Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Online

WCU's online DNP program helps you acquire advanced clinical knowledge and leadership skills so you can positively impact patients at the system level.

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DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice

8 Weeks

8-week terms allow for start dates throughout the year

20 Months

Complete the DNP program in as few as 20 months at the Accelerated program pace

30 Credits

Complete 30 credits to earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree

Online DNP Program Highlights


Emphasis on leadership within large healthcare organizations


Specialized training on strategic leadership and project management in complex healthcare settings

Research project allowing for on-site application, along with a team to help with site placement


Curriculum aligning with the latest recommendations of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)

Why Enroll in an Online DNP Program?

Our DNP program helps you build on your clinical experience and learn about strategic leadership and project management in complex healthcare environments. With a focus on promoting safety and quality in healthcare, you will learn to develop innovative strategies for creating change. You will also explore the influence of policy and ethical decision-making in healthcare delivery.

Students in the program complete a DNP project that teaches students how to analyze problems, implement solutions, and be champions of progress. The project requires 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours, which will be completed under the guidance of a site mentor or healthcare leader.

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  • Flexible online and campus programs
  • 58,000 alumni across the globe
  • Experienced faculty and staff

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Overview: Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Program Details

Accelerated Pace

Distance Education/Online

30 Credits

20 Months

5 Trimesters


Doctor of Nursing Practice Curriculum

To achieve the graduation requirement of 30 credits, all students must complete 30 credits of core and track courses.  Core courses provide students with the specific discipline experience required for the degree. All students will complete at least 26 core course credits as detailed below. The remaining 4 credits are based on the program specialty the student is enrolled in. The currently available tracks are:

  • DNP – Executive Leadership
Graduate Nursing Core

Core courses to be completed by all students (26 credits)

Course Number Course Name Total Credit Hours
Number Name Hours
DNPC 700 Advanced Nursing Practice Inquiry 3
DNPC 705 Organizational & Systems Leadership 2
DNPC 710 Informatics and Healthcare Technologies 1
DNPC 715 Policy Development and Implementation 2
DNPC 720 Translating Scholarship to Practice 3
DNPC 725 Application of Applied Statistics 3
DNPC 780C DNP Project I: Project Design & Development 3
DNPC 785C DNP Project II: Project Implementation 3
DNPC 790C DNP Project III: Project Analysis 3
DNPC 795C DNP Project IV: Project Evaluation 3
Total Credit Hours: 26

Track Courses:

Executive Leadership Track
Track courses to be completed in the Executive Track (4 credits)

Course Number Course Name Total Credit Hours
Number Name Hours
DNPX 750 Advanced Executive Leadership I 2
DNPX 755 Advanced Executive Leadership II 2
Total Credit Hours: 4
Tuition & Financial Aid

How Much Does the Online DNP Program Cost?

We know school is a substantial commitment. At WCU, we want to equip you with all the information you need to make the right decision for your future.

Our goal is to give you a clear understanding of Doctor of Nursing Practice online tuition costs so you can be well-informed as you navigate the application and enrollment process. To assist you in your decision, we provide a breakdown below of the online DNP program costs at West Coast University.

We offer several DNP financial aid options — including scholarships, grants, and loan access — to help support you through your studies. We also offer reduced tuition rates for military personnel and their spouses.

For more information about your financial support options, visit our financial aid page.

Doctor of Nursing Practice - Executive Leadership

Tuition and Fees


Degree Type Doctorate (Enrolling prior to April 1, 2024) Doctorate (Enrolling after April 1, 2024) 
Total Program Credits 30 30 
Program Length(full time) 5 trimesters 5 trimesters 
Tuition Cost(per credit) $1,074 $1,074 
Total Tuition Cost $32,220 $32,220 
STRF1 $87.50 $0 
Technology Fee ($500 per semester)2 $2,500 $2,500 
Estimate for Program Supply Fees3 $400 $400
Estimated Total Program Costs (Texas) $35,120 $35,120
Estimated Total Program Costs (California) $35,207.50 $35,120 


Indirect Costs

8 Month Academic Year4    
  Prior to Fall I 2024  Starting Fall I 2024 
with parents off campus with parents off campus
Federal Student Loan Fee  $220  $220 $220  $220 
Living Expenses (Food & Housing) $2,384 $7,936 $2,496  $8,328 
Transportation $1,648 $1,648 $1,728  $1,728 
Miscellaneous Personal Expenses $5,392 $5,392 $5,656  $5,656 
Total $9,644 $15,196 $10,100  $15,932 

1 Effective April 1, 2024, the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) assessment rate will be zero dollars and zero cents ($0.00) per one thousand dollars ($1,000) of institutional charges.

The State of California established the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to relieve or mitigate economic loss suffered by a student in an educational program at a qualifying institution, who is or was a California resident while enrolled, or was enrolled in a residency program, if the student enrolled in the institution, prepaid tuition, and suffered an economic loss. Unless relieved of the obligation to do so, you must pay the state-imposed assessment for the STRF, or it must be paid on your behalf, if you are a student in an educational program, who is a California resident, or are enrolled in a residency program, and prepay all or part of your tuition.

You are not eligible for protection from the STRF and you are not required to pay the STRF assessment, if you are not a California resident, or are not enrolled in a residency program.

It is important that you keep copies of your enrollment agreement, financial aid documents, receipts, or any other information that documents the amount paid to the school. Questions regarding the STRF may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, 1747 N. Market Blvd. Ste 225 Sacramento, CA 95834, (916) 431-6959 or (888) 370-7589.

To be eligible for STRF, you must be a California resident or enrolled in a residency program, prepaid tuition, paid or deemed to have paid the STRF assessment, and suffered an economic loss as a result of any of the following:

  1. The institution, a location of the institution, or an educational program offered by the institution was closed or discontinued, and you did not choose to participate in a teach-out plan approved by the Bureau or did not complete a chosen teach-out plan approved by the Bureau.
  2. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution within the 120-day period before the closure of the institution or location of the institution or were enrolled in an educational program within the 120-day period before the program was discontinued.
  3. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution more than 120 days before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, in an educational program offered by the institution as to which the Bureau determined there was a significant decline in the quality or value of the program more than 120 days before closure.
  4. The institution has been ordered to pay a refund by the Bureau but has failed to do so.
  5. The institution has failed to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federal student loan program as required by law or has failed to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the institution in excess of tuition and other costs.
  6. You have been awarded restitution, a refund, or other monetary award by an arbitrator or court, based on a violation of this chapter by an institution or representative of an institution, but have been unable to collect the award from the institution.
  7. You sought legal counsel that resulted in the cancellation of one or more of your student loans and have an invoice for services rendered and evidence of the cancellation of the student loan or loans.

To qualify for STRF reimbursement, the application must be received within four (4) years from the date of the action or event that made the student eligible for recovery from STRF.

A student whose loan is revived by a loan holder or debt collector after a period of noncollection may, at any time, file a written application for recovery from STRF for the debt that would have otherwise been eligible for recovery. If it has been more than four (4) years since the action or event that made the student eligible, the student must have filed a written application for recovery within the original four (4) year period, unless the period has been extended by another act of law.

However, no claim can be paid to any student without a social security number or a taxpayer identification number.

2 Technology Fee includes student technical support, Office 365, blended and online course delivery/learning management system, mobile app, student portal technology and access, and required electronic course materials/software.

3 Program supplies include WCU identification card and background check.  

4 The purpose of the Cost of Attendance (COA) is to provide students and families with an estimated cost to attend West Coast University. The COA includes both direct and indirect cost estimates. Direct costs are paid directly to West Coast University and are shown separately for each program. Indirect costs are not paid to West Coast University and are estimates students may use to budget expenses they may incur while attending school. While actual indirect costs may vary, West Coast University estimates these amounts based on the number of months in an academic year and whether students will live with parents or off campus.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the Doctor of Nursing Practice must meet the following admissions requirements:

    1. Complete an online application for admission.
    2. Have earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
      1. Graduate research methods course with a grade of C- or better.
      2. Applicants with a non-nursing master’s degree are required to show prior completion of or take the following graduate level coursework to meet MSN Essentials:
        1. Research, Ethics, Policy, Health Promotion
    3. Submit official transcripts.
    4. GPA of 3.0 or higher.
      1. Applicants with a cumulative graduate GPA of 2.7 to 2.99 may be admitted under probation.  A student admitted under the probationary admissions pathway must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better on all coursework attempted in the first nine (9) credits in the program.  Students failing to meet this requirement by the end of the first nine (9) credits will be dismissed from the program.
      2. Students accepted under the probationary admissions pathway will be considered regular students and eligible for Title IV, if the student otherwise qualifies for funding, for the first trimester of their program of study while completing the requirements for full admission to their program.
    5. Active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse required in the United States.
    6. Submit a current resume curriculum vitae, two (2 letters of recommendation, and a one (1) page statement of purpose describing:
      1. The reason for pursuing doctoral study.
      2. Short- and long-term professional and academic goals.
      3. Leadership experience.
    7. West Coast University requires proof of English proficiency. Applicants submitting non-U.S. or non-English transcripts should refer to the International Admissions section of the catalog.
    8. West Coast University offers conditional admission to DNP applicants who are academically qualified but have not met all the conditions for admission.
    9. A virtual interview may be conducted as part of the admission process.

    For additional requirements, please visit our online catalog.

Academic Calendar

The DNP program accepts students during the Spring I, Summer I, and Fall I terms, with the calendar year typically consisting of six terms. For more information about our term start and completion dates, view the Academic Calendar.



Program Learning Outcomes

WCU graduates are given tools to influence healthcare policy at institutional, state, and/or federal levels. They are trained to lead, whether that means managing interprofessional teams or helping guide organizational decision-making.

Below are the program learning outcomes for our online DNP program.

  1. Evaluate new practice approaches based on scientific knowledge and theories from nursing
  2. Adapt organizational and systems leadership for quality improvement and systems thinking.
  3. Demonstrate clinical scholarship and analytical methods for evidence-based practice
  4. Analyze critical elements necessary to the selection, use, and evaluation of healthcare information systems and patient care technology
  5. Influence healthcare policy at institutional, state, and/or federal levels
  6. Lead interprofessional teams in the analysis of complex practice and organizational issues
  7. Analyze epidemiological, biostatistical, environmental, and other appropriate scientific data related to individual, aggregate, and population health
  8. Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.

Career Services

Career Services

Career Services & Placement

WCU’s Career Services department provides DNP students and graduates with ongoing assistance through professional and career development guidance and workshops.1 Whether you need help building a stronger resume, narrowing down your job search, or preparing for an interview, you have a team that is ready to support you.

We will also provide you with other forms of support while you are a student at WCU, including clinical placement assistance as well as your own assigned Student Success advisors, admissions and financial aid advisors, no-cost tutoring, one-on-one faculty mentorship, and more.

Clinical Placements

Work with Our Clinical Placements Team

Completing your clinical practicum is an exciting part of your degree or post-master’s certificate program, but it can also feel overwhelming for many students. Fortunately, our Clinical Placements team is here to support you every step of the way.

We help you find a preceptor and clinical site in your local area, as well as provide advice along the way so you can enhance your practice experience. Receiving guidance is easy – all you have to do is jump on a coaching call with your assigned coordinator of clinical relations.

WCU has partnerships and connections with various healthcare providers, so we are well-equipped to help our students with their placement needs.

Featured Faculty


Dr. George Byron Peraza-Smith, DNP, RN, A-GNP-C, GNP-BC, GS-C, CNE, FAANP

Dean/Director, MSN – AGPCNP & Non-APRN Programs</h4

Dr. George Peraza-Smith is a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). He obtained his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Case Western Reserve University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in nursing administration from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He has both a gerontological nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate from the University of South Florida and an adult nurse practitioner post-doctoral certificate from Brandman University.

Dr. Peraza-Smith is board-certified as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP), a gerontological nurse practitioner, an APRN gerontological specialist, and a certified nurse educator. He is the immediate past president of the Florida Nurses Association and the immediate past inaugural president of the Gerontology Nursing Certification Commission (GNCC) for which he remains a trustee on the board. The GNCC offers an APRN gerontological specialist certification to distinguish APRNs who possess expert knowledge, experience, and skill in managing the complex health needs of older adults.

Dr. Peraza-Smith has been teaching in MSN and DNP online and hybrid programs for over 10 years. He has held academic leadership positions such as professor, program director, department chair, and associate dean. Dr. Peraza-Smith resides in Zephyrhills, Florida with his husband and two children.


Is there a waitlist for the program?

No, there is no waitlist to start the online DNP program.

How long does it take to get a DNP degree?

WCU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice online program makes it possible to earn your doctorate degree in nursing in as few as 20 months.

Can I get a DNP degree online?

WCU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program consists of online coursework and on-site experiential learning. Students are encouraged to work with a DNP-prepared nurse as a preceptor to guide the research process.

Does the DNP program prepare me to be an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)?

The WCU DNP program helps prepare graduates for a terminal degree focused on clinical practice leadership and does not prepare advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) for roles as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, or certified nurse anesthetists.

Will I be able to complete my degree if I am working?

Our DNP program is designed to be flexible. Even though we set deadlines for assignments, you do have flexibility for when you will complete your work, whether that’s in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, weekdays or weekends. Online coursework gives you the freedom to complete your DNP degree around your schedule!

Does WCU accept clinical hour transfer credits?

WCU can evaluate your previous experience for acceptance. Transfer of clinical hours for prospective students is on a case-by-case basis. Your admissions advisor can help evaluate how many of graduate clinical credits qualify for transfer, if any.

How will WCU’s DNP program prepare me for executive and leadership roles in healthcare?

Our DNP program helps you build the skills needed to lead healthcare teams, manage projects, and promote safer and more efficient healthcare delivery at the macro level. You’ll benefit from a combination of both didactic online learning and on-site experiential learning, which you will complete through a translational DNP research project carried out at a partner practice site.

Is a DNP the same as a nurse practitioner?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the most advanced academic degree that can be earned in the nursing field while a nurse practitioner (NP) is an occupation title. To become a nurse practitioner, you must be licensed as a registered nurse (RN), have a bachelor’s degree, complete an NP-focused master’s program or doctoral nursing program, and pass a national nurse practitioner board certification exam.2

The DNP degree at WCU degree does not prepare you for nurse practitioner certification. Rather, many prospective and existing nurse practitioners pursue DNP degrees in order to advance their education, develop leadership skills, and improve on their service to patients in their communities.

How up-to-date is WCU’s DNP program?

We have updated our program to reflect the latest recommendations for best practices in DNP education by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). We incorporated AACN’s recommendations into our program curriculum, adding instruction and coursework related to subject matter such as policy and legislation issues, finance and business, social media training, and more.

Is financial aid available?

Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available for those who qualify. A few of the grants and scholarships that are available at WCU include the Alumni Pathway Grant (covering as much as 20% of tuition), the WCU Health Services Grant (covering as much as 10% of tuition), and the WCU Performance Scholarship (covering as much as 15% of tuition). For more information and eligibility criteria, please see the online division scholarships and grants page of our catalog.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at West Coast University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 655 K Street, Suite 750, Washington DC 20001, (202) 877-6791 (

1 WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment.

2 American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “The Path to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)” November 10, 2020

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.