DNP Preparatory Program DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Nursing leadership at the highest level

Your strength, your passion as a nurse touches the lives of so many. You can make an even greater difference when you reach for the highest level of the nursing profession with an online DNP from Capella University.

Designed for nurses with a non-nursing master’s degree, this online DNP preparatory pathway program* offers a three-course pathway that provides the essential skills and knowledge needed to start our CCNE-accredited** DNP program.

*The DNP is not designed to prepare advanced practice registered nurses for roles as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, or certified nurse anesthetists.

**The DNP degree program at Capella University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

At a Glance

  • Online
  • 3 Preparatory program courses
  • 8 Core courses
  • 5 Capstone courses with practicum 
  • 64 Total quarter credits

Classes Start October 12th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

We’ve decided to waive all application fees until further notice.

DNP Preparatory Program highlights

Expert advisory board

Capella’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board ensures your curriculum is developed with the insight and support of industry leaders.

Reduce your tuition by 30%

Enroll in an eligible program and apply for our Front Line Heroes Discount to save 30% on your doctoral degree.

Apply now »

Industry aligned

More than 600 organizations—including corporations, health care organizations, and community colleges—invest in their employees by partnering with Capella to offer discounted education programs.

Exclusive learner success lab

Our Learner Success Lab provides program-specific content and offers time management tools and other resources to help you thrive throughout your program.

96% of Nursing alumni are satisfied with their Capella education.

Source: Alumni Outcomes Survey, 2017–2018

Capstone & practicum

Investigate a real organizational issue and collaborate with an interprofessional team to find an evidence-based solution.

25 years of online doctoral experience

With over 25 years of experience in online doctoral education, we understand the unique needs of doctoral students, and have designed our programs to meet those needs. We've structured our programs to help you reach your goals and obtain critical skills—with our expert faculty, support teams, and online resources to help guide you every step of the way.

Meet your DNP faculty

Our distinguished DNP faculty are industry leaders, bringing real-world relevance into the courseroom to enrich your education and career.

Bridget Roberts, DNP, CNE, BC

Associate Dean

Betty Nelson, PhD, RN

Dean, School of Nursing and Health Services

Corinne Cochran DNP, NNP-BC

Faculty Chair, DNP

Get the support you need for success

Our dedicated support teams guide and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment counselors

These experts will set you up for success. They’ll help you find the right degree and program, and answer all your questions about Capella.

Academic coaches

A dedicated academic coach will be there to support you every step of the way, providing consistent and personalized support as you progress through your program.


Work with top faculty members who specialize in their respective areas of expertise throughout each phase of your program, including literature review and implementation planning.

Cost & learning format

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$800 per credit, 64 total quarter credits, 0 max transfer credits

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

The BSN, MSN, and DNP programs at Capella University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

$20K toward your doctorate

Apply for a $20K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help you fund your doctoral degree.

Employer & association discounts

If your employer or organization is a partner with Capella, you may be eligible for a tuition discount.

Employer reimbursements

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement to employees. Ask your manager about options.

DNP sample courses

Our online DNP preparatory pathway program can help you increase your mastery in assessing and applying theory, building therapeutic relationships, designing and implementing therapeutic interventions, and leading and managing in the health care environment.

Show course with description
Principles of Advanced Nursing Practice

This course provides learners with an overview of the diverse roles and practice credentials of a master’s-prepared nurse. Learners gain insight into various aspects of master’slevel nursing practice, such as interpersonal collaboration, use of technology, and cultural competency, as well as ethical, regulatory, and legal principles as they relate to advanced nursing practice. Learners also identify the theoretical foundation(s) of current and future practice in nursing. Only learners with an RN license can register for this course.

4 quarter credits
MSN6014 *
Advanced Leadership for Contemporary Nursing

Learners in this course explore the leadership skills necessary for today’s nursing leaders. Learners develop and demonstrate the ethical, legal, and critical decision-making skills needed to support organizational and systems change and to promote critical high-quality safe care for the people they serve. Other leadership skills include addressing the needs of diverse populations, providing quality improvement and resource management, bolstering team and interprofessional relationship building, and participating in strategic planning. Throughout the course, learners also evaluate the leadership styles vital to effecting and sustaining change in today’s health care system. Only learners with an RN license can register for this course. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in MSN6013.

4 quarter credits
Evidence-Based Practice and Technology for Nursing

In this course, learners analyze the diverse frameworks of research and evidence-based nursing practice. Learners differentiate between various types of research strategies, examine ways to search for evidence effectively and efficiently, and propose an evidence-based strategy to solve a clinical problem. Learners also evaluate ethical considerations associated with conducting research.  Only learners with an RN license can register for this course.

4 quarter credits
Collaboration, Communication, and Case Analysis for Doctoral Learners

This course prepares learners for doctoral-level coursework in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Throughout the course, learners analyze and evaluate how the scholar-practitioner model provides guidance for developing competencies in effective and ethical health care leadership, including professional and interprofessional collaboration, communication, inclusion, and decision making. Must be taken during the learner’s first quarter. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
21st-Century Health Care Improvement

Learners in this course build foundational knowledge and skills needed to shape the future of health care. Through the lens of a 21st-century health care leader, learners use critical thinking, analysis, and creative insights to examine a problem, gap, or opportunity for improvement within a health care or public health delivery system. Learners also complete a culminating project charter to further develop a coherent quality improvement plan for 21st-century health care. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Executive Leadership in Contemporary Nursing

Learners in this course analyze and evaluate interrelationships within complex health care delivery systems, including organizational stakeholders; executive power structures; and population, fiscal, and policy issues. Learners apply this knowledge as well as executive leadership skills to professional practice and recommend policy changes that support system-level strategic priorities. For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Evaluation and Interpretation of Data in Health Care

In this course, learners examine underlying concepts and reasoning involved in the collection, preparation, and evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data in health care research. Learners apply appropriate analytical techniques using commonly used software and/or best practice guidelines. Learners also interpret and report the analytical results. For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Foundations of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

In this course, learners apply the steps of the evidence-based practice process to a health care challenge, evaluate qualitative research methods and results, and interpret the results and practical significance of qualitative health care data analyses. Learners also assess their own strengths and weaknesses in relationship to writing as a doctoral professional. For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Nursing Technology and Health Care Information Systems

Learners in this course apply information technology and research methods used within the health care environment. In particular, learners evaluate the use of technology in health care information systems for the purposes of monitoring outcomes of care and assessing quality improvement.  For DNP learners only. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS8014 *
Global Population Health

In this course, learners evaluate global health issues and propose and evaluate culturally sensitive interventions to address global health concerns. Throughout the course, learners build the knowledge and skills necessary to lead the development and implementation of institutional, local, state, national, or international health care initiatives. For DNP learners only. Prerequisite(s): NURS8010. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS8045 *
Doctoral Writing and Professional Practice

Learners in this course write as doctoral professionals, including crafting a compelling argument and creating a literature review that supports a possible intervention or process change. Learners also obtain approval for their practicum site and preceptor and complete the related paperwork. For DNP learners only. Prerequisite(s): NURS8035, completion of or concurrent registration in NURS8012. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
NURS9901 *
Nursing Doctoral Project 1

Learners in this course obtain university approval to begin the implementation phase of their project. At the completion of the course, learners associate project outcomes with a quality/performance improvement framework and formalize the project implementation plan. This course requires completion of practicum hours. For DNP learners only. Grading for this course is S/NS. Prerequisite(s): NURS9100. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits

What you’ll learn

The right education can change everything. Discover your path to gaining real-world skills to lead at the highest level of the nursing profession.

  • Build leadership skills for creating health care delivery models with a focus on quality improvement.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health care delivery models.
  • Broaden your understanding of a wide range of health care professions for mastery that can help you achieve common goals.
  • Apply a science-based, theoretical foundation to develop and evaluate new practices and approaches to health care delivery.
  • Develop, implement, and advocate for health care policy that meets the needs of specific populations.
  • Plan for and implement health care technologies that improve quality for specialized areas of practice.

DNP career insights

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The international honor society allows Capella nursing students to join a professional organization of more than 135,000 members.

3 Ways FlexPath is Changing Higher Ed

Five years after launch, new studies on Capella’s FlexPath format have been completed—and the news is good.

How Nurses on Boards Impact Health Care

Nurses today make up a small percentage of those serving on hospital boards—here’s a look into what’s being done to increase the number.

DNP professional paths

Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to consider with a DNP.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Nurse manager
  • Full-time nursing faculty
  • Adjunct or part-time nursing faculty
  • Director of nursing
  • Chief nursing officer

Employment settings to explore

  • Ambulatory care office
  • Hospital
  • College or university
  • Health insurance company
  • Government - local, state, federal

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the next step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.