Jul 18, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Doctor of Nursing Practice (Post Bachelor’s)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) is a doctoral degree that prepares nurses a) to practice in an advanced nursing role in a specialization and b) to lead innovative, evidence-based practice initiatives that positively impact quality improvements and outcomes in healthcare systems.

There are 3 specializations for the post-bachelor’s DNP: Family Nurse Practitioner, Educational Leadership and Healthcare Leadership.  

The Family Nurse Practitioner tracks prepares DNP graduates to be leaders in primary care by developing clinical expertise in managing health and illness across the lifespan within diverse settings. This track allows graduates to address healthcare issues affecting individuals and communities by implementing evidence-based interventions to create healthier individuals and communities. 

The Educational Leadership track prepares DNP graduates to be educational leaders in healthcare facilities, community organizations or academic institutions.  The focus is on the continuum of education in nursing beginning with educating nursing students in academic settings to professional development of nurses in a healthcare setting to health promotion and disease prevention activities for patients and communities.  

The Healthcare Leadership track prepares DNP graduates to lead complex healthcare systems in multiple settings, including primary care, acute care, academic, professional, governmental, accrediting agencies, and nonprofits. Nurses in administrative roles and those seeking administrative roles would benefit from a DNP with a track in healthcare leadership. 

The program of study requires a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate hours of supervised clinical practice in an advanced nursing role and in the leadership component of the D.N.P. program.

Check departmental information for additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/.


Admission to the D.N.P. program is limited and competitive. To apply to the D.N.P. program, prospective students must submit completed application materials to the Graduate School no later than the application deadline as posted on the D.N.P. program website. Admission decisions will be made within two months from the application deadline.

Prospective students may apply to either the post-bachelor’s D.N.P. degree or the post-master’s D.N.P. degree program. Study in the post-bachelor’s degree D.N.P. program may be full or part time and will focus on education to practice in an advanced nursing role in a particular specialization (i.e., the advanced role component) as well as to lead innovative practice initiatives. Study in the post-master’s degree D.N.P program will be part time for 6 semesters and will focus on education to lead innovative practice initiatives in healthcare systems (i.e., the D.N.P. leadership component).

Students are admitted to the nursing program provisionally until they have provided proof of meeting the clinical requirements outlined in the Nursing Student Handbook. Full admission to the nursing program is required to enroll in nursing courses.

Post-Bachelor’s Degree D.N.P.:

Eligibility to Apply

Current licensure with no encumbrances as a professional Registered Nurse (RN) in the U.S.  Prior to beginning course work, students must hold or have applied for RN licensure in Illinois.

A baccalaureate or master’s in nursing degree from a school accredited by an accrediting agency officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), or from a program seeking initial accreditation which includes an upper-division major in nursing equivalent to the undergraduate nursing major at NIU. If the applicant is a graduate of a non-graded baccalaureate program in nursing, CCNE accreditation is required. The applicant must provide documentation of course work which is essentially equivalent to that required in the baccalaureate nursing major at NIU.

A minimum 3.00 GPA (based on a 4.00 system) for the last 60 hours of the baccalaureate program, or completion of 9 semester hours of graduate course work in nursing at NIU with a GPA of 3.20 or better.

Application Components

A 2-page, double-spaced Goal Statement to address:

Professional goals, desired field of study (for the advanced nursing role component) and how the NIU D.N.P. program will promote goal achievement. This statement should also include a paragraph regarding clinical practice experience in the past three years and the area(s) of practice specialty.

Identification of an issue (i.e., topic or problem) that requires a system-wide change in healthcare services or policies and a general plan for remediating this issue. The topic will serve as the basis for the applicant’s D.N.P. Scholarly Project. The statement must include a description of potential sponsors and location for Scholarly Project implementation.

Three professional letters of reference to provide evidence of the applicant’s professional qualifications. At least one reference should be from a professor or nursing colleague who can address the applicant’s potential for academic success. At least one reference must be from a current, professional nurse colleague (e.g., a supervisor or mentor) who can address the applicant’s professional qualifications as a licensed professional registered nurse. One professional recommendation of the applicant’s choosing (e.g., the sponsor from a potential clinical site for the D.N.P. Scholarly Project). References should be provided on the Graduate School reference form. Ratings and comments must be included. Family members and personal friends are not considered professional references.

Qualified applicants may be contacted by faculty to schedule a pre-admission interview. Not all applicants will be chosen to interview.

Approval will be determined by the nursing program Graduate Admissions Committee upon review of the aforementioned criteria.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admission to NIU graduate nursing programs.

Course Requirements

BS-DNP with Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Specialization (73)

DNP Project Courses (12)

BS-DNP with Educational Leadership Specialization (66)

DNP Project Courses (12)

BS-DNP with Healthcare Leadership Specialization (64)

DNP Project Courses (12)