Family Nurse Practitioner

The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program prepares you for a career in primary care. In many states, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho, a Family Nurse Practitioner can operate an independent practice, diagnosing and treating illness, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and initiating treatments. 

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The DNP-PMHNP prepares you to provide psychiatric and mental health services using a full scope of therapies. A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner assesses, diagnoses, and treats people with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders.

Population Health Nurse

The DNP Population Health degree (DNP-PH) prepares you to work in community health or public health, improving health care systems and population health. Health policy, epidemiology, and health promotion are core concepts of the program.

Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Post-Master’s DNP is focused on evidence-based practice, leadership, and research. This degree is for nurses who’ve already earned their master’s degree and want to advance their area of specialty or add a new specialty as a family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner or population health nurse.

We admit students once per year for fall term. Applications open Aug. 1

Application Deadlines

November 15, 2021

  • DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner tracks
  • DNP  – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner tracks

March 15, 2022

  • DNP – Population Health tracks
  • Post-Master’s DNP General track


DNP Student

Thomas Wright

“I love being a psych nurse, but I got to the point where I wanted to do more, to make more of the decisions about how my patients are cared for. I work full time, so I like the flexibility of the hybrid program. The instructors here are amazing. From an undergraduate until now, this school has given me a lot. ”

To apply, you’ll need to meet the following requirements


  • Post-baccalaureate DNP applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • Post-master’s DNP applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or another field AND:
    • A master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission OR
    • A graduate nurse anesthesia degree from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists OR
    • A graduate nurse-midwifery degree from a program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in a bachelor’s, and if applicable, master’s program
  • Written goal statement congruent with program’s philosophy and focus
  • Official transcripts from all previous college work


  • 1 year of full-time nursing practice preferred
  • Curriculum vitae or résumé
  • Students must hold a current, unencumbered RN license in each state or United States territory where practice or clinical experiences occur.
  • Vancouver DNP Students: Every effort is made to place you in a location which is convenient to you with a schedule that works with your current schedule; however, travel and adjustments to your schedule are often necessary. If you live in the greater Vancouver/Portland area, it is highly recommended that you hold a current and active license in both Oregon and Washington to open placement opportunities.
  • Oregon placements for DNP PMHNP students: We can do Oregon placements with the caveat that your first clinical course placement will likely need to be in Washington. The reason for this is that all placements in Oregon need to be approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN). For NP programs, the only acceptable preceptors are NPs and MDs. For your first clinical course, your preceptor will likely be a master’s prepared therapist, rather than an NP or MD because of the course requirement. The OSBN will not approve this specific preceptor, so we generally place in WA for this course. After the first course, you are free to be placed in Oregon.

International students are eligible to apply if they are eligible to obtain a current, unencumbered RN license in each state or United States territory where practice or clinical experiences occur. International applicants must meet general Graduate School international applicant requirements.


  • 3 letters of reference
  • Written interview
  • A telephone or in-person interview may be required in addition to the written interview

Additional Admission Requirements

For a complete list of nursing requirements for newly admitted students, visit our Admitted Students section.

DNP Program Course Work

BSN '14, MN '16

Christina Duncan

“What I get to do right now is absolutely transforming healthcare. The nursing model of care is meeting patients where they’re at, whether that’s providing care in the home to get them better, hospice initiations or comforting the family. It’s so much more than just providing medical care.”

Frequently Asked Questions about the DNP Program

What’s a DNP?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a clinical doctorate, versus the more researched-focused PhD. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends the DNP degree for nurses who want to work as Nurse Practitioners. In many states, including Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, Nurse Practitioners are licensed to operate a full, independent practice, with the ability to diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications.

The WSU College of Nursing offers these DNP tracks: post-baccalaureate DNP focused on Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP); and Population Health. The post-master’s applicant can choose to add a nurse practitioner specialty if they wish. Refer to our Admission Requirements for more information.

Which WSU College of Nursing campus sites offer the DNP program?

The DNP program is offered at WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, and WSU Vancouver. If you live outside of these locations and are interested in the DNP program, contact the graduate program coordinator for more information.

Is the program offered online?

The program is considered “hybrid” with most of the instruction offered online, and some required attendance in scheduled classroom time on your campus of registration. In-person class sessions are block-scheduled so that students can attend each of their courses in a 1-2 day block (for example class sessions might be scheduled Aug. 21/22)*.

*Some nurse practitioner courses require lab intensives that are scheduled separately from typical block scheduling.

How are classes delivered?

Class sessions are delivered by two-way, fully interactive videoconferencing, allowing for maximum interaction with the instructor and students from all participating campus sites.

What are the admission requirements for the DNP program?

Post-baccalaureate DNP applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program. Post-master’s DNP applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or another field and one of the following: a master’s degree in nursing, a graduate nurse-anesthesia degree, or a graduate nurse-midwifery degree. Applicants also must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in a bachelor’s, and if applicable, master’s program, provide a written goal statement, and official transcripts from all previous college work. (Degree programs must be accredited; for full information refer to the DNP Admission Criteria.)

How do I apply?

We admit students once a year for the fall term. Students apply online through the WSU Graduate School. Visit our Steps to Apply page for more information.

How many students are admitted each year?

Admission numbers are coordinated by specialty and by campus to ensure there are appropriate ratios between students and faculty. Typically, the FNP program admits approximately 50 students per year across all campuses, PMHNP 15 students per year across all campuses, Population Health 10 students per year across all campuses and post-MN 15 students per year across all campuses.

What does it cost to attend the program?

Visit the WSU Student Financial Services website for information on tuition and expenses.

Is the GRE required?

No, the GRE is not required.

Is an RN license required?

Yes. For U.S. residents, current Washington State RN licensure is required. International students are eligible to apply if they are eligible to obtain a Washington state registered nurse (RN) license, which must be obtained prior to enrollment in any clinical or practicum course. International applicants must meet general Graduate School international applicant requirements.

Can I complete my clinical hours where I work?

Clinical hours in the workplace follow strict requirements. You may complete clinical hours within the organization where you’re employed but not within the same unit or the same supervisory area, and no reimbursement may be given for practicum hours.

What is a DNP Project?

A hallmark of the DNP-prepared nurse is the ability to utilize the concept of practice inquiry to translate meaningful health research into practice. Students learn this process through the completion of a final DNP project. Students investigate an area of nursing practice, the health care delivery system, or a health care policy issue to develop a project meaningful to the organization as well as one that meets the scope of doctoral level work. DNP projects may take the form of quality improvement initiatives, practice change programs, program evaluation or translating evidence into practice. See examples of DNP student projects.

I want to get a master’s degree so I can take the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) exam sooner. Can I do that?

The College of Nursing offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree for students accepted to the nurse practitioner tracks (family nurse practitioner or a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner). With changes coming to our MN program, we will not be able to offer a master’s degree exit option for NP students admitted Fall 2018 or later. National organizations such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing support the completion of the DNP as the degree for entry to Nurse Practitioner practice.

I live in Oregon. Am I eligible for in-state tuition, or do I have to pay non-resident rates?

The Border Bill may be an option for Oregon residents in “bordering counties” attending either the Tri-Cities or Vancouver campuses. The state of Washington’s Border Bill allows Oregon residents who live in specified counties to attend WSU Vancouver and/or WSU Tri-Cities part-time (8 credits or less per semester) and pay resident tuition rates for the courses taken through these two WSU campuses only.  For further information and a border bill application, refer to the links below.

Tri-Cities Border Bill

Vancouver Border Bill

What should I include in my goal statement/statement of purpose?

Prepare a 500-word statement of purpose essay that you will submit on the CollegeNet application, that is well written, organized, and includes both your long- and short-term professional goals and how your goals fit with the health care needs of your community.

Are references required?

Yes. When you apply online, you will be required to provide contact information for three references. Your references will be contacted automatically through the online application system and asked to submit a recommendation form electronically; there is no need for a separate hard copy. We recommend your references include two faculty members in a nursing program you attended and a person from a work setting. Please contact references to ensure they are willing to respond to your recommendation request, and ask them to discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.

Where do I have my transcripts sent?

Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the application review process, but official transcripts will be required for all admitted students. Visit the requirements page on the Graduate School website for more information.

Who is the contact person at the College of Nursing if I have questions?


How can I reach the Graduate School if I have questions?

WSU Graduate School Admissions can be reached at or 509-335-1446.

I am currently enrolled in a graduate nursing program at WSU College of Nursing but want to change my degree program. Do I have to reapply to the graduate school online and pay the application fee again?

No, you do not have to apply online and pay the application fee again. If you are already a graduate student at WSU College of Nursing and want to change your degree plans, please submit the following materials: graduate program interview questions, statement of purpose addressing why you want to switch or continue and a current résumé to If you are already enrolled in a graduate nursing program at WSU College of Nursing and reapplied online and paid the $75 fee, contact Jenny Saligumba-Graham at to request a refund. Faculty will review your file for an admission decision. If they approve admission, you must work with WSU College of Nursing Graduate Program Office to complete and submit a Plan and Degree Level Change Form to the WSU Graduate School.

DNP Program Outcomes

All DNP students will meet the DNP Program Mission and Outcomes at the successful conclusion to their program:

“The Mission of the DNP program is to prepare nurse leaders who are experts in evidence-based practice to provide the highest quality health care for patients, families, communities, and populations.”

At the conclusion of the program, the DNP graduate will be able to:

  1. Apply biophysical, psychosocial, behavioral, sociopolitical, cultural, economic, and nursing science to improve health care practice and delivery systems.  (DNP Essentials I, V,  and VIII)
  2. Analyze organizational structure, functions and resources to improve the delivery of care. (DNP Essential II)
  3. Translate evidence-based research into practice to improve health care delivery and outcomes for all. (DNP Essential III)
  4. Use information systems/technology to support and improve patient care and health care systems.  (DNP Essential IV)
  5. Advocate for the nursing profession through the development, implementation and evaluation of health care policy. (DNP Essential V)
  6. Collaborate with other health professionals to improve health care access and health outcomes for individuals and populations. (DNP Essential VI)
  7. Advocate for ethical policies and practice that prevent illness, promote health and social justice, and reduce disparities for patient populations in urban, rural, and global settings. (DNP Essential V, VII)
  8. Apply advanced knowledge and skills within an area of specialized nursing practice. (DNP Essential VIII)

Students who are adding a specialty will also meet the outcomes of their specialty track:

Family Nurse Practitioner

  1. Translate and integrate evidence-based theory, clinical judgment, research findings and interprofessional perspectives into advanced nursing practice to improve outcomes for patients/individuals and families across the lifespan.
  2. Demonstrate ethical and critical thinking with diagnostic management and reasoning skills in the process of clinical decision making for patients/individuals and families across the lifespan.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of common acute and chronic physical and mental health concerns. Be able to utilize appropriate pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies to promote, and improve quality of life and promote death with dignity.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of health protection, health promotion, and disease prevention/treatment strategies to improve or maintain health.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

  1. Demonstrate competence in the use of theoretical approaches in individual, group and family therapy.
  2. Apply best practices in the selection and implementation of specific psychotherapeutic, pharmacologic, and preventative interventions.
  3. Differentiate mental health problems from psychiatric illness.
  4. Practice within the scope of legal, professional, and ethical standards of advanced psychiatric/mental health nursing.
  5. Develop and sustain therapeutic collaborative relationships with individuals, families, groups and other professionals.

Population Health

  1. Model and influence the values of the profession of nursing.
  2. Provide leadership in planning, implementing, coordinating, and evaluating health care delivery.
  3. Deliver culturally competent nursing and health care.
  4. Assume responsibility and accountability for enacting the role of an advance practice nurse within the scope of legal, professional, and ethical standards.
  5. Participate in the formulation of health policy appropriate to a diverse and multicultural society.