Capella University Launches Groundbreaking Direct Assessment Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

New program rounds out the University’s nursing portfolio with offerings at the doctoral level in Capella’s signature learning format, FlexPath, as well as a new non-degree nurse leadership development series

MINNEAPOLIS--()--Capella University, an online higher education institution serving working adults, is now offering its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in a competency-based, direct assessment format. The DNP in direct assessment format was approved earlier this year by the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) and Capella University is the first to offer a direct-assessment, competency-based DNP, when compared with the 10 largest universities conferring doctoral nursing degrees*. This new modality for the DNP rounds out the full portfolio of nursing degree programs at Capella offered in its signature FlexPath direct assessment learning format, which already includes RN-to-BSN and MSN programs.

Through the self-paced FlexPath format, which has over 10,000 graduates, students can personalize their learning by customizing a schedule to fit their lives. Students can take one or two courses at a time during the coursework phase of the program and complete as many courses as they want in 12 weeks for one tuition fee**. In the DNP program with FlexPath, students will also be able to set their own deadlines, manage costs and leverage their work experience to advance at their own pace.

“On-demand education is the future and Capella University is already there with FlexPath,” said Dick Senese, President of Capella University. “I’m proud today to welcome into our portfolio the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program in a direct assessment format. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear how nurse leaders influence patient care and outcomes every day. It is critical that they are provided flexible education options to further expand their practice.”

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) notes that nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses nationwide. Employment for registered nurses is projected to grow 12% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We know nurses in leadership positions are looking for flexible options to pursue a DNP while also working a full-time job. The FlexPath format provides a great option for students to progress at their own pace while balancing work and other responsibilities,” said Betty Nelson, PhD, RN, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences at Capella University.

“Capella University has always been at the forefront of innovation in their program development for nurses,” said Dr. Cathleen Wheatley, President, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center & Wake Forest Baptist Health System Chief Nurse Executive, Sr. Vice President of Clinical Operations. “As a member of Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board, I can attest that we were greatly involved in understanding how this program was going to be built and gave input into how the desired outcomes of the program would add value to Capella DNP students and their employers. Their passion to move FlexPath into doctoral nursing education will positively impact and influence the role nurses will have within their organizations to deliver high quality, patient-centered care.”

The doctoral program will be an extension of Capella’s current FlexPath program offerings. Students wanting to learn more about acquiring a degree from Capella’s other FlexPath programs can visit:

In addition to the DNP, Capella University is piloting a non-degree leadership series for nurses at select employer partners. The Nursing Leadership Development Series is a six-module program that employer partners can leverage to build a talent pool of nurse leaders prepared to lead at the highest levels within their organization. The series offers nurses continuing education (CE) credit and was designed by Capella faculty with a nurse leader’s perspective in mind. Capella will pilot the offering to select employers this year.

The learning experience for the Nursing Leadership Development Series will include engaging video content from online medical education company Osmosis.

“With the healthcare industry projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, investing in the professional development and continuing education of our nurses is an economic imperative,” said Jennifer Dixson Hoff, Strategic Education, Inc. Senior Vice President of Portfolio Strategy. “We’re proud to offer this new learning pathway that will deepen the expertise of our nursing professionals who do so much in our communities and are currently on the frontlines of our nation’s health crisis.”

* Source: 10 largest universities by number of doctoral degrees in nursing conferred during the 2018 academic year as reported by IPEDS

** Books, supplies and other fees apply

About Capella University

Capella University ( is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1993, the university is dedicated to providing flexible, professionally aligned online degree programs designed to help working adults advance in their careers. Known for its commitment to learner success, academic quality and innovations in online education, Capella pioneered competency-based direct assessment programs, allowing students to learn at their own pace. For more information, call 1.888.CAPELLA (888.227.3552).


Mona Amin

Release Summary

Capella University adds a pioneering Doctor of Nursing Practice FlexPath program and new non-degree nurse leadership series to its nursing portfolio.


Mona Amin