What’s the difference
between a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a PhD?

From the American Association
of Colleges of Nursing 


Rebecca Boettcher
Director of Student Services

Casey Bauer
Sr. Academic Adviser

Nursing Student Services Office

Learn More


Change your career trajectory with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies.

UMKC’s Doctor of Nursing Practice is the highest level of nursing practice. This DNP program prepares nurses to improve overall healthcare by anticipating, adapting, and evolving to the dynamic challenges in present and future healthcare environments.  The DNP degree assists the students to become an active partner in improving healthcare outcomes, while participating in complex, dynamic, and demanding healthcare fields.  Skills in teamwork, collaboration, clinical innovation and evaluation, complemented by advanced nursing skills is essential preparation for nurses to become leaders in an ever changing healthcare climate.


Nurses prepared at the doctoral level can expect to receive a blend of clinical, organizational, economic, interprofessional and leadership training.  Students are taught to use advanced theory to impact daily practice. The practice-based doctorate gives graduates the tools necessary to translate evidence-based research into practice. Graduates are expected to function clinically at the highest level by evaluating outcomes based scientific research evidence, modify care to improve patient outcomes, and advance the delivery of healthcare.

Not sure if a DNP is right for you? UMKC has innovative, visionary faculty and well-established history in nursing education.  UMKC developed the first DNP program in the region, graduating the first DNP class in 2008. Not sure which emphasis suits your needs? Let UMKC help. The dedicated faculty at SoNHS can help you align your passion with one of our clinical tracks.

UMKC’s accredited doctorate program offers several diverse emphasis tracks on campus and online. Our online programs consistently rank among the best in the country, and is in the top 10 of the “most affordable” online graduate nursing programs per a recent recognition from U.S. News and World Report.

There are a variety of specialty tracks for BSN and MSN prepared nurses to advance their education.


The post-baccalaureate DNP curriculum is designed for registered nurses who have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a generalist (non-APRN) or nursing education focus.

Post-Master’s DNP

The Post-Master’s DNP curriculum is designed for nurses who have already earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree.  UMKC SoNHS offers three entry pathways in the Post-Master’s DNP program.


Post-Master’s Advanced Practice DNP

Appropriate master’s prepared nurses certified in Advanced Practice (APRN) roles to complete the DNP degree including certified Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, and Nurse Midwife.

Post-Master’s Advanced Practice DNP (returning for a Second NP role and DNP)

Appropriate for master’s prepared APRN nurses returning for coursework to obtain a second NP role along with the DNP.

Post-Master’s Leadership DNP (without advanced practice certification)

Appropriate master’s preparation can include Nursing Leadership (Administration), Nursing Infomatics, Public Health, Clinical Research Management, or others.  National certification in the area is preferred not required.

*Individualized plans of study are developed for students in this entry pathway depending upon prior coursework.

DNP Application Deadline:

All completed application materials are due by 5:00 pm on the following dates:

  • October 15 (for early decision/acceptance) to start coursework in January or June
  • Completed applications that are received between February 15th and March 27th will be reviewed and considered for the Summer or upcoming semesters.


Clinical Institute

  • Summer Semester: May 31st, June 1st, and June 2nd, 2017, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

DNP Options