Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Minnesota

A few short years ago, Minnesota had no institutions offering practice doctorates for nurses. Now there are six DNP programs located within the state. Why the change of policy and change of heart? Educational requirements for advance practice nurses have increased over the years, and so have the roles and duties of these vital practitioners. Once again, education is the catalyst for change.

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The AACN concluded a two year task force in 2004 with a recommendation that education programs for advanced practice nurses be transitioned to the doctoral level. They cited growing complexity in the healthcare world as well as an increasing body of technology and research that could be put to use. They believed that additional coursework could not only improve patient outcomes, but prepare nurses to be leaders and collaborators in healthcare reform.

Other organizations have come out in support of further education for nurses. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) has issued a position statement. They maintain that current education programs are preparing competent clinicians, but that the DNP does offer better preparation for the changing healthcare system. They further note that the degree better reflects the rigor of nurse practitioner programs. (The AACN had called attention to the fact that nurse practitioner programs had lengthened and included far more units than many other master’s programs.)

Accrediting bodies have also helped ensure that the DNP will become the new standard for advanced practice nursing. CCNE has made a show of support while stating that they will not deny accreditation to those that do not meet the AACN’s 2015 target date. AANA has also supported the goal of doctoral education, but set a 2025 implementation goal. Even so, schools like the University of Minnesota have begun offering nurse anesthesia programs at the doctoral level. This is good news for AANA. They had been evaluating both the need and the feasibility of doctorate degrees for a number of years.

Where are the DNP Programs in Minnesota and What’s the Curriculum Like?

There are currently four public Minnesota institutions and two private ones that offer Doctor of Nursing degrees. The four public institutions were working as a collaborative until recently, but are now focusing on their own separate programs.

A Minnesota student has the opportunity to enter doctorate training at either the post-baccalaureate or post-master’s level. There are a number of options available for students who do not yet have a specialty. These include standard nurse practitioner specialties like family care, and also some innovative options. The University of Minnesota offers a DNP program in Integrative Health and Healing. This particular program allows students to study functional nutrition and mindfulness-based stress reduction in addition to DNP basics like epidemiology and biostatistics.

Accredited programs follow the essential standards put forth by the AACN, but within this framework, there can be a surprising amount of variation. St. Catherine’s emphasizes social justice and places this value within the context of the Catholic tradition.

Programs typically conclude with a capstone project; this differs from a classic dissertation in that it involves translational research as opposed to original research. The capstone might take the form of a project evaluation or a pilot project. One of the 2009 graduates at Winona, for example, examined the relationship between vitamin C and muscle function among older adults who were in longterm care. Individual institutions may have different guidelines or place different restrictions. At St Catherine’s, DNP candidates are asked to focus on system change/ improvement.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Minnesota

Find nursing schools offering DNP Programs Online in Minnesota.

St. Catherine’s – St. Paul Campus

Contact Information:
2004 Randolph Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105
PH: 651-690-6572


College of St. Scholastica

Contact Information:
1200 Kenwood Ave
Duluth, MN 55811
PH: 218-723-6362


Minnesota State University – Mankato

Contact Information:
360 Wissink Hall
Mankato, MN 56001
PH: 507-389-6022


Minnesota State University – Moorhead

Contact Information:
School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
202 Murray Commons
1104 7th Avenue South
Moorhead, MN 56563
PH: 218-477-2693


University of Minnesota

Contact Information:
5-160 Weaver-Densford Hall
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
PH: 612-625-7980


Winona State University

Contact Information:
PH: 800-342-5978


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