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1st DNP Program in the U.S.

Our program was founded in 2001 and we've been preparing nurses for advanced practice, clinical leadership, and executive positions in healthcare systems ever since.

Top 6% of DNP programs in the nation

U.S. News and World Report, 2023

When it began in 2001, the University of Kentucky College of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program was the first of its kind in the United States. Under the guidance of Dr. Carolyn Williams, 3rd dean of the College, the program was implemented by co-directors Dr. Julie Sebastian and Dr. Marcia Stanhope. The tradition of excellence continues to this day – the program is ranked in the top 5% of DNP programs nationwide.

Dr. Williams has had a profound impact on nursing education and community health through the development of the UK DNP program. The deans and academic leadership that succeeded her carried the vision forward. Graduates of the program are experts in designing, implementing, managing and evaluating health care delivery systems and are prepared to lead at the highest clinical and executive ranks.

​There are two entry points to the DNP Program. We offer a Post-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) entry option for those with an awarded master's degree in nursing who are already prepared in the role of the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). A Post-Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN) entry option is offered as well, which builds on the BSN degree and prepares individuals for the advanced practice role. Both options culminate with the DNP degree.

The program is known for:

  • DNP faculty known nationally and internationally for work in their specialties

  • Close work with clinical mentors

  • Classes that mix online work with on-campus work

Learning Outcomes

This program prepares individuals to:

  • Integrate nursing science and theory with knowledge from ethics, the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for nursing practice (AACN Essential I: Scientific Underpinnings for Practice). 
  • Demonstrate advanced organizational and systems leadership that emphasizes practice and the ongoing improvement of health outcomes (AACN Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking).
  • Generate, translate, apply and evaluate new science/evidence to guide improvements in practice and outcomes of care (AACN Essential III: Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice).
  • Demonstrate proficient use of information systems/ technology resources to implement quality improvement initiatives and support practice and administrative decision-making (AACN Essential IV: Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care). 
  • Engage proactively in the analysis, development and implementation of health policy at the institutional, local, state, regional, federal, or international level (AACN Essential V: Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care).
  • Employ consultative and leadership skills with intra- and inter-professional teams to create change in health care and complex healthcare delivery systems (AACN Essential VI: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes). 
  • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate scientific data and concepts related to clinical prevention and population health, and gaps in care of individuals, aggregates, or populations (AACN Essential VII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation’s Health). 
  • Demonstrate foundational practice competencies that cut across specialties (AACN Essential VIII: Advanced Nursing Practice specialties).

The Post-MSN Option can be completed in two years, and the Post-BSN Option can be completed in three years of full-time study. Part-time plans are also available.

Our DNP Program has Full Approval status from the Kentucky Board of Nursing based on the letter of accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 

There are two program entry points:

BSN-DNP Option

The BSN-DNP option prepares individuals for the advanced practice role and can be completed in three years of full-time study. 

MSN-DNP Option

The MSN-Option is for those with an awarded master's degree in nursing.