Duke University Nursing School Review

Duke University (DU) is a private research university with around 15,000 students enrolled in a variety of programs. The campus is very large, with over 8,600 acres and three campus locations in Durham and a marine lab in Beaufort. Although the university has ties with the United Methodist Church, it is a nonsectarian institution. There is a large Medical Center on the campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing are offered at Duke. Duke University School of Nursing is ranked Number 7 in nursing schools in the U.S. by a popular nationwide magazine survey.

Nursing Programs

Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing

The Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN) is the only undergraduate nursing degree offered at Duke University. It is designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and have decided to go into nursing. The program is also known as a second degree nursing program. Students must have completed all of the pre-requisite courses before enrolling in the program. After these courses have been completed, the ABSN takes 16 months to complete. The program makes it convenient for students to continue to earn their Master’s Degree since up to 15 credits in the ABSN program also count as graduate credits. A unique advantage of this program is that clinical experience is completed at Duke University Health System and at locations around the world. This provides a rare opportunity for nursing students to study abroad while completing their ABSN. When students have completed the program, they are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN to gain licensure as Registered Nurses.

To qualify for admission to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any major with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required unless applicants have an undergraduate grade point average of 3.4 or higher.

Master of Science in Nursing Program

The Master of Science in Nursing Program at Duke University is the basis for many advanced nursing specialties, such as nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and more. From 39 credits to 60 credits must be completed to obtain the MSN degree. Both full-time and part-time programs are available. All MSN courses are offered online at least one semester each year, which makes it convenient for students to complete coursework according to their own schedule. The admission requirements for all of the MSN specialty nursing programs is the same unless noted below. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree or Diploma in Nursing with a Bachelor’s degree in another field.

Although not required, it is highly recommended that applicants have worked as a nurse for at least one year. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 is required, as well as the Graduate Records Exam unless an applicant’s undergraduate grade point average is 3.4 or better. In addition, an applicant should be licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) or eligible for licensure. Three professional letters of recommendation are also required, a personal statement by the applicant, and a personal interview. Decisions for admitting students to the MSN program are made on an individual basis.

There are four main categories of advanced nursing specialties available at Duke University’s MSN program, which are Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Non-Clinical, and Nurse Anesthesia. After completing each of the programs, students qualify to take the national exam for certification in their specialty. Each of these is discussed below.

Nurse Practitioner Specialties

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Both part-time and full-time options are available for RNs who want to specialize in acute care by becoming an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. These nurses care for patients who need intensive care for many different reasons, and they may serve as the patient’s primary medical caregiver. In this MSN program, students advance their knowledge in clinical skills and participate in clinical rotations that provide experience in many different environments.

Adult Nurse Practitioner Cardiovascular Specialty

This Nurse Practitioner specializes in cardiovascular patients and serves as the main healthcare provider of routine care for these patients. Those who have graduated from the program have found employment in outpatient diagnostic testing centers, heart failure clinics, inpatient and outpatient cardiology, and internal medicine. The Duke Heart Center is ranked Number 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Specialty

Students in this program complete clinical experience in many different environments to prepare them to work as generalists in caring for adults. There are 612 hours of clinical experience required, including residency. Graduates from this program have found jobs in outpatient clinics at hospitals, specialty practices, clinics, and private practices.

Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty

Graduates from the Family Nurse Practitioner program are trained to provide primary care for all ages. Duke University makes it as easy as possible to earn a MSN as a Family Nurse Practitioner by offering part-time or full-time study and distance courses for working professionals. Another unique opportunity offered to students is the chance to complete clinical work at international sites.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Geriatrics is a growing field in nursing, and the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner program prepares RNs to care for elderly patients. They provide the primary care for these patients. Students are mentored by leaders in long-term care and clinical geriatrics fields, and they may have sub-specialty concentrations in cardiology, oncology, or acute care. There are opportunities for global perspectives on health in the aged in this program.

Oncology Nurse Practitioner Specialty

Students in this program are trained to be experts in cancer epidemiology, pathophysiology, immunology, genetics, prevention, symptom management, and end-of-life care. Students are able to become Oncology Nurse Practitioners and combine this with a clinical nursing specialist major. Students have the opportunity to complete their residency at the Duke Cancer Center, ranked #7 in the nation for cancer care. This Oncology Nurse Practitioner program is one of only a few in the U.S.

Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program

This program prepares nurse specialists to care for infants and children who have complex and rapidly changing clinical conditions. These Nurse Practitioners work in intensive care units, emergency rooms, inpatient units, and rehabilitative and other outpatient facilities. This program is the only acute care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program in North Carolina. Students may choose to complete training in primary and acute care on a part-time or full-time basis.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Primary Care) Program

Outstanding pediatric nurses are eligible to enter this program to train to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who provides primary care to children of all ages. Students learn prevention, management of acute and chronic pediatric illness, behavioral issues, and health maintenance. Clinical experience takes place in schools, health departments, pediatric practices, and other healthcare settings.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Specialty

This program prepares students to provide primary healthcare to newborns and their families. Students learn to care for low and high-risk neonates in many different settings. The program may be customized to meet the needs of nurses in various situations, and there are both part-time and full-time options available.

Non-Clinical Specialties

Nursing and Health Care Leadership

Students interested in earning a MSN in Nursing and Health Care Leadership will learn financial management and other basics of nursing leadership. New and innovative ways of thinking of nursing leadership are emphasized in this program that prepares graduates to work in hospitals, government, and other healthcare organizations.

Nursing Education Specialty

This MSN program prepares nurses to teach in nursing schools and universities. Students learn methods for teaching adults, curriculum and program development and evaluation, and more. The program is totally online and is designed to be completed on a part-time basis. In addition, students work with master teachers at nursing schools, such as Duke University’s School of Nursing.

Informatics Specialty

The Informatics Specialty that leads to a MSN prepares graduates to work as health informaticians and recognizes the importance of electronic healthcare data to improve the health of humans. The program is distance-based and requires that students are on campus only three days each semester. Those with a bachelor’s degree may complete the program in two years.

Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA) Specialty

This program lasts for 28 months of full-time study and prepares students to administer anesthesia to patients as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. There are 60 credits required to complete the program, and at its completion students are prepared to take the national certification exam.

Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Specialty Concentration

This specialty concentration is open to students in the Adult Primary Care or Acute Care, Gerontology, Family, or Pediatric Nurse Practitioner specialty tracks of Duke’s MSN degree program. This concentration has three courses that focus on musculoskeletal practice. Students must complete two didactic courses and one clinical course to complete this program. The university awards a certificate to graduates of the program.

Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing

Those who have already earned their MSN may complete additional advanced nursing programs to earn a Certificate in Nursing. Specialties include all of the above options for MSNs, except students do not need to take Master’s Level courses that they have already completed. Students with another Master’s Degree will also be individually considered for the program individually by the nursing faculty. Non-nurse applicants are considered only for the Clinical Research Management program. They must have a Master’s Degree or Graduate Degree from a discipline approved by the nursing faculty.

Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics

This program is designed for healthcare professionals with a Bachelor’s Degree. This certificate program requires that 18 credits are completed, and it focuses on gaining specialized knowledge in health informatics.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

This advanced degree prepares RNs to fulfill roles as nurse leaders in healthcare teams to improve the care, patient outcome, quality, and more. Applicants must have either a BSN with a 3.0 grade point average. RNs with a MSN may also enroll in the program. Those with a BSN will need to complete between 73 and 94 credits, depending on which advanced practice specialty is selected. Students should plan on focusing on their advanced practice specialty for the time required, which is usually around 18 months to 2 years of full-time study. Then, it takes an additional 5 semesters to complete the DNP. RNs with a MSN must have a degree in an advanced nursing practice specialty, such as Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Administrator, or Nurse Informatics. The program takes 2-1/2 to 3 years to complete.

PhD Program

This program is designed for RNs with a MSN who want to have a career in academic and research settings. Graduates of the program are prepared in research methods and for an entry-level teaching role in an academic setting. Full-time study is required for this program, and all students receive fellowships that pay tuition, stipend, and fees.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Trajectories of Chronic Illness and Care Systems

Each associate admitted to this postdoctoral program works with a mentor who has a common research interest who will supervise the associate’s research. Different areas of study are available, such as adult health, child health, and aging and family caregiving, prematurity and low birth weight infants, and others.

Non-degree Enrollment Option

Those with a Bachelor’s Degree may take classes in certain nursing specialties that lead to a MSN without being formally admitted to the Duke University School of Nursing. Available specialties are Adult Nurse Practitioner Cardiovascular Care, Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia, Nursing and Health Care Leadership, and Nursing Education. Financial aid is not available for these courses.

Specialized Programs

These programs meet the specific needs of students in a variety of situations who want to continue their education at Duke University.

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

This program allows those with a Bachelor’s Degree in another discipline to earn their BSN in only 16 months. Graduates may then take the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam.

Continuing Nursing Education Credit (CEU) Opportunities

The Duke University School of Nursing offers experiences that provide CEUs for nurses throughout the year.

Online and Distance Learning

Many programs at Duke University are available as distance-based online programs, including the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. Students in the DNP program, which is an alternative to the typical on-campus program, can conveniently work during the day and complete their coursework in the evening or when their personal schedule permits. Required on-campus days are limited to a 3-day orientation and 2 to 3 days per session, amounting to 8 or 12 days required on-campus for the duration of the program.

The MSN program is also distance-based and do not require that students go to the Duke campus at all. Some specialty programs do require students to go to campus one or two times each semester to meet as a group.

There are four distance-based Nurse Practitioner specialties, which are Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner Cardiovascular Care (Post-Master’s Certificate only), Family Nurse Practitioner, and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

Making a Difference in Nursing II

This program at Duke University is for high achieving or high potential minority students. The purpose of the program is to inspire those who are seniors in college or those who have completed a non-nursing undergraduate degree to pursue higher level nursing degrees in education, practice, research, and in other areas. Financial assistance and scholarships plus stipends are available. The program consists of three components. These are the Summer Socialization to Nursing Pre-entry Program when scholars participate in a six-week summer residential program to learn about careers in professional nursing and opportunities in nursing at Duke University, the Continuing Connectivity Program, which keeps students completing their education at another facility connected with their mentors at Duke, and Succeed to Excellence Program. This program provides social support and financial stipends and scholarships to those who enter the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Military Programs

Active duty military students who are sent to Duke University by the military for full-time studies in the graduate nursing program usually do not pay tuition beyond what the military funds for them. Clinical experiences typically take place at a military treatment facility, and a former military officer is assigned as the student’s mentor or advisor for the duration of the student’s studies.

Duke University
Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-8111