DNP Degree Programs

Learn what's required to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, what you can expect during your studies and more information that will help you decide whether this program is the best fit for your career goals.

Is the DNP Right for You?

The creators of the CSU's DNP degree cite five specific opportunities they want every student to experience.

See If the DNP Is a Good Fit 

Meet CSU DNP Faculty

Get to know the gifted professors who teach doctoral candidates in the DNP program.

Meet Our Remarkable Faculty

Fall 2012 marked the beginning of nursing doctoral studies at the California State University system, with the launch of two CSU post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. Subsequently, CSU post-baccalaureate to DNP programs were approved to also prepare students to function in designated advanced practice registered nurse specialty roles. Designed to prepare nurses for advanced practice and to educate future nursing faculty, CSU DNP programs admit a new cohort of students each fall semester. Listen to Dr. Mary Wilson's Interview​. To learn more, visit the sites of our CSU DNP programs.

Doctoral students participate in a rigorous academic program of study​.

DNP Nurse Anesthesia Specialty

The DNP Nurse Anesthesia program is offered in partnership with the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia​ (KPSA). Thirty-five registered nurses are admitted each year to this nine-semester intensive program. To learn more about the requirements for the post-baccalaureate-to-DNP program in nurse anesthesia, visit the KPSA website​ and contact Sandra J. Hinkson, administrative assistant, at the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia.

DNP with Nurse Practitioner Specialization

CSU Long Beach is the first of the CSU campuses to offer a post-baccalaureate DNP program with specializations in various nurse practitioner roles. Long Beach has over a 45-year history of offering nurse practitioner specialty options in its graduate program. For more information about this program, contact Dr. Christine Costa, Director of the DNP program.

Degree Requirements

The DNP is a professional, practice-oriented doctorate, such as the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), in contrast to the research-oriented Ph.D.

The education offered for the CSU DNP is designed to allow nurses to develop advanced competencies for increasingly complex clinical practice and to prepare nurses for faculty and leadership roles. Nurses with DNP degrees possess enhanced knowledge that can be applied in clinical settings to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes.

  • Program Length
    The post-master's program is two years in length, with a minimum of 36 units taken across five semesters. The post-baccalaureate-to-DNP program with a specialty in nurse anesthesia requires year-round, full-time study for three years. Similarly, the post-baccalaureate-to-DNP program with a specialty as a nurse practitioner requires year-round, full-time study for three years.​
  • Clinical Practice
    Post-master's graduates of the DNP program are required to have a total of 1,000 clinical hours in an acceptable educational program. Hours completed through previous programs may be counted toward the 1,000 hours required by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and specified in “The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice” (PDF).

    Students enrolled in the post-baccalaureate nurse anesthesia specialty must complete over 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience as specified by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Nurse practitioner students in the post-baccalaureate to DNP program must complete 1000 clinical hours with a minimum of 750 direct patient care clinical hours as specified in The National Task Force (NTF) for Quality Nurse Practitioner Education 2022 Standards.
  • Doctoral Project
    The doctoral project is an integrative clinical scholarship experience through which students prepare a scholarly product, such as a pilot study, a program evaluation, a consulting project or a quality improvement project. Students work under the guidance of a DNP faculty doctoral-project team leader to complete the project in a specialty area of nursing practice.​

Is the DNP Right for You?

California State University Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) post-master’s programs require a master's degree in nursing or a related healthcare field for admission. CSU Fullerton also offers a post-baccalaureate in nursing-to-DNP degree in Nurse Anesthesia. CSU Long Beach offers a post-baccalaureate in nursing-to-DNP degree in various nurse practitioner roles. These programs are designed to allow students to:

  • engage with nursing faculty experts and highly educated students in a challenging doctoral program
  • carry out doctoral-level applied research and develop advanced scientific knowledge and practice expertise, to assure quality patient outcomes
  • participate in a three-semester integrative doctoral project embedded in clinical practice
  • complete a program of study in the nurse anesthesia or a nurse practitioner specialty (post-baccalaureate-to-DNP programs only)
  • work full-time and, with permission of current employer, complete the required doctoral project within the work setting (post-master’s students only)
  • prepare for a faculty role by completing an advanced educational degree, conducting evidence-based/applied ​research, and preparing scholarship in the field of advanced practice nursing ​