Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Right for You?

The most exciting opportunities abound in the nursing industry. Growth is occurring in all disciplines in an attempt to find innovative ways to improve health care delivery and access to quality care. All you need is the desire to obtain the qualifications necessary to take advantage of this expansion. Leadership positions are available to doctoral graduates, and the DNP focuses on all aspects of specialized nursing practice. Ensuring the best available health care is offered to all people nationwide relies on revolutionary improvements based on scientific evidence. There is a diversity of concentrations to specialize in; including health systems, education, executive management, health policy, advanced nursing practice and more. With so many advantages to obtaining your doctorate, it is advisable that you pursue this terminal degree. We have researched the subject in-depth, and these are all the schools offering DNP programs in Pennsylvania.

Featured DNP Programs (RN Required)

Finding a DNP Program

There are many different DNP programs to choose from. Though some people prefer campus based programs, the online option has become increasingly popular, especially in the nursing industry. See a Complete List of DNP Programs...

  • Carlow University has a DNP program available at their School of Nursing. Graduates become leaders of scientific-based specialized practice, and they are able to evaluate evidence, as well as translate and apply research discoveries while making informed decisions. There is an infrequent residency requirement of roughly two campus visits each term, with the majority of coursework using online facilitation. Students generally complete the thirty semester credit hours in twenty months. The priority deadline for all application submissions is April 1st.
  • The DNP program at Chatham University is accredited by CCNE. Nurses are prepared for careers in clinical and executive leadership, and the focus is on promoting and using evidence-based practice throughout all systems of health care delivery. This is an online program that requires one campus visit, and students may choose to study on a full or part-time basis. Consisting of twenty-seven semester credits, the program is usually completed in less than two years. Please note that deadlines for applications change yearly. It is advisable to contact the school directly for this information.
  • Graduates of the DNP program offered by DeSales University acquire specialized expertise as Clinical Leaders of Advanced Nursing Practice. Students learn how to integrate nursing science with advanced practice across all nursing disciplines. The curriculum is delivered using a hybrid format that combines distance-learning with a classroom environment. This is a full-time program that is designed to accommodate working nurses. It will take two years to complete the thirty-five semester credit hours. The application review process begins on September 15th of each year. Ensure that all applications are delivered well in advance of this date.
  • The Division of Graduate Nursing at Drexel University has a DNP program on offer for nurses wishing to become innovative leaders of health care with a desire to influence policy. They are equipped with the knowledge that enables them to disseminate research and translate it into increasingly complex advanced nursing practice. This is an online program with occasional residency requirements. The program is typically completed in two years with an additional semester necessary. A total of forty-six credit hours must be accrued. Please contact the school personally to inquire about their deadline dates for applications.
  • The School of Nursing at Duquesne University offers a DNP program that is studied in an online format. Graduates assume leadership positions that transform health care systems; from delivery to contextual improvement of a variety of advanced practice settings. Students are required to meet onsite at the beginning and end of the program. Involving the completion of forty six semester credit hours, the curriculum is delivered in a sequential structure that involves full-time study. It will take three years to obtain this degree. The final deadline date is February 1st and applications should not be submitted any later.
  • The DNP program offered by the Department of Nursing at Robert Morris University is oriented around clinical practice. Graduates are able to employ critical reasoning that enables them to plan and integrate evidence-based patient care into the most advanced nursing practice. Students attend classes in Moon Township for each semester, with the rest of the coursework studied online. This is a two year program for post-master’s students that involves completing thirty-one semester credits. Post-baccalaureate students are able to acquire their degree in three years. Kindly contact the school for details regarding their latest application deadline dates.
  • Thomas Jefferson University has a DNP program available through their School of Nursing. Professional nurses are developed for roles in scholarly practice. Their leadership skills make them health systems experts and specialized clinical practitioners dedicated to the reform of overall health care. Accredited by CCNE, students choose from three offered study plans and all coursework is delivered online. Plans of study include two, three or four years. Please take the time to contact the school for the correct deadline dates for applications.
  • The School of Nursing has a DNP program available at the University of Pittsburgh. Students become highly skilled at leadership, organization, clinical and economic aspects of health care. Graduates are able to transform health care delivery and impact industry outcomes. Classes are attended onsite, but there is an online option for post-master’s students. It will take between one and three years to obtain this degree through full-time study, depending on your previous qualifications. March 1st is the final deadline date for applications each year. Cohorts begin in the Fall term.
  • Villanova University offers a DNP program at their College of Nursing for post-master’s students. The goal is to prepare graduates with innovative leadership skills in health care and advanced nursing practice. This full-time program is available in a synchronous online format. There are minimal residency requirements once in Fall, again in Spring and a weeklong intensive in Summer. It will take students five semesters to complete this program. Deadline dates for applications change each year. Kindly request this information by contacting the school.
  • A CCNE accredited DNP program is available at Waynesburg University. Graduates are responsible for the transformation of advanced nursing practice and are taught to apply nursing science immediately. There is a very strong focus on the preparation of leaders in a variety of nursing environments. Students meet onsite once every alternate month and online assignments are predominant. The program is designed for part-time learners and will take three years to complete. For detailed information about their latest deadline dates for application submissions, please inquire from the school.
  • The School of Nursing at Widener University offers a DNP program for a variety of advanced nursing practitioners. Accredited by CCNE, students train for the highest level of leadership in clinical settings. The program is available in a hybrid format of distance-learning and onsite intensives.  There are options for both part-time and full-time study. Students usually complete the degree requirements in two to four years. Contact the school directly to become familiar with their latest application deadline dates.
  • The online DNP program offered by Wilkes University is fully accredited by CCNE. Clinical experts are given skills that enable the acquisition and application of knowledge within advanced nursing practice. They are leaders dedicated to the advancement of all nursing outcomes. Onsite residency is minimal but compulsory to attend. Previous qualifications and the plan of study being pursued will determine the length of the program. While there are time limits of six years for post-master’s students and eight years for post-baccalaureates, the average completion time is between two and four years. Applications for Spring enrollment must be submitted before October 1st each year. The annual deadline for applications regarding Fall enrollment is April 1st.
  • York College of Pennsylvania offers a DNP program that develops experts in the advanced nursing profession who are leaders in health care delivery. The goal is to prepare Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Educators and Clinical Leaders in an array of disciplines. Classes are held once weekly, with a week-long residency intensive being compulsory. This is a two year program designed for completion in six consecutive semesters. Please feel free to contact the College directly for details about their deadline dates.

Pennsylvania DNP Checklist

Know that there is a rigorous application procedure involved when applying to these programs. Competition is rife among students vying for a place in small cohorts. The most suitable candidates are chosen from their academic records and dedication to advancing their careers. Exceptional grades are expected and graduate coursework must reflect this continuously. Completion of the Master’s degree is not negotiable, but this can be obtained through a bridge program that offers doctoral study if certain criteria are met. Adhere to the published deadlines of each school and do not submit incomplete application packets. Each school has their own specific prerequisites and we advise contacting them individually, but this is a general list of what you will need when applying to a DNP program in Pennsylvania:

  • Your registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner license must be current and enable unrestricted practice throughout Pennsylvania.
  • Your overall Grade Point Average accumulated during graduate coursework may not be less than 3.0 on a scale of 4.0, even 3.5 depending on the school.
  • A clear description of all academic pursuits, clinical experiences and voluntary undertakings must be present in your submitted resume.
  • The BSN and MSN degrees must have been completed in their entirety. Proof that they were obtained from accredited programs must be provided.
  • Nursing theory, statistics and research courses will have formed part of your graduate core coursework. You must have completed them with at least a C grade or higher and they may not be older than five years.
  • It is imperative that all post-secondary colleges or universities are requested to submit official transcripts for you.
  • While the school may perform a full background and criminal check, it is compulsory for you to provide a record of your medical history and vaccination schedule.
  • The three reference letters required must be from employers, supervisors, doctors, academic mentors, nursing colleagues or other professional sources.
  • Your reasons for applying for a doctoral education should be highlighted in a short essay. Detail your career ambitions and how successful completion of the program is an integral part of achieving them.
  • Scholarly papers are excellent examples of your creative written work and should be provided in your application.
  • Grant the formal invitation of the school to attend a personal interview. We advise removing other commitments from your schedule so that you have plenty of available time.
  • The school will require evidence of all clinical hours that have been accumulated during graduate studies, as well as those acquired during your specialized advanced practice career.

Once you complete your Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree, you will be qualified to assume leadership roles of authority. The expertise gained in these programs is in extreme demand because of the enormous need for practitioners skilled in scientific translation. Regardless of your chosen specialty, employment is guaranteed. Statistics prove that doctorates receive numerous job offers and the employment rate is one hundred percent. Even more incentivizing is the staggering salaries earned at this level, along with the opportunity to make a phenomenal impact on health care outcomes that affect millions of patients.