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NEOL Concentration

Program Overview

The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) for Nurse Executives is designed for licensed, registered nurses with an MSN in Nursing Administration, or BSNs with an MBA, MHA, or MPH.  We expanded our admission criteria in 2015 to include other BSNs with an MSN in education, informatics, and health policy who have progressive and current nursing leadership positions with current and progressive management positions.

The College recognizes a state and national need to prepare nurse executives for leadership roles by providing a DNP degree that is focused on unique learning experiences and represents a curriculum that blends the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) DNP Essentials with the 14 Forces of Magnetism from the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet Recognition Program® and the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows principles. In addition, we have a focus on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and new curriculum that integrates organizational leadership and quality outcomes with an emphasis on individual role development, advanced nursing concepts, financial, health policy, informatics, patient outcomes, and regulatory requirements such as those needed for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs.

Our program has been very successful with 100% of our first cohort graduating and 87% having received a substantial promotion prior to graduation. We have earned local, state, and national recognition for our unique program taught exclusively by nurse executives with real-world experience. This has allowed us to become very competitive.  However, we are still focused on bringing this unique doctoral education to nurse leaders and executives in N.M; making us a national leader with the number of nurse executives educated at this prestigious level.

Curriculum Overview

There are eleven program outcomes expected of the DNP graduate:

1. Assume the role of the doctoral prepared nurse in teaching, scholarship, leadership, and service.

2. Apply analytic methods to create, evaluate, and adopt effective innovations to improve health.

3. Analyze, translate, and apply evidence to improve health outcomes.

4. Engage individuals and communities to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to     address their health disparities.

5. Facilitate optimal health outcomes through delivery of culturally sensitive care, including clinical prevention strategies, identification of risk, individualized interventions, and formation of therapeutic relationships with clients.

6. Apply clinical, community, and policy interventions to reduce health inequities.

7. Evaluate and critique social policy relevant to the organization and delivery of health care.

8. Integrate and evaluate information systems in patient care technology for clinical, research, and administrative best practices.

9. Apply leadership and advocacy skills in the development, implementation, and evaluation of health policy.

10. Utilize effective management and organizational skills to assume a leadership role in health care delivery, policy, and systems.

11. Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence and integrating creative and critical thinking.

Join our program taught by faculty who are health care experts adept in addressing emergent and challenging issues facing nurse executives and leaders. Our faculty provides our students with a relevant educational experience that prepares them to transform nursing and health within complex health care systems.

  • To assure that the education and development of future nurse leaders is comprehensive and current, the CoN employs several full-time faculty who have more than 50 years of combined experience as high ranking nurse executives and leaders. In addition we have an Executive Nurse Scholars program with  temporary part-time faculty (TPT) who are current or former nurse executives with a minimum of both a doctoral degree and five years of experience in senior nursing management, leadership, and executive-level positions.  
  • This year round full-time program can be completed in six consecutive semesters. Future nurse executives are educated and developed to meet the demands of today's health care environment via on-line teaching modules using both synchronous and asynchronous modalities that include problem-based learning, case studies, discussion boards, team projects, narrated power point presentations, guest lecturers, TED Talks, and face-to-face interactions to allow for a complete emersion experience.  
  • A week-long residency is held each year in June. This interactive session provides students an opportunity to interact with fellow doctoral students including both the NEOL  PhD students, prominent nurse executives and APRNs along with current CoN administrators and faculty from across the state.
  • Networking with colleagues across local and state health care and policy allow organizations to share best practices and create opportunities that will shape and implement innovative changes in the health care system.
  • Because of the type of master’s degree and clinical residency experience you already possess, you may be eligible to waive up to nine credits of the 36 credit curriculum through a post-admission portfolio process.
  • The curriculum provides the opportunity to collaborate with other experienced, highly qualified nurse executives who are actively working in senior management and leadership roles.

General Statement

The faculty of the University of New Mexico, College of Nursing, is committed to excellence and diversity in its student body. Our admission policy for the baccalaureate, master, and doctoral degree programs is congruent with the mission statement of the College of Nursing and the Health Sciences Center. We believe that diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives among the student body help to insure a dynamic, productive, and positive learning experience. In seeking to achieve diversity, the admissions committees for each degree program may consider a wide range of factors in evaluating applicants for admission. Competency in the English language is required.

Since this college is a publicly funded institution, New Mexico residents are given preference. Geographical distribution from within the state also may be a factor in selecting the entering class as part of our search for diversity. It has been our experience that a large percentage of the applicant pool is qualified to be admitted, and if admitted would succeed in the course of studies. Doctoral programs are capped at a specified number of applicants each year to match resources. Many qualified applicants are regrettably denied admission.

The College of Nursing Admission Policy shall be subject to periodic review by the faculty and as requested by the Dean. Each admissions committee (i.e., baccalaureate, master, doctoral) operates within guidelines specific to that degree and/or concentration, as follows:

DNP Degree Program

The DNP degree at the College of Nursing requires doctoral applicants have either a BSN and a Master’s degree in related field (MBA, MPA, MPH, MSA) or a Master's degree in Nursing with a Nurse Administration Concentration.  A scholarly writing sample must be submitted as part of the application packet. Applicants are evaluated for their potential to meet program goals. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA at the master’s level (with a 3.5+ GPA preferred) in order to be considered for admission to the doctoral program.

Applicants to the DNP degree program with less than a 3.0 GPA for their master’s degree must specifically petition the College of Nursing DNP Admissions Committee to review their materials for admission. The petition must accompany the application. It should address the reasons for the low grade point average and provide evidence of potential for academic success at a doctoral level. The DNP Admissions Committee will consider the petition when making admission decisions. Such applicants may be required to complete coursework in a non-degree status prior to consideration for admission to the DNP program.

Applicants to the doctoral program are considered for summer admission only. All required application materials must be received by the application deadline. These include (but are not limited to) the application, registration form, transcripts, three letters of reference, letter of intent, and scholarly writing sample. Applicants must agree to sign a commitment to enroll in the program of studies course sequencing and attend the annual DNP residency week  held in the summer term of each year.

A screening committee, comprised of at least two members of the DNP Subcommittee, reviews the application materials and interviews each applicant. Specific screening criteria are used in their evaluation. Their recommendations for admissions are taken to the DNP Subcommittee for consideration. The Subcommittee’s recommendation is then forwarded to the Graduate Committee for consideration.

Note: The screening criteria used for admission to the DNP individual concentrations are reviewed annually by the DNP committee.

If you are an experienced nurse manager or executive who is interested in applying to this program, please complete the online application in the NursingCAS system. Applicants must meet admission requirements posted below. For further questions you may contact Jeri Belsher, Senior Advisor for Graduate Programs,

College of Nursing
University of New Mexico
Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership (NEOL) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Admission Criteria

Admission Guide

  •  Must have either a Master's degree in Nursing with a Nurse Administration Concentration or a BSN or a Master's degree in related field, (MBA, MPA, MPH, MSA). In addition, we are now admitting students with a Master's degree in Nursing Education, Informatics, Health Policy, or a Clinical concentration who are working in management/leadership positions. Applicants in these new areas will be offered the opportunity to take the MSN in Nursing Administration's comprehensive exam that covers business, quality, human resources, and organizational systems. A passing score on this exam is 80% and you will receive a score for each of the four areas of content.
  •  If you do not pass one or more sections of the exam, you will be tutored by one of the faculty and you may re-take the exam up to two more times. If you are still unable to pass one or more sections, you will be required to take course content related to this area as an independent study, or as negotiated by your advisor.
  • Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA at the master’s level (with a 3.5+ GPA preferred).
  • Minimum of three years in progressive nursing management or leadership practice management or equivalent as determined by the applications committee. 
  • Current, and unencumbered, RN license from one of the 50 U.S. States or Territories; if an advanced practice nurse or certified in a nursing specialty, a copy of your advanced practice license or certification must be submitted.
  • Must agree to sign a commitment to enroll in the program of studies course sequencing based on semesters and attend the annual DNP residency held in the summer term of each year. Failure to attend residency week without prior approval from the Program Director will result in termination from the program.
  • Personal interview (will be arranged and can be in person or by phone, Zoom, Skype, or Adobe hangout, etc.)
  • A letter of intent which specifies career goals and a clear statement of how the DNP will advance your executive administrative practice.
  • Current CV/resume
  • Submission of either a 2-3 page scholarly document with a description of an example of a specific health care administration problem that you would like to see changed, (preferably your capstone project idea) or a 1st authored publication. This must be written using APA. For APA assistance please visit the Purdue Owl.
  • Three references from those who know your work best and can comment on your abilities to succeed in a higher level and advanced nursing executive role. These may be from a professor, supervisor, or colleague (no more than 1 colleague).
  • Official transcripts
  • Must have pre-arranged practice site(s) for residency and capstone courses and meet all clinical clearances and liability of site(s) be obtained by end of first term of enrollment.

For further questions you may contact Jeri Belsher, Senior Advisor for Graduate Programs, or Dr. P.J. Woods, Associate Professor, DNP Program Director and Concentration Coordinator Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership (NEOL)

NEXus Doctoral Elective Courses

The UNM College of Nursing is part of NEXus (the Nursing Education Exchange), a collaboration among several Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) doctoral programs that offer· graduate courses through distance education. These institutions have entered into an agreement that allows the programs to share seats in courses and transfer credits in those courses across member institutions. Membership in NEXus provides students access to a wide variety of courses. Through NEXus, the institutions have identified courses that are available at a distance and open for enrollment from Academic Collaborator and Affiliate member institutions. Students should discuss plans to enroll in a NEXus course with their advisor before enrolling in the course.  Without the approval of the Committee on Studies, students might not be able to include the course( s) on their Application for Candidacy.

 Financial Considerations

 The current rate for a NEXus course is $775.00/credit hour (subject to change annually). This fee typically covers all associated university fees.  As with all courses, students are responsible for the cost of books and educational materials.

 NEXus courses qualify for financial aid- if you are receiving financial aid and plan on taking a NEXus course please contact Ana Vigil (amvigil@salud.unm. edu) to complete a UNM consortium agreement.

 Students are responsible for meeting the registration and payment deadlines of the institution that is offering the course. In most cases, this will not coincide with UNM's calendar so advanced planning financially and academically is important.

 Academic Considerations

 Policies on the transfer of NEXus courses vary by institution. For example, for UNM students, NEXus courses cannot be substituted for core courses, the substantive area courses, or health policy courses required by the concentration.

 Students enrolled in a NEXus course must meet all course requirements. Students are encouraged to contact the course faculty in advance to ensure that they understand the course requirements (e. g., prerequisite course vacation periods, on-campus requirements, technology requirements, synchronous versus asynchronous discussions, etc. ).

Visit for contact information and registration deadlines and dates.

For assistance in registering for a NEXus course contact Mary Jastrzemski, (505) 272-2684 or

1. What is the DNP?

The DNP is the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and is a practice-focused doctoral degree. The UNM College of Nursing is currently only offering the Post Masters option for the Nurse Executive Organization Leadership (NEOL) concentration

2. Why do I need a DNP?
You do not need a DNP if you are a certified advanced practice nurse and keep your certification current. However, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has recommended that by 2015, the DNP be the education preparation for advanced practice nurses (NP, CRNA, CNS, and CNM).

In addition to the educational preparation of advanced practice nurses, the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice emphasizes the need for further education in regards to leaderships, health care policy, information systems, and health care delivery systems. These foundations of DNP education supply the Nurse Executive and Nurse Administrator with the highest level of educational preparation in this nursing specialty.

3. What is the difference between Post Baccalaureate and Post Masters DNP?

The Post Masters allows advanced practice nurses who have graduated from an accredited nursing program at the masters level to pursue a DNP degree. The Post Baccalaureate will allow registered nurses who have graduated from an accredited nursing program at the baccalaureate level to pursue the DNP degree. The curriculum for both options are different and uniquely designed to meet the needs of the targeted group of students.

4. Will the Masters degree in Nursing Administration be offered?

The Masters degree in nursing administration is no longer accepting applications at the present time. The last Masters degree cohort was admitted in the spring of 2012.

5. When is the application deadline for the program and when is a new cohort admitted?

The application process opens on August 25 and the deadline is November 1 for the cohort being admitted the following year. Each cohort begins in the summer.

6. How long is the program and is there a set curriculum and project required?

The program is a total of six terms beginning in the summer and continuing through the end of the fall term of the second year. The curriculum is sequential. The Program of Studies can be found here..

7. What is a capstone project?

The DNP capstone project is a culminating project showing practice excellence and demonstrating leadership, knowledge of population health, evidence-based practice, inquiry, and the integration of the DNP role in a comprehensive health care environment. The capstone is to be a practice-oriented project that meets the needs of the DNP’s community of interest. The project is NOT a dissertation, but must exemplify scholarly activity.

8. Is the program completely online? What campus events are required of applicants/students?

The NEOL didactic program is completely online with both synchronous and asynchronous learning utilized. Students are only required to come to campus for Integration Residency I and II at the beginning of each year of the program for orientation and ongoing support for curriculum completion and capstone project. Clinical practice hours may be obtained in your home location. Applicants are invited to campus for interviews but are not required to attend on campus as interviews will be offered via telephone, Skype, or Adobe connect.

9. Can I continue my full-time job while in the program?

Yes. The two-year program is designed for students to remain in their current positions. The time commitment for the program varies by term and year, but the highest number of credits will be six in any one term with the exception of one term which is 7 credits (See Program of Studies)

10. What technology requirements are needed?

A high-speed internet connection is essential. Students accepted into the program are required to have a computer, printer, web camera, internet access, Microsoft Office and the capability for downloading videos. In addition, students are required to be proficient in Excel. Specific classes may require additional information technology and programs.

11. What can I do if I am not proficient in excel?

Included in your studentship at UNM is free access to software tutorials by Lynda. Click here, sign in with your UNM NetID, and search for the desired version of Excel for in-depth tutorials. 

12. What is the cost?

Information about the cost of both in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees can be found online at the Bursar's Tuition and Fees website: please note that there is an additional Nursing Tuition Differential for nursing students and can be found just under the Tuition and Fee Schedule . In addition to these costs please estimate $500 per term in additional course fees, HSC Library Fee and Needstick Insurance Fee. If you have any question, please contact the College of Nursing's Financial Aid Officer, Ana Vigil, or (505) 272-0854.

13. Is student aid available?

Please review the following UNM College of Nursing website for resources and more detail of financial assistance: In Summary, there are various resources: Federal Student Financial Aid such as student loans is the most common form of assistance, National Health Service Corp., State resources such as the New Mexico Health Service corp., UNM Office of Graduate Studies Funding Resources. Please contact Ana Vigil, program coordinator if you have any questions at or (505) 272-0854.

14. What library support will be offered?

Because the College of Nursing is an integral component of the academic HSC, students and faculty have access to multiple support services that are essential for quality teaching and learning. All students are provided with an e-mail account and access to multiple resources on the UNM campus. The e-mail system serves as a learning resource in enhancing communication with advisors, faculty members, fellow students, and professional colleagues.

The UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center (HSLIC) is a state-of-the-art center located in the heart of the HSC campus. The HSLIC resources include comprehensive and current collections comprised of books, journals, media materials, and web subscription resources that are available to all College of Nursing students and faculty. Holdings within HSLIC include a broad health sciences collection consisting of 43,000 monograph titles, 1,700 media titles, and 2,039 current journal subscriptions.

Many more titles are available through shared subscriptions with the University Libraries. Faculty and students have access to HSLIC in person or online, including from home computers via Internet proxy. Doctoral students in nursing require library resources from the most recent publications in professional and research journals. The number of electronic journals grows each year, and the College of Nursing supports the development of this collection through the HSC budget. Other services offered by HSLIC include more than 300 seats for individual or group study purposes and a designated nursing librarian to ensure that student and faculty members’ needs are met. The nursing librarian has created a unique DNP toolkit that outlines all resources the students need to be successful.