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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice/Master of Public Health Nursing (DNP/MPH) Dual Degree Program

Program Overview


​The DNP/MPH affords nurses the opportunity to achieve the highest level of nursing practice education in public health, while concurrently earning a master of public health (MPH) degree from the Colorado School of Public Health. Electives in the MPH degree program will allow students to tailor course work to their interests.

The dual degree program prepares nurses for public health leadership roles (see Pathways) and is the option for:
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), that is, nurses who have a master’s degree in a clinical nursing specialty other than public/community health nursing.
  • Nurses who have a BS in nursing as their highest degree.
  • Nurses who have a master’s degree in public/community health nursing.




There are four pathways to the Doctorate of Nursing Practice that specializes in public health. The pathways are differentiated by the applicant’s professional preparation:

  1. For applicants who hold a master’s degree in public health nursing or community health nursing, admission to either the DNP-Public Health Nursing program or the DNP/MPH dual degree program is appropriate. Participants in the dual degree program acquire greater depth of knowledge in public health science than those in the DNP-PHN, as reflected in comparison of the two curricula. (Compare with DNP-PHN)
  2. For applicants with a BS in nursing and a master of public health (MPH), the DNP-Public Health Nursing program offers doctoral preparation in public health nursing. Additional course work and/or clinical practicum hours beyond those described in the DNP-PHN curriculum may be required. View the DNP-PHN page for more information.
  3. For applicants who are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in a clinical nursing specialty (other than public/community health nursing), the DNP/MPH dual degree is the appropriate program. Additional coursework and/or clinical practicum hours in advanced public health nursing may be required for those without graduate nursing education in PHN. 
  4. For applicants whose highest degree in nursing is a BS, and who do not have an MPH, the DNP/MPH dual degree is the appropriate program. Additional clinical practicum hours beyond those described in the dual degree curriculum may be required.

Nationwide, award of the DNP requires 1,000 post-baccalaureate academically-supervised clinical practicum hours and achievement of master’s competencies as defined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Your transcript will be evaluated to determine the coursework and number of credits/courses in Public Health/Practicum attained prior to entry in the program. 


View the DNP-MPH Dual Degree Program Plan.


All didactic courses are offered online.

Practicum Note: Students must complete 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours before graduating with the DNP degree. Students who do not hold a Master’s degree in Nursing and cannot document 500 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours will be required to supplement their DNP program by enrolling in 1-12 additional credit hours of Public Health Nursing practicum.​

As a part of the DNP Capstone series of courses, all DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH students are required to complete practicum credit hours in public/community health settings. Practicum experiences for out-of-state students must be negotiated among course instructors, students, and their program advisors to best fit the learning needs and professional goals of the student. For Colorado students, the majority of current practice sites are in local and state, community-based agencies, including public health departments. Many of the sites serve the most vulnerable populations in Colorado. 

As established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006), a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised academic post-baccalaureate practice is required to achieve learning objectives associated with the DNP Essentials and specialty competencies. CU College of Nursing DNP curricula, including the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH, are based on the expectation that the first 500 hours are accomplished in master’s level nursing education. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses and other applicants who cannot document 500 post-baccalaureate academically-supervised clinical practicum hours will be required to supplement their DNP program by enrolling in additional (1-12) credit hours of advanced Public Health Nursing practicum to complete the balance of the full 1,000 practicum hours.


DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH dual degree students will work with a nationally and internationally recognized faculty. Renowned for mentoring and expertise in research, scholarship, and service, the College of Nursing faculty is dedicated to expanding and imparting nursing knowledge through empirical research and application of evidence to practice.

Lead faculty for the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH programs at the College of Nursing are:

Project Director, Marilyn Krajicek, EdD, RN, FAAN

Scott Harpin, PhD, MPH, RN, PHCNS-BC

Kathy Shaw, DNP, RN, CDE

The faculty have made significant contributions to public health, interprofessional education, disabilities and chronic conditions, parish nursing, and pediatric, adolescent, and adult health. For more information about the faculty’s clinical and research interests, visit and review the College of Nursing faculty pages and bios.

​ Learn more about the progam faculty with this video​.

​How is the DNP with a Public Health focus different from the current (general) DNP program?

The College offers the DNP for clinical advanced practice nurses working in primary care settings. The DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH dual degree programs offer a population focus in public health nursing specialization. Much of the coursework in the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH programs is interprofessional, including Colorado School of Public Health core courses. Also, this specialized public health nursing programs add the option of permitting the student to conduct a program evaluation capstone, in lieu of quality improvement projects.


Does the program offer distance learning? 

All didactic courses are available through distance technologies. Practicum courses may be arranged locally in consultation with program advisors, course instructors, and local preceptors. There may be on-campus classroom sessions when the student begins the capstone series (NUDO 6052).


Do I need to be an APRN to apply for either of these programs?

No, you need not hold a certification in an APN specialty area to apply for these options. Please refer to the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH Pathways tabs for clarification.


Will I be an APRN upon completion of one of these programs?

The DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH programs prepare graduates to be certified as Advanced Public Health Nurses (APHN) through the American Nurse Credentialing Center.  Dual degree graduates may also sit for certification in Public Health through the National Board of Public Health Examiners.


How long does it take to complete the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH programs and what are the credit requirements of each?

Please refer to the sample plans of study for estimated timeframes for completion of the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH programs as a full- or part-time student. Full-time status at the University of Colorado is a minimum of 5 credits. Students may opt to take a heavier course load than is depicted in the sample full- and part-time program plans to complete the program more rapidly.


Are there both part-time and full-time options available?

Yes. Both dual degree programs offer a part- and full-time option.


Must one live in Colorado to take part in this program?

No. Residents of other states may seek admission to this program. Out-of-state tuition applies to those who are not Colorado residents. However, the CU College of Nursing DNP program is approved by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) so that permanent residents of 15 other western states may be eligible for doctoral education in Colorado at the in-state tuition rate. (WICHE states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.) See


Where are graduates finding jobs and what percentage have job offers at the completion of their studies?

First admissions to the program occur in summer semester 2014. Alumni employment data are not yet available.


When does this program start? What is the admission cycle?

Application to the College of Nursing for either the DNP-PHN or the DNP/MPH program must be completed by Feb 15. In 2014 only, study in open courses may commence upon acceptance (May-June start dates) or fall 2014. Thereafter, admissions are for the academic year starting in the fall of the year.


Can I take classes before I am formally admitted?

Yes. Please contact program staff to find out how to enroll as a professional development or continuing education student nondegree student under professional development. More information about that special registration may be found here.


Where do I apply?

Applications to the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH begin at the CU College of Nursing with an application to the DNP program. Applicants are encouraged to identify interest in the DNP-PHN and/or DNP/MPH in the first sentence of the required essay. CSPH requires recent GRE scores for those who do not hold a graduate degree. College of Nursing Admissions staff will collaborate with CSPH Admissions staff to ensure a seamless process for dual degree applicants. A team of faculty from both schools will review applications as a part of the dual admissions process.


Do I need to submit GRE scores as part of my application?

The CU College of Nursing does not require GRE scores for admission to the DNP program. For applicants for the DNP/MPH dual degree program, official GRE scores must be submitted to meet CSPH requirements. The CPSH does not currently have a minimum score requirement. The average scores of the accepted applicants for the Fall 2013 semester were: 153.5 Quantitative and 155.8 Verbal. The MCAT, DAT, LSAT, PCAT or GMAT may be substituted for the GRE. If the applicant holds a graduate level degree from an accredited U.S. institution, the GRE may be waived.


Why should I consider a nursing program at the Anschutz Medical Campus?

Although both the DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH dual degree programs are available online, students may elect to take coursework onsite at the Anschutz Medical Campus, which is located in Aurora, Colorado, adjacent to Denver.  The campus is home to several health profession education institutions, including the CU College of Nursing, and is the CU site of the collaborative Colorado School of Public Health. The campus offers many new facilities with state-of-the-art technology and is home to two (soon to be three) Magnet Hospitals. Prospective students are invited to explore the campus website at


What is the DNP Capstone Series?  

The DNP Capstone Series is a sequence of four courses (NUDO 6052 Context of Practice, Population and Patient Management; NUDO 7018 Clinical Evaluation Proposal; NUDO 8010 Leadership Role Residency; and NUDO 8018 DNP Capstone Clinical Evaluation Project). The courses focus student efforts on a final project as the culmination of the DNP education. In the series, the student identifies, develops, and implements a project that addresses a systems-level practice or patient issue.