Effective 3-13-2020

The Graduate School is recommending that doctoral (including DNP) proposal and final defenses be held using Zoom. At the moment, in person defenses are still allowed (unless the university shuts down) with the student and committee only in attendance; family members and student peers are encouraged to attend virtually by Zoom if desired.

If you want DJ Lester to send out an announcement regarding your final defense, you will need to include in addition to the title, date, time — a Zoom meeting ID for any participants who participate. 

Please remember: The DNP Chair in collaboration with the Student is responsible for ensuring that all requirements for remote participation are met and that:

  • All members of the committee and the candidate have the technology to participate in the defense and the remote technology is sufficiently tested prior to the defense;
  • All visual materials are emailed to the committee prior to the defense.
  • Remote participation be uninterrupted.
    • If interrupted, that the defense is paused until all remote participations are fully restored or alternate technology (such as cell phone) is put in place.
    • If audioconferencing is the only option available, arrangements must be made by the candidate to distribute all visual materials to the committee in advance of the defense.

Quick Links:


The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program prepares nurses for the highest level of professional nursing practice. Graduates are prepared for advanced nursing roles in direct clinical practice and leadership roles in areas that support clinical practice such as administration, informatics, and health policy.

Graduates of the DNP program receive preparation in such key areas as: evidence-based practice, organization and systems leadership, finance, health policy, information technology, population health, patient safety, and translational research with the goal of improving health outcomes.

Timeline to Degree

Students complete the BSN to DNP program in 3 years and the MSN to DNP program in 2 academic years. Students should consult the required coursework and practice hour expectations for their advanced practice area with the Lead Faculty of their population or specialty area. Students should also arrange to meet with their faculty academic advisors each semester. Students should refer to the DNP Project timeline (below) on a regular basis to review their program progression with their academic advisor, Lead Faculty, and/or DNP Project Chair each semester.


The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program of study builds upon baccalaureate education and expands current MSN education to prepare nurses for the highest level of advanced nursing practice. Graduates of the DNP program receive preparation in such key areas as: evidence-based practice, organization and systems leadership, finance, health policy, information technology, population health, patient safety, and translational research with the goal of improving patient and population health status and outcomes. The DNP degree does not create a new role; rather it provides advanced practice nurses and nurse executives with additional knowledge and skills that better prepares them to address evolving and increasingly complex societal needs.

Terminal Program Objectives

The DNP graduate will be prepared to function at the highest level of advanced nursing practice. The educational outcomes of the DNP program are guided by the The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006).

The DNP graduate will be prepared to:

  1. Integrate nursing knowledge with knowledge from ethics and the biophysical, psychosocial, organizational, and information sciences as the bases for advanced nursing practice and innovative approaches to health care delivery.
  2. Demonstrate organizational and systems leadership to promote quality, safety, and improved health of populations.
  3. Demonstrate clinical scholarship and utilize analytical methods to identify best practices and translate evidence into practice.
  4. Demonstrate leadership in the development and use of information systems and related technologies for health care delivery to optimize outcomes for individuals and populations.
  5. Develop, evaluate, and advocate for health care policy at the institutional, local, state, national, and/or international levels.
  6. Facilitate collaboration and teamwork to assure high quality patient or system outcomes.
  7. Analyze and utilize strategies of risk reduction/illness prevention, health promotion, and health maintenance for individuals and populations.
  8. Demonstrate practice expertise and specialized knowledge in a distinct focus or specialty area of advanced nursing practice.

Last reviewed: August 2018

Doctoral Benchmarks (Full-time Program)

There are several benchmarks throughout a student’s doctoral career. The table below provides an overview of the typical benchmarks for a full-time student.

BenchmarksMSN to DNPBSN to DNP
Plan of StudyFall, Year 1Fall, Year 1
Finalize DNP Project TopicFall, Year 1Fall, Year 2
Confirm DNP Project Chair & CommitteeFall/Spr, Year 1Fall/Spr, Year 2
Qualifying ExaminationFall, Year 1Fall, Year 2
DNP Project Proposal DefenseSpr, Year 1Spr, Year 2
IRB ApprovalAfter proposal defenseAfter proposal defense
DNP Project ImplementationFall, Year 2Fall, Year 3
Final Defense of DNP ProjectSpr, Year 2Spr, Year 3

Doctoral Examinations

The Graduate School at the UNC Chapel Hill requires that all doctoral students complete a series of three examinations: a doctoral written examination (qualifying examination), a doctoral oral examination (proposal defense), and a final oral examination (final defense) covering the DNP Project and other topics as required by the examining committee. These examinations determine if students have comprehensive knowledge relative to their field prior to degree completion.

Students in the DNP program will complete three examinations. The first written examination will be a qualifying examination. The second examination is the oral defense of the written proposal and the third examination is the final oral defense of the DNP Project.

Please remember (from Graduate Handbook):

Registration Requirement
Students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of dissertation [or DNP Project] (994) during the semester in which the dissertation [DNP] proposal is approved and the semester in which the dissertation [DNP Project] is defended (final defense).

Last reviewed: April 2019

(First Doctoral Examination)

The purpose of the qualifying examination (QE) is to ensure all Doctor of Nursing Practice students are progressing in their ability to think critically, analyze, and synthesize content from the core areas of practice based inquiry, theory, and leadership. This content is covered in the four courses below:

  • NURS 778 Interpreting Research Reports
  • NURS 874 Improving Quality, Safety, and Outcomes in Healthcare Systems
  • NURS 920 Theoretical Foundations in Advanced Practice
  • NURS 941 Practice Inquiry Seminar I and Residency

All students must successfully complete the above courses before taking the QE. The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP may exempt MSN-DNP students from NURS 778 upon successful completion of a comparable course in a prior graduate degree program.

Updated August 2018

DNP Project Toolbox

This DNP Project timeline describes the steps and activities necessary for meeting program milestones, completing the DNP Project, and graduating on schedule. This timeline is for full-time students; the timeline will remain the same for part-time students but will be extended.

Students will be introduced to this timeline upon matriculation; it will be referred to in all scholarly inquiry coursework (NURS 941, 942, 943). Students should share and discuss this timeline with their DNP Project Chair.

Please remember (from Graduate Handbook):

Registration Requirement
Students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of dissertation [or DNP Project] (994) during the semester in which the dissertation [DNP] prospectus/proposal is approved…and the semester in which the dissertation [DNP Project] is defended.

Updated August 2018

Composition of the DNP Project Team

Each DNP Project Team must be composed of at least three members — a DNP Project Chair and two other members. A majority of the members including the DNP Project Chair must be SON faculty (must be doctorally-prepared) with a graduate school appointment or a special appointment as regular graduate faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill. The third committee member may be from “outside” the SON and is generally someone who can serve as a clinical partner in the agency where the Project is conducted. The outside member does not have to be doctorally prepared, but should at a minimum have an earned graduate degree.

NOTE: If you have any questions about a faculty member and whether they hold a graduate school appointment or special appointment, please see DJ Lester, the DNP Program Manager.

Identifying a DNP Project Chair

The DNP Project Chair is the faculty member that will work most closely with the DNP student during his/her program of study. Ideally, the DNP Project Chair shares an interest in the student’s topical area or is someone who has other strengths that will be helpful to a student as they embark on their Project.

The process of identifying a DNP Project Chair begins by talking with your academic advisor or the DNP Lead Faculty since they have working knowledge of School of Nursing (SON) faculty interests or can advise you on how to find out the information you need.

Steps for forming the DNP Project Team

Step 1: Meet with your DNP Project Chair to discuss the composition of your DNP Project Team.

  • Once you and your DNP Project Chair have agreed on who the other two committee members may be, you will meet/contact these potential faculty or professionals and determine their willingness to serve on your DNP Project committee.
  • Once you have a committee of three, go to step 2.

Step 2: Obtain and complete Part I of the “Doctoral Committee Composition Form”. You submit this form after you have pass the QE (qualifying exam).

Step 3: Submit the completed committee composition form (hard copy or electronic PDF) to DJ Lester, Division Manager for the DNP Program (Graduate Suite, 1300).

  • Please seek email confirmation that your documents have been received particularly if you submit electronically.

Step 4: If an “outside” person is serving on your committee, submit their CV (or resume) with a brief statement of what their contribution to your project will be. Send the CV and brief statement to DJ Lester, Division Manager for the DNP Program.

  • Remember, each authorization is done on a student-by-student basis.
  • If someone from outside the SON has been approved to sit on a MSN or PhD committee, this does not mean they are approved to sit on your DNP Project committee. Similarly, even if someone was approved to sit on a specific DNP Project committee in the past, this does not mean they are currently approved to sit on your committee.

Step 5: The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP will review your committee composition after all the documentation has been received. Approval will be sought from the Graduate School for the outside person. This may take up to 10 to 15 working days.

Step 6: You and your chair will be notified when the approval is received from the Graduate School. You should continue working with your DNP Project Chair on your proposal while these approvals are in process.

Responsibilities of Students, DNP Project Chairs, and DNP Project Team Members

The DNP student is ultimately responsible for the development, design, implementation, and evaluation of the DNP Project including submission of the final manuscript to the Graduate School. It is the student’s responsibility to stay in close communication with the DNP Project Chair and Team, submit original work, and take initiative to move the Project forward to completion. Students will respect the time and effort of each team member and be responsive to feedback and suggestions given.

The DNP Project Chair will assist the student with focusing the topic, developing the proposal, establishing a timetable, identifying a DNP Project site, identifying the DNP Project Team members, and supervising the student through each phase of the DNP Project. The Chair will provide timely and effective feedback on DNP Project manuscript drafts and determine when revised drafts are ready for review by the other members of the DNP Project Team.

The DNP Project Team member(s) shares responsibility with the DNP Project Chair for assuring that the student completes a high-quality DNP Project. The responsibilities of DNP Project Team members include guiding the development of the Project, reviewing and critiquing manuscript drafts by the established deadline(s), participating in team meetings, providing effective feedback, and assisting the student in their area of expertise to improve the quality of the DNP Project.

Please remember:

  • All decisions regarding the composition of a student’s DNP Project Team must be approved by the DNP Project Chair, the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP, and the Graduate School.
  • All DNP Project Team members are expected to attend and evaluate the student’s performance for the Proposal Defense and the Final Defense of the DNP Project. When necessary, participation via distance-based capabilities is appropriate and should be mutually agreeable to the student and other committee members. As a general rule, if the Chair as the student’s chief advocate is not able to be physically present, the defense date must be rescheduled.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts occasionally arise between a student and his/her DNP Project Chair or committee members. Sources of conflict may include but are not limited to poor fit of a chair or committee member with the direction the DNP Project has taken, disagreement about a timeline for project completion or the content of the project proposal. Both students and faculty members can initiate action to change the membership of a committee, but it is anticipated that whenever possible this will be a cooperative process. The student should keep in mind that changes to the committee membership may lengthen their timeline for program completion.

If a conflict is disrupting the progress of the DNP Project, the student should follow the procedure below.

  1. In all cases, the student must make a documented effort to resolve the issue directly with the chair or committee members involved in the conflict.
  2. If unable to resolve the conflict, the student may follow up with the chair (except in those instances when the conflict is with the chair), followed with the DNP Lead faculty.
  3. If the conflict cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, the chair or the student may forward the disagreement in writing to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP for further mediation.

The student should discuss the decision to change the membership of the DNP Project Team with the DNP Project Chair. If the Chair is in agreement, the student must communicate directly with both the incoming team member and outgoing team member to inform them of the reason for the change. A new DNP Project Team committee form must be submitted for approval by the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP and/or Graduate School. In most cases, the proposal defense, if it has already occurred, will need to be repeated with the newly formed DNP Project Team.

If the student elects to request a change in respect to the DNP Project Chair, s/he must meet with the current and future DNP Project Chair. If the current and future chairs are in agreement to a change, the student should submit a written request for approval of this change (via email) to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP. The student is responsible for communicating final approval of this change to both parties. If agreement is not reached, then the student should make an appointment with the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP to discuss the situation further. In both cases, the written request should include the rationale for the change in committee membership or the DNP Project Chair. Again, a change in committee membership or the role of chair may lengthen the time-line for the project and program completion.

A DNP Project Chair who leaves the University prior to the student’s graduation may, with permission from the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP and the Graduate School, continue as the chair. The “in-absentia” chair must be approved as a fixed-term appointee by the Graduate School. If the student continues with an “in-absentia chair” the student must also have an academic advisor who will be responsible for all required School of Nursing and Graduate School paperwork.

Updated August 2018

Students are encouraged to read through The Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Guide early on in the process and refer back to this guide through each phase of the DNP Project.


The purpose of the DNP Project is to provide each student the opportunity to demonstrate clinical scholarship by completing an evidence-based project to improve practice and healthcare outcomes.

The DNP Project may be conducted at the group, population, systems, or policy level. There are many types of projects that will meet the above purpose including: quality improvement projects; translation of evidence to practice; clinical or practice-based inquiry; healthcare delivery; program evaluation; and healthcare policy. These projects often arise from clinical practice and may be done in partnership with another entity: clinical agency, school, health department, church, government, voluntary organization or community group.

The DNP Project will be developed, implemented and evaluated with a systematic approach using methods and tools that meet clinical practice standards and the standards of the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School. All graduates will submit a written DNP Project worthy of dissemination. The SON recognizes that a DNP Project is not a dissertation, nevertheless, the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School currently requires all doctoral students to follow the procedures outlined in the Graduate School Guide for Thesis and Dissertations.

The student is ultimately responsible for the development, design, implementation, and evaluation of the DNP Project including submission of the final manuscript to the Graduate School. This practice-focused scholarship will be completed under the guidance of the DNP Project Chair and the DNP Project Team (or committee).

Organizing the Proposal

These are guidelines only. You must consult with your DNP Project Chair and committee members to determine the elements of your DNP Project proposal as well as the order of those elements.

Below are some common elements included in the organization of the DNP Project proposal:

1. Title Page

2. Introduction

  • Problem Statement: Concise overview of the practice problem and why it is important and worth exploring.
  • Purpose of the Project (or clinical question[s]): Describes the goal(s) of the DNP Project and the outcomes the project is designed to achieve.
  • Significance to Nursing or Healthcare: Describe the potential significance of the project outcomes to advanced nursing practice or the quality of healthcare in the problem area.

3. Review of the Literature (ROL)

The ROL provides the evidence base for your DNP Project and relates directly to your purpose or question(s). The review must be comprehensive and provide a logical argument to support the Project. This section may begin with background information and epidemiologic data that support the focus of the DNP Project. The student should summarize and synthesize key concepts and relevant research in the literature to answer the clinical question(s). The literature reviewed should be no older than 5 years from the date of writing the proposal, except for landmark studies that have impacted nursing or health care in the problem area. Only primary information sources should be cited. Students will need to obtain the primary information sources to make a their own decision about the quality of the evidence and how it may apply to their question.

4. Conceptual Model and/or Theoretical Framework

Describe the conceptual or theoretical framework that will guide the design of the DNP Project and interpretation of the outcomes. A diagram of the model may be placed in an appendix. Remember, if the student is using a pre-existing framework or one that is already published, you will need to seek copyright permission to reprint the framework in your DNP Project manuscript.

5. DNP Project Plan

The DNP Project plan may include a needs assessment, organization or systems analysis, cost-benefit analysis, major stakeholders, outcome development, and sustainability. Some typical headings in this section may include:

  • Design
  • Methods
  • Setting and resources
  • Practice change/intervention
  • Ethics and Human Subjects permissions (ethical considerations, risk-benefit)
  • Data Collection Instruments
  • Procedures for Project implementation
  • Key personnel/stakeholders
  • Evaluation (or Data Analysis)
  • Also consider
    • Barriers to implementation or sustainability
    • Anticipated resources and budget, if applicable

6. Limitations: Strengths and weaknesses of the Project

7. References (See Graduate School Format requirements)

  • A reference list includes only citations to sources used in the paper.

8. Appendices

(Second Doctoral Examination)

NOTE: The student must be registered for N994 during the semester that the DNP Project proposal is defended.

Preparing for the Proposal Defense

The student will develop drafts of the Project proposal for review and approval by the DNP Project Chair. When the DNP Project Chair agrees that a written draft is ready for committee review, the student will circulate the draft to other committee members for review and critique. In general, a committee member requires at least 2 weeks (10 working days) to provide feedback and comment. When the committee agrees the manuscript is ready for the proposal defense, the student will consult with the DNP Project team to schedule a date, time, and room for the defense.

The Proposal Defense Meeting

Please remember (from Graduate Handbook):

Registration Requirement
Students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of dissertation [or DNP Project] (994) during the semester in which the dissertation [DNP] prospectus/proposal is approved…and the semester in which the dissertation [DNP Project] is defended.

The student, the DNP Project Chair and both members of the DNP Project Team are expected to be physically present at the proposal defense. When necessary, participation via distance-based capabilities is appropriate and should be mutually agreeable to the student and other committee members. As a general rule, if the Chair as the student’s chief advocate is not able to be physically present, the defense date must be rescheduled.

At the proposal meeting, the student will present a synopsis of the issue and scope of the proposed Project. The committee will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the proposed Project as well as offer recommendations to improve the quality of the Project.

If revisions to the proposal are required, they will be specified by the committee at the time of the meeting. A plan and timeline for addressing revisions will be developed by the DNP Project team and presented to the student at that time. The DNP Project Chair will prepare a written description of the required revisions to distribute to the student and DNP Project Team members. The student may not proceed with IRB approval or Project implementation until the committee has approved the proposal.

PAPERWORK: You must return both of the signed documents to DJ Lester. Please make sure you pick up the forms that are already in your student folder. You may pick these up PRIOR to your defense from DJ Lester in the Graduate Office, room 1300

  1. Doctoral Exam Report Form, Section II Report of Oral Examination; signed by DNP Chair and Project Team members): This form will need to be completed after you successfully defend your DNP Project.
  2. The DNP Committee Approval Form you submitted when you formed your DNP Project committee.

IRB Approval (or Other Agency Approvals)

After the proposal is approved by the DNP Project Team, the student will consult with the UNC Institutional Review Board (IRB) to determine whether IRB approval is required. In addition, any approvals that may be required from the clinical agency where the Project will be implemented must also be obtained.

The DNP Project cannot be implemented until all necessary approvals have been received (including a signed clinical contract between the SON and agency: see DNP Project Hours) and are in place. The DNP Project Chair will monitor these approvals with the student.

Steps for the Final Defense

The final oral examination (defense) is primarily a true defense of the DNP Project. It may be open to the public, limited in attendance to the candidate and the committee, or a combination of the two.

The student, the DNP Project Chair and both members of the DNP Project Team are expected to be physically present at the final defense.  When necessary, participation via distance-based capabilities is appropriate and should be mutually agreeable to the student and other committee members. As a general rule, if the Chair as the student’s chief advocate is not able to be physically present, the defense date must be rescheduled.


  1. Doctoral Exam Report Form, Section III (Oral Defense of Project Findings; signed by DNP Chair and Project Team members): This form will need to be completed after you successfully defend your DNP Project. Do not start a new form, please make sure you pick up the form that is already in your student folder. You may pick this form up PRIOR to your defense from DJ Lester in the Graduate Office, room 1300. You must return the signed Doctoral Exam Report to DJ.
  2. Doctoral Exam Report Form, Section IV (Report of the Final Dissertation) is signed when the final paper is completed and approved by your chair/committee.

Updated August 2018

DNP Project Site

The DNP Project site refers to the setting in which you implement your projectExamples of a site may include a traditional clinical setting (inpatient unit, out patient practice, primary care office, etc.); schools, churches, or virtual environments.

Important things to keep in mind:

  • The site must be approved by the DNP Project Chair.
  • The contract for the site must be secured by the SON before implementation can occur.
  • The DNP Project topic must align with needs of the site.
  • A DNP Project Team committee member is often selected from the site to facilitate implementation.

DNP Project Hours

All DNP students, including those in post-master’s programs, are expected to complete a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours that include precepted clinical hours and the DNP Project. For MSN-DNP students, precepted practice hours (generally up to 500 hours) spent in master’s nursing programs can be counted as post-baccalaureate practice hours, provided they can be verified. 

Incorporated into the DNP program are approximately 500 practice hours related to the student’s unique area of interest that support the DNP Project. The learning objectives for the practice hours will be mutually developed between the student, the DNP Project Team, and mentor(s) from cooperating agencies.

DNP Project hours are a component of the three practice inquiry seminar courses (NURS 941, 942, 943; 60 hours per course) and the hours associated with NURS 994 (6 credits of 994 are required for the doctoral degree; the remaining Project hours are considered to be associated with 994s). All DNP Project hours must be tracked; tracking of hours will be described further by course faculty in NURS 941. Students who have successfully passed the qualifying examination and require additional hours outside of the above coursework should meet with Dr. Carrie Palmer.

Activities that Meet DNP Project Hour Requirements

The DNP Project hours are defined as the time spent engaged in activities related to development of the DNP Project: scholarship, consultation and collaboration, and engagement at the agency/site with champions and stakeholders who will facilitate implementation of the DNP Project. These aspects of the project hours provide in-depth learning and meaningful engagement with nurses and other experts in other disciplines.

Specific activities that meet requirements for project hours include:


  • Research/reading to develop topic/ idea
  • Review of literature
  • Development of proposal
  • Development of final paper


  • Consultation with SON faculty to identify and secure a DNP Project Chair
  • Meetings with the DNP Project Chair, DNP Project Team members, or other faculty to discuss development of the topic/ proposal/methodology or any aspect of the Project

Engagement at the residency site

  • Determining if the DNP Project site is an appropriate setting for implementation
  • Networking to develop champions and stakeholders for the DNP Project
  • Attendance at meetings that support  development of the DNP Project, facilitate networking, or promote the success of your clinical scholarship

Activities that do not meet requirements for residency hours include any activity related to class assignments or class readings, basic administrative activities (e.g. tracking hours), time spent in class, or travel time.

DNP Project Site Contract

Prior to beginning a DNP Project, the School of Nursing must establish a contract with each agency.  To provide the necessary information for these contracts, students will complete the DNP Project Site Information Form when enrolled in NURS 942 by a specified deadline. This form includes information such as the DNP Project Chair’s name, agency address and phone number, lead provider or site representative’s name and contact information, tentative start date, and brief project description.  It can take up to 3 months to secure a contract with clinical agencies, so it is important that students complete this form in an accurate and timely manner. In rare situations, it may take more than 3 months to secure a contract. Students may not begin their projects until they and their DNP Project Chair have been notified that the contract is established.

Clinical Compliance Requirements

The DNP Project Site Contract includes maintaining clinical compliance requirements at the agency.  Specific compliance requirements will be project specific and take into account factors such as whether the student will have direct patient contact or need access to medical record or other information.  It is important that this information is provided on the DNP Project Site Information Form.  Student compliance requirements will be tracked through CastleBranch.

Students Who are Employees at the Project Site/Agency

If the DNP Project will be completed at the student’s place of employment:

  1. A student may not enroll for course credit and be paid for the same hours.
  2. If a student is an employee of a site or has any other formal relationship with the site where s/he has been placed to do course work as a student, roles must be clearly defined and separated, in writing and in advance of the placement, as follows:
    1. A faculty supervisor (DNP Project Chair) must be listed for each student.
    2. Program or course content and educational objectives for the student’s experience at the site must be detailed.
    3. If a student is also an employee of site or has a formal relationship with the site, the hours in which the student is functioning as an employee/in the other role vs. the hours the student is functioning as a student must be defined.
  3. In order to avoid potential conflict between the site’s expectations regarding levels of productivity related to site objectives and the student’s use of time at the site to meet DNP project learning objectives, a student may not bill for a service s/he provided while in a student role.

Contact Dr. Carrie Palmer, DNP Lead Faculty if you have any questions about the above information.

Updated June 2018

We are fortunate to have several sources of statistical and data analysis support for DNP students during the 2018-19 academic year. This support is also available to DNP Project Chairs and other faculty who may desire consultation and guidance.

Dr. Mary Lynn is available (approximately mid- to late-August through May 15) to assist with statistics and data analysis questions, and quantitative measurement issues in general.

There are many campus resources related to methods and statistical support. The Odum Institute for Research in Social Science offers courses and services related such things as data management and quantitative and qualitative methods.

  • December 2014

Heather M. Boykin– The Impacts of a Pre-End Stage Renal Disease Education Intervention on Central Venous Catheter Placement in Those Initiating Dialysis: A Quality Improvement Project, Chair, Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN

Carla Massengill Jones– Post-Fall Aggregate Analysis for Contributory Identification to Reduce Falls, Chair, Mary Lynn, PhD, RN

Catherine Kenny Madigan– Drivers of Patient Satisfaction and Effects of Demographics on the HCAHPS Survey, Chair, Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, FAAN

Megan Penland O’Connor– Changing Organizational Culture through Gaming, Chair, Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF

Valerie Idada Parker– Using the Dual Diagnosis Capability of Addiction Treatment (DDCAT) Index to Improve Outcomes: An Evaluation of a Community-Based Behavioral Health Program, Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN

  • May 2015

Christa Williams Seaman– An Evaluation of Fatigue Management Strategies Implemented on Hospital Nursing Units, Chair, Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN

Jessica Grantham Sparrow– Coping with ADHD: The Pregnant Woman’s Experience, Chair, Grace Hubbard, DNP, RN

  • August 2015

Daria D. Lewis – The Impact of an Influenza Vaccine Clinic on Vaccination Rates and Cold and Flu Symptoms in a Clinic for the Homeless, Chair, Debra Barksdale, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP

  • December 2015

Megan Ann Brissie– Refining, Implementing and Evaluating a Neuro Early Mobilization Protocol in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, Chair, Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN

Erin Ashley Flitt– Creating and Evaluating a Toolkit for Shared Medical Appointments for Hypertension Management in a Jail Setting, Chair, Debra Barksdale, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP

Nancy Lawson Loyack– Expectations of Recovery after Lumbar Spine Surgery: A Quality Improvement Project to Improve Patient Satisfaction, Chair, Debra Barksdale, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP

  • May 2016

Cynthia Dawn Lee– Hand Washing Practices of Hispanic Women in a Community Health Setting, Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, RN

Brenda T. Pun– The ABCDEF Bundle: A Concept to Align the People, Processes and Technology in the ICU, Chair, Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN

  • August 2016

Usha Koshy Cherian– Impact of Meaningful Recognition on Nurses’ Work Environment in ICU: A comparative Exploration of Nurse Leaders’ and Staff Nurses’ Perception, Chair, Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF

Megan Grace Wildes- A Community of Practice Focused on Resiliency in Graduate Nursing Students, Chair, Carol Durham, EdD, RN, FAAN, ANEF

  • December 2016 

Carolina Rosser Dimsdale- A Needs Assessment to Address Family Presence During Resuscitation, Chair, Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN

  • May 2017

Lunise Benjamin- Culturally Appropriate Hypertension Education for Haitian Immigrants: A Community and Faith-Based Health Promotion Program, Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, RN

Kelly Cadogan, Tracking S.M.A.R.T. Transitions: A program Evaluation, Chair, Julee Waldrop, DNP, RN

Nicole Ashley Capps- Evaluating the Development of a Palliative Care Consult Algorithm of Inpatient Bone Marrow Transplant Patients, Chair, Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, FAAN

John Terrence Connors- Implementing Vaccine Hesitancy Screening for Targeted Education, Chair, Eric Hodges, PhD, RN

Brittany Danielson- Reducing Nursing Stigma of Patients Diagnosed with Psychiatric Illness on a Medical-Surgical Inpatient Unit. Chair, Victoria Soltis-Jarrett, PhD, RN

Rebecca Ann Dillen- Promoting Self-Care Through Exercise in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Chair, Dr. Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN

Gary F. Dupart, Jr- Nurse and Teacher Led Adolescent Healthy Weight Classes to Improve Health Behaviors, Chair, Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAANP, FAAN

Cara Lynn English- Evaluation of Health Information Websites on Labor and Birth, Chair, Kathryn Alden, EdD, RN

Eugeniu Ghidora- Nurse Home Visit with Education: An Effort to Reduce 30-day Readmission Rates and Improve Satisfaction Scores, Chair, Margaretann House, DNP, RN

Jessie McBride Gilmore- Pediatric Meaningful Alarm Management Approach, Chair, Debbie Travers, PhD, RN

Letha Mullamkuzhy Joseph- Management of Comorbid Depression in Veterans with Diabetes, Chair, Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAANP, FAAN

Rebecca Ashley Kabatchnick- Training Nursing Staff to Recognize and Respond to Suicidal Ideation in a Nursing Home, Chair, Mary Lynn Piven. PhD, RN

Dana Leigh Kouchel- Early Mobility in Hospitalized Older Adults: Needs Assessment, Analysis and Proposed Intervention, Chair, Anna Beeber, PhD, RN

Joanna Elizabeth Long- Mind Over Bladder: Aging, Women, and Bladder Health, Chair, Mary Palmer, PhD, RN, FAAN

Jacqueline Fungayi Mawoneke- A Quality Improvement Nurse-Led Initiative to Decrease the Rate of Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections at a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital, Chair, Diane Caruso, DNP, RN

Corrine Ann Mellin- Improving Antiemetic Guideline Adherence for Adult Patient’s Receiving Highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy (HEC), Chair, Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, FAAN

Christine Anne Nye- An Evaluation of Provider Use of Secure Messaging, Chair, Rebecca Kitzmiller, PHD, RN

Elizabeth A. Ouma- Implementation of a Nurse Driven Educational Intervention for Prompt Removal of Urinary Catheter in the Neuroscience ICU, Chair, Diane Caruso, DNP, RN

Cameron Scott Phillips- Evaluation of the Modified Early Warning Score (Mews) Screening Tool for Physiological Signs of Sepsis and the Burden on Emergency Department Registered Nursing, Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, RN

Cenean Walls Raphemot- Using the Compass-EZ and the Dual Diagnosis Capability of Addiction Treatment (DDCAT) Index to Improve Outcomes: Recovering, Renewing, and Restoring Lives, Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN

Emily Elizabeth Radford Ryan- Contraceptive Practices of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Outpatient Settings, Chair, SeonAe Yeo, PhD, RN, FAAN

Mercedes Laurel Stanley- Barriers and Facilitators to Implementing Psychosocial Distress Assessments in the Pediatric Oncology Setting, Chair, Sheila Santacroce. PhD, RN, FAANP

Michelle Davis White- A Cost Benefit Analysis of a Home Care Aide Program, Chair, Beverly Foster, PhD, RN

Kelly Might Wilson- Improving Physician Engagement in Interprofessional Collaborative Practice in Rural Emergency Departments, Chair, Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDiv

  • August 2017

Virginia Ervin- Focus Group Findings to Inform an Educational Program for Nurse Practitioner Entrepreneurs, Chair, SeonAe Yeo, PhD, RN, FAAN

Robyn Wood- Conducting a Pre-Implementation Assessment of Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Services for Orange County, North Carolina, Chair, Shawn Kneipp, PhD, ARNP

  • Dec 2017

Kimberly Bronson- Using Mindfulness to Decrease Burnout and Stress Among Nurses Working in High Intensity Areas, Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, BC-PMHNP

Lauren Kennedy- An Educational Approach for Improving Health Literacy in Patients with Heart Failure, Elaine Harwood, DNP, BC-FNP

Mandy Marshburn– Helping Obese Pregnancy Women Achieve Healthy Weight Gain: Is Provider Intervention Feasible? Chair, SeonAe Yeo, PhD, RN

Jemma Superville- Standardizing Nurse-to-Nurse Patient Handoffs in a Correctional Healthcare Setting: A Quality  Improvement Project to Improve End-of-Shift Nurse-to-Nurse Communication Using the SBar 1-5 Handoff Bundle, Chair, Janna Dieckmann, PhD, RN

Susan Wilson- Implementation and Evaluation of Depression Improvement Program in Stroke Care (DIPS), Chair, Mary Lynn Piven, PhD, RN

  • May 2018

Jennifer Apple- Implementation of an Evidence-Ba sed Educational Program to Promote the Correct Use of a Subdermal Contraceptive Implant in Women of Child BearingAge; Chair, Diane Caruso, DNP, RN

Kelly Bates- Improving Staff Comfort with and Delivery of Behavioral Counseling Interventions to Adolescent and Young Adult Males Presenting for Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening; Chair, Eric Hodges, PhD, RN

Paula Bird- Generalist Nurses Caring for Patients with Mental Illness in a Non-Psychiatric Setting; Chair, Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN

Lindsey Carpenter- Toolkit to Improve Provider Adherence to Metabolic Monitoring of Atypical Antipsychotics for Youths; Chair, Grace Hubbard, DNP, RN

Sarah Croop- Implementation of a Golden Hour Protocol for Extremely Premature Infants; Chair, Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN

Rebecca Dragomani- No Child Left Behind: A Quality Improvement Implementation to Improve Outcomes, Experience of Care, and Quality of Life for School-Aged Children with ADHD at a Rural Primary Care Practice; Chair, Victoria Soltis-Jarrett,PhD, RN, FAANP

Jessica Grimes- Public Health Nurse Intervention for Depression Screening During Sexually Transmitted Disease Risk Assessments; Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, RN

Erica Harberger- Addressing Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Rates in the 11-12 Year Old Age Group Through Improved Provider Recommendation; Chair, Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN

Jacob Haskins- Mind Over Matter: Enhancing Compassion Satisfaction in Oncology Nursing; Chair, Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN

Melissa Holt- Improving Psychosocial Distress Screening: A Quality Improvement Project Using Staff Education; Chair, Victoria Soltis-Jarrett, PhD, RN, FAANP

Dakar Howell- Increasing Access to Care and Knowledge of Services for Women Veterans in the VA Healthcare System; Chair, Elaine Harwood, DNP, RN

Wendy Hua- Implementation of an Evidence-Based Pain Assessment Protocol in a Nursing Home Setting; Chair, Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN

Ivuoma Igwe- Recognizing and Reducing Horizontal Violence Among Nurses at a Veterans Administration Medical Center: A Cognitive Rehearsal Quality Improvement Project; Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, FAAN

Nancy Kebaso- Conversations about Dying: Utilizing the Conversation Project Toolkit in African-American Churches to Facilitate End of Life Planning; Chair, Beth Black, PhD, RN, FAAN

Benjamin Linthicum- Improving Emergency Department Throughput by the Adoption of an Admissions Predictor Tool at Triage; Chair, Debbie Travers, PhD, RN, FAEN

Catherine Quintana- Incorporating Advance Care Planning into Primary Care; Chair, Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN

Kristin Rush- Paving the Path to Mindfulness: Implementation of a Program to Reduce Stress and Burnout in Inpatient Psychiatric Nurses; Chair, Grace Hubbard, DNP, RN, PMHCNS-BC

Samantha Russomagno- Improving Postpartum Depression Screening and Referral in the Pediatric Setting; Chair, Julee Waldrop, DNP, FAANP, FAAN

Anusha Smith- Development of a Practice Protocol for the Use of Long Acting Injectable Antipsychotic Medications in the Emergency Department; Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, FAAN

Cecily Smith- Underuse of Oral Anticoagulation Therapy in Older Adults with Atrial Fibrillation after Stroke; Chair, Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN

Elizabeth Walters- Improving Antibiotic Stewardship in the Pediatric Emergency Department; Chair, Jennifer D’Auria, PhD, RN

  • December 2018

Charles Michael Combs II- Healthy Work Environments: Improving Staff Satisfaction and Employee Productivity in a Non-traditional Nursing Work Environment Through Employee Recognition; Chair, Rebecca Kitzmiller, PhD, MHR, RN, BC

Shannon Nicole Scearce– Implementation of a Warfarin Dosing Protocol in Rural Primary Care; Chair, Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN, ANP-BC

  • May 2019

Natasha Ideta Best- Targeting Military Healthcare Providers to Self-Identify and Take Action Against Compassion Fatigue: Can Mindfulness Practice Be the Answer?; Chair, Carol Durham, EdD, RN, FAAN, ANEF

Sheila Annette Brown- Timely Screening for Hyperbilirubinemia in Late Preterm Infants; Chair, Julee Waldrop, DNP, RN, FAANP, FAAN

Nickolai Christopher Detert- Primary Care Non-Profit Partnerships: Improving PTSD Screening and Treatment Access for Veteran Patients; Chair, Rebecca Kitzmiller, PhD, MHR, RN, BC

Olivia Glance- Essential Therapeutic Communication Training for Mental Health Nurses: A Program Evaluation; Chair, Theresa Raphael-Grimm, PhD, PMHCNS-BC

Lauren Ann Hamilton- Evaluation of the Sexuality and Relationships Psychoeducation Program for Adolescents with Intellectual and Developmental Disorders and their Parents; Chair, Grace Hubbard, DNP, RN, PMHCNS-BC

Elaine Neal James– Automating EHR-Based Reports to Understand Patient Transfers from the Emergency Department to Facilities Outside of a Healthcare System; Chair, Saif Khairat, PhD, FAMIA

Heather Shea Johnson- Sustainability of Quality Improvements in Pain Management During an Electronic Health Record Transition; Chair, Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN

Gabriela Yolanda Kritz- Evaluating the Effects of an Educational Intervention on Compassion Fatigue in Veteran Affairs Hospice Nursing Staff; Chair, Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN, ANP-BC

Heather Alico Lauria- Evaluation of the Implementation of a Nutrition and Exercise Intervention in a Community-Based Setting for Teenagers with Down Syndrome; Chair, Julee Waldrop, DNP, RN, FAANP, FAAN

Brittany Guthrie Mitchell– Reducing Barriers and Enhancing Linkages to Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step Groups for Alcohol Dependent Students on College Campuses: A Program Evaluation; Chair, Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, FAAN

Sheri Elaine Phifer- Nurses Supporting Nurses: Implementation of a Mentor Training Program to Improve New Graduate Registered Nurses’ Sense of Belongingness; Chair, Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN

Lucia Helena Resende- Evaluating an Educational Session and a Depression Resources Toolkit to Improve School Nurses’ Confidence in Case-Finding Depression in Rural North Carolina; Chair, Amanda Davis, DNP, RN, CPNP

Zainab Amur Riyami– Increasing Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services through Service and Interprofessional Collaboration; Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, FNP-BC

Ashley Elizabeth Ross- Improving Routine Human Immunodeficiency Virus Screening in a Primary Care Setting; Chair, Jean Davison, DNP, FNP-BC

Kate Lauren Slotwinski- Implementing the Systematic Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Information in a Community Mental Health Setting; Chair; Noreen Esposito, EdD, RN, FAANP, PMHNP-BC, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC

Julie Thomas- Obese Active Duty Military Members: improving Screening, Diagnosis and Access to Weight Management Support in Primary Care; Chair, Rebecca Kitzmiller, PhD, MHR, RN, BC

Kristin Lee Walsh- Yoga as a Complementary Therapy in the Management of Hypertension; Chair, Margaretann House, DNP, RN, FNP-C

Lindsay Dupell Weekley- Evaluation of a Health Literacy Assessment and Intervention in Diabetes Self-Management Education; Chair, Carrie Palmer, DNP, RN, ANP-BC 

Christine Edith Weeks– Using a Culturally Tailored Self-Management Education and Support Intervention in a Faith-Based Framework to Improve Self-Care Behaviors of African American Adults with Type II Diabetes Mellitus; Chair, Ann Jessup, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

LaKasha Godwin White- Improving Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates in Latina Women: Piloting H.U.G. Your Baby using Peer Counselors; Chair, Julee Waldrop, DNP, RN, FAANP, FAAN

Eric Stephen Wolak- Improving Outcomes for Patients Admitted through the Emergency Department: Implementation of a Standardized Report Process; Chair, Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN


Updated June 2019

Additional Academic Policies and Forms

Students who are having academic or clinical difficulties are encouraged to contact the course instructor, clinical faculty, and clinical preceptor, if applicable, as early as possible in the semester. It is also recommended that students appraise their academic advisor and Lead Faculty of academic or clinical difficulties.

At mid-semester, the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP requests from course coordinators the names of students who may be experiencing academic or clinical difficulties. This list will be shared with the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, the student’s academic advisor and Lead Faculty. Course coordinators will be instructed to ask for a meeting with each student who is experiencing academic or clinical difficulties, informing them of their academic standing, and setting up a plan to facilitate their ability to meet course objectives. The course coordinator will refer the student back to their faculty advisor and Lead Faculty for further guidance and assistance.

Students who are not making satisfactory progress in a course will set a time to meet with the course coordinator and develop a formal learning contract with the course coordinator or a designated course faculty member. The contract should identify the areas of deficiency and specify corrective actions to satisfactorily meet course and/or program objectives.

The academic and clinical performance of master’s students is reviewed at mid-semester and at the end of each semester. In programs of study where course work is sequential or clinical performance is unsatisfactory or marginal, the student may not progress in the program until improvement is made and course objectives are met. These situations will be reviewed at the end of each semester (see Progression Review Process).

Approved 9/9/2013, MEC; DNPEC 2013

Updated August 2018


The School of Nursing regularly monitors and assesses the academic performance and progression of each student enrolled in the School of Nursing graduate practice programs, specifically, the Master of Science in Nursing (“MSN”) program and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (“DNP”) program to assure timely progression to degree completion.  The purpose of this review is to assure that each student is making satisfactory progress in the student’s program of study based upon stated criteria established by the School of Nursing and the University.  This review also provides an opportunity to identify resources and support for students who are having difficulties.

Requirements for Graduation

The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP or the Lead Faculty in each practice area will provide information regarding the program’s academic requirements to each student at the time of matriculation.

The MSN/DNP Progression Review Committee

The MSN/DNP Progression Review Committee (“Committee”) is the body responsible for assessing and monitoring academic performance and progression of graduate practice students in the MSN and DNP programs.  The Committee is a standing sub-committee of both the Master’s Executive Committee (“MEC”) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Committee (“DNPEC”). The Committee is composed of six voting members: a chair and one faculty representative from each of the five advanced practice areas.  The Chair of the Committee is appointed jointly by the MEC and DNPEC for a three-year term. It is recommended, but not required, that the Chair of the Committee have previously served as a member on the Committee. The Chair of the Committee will also serve as a standing member of the MEC and DNPEC committees. The Chair is responsible for constituting and maintaining the Committee’s membership, orienting new members, administering the Committee’s meetings, and sending written notification to the students who were reviewed by the Committee of the Committee’s decision.

The Advanced Practice Area faculty who will serve as members of the Committee are nominated by their respective faculty and must currently teach or advise in the MSN or DNP programs. Each member of the Committee will serve a three-year term and may be re-appointed for one subsequent three-year term. The Assistant Dean of the MSN/DNP Program (“Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP”) and the Assistant Dean of the Office of Student Affairs (“Assistant Dean-OSA”) will serve as ex-officio (non-voting) members of the Committee.

If any member of the Committee has a conflict of interest, which would prevent the member’s impartial review of a student, the Committee Chair will appoint an alternative faculty member to serve on the Committee as a substitute for the member who maintains the conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest arises when a Committee member has had prior interactions with a student that are relevant to the situation or circumstances under review or that could suggest the possibility of bias in the decision-making process. The MEC and DNPEC chairs may appoint a substitute Committee Chair if there is a conflict of interest that prevents the Committee Chair’s participation in a progression review.

The Committee will meet to conduct progression review shortly following receipt of final grades by the School of Nursing Registrar at the end of each semester.  The Committee will review all students who:

  • Are on academic probation;
  • Received a grade of “L” or “F” in the current semester;
  • Have unresolved temporary grades such as “IN,” “AB,” or “NG;”
  • Withdrew from a required course during the past semester or have requested a retroactive withdrawal;
  • Were non-compliant with health and safety requirements at any point in an academic term; or
  • Exhibited unprofessional behavior in their role as a student in the School of Nursing.

In addition, the Committee will review all DNP students who have been recommended for review by their academic advisor based upon one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Student ending the second year (MSN to DNP) or third year (BSN to DNP) of full time study without a scheduled DNP project proposal defense;
  • Student ending the third year (MSN to DNP) or fourth year (BSN to DNP) of full time study without a scheduled DNP project final defense; or
  • Faculty, Course Coordinator, or Academic Advisor request that the Committee review a student.

Additional meetings of the Committee will occur under special circumstances during the semester, for instance, to address a student’s non-compliance with health and safety requirements.

Shortly after receipt of the semester grades by the School of Nursing registrar, the Assistant Dean-OSA will forward the names of all students who meet the criteria outlined above and their grades to the Chair of the Committee and to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP.  In addition, near the end of each academic semester, the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP will query course coordinators, academic advisors, and the Committee Chairs to identify students who will require progression review. The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP will notify students in their program area who will be subject to progression review and will ask them to submit any relevant information to the Assistant Dean in writing prior to the meeting.

During the meeting, the Assistant Dean-OSA will present the academic records of all students who are being reviewed by the Committee. The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP  will also present relevant information received from an individual student, course faculty, academic advisor, or Lead Faculty in their program area, as applicable.  In addition, the Committee may request information from other individuals who may have pertinent information regarding a student’s academic or clinical performance. The student being reviewed will not be present during the meeting.

After receiving all of the information, the Committee will discuss the student’s performance and vote upon decisions to be made with respect to the student’s progression in the program.  A simple majority of the voting members of the Committee is required for any decision regarding a student’s progression in the program. Such decisions may include any combination of the following:

  • A written warning that the student is progressing at a rate that will lengthen the student’s time to graduation;
  • A requirement that the student perform specific remedial work and/or repeat coursework;
  • Academic probation;
  • Dismissal from the program if, in the judgment of the Committee, the student does not show sufficient promise to continue in the program; and/or
  • Any other measure that would address the Committee’s concerns about the student’s performance.

Shortly following the meeting of the Committee, the Chair will send a letter to the student describing the Committee’s decisions.  Copies will also be sent to the OSA for placement in the student’s academic file and to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP.

In cases in which dismissal from the program is the Committee’s decision, the letter also will contain the Committee-specific requirements for readmission, and the process for appeal.

The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP will then notify the Lead Faculty, academic advisor, and The Graduate School of the decision for a student in their program area.  In the case of a DNP student, the student’s DNP Project Chair will also be notified.

The student may appeal the Committee’s decision to the Dean. All appeals must be in writing and signed by the student. Appeals should be submitted no later than the last day of classes of the next succeeding semester. Any appeal must contain a summary of the evidence and arguments that the student believes support the student’s position in the appeal.

Approved MEC and DNPEC, 11/2016; Updated 8/6/18

Class Attendance

Regular class attendance is a student obligation. A student is responsible for all the work, including tests, laboratory and clinical assignments and written work, of all class meetings. Each individual instructor of classes at the graduate level has the authority to prescribe attendance regulations for his or her class.

A faculty member wishing to require class attendance must have a systematic method of monitoring student attendance and a stated process for factoring excessive absences into the student’s grade or any recommended remedial activity. The attendance requirement and any mechanism for calculating the grade must be given to students in writing at the beginning of the course.

Attendance does not apply to recognized religious holidays. Students do not have to attend class on any major religious holiday that is regularly observed. Faculty members make every effort to avoid scheduling papers or exams on religious holidays, but the student is required to make up any work that is missed.

In the School of Nursing, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs has delegated the handling of absences to course coordinators. The Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP must be informed of all unusual situations.

Attendance at Regular Exams or Tests

Students are expected to take tests as scheduled unless an excused absence is obtained from an appropriate course faculty representative before the time of the test. A grade of F will be given to a student with an unexcused absence from a test.

All graduate faculty and students are expected to be familiar with the Honor Code of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and conduct themselves according to the principles it contains.

Attendance at Clinical Experiences

Students are expected to uphold the clinical policies and procedures of the School of Nursing. Specifically, students are required to:

  1. Attend all clinical experiences except when ill.
  2. Complete all required clinical hours by the end of the semester in which they are enrolled.
  3. Notify the course faculty and/or clinical preceptor of an absence due to illness or emergency prior to the scheduled clinical time if possible.
  4. Assume responsibility for making up any specific experiences. Make-up laboratory time is at the discretion of the course faculty and/or clinical preceptor.

Course faculty and/or a clinical preceptor may deny a student access to a clinical experience if the student is:

  1. Unprepared for patient care, e.g. does not meet all the health and safety requirements and documentation as outlined in the Student Handbook (most current version) or does not meet the requirements as set forth by the clinical site.
  2. Physically or mentally ill.
  3. Under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  4. Unaware of his/her own limitations or fails to seek help when he/she recognizes his/her limitations.
  5. Unprofessional in appearance or behavior.

Appropriate Classroom Behavior

Faculty and students are mutually responsible for enforcing optimal classroom behavior and thus helping to create an appropriate learning environment for all.

All students shall be given the opportunity to learn in an environment that is free from noise, intrusions and disruptions. Students should remain attentive to the activities of the classroom and behave in a manner that allows others to be attentive. Noise must be avoided and includes, but is not limited to: beepers, cell phones, children, side conversations among students, monopolization of conversation, reading newspapers, and frequent getting up and down while class is in session.

Final Examinations

Final examinations are not required of graduate courses; therefore there is no published final examination schedule for graduate courses. In general, exams for graduate courses are scheduled on the same day and time that the course was held during the semester. The course coordinator will discuss the timing of the final exam at the beginning of the semester with students. If conflicts arise with scheduling among graduate courses, students are encouraged to discuss this with the course coordinator. If the conflict cannot easily be resolved, the course coordinator will take this issue to the Director of Master’s Programs for further discussion and resolution.

In the University in general, no exams or classes are to be scheduled on reading days. If graduate students or faculty believe that the agreed upon exam schedule should change and a final examination be given on a reading day, students must be given the opportunity for an anonymous vote on the proposed change. If any student objects, the final exam cannot be held on a reading day or faculty have the option of offering the exam on the reading day and on a second day during the final exam period so that all students are accommodated.

In courses with a final examination, no special preparation quizzes may be given during the last five days of class before the beginning of the final examination period. Only examinations requiring an exceptional portion of practical work should be longer than three hours. The length of the final examination should reflect the credits allocated to the course. Appropriate time should be allocated to take exams.

A student who has three final examinations scheduled within a twenty-four hour period may petition the Director of the Master’s Programs to have one of the scheduled examinations rescheduled. Any petition for a change in the examination schedule because of the “three exams in a twenty-four hour” rule must be made to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP before the first day of the final examinations. In all cases in which an examination is to be rescheduled, the instructor may reschedule that examination during the final examination period, but not later than the end of the following semester.

Students in the Graduate Program of the School of Nursing who have failed to comply with course requirements may be prevented from sitting for the final examination (e.g. students who have not turned in all their assignments).

 Approved MEC, 9/9/2013; DNPEC, 2013

NOTE: Prior to beginning a DNP Project, the School of Nursing must establish a contract with each agency involved with the project.  To provide the necessary information for these contracts, students will complete the DNP Project Site Information Form (see Quick Links at beginning of the page) when enrolled in NURS 942 by a specified deadline. It can take up to 3 months to secure a contract with clinical agencies, so it is important that students complete this form in an accurate and timely manner. In rare situations, it may take more than 3 months to secure a contract. Students may not begin their projects until they and their DNP Project Chair have been notified that the contract is established.

The following roles and responsibilities of students, faculty (including the faculty advisor, course coordinator), Lead Faculty, and the Clinical Site Coordinator have been identified to coordinate placements for graduate students within the School and to clarify communication links between the School and clinical agencies.

Role of Students

  • Students are admitted to a specific advanced practice area.
  • Students will communicate to their Lead Faculty member, by a specified deadline, the names and contact information for potential preceptors in their geographic area.
  • Requests for clinical placements are responded to in the order in which they are
  • A delay in submitting requests may prevent obtaining the best possible or preferred placement site.
  • Once clinical sites are confirmed, students will receive information about health and safety compliance requirements for the specific site. Commencement of clinical and practicum experiences rely on timely completion of compliance requirements based on deadlines that will be shared with students each semester.

Students are advised on the following parameters and expectations for the clinical placement process:

  • Providing the names and contact information for a potential preceptor does not guarantee they will be assigned to that
  • Students should not contact sites/preceptors directly; this causes communication problems for both the School and clinical agency.
  • When possible, placements will be secured in the student’s geographic “home” region. However, the learning needs and travel times for all students must be considered during the assignment
  • Student clinical placement locations will require travel.
  • Students can anticipate travel up to 1.5 hours one-way to a clinical site placement
  • Situations may arise when travel one-way may be up to 2 hours.
  • Students are responsible for their own transportation to clinical sites and should consider this factor when calculating and planning for their educational expenses and scheduling

A clinical site may be able to provide only a portion of the necessary clinical hours. In those cases, students will have clinical experiences at two different clinical sites during the same semester (up to 3 different clinical sites during a major capstone course).

Role of the Faculty Advisor

Faculty and/or academic advisors should direct students to communicate with their Lead Faculty about clinical placement issues. Faculty members are encouraged to advise the Clinical Site Coordinator as well as the Lead Faculty of potential new placement sites and preceptors.

Responsibilities of the Course Coordinator

The responsibilities of the course coordinator of a clinical management course or practicum include:

  • Informing the appropriate Lead Faculty of potential sites and preceptors.
  • Establishing informal faculty contact as an important part of the relationship between the School and agency placement sites.
  • Collaborating with the appropriate Lead Faculty to match students to placement sites.
  • Communicating with the preceptor about evaluations of student’s performance. Communicating with students about the need to complete preceptor and site evaluations.
  • Confirming the completion of graduate students’ clinical hours to facilitate student progression and reimbursement of ambulatory community-based preceptors.

Responsibilities of the Lead Faculty in an Advanced Practice Area

The Lead Faculty in each Advanced Practice Area (AGPCNP, FNP, HCS, PNP-PC, and PMHNP) lead the process of coordinating clinical placements for graduate students with assistance from the Clinical Site Coordinator (CSC), faculty, and students.

The responsibilities of the Lead Faculty in an advanced practice area include:

  • Advising and assisting with the identification of potential new placement sites and preceptors for students.
  • Compiling written requests for placement sites using Qualtrics (student clinical site preferences survey),  NurSys and Typhon systems
  • Receiving a list of secured sites from the CSC.
  • Directing course coordinator to send “Letter of Course Assignment” re: student-to-site match to agency preceptor/contact
  • Directing course coordinator or designated person to send orientation materials (course guidelines, evaluation sheets and preceptor guidelines) to agency preceptor/contact Informing CSC of changes involving clinical assignments of students.

Submitting requests for clinical placements to the CSC will take place at the following time period

  • Requests for Spr Semester: Mid-September
  • Requests for Sum Session I and II: Mid-February
  • Requests for Fall Semester: Mid-March – Mid-April

Responsibilities of the Clinical Site Coordinator

The responsibilities of the Clinical Site Coordinator (CSC) include:

  • Sending requests for clinical site placements to preceptors/contacts as requested by Lead Faculty.
  • Securing placements based on consultation with Lead Faculty and responses from
  • Informing the Office of Contracts and Compliance of new sites and contract
  • Notifying Lead Faculty and Office of Contracts and Compliance of confirmed sites.
  • Notifying sites when a student drops a course or withdraws from the program.
  • Notifying each Lead Faculty of changes in clinical agencies that may impact students in the
  • Notifying Area Health Education Centers Office of Regional Primary Care Education (ORPCE) directors of placements of NP students in their region at the beginning of each semester.
  • Providing data to Central Area Health Education Centers, as requested, regarding NP-precepted clinical

Updated August 2018


Students who find their career goals have changed after entering the graduate practice programs in the School of Nursing may submit a one-time request to change the Advanced Practice Area (APA) or substantive focus within an APA to which they were originally admitted. This policy includes students who desire to change the substantive focus of their program within an APA, such as the Health Care Systems (HCS) foci of administration, education, clinical nurse leader, outcomes management, or informatics. The intent of this policy is to assist the matriculated student in making a well-reasoned decision as well as to foster timely admission decisions and allocation of faculty and clinical resources.

Any change of APA or focus within an APA, will be made on a space-available basis, dependent on site placement and faculty resources, and in accordance with applicable admission policies and procedures.

Steps for Requesting Change

Requirements for submitting a Request to Change Advanced Practice Area or focus area within an APA:

  1. Students must consult with both their advisor and their current Lead Faculty prior to submitting a request. They will advise the student and discuss the request to change his/her APA/ Focus within an APA, and review applicable process and policies. After this consultation, if the student elects to remain in his/her current APA, no further action is required.
  2. If the student chooses to proceed, the student will complete and sign the “Change of APA/APA-Focus Request Form.”
  3. The student will bring the completed form to their current Lead Faculty for signature.
  4. The student will submit the original signed copy of the form to the Graduate Admissions Counselor, in the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). The Graduate Admissions Counselor will distribute electronic copies (PDF) of the completed form to the current Lead Faculty, the Lead Faculty of the requested APA, and the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP in the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA).
By signing the form, the student is acknowledging his/her understanding of the following:
  • Id approval by the Admissions Committee (MAC or DNPAC ) for a student to change an APA and/or a focus area within an APA will be dependent, among other factors, on whether space is available in the requested APA/ focus area within an APA.
  • If the requested change is approved, the student will accept the change of APA/focus within an APA and relinquish his/her place in the current APA or focus area within an APA.
  • If the request to change APA/APA focus area is not approved, the student will make a decision as to whether to remain in the current APA/APA focus area or withdraw from the MSN program.

Focus Change within an APA Only

HCS (Foci: Administration, Education, Clinical Nurse Leader, Informatics, Outcomes Management) students who wish to add and/or change a specialty (e.g. Adult Oncology) should complete the first four “Steps for Requesting Change” listed above and thereby acknowledge the implications of their change request. Students requesting a Focus change within an APA only do not need to complete the steps listed in the following section.

Following submission of the Change of APA or Focus within an APA Request Form” the student must submit additional required documents to the Graduate Admissions Counselor in OSA. Students requesting a change of APA/Focus within an APA shall be considered by the MAC or DNPAC in conjunction with other applicants for the desired APA. The required documents include:

  • A current internal official UNC-CH transcript
  • A Professional Statement that strictly follows posted guidelines (see Application Instructions) to include, among other elements:
    • Evidence of the necessary credentials specific to the requested APA.
      • For example, if the student requests a change to the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner area, he or she must provide evidence of at least one year of clinical experience relevant to pediatrics.
    • The rationale for the request to change APAs, including how study in that particular area will prepare them for their future practice goals.

Following the review of an admissions committee and decision, the OSA will inform the student of the outcome in the same timeframe and format as all applicants are notified of admissions decisions. OSA will additionally return the “Change of APA/APA-Focus Request Form” with a copy of the letter from the admissions committee to the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP who will notify the respective Lead Faculty of the student’s status.

Deadline for Submission of Materials

The Change of APA or Focus within an APA Request Form and support documents must be submitted to the appropriate Admissions Committee via the Office of Student Affairs by the spring application deadline of January 15th. The relevant Admissions Committee must consider these requests as part of the MSN or DNP applicant pool for the following fall semester.

The goal is to facilitate an approved change of APA/focus area within an APA by either the summer semester when graduate clinical courses diverge (e.g. AGPCNP from FNP) or prior to the beginning of fall semester when the clinical course sequence of the newly selected major generally begins.

Approved MEC 5/19/2011; Revised MEC 9/26/2011; Approved DNPEC, 2014

Last Update: August 2018


Important Paperwork

Below are names and descriptions of paperwork and forms that must be completed and turned in to the MSN/DNP Division Office (Suite 1300) at varying time periods across a student’s program of study. All paperwork and forms are maintained in the student’s folder in the MSN/DNP Division office until graduation. Below, we have provided links to these forms as well as examples of how to fill them out.

NOTE: Most of these are multi-part forms that will be used to document two or more events across a student’s program.

Time periodForm ExamplesDescription
Matriculation; Pre-registration PeriodsPlan of StudyOfficial plans of study (POS) for the student(s) specific specialty area are used to monitor student progression and completion of graduation requirements.
Qualifying ExaminationPart I: Doctoral Exam Report FormPart I of a 4-part form that will be used to record other milestone events across the program.

The Chair of the Qualifying Examination (QE) committee will sign Part I of the form after the student successfully passes the exam.
DNP Project Chair; DNP Project CommitteePart I: Report of Doctoral Committee CompositionPart I of this 2-part form (PDF fillable) documents the DNP Project Chair and the DNP Committee members’ names and faculty status. The committee must be approved prior to the proposal defense.
Defense of DNP Project ProposalPart II: Doctoral Exam Report Form

Part II : Report of Approved Dissertation Project
Careful - two forms will need signatures after a successful proposal defense. See examples for instruction on signatures.

These signed documents indicate the student's readiness to begin the DNP Project and submit the proposal to the IRB if indicated
Final Defense of DNP Project (Grad School form will state 'dissertation')Part III: Doctoral Exam Report Form (Report of the Final Oral Examination)

Part IV: Doctoral Exam Report Form (Report of the Final Dissertation)
Please pick up this form from the OAA prior to your final defense.

Part III of a multi-part form that is signed by the DNP Project Chair and committee member(s) after a successful final defense.

Part IV is completed when the Committee has approved the final written manuscript. Signed paperwork will be forwarded to the Graduate School by OAA.

Form Finder

Links to electronic copies of all Graduate School forms can be located on the Graduate School Web site (Form FInder).

  • The majority of forms are now PDF fillable.
  • Frequently used forms include: Request Leave of Absence, Readmission Application, Request Reinstatement, and Extension of Time.

Updated August 2018