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Doctor of Nursing Practice

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About the Program

The DNP program prepares Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to transform clinical practice as expert clinicians and leaders with a special focus on rural and underserved populations. In addition to delivering evidence-based direct patient care at an advanced practice level to individuals across the lifespan in primary care settings, graduates of the DNP program will learn skills needed to produce and implement valuable evidence to guide practice and are prepared to work collaboratively with rural communities in an effort to reduce health disparities.

We feature collaboration and placement with over 200 established partnerships in a variety of local and regional clinical settings. Our clinical preceptors are engaged, caring healthcare professionals who provide an invaluable piece of our students’ clinical education.

DNP Pathways and Curriculum Plans

Bachelor's to DNP

This pathway is for registered nurses (RNs) with a bachelor's degree. This option offers:

  • Annual Fall admission,
  • 78 total course credits for the family nurse practitioner or 75 total course credits for the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and
  • Face-to-face delivery accompanied by online and hybrid components.

You have the option to specialize as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).

Graduates of the DNP-FNP program are prepared to deliver evidence-based direct patient care at an advanced practice level to individuals across the lifespan in primary care settings with an emphasis on rural healthcare. Graduates are eligible to write certification examinations in family nurse practitioner from either the:

Graduates of the DNP-PMHNP program are prepared to effectively care for patients with complex psychiatric and physical health needs. Advanced nursing practice in psychiatric mental health covers both outpatient and inpatient care, children through elderly individuals, and mild depression and anxiety to significantly disabling conditions including substance abuse, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. Graduates are prepared to provide much needed high-quality mental health care to all populations and conditions in a variety of rural and urban settings. Upon completion of the degree, the graduate is prepared to sit for the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certification exam through:

A blend of online and face-to-face course delivery ensures convenience and accessibility. Students complete a minimum of 1000 hours of clinical practice preceptorship. We can help you tailor your plan to meet your needs. Interested applicants are advised to contact us to discuss options. For course requirements and details, see the DNP-FNP curriculum plan OR the DNP-PMHNP curriculum plan.

Master's to DNP

Master's to DNP option 1

This program is open to registered nurses with a master’s degree in nursing with Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife and/or Nurse Anesthetist. This option offers:

  • Annual fall admission
  • 31-36 course credits
  • A hybrid deliver model in Sioux Falls and Rapid City,
  • Part-time study (including summers)

Interested applicants are advised to contact the graduate nursing department to discuss options. Required coursework and other program details can be found on the master's to DNP option 1 curriculum plan.

Master's to DNP option 2

This option is for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing (non-clinical focus). This option offers:

  • Annual fall admission,
  • 69 course credits (family nurse practitioner specialty) or 49 minimum course credits (psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner),
  • A hybrid deliver model in Sioux Falls and Rapid City and
  • Part-time study (including summers).

You have the option to specialize as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).

Graduates of the DNP-FNP program are prepared to deliver evidence-based direct patient care at an advanced practice level to individuals across the lifespan in primary care settings with an emphasis on rural healthcare. Graduates are eligible to write certification examinations in family nurse practitioner from either the:

Graduates of the DNP-PMHNP program are prepared to effectively care for patients with complex psychiatric and physical health needs. Advanced nursing practice in psychiatric mental health covers both outpatient and inpatient care, children through elderly individuals, and mild depression and anxiety to significantly disabling conditions including substance abuse, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. Graduates are prepared to provide much needed high-quality mental health care to all populations and conditions in a variety of rural and urban settings. Upon completion of the degree, the graduate is prepared to sit for the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certification exam through:

Interested applicants are advised to contact the graduate nursing department to discuss options.

Required coursework and other program details can be found on the curriculum plan. We offer two curriculum plans to help you reach your goal of becoming a DNP-FNP. Choose the 3 year master's to DNP-FNP option 2 curriculum plan OR the 4 year master's to DNP-FNP option 2 curriculum plan.

We also offer a plan to help you reach your goal of becoming a DNP-PMHNP. View the 4 year master's to DNP-PMHNP option 2 curriculum plan for details.

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Program Outcomes

The graduate of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will demonstrate the competencies:
  • To prepare graduates as clinicians and leaders with a special focus on rural and underserved populations. 
  • To prepare graduates to deliver evidence-based direct patient care to individuals across the lifespan in primary care settings. 
  • To prepare graduates to produce and implement scientific evidence to guide practice. 
  • To prepare graduates to work collaboratively with frontier, urban and rural communities in an effort to reduce health disparities.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the program, the graduate will successfully demonstrate the following student learning outcomes: 
  • Integrate theoretical and scientific underpinnings of nursing and other disciplines to address emerging healthcare and practice issues.
  • Engage in health policy at all levels to influence healthcare delivery concerns, such as health disparities, cultural sensitivity, ethics, access to care, health finance and quality of care. (Transferable Skill: Diversity Awareness; Ethics - Moral Decision Making/Moral Reasoning)
  • Employ evidence-based practice and advanced clinical judgment to comprehensively assess, design, and deliver care for individuals or populations.
  • Demonstrate leadership at the organizational and/or systems level to address health outcomes of individuals and populations though evidence-based initiatives. (Transferable Skill: Leadership - Management)
  • Utilize advanced nursing knowledge and information systems/technology related to clinical prevention and health promotion to address gaps in healthcare.
  • Collaborate with the interprofessional team in the translation, implementation, analysis and dissemination of evidence-based practice to improve healthcare outcomes. (Communication Skills)