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Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Program Overview

You have the courage to be a leader in the nursing field. Courage to lead and make a difference.

A DNP comes with the confidence and authenticity needed for the highest levels of practice. A DNP from PLNU builds upon your expertise and your distinct point of view. PLNU values your calling, meeting it with leadership and practical skills you’ll need to grow into prominent roles within complex health systems.

Ranked at No. 52 by The Economist out of 1,275 colleges in their first ever university rankings, PLNU offers a convenient format tailored to accommodate your work and life commitments.


The Benefits of Earning a DNP from PLNU

Learn why PLNU's DNP might be the perfect fit for you.

Watch Video:
Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Space to Fully Invest in Work and School

PLNU’s DNP is a hybrid program, so you can pace yourself with online coursework as well as reap the benefits of face-to-face, modified intensives once a semester in San Diego. Multiple entry points allow those at most degree levels to earn the DNP. Enter as BSN-prepared and have the option to finish with an MSN or use your MSN clinical work as credits toward the DNP.

Leadership as Your Fullest Potential

Not only will you be prepared for the evolving standards and demands in your field, you will also gain confidence as you develop inside a cohort of confident, experienced, empowered individuals who are faithful to their own callings and to the future of nursing. Increase your influence; our graduates are highly sought-after by employers and highly regarded by those in their field.

Work that is Authentic and Sacred

Nursing as sacred work is a cornerstone value of PLNU’s nursing programs. Learn alongside faculty and colleagues who value it the same way. Any program can teach you skills and best practices; at PLNU seasoned professors serve as academic and professional mentors not only in class but in helping you discover your unique calling.

When you complete the DNP program, you will be able to:

  • Create dialogue and strategies supporting practice changes within the healthcare system

  • Appraise evidence for best practice implementation through the utilization of information technology

  • Synthesize evidence to implement change that affects client outcomes

  • Recommend standards for holistic care that meet the client needs

  • Analyze own self-care practices that advance optimal care of clients, nurses and organization(s)

  • Model graceful service through compassionate responses to patient, family, staff and organizational needs

  • Design an environment of advocacy for patient care that honors the diversity of patients/families, healthcare staff and organizations

  • Create opportunities to improve the quality of health within a community

  • Defend ethical care consistent with professional practice

Licensures and Professional Certifications:

This program is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing and meets the requirements for licensure or certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for Professional Licensure or Certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in Nursing are available on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at Point Loma Nazarene University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

DNP article Image

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Course List


Department Faculty

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2020 – August 31, 2020
  • Spring 2021 – January 11, 2021
  • Fall 2021 – August 30, 2021

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2020 – August 3, 2020
  • Spring 2021 – December 11, 2020
  • Fall 2021 – August 2, 2021

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on availability of space.

Start Application

Program Prerequisites

Admission to the program is based on an overall appraisal of the applicant's ability to undertake doctoral study and their contributions to the discipline of nursing as evidenced by the following:

  1. Documentation of current RN license

  2. Current employment in nursing or at least 1 year of full-time practice in the last 5 years

  3. Online application for admissions (includes $50 non-refundable application fee)

    Fee waived if applicant is one of the following: PLNU alum, current or former military and their dependents, PLNU employee
  4. Submit official transcripts. (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)
    For applicants to the MSN-to-DNP track, a 3.2 GPA is required.

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

  5. Curriculum Vitae or Resume

  6. Three professional letters of recommendation

  7. A typed statement identifying a change of practice issue related to professional goals

  8. Example of scholarly work (e.g. work related presentation or project, paper from prior educational endeavors, professional presentation: published document, PowerPoint or poster)

State Authorization

State authorization is a formal determination that PLNU is approved to conduct educational activities regulated by that state or U.S. Territory. PLNU is not required to obtain state authorization in every state or U.S. Territory, and the university has opted at this time not to seek authorization in certain states and U.S. Territories. Additionally, PLNU meets the criteria for exemption from authorization in certain states.

At this time, PLNU does not have authorization in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Territories. 

Authorizations in specific states may change periodically. PLNU recommends contacting PLNU admissions at (800) 733-7770 for the latest information.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Career Opportunities

PLNU’s DNP will prepare you for the highest levels of nursing leadership and to engage on policy-level decisions regarding patient care. Some DNPs even pursue entrepreneurship and open their own nurse-run clinics.

Career outcomes include:

  • Faculty

  • Nurse Manager, Director, or Administrator

  • Advanced Practice Nurse

  • Entrepreneur
Talking Point Article

Talking Point: Q&A with Larry Rankin, Ph.D.

Dr. Larry Rankin first came to PLNU in 2002. As program co-director of PLNU’s first doctoral program, the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), he sat down with us to share about the program and his own journey in nursing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's DNP program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution indicating the completion of an undergraduate degree. You must also have a current RN license and have held at least one year of full-time practice within the last five years.

Can I work while completing the program?

This program is designed for working nurses. PLNU’s hybrid intensive format includes three short intensives per year in San Diego, with the rest of classroom work online.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The MSN-to-DNP track is expected to be completed in 24 months, while the BSN-to-DNP track is expected to be completed in 48 months.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Classes are completed online. Additionally, you will meet three times a year for a weekend intensive Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning.

How large will the classes be?

Class sizes are estimated to be 20 to 25 people.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

What is the difference between a nurse practitioner and a DNP?

  Nurse Practitioner DNP
Objective Primary care provider for patients  Leader in nursing and provider of clinical expertise and excellence
Point of Entry ADN or BSN degree BSN or MSN degree
Types of Courses Clinical practice, patient care, advocacy Nursing leadership, healthcare policy, project management, evidence-based practice methods
Clinical Hours 500 hours minimum 1000 hours minimum
Employment Opportunities Primary care provider, patient advocate Nursing management and leadership, clinical nurse faculty

Learn more.

Does PLNU offer a nurse practitioner program?

PLNU does not offer a nurse practitioner program of any kind. If you are interested in what APRN program we do offer, please see our clinical nurse specialist tracks.

What career opportunities are there for a DNP?

Management and leadership positions in nursing; policy and administration positions; clinical nurse faculty.

Is this program CCNE accredited?

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at Point Loma Nazarene University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

Does PLNU offer the NFLP?

Once CCNE accredited, we can apply to be able to offer the NFLP. We already offer it for the MSN program.

Why get a DNP rather than a PhD?


Preparation for research and academic careers in healthcare

Preparation for the highest nursing leadership levels
Clinical Hours None 1000 hours minimum
Scholarly Project No Yes
Dissertation Yes No
Employment Opportunities Nurse scientist, health policy academic Nursing management and leadership, clinical nurse faculty


Will I be able to reach out to someone for help when we're not meeting face-to-face?

Yes. You will be paired with a faculty mentor and will have regular check-ins to ensure support and guidance is always provided.