Whitson-Hester School of Nursing

Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Prepares Advanced Practice Nurses and Nursing and Healthcare Nurse Leaders

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctoral degree focused on practice and designed to prepare experts in advanced nursing practice. ETSU-TTU DNP program prepares advanced practice nurses and executive/nursing and healthcare nurse leaders to assess and evaluate evidence from research and translate or use the findings to affect practice change to enhance and promote quality of care. The program offers the opportunity to work with experienced faculty from two universities and interprofessional experiences with multiple disciplines. The blended/online program grants the conveniences of online study with face-to-face support, networking, and sharing.


Regulatory requirements governing student clinical vary by state and are subject to change. Clinical placement outside of Tennessee is contingent upon approval by the appropriate regulatory bodies and will be evaluated on an individual basis upon admission to the program. Currently, placement in North Carolina and Virginia is allowed.

Professional Licensure Disclosure

The Whitson-Hester School of Nursing cannot guarantee licensure eligibility outside the state of Tennessee.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the applicable licensure board(s) in their state of residence or in the state where they intend to obtain a license before beginning an academic program that results in licensure and prior to beginning any internship/practicum. For more information see Tennessee Tech’s Professional Licensure Disclosure web page https://www.tntech.edu/consumer-info/nursing.php or the National Council of State Boards of Nursing www.ncsbn.org .


DNP Program Information

  • Program Quick Facts

    • Joint program between ETSU and Tennessee Tech Colleges of Nursing
    • Blended/Online program
    • Interprofessional experiences
    • Six concentration options to align with your career goals

  • Mission Statement

    The mission of the ETSU-TTU DNP Program is to facilitate the health of the community, state, and region through excellence in innovation in nursing education, research, service, scholarship and practice.

  • DNP and PhD Role Comparison





    •  Clinical Practice
    • Scholarship
    • Scholarship
    • Nursing Research
    • Scholarship
    Goal Create leaders in nursing and health care practice who use evidence-based research to improve patient outcomes Create nurse research scientists who conduct research projects aimed to enhance nursing knowledge or practice
    Objective Translate evidence-based research findings to improve patient outcomes for healthcare systems, populations, and communities
    Design, conduct and disseminate research findings that will advance nursing practice and health care system



    Course Focus Advanced knowledge of science and related disciplines to practice, leadership, patient care and safety, health care delivery systems, health policy, applied research methods, advance practice nursing



    Nursing science, theoretical and conceptual foundations, research methods, data analysis, individualized courses that support research interests



    Program Entry BSN
    • BSN from accredited school of nursing with 2 years of RN experience
    • Current unencumbered RN license
    • GPA of at least 3.0
    Program Entry MSN
    • Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program
    • GPA of at least 3.0
    • Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program
    • At least two years of full-time nursing experience
    • GPA of at least 3.0
    Program Entry MSN w/ NP certification
    • Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program
    •  GPA of at least 3.0
    • National certification in selected nursing specialty
    • Master’s Degree in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program
    • At least two years of full-time nursing experience
    • GPA of at least 3.0
    Program Entry for Executive Leadership At least one year of experience in a nursing administration role  None
    GRE Required Required if cumulative GPA less than 3.2 from BSN or MSN program



    Submission of GRE required in admission process



    •  BSN-DNP 80-92 credit hours( depending on concentration)
    • BSN-DNP Executive Leadership 77 credit hours
    • MSN-DNP Nurse Practitioner 32-35 credit hours (depending on concentration)
    • MSN-DNP Nurse Exec. Leadership: 32 credit hours
    •  59 credit hours
    • Research Residency 300 clock hours
    Clinical Hours
    • 500 minimum  relating to DNP Project (all concentrations; BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP)
    • Total 1000 clinical hours with minimum 500 hours related to concentration specialty
    Program Hallmarks A clinical practice immersion with completion of an applied practice project (DNP Project) culminating is a scholarly product



    An intense research immersion mentored by faculty who are nurse scientists, culminating in an independent research project (dissertation) and publishable scholarly works.



    Employment Opportunities Nurse Practitioner, Healthcare Administrator, Health Care system Leader, Faculty Member



    Nurse Scientist, Health Policy, Health Care Organization Leadership, Faculty Member



    Final Outcome Product  DNP Project






    Online/Blended Distance Learning  Yes  Yes
    Part-time Study  Yes  Yes
    Full-time Study Yes Yes
    Financial Aid Options Yes Yes

  • Joint DNP Program Goals

    1.  Provide excellence in teaching and lifelong learning through cross institutional curricular and experiential collaboration.
    2.  Offer the highest quality Doctor of Nursing Practice collaborative program to meet regional and state workforce needs.
    3.  Preserve and protect diversity and inclusion of people and ideas through availability of opportunities for students and faculty.
    4.  Impact systems and policies through professional leadership in the academic and healthcare communities.
    5.   Engage in faculty and student research/scholarly activities that leads to improvement in the health of communities, advancement of nursing knowledge and practice and/or impacts health care delivery.
    6.  Faculty and students participate in interprofessional education and practice.
    7.  Provide DNP graduates the ability to address patient care needs in the delivery of innovative health care within communities, while recognizing their unique placement and leadership in the nursing workforce.

  • Program Outcomes

    The ETSU-TTU Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is designed to produce leaders in nursing and healthcare practice. Specific objectives for the program are to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values to:

    1. Integrate specialized knowledge, theories, and research from nursing science and related disciplines for application to nursing practice
    2. Assume leadership roles as advanced clinicians, nurse educators, and/ or administrators;
      Demonstrate accountability in nursing practice according to accepted standards of patient care and safety
    3. Use information technology to translate research findings into evidence-based practice at the individual and health system levels
    4. Affect desired change by developing and implementing policies at different levels of the health care system and with different constituencies
    5. Provide multidisciplinary leadership through analysis of critical indicators within health care systems to provide optimal client care and safety
    6. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in planning and delivery of health management.

  • Expected Competencies of a DNP Graduate

    The competencies expected of a DNP graduate from the ETSU-TTU DNP Program are adopted directly from the DNP Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice in Nursing as specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006, pp. 8-17).On completion of the DNP degree program, the graduate will be able to:

    1. Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
      1. Integrate nursing science with knowledge from ethics, the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical, and organizational sciences as the basis for the highest level of nursing practice.
      2. Use science-based theories and concepts to:
        1. Determine the nature and significance of health and health care delivery phenomena;
        2. Describe the actions and advanced strategies to enhance, alleviate, and ameliorate health and health care delivery phenomena as appropriate, and
        3. Evaluate outcomes.
          Develop and evaluate new practice approaches based on nursing theories and theories from other disciplines.
    2. Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking
      1. Develop and evaluate care delivery approaches that meet current and future needs of patient populations based on scientific findings in nursing and other clinical sciences, as well as organizational, political, and economic sciences.
      2. Ensure accountability for quality of health care and patient safety for populations with whom they work.
        1. Use advanced communication skills/ processes to lead quality improvement and patient safety initiatives in health care systems.
        2. Employ principles of business, finance, economics, and health policy to develop and implement effective plans for practice-level and/ or system-wide practice initiatives that will improve the quality of care delivery.
        3. Develop and/or monitor budgets for practice initiatives.
        4. Analyze the cost-effectiveness of practice initiatives accounting for risk and improvement of health care outcomes.
        5. Demonstrate sensitivity to diverse organizational cultures and populations, including patients and providers.
      3. Develop and/ or evaluate effective strategies for managing the ethical dilemmas inherent in patient care, the health care organization, and research.
    3. Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
      1. Use analytic methods to critically appraise existing literature and other evidence to determine and implement the best evidence for practice.
      2. Design and implement processes to evaluate outcomes of practice, practice patterns, and systems of care within a practice setting, health care organization, or community against national benchmarks to determine variances in practice outcomes and population trends.
      3. Design, direct, and evaluate quality improvement methodologies to promote safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered care.
      4. Apply relevant findings to develop practice guidelines and improve practice and the practice environment.
      5. Use information technology and research methods appropriately to:
        1. Collect appropriate and accurate data to generate evidence for nursing practice
        2. Inform and guide the design of databases that generate meaningful evidence for nursing practice
        3. Analyze data from practice
        4. Design evidence-based interventions
        5. Predict and analyze outcomes
        6. Examine patterns of behavior and outcomes
        7. Identify gaps in evidence for practice
      6. Function as a practice specialist/ consultant in collaborative knowledge-generating research
      7. Disseminate findings from evidence-based practice and research to improve healthcare outcomes.
    4. Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care
      1. Design, select, use, and evaluate programs that evaluate and monitor outcomes of care, care systems, and quality improvement including consumer use of health care information systems.
      2. Analyze and communicate critical elements necessary to the selection, use, and evaluation of health care information systems and patient care technology.
      3. Demonstrate the conceptual ability and technical skills to develop and execute an evaluation plan involving data extraction from practice information systems and databases.
      4. Provide leadership in the evaluation and resolution of ethical and legal issues within healthcare systems relating to the use of information, information technology, communication networks, and patient care technology.
      5. Evaluate consumer health information sources for accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness.
    5. Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care
      1. Critically analyze health policy proposals, health policies, and related issues from the perspective of consumers, nursing, other health professions, and other stakeholders in policy and public forums.
      2. Demonstrate leadership in the development and implementation of institutional, local, state, federal, and/or international health policy.
      3. Influence policy makers through active participation on committees, boards, or task forces at the institutional, local, state, regional, national, and/or international levels to improve health care delivery and outcomes.
      4. Educate others, including policy makers at all levels, regarding nursing, health policy, and patient care outcomes.
      5. Develop, evaluate, and provide leadership for health care policy that shapes health care financing, regulation, and delivery.
      6. Advocate for social justice, equity, and ethical policies within all healthcare arenas.
    6. Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes
      1. Employ effective communication and collaborative skills in the development and implementation of practice models, peer review, practice guidelines, health policy, standards of care, and/or other scholarly products.
      2. Lead interprofessional teams in the analysis of complex practice and organizational issues.
      3. Employ consultative and leadership skills with intraprofessional and interprofessional teams to create change in health care and complex healthcare delivery systems.
    7. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation's Health
      1. Analyze epidemiological, biostatistical, environmental, and other appropriate scientific data related to individual, aggregate, and population health.
      2. Synthesize concepts, including psychosocial dimensions and cultural diversity, related to clinical prevention and population health in developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to address health promotion/ disease prevention efforts, improve health status/ access patterns, and/ or address gaps in care of individuals, aggregates, or populations.
      3. Evaluate care delivery models and/ or strategies using concepts related to community, environmental and occupational health, and cultural and socioeconomic dimensions of health.
    8. Advanced Nursing Practice
      1. Conduct a comprehensive and systematic assessment of health and illness parameters in complex situations, incorporating diverse and culturally sensitive approaches.
      2. Design, implement, and evaluate therapeutic interventions based on nursing science and other sciences.
      3. Develop and sustain therapeutic relationships and partnerships with patients (individual, family or group) and other professionals to facilitate optimal care and patient outcomes.
      4. Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.
      5. Guide, mentor, and support other nurses to achieve excellence in nursing practice.
        Educate and guide individuals and groups through complex health and situational transitions.
      6. Use conceptual and analytical skills in evaluating the links among practice, organizational, population, fiscal, and policy issues.

  • Admissions


    Admission requirements for the joint DNP program are as follows:

    • a completed application with payment of nonrefundable application fee;
    • official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework;
    • a written essay.

    There are different levels of admission depending upon prior credentials of applicants and whether or not they hold a BSN, MSN, or a BSN and a master’s in another discipline. Additional requirements for admission to the DNP program include:

    1. BSN-DNP applicants:
      1. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is required;
      2. For international applicants, a bachelor’s degree in nursing or equivalency (for BSN to DNP applicants), or a non-nursing master’s degree or equivalency (for MSN to DNP applicants) from a nationally accredited nursing program or comparably recognized non-U.S. institution, with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale;
    2. MSN-DNP applicants (4 options)
      1. Certification in the selected nursing specialty for the concentration.  For example: Certified FNP for FNP concentration, Certified WHNP in the WHNP concentration, etc.; or
      2. Master’s in Nursing in a specialty different than the intended concentrations (WHNP, PNP, ACNP, PMHNP, FNP, Executive Leadership) will require a longer program of study adapted to the previous Master’s specialty and nursing experience; or
      3. Non-nursing master’s with a BSN from a nationally accredited nursing program will require a longer program of study adapted to the previous Master’s specialty and nursing experience; or
      4. For the MSN-DNP, Master’s in Nursing with advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certification (Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife, or Nurse Anesthetist) or master’s level nursing administration/ healthcare systems leadership concentration;

    NOTE: All four MSN options for the Executive Leadership in Nursing concentration require at least one year of experience in a nursing administration role.

    1. General Requirements:
      All applicants with a cumulative GPA less than 3.2 as reported by their BSN or MSN institution will be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE);
    2. Unencumbered licensure as a Registered Nurse in the United States and eligibility for licensure in Tennessee or equivalency for international students;
    3. All applicants are required to have at least two years of full-time work experience (or equivalent) in nursing as a registered nurse;
    4. Three letters of recommendation are required: one from the applicant’s current (most recent) supervisor, one from a faculty member who has worked directly with the applicant during previous academic study, and one from an individual selected by the applicant;
      All applicants will participate in an interview;
    5. All applicants will be required to complete a writing sample at the time of the interview describing a problem the applicant has identified in practice that the applicant might explore in the DNP program;
    6. All applicants must submit a cover letter expressing the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study; and
    7. All applicants must submit a current resume or vita.

    Application Form
    The completed application form and fee, official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, essay, documentation of nursing licensure in the United States, MSN certification (where applicable), letters of recommendation and resume or vita must be submitted to the ETSU School of Graduate Studies or the Tennessee Tech Graduate College, depending upon the applicant’s choice. International students must also forward the additionally required documentation to the appropriate school. 

    Interview and Writing Sample

    The personal interview and time for completing the writing sample will be scheduled by the Joint DNP Admissions Committee.   Factors given consideration in the admission decision include: previous grade point average (GPA), clarity of the applicant’s selected problem as stated in the writing sample and during the interview, writing ability, professional work experience and achievements, professional honors and awards, interest in rural and underserved population groups, and quality of references/recommendations. The Joint DNP Admissions Committee may recommend admission of a promising applicant who has not met all the admission standards on a conditional basis.

    Click here to apply for Tennessee Tech Graduate admission.

  • Format

     The program is offered in an Online/Blended "Hybrid" format in which students complete most coursework online with required on-campus intensive sessions 2-3 times per year.


  • Joint ETSU - Tennessee Tech Concentrations

    East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the new online/blended Joint Doctor of Nursing Practice Program to include the following concentrations: 

    • Executive Leadership/Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner—Primary Care
    • Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner

  • Resources
  • BSN to DNP Program Plans by Concentration
  • MSN to DNP Program Plans
  • Application Deadlines

    Target dates for applications and all materials to be received by the ETSU School of Graduate Studies or the Tennessee Tech College of Graduate Studies are:


    Preferred - May 1 (BSN to DNP)

    Final - June 1 (BSN to DNP)

    Final - February 1 (MSN to DNP)


    BSN to DNP will admit in Fall semester only.

    MSN to DNP will admit in Summer semester only.

    Executive Leadership will admit every other year (odd years, beginning 2019)

  • Intensive Weeks Schedule

    Summer 2018: May 7-11
    Fall 2018: August 20-24
    Spring 2019: January 7-11
    Summer 2019: May 6-10

  • Contacts

    Rachel Mattson Hall PhD, MSN, WHNP-BC, RN
    Associate Professor
    Graduate Programs Coordinator
    WHNP Concentration Coordinator
    Tennessee Tech University
    Whitson Hester School of Nursing
    Campus Box 5001
    Cookeville, TN 38505
    P: 931-372-6814
    E: rmhall@tntech.edu

  • Out of State Applications


    Course and program availability varies by state and is established by each individual state’s Board of Nursing; therefore, admission to the ETSU-TTU DNP Program cannot be guaranteed to all applicants. ESTU-TTU DNP Program is not accepting applications from residents in the following states due to current requirements or restrictions imposed on distance education programs by their Board of Education or Board of Nursing:

    • California
    • Florida
    • Kentucky
    • Massachusetts
    • Nebraska
    • New York
    • Oregon
    • Washington

    Students who reside outside the state of Tennessee who are considering an on-line nursing program should contact the appropriate board of nursing in the state of residency to confirm whether the course or program meets requirements for online degree programs prior to beginning a course of study. If the student moves from the state of Tennessee after admission to the program, continuation in the program will depend on the availability of the program within the new state where the student is physically present.  It is the student’s responsibility to notify ETSU College of Nursing and TTU's Whitson-Hester School of Nursing of a change in physical residence.

  • DNP Student Handbook and Practice Project Guidelines
  • DNP Clinical Placement Guidelines
  • Accreditation

    The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Tennessee Tech/East Tennessee State University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org)

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