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New Online Doctoral Degree Programs – March 2021

Illinois State University, Northcentral University (NCU), Spring Arbor University (SAU), Stephen F. Austin University (SFA), and the University of Houston (UH) are among the public and private, non-profit universities that have recently commenced or announced the launch of new online and hybrid online doctoral degree programs. Three of these universities – Illinois State University, SAU, and UH – have introduced new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs that utilize online learning technologies. NCU has a new online Juris Doctor program, while SFA has a new online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership program.

Illinois State University – Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Leadership & Management Program and Hybrid Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) DNP Program

The Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) at Illinois State University has created two new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program sequences, including a fully online BSN to DNP in Nursing Leadership & Management program sequence. The 64-credit online program can be completed in four to five years of part-time enrollment. It is designed to prepare Registered Nurses (RNs) who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree for leadership and policy roles in the nursing profession. Students who enroll in the program can exit the program with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in Nursing Leadership & Management at the program’s halfway point or continue on to earn their DNP degree. The Nursing Leadership & Management sequence requires students to engage in a total of 1000 hours of site-based clinical practicums.

Illinois State has also introduced a hybrid online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) BSN to DNP program sequence, which features a mix of campus-based and online courses. The 78-credit FNP program sequence includes 1020 hours of site-based clinical practicums and prepares RNs to apply for FNP certification. The completion time for the FNP sequence is four to five years, with students having the option of enrolling on a full-time or part-time basis. As with the Nursing Leadership & Management sequence, the FNP sequence gives students the option of exiting the program with an MSN degree at the program’s halfway point.

Northcentral University (NCU) – Online Juris Doctor Program

Northcentral University (NCU), a private, non-profit school headquartered in San Diego, CA, has launched a new online Juris Doctor (JD) program that enrolled its first cohort of students in January of 2021. Offered through NCU’s John F. Kennedy School of Law and accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California, the program provides didactic instruction and clinical training in public interest law and social justice. Students in the program take all of their didactic courses online and are required to do 60 hours of service learning through a formal, site-based, clinical internship at an approved community law firm or legal services provider. The 82-credit JD program can be completed in three years of full-time enrollment or four years of part-time enrollment, with courses being offered three times per years, during Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions.

Spring Arbor University (SAU) – Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Strategic Leadership Program

Spring Arbor University (SAU), a private, non-profit, Christian university located in the Central Michigan town of Spring Arbor, has launched a new online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Strategic Leadership program that is designed for Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NP), and other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. The program has a 36-credit APRN track and a 39-credit track for RNs without APRN specialization training. Both tracks require students to complete a minimum of 500 hours of site-based internships while taking all of their didactic courses online. SAU’s DNP curriculum consists of 12 courses, which include: Science and Faith in Nursing; Research and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice; Informatics and Patient Care Technology; Global Health; Quality Improvement; and Healthcare Policy, Regulation, and Financial Management.

Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) – Online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership Program

The James I. Perkins College of Education at Texas’ Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) has begun offering its Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership program in a fully online format and is accepting applications for a start date in May of 2021. The 66-credit EdD program is designed to prepare K-12 teachers and educators at the college level for leadership roles in a number of vital areas, including population growth, cultural diversity, and educational policy analysis and design. The program’s curriculum includes courses in leadership theory, educational research, educational policy, human inquiry systems, and cultural and social patterns in learning and education. In addition to these courses, students in the program are required to complete a doctoral dissertation and a field-based summer internship at a program-approved site.

The University of Houston (UH) – New Hybrid Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

The College of Nursing at the University of Houston (UH) has announced that it will begin offering a new post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in the Fall of 2021. The program, which requires applicants to hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, will have two specialization tracks: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP); and Administration. While most of the program’s didactic coursework will be offered via online instruction, students in the program will be required to attend clinical training courses on UH’s campus and to complete site-based clinical practicums in community settings.

To graduate from the program, Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) will be required to complete a minimum of 1000 supervised practicum hours, inclusive of eligible clinical hours completed as part of their MSN program. Similarly, each student admitted to the program will undergo a formal gap analysis to ensure they are on track to meet the program’s didactic coursework requirements without having to repeat courses taken at the MSN level. MSN graduates who are found to have not completed all of the required master’s-level coursework for the program can complete DNP prerequisites through UH’s online MSN program. The DNP program has a part-time enrollment structure that allows students to complete their degree in eight consecutive semesters (Fall, Spring, and Summer).


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