Doctor of Nursing, three students working at a computer

Doctor of Nursing (DN)

As part of the Faculty of Nursing’s commitment to health-care leadership and innovation, a new Doctor of Nursing program launched January 2023.

This new program is aimed at developing nurse leaders and innovators with significant leadership experience (minimum of three years) for senior roles in health care and related organizations. Students will be provided with knowledge and skills to advance health systems by designing and implementing innovations and evaluating outcomes.

The Doctor of Nursing is a graduate degree program requiring a work-integrated research project. The online structure of the program will allow students to complete the program with flexibility while continuing to work. The program may be completed in as little as three years.

If you have questions about the Doctor of Nursing program or are interested in applying, we welcome you to email today for more information.

Fadumo Robinson

AHS associate chief nursing officer says DN program has been a great investment in herself

Fadumo Robinson, associate chief nursing officer of Alberta Health Services, shares how UCalgary's Doctor of Nursing program and focus on leadership has relevancy and application to her role

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Student in first cohort of DN program gives it an A+

Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell is an Indigenous RN; she shares her experiences in UCalgary Nursing's Doctor of Nursing program

Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell

“If you are a senior leader with challenging problems to address in your health-care environment, then the knowledge you will gain throughout the coursework in this degree is priceless!  For me, the deciding factor in applying to the DN program versus a PhD program was the focus on obtaining advanced knowledge specific to health-care leadership.” 

Annjanette Ridsdale-Weddell

Director, Health Workforce Strategy, Planning & Analytics for Alberta Health

"This graduate level leadership education will also expand my own research into healthy work environments, healthy teams and health-care improvement. " Read full story

Is this program right for me?

Students in the DN program typically hold mid- to senior-level leadership roles across the healthcare system. They are looking for a program to help advance their leadership skills and increase their ability to drive change in their current health systems. 

Some examples of roles that current DN students hold include:

  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Director
  • Executive Director
  • Program Lead
  • Quality Improvement Lead

The Doctor of Nursing (DN) program at the University of Calgary is designed for leaders within the healthcare system, with a focus on leadership, innovation, and driving change within the systems in which they work. Typically, DN students are in mid- to senior-level leadership roles that do not involve bedside nursing practice. There are no clinical/practice courses in the DN program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are typically designed for Nurse Practitioners (NPs), with a focus on both leadership and advanced nursing practice education, often with a clinical/practical course component designed for those working in patient care environments. 

No, you do not need to be a nurse. The DN is designed for masters-prepared leaders across the healthcare system. While many of our students do have a background as a Registered Nurse (RN), leaders with backgrounds in other health professions such as social work and public health are also eligible for admission. 

Admission Requirements

  • At least 3 years of healthcare or related organization leadership experience in a mid-level to senior leadership role.
  • A Master’s Degree in Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing or related fields, or an equivalent from a recognized institution, with a grade point average equivalent to 3.00 or better (on the University of Calgary 4-point system).
    • Students must have successfully completed graduate-level courses in quantitative and
      qualitative research methods and statistics.
    • Degrees and grades from foreign institutions are evaluated for their equivalency to those of the University of Calgary. Prospective applicants with international degrees are encouraged to contact the Faculty of Nursing.
  • Proficiency in the English language is essential for the pursuit and successful completion of graduate programs at the University of Calgary. Applicants whose primary language is not English must fulfill the English language proficiency requirement as outlined in the Graduate Calendar.
  • Submission/completion of the following admission processes:
    • A personal statement. Applicants may include information about their personal context, reasons for making an application to the DN program, and/or professional/personal objectives.
    • A current resume/curriculum vitae with examples of the applicant’s written work (e.g., publications, research reports/proposals, master’s thesis, etc.).
    • Two references - One academic and one professional.

Optional opportunity to meet with faculty will be available

Students will be assigned a faculty supervisor to assist with the identification and development of a work-integrated project. Students will be required to provide a workplace mentor to support their project work. If students have not identified this mentor prior to the start of program, support will be offered to meet this requirement.

What will I need to submit with my application?

Unofficial transcripts

You will need to provide unofficial transcripts for all prior post-secondary education. These can be uploaded to your Student Centre portal. Offical transcripts will only be required for those offered admission. 

Referee contact information

You will be asked to provide the contact information for your two referees (one academic and one professional). Your referees will be emailed a unique link to complete the reference form, which will then be automatically added to your application once completed. 

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Your CV should include: education, work history, leadership roles, awards, achievements, honors, or distinctions, scholarly presentations or publications with links when available, and roles and affiliations with academic or professional organizations.

Application questions

When submitting your application online, you will be asked to provide answers to the following questions:

Please provide a detailed description of your nursing leadership experience. We are interested in hearing about your roles, responsibilities, challenges faced, and the impact you've made in your nursing practice.
Please describe your interest in the DN program and how you envision it aligning with your career goals. We are interested in understanding your motivation for pursuing our DN program and how you believe it will contribute to your leadership development. You may reference specific aspects of the DN program that resonate most with your interests and goals.
Please describe the questions or problems you hope to address through your work integrated DN project. We are interested in seeing the alignment of your project with your current leadership role and how you envision your project contributing to the healthcare system where you work and lead.  
Please provide an overview of the graduate level research courses you have taken, including the course name and number, topics covered, methodologies learned, and how you have you applied these research skills in your leadership roles. We are interested in knowing how your engagement in research has shaped your approach to leadership and strengthened your ability to address challenges and drive innovation in your workplace.
You will require a workplace mentor to support your work integrated DN project. Please share the person you believe may be your workplace mentor, their role in your organization, and why they are best suited for this role. We are interested in learning about the workplace supports available that may help ensure your work integrated DN project is successful.

Program Structure

  • Online delivery – synchronous and asynchronous
  • Complete 7 core courses
  • Prepare and successfully defend thesis
  • Expected completion time is 3 years
  • Tuition is charged annually 

Course Work

  • NURS 741: Leading Innovation and Transformation
  • NURS 742: Technology and Healthcare Information
  • NURS 743: The Business of Healthcare
  • NURS 744: Health Policy and Advocacy
  • NURS 745: Innovation, Improvement and Implementation Science
  • NURS 746: Seminar 1 – Project Development
  • NURS 747: Seminar 2 – Knowledge Mobilization

Technology Requirements

To successfully engage in learning experiences at the University of Calgary, students taking online, remote and blended courses are required to have reliable access to the following technology:

  • A computer with a supported operating system, as well as the latest security, and malware updates.
  • A current and updated web browser. 
  • Webcam (built-in or external).
  • Microphone and speaker (built-in or external), or headset with microphone.
  • Current antivirus and/or firewall software enabled.
  • Broadband internet connection.

In the News: Calgary Herald

UCalgary to offer Doctor of Nursing professional degree, a first for Western Canada

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New professional degree for health practitioners approved

Doctor of Nursing to be first in western Canada and will address key gaps within nursing education

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Still have questions? Contact the Nursing Programs Office