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Doctor of Nursing Practice
in Executive Leadership


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Finish your DNP in just 13 courses.

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Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership

Prepare to advance into nursing leadership positions with the 100% online Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNP) degree program at National University. No GRE/GMAT required. As a student, you’ll explore key topics, such as organizational leadership, economics, and finance, advocacy for healthcare policy improvement, and how to use data and technological resources for decision-making. 

NU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This program aligns with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials and the competencies from the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL). To enroll, you must have an earned MSN with a 3.0 GPA and a current, active, and unencumbered license as a registered nurse (RN). 

Expand Your Nursing and Leadership Skills

NU’s DNP program includes both didactic and practice experience courses to meet the degree requirements. The DNP practiced-based program prepares you for broader leadership positions as a nurse executive within healthcare organizations. You’ll also be equipped to actively participate and lead interdisciplinary teams. 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at Northcentral University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program has applied for accreditation at National University by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

Course Details

  • Credit Hours: 46
  • Courses: 13
  • Estimated Time to Complete: 30 months

The Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNP) degree program can be completed in 46 credits. Each foundational course runs 8 weeks, and dissertation courses run 12 weeks. 

Course Sequence 

The DNP program requires a minimum of 46 credits. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete the scholarly paper. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the Satisfactory Academic Process (SAP) and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.

Course Name

This course incorporates the study of organizational leadership and interprofessional team development to improve quality of care delivery, health outcomes, and safety of patient populations. You will examine consultative and leadership skills that facilitate intraprofessional and interprofessional collaboration. You will analyze effective strategies for resolving ethical and legal issues in the delivery of care. You will also synthesize knowledge of leadership and communication theories with nursing science as a framework for organizational assessment, diagnosis of systems issues, and facilitation of system-wide practice initiatives. This course will prepare you to develop advanced leadership roles in addressing complex practice and organizational issues.

This course involves intensive examination of contemporary topics in healthcare. Emphasis is placed on exploring and evaluating theoretical foundations that influence nursing practice, healthcare systems, and organizational sciences. Key topics include the development of interprofessional competencies, health status and health disparities, ethics, and the meaning of health outcomes related to both quality and safety for population healthcare.

This course introduces the financial structures that support nursing practice and will focus on economic principles, financial management methods, and business strategies. You will explore the foundation for balancing productivity with quality of care, while learning to design effective and realistic care delivery systems that optimize performance, minimize costs, and enhance outcomes.  You will also examine methods to evaluate costs and cost effectiveness of care using health equity and diversity. This course provides you with the tools to plan, monitor, and evaluate the acquisition, use, and outcomes of fiscal resources for practice and program initiatives.

This course incorporates the study of information science concepts, principles, and methods with application in the support, improvement, and evaluation of nursing interventions, outcomes of care, and delivery systems. You will focus on the development of knowledge and technical skills to use data management systems and technological resources for decision-making, implementation of quality improvement initiatives, and evaluation of patient care technologies.

This course focuses on advanced nursing leadership and advocacy for healthcare policy improvement. You will examine the process of healthcare policy development and determine the disparities within the US and international healthcare delivery systems. You will use policy theory to critically evaluate the current and historic policies, laws, and financial incentives that affect healthcare delivery and nursing practice. You will apply principles of organizational change and cultural effectiveness to evaluate components of leadership necessary for public health improvement.

This course will address scientific frameworks for advanced nursing practice including theories from nursing, behavioral and social sciences, quality improvement models, and evidence-based practice models. You will integrate the theme of change throughout this course related to improving patient and healthcare outcomes. You will examine various strategies to develop partnerships with stakeholders, assess quality improvement, and facilitate change based on evidence.

Prerequisites: DNP -7005

This course prepares you, to plan for the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of health promotion and disease prevention program initiatives. Within a practice setting, you will work with your mentor, the advanced nurse leader, to analyze practice approaches to quality improvement and evaluate clinical prevention strategies utilized to promote population health. You will discuss various approaches to quality improvement.

*Requires 30 Practice hours

Prerequisites: DNP-7106 – Program Planning and Evaluation

This course introduces various approaches to evaluating health outcomes research, including risk assessment, causation, and principles of measurement. You will evaluate evidenced-based health outcomes research to include instruments and strategies for measuring the economic valuation of healthcare programs. You will examine factors that affect quality and safety and develop strategies to monitor and improve health outcomes. Within the practice setting, you will appraise factors that increase risks and liability. You will review data using information technology and review the literature addressing a healthcare issue to identify a DNP project topic.

Prerequisites: DNP-7107 – Health Outcomes Research

This course focuses on data management skills to measure the use of services and quality of patient care. Within the practice setting, you will incorporate multiple techniques and methods to diagnose system issues and measure quality improvement and program outcomes. You will also assess ethical principles related to data governance and stewardship. Finally, you will work on formulating your problem statement for your DNP Project.

*Requires 90 Practice hours

In this 12-week course, you will complete all relevant subsections of Section 1: Foundation. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. Section 1 must be completed and approved by your committee in order to pass the course and move forward. If you do not receive committee approval of Section 1, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to finalize and gain approval of Section 1.

In this 12-week course, you will compose all relevant subsections of Section 2: Methodology and Design and complete your proposal. Both of these components must be approved by your committee in order to pass the course and move forward. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. If you do not receive approval of Section 2 and the complete proposal, you will be able to take up to three 8-week supplementary courses to finalize and gain approval of Section 2 and your completed proposal.

In this course, you will prepare, submit, and obtain a determination from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application before collecting data and, if applicable, executing your project modeling. You will also submit documentation that you have closed data collection. If you are still collecting data or modeling your project at the end of this 12-week course, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to complete the required components.

In this 12-week course, you will complete all relevant subsections of Section 3: Findings, Implications, and Recommendations, finalize your manuscript, and disseminate your findings. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. The final manuscript, which includes Section 3 and the dissemination of findings, must be approved by your committee in order to pass the course and be eligible to graduate. If you do not receive committee approval of all components, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to finalize these requirements and be eligible to graduate.

* DNP students will continue to earn practice hours to obtain executive leadership experience and to meet program requirements upon successful completion of the practice experience and DIS courses as indicated.

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership degree requires a minimum of 46 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the master’s degree. The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university while enrolled in a doctoral program with a grade of “B” or better.

The DNP degree program have the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 34 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NU
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • Complete required practice experience hours
  • Satisfactory completion of DNP Project
  • Submission of the approved final DNP Project
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their complimentary diploma and/or degree posted transcript
  • Students are required to own or otherwise have access to a computer/laptop equipped with a webcam, a microphone, and a high-speed Internet connection in order to complete course assignments throughout their program

The National University DNP can prepare you for education, managerial and director level roles in hospitals, physician’s offices, postsecondary institutions, and pharmaceutical organizations. 

Employers are seeking DNPs for roles* that include: 

  • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
  • Chief Patient Experience Officer
  • Clinical Manager
  • Nurse Manager
  • Vice President of Patient Services

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Many roles may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met.

Many specialized nursing areas are associated with the DNP such as: 

  • Teaching/Nurse Education
  • Research
  • Public Health
  • Community Health
  • Primary care
  • Acute/critical care
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Family Nursing

*SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at https://www.economicmodeling.com/company/ (Report viewed: 7/06/2022). DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNP) degree program, you’ll be able to:

  • Evaluate data to inform nursing practice, organizational health, and care delivery
  • Develop data-informed, literature-based strategic plans for organizations
  • Interface with other nursing professionals with regards to the fostering of culture of accountability and responsibility for professional judgment and actions
  • Create new explanatory and predictive models to advance healthcare organizations and nursing care delivery in a global society
  • Recommend health policies, which ensure stewardship of resources, promote social justice, and community partnership in maintaining health


National University’s dedicated admissions team is here to help you throughout the admissions process. We accept and review applications year-round and, once you’re admitted, you can begin your studies as soon as the next week.

To apply to the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership degree program, you must have a conferred Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution.

Questions? Call our admissions team at 866.776.0331 or request information and an advisor will be in touch soon. Ready to apply? start your NU application today

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Students must be able to pass background checks in the states they wish to study. Students must be aware that certain misdemeanors and felonies will make this impossible. Students must purchase CastleBranch to track HIPAA-related documents, health immunization forms, physical, OSHA, criminal background checks, and drug testing results. The clinical site may have additional requirements. Applicants must be aware that NU is not permitted to provide didactic or practice nursing experiences in a few select states.    

Students must maintain 1 million per claim and 3 million aggregate liability insurance during the program, a current unencumbered RN licensure, an AHA CPR certification, and proof of health insurance coverage.

Students must begin searching for a nurse executive mentor and a site for the practice experiences immediately upon entry into the program. The site and mentor will need to be thoroughly vetted to ensure the applicant can meet the practice requirements for a DNP student. The program will support the student in obtaining a mentor or site. If no mentor or site is established, it will lead to a delay in completing practice courses and may result in the non-completion of the program. 

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.

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