Joyce Scarpinato

Joyce Scarpinato, DNP, PPCNP-BC, FNP-C
Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies
Director, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Doctor of Nursing Practice FAQs

Click on a question to view the answer.

What is a DNP?

A doctorate is the highest level of preparation for nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a clinically-focused doctorate degree for nurses.

What is the difference between the DNP degree and the PhD degree?

The DNP is a terminal degree for those in clinical practice and in areas that support clinical practice, such as administration, organizational management, leadership and policy. The DNP prepares nursing practice scholars to translate evidence into practice to improve health care outcomes.

The PhD is also a terminal degree with a focus on developing new nursing knowledge and scientific inquiry through research.

Why should I get a DNP degree?

The changing demands of the nation's complex health care environment require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice experience possible. In The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that nurses prepared for advanced practice be at the doctoral level and include skills in organization, clinical, leadership and health care improvement. The DNP prepares advanced practice nurses to critique clinical scientific findings and design programs of care delivery that are relevant locally, economically feasible and have significant impact on health care outcomes.

What will the DNP program provide beyond my existing Masters degree?

DNP curricula build on current masters programs by providing education in key areas including evidence-based practice, population health, quality improvement, and systems thinking.

If I am currently a NP or a CNS, will I be required to get a DNP degree in order to continue practicing?

No, an advanced practice nurse (APN) with a masters degree will be able to continue to practice.

How much time will be required on campus?

The DNP program will be delivered online with minimal on-campus time.

Will I be able to work while in the DNP program?

Students will be taking approximately 6 credits a semester, which is considered part-time doctoral study. Students should be able to work full-time. Others may need to adjust their work schedule to meet their family and academic obligations.

How many credits are required to complete the DNP program?

The College of Nursing has been approved for a post master's DNP program that requires completion of 40 credits of course work. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also requires DNP students with training as Family Nurse Practitioners, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, and Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioners to complete 525 hours of clinical practicum by graduation.

How long does it take to complete the DNP program?

A master's prepared APRN can complete the program in 2 1/2 years of part-time study, approximately 6 credits per semester.

Is financial aid available to DNP students?

Financial aid is available to all College of Nursing students, including DNP students. For more information call: 315 464-4570.

Can my practice hours at work be counted towards the required DNP clinical practice hours?

No, clinical experience is designed to meet the purpose and objectives of the DNP program. Students will gain practice experience through clinical placements in interdisciplinary settings with an expert mentor. These experiences may be arranged to take place local to the student's place of residence.

Is a dissertation required?

No, the DNP degree requires a final scholarly project which is grounded in clinical practice and uses the principles of evidence-based practice and translation of research to impact practice. The DNP student will prepare an article related to their scholarly project for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

How do I access my courses with an online component?

Upstate Medical University uses Blackboard. To access this system and your courses, go to bb.upstate.edu and log in using the username provided for your Groupwise email account (the part before @upstate.edu). If you have questions about your username or password, please call our Upstate Helpdesk at 315-464-4115, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When do courses begin?

Courses begin officially on the first day of the term, unless otherwise stated in the course information in MyUpstate. Online courses go live (open for students to come in and get familiar with the course) one week before the official start date.Check the Academic Calendar online for start dates of each term.

Do I have to be online at a specific time?

Online courses are mostly asynchronous. However, your instructor may require that you participate in certain synchronous activities within a specific timeframe. There will be deadlines for learning activities, but the days of the week, and time of day you log in to participate are the times that are convenient for you.

Will I interact with my peers?

Often you will be engaged in activities that cultivate a sense of learning community. In addition to individual learning activities that will challenge you to learn and grow, you might encounter asynchronous discussions, group projects and team work that engages you with other learners.

Whom do I call with questions?

  • Questions about the DNP Program: Office of Admissions, 315-464-4570 or admissfa@upstate.edu.
  • Questions about Distance Learning: Distance Learning Office, 315-464-8561.

What if I have a complaint?

Students should attempt to resolve complaints with Upstate's College of Nursing faculty or the Program Director. The Upstate Student Handbook will address most situations and procedures. If this is unsuccessful, please contact Upstate's Office of Student Affairs at 315 464-4816. If you are out of state, please use this SUNY website External Icon  for further information.

If you are from out of state, and cannot resolve the complaint with Upstate Medical University, you may file a complaint with your state by referring to this SUNY website External Icon  for further information or to the list of State Agencies External Icon  developed by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) External Icon  in compliance with federal Department of Education regulations.