Doctoral Degree

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Advance in your career as a clinical leader with the skills to support the delivery of high quality and safe care in complex health care systems.

Nurse leader in a clinical setting

Program Overview

In our doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program, you’ll graduate ready for the role of an advanced practice nurse capable of leading change and delivering the highest level of quality care. As you progress through our flexible program, you’ll develop clinical leadership skills to deliver culturally competent, evidence-based, value-based and system-based care.

With guidance from our experienced, full-time faculty, you’ll be prepared for leadership positions in direct care of individuals and populations, as well as for positions that focus on patient outcomes and complex systems management and transformation.

At graduation, you will be prepared to meet the eligibility criteria to sit for a family nurse practitioner certification examination or the adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist examination.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Widener University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Program Options

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Students are required to complete 560 clinical hours beyond the Master of Science in Nursing program. 

Students can enroll in the DNP program at either our Main Campus in Chester or at our Harrisburg Campus.

Our flexible course delivery system offers full- and part-time options designed for working practitioners to ensure that you can meet the program requirements on a timeframe that fits into your schedule.

Part-time students can progress at their own pace within the established seven-year time limit for degree completion for doctoral students.

All DNP classes are offered online through a web-enhanced delivery system. 

A post-baccalaureate RN-to-DNP option is available. Students must complete 74 credits in the approved post-baccalaureate RN-to-DNP family (individual across the lifespan) CRNP option or 66 credits in the approved post-baccalaureate RN-to-DNP adult-gerontology CNS option.

Admissions Requirements

Graduates of accredited master’s programs are invited to apply for admission by submitting evidence of:

  • Completed online application.
  • Transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions.
  • Minimum of a 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program.
  • Graduate statistics course with a grade of at least C (2.0).
  • Two references—one from an educator or an advanced practice nurse and one from an employer with a graduate degree.
  • Goal statement that highlights the applicant’s interests with emphasis on health care practice improvement.
  • Current national APRN certification in an advanced practice nursing role and population as appropriate.
  • Valid RN and APRN licenses.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Graduate level epidemiology course pre-/corequisite.

GRE scores are not required. International applicants and applicants whose native language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores with a minimum score of 213 for the computer-based test or 550 for the paper test.

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Students interested in an accelerated track can enroll in Post Baccalaureate RN-to-DNP Individual /Family Across the Lifespan CRNP program or the Post Baculaueate RN-toDNP Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program.

Graduates of nationally accredited baccalaureate programs are eligible to apply for admission by submitted evidence of:

  • Completed online application.
  • Transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions.
  • Minimum of a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Undergraduate statistics course with a grade of at least C (2.0).
  • Two references—one from an educator or advanced practice nurse and one from an employer with a graduate degree.
  • Goal statement that highlights the applicant’s interests with emphasis on health care practice improvement.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Valid RN license.
  • Interview with a nursing faculty member (arranged after a preliminary review of application materials.)

Program Highlights

nursing doctorate student in sim lab

Clinical Experience

Our faculty will partner with you to identify a clinical training location that meets your professional goals. With more than 300 affiliated clinical sites, you'll have access to the setting and specialty that interests you. 

nursing faculty in clinic

Close Faculty Mentorship

Thrive in a learning community provides close mentorship and one-on-one support. Our expert, full-time faculty members bring active clinical and academic research experience to the classroom. Here, you'll build a network that will follow you long after graduation.


Partner with expert faculty who aren’t just teaching the courses but are creating the science of nursing education.

Nancy Laplante
Associate Professor

I consider myself to be compassionate and caring, and strive to engage my students in respectful dialogue. Teaching is a collaborative process between students and faculty, and there is a reciprocal relationship as we all learn from each other. As an advanced holistic nurse, I incorporate self-care, self-responsibility, spirituality, and reflection in my teaching and seek to be a role model for my students.

Rose Rossi Schwartz
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

"As a teacher, my role is to help students go beyond the facts. It is equally important to help students grow as people, support their professional and intellectual development, and to expand their world views. Through this growth process, students better understand themselves, their clients, and the clients' experiences."

Shirlee M. Drayton-Brooks
Professor of Nursing

I ascribe to a pragmatic philosophy of teaching and learning. I believe that nursing education must be practical and logically aligned to the diverse needs of the population we served.

Kim A. Noble
Associate Professor

I believe that an education with a foundation in science is essential for entry into nursing or advanced practice nursing. Nursing clinical reasoning skills grow as students apply an understanding of disease as the loss of normal function.

Students have great variation in their manner in which they acquire, process, manipulate, store, and retrieve learned information. It is a faculty priority to assist students with the development of metacognitive strategies to assist learning success and retention.

Darrell Spurlock Jr.
Professor and Scholarship Director

"I teach because I believe sharing knowledge and stimulating thinking is a fundamental task of any discipline. I believe that education is change, and change is a constant human feature; education is, in this way, choosing to change. Though the focus of my scholarship and teaching centers on research methods, measurement, evaluation, and quality improvement, these knowledge areas form the bedrock of evidence-based practice—the kind of practice all health care professionals aspire to deliver to patients, families, and communities."

Donna M. Callaghan

"My teaching philosophy has its roots in Bandura's Theory of Self-Efficacy. I believe that students learn (and clients change behaviors) through observing others perform activities, doing the activities themselves, having positive feedback provided, and having their anxieties decreased."

Barbara J. Patterson

"As an educator, researcher, and student advisor, I am passionate about preparing the next generation of nurse leaders, educators, and scholars. I believe advancing the science of nursing education is dependent upon preparing doctoral students who question and explore how they teach while generating the best evidence for their teaching practices."

Paula A. Gray
Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing

"I am a proud graduate of Widener's FNP program and very passionate to teach, mentor and guide students to achieve their goals in becoming successful graduates of this program. The program is well known in the Tri-State area and beyond, and because of our certification pass rate and graduate's preparedness for the work-force, our graduates are able to be employed as APRN's very soon after graduation."

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

You'll take the inside track to a rewarding education, career, and future in nursing.

  • Christiana Health System
  • Penn Medicine
  • Widener University
  • Wilmington University
  • Pennsylvania Hospital

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Advanced practice nurse
  • Nurse leader
  • Nurse educator

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

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Financial Aid

At Widener, opportunities for financial aid extend to graduate students. Discover how scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, and other sources of aid can make obtaining your degree possible.

Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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