Clarion University Adds Doctor of Nursing Practice and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degrees

Joanne Bauer

Joanne Bauer

Published January 24, 2014 5:30 am

CLARION, Pa. — Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors approved two new Clarion University programs Jan. 23: a traditional, four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Offered through the newly organized School of Health Sciences, the BSN will be taught on the Clarion campus, and the DNP, Clarion’s first doctoral degree, will be taught online, in partnership with Edinboro University.

The new BSN program, offered on the Clarion campus beginning in fall 2014, is innovative in its approach to nursing education. U unlike many nursing programs, students in Clarion’s BSN program will participate in nursing courses and be introduced to research and critical thinking beginning in the first semester.

Several high-impact educational practices such as clinical experiences, nursing courses, collaborative assignments, undergraduate research and a capstone project are incorporated throughout the curriculum. Simulation laboratories, volunteer experiences in health care agencies, and creative, hands-on experiences such as live standardized patient labs and research studies are in place in the freshman through junior years as components of clinical learning to support senior-level clinical preparation.

Case studies and other writing assignments used throughout the curriculum provide students opportunities to apply information and reflect on clinical situations. In the senior year students will be immersed in clinical practice and will complete
five clinical specialty rotations, after which they will participate in a clinical preceptorship. Capstone courses are offered in the final two semesters of the program and will result in a completed research project.

BSN program will be limited to 30 new students in 2014 and growing to 75 new students by 2016.

“This program design directly supports Clarion’s academic and strategic plans and the university’s mission to promote teaching, learning and scholarship in a comprehensive educational and professional environment,” said Dr. Karen Whitney, president of Clarion University.

“The program addresses Clarion’s vision to be a leader in high-impact educational practices that benefit students, employers, and community partners.”

The DNP is designed to be a completion program to the jointly offered Clarion and Edinboro universities’ Master of Science in Nursing degree.

“Both universities are well positioned to meet the administrative and operational demands of the program by building on the success of the jointly offered Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) program,” said Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, Clarion University provost.

The DNP is a 34-credit program that offers specialty electives in advanced clinical practice and clinical nursing education. Courses can be taken part time over six semesters in an online format. Students will be admitted in cohorts of 27 and begin courses in the summer, beginning in summer 2014. The program is designed to be flexible, affordable and professionally rewarding. The online, part-time structure accommodates employment as an advanced practice nurse while pursuing the DNP, thus easing the financial burden.

With the addition of the BSN and DNP, Clarion University will offer the most extensive academic ladder of nursing program credentials within PASSHE. The programs include: pre-nursing, Associate of Science in nursing, RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing online degree completion, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, post-baccalaureate forensic nursing certificate, Master of Science in Nursing-family nurse practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice.

“These new degrees were developed in response to needs expressed by health care agencies throughout western Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Chris Reber, executive dean of Clarion University’s Venango College and the new School of Health Sciences. “It’s also a perfect example of what we term a ‘stackable’ degree, whereby graduates can realize significant career advancement and salary increases by systematically progressing from an associate or diploma degree to bachelor’s, graduate, and terminal degrees, many through online programs, and often with tuition assistance from their employers.

“We are immensely grateful to the Venango College faculty and staff who led the design of these innovative degrees that address priority workforce needs,” Reber said.

All of Clarion University’s nursing programs are nationally accredited by the National League for Nursing, and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. For the past two years, U.S. News and World Report has ranked the joint Clarion/Edinboro online graduate nursing program among the best available.

The BSN and DNP programs will be highlighted during a Nursing Open House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 1 at Clarion University, Clarion campus. Register for the open house by calling 1-800-672-7171, ext. 1, or by visiting

To be considered for the BSN program, students must complete the National League for Nursing pre-admissions exam, which is available on Feb. 28 at the Venango campus, Oil City, and March 21 on the Clarion campus.

Students may apply to the BSN or DNP program online at Application credentials, including high school and college transcripts, SAT/ACT score (for students who graduated from high school within the last three years) should be forwarded to Clarion University Office of Admissions as soon as possible.

For more information, contact Clarion University’s Office of Admissions at 814-393-1211 or

For more information on these two programs, as well as other nursing-related programs at Clarion, go to

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

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