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Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, D.N.P.

Aug. 21, 2024

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Ensure Quality Patient Outcomes

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program offered by the School of Nursing prepares you to practice at the highest level of professional nursing and to advance the application of nursing knowledge for the purpose of improving health care for diverse populations. DNP nurses possess a blend of clinical, leadership, economic, and organizational skills that puts you in a unique position to deftly critique nursing practice and design programs of care delivery that are economically feasible, locally acceptable, and that significantly impact healthcare outcomes.

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The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program prepares advanced practice nurses to practice at the highest level of professional nursing and to advance the application of nursing knowledge for the purpose of improving healthcare for diverse populations. This post-graduate program can be completed in as few as 32 credit hours (seven to 10 semesters depending on the progression plan).

Two WVU nurses standing in a hallway talking.

Additional clinical and capstone credits may be required to meet program objectives. Enrollment in nursing courses is based upon readiness, availability of space and an adequate cohort of students. At the completion of the program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate will be able to practice at the highest level of professional practice to:

  • Use science-based theories and concepts to:
    • Determine the nature and significance of health and healthcare delivery phenomena,
    • Describe actions and advance strategies to improve healthcare delivery, and
    • Develop, deliver and evaluate theory-based healthcare.
  • Demonstrate organizational and systems leadership that emphasizes the primacy of clinical work, continually improving health outcomes, and ensuring patient safety.
  • Use analytical methods and research to develop best practices and practice guidelines and to facilitate the evaluation of systems of care that will improve patient outcomes.
  • Use information systems and technology-based resources that support clinical and administrative decision-making, care systems, nurse-sensitive outcomes and quality improvement.
  • Assume a leadership role in the development of healthcare policy.
  • Establish, participate and lead inter-professional teams.
  • Utilize a strong conceptual foundation in clinical prevention and population health.
  • Base practice on biophysical, psychosocial, sociopolitical, and cultural principles; economics; nursing science; and ethics.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate practice and care delivery models, which are politically and culturally appropriate.

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Doctor of Nursing Practice, D.N.P. Admission Requirements


Applicants for the DNP Program must have:

  • A Master of Science in Nursing degree from a nationally accredited nursing program and regionally accredited college or university.
  • An overall GPA on all college work attempted of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (Provisional admission may be considered if the overall GPA is 2.75-2.99 depending upon space available and other qualifications).
  • A minimum overall nursing GPA or a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • A Personal Essay: Submit a personal essay (APA format, and no more than 5 pages). Please see the Guidelines for Writing the Personal Statement (DNP).
  • Transfer students must provide a letter of good standing from the Nursing program in which currently enrolled or left incomplete.
  • An active, unrestricted RN license in at least one state at the time of application (and licensure in the state in which they plan to complete clinical immersion).

For advanced practice nurse applicants, requirements also include:

Completion of a nationally accredited Master of Science in Nursing Program meeting the AANC 2011 Master’s Essentials, national advanced practice certification, and graduate transcripts evaluated for equivalence to WVU School of Nursing courses in:

  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Research Process/statistics
  • Quality & Safety
  • Informatics
  • Nursing Theory

For applicants who are pursuing a DNP with a leadership focus, requirements include: Completion of a nationally accredited Master of Science in Nursing Program meeting the AANC 2011 Master’s Essentials, and graduate transcripts evaluated for equivalence to WVU School of Nursing courses in:

  • Research Process/statistics
  • Quality & Safety
  • Informatics
  • Nursing Theory

Students who are completing certain prerequisite courses may be offered admission; however, the offer will be rescinded if the courses are not completed prior to the first day of classes.

To be considered, applicants will be required to meet all WVU admission requirements in addition to program specific admission criteria.

Competitive applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview. Applicants will not be admitted without an interview.

Students must satisfactorily complete background checks and drug screens upon admission.

New program applicants with a positive drug screen will be ineligible for admission to the program and will forfeit their admission "seat." Please see the WVU SON Drug and Alcohol Screening Policy and the Health Information and Credential Documentation Policy.

Note: Any student who has been dismissed from the West Virginia University School of Nursing or any other nursing program may be considered for readmission if the dismissal was academic and was followed by successful completion of an additional degree. Any student who has withdrawn from the WVU School of Nursing program may be considered for readmission. Students may apply for readmission in accordance with the following guidelines and criteria but must follow the standard admission procedures. Students must meet all original admission requirements.

Apply To WVU

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until July 1 for a Fall term start date. Acceptance is dependent upon space available in the program.

  • Click on the Apply Now button below.
  • Please select the following options on the New Application screen:
    • Type of Student: Professional
    • Which Program: Nursing DNP
  • On the Supplemental Materials screen, you will upload the following:
    • Current curriculum vita or resume
    • Professional goals statement. View the guidelines on writing the statement.

Apply Now

Request Official Transcripts from All Colleges and Universities Attended

Request an official transcript of records from each college or university attended.

  • It is preferred that official transcripts be sent via an online, secure service such as eScrip-Safe, National Student Clearinghouse, or Parchment to
  • Alternatively, sealed, untampered, physical official transcripts can be sent directly to: WVU Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26506-6510.
  • Applicants who completed prior education outside of the U.S. must have their transcripts evaluated by World Education Services (WES). Please request a "course-by-course" International Credential Advantage Package (ICAP).


Candidates for admission are evaluated on the entire admission packet. The WVU School of Nursing accepts new DNP students on a rolling admission basis and will review all qualified applications based on admission criteria. Acceptance is dependent upon space available in the program with the most qualified applicants being accepted at the time of review. Decisions will be emailed to students. Accepted students will receive information regarding orientation and course registration.

Students will be evaluated based on the following:

  • Nursing GPA
  • Work Experience
  • Professional Writing Statement Score
  • Overall GPA

Clinical rotations with approved preceptors in the final year of your program must be arranged with course faculty. Due to potential preceptor limitations, students may have to travel out of their local areas to their clinical sites and are required to provide their own reliable transportation.

In programs with limited capacity and competitive admissions, the most qualified students are selected among those that meet the minimum requirements. Students who want to appeal the Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions Committee decision as unfair, arbitrary, or capricious may contact the director of Admissions and Enrollment for the School of Nursing. The request will be forwarded to the program director for consideration, and the student will receive detailed information regarding the formal appeal process.

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Katherine Atassi, PhD, RN, OCN, NE-BC, CNE

Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Clinical Assistant Professor

Katherine (Kathy) Atassi, PhD, RN, OCN, NE-BC, CNE is an assistant professor in the RN-BSN program and DNP program at West Virginia University - Charleston Campus since May 2020. Degrees include: PhD in Nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina (2012), MSN from Marshall University (1998) and BSN from University of Iowa (1992). Certifications include: oncology certified nurse (OCN) since 1996, certified nurse executive (NE-BC) since 1998, and certified nurse educator (CNE) since 2023. Research interests include: evidence-based practice, public/community health, leadership, health policy, and health promotion/prevention. She has been a nurse educator since 1998, and has a number of publications to date. She lives in Charleston with her husband, two children, and one very sweet dog.

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Dr. Emily Barnes

Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Clinical Professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Practice

Dr. Emily Barnes is a clinical professor and the Associate Dean for Faculty Practice in the School of Nursing at West Virginia University. She earned her BSN at West Virginia Wesleyan College, her MSN at MCP Hahnemann University, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from West Virginia University. She holds certifications as a family nurse practitioner and as a nurse educator. Additionally, she has completed a 300-hour course in medical acupuncture. Her teaching is primarily in the core courses of the Family Nurse Practitioner track of the Master of Science in Nursing program and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Her scholarly activities span the areas of teaching and practice.

Dr. Barnes has maintained an active faculty practice spanning decades, with experience in the delivery of primary care. Her faculty practice has provided care for vulnerable populations in Appalachia and Honduras. She has experience providing both face-to-face and telehealth services across the lifespan and including acute care, health promotion, and chronic disease management. Dr. Barnes leads international interprofessional teams to provide healthcare to patients in the Department of Colon, Honduras. Through this work, she was able to incorporate graduate nursing student opportunities for global service-learning and an innovative telehealth clinical experience for graduate nursing students.

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Heather Carter-Templeton, PhD, RN, NI-BC, FAAN

Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Carter-Templeton is an Associate Professor in the Adult Health Department at the WVU School of Nursing. She has published and presented nationally and internationally regarding her research interest areas, specifically addressing informatics, information literacy, and evidence-based practice. As a nurse researcher, educator, and editor she has worked to inform, educate, and support nurses at the student, practice, and academic levels regarding information literacy needs and skills as well as the importance of using credible scientific evidence within our discipline. Furthermore, she has assisted in using informatics and technology tools to support and disseminate nursing research. She is currently conducting research in the areas of information literacy and healthcare information technology. In addition to her faculty responsibilities, she is involved in several professional organizations and serves as Deputy Editor for CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing journal. In addition, she is ANCC board certified in nursing informatics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

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Rebecca Smeltzer DNP, MBA, RN

Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Assistant Teaching Professor

Dr. Smeltzer is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Adult Health Department at the WVU School of Nursing. She is the track coordinator of the MSN/MBA dual degree program and the Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse Executive Leadership. As an educator, Dr. Smeltzer coordinates and guides student learning in several courses at the graduate level. She is passionate about assisting students in their educational journey to leadership positions. She has presented information regarding curriculum development in MSN leadership courses at the state level.

Since 2022, Dr. Smeltzer has also served as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Accredited Provider Program Director for the WVU SON.

Dr. Smeltzer earned a B.A. in Biology and Secondary Education from Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, a DNP from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Waynesburg University. Her clinical nursing experience includes over 15 years of adult ICU patient care. Her administrative experience includes 7 years at manager and director levels in acute care hospital organizations in Pennsylvania.

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Billie S. Vance, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE

Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Clinical Associate Professor and Chairperson, Family and Community Health Department

Dr. Billie Vance is a Clinical Associate Professor at the WVU School of Nursing. She earned her BSN from Cedarville University, an MSN from WVU, and a PhD from WVU. Prior to transitioning to academia, she worked as a nurse in medical-surgical and intensive care unit hospital settings.

Since 2009, she has been practicing as an advanced practice nurse. She has experience in a variety of practice settings including dermatology, primary care, and preoperative evaluation. Since 2018, she has been practicing with WVU Medicine’s Behavioral Health department in the Comprehensive Opioid Addiction Treatment (COAT) program. She evaluates new and returning patients with substance use disorder and manages two COAT clinics, as well as a clinic at Appalachian Community Health Center.

She is currently serving as a Department Chairperson and previously served as the Director of the MSN/DNP Programs. Her research and scholarly endeavors surround the care of veterans in community settings, care of patients with substance use disorder, and advance practice nursing education. She is an active member in the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and serves on the WVU Medicine Nursing EBP and Research Council and the WVU IRB Blue Board.

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

WVU provides a comprehensive approach to helping you finance your education. Learn more by visiting the Student Financial Services website.

Students are encouraged to:

  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the June 30, 2024 deadline to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827; and
  • Check with your employer to see if they provide financial support for earning your graduate degree.

Doctor of Nursing Practice, D.N.P. total degree cost: $24,448 – Residents and Non-Residents

Tuition and fees are usually not the only educational expenses you may have while pursuing a degree. You may have other costs such as books, supplies and living expenses. Please see the Estimate Costs and Aid webpage for how to estimate and plan for other potential expenses.

Your future with a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

The West Virginia University School of Nursing offers a post-master's program of study leading to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Graduates of the DNP program advance the application of nursing knowledge through the translation and implementation of evidence for practice to improve health outcomes for diverse populations. This expert level practice builds on the past advanced practice education, experience, and certification.

The Benefits to Choosing the Docotor of Nursing Practice Degree

There are several reasons why a student might choose the West Virginia University (WVU) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program:

Quality Education: WVU is a well-respected institution with a strong reputation for providing high-quality education. The DNP program at WVU is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), ensuring that students receive a rigorous and comprehensive education that meets national standards.

Career Advancement: A DNP degree can open many career opportunities for nurses, including positions in advanced practice, leadership, education, and research. The WVU DNP program is designed to prepare nurses for these advanced roles, with a curriculum that focuses on leadership, innovation, and evidence-based practice.

Flexibility: The WVU DNP program offers both full-time and part-time options, as well as online and hybrid delivery formats, allowing students to customize their education to fit their busy schedules and personal preferences.

Supportive Environment: WVU has a strong commitment to supporting its students, with a range of resources available to help them succeed. This includes dedicated faculty and staff, clinical placement assistance, and academic support services.

Community Engagement: WVU is deeply committed to serving the needs of the community, and the DNP program reflects this commitment. Students have opportunities to engage in service learning and community-based research projects, gaining hands-on experience and making a positive impact in the community.

Overall, the WVU DNP program offers a comprehensive and high-quality education that prepares nurses for advanced practice, leadership, education, and research roles, with the flexibility and support needed to succeed in today's fast-paced healthcare environment.

Career Outlook for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program

The DNP-prepared nurse is prepared to participate in healthcare in numerous roles including:

  • advanced practice nurse
  • nurse entrepreneur
  • nurse administrator
  • health care advocate

Course Title Credit Hours
NSG 702 Population Health Promotion 3
NSG 704 Health Care Leadership 3
NSG 707 Evidence Based Practice Methods 3
NSG 710 Health Care Issues, Policy, and Ethics 3
NSG 724 Health Research Statistics 1 3
NSG 739 Scientific Underpinnings of the DNP Role 3
NSG 745 Clinical Immersion * 5
NSG 754 Transforming Health Care Through Information Technology 3

DNP Project **

Course Title Credit Hours
NSG 830 Doctor of Nursing Practice Project Development 2
NSG 831 Doctor of Nursing Practice Project Implementation 2
NSG 832 Doctor of Nursing Practice Project Presentation 2

Total Hours: 32

* A minimum of 5 credits of Clinical Immersion is required prior to graduation. A total of 1000 hours post baccalaureate supervised clinical practice is required prior to graduation and therefore students may be required to take additional credits to meet this total. Spread over multiple semesters.
** Total DNP Project hours - at least 6 credits. Spread over multiple semesters.
*** Individual progression plans to be developed based on previous course work. Total credit hours will vary according to previous course work provided credit for, including number of post-baccalaureate clinical experience hours gained prior to admission to the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to complete the Doctor of Nursing Practice program?

This post-graduate DNP program can be completed in as few as 32 credit hours. The plan of study for the DNP degree requires 1,000 post-baccalaureate hours of clinical immersion and completion of a DNP project. Students must complete a minimum of 5 credits of clinical immersion and 6 credits in DNP project courses (additional clinical immersion and DNP project credits may be required to meet program outcomes).

What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice project?

The DNP Project demonstrates mastery of the DNP curriculum and is a requirement for doctoral education. It involves identifying and addressing practice-related problems through evidence-based change, with guidance from faculty and experts. The project documents the student's growth in knowledge and expertise, serving as a foundation for leadership in future scholarly practice within clinical settings.

Is the Doctor of Nursing Practice program offered on the Morgantown campus?

The programs are offered by faculty on the Morgantown and Charleston campuses. Courses are offered via web-based modalities, with both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Enrollment in nursing courses is based upon readiness, availability of space, and an adequate cohort of students. The DNP project proposal and final presentation take place on either campus depending on the preference of the committee chair.

Can students also work full-time while pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree?

It is a strong recommendation by the University and the School of Nursing that graduate students limit their credit load if they are also involved in full-time work. Full-time work and studies may negatively affect the student’s ability to succeed academically.

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