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College of Nursing

East Tennessee State University

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctoral degree focused on rural clinical practice in Primary Care settings. ETSU College of Nursing's DNP program prepares advanced practice nurses and executive nurse leaders to assess and evaluate evidence from research and translate or use the findings to affect practice change to enhance and promote quality of care.

nursing students

Program Quick Facts

  • Top 100 DNP programs ranking by U. S. News and World Report
  • Blended/Online program
  • Interprofessional experiences
  • 100% Pass Rate on PMHNP Certification Exam
  • 100% first time test taker Pass rate on FNP Certification  Exam
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Before Applying for a DNP Program

Program Details

DNP and PhD Role Comparison





- Clinical Practice

- Scholarship

- Nursing Research

- Scholarship


Create leaders in nursing and health care practice who use evidence-based research to improve  patient  outcomes

Create nurse research scientists who conduct research projects aimed to enhance nursing knowledge or practice


Translate evidence-based research findings to improve patient outcomes for healthcare systems, populations,  and communities

Design, conduct and disseminate research findings that will advance nursing practice and health care system

Course Focus

Advanced knowledge of science and related disciplines to practice, leadership, patient care and safety, health care delivery systems, health policy, applied research methods, advance practice nursing

Nursing science, theoretical and conceptual foundations, research methods, data analysis, individualized courses that support research interests

Program Entry BSN

-- BSN from accredited school of nursing with 2 years of RN experience

-- Current unencumbered RN license

-- GPA of at least 3.0


Not available at this time

Program Entry MSN

-- Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program

 -- GPA of at least 3.0

-- Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program

-- At least two years of full-time nursing experience

-- GPA of at least 3.0

Program Entry MSN w/ NP certification

-- Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program

 -- GPA of at least 3.0

-- National certification in selected nursing specialty

-- Minimum 500 clinical hour completion verification from Master’s program

-- Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program

-- At least two years of full-time nursing experience

-- GPA of at least 3.0

Program Entry for Executive Leadership

At least one year of experience in a nursing administration role


GRE Required

Required if cumulative GPA less than 3.2 from BSN or MSN program

Submission of GRE required in admission process


-- BSN-DNP 82-86 credit hours( depending on concentration)

-- MSN-DNP  40 credit hours

-- Nurse Exec. Leadership: 79 credit hours

-- 59 credit hours

-- Research Residency 300 clock hours

Clinical Hours

-- 500 minimum  relating to DNP Project (all concentrations; BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP)

-- Total 1000 clinical hours with minimum 500 hours related to concentration specialty


Program Hallmarks

A clinical practice immersion with completion of an applied practice project (DNP Project) culminating is a scholarly product

An intense research immersion mentored by faculty who are nurse scientists, culminating in an independent research project (dissertation) and publishable scholarly works.

Employment Opportunities

Nurse Practitioner, Healthcare Administrator, Health Care system Leader, Faculty Member

Nurse Scientist, Health Policy, Health Care Organization Leadership, Faculty Member

Final Outcome Product

DNP Project


Online/Blended Distance Learning



Part-time Study



Full-time Study



Financial Aid Options



Program Outcomes and Competencies

Program Outcomes:

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is designed to produce leaders in nursing and healthcare practice. Specific objectives for the program are to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values to:

  1. Integrate specialized knowledge, theories, and research from nursing science and related disciplines for application to nursing practice;

  2. Assume leadership roles as advanced clinicians, nurse educators, and/ or administrators;

  3. Demonstrate accountability in nursing practice according to accepted standards of patient care and safety;

  4. Use information technology to translate research findings into evidence-based practice at the individual and health system levels;

  5. Affect desired change by developing and implementing policies at different levels of the health care system and with different constituencies;

  6. Provide multidisciplinary leadership through analysis of critical indicators within health care systems to provide optimal client care and safety; and

  7. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in planning and delivery of health management.

Expected Competencies of a DNP Graduate

The competencies expected of a DNP graduate from ETSU are adopted directly from the DNP Essentials of doctoral education for advanced practice in nursing as specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006, pp. 8-17).

  1. Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
    1. Integrate nursing science with knowledge from ethics, the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for the highest level of nursing practice.

    2. Use science-based theories and concepts to:
      • Determine the nature and significance of health and health care delivery phenomena;
      • Describe the actions and advanced strategies to enhance, alleviate, and ameliorate health and health care delivery phenomena as appropriate, and
      • Evaluate outcomes.
    3. Develop and evaluate new practice approaches based on nursing theories and theories from other disciplines.
  2. Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking
    1. Develop and evaluate care delivery approaches that meet current and future needs of patient populations based on scientific findings in nursing and other clinical sciences, as well as organizational, political, and economic sciences.

    2. Ensure accountability for quality of health care and patient safety for populations with whom they work.
      • Use advanced communication skills/ processes to lead quality improvement and patient safety initiatives in health care systems.
      • Employ principles of business, finance, economics, and health policy to develop and implement effective plans for practice-level and/ or system-wide practice initiatives that will improve the quality of care delivery.
      • Develop and/or monitor budgets for practice initiatives.
      • Analyze the cost-effectiveness of practice initiatives accounting for risk and improvement of health care outcomes.
      • Demonstrate sensitivity to diverse organizational cultures and populations, including patients and providers.
    3. Develop and/ or evaluate effective strategies for managing the ethical dilemmas inherent in patient care, the health care organization, and research.
  3. Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
    1. Use analytic methods to critically appraise existing literature and other evidence to determine and implement the best evidence for practice.

    2. Design and implement processes to evaluate outcomes of practice, practice patterns, and systems of care within a practice setting, health care organization, or community against national benchmarks to determine variances in practice outcomes and population trends.

    3. Design, direct, and evaluate quality improvement methodologies to promote safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered care.

    4. Apply relevant findings to develop practice guidelines and improve practice and the practice environment.

    5. Use information technology and research methods appropriately to:
      • Collect appropriate and accurate data to generate evidence for nursing practice
      • Inform and guide the design of databases that generate meaningful evidence for nursing practice
      • Analyze data from practice
      • Design evidence-based interventions
      • Predict and analyze outcomes
      • Examine patterns of behavior and outcomes
      • Identify gaps in evidence for practice
    6. Function as a practice specialist/ consultant in collaborative knowledge-generating research.

    7. Disseminate findings from evidence-based practice and research to improve healthcare outcomes.
  4. Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care
    1. Design, select, use, and evaluate programs that evaluate and monitor outcomes of care, care systems, and quality improvement including consumer use of health care information systems.

    2. Analyze and communicate critical elements necessary to the selection, use, and evaluation of health care information systems and patient care technology.

    3. Demonstrate the conceptual ability and technical skills to develop and execute an evaluation plan involving data extraction from practice information systems and databases.

    4. Provide leadership in the evaluation and resolution of ethical and legal issues within healthcare systems relating to the use of information, information technology, communication networks, and patient care technology.

    5. Evaluate consumer health information sources for accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness.
  5. Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care
    1. Critically analyze health policy proposals, health policies, and related issues from the perspective of consumers, nursing, other health professions, and other stakeholders in policy and public forums.

    2. Demonstrate leadership in the development and implementation of institutional, local, state, federal, and/or international health policy.

    3. Influence policy makers through active participation on committees, boards, or task forces at the institutional, local, state, regional, national, and/or international levels to improve health care delivery and outcomes.

    4. Educate others, including policy makers at all levels, regarding nursing, health policy, and patient care outcomes.

    5. Develop, evaluate, and provide leadership for health care policy that shapes health care financing, regulation, and delivery.

    6. Advocate for social justice, equity, and ethical policies within all healthcare arenas.
  6. Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes
    1. Employ effective communication and collaborative skills in the development and implementation of practice models, peer review, practice guidelines, health policy, standards of care, and/or other scholarly products.

    2. Lead interprofessional teams in the analysis of complex practice and organizational issues.

    3. Employ consultative and leadership skills with intraprofessional and interprofessional teams to create change in health care and complex healthcare delivery systems.
  7. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation's Health
    1. Analyze epidemiological, biostatistical, environmental, and other appropriate scientific data related to individual, aggregate, and population health.

    2. Synthesize concepts, including psychosocial dimensions and cultural diversity, related to clinical prevention and population health in developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to address health promotion/ disease prevention efforts, improve health status/ access patterns, and/ or address gaps in care of individuals, aggregates, or populations.

    3. Evaluate care delivery models and/ or strategies using concepts related to community, environmental and occupational health, and cultural and socioeconomic dimensions of health.
  8. Advanced Nursing Practice
    1. Conduct a comprehensive and systematic assessment of health and illness parameters in complex situations, incorporating diverse and culturally sensitive approaches.

    2. Design, implement, and evaluate therapeutic interventions based on nursing science and other sciences.

    3. Develop and sustain therapeutic relationships and partnerships with patients (individual, family or group) and other professionals to facilitate optimal care and patient outcomes.

    4. Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes. e. Guide, mentor, and support other nurses to achieve excellence in nursing practice.

    5. Educate and guide individuals and groups through complex health and situational transitions.

    6. Use conceptual and analytical skills in evaluating the links among practice, organizational, population, fiscal, and policy issues.
Program Format and Concentrations


The program is offered in an Online/Blended format in which students complete most coursework online with required on-campus intensive sessions 1-2 times per semester.


  • Executive Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


Due to difficulties in some states with distance students conducting internships when enrolled in a program in another state, applications for admission will be accepted from:

  1. Residents of Tennessee
  2. Residents of states that participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) and are within a 250 mile radius of ETSU’s Johnson City campus.

Students in all concentrations of the ETSU College of Nursing DNP programs are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of practicum in an interprofessional experience, as part of the overall practicum for their program.  The interprofessional experience can be part of a formal interprofessional clinic or can be organized by the student specifically for this practicum requirement, in collaboration with the student’s course faculty, academic advisor and partners from the proposed organization.


MSN to DNP Program Plans
Admissions Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the DNP program must fulfill all the requirements for admission to both the School of Graduate Studies and the College of Nursing.

The School of Graduate Studies requires that all students submit the following materials:

  • a completed application with payment of nonrefundable application fee;
  • official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework
  • a written essay.

The College of Nursing requirements for admission to the DNP program include:

  1. A bachelor's (BSN to DNP applicants) in nursing or non-nursing master's (MSN to DNP applicants) degree, or equivalency for international applicants in nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program or comparably recognized non-U.S. institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale.

    Certification (for MSN to DNP applicants) in the selected nursing specialty for the concentration (for instance, FNP certification for the FNP Concentration); at least one year of experience in a nursing administration role for the Executive Leadership concentration;
    A nursing master's degree in a different specialty than the program concentrations (executive leadership, PMHNP, ANP/GNP, FNP) (longer program of study may be required) and, in addition, for Executive Leadership at least one year of experience in a nursing administration role;
    BSN from a nationally accredited nursing program and a non-nursing master's degree (longer program of study may be required) and, in addition, for Executive Leadership at least one year of experience in a nursing administration role.

  2. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores for applicants with cumulative grade point average less than 3.2 as reported by their BSN or MSN institution;

  3. Certification (for MSN to DNP applicants) in the selected nursing specialty for the concentration (for instance, FNP certification for the FNP Concentration); at least one year of experience in a nursing administration role for the Executive Leadership concentration;

  4. Current unencumbered license in the United States as a registered nurse and eligibility for licensure in Tennessee or equivalency for international students;                                               
  5. At least two years of full-time work experience (or equivalent) in nursing as a registered nurse;

  6. Three letters of recommendation: one from the applicant’s current (most recent) supervisor, one from a faculty member who has worked directly with the applicant during previous academic study, and one from an individual selected by the applicant;

  7. Completion of an interview;

  8. Completion of a writing sample to the School of Graduate Studies at the time of application describing a problem the applicant has identified in practice that the applicant might explore in the DNP program;

  9. A cover letter expressing the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study; and

  10. A resume or vita.

The completed application form and fee, official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, essay, documentation of nursing licensure in the United States, letters of recommendation and resume or vita must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. International students must also forward the additionally required documentation to the School.

The personal interview and time for completing the writing sample will be scheduled by the College of Nursing’s DNP Admissions Committee.   Factors given consideration in the admission decision include: previous grade point average (GPA), clarity of the applicant’s selected problem as stated in the writing sample and during the interview, writing ability, professional work experience and achievements, professional honors and awards, interest in rural and underserved population groups, and quality of references/recommendations.

The DNP Admissions Committee may recommend admission of a promising applicant who has not met all the admission standards on a provisional basis.  

Out of State Applications
  • Course and program availability varies by state and is established by each individual State Board of Nursing.

  • Students who reside outside of the state of Tennessee are responsible to contact their State Board of Nursing to confirm whether the course or program meets online degree program requirements in their state of residence prior to application.

Application Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Application deadlines (dates for all materials to be received by the School of Graduate Studies) will become effective:

Regular Deadline


March 1 (BSN to DNP)


February 1 (MSN to DNP)


  • Executive Leadership will admit every other year
    • BSN to DNP - the next admission term will be Fall 2021

    • MSN to DNP - the next admission term will be Summer 2022
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program will admit every other year

    • BSN to DNP - the next admission term will be Fall 2020

    • MSN to DNP - the next admission term will be Summer 2021

Click here to apply for ETSU admission

Intensive Week Schedules

2019 Doctoral Intensive Week Schedules (for DNP and PhD Students) dates are:

Intensive Dates

Summer 2019

May 6-10

Fall 2019

August 19-23

Spring 2020

January 13-17

Summer 2020

May 11-15


Program Contact
Image of Linda Raines


Linda Raines

Admissions Counselor/Recruiter
423-439-4578 /
Nicks Hall, Room 230


Image of


Jessimine Strauss

School of Graduate Studies, Program Specialist
423-439-6158 /  
Burgin-Dossett Hall Room 309-G

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Regulatory requirements governing student clinical vary by state and are subject to change. Clinical placement outside of Tennessee is contingent upon approval by the appropriate regulatory bodies and will be evaluated on an individual basis upon admission to the program. Currently, placement in North Carolina and Virginia is allowed.


Licensure Eligibility: 

Acceptance to East Tennessee State University College of Nursing is on a competitive basis. Applicants are encouraged to determine the eligibility requirements for any state in which they will seek licensure post-graduation. East Tennessee State University College of Nursing cannot guarantee licensure eligibility outside the state of Tennessee.



Tlogohe Baccalaureate degree in nursing program, MSN Program, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, ETSU-TTU Joint DNP, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at East Tennessee State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (


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