Doctor of Nursing Practice

Prepare yourself to be a leader in the field of nursing by earning a DNP, the preferred credential for advanced practice nurses.

This program focuses on administrative, organizational, and systems leadership competencies to prepare you for a variety of nursing leadership positions. Because this degree focuses on practical contributions to the nursing field, it can be completed more quickly than a research-focused PhD. Topics covered in this program include leadership and ethics, policy and advocacy, nursing technology, global population health, and management. This DNP degree is not a clinical degree and is not designed to prepare advanced practice registered nurses for roles as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified nurse anesthetists.

Outcome goals and graduates' proficiency levels

Each doctoral program and specialization is designed around expected learning outcomes (see Expected Program Outcomes below). End of program performance is determined during the comprehensive exam and dissertation process. Because the work is unique to each learner's dissertation or research topic and the criteria for evaluation are aligned to that work, we do not collect data on proficiency levels for doctoral programs.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)1, 2

Quality and Professional Relevance

  • The DNP curriculum incorporates The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
  • Capella's BSN, MSN and DNP programs* are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • The DNP focuses on practical contributions to the nursing field and can be completed more quickly than a research-focused PhD.
  • The DNP is the preferred credential for advanced practice nurses and will be the required terminal degree for the profession by 2015.
  • Field experiences, along with many of your courseroom assignments, allow you to apply what you're learning and focus on your areas of interest.
  • Capella's DNP focuses on administrative, organizational, and systems leadership competencies to prepare you for a variety of nursing leadership positions.

Expected Program Outcomes

  1. Employ a science-based theoretical foundation to develop and evaluate new practices and approaches to health care delivery.
  2. Lead and create health and care delivery models for quality improvement.
  3. Evaluate and analyze theory and research-based methods to improve the reliability of health care practices and outcomes.
  4. Lead planning and implementation of health care technologies for quality improvement appropriate for specialized areas of practice.
  5. Develop, implement, and advocate for health care policy that meets the needs of specific populations.
  6. Employ inter-professional collaboration skills to improve patient and population health.
  7. Develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health promotion, prevention, and intervention service delivery models for individuals, aggregates, and populations.

1North Dakota residents are not eligible to enroll in this program at this time.
2North Carolina residents are currently not eligible to enroll in this program
*The BSN, MSN and DNP degree programs at Capella University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530 Washington, DC 20036, (202)887-6791.

Doctoral degree graduates

Data from graduates across all doctoral programs have been combined for these Career Outcomes results.

Capella University doctoral graduates report satisfaction with salary, benefits, and responsibilities. Half of the graduates surveyed work in higher education and another 12 percent hold positions in the P–12 environment.

Satisfaction with Job Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered "satisfied" or "very satisfied"
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


Doctoral graduates report receiving salary increases and getting recognition from employers for their Capella degrees. Around half those surveyed have advanced in their careers and just over a third have presented at a professional conference or worked as a consultant.

Career & Professional Accomplishments Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who indicated they had accomplished each item
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

Doctoral degree graduates

Data from graduates across all doctoral programs have been combined for these Student Experience results.

Capella University doctoral graduates think their education meets academic program outcomes and helps them meet career goals. They are likely to recommend Capella to others.

Satisfaction with Capella Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered affirmatively
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

Our doctoral graduates report they have gained practical knowledge and expertise which are applicable in a range of professional settings.

Improvement in Skills and Abilities Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who rated themselves as "proficient" or "distinguished" on ability to demonstrate the skill or ability on the job.
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


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Capella believes in being clear about the real cost, time, and value of a Capella degree The Gainful Employment disclosures, required by the US Department of Education (DOE) (under 34 CFR 688.6 ), provide some information about completion, expenses and occupations based on learners who graduated between July 2012 and June 2013. Most of our students are part-time so they might not take a full course load or attend all 4 quarters each year. We took that into account in calculating these data. For example, we define program length for certificates and master's and doctoral degrees as the number of calendar quarters it takes a typical student to complete a program. The DOE has defined time to complete for a Bachelor's degree as 4 years. Program cost is based on the specific pricing structure for each program which is either a cost per credit or a cost per active quarter.

Other related information may be found on the Learning Outcomes, Career Outcomes, and Student Experience tabs on this page.

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Learn more about these values and how they are calculated»

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Alumni Success Story Quote

Photo of Jeffrey Fenne, MS Jeffrey Fenne, MS

"The greatest reward to me is the ability to look at the big picture and influence the direction of the organization."

Read Jeffrey's story »