Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

Maria Luisa Ramira
Maria Luisa Ramira, DNP, FNP-BC, CEN

"The tremendous support I received from the faculty and staff served me well in accomplishing my goal to earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. I am ready to face the challenges and opportunities in the healthcare arena. It was an extraordinary DNP journey at University of San Diego! I truly believe USD projects excellence in education and develops one’s potential and competitiveness."

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program prepares graduates for the highest level of advanced nursing practice based on a distinct model of doctoral nursing education that culminates in the terminal degree. Based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) DNP Essentials, the DNP Program prepares nursing experts in one area of specialized advanced nursing practice (NP, CNS, CNM, CRNA) who possess superb leadership skills at the most advanced clinical and organizational levels in order to provide the highest standard of care for individuals, families, and communities.  In addition to the “traditional” advanced practice core, graduate core, and clinical specialization courses required of MSN APRN programs, DNP students develop a substantial knowledge base in pathogenesis, finance management, strategic planning, and epidemiology as well as conduct an evidence-based practice (EBP) project in a community setting through the guidance of a doctorally-prepared clinical mentor and USD faculty advisor.  The additional clinical hours required of students in the DNP Program prepare APRN’s who assume clinical leadership roles in a variety of health care settings. The USD School of Nursing and Health Science offers both the post MSN to DNP and the post BSN to DNP Programs.

Advanced practice registered nurses who are master's prepared can enroll in the post-MSN DNP, or DNP completion, track in which graduates have gained additional knowledge and clinical expertise in a defined area of advanced nursing practice. The post-MSN DNP track requires 2 years of full-time study; part-time study is also available. The program plan requires completion of 34 units.

The BSN to DNP program is also offered for RNs who desire preparation in primary care as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), dual Pediatric/Family Nurse Practitioner (PNP/FNP), dual Adult-Gerontology/Family Nurse Practitioner (AGNP/FNP), and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). Graduates of a master's entry program in nursing are also eligible to apply. The BSN to DNP program requires 3 years of full-time study; part-time study is also available. The curriculum ranges from 78-81 units depending on the focus of study and prior preparation. Graduates are eligible to write national certification examinations appropriate to their educational preparation.


BSN to DNP Program

Post-Master's DNP Program


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