Doctor of Nursing Practice

Degree Type
Area of Interest
Health and Human Services
Degree Level
College of Nursing and Health

Viterbo University’s graduate nursing program is specifically designed to be relevant and responsive to the needs of practicing professional nurses who wish to formally advance their knowledge and skills and seek an advanced nursing role. The curriculum is based on the expressed needs for all nursing professionals in advanced roles to have increased knowledge of informatics and health care technologies, quality improvement and safety, organizational and systems leadership, inter-professional collaboration for improving patient/population outcomes, and advocacy, as well as an advanced scientific and humanities-based background for practice (AACN, The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education, 2021).  





Program admission requirements and procedures may be found at

Provisional Admission

Occasionally a student does not meet the admission criteria in all respects, but shows promise of the ability to be successful in graduate school. In this case, the student may be admitted to the graduate nursing program on probation. After two semesters (12 credits) of achieving a B or better in all courses, the probation status will be discontinued. If unable to meet this criterion, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

Policy and Guidelines Applying to Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disabilities

The School of Nursing supports the Viterbo University policy and guidelines relating to the non-exclusion of qualified students from university programs solely by reason of disability. To meet the requirements of and to successfully participate in the graduate nursing program at Viterbo University, a student must be able to perform skills which are essential to advanced nursing roles. While Viterbo University will provide reasonable accommodations in certain course requirements to assist a special needs student to meet certain course outcomes, there are some essential skills for which there are no known substitutes. The applicant to the graduate nursing program and the student throughout the program must be able to meet the requirements of the track chosen. Accordingly, these specific requirements may vary somewhat.

Academic Standing - Satisfactory Progress

Graduate nursing students are expected to earn a B or better in all of their courses AND maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0 or better.

Required Background Check

Federal and state statutes require that criminal background checks be completed for all persons who provide nursing care for others or who have access to people who receive care. Clinical agencies prohibit placement of students with criminal histories of specific crimes and offenses that have been identified by the state of Wisconsin or others as bars to employment or licensure (such as abuse, assault, or neglect). The School of Nursing requires that all students complete a background information disclosure statement and a criminal history search. Individuals whose background check identifies bars to the provision of care in contracted agencies or places restrictions on client contact will not be allowed to progress in the program.

Transfer Credits Upon Admission
Individual consideration will be granted in the awarding of transfer credits. Up to 18 credits may be transferred from another program and utilized to meet the post-baccalaureate to DNP program requirements of Viterbo University if equivalent. Up to nine credits may be transferred to the post-MSN to DNP program, if equivalent. In order to be considered for transfer, the grade earned must be at least a B. Transfer credits must be graduate credit taken from an accredited institution of higher education completed within the last five years and equivalent to the course it is replacing in the requirements at Viterbo. Courses older than five years may be given credit based on individual review. Students who wish to transfer credits must have an official transcript sent to the director of graduate nursing program. Courses will be evaluated for equivalency and written notification of acceptance of transcript credit will be provided to the student by the director.

Transfer Credits After Admission
The faculty of the Viterbo University graduate nursing program has carefully planned and developed a curriculum to meet the needs of the potential graduates of the chosen tracks. The content for the curriculum was designed for the curricular and graduate outcomes unique to this program and the specific role preparation. In view of the connection of the curriculum to the desired outcomes and the quality of the graduate, once a student has begun classes as a degree-seeking student in the Viterbo University graduate nursing program, all classes (excluding electives) must be taken at Viterbo University. Note: This policy is not applicable to post-MSN to DNP students wishing AGNP or FNP role preparation whose plan of study will be determined on an individual basis or to agreements established with collaborating institutions.

Time for Completion of Graduate Nursing Degrees

Six credits per semester is considered full-time study; however some semesters contain substantially more credits in the full time plan of study.

  • The post BSN to DNP program can be completed in three years. It is expected that students will complete the program within seven years or less.
  • The post MSN to DNP program can be completed in two years. It is expected that students will complete the program in four years or less.
  • The post MSN to DNP program including NP role preparation can be completed in three years. It is expected that students will complete the program in seven years or less.
  • Time spent as a non-degree student does not count toward the completion period, but students will be subject to the catalog/curriculum requirements in effect at the time they become degree seeking.
  • All full-time and part-time degree-seeking students who have not been granted a leave of absence must register each semester until all degree requirements are completed.

Practicum/Clinical Experiences

  • A student receiving a C or less for clinical practicum may be dismissed from the program. If dismissal does not occur, the student will be placed on a clinical remediation contract for the subsequent practicum, must repeat the course with a B or better grade, and must achieve B or better in all remaining practicum courses to remain in the program.
  • Prescribed numbers of clinical hours have been incorporated into the various plans of study available within the graduate nursing program. Students must have an RN license for the state in which the clinical site is located. The number of clinical hours varies depending on the track chosen. A ratio of four clock hours to one didactic hour per week is used; therefore one credit of practicum credit is 60 hours of clinical for the APRN and NP tracks. The student will receive a grade for clinical practicum experiences, a BC or better is required for progression. Receiving C or below may contribute to a decision to dismiss a student from the program or specific remediation procedures.

Didactic Classes (includes theory, seminar, and culminating project credits)

  • A student in the graduate nursing program who earns a C in any course, OR goes below a semester GPA of 3.0, will be placed on probationary status and must achieve a grade of B or better in all subsequent courses AND maintain a semester GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in the program.
  • A student who earns less than a C will be required to repeat the course and earn B or better in this and all subsequent classes and maintain a semester GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in the program.

DNP Project

Students will conduct a scholarly project over two or more semesters. This project is an opportunity for students to engage in independent research/evidence-based inquiry/scholarly work in a defined area of significance to the advanced nursing role. Students will work with faculty advisors for assistance, critique, and expertise. The student will receive a grade at the end of each semester of DNP project registration, and B or better indicates satisfactory progress. Students are required to disseminate their work in a prescribed way.


Learning Outcomes
  • Practice in an expanded, specialized, and/or advanced nursing role
  • Affirm the dignity of life and human diversity
  • Advocate for quality outcomes for individuals, families, populations, and systems
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership and faithful service in their chosen roles and settings
  • Facilitate the translation of research and evidence into practice
  • Utilize information and healthcare technology to impact best practice

The School of Nursing is approved by the Wisconsin State Board of Nursing; P.O. Box 8935, Madison, WI 53708; 608-266-2112;; and accredited at the DNP level by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530; Washington, DC 20036; 202-887-6791; 202-887-8476 (fax);

See the MBA/DNP Dual Degree Program for more information about this dual degree option.