Jul 17, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2016-2017 
Graduate Catalog | 2016-2017 Previous Edition

Nursing Practice, D.N.P.

The Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree prepares graduates to analyze systems of care and provide transformational leadership to improve patient safety, quality of care, and implement evidence-based culturally competent care practices.  Graduates from this program will be able to interpret and apply research findings to practice settings, determine and measure system and population outcomes, manage information systems, and use appropriate technology for health and risk communication.

The DNP Program is a Dual DNP Program offered with Western Carolina University.  Courses alternate between campuses and are taught in an executive format.  Students are expected to travel to either campus and participate in the campus immersion activities that occur at the beginning of each semester.

Upon completion of the DNP program, graduates will be able to:

  • Analyze and integrate evidence from nursing science with evidence from other relevant scientific disciplines to form a scientific foundation for advanced practice in nursing.
  • Apply clinical scholarship, scientific evidence, and analytical methods to improve health care outcomes.
  • Develop and evaluate systems to enhance safety and quality of healthcare.
  • Advocate and participate in collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes at the practice/organization, community, state, and national levels.
  • Engage in culturally competent and ethically sound advanced nursing practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the improvement of patient outcomes and transformation of health care delivery.
  • Manage directly the complex problems of clients/populations and systems to facilitate access and navigation of the health care system to improve health outcomes.

Program Accreditation

The DNP Program is seeking accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in accordance with CCNE procedures and timelines. 


Admission and Progression Requirements

  • An overall GPA of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program as documented by official transcripts.
  • Earned master’s in nursing in an advanced nursing practice specialty from a nationally accredited program. Current RN licensure in the U.S. at time of application with eligibility for NC licensure. NC licensure must be obtained prior to clinical practice experiences in NC.
  • GRE/MAT scores are not required for applicants to the Post-Master’s DNP Program who already hold a graduate degree in nursing or applicable graduate program in an advanced nursing practice specialty from a nationally accredited program.
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNS) must provide evidence of current national certification and meet the state requirements for practice in their state of licensure.
  • An essay that addresses: 1) advanced practice expertise, 2) career goals, 3) how earning the DNP degree will foster achievement of these goals, and 4) plans for DNP project.
  • Resume/curriculum vitae.
  • Three professional recommendations that address the practice capabilities of the candidate.
  • For international students, submission of TOEFL scores with a minimum score of 557 for the paper test and 220 for the computer test.
  • Additional evidence for consideration of the application can be uploaded (e.g., publications, posters, evidence-based practice projects).
  • Evidence of 500 supervised clinical hours within the MSN program. Applicants who do not meet the clinical hours criteria can meet with the Program Coordinator to discuss a plan to meet the requirement.

Degree Requirements

The DNP program requires 42 post-master’s graduate credit hours and completion of a total of 1000 clinical practice hours (includes 500 hours from the MSN program).  All students will be required to complete the curriculum that includes a sequence of courses as listed below:

Proportions of Courses Open to Doctoral Students

DNP courses are open to all nursing doctoral students enrolled in the UNCC/WCU dual degree program. All students from other University doctoral programs must seek written approval of the instructor, the DNP Program Director, and Associate Director of the Graduate Division to enroll in courses.

Grades Required

A student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all coursework taken in the program. A student who accumulates two grades of C or any grade of U will automatically be terminated from the DNP Program.

Transfer Credit

DNP students may transfer in 6 graduate credit hours (with a grade of B or above) with approval of the DNP Program Director and Associate Director of the Graduate Nursing Division. No course may be older than 6 years at the time of graduation.


DNP students are expected to complete the required Graduate School Course on Ethical and Responsible Conduct of Research as a prerequisite for the Clinical Residency Project.

Clinical Residency and DNP Scholarly Project

Project Description

Students complete a DNP Scholarly Project in conjunction with their clinical residency courses.  The DNP Scholarly Project is a project that brings together the practice and scholarship aspects of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.  It is designed to address complex practice issues that affect groups of patients, healthcare organizations, or healthcare systems while utilizing informatics, technology, and in-depth knowledge of the clinical and behavioral sciences.  The clinical scholarship required in the DNP Scholarly Project reflects mastery and competency in the student’s area of expertise.

The DNP Scholarly Project begins in the first semester of study and continues throughout the program, culminating in a scholarly public defense.  The DNP Scholarly Project requires students to demonstrate expert practice, the use of evidence based practice, translational research, and use of skills necessary to lead interdisciplinary teams to improve patient/client outcomes and health status individually, organizationally, or within a community. Students may choose to work in private practices, clinics, inpatient units, hospital systems, and other institutions and communities in the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of outcomes for the DNP Scholarly project.

Project Approval

The DNP Scholarly Project is guided by the DNP Scholarly Project Committee.  The composition of the DNP Scholarly Project committee includes:  1) a chair who is a doctoral prepared faculty member with regular graduate faculty status at UNC Charlotte; 2) an expert clinical mentor (Ph.D., DNP, M.D. or other doctoral prepared individual; 3) one additional faculty member; and 4) a faculty member appointed by the Graduate School at UNC Charlotte.  It is the responsibility of the DNP Scholarly Project Committee to guide the student through project planning, implementation, and evaluation process.

Upon approval of the DNP Scholarly Project topic, the student begins to develop the project.  Once the project development is complete, the student presents to the committee and DNP faculty the final proposal for the project.  The student’s DNP Scholarly Project proposal serves as the primary component of the qualifying examination for the DNP program.  To be eligible to defend the DNP Scholarly Project proposal, a student must have completed the written proposal and orally presented the proposal to the committee.  This written and oral presentation is used to evaluate if the student is prepared and qualified to begin work on the project. 

Institutional Review Board Approval

The DNP Scholarly Project must be collectively agreed upon by the student, the practice setting, and the student’s DNP Scholarly Project Committee.  Prior to beginning the DNP Scholarly Project, the project must be submitted to the UNC Charlotte Institutional Review Board (IRB) and/or WCU IRB for review and approval.  Further, all IRB requirements for medical review and/or clinical agency IRB review that are pertinent to the DNP Scholarly Project must be fulfilled prior to launching the project.  Any additional agency requirements must be completed prior to beginning implementation of the project.

Project Implementation

During NUDN 8443 - Clinical Residency and Project Development III , the student begins implementation and documentation of outcomes of the project with oversight from the clinical mentor and the Project Committee.

Project Defense

After completion of the DNP Scholarly Project, the student defends the project to the Project Committee in a public defense.  The student is allowed two attempts to present/defend the DNP scholarly project.  Failure to successfully defend after two attempts results in termination from the program.

Time Limits for Degree Completion

All graduation requirements must be completed within 6 years after enrollment in the first course.