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 some of 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. Designed to prepare nurses for advanced practice and to educate future nursing faculty, Fresno State, San José State, and the Cal State Fullerton-CSU Long Beach-Cal State LA consortium-based program admit a new cohort of students each fall semester. Listen to Dr. Mary Wilson's Interview​. To learn more, visit the sites for the three programs.

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

DNP Nurse Anesthesia Specialty

With passage of Assembly Bill Number 422 (effective 2018), the Southern California CSU DNP consortium and the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia admitted their first cohort of post-baccalaureate-to-DNP nurse anesthesia students who will graduate in summer 2021. Thirty-three registered nurses are admitted each year to this nine-semester intensive program. To learn more about the requirements for the DNP nurse anesthesia degree, see below.

For more information about the baccalaureate-to-DNP program in nurse anesthesia, contact Sandra J.  Hinkson, administrative assistant, at the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia.

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 represent the 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, with 106 to 109 units required for completion of the degree.
  • 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.
  • Doctoral Project
    The doctoral project is an integrative clinical scholarship experience through which the student prepares a scholarly product, such as a pilot study, a program evaluation, a consulting project or a quality improvement project. Each student will work under the guidance of a DNP faculty doctoral-project chair 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) programs require a master's degree in nursing or a related healthcare field for admission. The Southern California CSU DNP Consortium also offers a post-baccalaureate in nursing-to-DNP degree in the specialty area of Nurse Anesthetist. 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
  • 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 research, and preparing scholarship in the field of advanced practice nursing ​