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Doctor of Nursing Practice Program - Online

100% Online, Built for Working Professionals

Summer 2024 Start Date

Our post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a practice-focused doctoral program designed for advanced practice nurses, community health nurses, and nursing administrators seeking to advance their careers as experts in translating research into practice.

The DNP Program prepares graduates who will practice nursing at the highest level of their specialty and will be employed in various patient care settings including primary care settings, hospitals, public health agencies, home health, and community-based settings.

Virtual Open House

Wednesday, August 7: 5-6:30pm

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

Register Today




Thank you for your interest in Western Carolina University’s fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Our post-Master’s DNP degree is a practice-focused doctoral program designed for advanced practice nurses, community health nurses, and nursing administrators seeking to advance their careers as experts in translating research into practice.

The DNP Program prepares graduates who will practice nursing at the highest level of their specialty and will be employed in various patient care settings including primary care settings, hospitals, public health agencies, home health, and community-based settings. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the terminal practice degree in Nursing, and builds upon the student's current knowledge of clinical practice. The DNP program educates nurses prepared in advanced practice nursing roles (NP, CRNA, CNL, CNM, and CNS) or health systems/organizational leadership in clinical inquiry, scholarship, policy, and innovation in health care. The DNP doctorate prepares graduates to analyze systems of care and provide transformational leadership to improve patient safety, quality of care, and implement evidence-based, culturally-competent, and inclusive-care practices.

Why choose our DNP program?

  • Convenient 34 credit hour program of study
  • Flexible, fully online program
  • Access to dedicated expert DNP faculty with experience in advanced clinical practice, scholarship, and research
  • Continuous and personal academic advisement and support
  • Hands-on and individualized practice integration experiences
  • Full-time program option over a minimum of 4 semesters
  • Part-time program option over a minimum of 7 semesters
  • Participation with interprofessional courses
  • Academic writing and health science librarian support

If you are interested in becoming an innovative nursing leader at the highest level of preparation in nursing practice within our evolving and complex health care system our program may be the right choice for you.

  • Analyze and integrate evidence from nursing science with evidence from other relevant scientific disciplines to form a scientific foundation for advanced practice in nursing
  • Apply clinical scholarship, scientific evidence, and analytical methods to improve health care outcomes 
  • Develop and evaluate systems to enhance safety and quality of health care
  • Advocate and participate in collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes at the practice/organization, community, state, and national levels. 
  • Engage in culturally-competent and ethically-sound advanced nursing practice 
  • Demonstrate leadership in the improvement of patient outcomes and transformation of health care delivery  
  • Directly manage the complex problems of clients/populations and systems to facilitate access and navigation of the health care system to improve health outcomes

The DNP requires 34 credit hours of coursework and completion of a total of 1,000 clinical practice hours (includes 500 from MSN program).  

DNP Curriculum.

Students will complete a DNP Scholarly Project during their clinical residency courses. The DNP Scholarly Project brings together the practice and scholarship aspects of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. It is designed to address complex practice issues that affect groups of patients, health care organizations, or health care systems while utilizing informatics, technology, and in-depth knowledge of the clinical and behavioral sciences. The clinical scholarship required in the DNP Scholarly Project reflects mastery and competency in the student's area of expertise.

The DNP Scholarly Project begins in the second semester of study and continues throughout the program, culminating in a scholarly defense and manuscript. The DNP Scholarly Project requires students to demonstrate expert practice, the use of evidence-based practice, translational research, and use of skills necessary to lead interdisciplinary teams to improve patient/client outcomes and health status individually, organizationally, or within a community.

Students may choose to complete the required 500 clinical practicum hours in a private practice, clinic, inpatient unit, hospital system, or other institution or community. These hours will be a component of the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of outcomes of the DNP Scholarly Project.

The Final DNP Project provides an opportunity to integrate new skills into practice and to demonstrate the principles of nursing scholarship and the competencies delineated in the DNP Essentials. The integration of these new or refined skills improves outcomes through organizational and systems leadership, quality improvement processes, and the translation of evidence into practice.

DNP Projects:

  • Focus on a change that impacts healthcare outcomes either through direct or indirect care.
  • Demonstrate implementation in the appropriate arena or area of practice.
  • Include a plan for sustainability (e.g. financial, systems or political realities, not only theoretical abstractions).
  • Include an evaluation of processes and/or outcomes. DNP Projects should be designed so that processes and/or outcomes will be evaluated to guide practice and policy. Clinical significance is as important in guiding practice as statistical significance is in evaluating research.
  • Provide a foundation for future practice scholarship

The next start date for the Post-MSN DNP is officially Summer 2023.

Applications will be accepted through April 1st to start in Summer of 2023. Admission requirements include:

  • Earned an MSN or applicable graduate degree in an advanced nursing practice specialty from a nationally accredited program
  • Applicants with a master's degree in Nursing Education are welcome to apply
  • Overall GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program
  • Current RN licensure in the U.S. at the time of application with eligibility for NC licensure
  • For Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNS), evidence of current national certification and fulfillment of state requirements for practice in their state of licensure
  • An essay that addresses advanced practice expertise, career goals, how earning the DNP degree will foster achievement of these goals, and plans for a DNP project
  • Resume/curriculum vitae
  • Three professional recommendations (should address the practice capabilities of the candidate)
  • For international students, submission of TOEFL scores with a minimum score of 557 for the paper test and 220 for the computer test
  • Evidence of 500 supervised/precepted clinical hours or documentation of one of the approved national certifications listed below
  • Additional evidence for consideration may be uploaded to the online application (e.g. publications, posters, evidence-based practice projects)

Applicants must submit a complete, notarized Clinical Hours Documentation form with the Graduate School application or provide documentation of completed clinical hours with university letter head from program director. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNS) must provide documentation that they have received one of the approved national certifications listed below. Students with less than 500 hours should request a meeting with the DNP Program Director to develop a clinical plan. Acceptable national certifications include:

  • AACN or AANP National certification as a Nurse Practitioner in specialty
  • NBCRNA as a Nurse Anesthetist
  • AONE Certification in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP)
  • ANCC Nurse Executive-Advanced
  • ANCC Clinical Nurse Specialist in specialty
  • CNC as a Clinical Nurse Leader

The DNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Following CCNE Standards for Accreditation of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs (2018) and the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006), the program admits students with an area of practice specialization within the discipline, not the process of teaching.  Therefore, candidates with a Master's degree in Nursing Education are not eligible for the DNP program unless they are pursuing a specialized nursing practice role as part of their DNP education.

Visit the Graduate School website to create an online graduate program application.

For tuition and fees, see the current University Tuition and Fees

DNP Student Handbook

Current copies of the Scholarly Project Guidelines and Clinical Expert Handbook can be found on the School of Nursing Student Resources website.

Angie Trombley


Program Director:
Angie Trombley, DNP, APRN, PMHNP/BC
Assistant Professor

28 Schenck Parkway, Suite 303
Asheville, NC 28803
Phone: 828.654.6510


Area of Expertise: Child and Adolescent Mental Health  

Areas of Research Interest: Adolescent Substance Abuse Screening in Primary Care, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Health Care Disparities

Dr. Trombley is a native of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England. She began nursing studies at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, England. Immigrating to the United States, she continued her studies and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Excelsior College in New York State where she earned her Associated Degree in nursing becoming a Registered Nurse. She went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Excelsior College earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 2008. She then earned a Master’s of Science in Nursing from University of Missouri in 2011. She became Board Certified as an Adult Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in 2011. From there, Angie continued nursing studies at University of Missouri, attaining a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2013. She has subsequently Board Certified by the American Nursing Credentialing Center as a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, allowing her to care for psychiatric populations across the lifespan.

Dr. Trombley has extensive teaching experience and has served as adjunct professor at the University of South Alabama in the Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program. She has also served as a full time clinical assistant professor for the Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, at East Carolina University. She has proudly served in the United States Air Force as a Reserve Officer, attaining the rank of Captain as a commissioned officer in our military. While in service she was the mental health program officer in charge and coordinator. Dr. Trombley serves as the Vice Chair of the North Carolina Nurses' Association Psychiatric Council. She is a Member of American Psychiatric Nursing Association, The American Nurses Association, The International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses, and the National League for Nursing. Angie is married with four children, and lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Outside of academia and clinical practice, her interests include hiking, gardening, and spending time with her family.

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