Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Athena I. Perrakis, PhD; Karen O. Skaff, PhD


case study, credentials, Doctor of Nursing Practice--DNP, faculty, health sciences university, higher education, institutional decision calculus, Leadership studies, Nurse Practitioners, nursing, web-based program


In 2004, professional nursing joined the ranks of other health professions by altering accreditation standards for nurse practitioners, which now mandate that their terminal degree advance beyond the master's degree currently required for the doctor of nursing practice (DNP). This research examines the decision-making process involved in implementing a web-based DNP program in 2008 at a college of graduate nursing embedded in a health sciences university. Findings from two case studies, one of faculty and one of administrators, provide a narrative description of the institution, the decision process, and then describe how institutional and external factors influenced the process. Institutional influences aligned with the decision, while external influences aligned mostly with the process and slowed regional accreditation approval. Findings also revealed that DNP curriculum design did not specifically address nurse practitioners, but instead offered doctoral-level education to master's level nurses in general. Currently, nurse practitioner credentialing requires master's level education; DNP accreditation change for nurse practitioners will eventually lead to degree changes for credentialing. Advancing doctoral education for nursing at large is the overarching goal of professional nursing and underlies this particular university's curricular design. As such, transferability of the findings of this research is limited to health science colleges of graduate nursing with web-based DNP programs; however, the importance of aligning both institutional and external resources with the process cannot be underestimated. In addition, findings support the recommendation by the Council of Graduate Schools for developing professional doctorate national standards and taken together, add to the body of academic literature about nursing education that can assist higher education stakeholders in evaluating future DNP programs.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies