California DNP Programs

Get your Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree in California - online & campus-based options.
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Online DNP Programs & nursing PhD programs may be available for California students. Check current course listings.

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California DNP Programs

Doctor of Nursing (DNP) programs are relatively new to the state of California. In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that authorized California State University (CSU) to launch the DNP pilot program, which was to be available on three campuses. In addition to those three CSU campuses, there are eight other colleges and universities in 2013 offering the DNP program in California. The availability of DNP programs has grown drastically, even in the past few years.

The mission of California DNP programs is largely based on the healthcare industry's growing focus on evidence-based practice. Another focus is on the aim by the AACN to change the qualification for advanced practice from MSN to DNP. The universities aim to prepare nurses for leadership and expertise in the field, so that these professionals can contribute to the transformation of healthcare. The programs strive for innovation and excellence in clinical care.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary slightly between DNP programs, but there are many similarities. Depending on the program entry points that are available into the particular DNP program, applicants are often required to have, in addition to transcripts proving a BSN or MSN degree from an accredited program, an unencumbered RN license and/or advanced practice license and certification. Most programs, such as Brandman University, also require at least a 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, a professional resume, a personal statement or essay, and a personal interview.

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

California DNP programs vary between colleges and universities. Some, such as Brandman University and University of San Francisco, offer both post-BSN and post-MSN entry points. It seems that more often, though, a master's degree is required for entry into a DNP program. California State University, Azusa University, and National University, for example, only offer the DNP to post-MSN applicants. The post-BSN programs range in length. The bachelor's degree to DNP path is 82-94 credits at the University of San Francisco, while the Brandman University program is only 73 credit hours. Post-MSN programs typically range from 30-40 credits.

In addition to the credit hour requirement, there are often other elements necessary to earn this degree in California. Most programs also require 1,000 clinical hours. Schools, such as Azusa University, require students to maintain at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the DNP. There is often a final project or capstone project.

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California Board of Registered Nursing
1625 North Market Boulevard, Suite N-217
Sacramento, CA 95834-1924
Phone: (916) 322-3350
Fax: (916) 574-8637

California Board of Vocational Nurse and Psychiatric Technicians
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Phone: (916) 263-7800
Fax: (916) 263-7859

California Nurses Association


Schools with Doctoral & PhD Nursing Programs Accepting Students in California

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Other Schools with DNP Programs in California

California State University - Fullerton
800 N. State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
California State University
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840
Samuel Merritt College School of Nursing
3100 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
Western University of Health Sciences
309 E Second St.
Pomona, CA 91766
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
University of California - San Francisco
55 Laguna Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

California Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs (CA)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a post-graduate level practice nursing degree. A DNP focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing as opposed to working on medical research or teaching.

Due to the fact that most California DNP degree seekers are working professionals, there are a number of flexible educational options available including RN-DNP (BSN-DNP) bridge programs and specialized programs for certified advanced practice nurses.

California DNP Degree Prerequisites

In California, nurses seeking DNP certification must already hold both BSN and MSN degrees. Being the final and most advanced degree offered to professionals in the nursing field, there is strict educational criteria. Since the DNP is a relatively new status in the profession, there has not been much national standardization of academic criteria. Therefore, it is essential for you to check with your California educational institution of choice to find out what specific prerequisites they require for program admission. You can also check with the California Board of Nursing to find out more about how California recognizes DNPs.

Although every school has differing entrance requirements, here is an example of one California school's current entrance requirements.

Online DNP Programs for California Nurses

Online education is also known as distance learning. As this level of certification becomes increasingly popular in California, more and more California higher learning institutions are offering their DNP programs online. This will make it far more convenient for current RNs to take the next step without having to sacrifice time on the clock or professional responsibilities.

Benefits of DNP Certification

There are benefits in California to holding this advanced degree. Having a strong focus on advanced practice, leadership, and actual application of clinical research, DNPs are often depended on to fill the gap between doctors and nurses.

Also, California nurses holding this certification are quickly becoming favored for parity with other health professionals when and where a doctorate status is required. This includes being called upon for involvment in advanced diagnosis, legal consultation, and highly specialized clinical research. With their focus on actual clinical application, DNP nurses are typically viewed as the most experienced.

As a nurse, earning a DNP degree will also foster enhanced leadership skills and the knowledge to deliver superior healthcare service to patients, which will in turn advance you professionally.

Resources for California Nurses Seeking a DNP Degree

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