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BSN to DNP Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a practice doctorate that prepares clinical scholars recognized for outstanding leadership and innovative evidence-based patient/population centered outcomes. The program focuses on interprofessional collaboration and developing competencies in practice, leadership, and quality improvement and safety that lead to enhanced outcomes important to patients, families, providers, and organizations.

The BSN to DNP curriculum is in line with the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties' (NONPF) and American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) commitment to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the DNP degree by 2025. The program is an integration of the objectives and learning opportunities required for attainment of doctoral level core and population-focused competencies.

OU College of Nursing’s Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist program prepares skilled nurses to function at the highest level of care in a wide range of health care settings where neonatal care needs are served.

Clinical experts in the diagnoses, interventions and treatments of illnesses, CNSs work with other professionals to advance the nursing practice and improve outcomes in patient care, in addition to providing clinical expertise to influence system-wide changes in care.

Those who earn a doctoral degree as a clinical nurse specialist often:

  • Lead and collaborate in an interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Manage complex medical neonates as they prepare for discharge to their medical home
  • Serve as educators, consultants, evidence-based researchers, change agents and unit leaders, as well as clinical nurses

Graduates of this program can be found working in independent or collaborative practice, hospitals, and outpatient clinics.

The CNS pathway offers 4-year part-time and 3-year full-time options to fit the schedules of working nurses. Many classes are offered online but there are on-campus learning requirements in some classes. On-campus learning consists of standardized patient visits, labs with clinical skills and physical assessments, and objective structured clinical exams. For additional information about this program, please contact

Post-Graduate Certificate tracks are available. For additional information, please review our Post-Gradaute Certificate page.

The Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist curriculum prepares graduates to apply for and sit for the Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist certification exam.

Residency requirements: Clinical Rotations will be performed in the state of Oklahoma. Due to federal regulations from the Department of Education, the College of Nursing currently accepts applications for its online doctoral degree programs from residents of the states participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). A list of participating states can be found at: Applicants are encouraged to check with their local State Boards of Nursing regarding any specific professional licensure requirements prior to applying or enrolling. 

Prerequisite Courses

Research Methodology 

General Statistics 


The BSN-DNP program is 74 semester credit hours and 1034 clinical/practicum hours.

The Post-Graduate certificate program has 28 semester credit hours and 714 clinical/practicum hours. 

Programs can be completed in 3-4 years for the BSN-DNP option and 2 years for the Post-Graduate Certificate option. 

Admission Requirements

•    Application deadline – April 1st
•    Completion of a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Nursing from an accredited institution
•    Minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for the last 60 hours
•    Current unencumbered Registered Nurse License in the State of Oklahoma.
•    University admission and supplemental applications [Including submission of three reference letters, an essay, and a resume]
•    Potential interview with DNP faculty
•    Completion of all prerequisite courses prior to application deadline
•    The equivalent of two years of full-time clinical practice experience within the last five years as a registered nurse (RN) in the care of critically ill neonates or infants in critical care inpatient settings is required before you begin clinical courses. You may apply for the program and enroll in preclinical courses while obtaining the necessary practice experience.
•    At time of application, you must have current Neonatal Resuscitation Provider and Basic Life Support certificates and maintain them throughout the program of study.