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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice-Public Health Nursing (DNP-PHN)

Advanced Public Health Nursing Degree – Program Overview

The DNP-PHN program prepares students for nursing leadership roles in public and community health settings, with particular emphasis on prevention and management of populations with multiple chronic conditions.
The DNP-PHN degree is ideal for:
  • Nurses who have a BS in Nursing (or BSN) and MPH.

  • Nurses who have a BS in Nursing (or BSN) and MS in public/community health nursing.

  • Nurses who have a BS in Nursing (or BSN) and current ANCC certification as an Advanced Public Health Nurse (APHN-BC) (requirements may viewed here).

Consider the DNP/MPH degree if you have a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and MS in a nursing specialty other than 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 of Public/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/MPH)
  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.
  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 course work and/or clinical practicum hours in advanced public health nursing may be required for those without graduate nursing education in PHN. View the DNP/MPH page for more information.
  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. View the DNP/MPH page for more information.

Practicum Note: Students must complete 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours to graduate with a DNP degree. Individual assessment of post-baccalaureate clinical hours will determine whether additional clinical practicum hours are required. 


* All required didactic courses are offered online.

** Practicum Note: Students must complete 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours to graduate with a DNP degree. Individual assessment of post-baccalaureate clinical hours will determine whether additional clinical practicum hours are required. 


Download the full Course Outline here​

As a part of the DNP Project series of courses, all DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH students are encouraged 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. 

Practicum Note: Students must complete 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours to graduate with a DNP degree. Individual assessment of post-baccalaureate clinical hours will determine whether additional clinical practicum hours are required. 

Students work with a nationally and internationally recognized faculty from both CU’s College of Nursing, which is ranked in the top 10 online nursing programs nationwide,* and the Colorado School of Public Health.

Renowned for mentoring and expertise in research, scholarship, and service, our faculty teaches nursing founded on empirical research and evidence-based practice.

Lead faculty have made significant contributions to public health, interprofessional education, disabilities and chronic conditions, parish nursing, and pediatric, adolescent, and adult health.

Lead faculty:

Project Director, Marilyn Krajicek, EdD, RN, FAAN

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

Kathy Shaw, DNP, RN, CDE

Learn more about lead faculty’s clinical and research interests.

*U.S. News and World Report, 2014​​


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

The DNP-PHN and DNP/MPH dual degree programs combine coursework from CON and the CSPH, making it one of the first interdisciplinary programs of its kind in the U.S. Coursework in our traditional DNP program is primarily within the College of Nursing, with a focus on advanced clinical practice.  Also, the DNP/MPH and DNP-PHN programs include options for students to conduct program evaluation or quality improvement Projects.

Does the program offer online, distance learning? 

Yes.  All didactic courses are available online.  Practicum courses may be arranged locally in consultation with CU program advisors, course instructors, and local preceptors. There are four on-campus classroom sessions when the student begins the DNP Project 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 APRN specialty area to apply for these options.  Please refer to the Pathways tab for more information.

Will I be prepared as an APRN by completing one of these programs?  

No, but dual degree and DNP-PHN graduates are prepared to sit for certification in Public Health through the National Board of Public Health Examiners and or Advanced Public Health Nursing Certification (APHN-BC) through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  

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

Please refer to the sample full and part-time plans of study for credits required and 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.  DNP/MPH

Do I need to be a Colorado resident to apply?

No, we consider applicants from inside and outside Colorado.  Out-of-state tuition applies to those who are not Colorado residents; however, residents of 15 other states may qualify for in-state tuition through the WICHE program

What types of jobs do graduates seek?

The program is designed to prepare students for careers in leadership positions in: public health programs; program development, implementation and evaluation; quality improvement; systems consultation; advocacy through policy development and analysis; and care coordination for multiple chronic conditions.

When are applications due?

Applications to the College of Nursing for either the DNP-PHN or the DNP/MPH program are due Feb 15 for fall semester of the same year, and July 1 for spring semester of the following year.

Can I take classes before I am formally admitted?

Yes, please contact Dr. Judy Campbell for advice on to find out how to enroll with non-degree/professional development status

How do I apply?

Complete a CU College of Nursing application to the DNP program by February 15 (fall admission) or July 1 (spring admission the following year). Identify interest in the DNP-PHN and/or DNP/MPH in the first sentence of the required essay.

CSPH requires recent GRE scores for admission to the MPH program; this requirement may be waived for individuals with a master’s degree from an accredited university. CON and CSPH staff work together to review applications and ensure a seamless process for dual degree applicants. (GRE scores are not required for application to the DNP-PHN program).

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

That depends on whether you apply to the DNP/MPH or DNP-PHN program. GRE scores are not required for admission to the DNP-PHN program. The CSPH does require official GRE scores for applicants to the dual degree program (DNP/MPH). If the applicant holds a graduate level degree from an accredited U.S. institution, the GRE requirement may be waived. The CPSH does not currently have a minimum score requirement. The average scores of the accepted applicants for a recent semester were: 153.5 Quantitative and 155.8 Verbal. The MCAT, DAT, LSAT, PCAT or GMAT may be substituted for the GRE.

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​, in Aurora, Colorado.   The campus offers state-of-the-art technology and is home to several health professions programs, including the CU College of Nursing, and the Colorado School of Public Health. 

What is the DNP Project Series?  

The DNP Project Series is a sequence of four courses that 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.

• NUDO 6052 Context of Practice, Population and Patient Management

• NUDO 7018 Clinical Evaluation Proposal

• NUDO 8010 Leadership Role Residency and

• NUDO 8018 DNP Project Clinical Evaluation Project