Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program is now available in a fully online format

The DNP is a doctoral degree for nurses at the highest level of nursing practice. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has proposed that the DNP degree will be the level of entry for all advanced practice nurses by 2020. Practice-focused doctoral nursing programs prepare leaders for the highest level of practice and is the terminal practice degree. Although the coursework for these programs is web-based, the clinical component consists of over 1000 contact hours. Anyone interested in pursuing a nurse practitioner doctorate must make certain that they can accommodate the intensive time commitment that these programs require.

The changing demands of today’s complex health care environment, outlined in recent reports from the Institute of Medicine, require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible. Nurses are constantly working with individuals who have high levels of preparation in their respective fields – physicians, pharmacists, and other health providers. The effectiveness of nurses is directly related to the amount and type of education they receive, and recent research has established a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes. What distinguishes this definition of practice from others is that it includes both direct care provided to patients by individual clinicians as well as direct care policies, programs and protocols that are organized, monitored, and continuously improved upon by expert nurse clinicians.

In order to complete the DNP program, each student is required to generate a project that reflects their advanced coursework in leadership, research translation, and clinical knowledge and skills.

The School of Nursing offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in the following Nurse Practitioner Specialties, Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The Application Deadline for the 2021 Cohort is February 1, 2021

DNP Degree Plans

There are 3 Degree Plans Available

2020 Degree Plans

2019 Degree Plans

Program Information

There are two avenues to pursue the Doctorate of Nursing Practice:

BSN to DNP option in the following specialty tracks

  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner

Post-Masters to DNP (MSN-DNP) option for advanced practice registered nurses

The following are criteria for DNP program enrollment:

  • Only FULL-TIME applicants are accepted for the DNP program (see degree plans).
  • First year DNP students are required to attend a 2-day on-campus orientation during the first week of classes in Fall semester.
  • Third year BSN-DNP students are required to attend a week-long, on-campus Clinical Boot Camp during the summer semester prior to the start of the nurse practitioner specialty courses.
  • Satisfaction of all clinical requirements as identified by School of Nursing. All clearances must be obtained by first enrollment date. Students who do not fulfill this requirement will not progress in the program and will not be permitted to enroll in classes. Please note that completion of these requirements may delay or nullify initial program start
  • After acceptance into the program, applicants will be required to submit a criminal background check and toxicology screen (medicinal marijuana is prohibited).Failure to provide these screening items will result in dismissal and/or non-acceptance to the NMSU SON graduate program. Positive toxicology results and/or criminal background checks that do not meet the NM DOH clearance standards will mean dismissal or non-acceptance from the program
  • It is the responsibility of the student to originate contact with a potential preceptor and request a guided clinical experience with them or in specified agencies.
  • Instructors and advisers assist identifying suitable preceptors but it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to locate these experiences and to check with the State Board of Nursing for their respective state.
  • Please know that it takes approximately 3-6 months to establish a clinical affiliation agreement, if one is not already in place.
  • When accepted into the program you will learn about required clinical experiences during your first summer seminar.
  • All courses for the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP are web-based. There is a once-a year, mandatory, on-campus, week-long requirement. Those who cannot attend this yearly seminar are not admitted nor if admitted can they progress in the program if they do not attend. As the time varies each year, notification of the dates for the week long campus requirement is sent out upon admission and at the beginning of the Spring semester in January.
  • In addition, the Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric/Mental Health, BSN to DNP specialties conduct a week-long clinical immersion each year after the first year. Students are provided information on when these immersions will take place after acceptance into the program and during orientation. Students who cannot or do not attend cannot progress in the program.
  • Students should have a basic understanding on computer use and feel comfortable navigating the internet and using various applications to complete assignments. Additional help will be provided for those students with little or no computer skills.

Application Process and Admission Criteria

  • Apply to the DNP Program through the NMSU Graduate School ( and upload the following documents:
    • Current CV/resume.
    • RN license (BSN-DNP) or certification (MSN-DNP)
    • Unofficial transcripts from nursing programs/degrees
    • A letter of intent specifying career goals and a clear statement of how the DNP will advance the applicant’s clinical practice
    • A two to four (2-4) page description of an example of a common occurrence in clinical practice that the applicant would like to see changed
    • Names and contact information for three (3) references from colleagues in clinical practice
  • Official transcripts from all prior college and universities attended sent directly to the School of Nursing and to the NMSU Graduate School (2 sets)
  • After an initial review of applications, selected applicants will be invited to attend an interview with faculty (on campus or via videoconferencing)

BSN-DNP Option 

  • Successful admission to the NMSU Graduate School
  • Bachelor’s degree in Nursing with a minimum nursing GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Current unencumbered RN license from one of the 50 U.S. States or Territories
  • Undergraduate or graduate level statistics course
  • Admission to the DNP Program is a competitive process based on the components of the application and interview
  • Must sign a commitment to enroll for full-time study as well as attend a 2-day program orientation at the start of the fall semester and a 1-week clinical seminar in the summer of the second year (non-attendance could result in program dismissal or failure to progress)

MSN-DNP Option

  • Successful admission to the NMSU Graduate School
  • To be eligible for the Post-MSN to DNP program, an applicant must possess an active and current APRN license and certification as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist.
  • Masters degree in Nursing with a minimum nursing GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Undergraduate or graduate level statistics course
  • Admission to the DNP Program is a competitive process based on the components of the application and interview
  • Students are required to obtain official documentation or letter from the MSN program that they attended clearly denoting the total number of clinical hours completed.

SARA Authorization Information-

In order for New Mexico State University (NMSU) to enroll students residing outside of New Mexico in an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) distance education program, two conditions must be met. First, NMSU must have a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement with the state that the student physically resides in. To check your state, please refer to NMSU’s SARA map. Second, the state’s Board of Nursing must give approval or have no restrictions on APRN clinical education in the state where the student will complete their clinical training. For more information and for current APRN distance education requirements, please see the National Council on State Boards of Nursing website.

The New Mexico State University School of Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Post Graduate APRN Certificate programs are currently authorized to operate, exempt or not subject to approval in:

  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon (application pending)
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas (application pending)
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

The New Mexico State University School of Nursing will continue to monitor developments in state laws in each state in which it enrolls students and, if authorization or licensure is or becomes necessary, will obtain such additional approvals.

Interested applicants should contact: