Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Photo of 2021 DNP class graduation photo with overlay that reads 'We are ready for you.'

A doctorally prepared nurse practitioner translates evidence-based knowledge into practice and in turn improves health care outcomes. A University of Louisville DNP will prepare students to be outstanding clinicians and will also prepare them to be leaders and change agents in the field of nursing. If you want additional information about whether to pursue the PhD degree or DNP degree based on your scholarly interests, please see PhD or DNP – Which is Right for Me?

Do you know of a process in your hospital that could be more efficient? Do you know of a practice that has been shown in the literature to have no improvement in outcomes but is still being done? Do you want to be the one to change it? Then the Doctor of Nursing practice degree is for you!

The University of Louisville DNP will prepare students to:

  • Synthesize and apply knowledge to improve population outcomes
  • Collaborate with other disciplines to improve the delivery of health care
  • Assume clinical, leadership, executive, public policy and/or teaching roles
  • Affect health policy through the application of knowledge

Program Pathways

The University of Louisville Doctor of Nursing Practice program can be entered with either a BSN or MSN degree.

BSN to DNP option is designed for RNs who are seeking nurse practitioner certification.  We currently offer seven specialties.  The degree requires a total of 75 to 112 credit hours to complete depending on the selected specialty.  These credit hours are completed in three years of full-time study with part-time study options available. 

MSN to DNP option is for individuals with a master’s degree in nursing who are interested in taking a more scholarly approach to practice, developing leadership skills, and advocating for health systems changes.  In the Louisville program you will use current evidence and your health care experience to create an innovative practice program, develop a quality improvement project, impact health policy, or write an evidence-based practice guideline.  The project will be based on your scholarly interests and will take your involvement in the health care system to a new level. 

MSN to DNP students can choose one of three entry points depending on the individual’s previous academic and professional credentials. Specialty coursework is required for non-APRN or for an APRN seeking an additional specialty.

  • MSN-DNP + specialty curriculum  An APRN seeking a DNP with a second specialty or a Master’s prepared student that is not an APRN will complete the MSN-DNP curriculum and an additional 14-28 credit hours for their chosen specialty. 
  • MSN (APRN) to DNP  APRN seeking a DNP without a second specialty

Upon receipt of your official college transcripts and gap analysis review, your program of study will be created based on your previous academic coursework and professional credentials. Please contact Jessica Jackey, Coordinator of Academic Affairs, at to discuss the MSN-DNP progression plans.

Clinical Hours

Students in the BSN to DNP program will complete a minimum of 1000 hours of clinical work, except for the Nurse Anesthesia track which requires a minimum of 2,880 hours of clinical work. This includes the population-specific nurse practitioner clinicals as well as clinical work towards the completion of the DNP project. Students in the MSN to DNP program, with no specialty, must provide documentation of previous clinical hours and complete a minimum of 330 project hours, for a total of 1,000 hours.

Delivery of Course Materials

The first year of the DNP program is online with the remainder of the program delivered in a hybrid format with approximately 4 to 6 times required on campus meetings a semester.  Students are required to attend class on campus 4 to 6 times a semester. Classes are typically scheduled on Thursdays and the student should plan to be in class on those days. The remainder of the class content will be delivered in an online format.  A variety of online and distance learning techniques are used to facilitate the program and enrich the students’ learning experience.  Most of the coursework will be asynchronous.  Synchronous activities will be scheduled by the faculty and will be listed in the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester. Nurse Anesthesia specific coursework is structured differently and will not be asynchronous. 

The DNP Project

The culmination of the practice doctorate is the successful completion of the DNP Project that demonstrates the synthesis of the student’s experiences.  The DNP project will be reviewed and evaluated by a faculty chair and the doctoral academic affairs committee.  The chair will be a member of the University of Louisville School of Nursing faculty with doctoral preparation and who has experience relevant to the student’s topic of interest.  Successful completion of the DNP project demonstrates the synthesis of the student’s coursework and practice application and culminates in a final manuscript and public presentation.

To view past UofL DNP projects, visit Doctor of Nursing Practice Papers | School of Nursing | University of Louisville

Licensure Disclosure
DNP graduates from the UofL School of Nursing are prepared to apply for APRN certification in their population track upon graduation; however, educational preparation does not guarantee professional licensure. If you have questions regarding Kentucky APRN licensure, please contact the Kentucky Board of Nursing ( For APRN licensure questions in other states, please contact the respective state board of nursing (


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