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Doctor of Nursing Practice Preparatory Program Doctor of Nursing Practice

School of Nursing & Health Sciences

Lead the Charge & Help Transform Patient Care

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

Upon successful completion of the DNP preparatory program, you will pursue the program requirements of our DNP program, which is designed to enhance your administrative, organizational, and systems leadership skills to help you transform patient care. You can help lead change through effective health care delivery; patient advocacy; and health care policy development, implementation, and reform.

*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
  • 9 Core Courses
  • 4 Capstone Courses with Practicum

Classes Start January 7th

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.

Admission Requirements »  | $50 Application Fee

What You’ll Learn

Shape Systems of Care

Gain the leadership skills to create health care delivery models that focus on quality improvement.

Advance Service Delivery Models

Develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health care delivery models.  

Interprofessional Collaboration

Learn about, from, and working within other health care professions to gain leadership skills that allow you to achieve common goals.

Improve Health Care Delivery

Use a science-based, theoretical foundation to develop and evaluate new practices and approaches to health care delivery. 

Make an Impact on Policy

Develop, implement, and advocate for health care policy that meets the needs of specific populations. 

Lead Quality Improvement

Plan for and implement health care technologies that improve quality for specialized areas of practice.

DNP Preparatory Pathway Program Online - Capella University

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.

Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Integrated AACN Standards

Our curriculum incorporates the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice.

Immersive Learning Experiences

 In our exclusive virtual health care simulation tool VilaHealth™ you’ll practice real-life scenarios in a safe learning environment.  

Capstone & Practicum

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

Our Learner Success Lab is available to you. 

It provides program-specific content and teaches you to use time-management tools and resources effectively--so you’re as efficient as possible throughout your entire program.

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. 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
$425 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.

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. 

Scholarships for New Students

Capella scholarships, available for qualifying students, aren’t need-based and never have to be repaid.

Employer & Association Discounts

Many employers and organizations partner with Capella to offer tuition discounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more. 

Employer Reimbursements

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement to employees, even if there’s no formal program. Check with your manager or HR dept.

Accredited & Respected

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 (

Sample Courses

In our online DNP preparatory pathway program you’ll 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.

Support to Reach the Finish Line

Our doctoral curriculum is designed to give you dedicated support early in your program—so you can be confident in the steps to completing your degree.

Capstone Mentors

For the culminating project of your doctoral degree, you’ll be paired with a knowledgeable mentor to help you along the way.

Doctoral Advising

A doctoral degree takes special effort. It's why we offer expert support at every step to keep you moving forward toward your goal.

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
MSN6013 Principles of Advanced Nursing Practice
MSN6014 Advanced Leadership for Contemporary Nursing
DNP8012 Nursing Technology and Health Care and Health Care Information Systems
DNP8014 Global Population Health
NHS8070 Evaluation and Interpretation of Data in Health Care

Faculty & Support

You’re never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.


Our distinguished faculty members hold top credentials in their fields. They’re here to teach the knowledge and skills you’ll need, now.

Enrollment Counselors

These folks are superstars. We hear it from our students (and grads). They’re here to help find a program fit and set you up for success.  

Doctoral Advising

A doctoral degree takes special effort. It's why we offer expert support at every step to keep you moving forward toward your goal.

Capstone Mentors

You’ll be paired with a knowledgeable mentor early in your program to help you move toward completion of your capstone project.

Move Forward in Your Career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online DNP preparatory pathway program.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Chief nursing officer
  • Nursing administrator
  • Nursing director
  • Nurse manager
  • Nursing operations director
  • Health care director
  • Education consultant
  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing professor
  • Nursing instructor

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Hospital
  • Medical clinic
  • Health care organization
  • Insurance company
  • Home health care services
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Community health agency
  • Nursing care facility
  • Social service agency
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Self-employment

*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.