Before You Apply

Nursing Degree Requirements

For the Post-Baccalaureate path:
BSN, BAN, post-baccalaureate certificate, or entry-level Master of Nursing program from an accredited program.

  • Registered nurses without a baccalaureate degree in nursing should complete that degree before applying.
  • If you are not a nurse and have a baccalaureate degree in a major other than nursing, consider the Master of Nursing.

For the Post-Master's path:
BSN, BAN, post-baccalaureate certificate, or entry-level Master of Nursing degree and a master's degree in a nursing practice specialty, both from an accredited nursing program.

  • Nursing specialties associated with the master’s degree include APRN specialties (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist), nursing informatics, nursing leadership and public health nursing.)
  • Generalist or nursing education masters degrees do not qualify you for admission into the post-master’s DNP option. These applicants may consider the post-baccalaureate DNP option, which provides opportunity to petition for substitution of applicable graduate coursework for some courses.


  • Qualified applicants have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above for their most-recently obtained degree.
  • Applications will not be considered if their GPA falls below the minimum requirement.

GRE—Graduate Record Exam

The GRE exam is NOT required for admission.

Nursing License

  • Qualified applicants will hold a valid, unencumbered nursing license in the state in which they will complete clinical practicum courses.
  • Qualified applicants are asked to submit their RN License number and include the name of the state board of nursing that issued the license.
  • International nurses should submit a photocopy of a current RN license/registration from their home country.
  • International nurse applicants need to obtain a Minnesota license by the end of the second semester in residence. In addition, they must pass the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) exam, and the NCLEX exam in order to obtain a Minnesota license. International nurse applicants are encouraged to take the CGFNS exam in their home country prior to enrollment. For more information, contact the Minnesota Board of Nursing or call 612-617-2270.


The application includes essays. Because doctoral students are expected to express themselves and communicate in a logical and analytical manner, strong written communication skills are essential. Below are the competencies assessed when reviewing application essays including spontaneous essays that may be required to be written as part of the interview process:

  • Ability to present thoughts in a logical, sequential and analytical manner
  • Ability to clearly answer essay questions
  • Ability to use proper grammar and syntax

Curriculum Vitae/Resume

  • Current curriculum vitae (preferred) or resume complete with professional accomplishments and activities.

Professional References

  • Qualified applicants will provide three professional references - at least one must be from a current/former supervisor, nursing instructor, or someone who can evaluate the applicant’s nursing practice.
  • The references should attest to the applicant’s potential for success in the DNP program (including preparation, initiative, and aptitude), and commitment to the profession.

English Language Proficiency (if applicable)

  • Applicants whose native language is not English, will need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score at least 586 (written) 240 (computerized) or 95 (IBT). The School of Nursing will only accept TOEFL or MELAB exams taken within three years of the time of application. Information is available on the TOEFL Web site. If the TOEFL is not available in the applicant’s country, applicants must take the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery and score at least 85.
  • Applicants are exempt from taking the test if, within the past 24 months, they have completed 24 quarter credits or 16 semester credits in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States.

Professional Nursing Experience

  • For some specialty areas, applicants will need to have experience before admission to the program or prior to beginning practicum courses in the DNP program.
  • The Post-Baccalaureate Experiential Prerequisites document lists the experience requirements by DNP specialty.


  • If you meet application criteria based on an initial screening, you will be invited to participate in an interview as part of the application process.