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

Why should I get a DNP degree if the requirement for FNP practice is to be educated at the master’s level?
All major national nursing accreditation and educational organizations have agreed that entry-level education for NPs should be at the doctoral level. NONPF (National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties), the preeminent leader in NP education, has set a date of 2025 for programs to convert their Masters NP programs to DNP programs. See link:  https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.nonpf.org/resource/resmgr/dnp/v3_05.2018_NONPF_DNP_Stateme.pdf

Because US healthcare systems and patient care management has become more and more complex over the past several decades, NPs have needed more and more education to function competently as entry-level NPs. The DNP degree reflects the effort and requirements needed to practice competitively in today’s healthcare environment.

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. However, please keep in mind that the DNP is a full-time program, and the pace and intensity are demanding, especially in year 2 when clinical rotations begin.

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.


For the DNP Family Nurse Practitioner program, do I need to find my own clinical preceptors?
The UCI School of Nursing has experienced preceptors in a variety of clinical sites and specialty areas in the Orange County and surrounding areas.  These NP, MD, DO and CNM preceptors are available to DNP/FNP students.  The School of Nursing coordinates the clinical placements. You may identify and recommend preceptors with whom you have networked for the purpose of clinical placements. All preceptors must be vetted by the UCI DNP program, and a formal affiliation must be established between the precepting entity and UCI prior to attending these clinical sites.

Where can I complete my DNP scholarly project?
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.

Do I need to live or relocate to California?
You must live in California prior to the start of your clinical practicum courses in January of year 2 and are required to complete your DNP APRN Practicum courses in California. You must hold an active, unrestricted California RN license during your tenure in the program.

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

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