About the DNP Program in Executive Leadership

A Student's Story

“I felt American Sentinel’s program would give me an opportunity to challenge myself and expand my knowledge of executive management,” Rita says. “I also really liked the cohort model where I would be grouped with colleagues at my level all over the country.” Rita made her decision and started her DNP in January 2010. “The great thing was that I was able to apply everything I was working on at work to school and to my work environment.”

Rita Haxton,
DNP Executive Leadership student at American Sentinel University

The Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership program prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in the health care system. The program develops five key competencies: leadership, business intelligence, finance, health policy and health services research.

Students examine legislative policy issues and economics, build critical thinking skills and develop into more marketable leaders. The nursing leadership DNP program is ideal for executives and managers who currently hold or intend to pursue leadership positions in their careers.

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has awarded accreditation to American Sentinel University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with specialty tracks in Educational Leadership and Executive Leadership. This decision was a result of a site visit completed in November 2013. View complete details.

What’s it like to be a DNP student? View a chat session between a prospective student and American Sentinel DNP graduate.

Program Details

American Sentinel offers a flexible, online study format allowing DNP Executive Leadership students to fit their course work into their busy schedules. Features of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership include:

  • Two-years, 42 credit hours.
  • Discussion of application theory and evidence-based practice in the workplace.
  • Eight-week courses.
  • Capstone implementation science that help students define their academic goals.
  • One 7-day residency per year at American Sentinel in Denver, Colorado (two residencies total, which take place at the beginning of each year of the program).

One of the most flexible DNP programs online available, our doctorate of nursing practice combines a rigorous health care executive leadership program with the fundamental business skills used by today’s nursing and health care leaders.

Practice Experiences

The nursing programs at American Sentinel University contain practice experiences. This is done to meet the accreditor requirement that RN to BSN, RN to MSN, MSN or DNP programs include practice experiences in the curricula to enable students to achieve the required educational competencies (AACN White Paper, Oct. 2012; DNP Essentials for Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, 2006; ACEN 2013 Standards). These practice experiences have specific objectives, expected outcomes and competencies.

Practice experiences are not like the clinical experiences you completed to obtain your degree as a registered nurse. Practice experiences do not involve hands-on patient care. They are designed to provide you with the opportunity to apply the concepts and knowledge you learn in the nursing courses.

See Nursing Practice Experience Guide for more information.

Course Highlights

Our rigorous curriculum covers a breadth of issues in nursing and health care, giving nurses the foundation and skills to lead their organizations. Here are a few of the DNP program’s online courses:

  • Statistics for Health Care Administrators (HCA725): This course gives students the tools to analyze data critical for the management of their medical systems.
  • Leadership: Setting the Example (N700): This one-week immersion course focuses on executive leadership in a dynamic health care environment. Students explore leadership theory and take into account organizational culture and governmental complexities.
  • Health Care Finance (N720): Covers economic ideas and models in the health care realm, and provides students a working knowledge of the analytical tools used in contemporary health care.
  • Health Services Research (N725): Students learn about a variety of health services research types and review studies to learn about quality research design.
  • Capstone Project (N740, N765 and N770): This three-part capstone of the online doctorate nursing program begins with the identification of a problem statement and hypotheses, moves into the development of a research proposal and culminates with the implementation of the research project. Students defend their project to a committee lead by the dean.

View the entire DNP Executive Leadershp curriculum.


The program is open to nursing managers and executives who have at least two years of leadership experience, within the past 5 years. Applicants must hold an active and unencumbered nursing license and a MSN degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution. Foreign students must hold a comparable degree from a recognized institution. No GRE or other placement testing is required.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the DNP Executive Leadership program will be able to:
  • Appraise the needs of complex organizations as they go through strategic decision making and change implementation.
  • Critique roles of leaders and collaborators in planning, providing, and evaluating health care.
  • Generate strategic plans for organizational change by utilizing theoretical knowledge, meaningful, data and evidence-based practice to while being culturally and ethnically sensitive.
  • Summarize meaningful data that informs leadership using information technology.
  • Design health policy that considers environmental social justice, consumer and other issues.
  • Create new models to explain, predict, and improve the performance of organizations.
  • Explain the role of healthcare finance in the health of an organization.

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