Nurses and Nursing students

Doctor ofNursing Practice - Leadership

Program summary

Prepare for the highest level of clinical nursing practice with this professional, practice-focused online doctoral degree program. The DNP–Leadership degree has two entry pathways based on your previous education and nursing experience: directly from the B.S. in Nursing or post–Master of Science in Nursing.

Application deadline

Apply by March 1 to start May 13

Credits and costs

38–61 Credits$1,017 per credit

CCNE Accredited

This program is CCNE Accredited

A Doctoral Degree in Nursing from World Campus

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a professional, practice-focused doctoral degree designed to prepare highly qualified nurses to be leaders who deliver expert nursing care and ultimately improve health care outcomes. This degree is designed for you if you are a nurse who plans to continue in a practice role, and who has already earned a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing.

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership at Penn State

Providing quality nursing education since 1964, Penn State's Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, in partnership with Penn State World Campus, can help you update your knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the constantly changing health care field. Based on your previous education and nursing experience, the DNP–Leadership degree has two entry pathways:

  • post–Bachelor of Science in Nursing for nurse administrators
  • post–Master of Science in Nursing for nurse administrators and advanced practice nurses

Your Online DNP–Leadership Courses

Built on the DNP Essentials developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the curriculum will focus on the translation of research into practice, transformational leadership, and advanced expert nursing practice. To support these Essentials, your course work will also include nursing/change theory, foundations of advanced nursing practice, health policy, informatics, and population-based health.

Total credits required will vary depending on your educational background and the number of practicum hours you need to meet the requirement.

MSN to DNP entry pathway: 38–46 credits
BS to DNP entry pathway: 61 credits

While providing you with the convenience and flexibility of an online program, the online DNP–Leadership program will include the same rigor you would expect from a traditional doctoral-level nursing program. In order to properly prepare you for the highest level of clinical nursing practice, you will be required to attend in-person intensive sessions and complete other doctoral benchmarks, including your Qualifying Examination, Comprehensive Examination, and DNP project with an oral presentation.

As a student in the online DNP–Leadership program, you can expect to take at least two courses per semester in fall and spring, with additional courses offered during the summer semester. Students entering through the B.S. to DNP pathway will be considered full-time students and can expect to take at least three courses per semester in fall and spring.

The Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate programs at The Pennsylvania State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. Further information can be found at www.ccneaccreditation.org.

 

Courses

The core essentials of the online Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership (DNP–Leadership) program include translation of research into practice, transformational leadership, and advanced expert nursing practice. To support these essentials, other course work will include nursing/change theory, foundations of advanced nursing practice, health policy, informatics, and population-based health.

Depending on your educational background, the DNP–Leadership program has two entry pathways:

  1. Post–Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing for nurse administrators (61 total credits)
  2. Post–Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) entry for nurse administrators and advanced practice nurses (38–46 total credits)

The culmination of the program is an evidence-based practice project. The goal of your DNP project is to produce an actual, deliverable product that has originated from practice experience. You will identify a problem and use evidence-based research to develop a proposal to implement and evaluate a practice change initiative.

DNP–Leadership Entry Options

The online Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership (DNP–Leadership) program has two entry options:

  1. MSN to DNP — Curriculum will be composed of five components for a total of 38–46 credits. (Your total number of credits will depend on the number of practicum hours you need to meet the 1,000-hour requirement.)
    • DNP core courses: 15 credits
    • Other required courses: 17 credits
    • Advanced practice clinical: 0–8 credits (The number of required credits depends on the number of hours completed in your MSN program; if you have completed 550 hours, additional clinical practice hours are not required.)
    • DNP project requirement: 6 credits (minimum)
  2. B.S. to DNP — Curriculum will be composed of seven components for a total of 61 credits.
    • Master's core courses: 9 credits
    • Nurse administrator option courses: 13 credits
    • DNP core courses: 12 credits
    • Other required courses: 14 credits
    • Advanced practice clinical: 4 credits (needed to meet the 1,000-hour requirement)
    • DNP project requirement: 6 credits (minimum)
    • Electives: 3 credits

Practicum Hours

A total of 1,000 hours of post–B.S. practicum are required in the DNP–Leadership program. You may transfer 550 hours of practicum (if applicable) from the master's program. The remaining hours are accomplished through various courses in the DNP curriculum that include practicum hours as part of the course work. Practicum hour plans will be developed in consultation with the course faculty member and with the approval of the DNP faculty adviser. Development of the plans for practicum experiences begins with your admission to the program. The practicum planning process involves establishing a site affiliation agreement with the practicum site and identifying a preceptor(s). You will be responsible for identifying potential practicum sites and preceptors and working with the Assistant Dean for Online Education and Outreach at the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing to accomplish the affiliation agreement process. Some students choose to complete practicum requirements at their place of employment and other students identify alternate practicum sites. 

MSN to DNP Curriculum

DNP Core Courses (15 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the relationship of nursing theories to the development of nursing science, as well as current scientific advances that guide nursing practice and research.

  • 3
    credits

    Evaluation and translation of evidence-based research into nursing practice.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 830

  • 3
    credits

    Doctor of Nursing Practice transformational leadership to improve healthcare delivery and quality outcomes.

  • 3
    credits

    Doctor of Nursing Practice transformational leadership to improve healthcare delivery and quality outcomes.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 832

  • 3
    credits

    The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) project plan will be developed focusing on design, sample, data collection, projected outcomes, resourcing, plan for analysis, and sustainability. Students will collaborate with key stakeholders to build project support. Students will complete steps for Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission. The course includes 75 hours of required clinical practicum hours.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 830, NURS 831

Other Required Courses (17 credits)

  • 1
    credit

    Continuing seminars which consist of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers.

  • 1
    credit

    Provides the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to design and conduct ethically responsible social and behavioral health research.

    • Prerequisite

      Master of science degree

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores population health concepts, measurement, and application in practice, research, and policy. This course explores population health as a framework for improving health in society. Multiple determinants will be examined in relation to health status measurement, health and disease trends, and health disparities at a community, national, and global perspective.

  • 3
    credits

    This course provides a foundation in information systems and technology for improvement of health care.

  • 3
    credits

    Concepts of health care economics and policy for nurse administrators.

  • 3
    credits

    Develops research and quantitative methods related to the design and analysis of epidemiological (mostly observational) studies. Such studies assess the health and disease status of one or more human populations or identify factors associated with health and disease status. To a lesser degree, the course also covers non-randomized, intervention (experimental) studies that may be designed and analyzed with epidemiological methods.

  • 3
    credits

    Investigates methods for assessing data collected from experimental and/or observational studies in various research settings.

DNP Project (6 credits)

  • 2
    credits

    The Doctor of Nursing Practice project demonstrates clinical scholarship in an area of practice.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 831

    • Note

      This course will be repeated three times for a total of 6 credits.

B.S. to DNP Curriculum

Master's Core Courses (9 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Analysis and evaluation of the health care system with emphasis on health policy and economic issues affecting nursing practice.

  • 3
    credits

    Current conceptual and theoretical models in nursing, including relationship to practice and research in development of nursing science.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the relationship of nursing theories to the development of nursing science, as well as current scientific advances that guide nursing practice and research.

Nurse Administrator Option Courses (13 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Concepts of health care economics and policy for nurse administrators.

  • 3
    credits

    Concepts and theories of leadership for nurse administrators.

  • 3
    credits

    Human resource management and workforce issues for nurse administrators.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 846

  • 4
    credits

    Practicum in the application of the nurse administrator role in health care settings.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 845; NURS 846; NURS 847

DNP Core Courses (12 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Evaluation and translation of evidence-based research into nursing practice.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 830

  • 3
    credits

    Doctor of Nursing Practice transformational leadership to improve healthcare delivery and quality outcomes.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 831

  • 3
    credits

    Doctor of Nursing Practice transformational leadership to improve healthcare delivery and quality outcomes.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 832

  • 3
    credits

    The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) project plan will be developed focusing on design, sample, data collection, projected outcomes, resourcing, plan for analysis, and sustainability. Students will collaborate with key stakeholders to build project support. Students will complete steps for Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission. The course includes 75 hours of required clinical practicum hours.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 830, NURS 831

Other Required Courses (14 credits)

  • 1
    credit

    Continuing seminars which consist of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers.

  • 1
    credit

    Provides the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to design and conduct ethically responsible social and behavioral health research.

    • Prerequisite

      Master of science degree

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores population health concepts, measurement, and application in practice, research, and policy. This course explores population health as a framework for improving health in society. Multiple determinants will be examined in relation to health status measurement, health and disease trends, and health disparities at a community, national, and global perspective.

  • 3
    credits

    This course provides a foundation in information systems and technology for improvement of health care.

  • 3
    credits

    Develops research and quantitative methods related to the design and analysis of epidemiological (mostly observational) studies. Such studies assess the health and disease status of one or more human populations or identify factors associated with health and disease status. To a lesser degree, the course also covers non-randomized, intervention (experimental) studies that may be designed and analyzed with epidemiological methods.

  • 3
    credits

    Investigates methods for assessing data collected from experimental and/or observational studies in various research settings.

Advanced Practice Clinical (3-4 credits)

  • 1-4
    credits

    The focus of the clinical practicum is planning, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based interventions to address a healthcare problem.

    • Note

      1–4 credits per semester (maximum of 8 credits)

DNP Project (6 credits)

  • 2
    credits

    The Doctor of Nursing Practice project demonstrates clinical scholarship in an area of practice.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 831

    • Note

      This course will be repeated three times for a total of 6 credits.

Electives (3 credits)

Students can choose from a diverse list of online courses preselected by the program to satisfy this requirement.

DNP Project

The DNP project is an important aspect of the program. You and your advising team will meet prior to the beginning of the first semester to begin planning your DNP project. Project identification and development progress along with coursework will align with evidenced-based practice and quality improvement initiatives. You will present project related presentations at varying points during the program. Please see the Benchmarks section for more details. The culmination of the program is an evidence-based practice project. The goal of the DNP project is to produce an actual, deliverable product that has originated from practice experience. You will identify a problem and use evidence-based research to develop a proposal to implement and evaluate a practice change initiative.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete:

  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 1 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 1 to start January 13

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements

The decision to pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a serious one. It is highly recommended that you contact the program office to discuss your potential program of study with the program team prior to submitting your application. The online DNP program will be a rigorous, competitive program, and you should thoroughly understand the level of time and commitment that will be expected of you through the course of your studies.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or a postsecondary degree in nursing that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution. Students entering from the post-master's route must have earned a master's degree with a major in nursing from a program accredited by a national accrediting agency for nursing.

Applicants to the DNP–Leadership program must also have a current license to practice professional nursing in at least one state in the United States or a foreign country. You are also expected to have a grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) meeting the requirements for your track:

  1. BS to DNP: cumulative undergraduate GPA ≥ 3.5 and B+ or better on subsequent course work
  2. MSN to DNP: cumulative graduate GPA ≥ 3.5 and B+ or better on subsequent course work

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee.

You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

A copy of an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. Upon admission and your acceptance of admission, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

Statement of Purpose — You should submit a personal statement not to exceed 300 words, which should describe your relevant work experience; clearly articulated reasons for applying to the selected option; long-term goals or career aspirations; and other information that may be useful to the admissions committee.

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Please note that for entrance into a Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing graduate-level program, the minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 580 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 25 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 7.0.

References (3) —  obtained from academic and professional perspectives. If you completed college-level courses over the last five years, an academic reference is required. Other references should be from a nursing supervisor, preferably holding a degree higher than yours. You will need to initiate the referral process through the online application by entering names, email addresses and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, those individuals will each receive an email asking them to complete a brief online recommendation specifically regarding your commitment to the health care profession and potential for success in an online program. Please inform all references that they must submit the form for your application to be complete.

Program-Specific Questions/Materials

Vita — listing your professional experience and other qualifications

Writing Sample — A published or unpublished scientific paper, thesis, or other scholarly writing sample

Interview — You will be asked to participate in an interview, via Internet-based video conferencing or in-person

Start Your Application

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

* required1/3

I agree to be contacted via phone, email, and text by Penn State World Campus and affiliates. I understand my information may also be shared with select providers to offer ads that may be of interest to me.Privacy Policy. reCAPTCHA protected. Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Learn more about this program

Download Program Brochure All my programs

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State doctorate?

Apply by March 1 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Advance Your Career

A group of nurses sitting at a table together having a meeting

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.


Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Nursing Director
  • Nursing Instructor

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Medical and Health Services Managers

28.4%
employment growth (10 years)
476,750
total employment

Nurse Practitioners

44.5%
employment growth (10 years)
258,230
total employment

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

18.2%
employment growth (10 years)
69,190
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Doctoral Benchmarks

Learn about the benchmarks that you will be required to reach during the course of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

During the course of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, you will be required to reach certain benchmarks similar to those of a resident doctoral student: Qualifying Examination, Comprehensive Examination, and a Final Oral Presentation. Your doctoral committee will support you, monitor your progress, and evaluate your performance throughout the program.

Benchmarks

Qualifying Examination Portfolio

The qualifying portfolio review for DNP students will be used to evaluate your past performance and potential for successfully completing the program. Your portfolio will include: 

  • narrative statement/career goals
  • unofficial transcripts of all graduate study at Penn State completed prior to examination
  • DNP project plan

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination will mark your progression into your DNP project after the completion of appropriate course work. You will submit a written project proposal to your doctoral committee and do an oral presentation of your proposal at an in-person intensive session. Your proposal will include letters of support from the agency where you plan to implement your DNP project.

Final Oral Presentation

The final oral presentation marks your completion of the program and is administered by your doctoral committee. You will work closely with your faculty advisers throughout the program to successfully develop and implement your DNP project.

You will not be required to come to Penn State for this final presentation. The presentation will be done synchronously using video streaming technology. In addition, the public will be invited to view the presentation along with the doctoral committee. The public oral presentation of the project will be followed by a private session of questions and responses.

Intensive Sessions for the DNP–Leadership Program

Although your courses are online, you will be required to attend two separate in-person intensive sessions at the Penn State University Park campus or Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center during the program. These intensive sessions will provide you with the opportunity to interact in person with your doctoral committee, other faculty, and fellow students.

You will work closely with your academic adviser to determine your exact plan of study, but for full-time students, you can expect to meet in-person at the following times based on your pathway.

Intensive Session Times for Master of Science to DNP Pathway
Session When
Intensive I (Orientation) 3 days in August of Semester 1
Intensive II (Comprehensive Examinations) 4 days in February of Semester 2
Intensive Session Times for Bachelor of Science to DNP Pathway
Session When
Intensive I (Orientation) 3 days in August of Semester 3
Intensive II (Comprehensive Examinations) 4 days in February of Semester 4

Orientation

The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing will conduct an orientation to the DNP program. The purpose of the orientation is to help you become familiar with the program details and your academic advising team and to begin to identify a DNP project based on your area of interest.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can learn more about the application process, clinical and practicum locations, and what our courses are like right now.

Admissions Questions

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for application varies by program. See the “How to Apply” section of each program for specific dates. By that deadline, your application materials should be complete, including all transcripts and reference forms. Once your application is submitted, the references you have provided will automatically be sent an email with instructions on how to proceed. Please allow your references sufficient time to respond by the posted application deadline.

How much is the application fee? Is it refundable?

Please refer to the Penn State Graduate School website for general application questions or issues.

If I took a course or graduated from Penn State, do I start a new account with the Graduate School?

No. Once a Penn Stater, always a Penn Stater! Please log in with an existing account and use your former Penn State ID number; otherwise, you may receive a second number and your application may be delayed. Dates prior to the year 2000 may not automatically populate. If you cannot find or remember your number, visit the Graduate School website.

Do I need to send an official transcript with my application?

You need to upload a copy of your official transcript as part of your application; unofficial or advising transcripts are not accepted. You will not be able to submit your application without a transcript unless you previously attended Penn State as a student and list Penn State as an educational institution attended. If admitted, you will need to submit an official transcript.

My name has changed since I last attended Penn State. What do I need to do?

Please be sure to use your previous account and original Penn State ID number when you begin the application. Your former name may automatically populate, but you will be able to officially change your name in the system.

I took one summer course at another school. Do I need to send a transcript from that school?

Yes. Please send the front and back pages of a copy of an official transcript from all post-secondary schools you attended.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in another field before I attended my nursing program. Do I need to send a transcript from the first school?

Yes. Please send the front and back pages of a copy of an official transcript from all post-secondary schools you attended.

I attended an online program. Will Penn State recognize that degree?

Your bachelor’s degree must be from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or one that is deemed comparable to a U.S. institution. See the requirements for graduation admissions for details. Nursing programs must be accredited.

Does Penn State World Campus meet SARA requirements for my state?

See a state-by-state listing.

Tuition/Financial Aid Questions

How much does it cost to attend Penn State?

Visit the "Costs" page for your program to see tuition rates for the current academic year.

Is financial aid available?

Students studying online through Penn State World Campus are eligible for student loans. You must meet enrollment and other criteria to qualify. Penn State World Campus has a dedicated financial aid office that can help answer your questions and address your concerns. Visit the Financial Aid page of the Penn State World Campus website for more information.

Are there scholarships available?

While there are currently no scholarships specifically earmarked for students in these programs, many students receive scholarships or other financial assistance from their employers, professional organizations, or other community agencies.

General Questions

Will I have an adviser?

Yes, you will be assigned a faculty adviser to help with academic and career discussions and a general adviser to help with registration or administrative issues.

Do I need to find my own clinical/practicum sites?

Yes. We strongly encourage students to take advantage of their knowledge of appropriate agencies and their local network to identify practicum sites that would be most beneficial in reaching individual goals. Our faculty are willing to give suggestions when necessary. Penn State must have a site affiliation agreement with any participating agency. Please visit this map of our current affiliations.

Is there a designated time I need to be online?

Most courses are asynchronous, meaning you can log on at your convenience. There may be some small group assignments that will require a mutually agreed-upon time for those in your group to connect.

Can I work full-time while in school?

Most students do work at least part-time. However, some employer flexibility will be required, especially when students are in practicum courses, as those hours depend on the preceptor’s schedule and are usually on weekdays. Some students choose to switch to weekend shifts, work per diem, or take vacation during those periods. In addition, please plan to spend approximately 3 hours studying outside of class for every hour in class; some courses may require more.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The MSN to DNP pathway usually takes two years of full-time or three years of part-time study (minimum of two courses/semester with higher credits with practicum courses). The BSN to DNP pathway is offered full-time only and generally takes eight semesters over three years.

Do online programs require a presence on campus?

The DNP–Leadership program requires two separate four-day visits to campus. These sessions will be held at either the Penn State University Park campus or Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership (DNP–Leadership) program, offered in partnership with the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Cody Hoffman
Student Enrollment Recruiter
Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing
Phone: 814-865-0865
Email: [email protected]

To learn more about additional, highly respected nursing programs from Penn State, visit the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing website

Faculty

  • Dr. Diane Berish, Ph.D.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Miami University
    • Degree
      M.A., University of Virginia
    • Degree
      B.A., University of Notre Dame

    Dr. Diane Berish is an assistant research professor. Her research interests include statistics and research methods, long-term services support, aging and health care policy, and health care quality. Dr. Berish works with students to find the best methods to understand their DNP projects.

  • Dr. Barbara Birriel, Ph.D., ACNP-BC, FCCM

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Penn State
    • Degree
      Post-grad certificate ACNP, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      MSN, Thomas Jefferson University
    • Degree
      BSN, Bloomsbury State College (University)

    Dr. Barbara Birriel is an assistant research professor and an acute care nurse practitioner. Her research interests include ethics for the practitioner, palliative care, and family caregiving experiences in heart failure patients.

  • Kristen Bransby, CRNP, CPNP-PC

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Maryland
    • Degree
      MSN, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Track, Drexel University
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Penn State

    Dr. Kristen Brandsby, associate teaching professor, is a doctoral-prepared pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric mental health specialist who teaches the pediatric course work in the family nurse practitioner track and mentors and facilitates learning for the DNP students. Her practice interests include adolescents, pediatric mental health, health policy, and concussions.

  • Cara Exten, PH.D., MPH, B.S.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., The Ohio State University
    • Degree
      MPH, Emory University
    • Degree
      B.S., East Tennessee State University

    Dr. Cara Exten is an assistant teaching professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist, focusing on health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority populations, with an emphasis on sexual health (specifically HIV and other sexually transmitted infections) and substance use. She has extensive experience in survey data collection, data analysis, and working with high-risk populations, and she is passionate about the examination of diseases in their entirety, including biological, sociological, and epidemiological factors.

  • Donna M. Fick, RN, FGSA, FAAN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Nursing Science/Geriatrics, University of California-San Francisco
    • Degree
      MSN, Gerontological Nursing, University of Cincinnati
    • Degree
      BSN, Nursing Science, Berea College

    Dr. Donna M. Fick is the director of the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State. She is an instructor for a variety of graduate nursing courses. Dr. Fick's research interests include inappropriate medication use in older adults, recognition and management of delirium superimposed on dementia, and implementation of ultra-brief delirium screening in hospital settings.

  • Sharilee Hrabovsky, D.Ed.

    • Degree
      D.Ed., Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      Post-master’s certification, Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Widener University
    • Degree
      MSN, Villanova University
    • Degree
      BSN, Thomas Jefferson University

    Dr. Sharilee Hrabovsky is an assistant research professor with the  College of Nursing. She teaches online courses in the graduate school. She has been a practicing nurse for the last 36 years, 23 of them as a nurse practitioner, and has presented on tobacco use, treatment, and regulation research for the last eight years. She is a nationally certified tobacco treatment specialist and has worked with hundreds of tobacco users through clinical trials or direct patient care in their quest to reduce or quit tobacco use.

  • Judith E. Hupcey, CRNP, FAAN

    • Degree
      Ed.D., Nursing Education, Columbia University Teachers College
    • Degree
      M.Ed., Nursing Education, Columbia University Teachers College
    • Degree
      M.S., Adult Nurse Practitioner, Columbia University School of Nursing
    • Degree
      BSN, Columbia University School of Nursing

    Dr. Judith E. Hupcey, professor of nursing, medicine, and bioethics, is the associate dean for graduate education and research in the College of Nursing. She is also a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Her research focuses on persons with heart failure at the end of life and their family caregivers. She recently completed a study investigating the palliative care needs of persons with heart failure and their family caregivers. From this study, a cutting-edge model of palliative care for heart failure was developed.

  • Susan Leight, Ed.D., ARPN-BC, NP-C, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

    • Degree
      Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      Ed.D., West Virginia University
    • Degree
      MSN, West Virginia University
    • Degree
      BSN, State University of New York at Buffalo

    Dr. Susan Leight is the director of the NP programs, the WE Lead program, and innovation at the College of Nursing. Dr Leight’s research interests include vulnerable populations, focusing on rural health and women’s health. She also spends time in Central America providing care for the underserved.

  • Sheri Matter, Ph.D., MSN, RN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Leadership and Administration, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      MSN, Wilmington University
    • Degree
      MBA, University of St. Francis
    • Degree
      MHA, University of St. Francis
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Wilkes University

    Dr. Sheri Matter is the assistant dean of graduate professional programs and is an associate teaching professor in the College of Nursing. She has more than 30 years of nursing leadership, including as chief nursing executive of a multiple-hospital system. Dr. Matter's research for her dissertation focused on the nurse characteristics of a highly reliable organization.

  • Madeline Mattern, DNP, FNP-C, CNE

    • Degree
      DNP, Carlow University
    • Degree
      Post-Masters FNP Certificate, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S., Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Penn State
    • Degree
      RN Diploma, Citizen’s General Hospital School of Nursing

    Dr. Madeline Mattern is the director of nurse practitioner options and an assistant teaching professor for the College of Nursing. Her dissertation focused on current management strategies of Pennsylvania primary care nurse practitioners for persons diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Her research interests include reducing anxiolytic use in primary care and primary care of underserved and rural populations.

  • Dr. Susan Maynard, DNP, M.S., RN-BC, CCNS, CCRN-K

    • Degree
      DNP, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S., University of California, San Francisco
    • Degree
      BSN, Penn State

    Dr. Susan Maynard is an assistant teaching professor and the clinical placement coordinator for the graduate professional programs. Her research interests include stroke systems of care, rural health disparities, community health partnerships, and quality improvement in health care.

  • Brandi Peachey, DNP, FNP-BC, RN

    • Degree
      DNP, Penn State
    • Degree
      BSN, West Virginia University

    Dr. Brandi Peachey is an assistant teaching professor in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. She is an FNP who practices in pediatrics. Dr. Peachey’s interests include adolescent substance abuse and screening techniques.

  • Nicole Peterson, DNP, A/GPCNP-BC, CRNP, RN

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Iowa
    • Degree
      MSN, University of Iowa
    • Degree
      BSN, University of Iowa

    Dr. Nicole Peterson is an assistant teaching professor and emeritus associate professor of instruction at the University of Iowa. She has been an adult and gerontological primary care nurse practitioner since 2008, with clinical practice experience in long-term care, community care, home care, and primary care. This includes providing geriatric and primary care to the Meskwaki Nation community (Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and their employees). She has teaching experience in undergraduate and graduate nursing, including master’s and doctorate levels, as well as serving as a geriatric nurse practitioner.

  • Britney Wardecker, PH.D.

    Degree
    Ph.D., Psychology, University of Michigan

    Dr. Britney Wardecker is an assistant professor for the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and a faculty affiliate for the Penn State Center for Healthy Aging. Prior to her faculty position, Dr. Wardecker began training (funded by the National Institutes of Health) as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center. Her research examines lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) older adults' psychological and physical health outcomes. She also loves to teach in the areas of health, discrimination, health disparities, and research methods. Her research interests include promoting health equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults; examining health disparities and individual differences in health (such as age, gender, and sexual orientation); and biomarker measurement.

  • Beth Ann White, DNP, CRNP-BC, RN

    • Degree
      DNP, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S. and Adult Nurse Practitioner, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Penn State
    • Degree
      RN, Diploma, Geisinger School of Nursing

    Dr. Beth Ann White is the coordinator for the FNP program and is an associate teaching professor in the College of Nursing. She has worked as a case manager, disease manager, and regional manager for the Medical Home project, along with her continued practice as an adult nurse practitioner. Her research interest includes improved oral care in long-term care.

  • Kelly Wolgast, RN, FACHE, FAAN

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Alabama
    • Degree
      M.S., Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College
    • Degree
      MSN, Vanderbilt University
    • Degree
      BSN, Penn State

    Dr. Kelly Wolgast is the assistant dean for outreach and professional development and an associate teaching professor. She teaches both nurse administrator/management courses and nurse educator courses in Penn State's MSN and DNP programs. Her research interests include nurse leadership, health care delivery models, distance learning, and military/veterans' health.

  • Andrea Yevchak Sillner, Ph.D., CNS, RN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Nursing, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S., Nursing, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Penn State

    Dr. Andrea Yevchak Sillner is an assistant research professor in the College of Nursing. She is also a board-certified gerontological clinical nurse specialist. Dr. Sillner's research interests are in improving transitions of care for older adults and their informal family caregivers by focusing on technology-assisted communication and preferences of care.

  • Mariya Tankimovich, DNP, CRNP, FNP-C, CNE

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Texas Health Science Center
    • Degree
      MSN, University of Texas Health Science Center
    • Degree
      BSN, University of Texas Health Science Center
    • Degree
      B.A., University of California

    Dr. Mariya Tankimovich is the director of the DNP program and an associate teaching professor for the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. Her practice improvement project is Implementation Plan of a Family Clinic–Based Pilot Study for a Smartphone-Based Short Message System Text-Messaging Intervention to Improve Dietary Practices among Adult Patients with Hyperlipidemia. Her DNP Fellowship Project was Connection to Care: Perceptions, Readmission, and Reality — a research project to study unwanted readmissions of pediatric patients at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and to design and implement a plan to reduce such unwanted readmissions. Her research interests include health promotion and disease prevention, improving patient outcomes, and transitions-of-care challenges.

  • Kimberly Van Haitsma, PH.D.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
    • Degree
      M.A., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
    • Degree
      B.A., Psychology, Calvin College

    Dr. Kimberly Van Haitsma's research interests include developing observational methodologies to assess behavior and emotion in dementia, developing evidence-based education programs to enhance the skills of formal caregivers, advancing the understanding of person-centered care — "knowing preferences for everyday living" — and developing measurement tools for research, clinical practice, and evidence-based interventions for formal caregivers.

  • Sheilah Yohn, DNP, AGNP-BC, RN

    Degree
    DNP, Wilkes University

    Dr. Sheilah Yohn is an assistant teaching professor. She is a practicing NP in a family care setting. Dr. Yohn’s interests are in providing care to the underserved.

News

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State doctorate?

Apply by March 1 to start May 13. How to Apply