion of practicum hours. For DNP learners only. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): NURS9902. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9904 *
Nursing Doctoral Project 4

In this course, learners complete the final report and apply knowledge and experience gained during the doctoral project. Learners also create a presentation on the purpose, intervention, and results of their project to develop dissemination skills. This course requires completion of practicum hours. For DNP learners only. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): NURS9903. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Quantitative Design and Analysis

In this course, learners investigate the fundamental concepts needed to conduct quantitative research. Learners examine and apply quantitative research techniques; appropriate applications of quantitative research; research design, measurement, and analysis, and their associated interdependencies; variable types and levels of measurement; sampling; descriptive and inferential statistics; and hypothesis testing. Learners define the strengths and limitations of descriptive statistics, analyze the quantitative scales of measurement, review the logic of probability and null hypothesis testing, and leverage technology when applicable. Learners also determine the steps necessary to ensure human subjects protection, and consider methodological adaptations when conducting research with vulnerable and diverse populations. Learners may only earn credit for PSY7864 or RSCH7864. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits






64 quarter credits

* Denotes courses that have prerequisite(s). Refer to the descriptions for further details.

† The BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs at Capella University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 887-6791.

‡ Learners are responsible for the cost of their travel, accommodations, food, and other expenses associated with this course.

Alabama residents are not eligible to enroll in this program.

This program does not prepare graduates for licensure as an RN or APRN.

Learners enrolled in the DNP degree program are required to maintain a current, unrestricted RN license throughout their program.



Learners enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program must have 1,000 documented hours of post-bachelor’s, hands-on practicum experience as a requirement of their program. The practicum experience requires learners to synthesize and expand the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program by applying evidence-based methods to practice. Learners are responsible for finding an appropriate preceptor to oversee the practicum experience. With their preceptors, learners then engage in in-depth work within a practice environment that is the focus of their final project. The environment for the practicum experience is a professional site at which learners, with the support of program faculty and their on-site preceptors, design and participate in a practice change initiative such as a pilot study, program evaluation, quality improvement project, evaluation of a new practice model, or consulting project. Learners use the practicum experience to help them achieve the DNP program outcomes and competencies and the learning objectives related to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Practicum hours are considered complete once all program required practicum hours have been successfully achieved. Partial completion of practicum hours requirements cannot be verified for licensure or transfer of credits.