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SCSU collaborates with U of MN on Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing need for registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the central Minnesota region and especially for advanced practice registered nurses to serve rural communities. In an effort to build a strong foundation for the future, St. Cloud State University collaborated with the University of Minnesota to build the SCSU Doctor of Nursing Program (DNP). The St. Cloud cohort at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing collaboration began in the fall of 2020.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is a 3-year, full-time program with a specialization in Family Nurse Practice. Upon completion of the DNP degree, graduates are eligible for national licensure as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). The focus of the DNP FNP program is to educate registered nurses at the advanced practice level with an emphasis on the provision of primary care throughout the Central Minnesota Region.

Currently, students complete coursework through the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, with most coursework completed online. Clinical practicum experiences are arranged at a variety of CentraCare primary care locations with St. Cloud State University, and Department of Nursing faculty providing supervision. All clinical experiences are arranged through the U of M + SCSU Collaborative – students never have to find their own clinical experiences. Degrees are conferred by the U of M.

In addition to the faculty within the Department of Nursing Science and the Dean of the College of Health and Wellness Professions, the entire university is a champion of the program through the It’s Time Initiative as SCSU promotes its state-of-the-art learning opportunities for students in both clinical and non-clinical fields that serve community and workforce needs, such as the need for rural healthcare workers. The dean and faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the nursing leadership at St. Cloud Hospital are key members of the collaboration as well. President Robbyn Wacker is a strong supporter of the collaboration as the University of Minnesota School of Nursing works with the Nursing program to build the infrastructure for a doctoral program that will be offered exclusively through St. Cloud State to serve the needs of clinics and hospitals in central Minnesota and more rural parts of the state.

SCSU UofMN DNPSt. Cloud State Nursing faculty will create a dedicated DNP curriculum designed to focus on rural family nursing care that will launch in 2025. The collaboration with the University of Minnesota will continue until 2025, when St. Cloud State will begin granting degrees independently.  SCSU also offers a bachelor’s degree in Nursing for prospective students just starting college and an RN to BS completion program for practicing nurses who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Students are highly successful within these programs with a recent NCLEX pass rate of 100% for the cohort who graduated in December 2021.

The collaboration between SCSU and the U of M is supported by a donation from CentraCare, which committed $1.5 million to St. Cloud State in November 2019 to help the University establish a Graduate Nursing Education program. “St. Cloud State University is excited and honored to partner with CentraCare and is grateful for its support. This partnership benefits St. Cloud State, CentraCare, and all of Central Minnesota as it provides support to more effectively meet the health care needs of Central Minnesotans and conduct research to support evidence-based health care delivery,” shared College of Health and Wellness Professions Dean Shonda Craft and Nursing Department Chair and Chief Nurse Administrator Jane Bagley.

“We want to keep this program top of mind as the interest it generates will help us build our classes now and in the future. Current employees (registered nurses) of CentraCare Health System are the primary focus of the collaboration. We also strongly encourage recent alumni of the St. Cloud State University nursing program and nurses working in the region to learn more about the program to advance their careers.”

To learn more about the program, you can visit