Doctor of Nursing Practice: Family Nurse Practitioner

Innovating through nursing practice.

Serving people and communities.

We transform our students into nursing leaders

who change the face of health care.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is designed for those nurses who are interested in assuming an advance practice nursing role as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). DNP graduates are prepared as clinical experts in the delivery of primary care, with a focus on critical thinking, leadership and political policy skills needed to advocate and create changes in healthcare practice at all levels.

The program includes 27 credit hours of core knowledge essential for practice as a leader including coursework in nursing theory and research, health information systems, organization leadership, health policy, quality improvement, statistics and evidence-based practice. It also includes 36 credit hours of advance practice nursing cognate courses that develop family nurse practitioner's knowledge and skills so they are prepared to care for individuals across the lifespan. Content includes key health issues facing our nation related to chronic illness management, health promotion and disease prevention strategies; three credit hours of elective coursework; and six credit hours for a final DNP scholarly capstone project. The program includes more than 1,000 hours of immersion in clinical practice to build and assimilate knowledge for advanced practice at a high level of complexity. These experiences also provide the context within which the final DNP scholarly project is completed. NOTE: For financial aid purposes, six credit hours is considered full-time for a graduate student.

To qualify for the DNP, all students must complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised clinical practicum work completed as part of an education program between the BSN and the DNP. An individual may enter this program post-BSN or post-MSN. Post-MSN DNP students must submit verification of the number of supervised clinical practicum hours in their advanced practice educational program. Students are responsible for obtaining this documentation from the school in which the program was complete and submitting the documentation at the time of application. Faculty will use this documentation to determine how many hours of practicum the student will need to obtain the DNP.

Program Goals

The goals of the DNP program are for students to:

  • Assume clinical leadership roles in service and academic settings
  • Influence health policy and systems of health care in local, state, regional and national forums.
  • Use information technology and analytic methods to evaluate multiple sources of outcome data.
  • Utilize current practice guidelines and policies, care delivery models and strategies to impact health outcomes.
  • Develop therapeutic approaches to reduce disparities in the care of families, communities and populations.
  • Design evidence-based, ethical, safe and cost-effective strategies that improve health care outcomes for individuals or populations.
  • Incorporate strategies to stay abreast of health care policies and issues.

General Requirements

  • Complete the Colorado Mesa University graduate application and application fees.
  • Possess a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited and discipline specific (CCNE or ACEN) college or university.
  • Possess a current, unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse in State of Practice.
  • Have maintained a GPA or 3.0 or better in nursing coursework earned toward a baccalaureate degree in nursing.
  • Have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or better for prior graduate work.
  • Provide two copies of official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended.
  • Provide three letters of professional and academic recommendation.
  • Submit a 2,500 word-count essay demonstrating scholarly writing, critical thinking, depth of analysis and common knowledge of nursing current events.
    • This essay is an essential aspect of the admission process and will be carefully evaluated by the faculty in order to make a decision on your direct entry into either the MSN or DNP program. Develop and format your essay according to APA criteria. While specific references are not required it is highly recommended that you support your assertions (as needed) with scholarly peer-reviewed citations.
    • The essay should address two areas: in the first part, discuss why you are interested in completing a graduate degree in nursing. In the second part, describe the population and problem you are interested in studying for your Capstone project. Consider a problem experienced by this population that you would like to focus your project. Describe one or two evidence-based strategies for improving the practice-based problem. Describe the type of agency and/or specific work until where you would wish to complete your project.
  • Interview, if required, with members of the Graduate Admission Committee.
  • A review of the applicant's portfolio, including prior coursework and/or experience, will be conducted by the Graduate Nursing Faculty and Program Director to determine a course of study to meet all the requirements of the DNP program.
  • Your admission to the program is contingent on successfully passing a criminal background check, at the applicant's personal expense.


A maximum of twelve (12) semester credit hours of relevant graduate/doctoral level course work taken prior to admission to the MSN program may be transferred in the MSN program.

A maximum of twenty-one (21) semester credit hours of relevant graduate/doctoral level course work taken prior to admission to the DNP program may be transferred in the DNP program.

  • Credits must have been completed from a regionally accredited college or university, also accredited by either the National League for Nursing (NLN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • The credit must be in courses similar in content and rigor to CMU's MSN and DNP programs and the grade must be at least a 'B'.
  • Courses must have been taken within five years prior to admission to CMU's MSN or DNP program.
  • Students must submit a course syllabus, catalog description, and an official transcript including the course grade to the DNP program director. These documents will be reviewed and a determination will be made about transferability.
  • Upon transcript evaluation, applicants to the DNP program who already have a MSN degree may be approved for maximum of 500 clinical hours of transfer credit toward the DNP degree. A minimum of 36 credit hours and 500 documented clinical hours must be completed at CMU to complete the DNP degree.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, a student must complete the prescribed course of study with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and complete the capstone DNP scholarly project requirement. Students are expected to complete their program within six years.

Program Accreditation

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Colorado Mesa University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC  20036, 202-887-6791,

Quick Links

Program/Student Information

Application Information

To be considered for admission the online graduate application/fee must be submitted (see link below) and all required documents listed below must be received in the Department of Health Sciences Office no later than April 1st for Summer/Fall semester start or November 1st for Spring semester start to be reviewed by the admissions committee.

  • DNP Application
    • DNP Application must be completed electronically via the above graduate application link.

The following documents must submitted directly to the Department of Health Sciences via electronic submission to with the subject line of "DNP Application Materials"

  • Application Essay
    • See the Admission Standards General Requirements section of the DNP Information Packet, above, for essay requirements.
  • RN License
    • Submit a copy of your RN License
  • Transcripts, Official
    • Submit ONE copy of official transcripts from all college or universities attended.
  • Professional Letters of Recommendation
    • Submit THREE Letters of Recommendation
  • Reference Form for Application
    • Please request the above Reference Form for Application to be completed by the individuals who've you requested Professional Letters of Recommendation.  Please request direct submission of the Professional Letter of Recommendation and Reference Form for Application to the Department of Health Sciences via email:

Program Requirements

Miscellaneous Information