2015 DNP Mandate, What Does it Mean for Me?

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the now famous 2015 date issue. For those of you who are not familiar with this issue there is a target date of 2015 by which all Nurse Practitioners will need to be educated at the Doctor of Nursing Practice level and not the Masters (of Nursing) level. Many rumors are circulating about what this means and I would like to give you the facts – Julie Ossege, PhD, APRN, Director, MSN Program.

  • The 2015 date is a target date for all NPs to be prepared at the DNP level.
    It is a national mandate that is supported by all major national nursing and NP organizations. It is not a law, rule or licensing requirement at this time. No state has adopted a law stating an NP must have a DNP by 2015. Will this happen eventually? Yes, it will. We will keep you apprised of any changes in requirements.
  • Moving NP education to the DNP level is being done for several reasons –
    1. Educating Nurse Practitioners at the doctoral degree level is on par with other professional degrees. If you think about it, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, occupational therapists – all have professional doctorates. Nursing does not.
    2. The growing complexity of health care, constant growth in scientific knowledge, and technological sophistication have necessitated master’s NP programs to expand the number of didactic and clinical clock hours far beyond the requirements of master’s education in virtually any other field.  Many NP programs now exceed 60 hours. Can you imagine?
    3. The knowledge and skills required to provide leadership in the ever changing healthcare environment of today requires additional and different content than can be included in a Master’s degree. The overall goal of the course is “enhanced knowledge to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes” (p.8, AACN, 2004).
  • Schools across the country are in the process of creating curricula that will move NP education to the DNP level. In Kentucky a new law passed in the 2011 legislative session for KY schools to be able to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Many other states have similar legislation issues. This will take time.
  • At Northern Kentucky University, we have started the discussions about this issue and continue to work toward moving the NP curriculum to the DNP level. We do not have a date in mind at this point. There are no national mandates to move any other MSN level programs to the DNP level. We will keep you informed if we hear differently.
  • You will be kept informed regarding all of these issues as we move through this process.
  • Those of you currently in an NP track do not have anything to worry about!
    • If you are near graduation, when you graduate with your MSN NP you will have the ability to sit for certification and obtain a license to practice. The certifying bodies state all NPs educated at the Master’s level will retain the ability to practice as MSN NPs. There just will no longer be any NP educational programs at the MSN level. Of course we’d love to have you return to NKU in the post-masters DNP program!
    • When NKU starts NP education at the DNP level, I envision some sort of DNP transition opportunity for those of you not as far along in the program.

Bottom line: please do not fret about this. You all have your hands full enough without worrying about a date that may or may not prove to be a factor.

Our MSN program is pretty competitive. Last admission cycle we accepted about 45% of those who applied. Unfortunately we do not currently have any scholarships to offer. The KY Coalition of NPs and NMs have some, KBN has some, as do some other nursing organizations.

Visit our Online Open House for more information:


Other Useful Links:

Department of Advanced Nursing Studies

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


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