Jul 14, 2024  
2023-2024 Rivier Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Rivier Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctoral Programs of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree in nursing. The DNP is not a research-focused degree, but a clinically-focused degree designed to improve patient outcomes.  The program competencies are supported by the completion of core classes that are designed to help the student exit the program practicing as an expert clinician.  These practitioners are also prepared to be leaders in industry, designed to advocate for targeted change to improve the healthcare environment.  Although this degree is not targeted to develop clinicians that contribute to original research, they will be prepared to interpret quantitative research studies and synthesize the evidence for its relevance to improving patient outcomes.  Specialized emphasis includes: (1) Practice that supports patient care and supports patient outcomes; (2) Leaders on interdisciplinary teams; (3) and the ability to apply leadership and systematic thinking to ensure accountability for quality of healthcare and patient safety.

In the Doctoral Program in Nursing Practice there are two specialty tracks:

Professional Practice Track Credits: 39

Systems Leadership Track Credits: 39-69

The Professional Practice Track is designed for advanced practice nurses with a master’s degree or post-master’s certificate who have successfully passed a national nurse practitioner certification exam. The curriculum includes content which prepares graduates to function in leadership and management roles, conduct complex diagnostic and treatment modalities, utilize informatics to enhance clinical decision-making, and critically evaluate scholarly research. 

Systems Leadership Track is designed to offer masters prepared nurses an opportunity to progress to the terminal degree of DNP with a leadership focus. This specialty track will equip nurse leaders with the knowledge and skills to lead complex and ever-changing organizations and health care systems.

There are 3 points of entry for the Doctor of Nursing track. Those who present to the program with a Masters degree in nursing and are currently practicing as an advanced practice nurse (APRN), those with a Masters degree in nursing not licensed as an APRN or those who hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing with a Masters degree in another discipline (i.e. MBA, MPH, MHA).

Graduates of our DNP program will be prepared to become nurse leaders in interdisciplinary health care teams and work to improve systems of care, patient outcomes, quality and safety. Our program format offers flexibility to accommodate nurses’ work schedules and family commitments.

Program Outcomes

  • Patient Centered Care:  Apply advanced clinical judgment and accountability and the design, delivery, and evaluation of evidence-based care to individuals, families, and populations.
  • Safety:  Demonstrate mastery of professional competencies associated with an improved patient safety environment.
  • Evidence-Based Practice:  Utilize the highest level of evidence available to inform decision making in clinical practice.
  • Informatics:  Integrate new and smart technologies into advanced practice, to inform decision making and improve patient outcomes.
  • Team Work and Collaboration:  Provide leadership in collaborative efforts when working with other health professionals and clients or community partners.
  • Quality Improvement:  Lead in the vision, development, implementation, and evaluation of care delivery approaches that ensure ethical stewardship, accountability, quality, and patient safety.

General Program Requirements

To satisfy program requirements, each student must meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain a minimum of a “B” in all course work and practicums;
  • Submit a scholarly project to be approved by the DNP faculty committee;
  • Maintain continuous enrollment until the scholarly project is completed;
  • Complete course work and scholarly project leading to final presentation and faculty approval;
  • Complete all program requirements and the scholarly project within seven years from the first semester of enrollment. To continue in the program past seven years requires the student to apply for an extension that includes a time-frame for completion of all requirements, and the expected date of graduation.

Progression/Retention Requirements (matriculated and non-matriculated students)

Doctoral level study in nursing requires high academic standards. It is the responsibility of the program to assure the public of the competence of its graduates in advanced nursing roles.

  • Students are required to achieve no grade less than a B in any individual course and to maintain no less than a B (3.0) grade point average throughout the graduate program.
  • If a student earns one grade lower than B in a theory course, the student will be placed on academic probation for the following semester, and must repeat the theory course.
  • If the single grade lower than B reduces the student’s grade point average to less than 3.0, the student must re-establish a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 by the end of the probationary semester.


  • Withdrawal from the same course more than once will be cause for dismissal from the program.
  • A single grade of F will result in the student being dismissed from the program regardless of grade point average.
  • A second course grade lower than B will result in the student being dismissed from the program, regardless of grade point average.

Additional Requirements/Information

  • Students may take three courses (9 credits) from a list of specified courses prior to matriculating.
  • Students must follow their Program of Studies when registering for courses. If students wish to make a change to their Program of Studies, they must request the change in writing to the Doctoral Nursing Education Program Director.
  • Students must complete clinical/practicum requirements four months prior to practicum courses.
  • Part-time study options are available for both the Professional Practice and Systems Leadership track.  

Admission Requirements

An applicant for the doctorate must meet the following specific requirements:

Potential candidates for the Professional Practice Track should hold a current Master’s Degree from an Accredited School of Nursing, as well as a current unencumbered APRN license and certificate of National Certification in Advanced Practice Nursing.  The Systems Leadership track applicant must have a Masters Degree in Nursing or a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing, a current unencumbered RN License and an earned Masters Degree in another discipline.  Students with a Baccalaureate in Nursing and a Masters degrees in another discipline will be evaluated on an individual basis and “bridge” from their Masters degree to the DNP. There is no exit option at the masters level.

Application Procedure

The items below must be submitted by the applicant to the Office of Graduate Admissions, Rivier University, 420 South Main St, Nashua, NH 03060:

The following items should be submitted to the admissions office to be considered for admission to the program:

  • A copy of official transcripts of all post-secondary education.
  • Two (2) recommendation letters in sealed envelopes. One letter must be from a direct supervisor or professional who can address your clinical expertise and leadership potential. The second letter may also be a professional recommendation or else a recent academic instructor who may address your professional strengths as a student.  These letters should be submitted in sealed envelopes, or else emailed directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions via parcel post or email with your name (students name) being considered for admission in the subject line.
  • A copy of your unencumbered, active advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or registered nurse license (RN) for the systems leadership track in the state where practicums will be conducted.
  • A scholarly essay that identifies a specific health care issue that could be the basis of your DNP scholarly project. This should be 2-3 pages doubles spaced using APA formatting and citing professional references.
  • An updated resume or CV.
  • Evidence of a completed graduate level statistics course within 3 years.
  • Documentation of the number of supervised clinical hours completed in previous Master’s in Nursing program. (Must be a minimum of 500 hours for the Professional Practice Track, this not a requirement for the Systems Leadership Track) Note: Rivier University graduates need not provide documentation as we have access to this information.
  • Graduate GPA of 3.2 or better on a 4.0 scale. Candidates with less than a 3.2 GPA meeting the above criteria may be considered after interviewing / video chat with Doctoral Nursing Faculty.

Transfer Credits

At the time of admission, the applicant may transfer up to nine (9) post-graduate credits at the 500 level or above into the doctoral program provided that (a) the transferred credits were earned at an accredited college or university; (b) a grade of “B” or better is earned in all courses for which transfer is requested; (c) the course(s) were completed within the past 10 years (except Graduate level stats class -3 years).  The applicant identifies the course(s) to be transferred and specifies the ways in which the course(s) are consistent with their doctoral program of study and related to the content or research methods associated with their doctoral study.  The program director or divisional dean must review and approve the transfer request.

Doctoral Degree Requirements (39-69 credits)

  • Professional Practice Track 39 credits
  • Systems Leadership Track 39-69 credits depending on the point of entry into the program and the number of supervised practicum hours accrued in the master’s program.

The total credit hours required for the Doctorate in Nursing Program (DNP) Professional Practice Track will be thirty-nine (39) credits. Graduates of Rivier University who successfully completed the Quality Health Care Improvement Course (NSG601), Advanced Health Policy (NSG610) as part of their studies in the master’s degree program will be recognized and awarded these six credits towards the total of thirty-nine credits.

The total credit hours required for the Doctorate in Nursing Program (DNP) Systems Leadership Track will be thirty-nine to sixty-nine (39-69) credits. Graduates of Rivier University who successfully completed the Quality Health Care Improvement Course (NSG601), Advanced Health Policy (NSG610), or Compliance and Risk Management in Healthcare Settings (BUS 654) as part of their studies in the master’s degree program will be recognized and awarded these nine credits towards the total number of credits needed.