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 may be possible, however is not recommended after year 1. 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. Please note that clinical times may vary, and work schedules will need to accommodate for your clinical schedules as we have limited clinical placements. Exceptions will not be made to accommodate work schedules. Ability to work while in a doctoral program depends on your individual job, time management, and circumstances.

How often will I need to come to campus?

On-campus sessions vary per quarter. 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 DNP 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. DNP students are not eligible to purchase a Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) through UC Irvine. Students typically utilize their own employer’s health plan, a partner’s health plan, or Covered California options while enrolled in the program.

Students may refer to the Covered California website for more information.

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).


How do I write a personal statement and statement of purpose?
We have compiled some helpful writing tips to assist you with this important part of your application.

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 2022, their statistics course would be valid if it was completed between September 2017 and September 2022).

Where can I find acceptable statistics course options?

Students should seek out course options from an accredited community college or university. The course should contain descriptive and inferential statistics topics. Students may use https://assist.org/ to find acceptable courses at California Community Colleges by searching for the “Nursing Science, B.S.” major at UC Irvine.
Applicants may also review sample course descriptions at UC Irvine in the General Catalogue (http://catalogue.uci.edu/allcourses/stats/). Some acceptable courses at UC Irvine include STATS 7 or STATS 8.

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.

I currently reside in a state outside of California. Can I apply to the DNP program?
Each state has a different set of requirements when it comes to allowing out-of-state universities to offer online graduate degree programs to its residents. Our current status in each of the states is provided here: https://grad.uci.edu/uci-state-authorization-for-online-programs/

I received my previous degree from a school outside the United States. What do I need to include in my application?

All graduate programs at the School of Nursing require professional transcript evaluations by an independent educational evaluating service from any member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services or the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. Students should upload a copy of evaluations and translations in their application.

Applicants should note that foreign transcript evaluation services may take several weeks to process and should plan accordingly. The report uploaded to the application must include a degree-equivalent evaluation and course-by-course equivalent evaluation for any prerequisites.

The School of Nursing and the University of California do not endorse or have a formal partnership with any specific transcript evaluation agencies. However, some applicants have used the following services:

World Education Services, Inc.

P.O. Box 5087

Bowling Green Station

New York, NY 10274-5087

Phone: 212-966-6311


International Education Research Foundation

P.O. Box 3665

Culver City, CA 90231-3665

Phone: 310-258-9451


Due to federal guidelines, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program does not satisfy the requirements for F-1 or J-1 study, due to the fact that it is a hybrid program. However, if you are already in the U.S. on a non-education related visa (marriage and family, work, etc.), have permanent resident status, or have U.S. citizenship you should be eligible to enroll in our program, however we encourage you to check with our international center as well as an immigration attorney.

In addition to the above-mentioned items, international applicants must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

For more helpful information on applying to UCI as an international student, see the UCI Graduate Division International Admissions page.

In addition to possessing a full RN license, we highly recommend you have current RN employment during the duration of your program as this will be beneficial during the completion of your scholarly project.


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.

I’m planning to request an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Am I still able to complete the DNP-FNP program?
Our program does not ask for proof of vaccination prior to admission to the program. UC Irvine’s policy requires all UCI students, staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before physically accessing the university’s locations and programs. Current students may request an exemption, however there is no guarantee that an exemption will be granted. You can learn more about UC Irvine’s campus vaccination requirements and other COVID-19 related policies for students here: https://uci.edu/coronavirus/students/index.php

The other consideration when applying to nursing programs is the ability to complete clinical hours at hospitals and organizations. Students must complete all required clinical hours in order to successfully complete the DNP-FNP degree requirements. Students completing clinical hours and working directly with patients must meet onboarding requirements set by our clinical partners. Applicants should keep in mind that even if a campus vaccination exemption is granted, there is no guarantee that our clinical partners will grant an exemption.

Applicants should also note that future boosters may also be required. Requirements for any and all immunizations are subject to change at any point throughout the program. Students will be expected to adhere to any University and/or clinical site requirements related to vaccinations, as they arise.

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.

Will I be able to practice outside of California after completing the program?
The DNP-FNP program is a full-time Nurse Practitioner program located in the State of California. The program is designed to meet licensing requirements for practice within the State of California. Students in the program are required to have an active, unrestricted California RN license and to complete clinical placements/practicum requirements in California during Year 2 and Year 3 of the program. Students interested in licensing requirements in states outside of California should consult with the Board of Registered Nursing in those states for more information.

Can I apply for a temporary RN license in California while completing the program?
Students must have a full (not temporary) California RN license by the start of Year 2 in the DNP-FNP program.