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Discover AU's DNP - Executive Leadership Program

As a nurse, you understand patient needs, and you see the challenges nurses encounter every day. As a leader, you see potential to improve the work and lives of your colleagues and patients. Maybe you want to implement more economical financial practices, create efficient data systems, streamline reporting procedures, or ensure patient safety by serving on an accreditation board. Whatever area of leadership intrigues you, Anderson University’s executive leadership program guides you to the exciting intersection between business and nursing.

AU’s program is unique because we view leadership and nursing from a Christian worldview. We understand that our colleagues, our patients, and we ourselves are image-bearers of God. This means that we lead with compassion and integrity. Our professors are practicing nurses themselves, who see leadership as more than a skillset, and nursing as more than just a job. It’s a calling and an honor.

Enroll with a Master’s Degree

Once you begin the program, you can complete your degree in nine semesters (6-10 credits per semester), equivalent to three years. If you enter the program with a Master of Science in Nursing, you can complete the program in as few as five semesters.


All classes are taught online, so you can learn anywhere. You will still meet with your cohort and professors in person once per semester for intensive work days, including simulation labs and seminars if you are in the BSN to DNP cohort. If you are in the MSN to DNP cohort, you will only come to campus your first and last semester for intensive work days.

Course Sequence

In the Executive Leadership track, you will take MBA classes to prepare for the business aspect of nurse leadership. Through these courses, you will gain practical knowledge in organizational and management theory, with a particular focus on budgeting, accounting, finance, strategic planning, and organizational development.

You will complete 73 hours of coursework (for those holding bachelor’s degrees) or 42 hours (for those holding master’s degrees). Your classes will include Management Thought & Application, Healthcare Finance & Economics, and Healthcare Policy & Structure. You will also study Public Health in Disaster Management, which will prepare you to handle public health crises, such as epidemics and disasters among vulnerable populations.

Scholarly Project and Residency

In addition to coursework, you will complete a scholarly project and a clinical residency. The evidence-based project may include a quality improvement (QI) focus, a policy change, or perhaps a protocol development for your facility. Your advisor will guide you in this process. Throughout your time in the program, you will develop this project, from the conceptual stages to research and investigation to implementation and dissemination of the results. If you are entering the program with a master’s degree, you will begin your project immediately; otherwise, you will begin in your fifth semester.

Clinical residencies are required for all students. You will complete 1,100 hours of clinical training, spread across the entire program. While it is your responsibility to find a clinical preceptor, AU works hard to establish relationships with clinical partners, to aid you in your search.

Career Outlook

Healthcare trends indicate that Chief Nursing Officers will soon be required to hold Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. In addition, your degree will prepare you to serve as a Chief Nursing Executive, Chief Executive Officer, Clinical Coordinator, or in other executive roles in hospitals, insurance companies, and accreditation and governing boards. Salaries for nurses in executive leadership range from $80,000 to $200,000.

Your clinical and in-class experiences at AU will also prepare you for any specialized certifications or exams, such as the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader exam.