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

Advanced Public Health Nursing Degree


The DNP-PHN program prepares students for nursing leadership roles in public and community health settings.

DNP Public Health Focus Pathways

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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 clinical practicum hours beyond those described in the DNP-PHN curriculum may be required.
  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.

Clinical Experience

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 and Region VIII.

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.​​​​​​​​​