This article continues the exploration of thinking ahead in your upcoming career, perhaps taking your education to an even higher level by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Jill Kilanowski, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN, associate dean for Graduate Nursing Programs at MCCN, shared with us in the October, November and January issues of Carmel Rapper about the importance of students understanding their passion in nursing to discern which track of a master’s degree is the best fit. This month, students are invited to look even further ahead to understand the role and responsibilities of those who achieve the highest-level clinical practice degree in the field of nursing.

In October 2010 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing. In addition to recommending that by the year 2020, 80 percent of all nurses should hold at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the report further recommended that the number of nurses in the U.S. workforce who are prepared at the doctoral level should be doubled.

“This recommendation recognizes that advanced practice nurses who earn the DNP will be instrumental in transforming health care systems into those that are extraordinarily patient-centered, focused on wellness and population health,” Dr. Kilanowski says. “At the complex system level, care is based on data-driven, scientific evidence to assure quality patient outcomes,” she adds.

Dr. Kilanowski explains that students often ask about the difference between a DNP degree and a PhD, noting that the main difference is the DNP is a clinical practice degree, whereas the PhD is a research degree.

“As a practice degree, the DNP prepares nurses as innovative leaders in implementing evidence-based, cost-effective and collaborative health care solutions. The PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is focused on scholarly research and inquiry, and prepares nurses to move the science of nursing forward. Graduates with both doctoral degrees (DNP or PhD) may serve as faculty in various nursing programs.”

MCCN’s Online Doctor of Nursing Practice is available either full- or part-time. Full-time students complete 35 semester credit hours in three years over 7 consecutive semesters; part-time students complete the same, but in four years over 10 consecutive semesters. Candidates for admission to the program will already hold a graduate nursing degree and licensure and may have an advanced practice certification. Nurse educators are welcome to apply. For details and more information, please visit

Graduate Program at MCCN

Master of Science: MCCN’s fully accredited master’s degree program offers core classes online, with clinical classes taught face-to-face. The Master of Science (MS) degree is available in four tracks:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education - all online

Post-Master’s Certificate: In addition, professionals who already hold a master’s degree in Nursing may wish to take their careers to a higher level with a post-master’s graduate certificate in a focused field of study. MCCN offers certification through the same four track options. In addition, those Master’s-prepared advanced practice nurses who are employed in high acuity settings may be eligible for the accelerated AG-ACNP post-Master’s certificate that is offered online for two semesters.

Doctor of Nursing Practice: For those professionals who want to advance as innovative leaders in implementing evidence-based, cost-effective and collaborative healthcare solutions, while positively impacting outcomes for patient populations at the complex systems level, MCCN’s doctorate program is for them.

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