Examine the Curriculum

The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2004 recognized the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as the terminal degree for nursing practice. A 2005 report from the National Academy of Sciences stated "the need for doctorally prepared practitioners and faculty would be met if nursing could develop a new non-research clinical doctorate, similar to the MD or PharmD in medicine and pharmacy." Our Doctor of Nursing Practice program builds on masters and advanced-practice core knowledge in nursing and provides students with the additional content and competencies needed for the highest level of nursing practice.

Curriculum Overview
The year-round curriculum is a web-based program with two on-campus weekend seminar meetings per semester. The program itself consists of nine, 3-unit courses, and a final 6-unit project for a total of 33 units. Students take two courses per semester (6 units) for four semesters and complete their project in two semesters enabling them to complete the program in two years. As a DNP student you will also have extensive practice-based experience in your own community.An extended 3 year curriculum is available.

For more detail regarding the curriculum, please review the course descriptions (PDF) or visit the WesternU CGN website.

Web-Based Curriculum for Working Professionals students in lecture
The curriculum consists of three core components: 

  1. Self-directed web-based courses accessed over the internet. These courses use a highly self-directed approach in guiding students through the examination of course concepts which reflect the complexity of practice at the doctoral level. While the readings and websites provide the necessary background information, assignments and online discussions provide the opportunity for you to process the information, internalize key concepts and demonstrate learning.
  2. Intensive seminar weekends on campus (two per semester) provide valuable time for you to interact one-on-one with faculty and others in the class. Weekend seminars provide additional opportunities to discuss, analyze, and problem-solve while moving through the course.
  3. Practice Hours are built into six of the DNP courses. Practice-based experiences are individualized for each student based on their prior education, current clinical practice, and future role expectations. Students complete practice hours in the community where they live.

This course will orient you to the web-based format of all subsequent online courses, as well as familiarize you with the College of Graduate Nursing's policies, student roles, and writing demands.

“It is amazing how fast you get to know your classmates when you are all on the discussion boards in Blackboard and then immersed in class for a day at a time!”
-Faith Richardson, DNP Student

We Prepare You for Online Learning

The pre-program course titled, "Communication and Information Management", (CGN 5000) is mandatory for all students and is offered in the summer prior to your first semester. This course will orient you to the web-based format of all subsequent online courses, as well as familiarize you with the College of Graduate Nursing's policies, student roles, and writing demands.Please note that CGN 5000 is not covered under financial aid because it is a pre-program course and not part of the core curriculum.

During the pre-program, you'll take part in computer skills training sessions in which you'll learn how to:

  • Navigate Blackboard Learn, which is the e-platform system used to deliver online courses
  • Post comments on discussion boards via Blackboard Learn
  • Submit a paper online in APA format with references
  • Access internet resources

Outstanding Academic Support
Caring about students and helping them achieve success is the hallmark of all WesternU faculty. Our nursing faculty are respected practitioners and scholars who keep pace with the latest teaching techniques and technology and are committed to helping you master the material.

The College of Graduate Nursing staff are also a great resource when it comes to your everyday support. Although you are studying at a distance, we work hard to connect with you to ensure you are on track to succeed in your courses and finish in a timely fashion.

The Harriet K. and Philip Pumerantz Library and Bookstore are set up to support our students with textbook and academic research needs while the Computing Resources/Information Technology staff are available to our distance students for technical support.  Electronic databases are available both on-campus and off-campus through the Library's e-resources page.  

Additionally, you can draw on the expertise of the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Office (LEAD). Although located on campus, the LEAD office is available to our distance students via email and phone. LEAD staff are ready to assist you with many aspects of academic life such as review of APA formatting for scholarly papers and sharing suggestions for stress relief.

For more information, complete the information request form or contact Dr. Jan Boller, Director, DNP Program, Health System Leadership.