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DNP Admission Requirements



Apply Early!

Please don't wait until the night before a program deadline to submit your application. You should apply before the earliest deadline of the program(s) that you are applying to. This will allow the necessary time to verify and process your application.

Please refer to the residency requirements for DNP program taken from our admissions page: DNP applicants without APRN licensure will need to reside in the tri-state area (TN, MS, AR) during their enrollment in the DNP program and complete clinical in those states. authorization.

Please Note: Applicants who meet the minimum program requirements are not guaranteed interview or admission.

Application Guidelines

Academic Preparation and Achievement

A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 based on all collegiate work is required to be considered for admission. The GPA calculation for the most recently completed degree is based only on grades earned at the degree-granting institution. Applicants may submit additional documents to demonstrate professional scholarship and leadership abilities that could make them more competitive.

Work Experience

The accreditation standards for Nurse Anesthesia and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner require that students admitted to these specialties have specific work experiences prior to admission.  Other concentrations do not have prior work requirements but all applicants are expected to fully understand and be able to speak to the full-scope advanced practice expectations of their selected specialty.

  • Admission to the DNP Nurse Anesthesia concentration requires a minimum of one year full-time, practice experience within the last 2 years as a registered nurse in the care of critically ill adults, children, or newborns in an intensive care setting. 
  • Admission to the DNP Neonatal Nurse Practitioner concentration requires a minimum of one year full-time, practice experience within the last 5 years as a registered nurse in the care of critically ill newborns, infants, or children in an acute inpatient setting.
  • The DNP Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner concentration gives preference to applicants who have a clinical background in caring for acutely ill children and their families. 
  • The Dual Concentration DNP programs – Adult-Gerontology Acute Care/Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health/Family Nurse Practitioner – represent very intensive learning programs. Prior work experience may be considered.
Personal Qualities

A holistic admissions process is used in the review of applicants seeking admission to the DNP Program. In addition to academic performance metrics such as GPA, various attributes are assessed using the following:

  1. Essay - The essay provides the College of Nursing Admissions Committee further insight into the professional goals, motivation, and expectations of the applicant and to evaluate written communication skills. Essay is administered through NursingCAS.

  2. Recommendation Forms - Applicants must submit at least TWO Recommendation Forms from doctorally-prepared nurses or faculty members who can address the applicant’s potential or ability for functioning as an APRN in the areas of clinical skills, critical thinking, independent decision making, leadership, and collaboration skills with other health professionals. ONE (1) academic and ONE (1) professional nursing work related reference are required. Applicants currently enrolled in a nursing program are required to submit at least one (1) Recommendation Form submitted by a faculty member in that program.

  3. Interview - All applicants must complete an online interview through KIRA in the NursingCas application to further assess their personal attributes. Nurse Anesthesia applicants must complete an in-person interview along with the KIRA assessment. Academic achievement, GPA ranking, previous experiences, and written essay submitted via NursingCAS are considered in determining who will be invited to interview. 
Part 1: The Application Process
Prospective students MUST apply to the DNP program through NursingCAS, a national nursing centralized application service endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Specific instructions are provided on the UTHSC NursingCAS Info page.
Part 2: Minimum Requirements for DNP Admission

The DNP applicant must:

  1. Submit official copies of transcripts for all college and university work to NursingCAS. Submit a copy of an unencumbered Tennessee RN license or have unencumbered authority to practice as an RN via the multi-state privilege at the time of application.** Accepted students must maintain an unencumbered RN license for the duration of their program.

  2. Have earned either a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university.

  3. Have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 based on all collegiate work.  Applicants may submit additional documents to demonstrate professional scholarship and leadership abilities that could make them more competitive.

  4. Students who were previously enrolled, but did not complete a nursing program, must submit a letter of good standing from the Director of the Nursing Program. Students dismissed from another nursing program are ineligible to apply to the UTHSC College of Nursing.

  5. Applicants are required to provide NursingCAS with the names and contact information of two (2) persons - one (1) professional and one (1) academic reference (preferably nursing) that address your potential as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse including clinical skills, critical thinking, independent decision making, collaborative skills with other health professionals, and leadership.

  6. Submit an essay through NursingCAS about how you expect earning the DNP will affect your future practice. 

  7. Provide evidence of having met the experience requirements for Nurse Anesthesia or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner concentrations prior to admission.

  8. Have ready access to a Web-connected, personal computer. Computer literacy and adequate computer skills are required.

  9. Provide evidence of having met the experience requirements for certain advanced practice concentrations (e.g., Nurse Anesthesia, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner) prior to admission.

  10. Demonstrate proficiency in the English language. All students matriculating at UTHSC must be proficient in the English language. Applicants will be required to present evidence of proficiency in English if their native language is not English. Evidence of proficiency in the English language is established through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum acceptable scores are 550 on TOEFL paper version, 213 on TOEFL computer version, and 80 on TOEFL web-based version. TOEFL scores must have been earned within two years prior to application for the current UTHSC program. Any application for exemption from the TOEFL examination requirement must be submitted before the application deadline to the Director for Student Affairs, (901) 448-6125.

  11. Complete a successful criminal background check and drug screen within 30 days of official acceptance to the program. Background checks may be repeated during the student’s program of study.

**Students currently enrolled in a BSN program are eligible for application. Proof of licensure is required prior to matriculation

Part 3: Official Transcript

Official transcripts from every college/university you have attended will be needed to complete your on-line application through NursingCAS. In addition, you will need to request that a copy of your transcript also be sent to NursingCAS for verification.

Transcripts from any non-U.S. institution must be sent to and verified by a NACES accredited agency, for example, the World Education Services (WES).

Part 4: Laptop Required & Essential Computer Skills
  • Must own a web-connected laptop capable of running modern software and streaming media including web-conferencing applications such as ZOOM.

  • Computer/web-based literacy skills including keyboarding skills are expected. DNP students are expected to be able to use the Microsoft Office suite including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Other software is specified in various courses.
Part 5: Native Tongue not English (TOEFL scores required)
  • Evidence of English proficiency is mandatory part of application process

  • Official minimum TOEFL Score earned within two (2) years prior to application to College of Nursing

  • Three versions of TOEFL: Paper-based Test (minimum score 550), Computer-based (minimum score 213), and Internet/web-based (minimum score 80).
Part 6: If Not a U.S. Citizen
  • Applicant must provide photocopy of immigration documentation showing “legal immigration status” (e.g., “Green Card”).

  • Copy of Immigration Status Doc.
Part 7: Fees

NursingCAS fees are $70 to apply for DNP admission. After acceptance, students are required to submit a Guaranteed Enrollment Deposit (GED). The GED is a non-refundable deposit due within 30 days of acceptance, is held in escrow and applied to the student’s first term of study. The GED for DNP Nurse Anesthesia students is $1,500. The GED for all other DNP students is $200.

Applicants must complete a successful criminal background check and drug screen within 30 days prior to enrolling in the DNP Program. The criminal background check and drug screen fee is $162 for accepted DNP students. Background checks and drug screens must be repeated throughout the student’s program of study.


Jan 31, 2024