DNP: Clinical Nurse Specialist
Applications are no longer being accepted for DNP Advanced Practice Clinical Nurse Specialist tracks. Please visit our DNP Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Anesthesia tracks or PhD program for more opportunities to advance your nursing career.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Become a DNP-prepared Clinical Nurse Specialist while taking advantage of resources found only at Johns Hopkins. With a DNP, you’ll gain the analytical skills, evidence-based practice principles, and leadership expertise to drive health care innovation forward. The CNS track will develop your competencies in clinical theory and nursing practice, providing you with the tools to improve the delivery of patient care, manage resources while controlling costs, and promote education for the future nursing workforce.
World renowned faculty, who have broad experience in advanced clinical practice, leadership, and patient safety, have developed a curriculum and sequence of clinical experiences to provide students with a well-rounded education in comprehensive, coordinated first-contact, and longitudinal patient care. Through our immersive learning approach, get the professional development guidance you need to emerge as a nursing leader. Our faculty have identified superb mentors and will work with you to identify DNP projects that build upon work currently being done at Johns Hopkins and partner institutions.
No. 1 in the nation for its Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (DNP)
No. 2 in the nation for its Nursing Master’s Program (MSN)
No. 3 nursing school in the world, according to 2023 QS World University rankings
This program is offered in the online with course immersion format.
Program may be completed in 73 credits and provides 880 clinical nurse specialist clinical hours and 160 DNP practicum hours. Students have the option to take the Diagnostics Skills and Procedures for APN course as a 2 credit elective. Please note that this course requires an immersion.
Plan of Study
For Current Students Admitted Fall 2023 and prior, please reference your Plan of Study:
* Curriculum, credit hours, and sequencing are subject to change.
** Up to 16 credits can be applied from the JHSON MSN (Entry into Nursing) Program to the DNP Advanced Practice Track.
*** A minimum of 1000 practice hours is required for DNP.
Priority Application Deadlines
The DNP Clinical Nurse Specialist program will not be accepting applications in 2024.
Speak with an admissions officer to learn more about our program.
View Other DNP Tracks
Would you like to learn more about the other DNP Advanced Practice tracks?
Tuition & Other Costs
View the costs for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Clinical Nurse Specialist (online).
Scholarships & Grants
Grants are awards based on financial need that do not have to be repaid. Many students also benefit from scholarships and awards based on merit.
Many students will avail themselves of loans to help finance their School of Nursing education. If necessary, we encourage you to borrow only what is absolutely essential to cover your educational costs.
Many students locate part-time employment to help pay education expenses. Numerous positions are available on campus and within various community based organizations. These jobs provide students with opportunities to gain practical work experience. Most positions are funded through the Federal Work-Study Program.
Frequently Asked Questions
The DNP is a doctoral degree focused on the clinical practice of nursing. The degree represents the highest academic preparation for nursing practice. The DNP curriculum focuses on the knowledge needed to provide comprehensive direct care across settings. It can be conferred in conjunction with any specialty in advanced practice.
A strong foundation in courses such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment with a grade of B or above is one key to success.
The curricular content will enable the graduate to make complex diagnoses, provide evidence-based treatment modalities, utilize sophisticated informatics and decision-making technology, and assimilate in-depth knowledge of biophysical, psychosocial, behavioral and clinical sciences.
Through expanded preparation to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist, graduates learn to independently manage the care of complex and vulnerable populations across all settings, including ambulatory, acute, community and home settings, at the doctoral-level. The expanded curriculum will focus on implementing evidence-based decisions at the system level to improve patient outcomes.
The DNP Clinical Nurse Specialist tracks are all three year programs. They do not offer a part time plan of study.
The DNP Advanced Practice Track is completed over a four year period. Students may be able to work in the first year as a Registered Nurse in settings that offer flexible scheduling. As students begin to take specialized courses that prepare them for the respective role (i.e., NP or CNS), they will be engaged in settings to learn their future role and in which the DNP Project is situated. Hence, it will be challenging to maintain employment that is not flexible beyond the first year.
The DNP, or clinical doctorate, prepares the graduate to practice independently with the most complex patients, in any setting where the patient requires care, utilizing complicated informatics and evidence-based decision-making. Research doctorates prepare graduates to initiate and conduct sophisticated research projects, serving as the principal investigator.
The school accepts up to six credits of transfer from outside the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Once admitted into the program you can request to transfer credits by completing the transfer of graduate credit form.
The School of Nursing follows the regular academic schedule (prospective students should note that these courses are not self-paced). Students are enrolled for the fall, spring, and summer terms. Prospective students should refer to the plans of study found on the curriculum pages for each specialty.
Please visit School of Nursing’s Tuition and Fees page for the current program costs.
CNS coursework is delivered online with periodic onsite immersions.
The DNP program requires a minimum of 1000 practice hours. The majority of these hours will be in the clinical practicum where you will apply what you learn in the theory courses to gain the competence required for your particular specialty. The balance of the practice hours are devoted to the DNP practicum which focuses on the DNP Project. Ideally, you will have one-year of RN experience before starting the first specialty clinical.
Many of the core courses will be taken by all DNP Advanced Practice students at the same time. This could be as many as 60 students. However, the track specialty courses will be taken with only students in that specific specialty. In clinical courses, there is a ratio of 1 to 6 students per clinical instructor with each student assigned to a preceptor.
Students in the same specialty and the same plan of study (3- or 4-year) will move through as a cohort.
It is possible for students to negotiate a clinical site within their area of interest, but these cannot be guaranteed. The DNP Scholarly Project could allow students to identify a problem within a specific area and bring that together with the specialty role.
Clinical practicum experiences are determined by the student’s advanced practice focus area, student interest, site and preceptor availability, and the student’s programmatic needs. The student will work collaboratively with the specialty Track Coordinator and the Clinical Placement Team to request sites and preceptors, with final approval by the Track Coordinator. There will be an orientation to an electronic software system where the student will take responsibility to complete requests and upload appropriate documentation. Students will be working with the Clinical Placement Team from the time they enter the program until they graduate. The Clinical Placement Team will be a part of advising sessions, orientation and immersions. The student is encouraged to work collaboratively and proactively with the team on an all-hands approach for optimal preceptor opportunities. Unauthorized states for clinicals include LA, NY and OR.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing requires that all DNP Projects should:
Focus on a change that impacts healthcare outcomes either through direct or indirect care.
Have a systems (micro-, meso-, or macro- level) or population/aggregate focus.
Demonstrate implementation in the appropriate arena or area of practice.
Include a plan for sustainability (e.g. financial, systems or political realities, not only theoretical abstractions).
Include an evaluation of processes and/or outcomes (formative or summative). DNP Projects should be designed so that processes and/or outcomes will be evaluated to guide practice and policy. Clinical significance is as important in guiding practice as statistical significance is in evaluating research.
Provide a foundation for future practice scholarship.
There are four DNP Project courses that sequentially reflect the stages of evidence based practice quality improvement: Project Identification, Project Proposal, Project Implementation, and Project Evaluation. Each of the four courses has an associated practicum. The first course for the DNP Scholarly Project, DNP Problem Identification has an accompanying DNP practicum. The DNP Scholarly Project is situated in the clinical setting where the student will carry it out. As the project is a quality improvement focus, key stakeholders in the practice setting are necessary to identify clinical problems they want to address and for which they want to partner with a student or team of students. See your plan of study for the number of practicum hours associated with each course associated with the DNP Scholarly Project.
At least one letter should come from a recent or current direct supervisor/manager (the person who is responsible for your performance evaluation)
At least one letter should come from an academic faculty member who can speak to your ability to successfully complete a demanding graduate level academic and clinical program.
The third letter can come from a second academic faculty member or an individual in a leadership position who can speak to your clinical abilities.
Personal references from colleagues, friends, or family members do not meet the requirement.
If you are unable to provide one of the reference letters above, please upload a statement of explanation to your application.
Please include the following information in your resume or CV:
Work experience (include dates, sites and locations; paid and unpaid; any residency participation)
Scholarly activities (research, presentations, publications, honors, awards)
Professional activities (leadership, certifications, professional organization membership, service on committees)