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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 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.
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.