Earn your doctorate of nursing practice

Drive clinical decision-making

Become an expert in the changing landscape of healthcare. This degree is designed for the clinical expert seeking a terminal degree. As a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) graduate, you will be equipped to lead healthcare transformation by evaluating and synthesizing current evidence, translating research into practice, and driving clinical decision-making.

Partner with your workplace or another healthcare setting to implement a system-changing quality improvement project. You will not only advance your career but will be recognized in that setting as the clinical practice expert who has a strong voice of advocacy and knowledge to change outcomes for healthcare consumers and nurses. 

  • The DNP program provides you with a statistician and a faculty chair who work collaboratively with you and your community expert in the design and implementation of your scholarly project
  • The cohort model of shared learning is one of the strengths that graduates report as a highly favorable
  • We continue to exceed benchmarks on student satisfaction
  • Graduate assistanceships are available for doctoral students to work with faculty in the College of Health and Wellness

The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Carlow University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

MSN accelerated to DNP

Accelerate your pathway to a low-residency Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Leadership.
Contact admissions to learn more.

A program created with you in mind

As a DNP student, you will work with faculty, a committee chair, a statistician, and other academic support services to design and conduct a scholarly project. Clinical practice will be completed through immersion in systems leadership. View the full time plan of study, part time plan of study or read more in our course catalog.

After completing the program, the DNP student will gain relevant, applicable knowledge
  1. Critically appraise current scientific findings and theories to enhance the practice of nursing and health care:
    • Evaluate strengths, limitations, and disparities in current health care systems and care to diverse populations;
    • Integrate current theoretical and research literature to impact positively the quality of health care;
    • Construct, and evaluate new approaches to practice, utilizing a collaborative interdisciplinary approach.
  2. Translate and utilize evidence-based concepts and information systems to promote optimal health in diverse populations, settings, and systems:
    • Use databases, information technology, and research methods to participate in data collection that generates and evaluates evidence-based practice;
    • Design effective methods for the empowerment of health care consumers that encourages
      active participation in their own health care;
    • Evaluate, apply, and revise evidence-based practice protocols to promote wellness.
  3. Create leadership roles and collaborate with other professionals to effect changes within complex systems of care:
    • Propose and implement ongoing changes in delivery approaches and health care systems to promote quality, safe care;
    • Impact the ethical, economic, social, and political issues that affect health care outcomes;
    • Develop, advocate for, and promote health care initiatives at local, regional, and/or national levels;
    • Promote fiscally responsible quality care.
  4. Pursue clinical scholarship and scientific inquiry to transform health care practice and systems:
    • Demonstrate accountability for and utilization of evidence-based practice principles in the practice of advanced nursing;
    • Advance the practice of nursing through scholarship, mentorship, and leadership efforts;
    • Disseminate results of evidence-based practice protocols, systems changes, and population health care initiatives

Loan Forgiveness Program

Carlow University is the proud recipient of a grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Program for the 2020-2021 academic year. Graduate students in the DNP or MSN in education and leadership programs can have up to 85 percent of their student loans forgiven if they obtain a full-time-equivalent faculty position within one year of graduation. Read the full story.

Have your choice at a career

Further your education through this innovative DNP degree program that will prepare you for a variety of advanced practice roles. Our DNP graduates obtain executive nursing and nursing education positions such as Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Education and Professional Development, as well as many nurse faculty and administrative positions with colleges and nursing schools.

Our DNP graduates obtain executive nursing and nursing education positions such as:

  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Vice president of nursing
  • Director of Education and Professional Development
  • Faculty and administrative positions at many colleges and nursing schools

This is a sampling of businesses and institutions that have recently employed Carlow University DNP graduates.

  • Geisinger Healthcare System
  • Allegheny Health Network
  • Cigna Healthcare
  • UPMC Healthcare
  • UPMC Schools of Nursing
  • Carlow University
  • Duquesne University
  • Westmoreland Community College
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • Malone University Ohio

Hear from our graduates

"My DNP student experience at Carlow was rewarding. The program aligned with my professional work and I was able to apply things I learned immediately and in a practical manner. The faculty genuinely wanted my classmates and me to succeed. They were available by email or phone and always responded quickly. The hybrid online and live/Skype classes helped me. I completed my MSN in a traditional brick and mortar program, this format helped me with the transition to student after many years. My DNP journey at Carlow was very rewarding. I would recommend the program to anyone." - Gale Shalongo, '19

"My experience as a Carlow DNP student was amazing! The entire faculty was very supportive and encouraging! The biggest transformation for me during this program was related to how important it is to perform scholarly work and then share this knowledge with others. As a nursing leader, the Carlow DNP program helped me to develop new leadership skills related to research, global thinking, and the importance of population health. The DNP program has prepared me as a nursing leader to take the next step in my nursing journey wherever that may be." - Heather Rizzo, '19

Student spotlight

Karen Coyne has been chosen to participate in the Jewish Healthcare Foundation Patient Safety Fellowship for 2019. The Patient Safety Fellowship prepares recent and current graduate students to apply emerging methods and strategies in implementation science, team-based problem-solving, and continuous quality improvement for healthcare settings. The Fellowship is a program of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF), Pittsburgh Regional Health initiative (PRHI) and Health Careers Futures. This year’s Fellows have the unique opportunity to work with the newly identified Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative members to analyze processes and identify contextual factors that impact the application, spread, and sustainability of their comprehensive perinatal programs in the Commonwealth. 

Coyne is currently a Doctorate of Nursing (DNP) student at Carlow University, where her scholarly project focuses on the relationship of emotional intelligence and medical condition regard of nurses caring for pregnant women with substance use disorder. As a member of UPMC St. Margaret School of Nursing’s faculty, she brings her passion for maternal care to the classroom and clinical settings.

Now is the time to pursue your DNP

In 2004, the AACN recommended that graduate education in nursing be advanced to a doctoral level. Consequently, in 2015, an AACN task force published a white paper reporting on the implementation of the DNP and recommendations regarding graduate education, distinguishing the importance of the DNP as a practice-focused program, rather than a research-focused program. Learn more by reviewing the report from the Task Force on the implementation of the DNP.

Program requirements

In this unique program, students take two to three courses per term. Six credits (of the 28-32 required) of electives will be chosen from a variety of graduate-level courses which enhance or support the student's area of scholarly inquiry. Students collaborate with faculty and peers in a synchronous format one Saturday per month. Other coursework is facilitated online. At the completion of the program, all Carlow DNP scholarly inquiry projects are archived in a digital repository.

Eager to take the next step? Review our nursing application requirements, or apply now if you're ready. (It's free.)