What are the key differences between DNP and PhD/DNS Programs?
DNP and PhD are both terminal degrees; however, the DNP is a practice-focused doctorate while the PhD is a research-focused doctorate. The DNP prepares the graduate to translate evidence-based practice to the bedside as compared to the PhD that prepares the graduate to develop nursing theory. The DNP requires the student to carry out a Scholarly Project in a clinical setting whereas the PhD requires scientific research and a dissertation.

Download Key Differences pdf

What can I do with a DNP?
A DNP can help advance your career in the direction of leadership in clinical practice.

Are there research opportunities in this program?
The DNP Scholarly Project will offer you opportunities to research, implement, and evaluate a clinical practice or health policy issue.

Can you work full-time while in the DNP program?
Full-time work is possible. The program is designed to accommodate students who are working; however, please keep in mind that the pace and intensity are demanding. As such, organization/time management will be important to your success.

How often will I need to come to campus?
On-campus sessions are required each quarter for 2-3 consecutive days.  These will occur in week 9 each quarter and will be held on Thursday-Saturday. In addition, the Prologue, Intersession, and Epilogue courses are a 3-5 day on-campus intensive sessions.

Is there campus housing or transportation for me during these on-campus sessions?
Our Visitor Center webpage has information on local hotels, and many provide shuttle service to UCI.  http://www.studentcenter.uci.edu/visitor-center/

What’s the course transfer policy for the DNP?
UCI does not accept transfer credit for doctoral programs.  If equivalent courses were taken in another graduate nursing program, up to 2 courses can be waived; however, the units would need to be made up by taking elective courses.

Is the GRE required?
No, the GRE is NOT required for the DNP program.

Is the student health insurance included in the fees?
No, it is not included.

Is this program eligible for fee waivers?
The DNP program is a self-supporting graduate professional degree program; thus, certain fee waivers traditionally accepted by the University of California may not be accepted (for example, we do not accept CalVet waivers and the UC Employee discount).


What if I can’t find a college professor or instructor to write a letter of recommendation for me?
One letter should be from a college professor or instructor who can assess your readiness for doctoral studies. If this cannot be obtained, a letter from an individual who can assess your academic performance will be accepted.

What if I don’t have two doctorally prepared professors/professionals for my letters of recommendation?

While we’d like to see two doctorally prepared professionals who are able to speak to your ability to succeed in a doctoral program, if you cannot find two doctorally prepared professionals, please select individuals who can most closely attest to your capacity to succeed in an academically rigorous program.

What if my statistics course is over 5 years old?

If admitted, you will need to take another statistics course prior to fall entry. Your statistics course must have been completed within 5 years of beginning the DNP program. (ex. for students entering the DNP program in Fall 2019, their statistics course would be valid if it was completed between September 2014 and September 2019).

How can I best showcase my professional activities on the DNP application?
Highlight any presentations, publications, leadership roles in organizations or committees, research experience, and/or advocacy activities in which you have participated. Include the name of the agency or group, dates and experience.

Examples include QI projects, community outreach programs, and professional organization roles, any research work, publications, peer and/or poster presentations, etc.


How many clinical hours do I need for my DNP Practicum?
AACN requires a minimum of 1,000 post-Baccalaureate hours of mentored clinical and/or organizational leadership experience for the awarding of a DNP degree. You may provide documentation of 500 precepted hours from an MS in nursing degree program, a post-Master’s certification program, or national board certification in an APRN role and population foci. The remaining hours will be obtained from the required curriculum in the DNP Practicum course series.

An individualized plan for site and learner evaluation during these DNP Practicum experiences will be determined by the clinical mentor; in agreement with DNP Program faculty.

Where can I complete my DNP scholarly project and DNP Practicum?
You may complete the clinical hours which are part of the scholarly project in your place of employment or other clinical agency suitable to your project. All clinical mentors and sites must be vetted by the UCI DNP program prior to the start of the DNP Practicum.

Do I need to live or relocate to California?
No, you may complete your scholarly projects in your home state.

When will clinical hours begin?
The first clinical practicum course begins in Fall of Year 2.

Am I required to go through a background check?
The School of Nursing will coordinate this with an external agency.