The Move to DNP


The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF), the preeminent national nurse practitioner faculty organization, announced on April 18, 2018 its commitment to moving all entry-level nurse practitioner (NP) education to doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree by 2025.

"Today, there are more than 300 DNP programs throughout the United States (AACN, 2018), and NONPF has led the evolution of NP educational preparation to the DNP degree level," the organization stated in its announcement. "NONPF maintains its dedication to all currently credentialed NPs and faculty members; however, we recognize that as the healthcare delivery system has grown increasingly complex, the role of NPs has evolved. The DNP degree reflects the rigorous education that NPs receive to lead and deliver quality healthcare."

Read NONPF's DNP statement

FAQ Regarding Decker's Move to the DNP

What is a DNP?

  • The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is a doctoral degree that prepares nurses with the knowledge and competencies for fully accountable care across settings and over time.
  • The DNP applies a model of comprehensive and continuous care.
  • The DNP prepares APRNs, who analyze and interpret evidence as the basis for healthcare choices; have knowledge about individuals' healthcare needs across the lifespan; and engage patients in a collaborative relationship in the provision of continuous, coordinated services that include health promotion, disease prevention and definitive disease management.
  • The DNP degree represents the highest academic preparation for nurse clinicians.

Why is Decker changing its NP education from a master's level to a DNP-level program?

  • This transition falls into accordance with a national movement in nursing education to push nurses toward higher levels of education:
    • On April 18, 2018, NONPF endorsed the DNP as the degree for NP education
    • In 2015, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recommended that advanced practice nursing education transition to the doctoral level.
    • The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that nurses achieve higher levels of education.
    • Nationwide, nursing is moving in the direction of other health professions in the transition to the DNP. Medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), pharmacy (PharmD), psychology (PsyD), physical therapy (DPT) and audiology (AudD) all require or offer practice doctorates.
    • In many educational institutions, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) — including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists —are prepared in master's-degree programs that often carry a credit load equivalent to doctoral degrees in the other health professions.
  • DNP curricula build on traditional master's programs by providing education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement and systems leadership, among other key areas.
  • The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. DNP-prepared nurses are well-equipped to fully implement the science developed by nurse researchers prepared in PhD, DNS and other research-focused nursing doctorates.
  • The DNP degree reflects the rigorous education that NPs receive to lead and deliver quality healthcare.

When will this transition take place?
The Decker School will admit its last cohort of NP students to its master's-level programs in fall 2019. The first cohort of students admitted to the DNP program will be fall 2020.

What specialty areas will Decker offer NP students?
Nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing can apply to Decker's DNP program in these areas:

  • Adult-gerontological health nurse practitioner
  • Family health with emphasis in community health nurse practitioner
  • Family health nurse practitioner
  • Family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

Will Decker offer any master's level programs after fall 2019?
Yes, we will continue to offer two master's-level programs:

  • Master's degree in nursing education 
  • Master's degree in nursing administration 

Will the licensing process for the new NP programs be different than it is for the MS programs?
No, graduates will still be licensed by New York state as nurse practitioners.

Decker's programs will meet all educational standards established by the AACN's Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006) and the NONPF Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs (2016), which are the standards for both these programs. Graduates will meet all qualifications to sit for national certification to become an NP (in their specialty area) upon completion of the DNP degree.

Is the DNP program open to nurse midwives?
Unfortunately, no, the Decker School doesn't offer nurse midwifery. We offer the DNP in four specialty areas: adult-gerontology, family health, family health with community health emphasis, and family psychiatric mental health.

Is the DNP program open to clinical nurse specialists?
At the present time, the only clinical nurse specialist (CNS) program Decker offers is the adult-gerontological CNS program.

How many hours is the DNP program?
The DNP degree includes 1,000 clinical hours that meet state and national requirements for APRN licensure and certification, as well as the competencies for the degree.

What is the cost for the DNP program?
Costs are provided on the Graduate School's costs and funding webpage. Note that the tuition rate is set by SUNY and is the same for all SUNY DNP programs.