Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program in Executive Leadership

Our ACEN-accredited online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with a specialization in executive leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses to immediately step into healthcare leadership roles. With an emphasis on relevant curriculum, students examine legislative policy issues and economics, improve their critical thinking skills and develop into more marketable leaders. Our online DNP program is ideal for executives and managers who currently hold or intend to pursue executive leadership positions in healthcare organizations during their careers. Students also benefit from interactions with nursing leaders from top U.S. healthcare organizations around the country such as Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Geisinger Health System and Spectrum Health System.

Flexible and Fast Program

  • Program is only 28 months long with rolling admission
  • Year one: four–day  residency, we pay for your stay; year two: two-day virtual residency
  • Schooling is 100% online except for one short, four-day residency in Aurora, CO

Affordable Tuition So You Can Earn Your DNP, Debt-Free

Relevant Curriculum

  • Our DNP leadership program in executive leadership program develops five key competencies: Leadership, Business Intelligence, Finance, Health Policy, Health Services Research
  • The curriculum is kept up-to-date so students are prepared to deal with current issues in healthcare. Our program is fully accredited by ACEN, an accreditation valued by leading healthcare organizations.

DNP Executive Leadership 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 courses for the online DNP program:

  • Leadership: Setting the Example (N700PE): Focuses on executive leadership in a dynamic health care environment. Students explore leadership theory and take into account organizational culture and governmental complexities.
  • Healthcare Finance (N720PE): 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 (N725PE): Students learn about a variety of health services research types and review studies to learn about quality research design.
  • Strategic Planning (N760PE): Focuses on the organizational and institutional processes of defining an overarching strategy or direction for the organization, including decisional support for allocation of resources. Topics include tools to determine directions, strategies and courses of action. This course includes 75 hours of practice experience activities.
  • Capstone Project (N740PE, N765PE and N770PE): This three-part capstone of the online doctorate nursing program begins with the identification of a problem statement and purpose statement, moves into the development of a research proposal and culminates with the implementation and analysis of the project. Students defend their final project to a committee, members of nursing leadership, and the public.

View the entire DNP Executive Leadership curriculum.

DNP Executive Leadership Program Takeaways

What You’ll Get

  • Real-world solutions for your organization’s challenges
  • Connections to peers at leading organizations around the country
  • A deeper understanding of leading the next generation of nurses
  • A professional headshot

What You’ll Learn

  • 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 healthcare.
  • Generate strategic plans for organizational change by utilizing theoretical knowledge, meaningful data, and evidence-based practice 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.

Program’s Mission

The mission of the DNP program is to prepare highly qualified nurse leaders and nurse educators to serve in competitive health care and higher education settings.

Practice Experiences: A More Active Way to Learn

DNP Practice ExperiencesThe online DNP program 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. Practice experiences are an opportunity to get away from traditional reading and writing assignments; instead these assignments are replaced with more active assignments.

See DNP Practice Experiences for more information.

“American Sentinel’s program filled in the gaps for me and had the right amount of nursing theory for someone at my level.”

Sheila Bennett, DNP graduate with Floyd Medical Center

Why Choose American Sentinel Over Other Schools?


  • DNP leadership classes are online and designed for working professionals, giving you the convenience and control to participate in classes around your busy schedule.
  • Classes are only eight weeks in length.

Personal Support

  • MySentinel® Student Support is our distinctive personal approach to helping students succeed. As a DNP student, you will work exclusively with our fantastic student success advisors, Adam and Jessica, who will help guide you through graduation.


  • Our competitive tuition rates, various payment options and DNP Travel Assistance Program allow most of our students to graduate debt-free

A Track Record of Proven Student Success

  • We have educated students at some of the top healthcare organizations in the country: Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger Health System, Johns Hopkins University, Kindred Healthcare, and the list goes on. These students along with thousands more have achieved personal goals, and new positions with their DNP, executive leadership specialization from American Sentinel University.

In-person Residency

  • Meet faculty and peers that will become your support team through graduation and beyond. We invite you to learn more about the DNP Residency.

Are You Eligible?

The program is open to nursing managers who hold a master’s degree, a BSN and an unencumbered RN license and have a minimum of one year full-time work experience in a nursing executive or management/ leadership role within the last five years. Nurses in this specialization are not required to have/earn an MSN, so we offer three options:

  1. Nurses that have an MSN (direct enrollment in the DNP program)
  2. Nurses that have a master’s in another discipline (e.g. MBA, MHA, MPH, or MEd) and want to earn an MSN and DNP
  3. Nurses that have a master’s in another discipline but do not want to earn an MSN, just a DNP
    • Applicants with a non-nursing master’s complete three bridge courses and 400 total hours of practice experience, and then complete the DNP program. An MSN is not earned in this program. (We highly recommend that if the student wants to teach, they choose the MSN option.)
    • Please visit the Bridge-Course and Practicum Workshop page for course details.