Northwestern's Doctor of Nursing Practice program receives HLC approval

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Northwestern's Doctor of Nursing Practice program receives HLC approval

February 13, 2017

DNP logoNorthwestern Oklahoma State University received notification on Jan. 30 from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) that its Institutional Actions Council has approved the university’s request to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, the final piece needed to offer its first doctoral-level program.

Because the DNP program represents a change in the institution’s function, approval from the Commission was required.

“I want to offer my congratulations to the academic leadership of Dr. Bo Hannaford (vice president for academic affairs) and Dr. James Bell (associate vice president for academics and dean of faculty), and to Dr. Shelly Wells (associate professor of nursing and chair to the Division of Nursing), Dr. Pat Thompson (DNP program director) and the faculty of the Division of Nursing,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said. “All have spent a considerable amount of time seeking HLC approval of the program and preparing for the arrival of the first class this fall.

“I also want to again express the University’s appreciation to the Charles Morton Share Foundation and the Wisdom Family Foundation for their support that made the DNP program a reality. This program presents an enormous opportunity for Northwestern to impact the access to quality primary health care in our region.”

Northwestern is one of only two public universities in Oklahoma to offer a DNP program. The program is a practice-focused doctorate, rather than the traditional research-focused doctorate. This online, accredited program will prepare DNPs who can become certified Family Nurse Practitioners in their home communities and surrounding areas without first earning a master's degree. The curriculum consists of 73 credit hours and 1,020 practicum hours. Students may enter on a full-time (three-year plan) or part-time (four-year plan) basis. Additional plans may be considered on an individual basis.

It is currently accepting applications for the inaugural class that will begin study in August. The application deadline is March 20.

Admission requirements and an application packet can be found at Tuition and expenses for the doctoral program can be found at this link as well.

“Now is an exciting time to become a family nurse practitioner in Oklahoma,” Dr. Shelly Wells, associate professor of nursing and chair to the Division of Nursing, said. “Adding the DNP allows Northwestern to address the national need identified by the Institutes of Medicine's Future of Nursing Report’ calling for an increase of doctorally-prepared nurses. Nurse practitioners are well-respected primary care providers, and the state of Oklahoma has a great need for many more as access to health care continues to change. We are pleased that Northwestern and the Division of Nursing will be making a positive impact on the health of citizens in rural Oklahoma with the addition of graduates of the DNP-Family Nurse Practitioner program.”

For questions, please contact Thompson at or (580) 327-8566.