Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing



Date of Original Version



Since 2004 discourse pertaining to a terminal clinical degree in nursing has increased nationally, however few articles were found that discussed why advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) were choosing to pursue this degree, and their lived experiences while doing so. This descriptive, qualitative research study aimed to identify contributing factors in the decision to pursue the DNP degree, and to explore the experiences of DNP student experiences. Rogers’ theory of diffusion of innovations (2003) guided the study. Snowball recruitment led to seven participants from who data was collected using email conversations. Five major themes were identified: (1) personal development, (2) achieving personal goals, (3) professional advancement, (4) program attibutes and (5) relationship with others. Implications exist for the nurse contemplating this degree, for faculty who educate APRNs, and for program directors as they structure learning environments and recruit new enrollees. Recommendations include the clarification of the DNP role in the delivery of healthcare services, to identify why so few of the respondents intend to use this degree in clinical practice, and for future research into how online nursing programs can use technology to effectively teach DNPs.

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