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General DNP Questions:

What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program?
Why is the DNP needed?
When will the DNP be required for practice?

The Southern California CSU DNP Program:

What are the unique features of the Southern California CSU DNP program?
What are the required courses for the DNP? How many units are required?
Where is the DNP program offered?
Is there a distance education/online option?
How long is the program?
Is clinical practice required?
What will the doctoral project involve?
Can I work while attending the program?
What specialty faculty are available in the DNP Program Consortium?
What is the cost of the DNP program?
How many will students be admitted?
Where will classes be offered?
Is the DNP program accredited?

Program Admission:

What are the admission requirements/prerequisites for the program?
Do I have to take the TOEFL?
Do I have to take the GRE?
How can I get an application?
How are prior practicum hours documented?
What National Certifications qualify for admission to the DNP Program for indirect care?
What is the application review process? How are applications evaluated?
Do I need a statistics prerequisite course?
What is the writing assessment?
Are interviews required for admission?
Do I need to submit transcripts from CSUF?


What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program?
Assembly Bill 867 (AB867) authorized the CSU to offer the post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as a pilot program. The consortium of CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, and CSU Los Angeles is one program. The other program is a consortium of San Jose State University and CSU Fresno.

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Why is the DNP needed?
There are several factors that have created the need for advanced nursing education at the doctoral level. The changing demands of this nation's complex healthcare environment require the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes. The DNP is a practice-oriented doctorate, such as the Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Optometry, or Doctor of Physical Therapy, in contrast to the research-oriented PhD. The purposes of the DNP are to develop advanced competencies for increasingly complex practice, teaching, and leadership roles in nursing and to provide an advanced educational credential for those in practice.

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When will the DNP be required for practice?
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has set the standard that the DNP will be the entry into practice for advanced practice nursing as of 2015.

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What are the unique features of the Southern California CSU DNP program?
Differences between other programs and the degree program offered by the consortium of nursing schools at CSUF/CSULB/CSULA include the following:

  1. Inclusion of curriculum for preparation for faculty role, including courses in curriculum development and teaching methods, as well as an elective opportunity for practice teaching;
  2. A broader selection of advanced practice practicum courses, building on the existing strengths of the member schools; and
  3. A three-semester integrative clinical scholarship series, embedded in clinical practice as required by the accrediting body CCNE, to complete the scholarly project of the clinical doctorate.

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What are the required courses for the DNP? How many units are required?
The program includes 36 units of required coursework and one optional 3 unit course. Please review the curriculum section of this website for more information.

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Where is the DNP program offered?
The CSU Chancellor has designated CSU Fullerton as the lead campus for Los Angeles and surrounding area. CSU Fullerton is collaborating with CSU Long Beach and CSU Los Angeles to offer the regional program. Together the three universities form the Southern California CSU DNP Consortium.

Students admitted to the DNP Consortium program attend classes on the CSU Fullerton campus for the first 3 semesters of the program. Students complete the final two semesters of the program through independent effort with their Doctoral Project Chair and primarily on-line courses. Students work with a Doctoral Project Chair at a consortium member campus with the necessary specialty track.

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Is there a distance education/online option?
The DNP program is a 5 semester program. The program is an on-campus curriculum for the first year (3 semesters) and primarily on-line for the second year (2 semesters). In the first year of the program, students will attend classes on the CSU Fullerton campus one day per week (currently Friday) to facilitate ease of balancing work and school schedules. In the second year of the program, students will take primarily on-line courses and meet with their Doctoral Project Chair as needed. Three to five on-campus sessions are required in each semester of the second year. These sessions will typically be scheduled on Fridays. Attendance is mandatory. We have found that students do best when they arrange “Friday off” work schedules for the entire two years to allow weekly designated time for school work.

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How long is the program?
The DNP program is a 5 semester program scheduled as Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Spring.

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Is clinical practice required?
Clinical practice is required and will vary based on the number of clinical hours documented as eligible through the master’s degree. Clinical hours are specific to your DNP role and can be completed in your place of employment. The DNP requires a total of 1,000 clinical hours upon graduation.

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What will the doctoral project involve?
The doctoral project, the culminating experience, includes a three-semester Integrative Clinical Scholarship experience, embedded in a clinical setting, where the student prepares a scholarly doctoral product, such as a pilot study, translational research, program evaluation, consulting project or a quality improvement project. Students will accrue approximately 405 clinical hours during the doctoral project. Each student will work with a faculty chair and doctoral committee.

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Can I work while attending the program?
The program is designed so that the student can work full-time and, with permission of current employer, the doctoral project may be completed within the students’ work setting. However, this is a rigorous and demanding doctoral curriculum and many students may find it appropriate to cut back on hours or take release time during some portions of their doctoral studies. We have found that students do best when they arrange “Friday off” work schedules for the entire two years to allow weekly designated time for school work.

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What specialty faculty are available in the DNP Program Consortium?
The consortium has faculty with specialization in the following areas:

  • Anesthesia
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Management/Administration/Leadership
  • Midwifery
  • Nurse Practitioner: Adult, Adult/Geriatric, Acute Care Adult, Acute Care Pediatric, Family, Pediatrics, Psych/Mental Health
  • Public Health Nursing

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What is the cost of the DNP program?
Current information about doctoral program CSUF fees and tuition can be found on the university Student Financial Services website: http://sfs.fullerton.edu

How many will students be admitted?
Between 30 to 45 students will be admitted to a cohort each fall semester. Cohorts begin only in the fall semester. Admitted students are expected to complete the degree within 5 consecutive semesters of admission.

Where will classes be offered?
Students admitted to the DNP Consortium program will attend weekly (currently Friday) classes on the CSU Fullerton campus for the first 3 semesters of the program and three to five on-campus sessions per semester in the second year. All Friday on-campus sessions are held on the CSU Fullerton campus. Students will complete the final two semesters of the program through independent effort with their Doctoral Project Chair and primarily on-line courses. Students will work with a Doctoral Project Chair at a consortium member campus with the necessary specialty track. Students may be required to travel to any consortium campus to meet with their project chair.

Is the DNP program accredited?
Yes! The Southern California CSU DNP Consortium is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Additionally, each member school of the Southern California CSU DNP Consortium is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and each of their existing nursing programs is accredited by CCNE. The Southern California CSU DNP Consortium enrolled its first DNP student cohort in fall 2012 with approval from the CSU Chancellor’s office and WASC. The DNP program hosted an accreditation visit from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in the fall of 2013 and was granted accreditation in the spring of 2014. No compliance issues were noted.

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What are the admission requirements/prerequisites for the program?
A full list of admissions requirements and prerequisites can be found by reviewing the application page.

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Do I have to take the TOEFL?
All applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English, must demonstrate competence in English by taking the TOEFL test. A minimum score of 550 (paper) or 80 (internet-based test) on the TOEFL test is required. A score of 7 or above on the IELTS exam is also acceptable. Questions should be directed to Admissions and Records. Generally, if the applicant has subsequently earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution within the United States, the TOEFL requirement will be waived.

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Do I have to take the GRE?
No, you do not have to take the GRE.

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How can I get an application?
Please see the Application Page. There is a two step application process. Applications are generally accepted October - December each year for admission to the following fall cohort. Cohorts begin each Fall. Please check the website for information updates.

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How are prior practicum hours documented?
Documentation of prior practicum hours in an advanced practice program will be reviewed for acceptance towards clinical hour requirements in the DNP program. Examples of official documentation of nursing practicum hours include a copy of the form submitted to take national boards, a letter from the nursing school were master’s level clinical hours were completed, or a copy of certificate showing national certification (500 hours max is awarded for this option).

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What National Certifications qualify for admission to the DNP Program for indirect care?
For those applicants in the indirect care track, we now require national certification in a specialty area prior to beginning the program. You do not need national certification at application to the program, but you do need to obtain it before classes begin. Acceptable national certification should require a master's degree. Those that require an associate's degree in nursing are typically not accepted by our DNP consortium. Some acceptable national certifications by specialty are:

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What is the application review process? How are applications evaluated?
Admissions staff will review your application to ensure that all required pieces have been submitted. You will be contacted if pieces are missing or outdated. We will review your transcripts to verify that all prerequisites have been met and to calculate GPA. Completed applications will be forwarded to a faculty committee for review. A faculty committee will review, evaluate, and score the application including your transcripts, personal statement, and letters of reference. The highest scored applicants will be invited to attend an on-campus writing assessment. Outstanding applicants who score well on the writing assessment will be invited for panel interviews. Dates for writing assessments and interviews can be found in the application packet.

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Do I need a statistics prerequisite course?
A specific statistics prerequisite course is not required for admission to the Southern California CSU DNP Program.

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What is the writing assessment?
The highest scored applicants will be invited to attend an on-campus writing assessment.

The purpose of the assessment is to demonstrate the ability of the DNP applicant to critically analyze an advanced practice issue/scenario, formulate a plan/stance, organize, and write a coherent, succinct, graduate-level essay response. Writing assignments will take place in a computer lab setting at one of the consortium universities with all applicants attending at the same time. The body of this type-written essay paper shall be no more than two double spaced pages, not counting the title page. Applicants will have one hour to formulate and write their essay.

The applicant will be asked to address a question or multi-part question related to but not limited to a topic such as advanced practice, higher education in nursing, use of the DNP in advanced practice, utilization of evidence-based practice, current professional issues/trends within the field, among others. References are not required but may be used as necessary. Citing reference is not required. No supplemental sources (e.g., the internet, articles, books, notes, etc.) are allowed to be used during the writing assessment. Applicants selected for the writing assessment will be emailed exact location and time information prior to the announced scheduled date of the writing assessment.

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Are interviews required for admission?
Outstanding applicants who score well on the writing assessment will be invited for panel interviews. Faculty from all of the consortium campuses will meet with each applicant to talk with them about reason(s) for seeking a DNP degree and professional career goals. Students should be prepared to discuss their areas of practice interest, background preparation for doctoral education, and ideas about topics they are considering for a doctoral project.

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Do I need to submit transcripts from CSUF?
If you have attended CSU Fullerton, you do not need to submit CSU Fullerton transcripts. Generally, you do not need to resubmit any transcripts previously submitted to CSU Fullerton. Any transcripts not already on-file at CSU Fullerton must be submitted. Please be aware that transcripts submitted more than 8 years ago may be difficult for us to retrieve and applicants are sometimes asked to resubmit these transcripts. The School of Nursing Admission Department will contact you if this is the case.

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