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Doctor of Nursing Practice

Doctoral Degree

Advance your nursing practice with Clarke University! With our personalized approach to learning, you will enhance your skills and ability to care for the whole person. This is your opportunity to better your life and improve patient outcomes.

A DNP Program That Stands Apart

With cohorts limited to 20 students each, you will get the one-on-one support and attention Clarke is known for. Our faculty bring years of professional experience to the program, offering unique insights and evidence-based practice for quality improvement.

Benefit from the support and mentorship of advanced students. Each first year student is paired with a third year student for advice and guidance. In turn, our third year students gain valuable experience in leading and coaching others.

Throughout your coursework, you will complete over 1,000 hours of clinicals in your area of concentration. Choose from placements near Dubuque, Iowa or across the country to broaden your learning and perspective.

DNP students average a 100% pass rate on national certification boards. Licensed DNP graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate at clinics and health centers nationwide. Graduates have found success as clinical nurse specialists, leaders in family medicine, researchers, mental health nurse practitioners, and more.

See the Doctor of Nursing Practice Mission and Outcomes.

Clarke University doctoral student working in the Nursing Simulation Lab.

Clarke University Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner student gaining real world experience

Choose Your Specialty, Enhance Your Practice

Help your degree in nursing stand apart by selecting one of our in-demand concentrations:

With the ability to choose areas of research that are meaningful to you, you can share the positive impact of your degree with your community. Take it from Alex, a 2022 graduate who focused his research on addressing physical and mental health care for farmers in rural areas.

“My findings support the idea that having a provider who understands the unique culture and stressors that come with farming could make a difference. Now that I have my DNP degree, I can work with my hospital to create more effective outreach where I visit farms or meet these individuals outside of regular business hours to make mental health care more accessible.”

Read more from Alex

National Recognition

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Clarke University is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. We are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Clarke has earned outside recognition as well, including, which named Clarke one of the top 5 doctorate of nursing programs in the nation in 2019. Clarke University has also earned recognition as the #1 Best Faith-Based University in Iowa from Plexuss, Princeton Review’s Best Midwestern Colleges, and #47 Nationally in Social Mobility from U.S. News & World Report.

Clarke University Doctor of Nursing student working with patient.

Clarke University Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner students complete over 1,000 hours of clinicals.

A DNP Degree Aligned With Your Goals

Combined with our hands-on learning activities and clinicals in your areas of interest, our program creates a clear path to success. Take that journey one step further with certificates like our Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate or the Nursing Education Certificate.

Each of these certificates  add breadth and depth to your expertise. Expert faculty will help you draw connections between social issues and their impact on the health of your patients and the greater community.

Have your MSN degree and want to earn your DNP?
Clarke offers a MSN-DNP Bridge Program In this program, students will complete 39-48 credits depending on whether they completed Physical Assessment, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology in their MSN program. The program focuses on advocacy, policy, economics and evidence-based practice.

Program Details

Classes are hybrid, meeting face-to-face the first and third Thursdays of each month. Cohorts are limited to 20 students. Students will complete 1,000 clinical hours specific to their concentration. You’ll learn to: 

  • Provide care based on evidence-based practice for quality improvement of patient outcomes
  • Collaborate with inter-professional teams 
  • Apply ethical perspectives to decision-making 
  • Advocate health care access for all 
  • Manage the business of health care effectively 
  • Inform practice with current research 
  • Use technology to support practice 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the issues and trends related to health care and socio-economic policies
  • For course descriptions and more information, please see the Academic Catalog

Admission to Clarke University

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. GRE is required if GPA is less than 3.0. 

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Meet Our Faculty

When our graduates speak about the Clarke moments that helped shape them, there’s always a professor in the story. That’s because being a faculty member at Clarke University requires a deep passion for educating, encouraging, and empowering students. Here, your professors will know you by your first name. They will push you to develop your full potential, and then they’ll ask for more. And, they’ll be right there to congratulate you when you exceed even your own expectations. Often, it’s a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

View Our Faculty & Staff
Lisa Rettenmeier, Ed.D.

Lisa Rettenmeier, Ed.D.

Chair and Professor of Nursing

I believe that it is imperative that we utilize strong leadership characteristics as nurses, to care for individuals who cannot care for themselves. Nursing is about caring for the whole person, the body, mind, and spirit. 

Andrea Simmons, DNP

Andrea Simmons, DNP

Associate Professor of Nursing

As an educator, my goal is to challenge students to think in a way that promotes their professional and personal growth so they can positively impact their profession. 

Angel Keller, DNP

Angel Keller, DNP

Assistant Professor of Nursing

I am passionate about finding creative ways to help students synthesize complex information, to enable them to be successful learners so they may enjoy their journey in education and be able to share their gifts with others. 

Psychology Major students have access to state of the art facilities at Clarke University
There’s more to college than going to class.

The Classroom and Beyond

But don’t take our word for it…

Our Students & Alumni

Kristen Klein

Kristen Klein

Doctor of Nursing Practice ‘23

What I like most about the Clarke DNP program is the smaller cohort so the professors can provide support to each individual student, setting them up for success.  The hybrid program also provides a unique opportunity for students and educators to meet face-to-face about twice a month, unlike some programs that are all online.

Gene Leutzinger

Gene Leutzinger

Doctor of Nursing Practice ‘16

The DNP program at Clarke impacted me in a much more profound way that I had anticipated. It was much more than knowledge that I gained. Clarke shaped my world view and empowered me in my role as a dean to work for betterment of others and advocate effectively for social justice.

Angel Thompson

Angel Thompson

Doctor of Nursing Practice ‘18, BSN ‘11

The Clarke DNP program taught me the importance of being an advocate for my patients. I am now able to make an impact towards improving the health of the community that I serve.

100 %
Pass Rate

DNP pass rate on national certification exam.

Years to a DNP

Earn a doctoral degree in as little as three years.


Clarke assists with clinical locations. All students are precepted one to one.


The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Clarke University is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Clarke University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Experience Clarke Doctor of Nursing Practice for Yourself

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