Earn Your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Drive Clinical Decision-Making

Become an expert in the changing landscape of healthcare. As a DNP graduate, you will be equipped to lead systems- or population-focused healthcare transformation by evaluating and synthesizing current evidence, translating research into practice, and driving clinical decision-making.

At Carlow University, you'll experience a supportive academic environment that provides doctoral preparation for nurses seeking a terminal degree in clinical practice. After completing Carlow's DNP program, you will be equipped to:

  • Critically appraise current scientific findings and theories to enhance the practice of nursing and health care. 
  • Translate and utilize evidence-based concepts and information systems to promote optimal health in diverse populations, settings, and systems. 
  • Create leadership roles and collaborate with other professionals to effect changes within complex systems of care. 
  • Pursue clinical scholarship and scientific inquiry to transform health care practice and systems. 

Have questions? Our admissions team can help. Request more information today.

DNP Program Highlights

Where Our Graduates Go

Further your education through this innovative DNP degree program that will prepare you for a variety of advanced practice roles. Our DNP graduates obtain executive nursing and nursing education positions such as Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Education and Professional Development, as well as many nurse faculty and administrative positions with colleges and nursing schools.

This is a sampling of businesses and institutions that have recently employed Carlow University DNP graduates:
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • Forbes Regional Hospital
  • LifeBridge Health
  • Penn State University
  • Tri-Life Resources
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • UPMC Mercy Hospital School of Nursing
  • Westmoreland County Community College  

Now is the time to pursue your DNP

In 2004, the AACN recommended that graduate education in nursing be advanced to a doctoral level. Consequently, in 2015, an AACN task force published a white paper reporting on the implementation of the DNP and recommendations regarding graduate education, distinguishing the importance of the DNP as a practice-focused program, rather than a research-focused program. Learn more by reviewing the report from the Task Force on the implementation of the DNP.

Program Requirements

In this unique, 30-credit degree program, students take two to three courses per term. Six credits (of the 30 required) of electives will be chosen from a variety of graduate-level courses which enhance or support the student's area of scholarly inquiry. Students have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with faculty and peers in a synchronous format on two Saturdays throughout the semester. Other coursework is facilitated online. At the completion of the program, all Carlow DNP scholarly inquiry projects are archived in a digital repository.

Eager to take the next step? Review our nursing application requirements, or apply now if you're ready. (It's free.)

The DNP Academic Experience

As a DNP student, you will work with faculty, a committee chair, a statistician, and ancillary services across the university. Through your doctoral orientation, you will be onboarded to scholarly inquiry, and statistical support will be introduced in your first scholarly inquiry course. Across a series of courses, you will focus on systems-level change (of your choosing), which will culminate in a scholarly DNP project.

For more information about coursework, review the full DNP plan of study and curriculum requirements and the DNP course descriptions, or read on for a sampling of notable courses from the DNP program.


Notable Courses

NU801 Nursing Inquiry and Leadership

This course examines the history of, and major concepts used in, scientific inquiry. The process of theory development, evaluation, and testing, as it relates to knowledge development within the practice of nursing, will be highlighted. The role of leadership in advancing evidence-based practice in nursing will be underscored. This is a required course.

NU805 Research Methods and Applied Statistics

This course provides a foundation for interpreting the evidence in current literature and conceptualizing a scholarly research project. Students will begin to appreciate the complexities of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies while gaining an understanding of how a researcher determines selection of a particular research method and data analysis techniques. The analysis and interpretation of data from qualitative and quantitative research designs will be emphasized. During the course, students will begin investigation and development of a research question and write a literature review. Students will begin to practice under the supervision of faculty chair and a community expert preceptor. This is a required course.

NU806 Scholarly Inquiry I

This course builds on graduate-level research foundations knowledge. The systematic collection and evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative evidence will be highlighted. Students will use databases and other existing information technologies to collect and evaluate evidence for practice improvement. During the course, students will finalize a research question, refine a review of the literature, and design a study for the implementation and evaluation of current evidence or for the collection of new evidence and analysis of the data. Students will develop an IRB proposal. Students will continue to practice under the supervision of the faculty chair and a community expert preceptor. This is a required course.

This is just a small sample of the variety of classes you'll be taking. For more details about these classes, and more, please visit the Course Catalog section of our website or request more information to hear from an Admissions Counselor.


Faculty Highlight

Ann Spence, Assistant Professor, Nursing 2
Ann Spence, DNP, RN

Dr. Ann Spence earned a BSN from Michigan State University and a MSN in Parent Child Nursing from the University of Michigan. A DNP was obtained from Duquesne University. Dr. Spence is an Assistant Professor in Carlow graduate nursing leadership and DNP programs, with primary teaching responsibilities in evidence based practice, research and leadership courses. Her experience includes positions as a neonatal clinical nurse specialist, quality specialist, and director. 

She has been responsible for operations in multiple critical care units and oncology and bone marrow transplant units, as well as general medical acute care pediatrics. She has led professional development programs from bedside nurses, initiated a hospital-based nursing bone marrow transplant fellowship program, and has served as a chair for the hospital based central line committee, monitor task force, and Magnet advisor.
Dr. Spence was elected as the local chapter president for the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses in 2014 and currently is a member of the awards committee as well as a member of the board for the Society of Pediatric Nurses. Her research interests include medication safety, central line infection prevention, and self-care for nurses.

If you'd like to learn more about our doctoral nursing programs, let us know!