Elevate Your Nursing Career with Our DNP Program and Specialized Tracks

Welcome to Samuel Merritt University's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, where excellence meets versatility. Our DNP program is the foundation for advanced nursing education, providing a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to practice at the top of their license.



Discover Your Specialized Path

At Samuel Merritt University, we understand that every nurse has a unique calling within the field of healthcare. That’s why our DNP program offers four distinct specialized tracks, allowing students to tailor their education to match their professional aspirations. Whether you’re drawn to the intensity of anesthesia, the complexities of psychiatric mental health, the comprehensive care provided by family nurse practitioners, or you are already a Master’s prepared nursing professional that wants to elevate your knowledge and become change agents and leaders in healthcare our program caters to your individual interests and career goals.

Be at the Forefront of Nursing Excellence

Our DNP program is meticulously structured to blend rigorous academic coursework with practical, hands-on experience, ensuring that our graduates are not just leaders, but pioneers in the field of nursing. What sets our DNP program apart is our commitment to real-world impact. You will have opportunities to engage in innovative projects and research, addressing some of the most pressing challenges in healthcare today. This hands-on experience not only enhances your learning but also positions you as a sought-after expert in the field.

Embark on a transformative journey with Samuel Merritt University’s DNP program. Here, you don’t just earn a degree; you become a catalyst for change in healthcare, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to lead with excellence and compassion. Join us and redefine what it means to be a nurse leader.

DNP Post-Master's

Available in the following states – California, Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Texas

For those with a Master’s Degree seeking flexibility without compromising quality, our online track allows you to pursue your DNP degree from the comfort of your own space. Benefit from the same compre-hensive curriculum and expert faculty while accommodating your schedule.

DNP Family Nurse Practitioner

Available in the following states – California, Colorado and Nevada

Embrace the holistic approach to patient care as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Acquire the skills to deliver primary care to individuals and families, fostering wellness and managing a wide range of health conditions across the lifespan.

DNP Psychiatric Mental Health

Available in California

Explore the dynamic and vital realm of psychiatric mental health, gaining expertise in providing compassionate care to individuals facing mental health challenges. Our program prepares you to make a meaningful impact in this critical area of healthcare.

Need More

Join us for an informational webinar about the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Learn about the curriculum and the career opportunities within this field.


  • Admission to the CRNA program is competitive.
  • Applicants are considered for admission to the Anesthesia – Doctorate of Nursing Practice (ADNP) program will be based on the following criteria:
    • GPA requirements to apply
      • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
      • A minimum last 60 semester or 90 quarter units grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
      • A minimum science coursework grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
    • Adult, pediatric, or neonatal CCRN certification from AACN is required to apply.
    • A written submission addressing the following:
      • Professionalism: Please summarize your professional work experiences. We are particularly interested in recent (within the past five) experiences that are related to health care and have contributed to your interest in your chosen field of study (3000 character limit).
      • Continued professional development: Please highlight any academic honors or awards received, relevant continuing
        education courses, publications, research, and other special or unique experiences that you would like the admissions committee to consider in evaluating your application (3000 character limit).
      • Leadership experiences: Please list any leadership opportunities you have experienced and explain what you learned from those experiences (3000 character limit).
      • Why do you wish to pursue a career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and why do you feel Samuel Merritt University is the right place for you to achieve this goal? (4500 character limit).
    • Three letters of recommendation are required. 
    • Eight (8) hours of clinical shadowing experience with a CRNA is required, a description of your experience, name, and contact information of the CRNA you shadowed or interviewed (1000 character limit).
    • A description of your service/volunteer experiences (2000 character limit). 
    • A description of your DNP Project idea (3000 character limit).
    • Completed application by the deadline.
    • Interviews
      • The selection of candidates for interviews is competitive and will be based on the following.
        • A holistic application review
        • Presentation of application material
        • Quality and professionalism of communication with the program during the application process.
        • An informed understanding of the role of a CRNA.
      • Not all qualified candidates may be interviewed
      • Not all interviewed candidates will be accepted.
      • The program faculty reserves the right to interview and accept qualified students at any time after the application deadline.
      • The format of interviews (in-person or virtual) is at the discretion and to be determined by the program admissions committee annually.
  • Baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Official transcripts of all previous academic and professional coursework completed or in progress prior to admission must be submitted with the application.
  • Current unencumbered RN license in the state of your nursing practice.
  • If admitted, a current unencumbered RN license in the state of California before matriculation into the program is required.
  • Evidence of experience in clinical practice as a registered nurse with a minimum of twelve months consisting of 2080 hours of critical care experience within the US, its territories, or a US military hospital outside of the US within the last 5 years at the time of application. 
  • Practice areas that are considered critical care include surgical intensive care (including trauma, post-cardiovascular surgery, and neurosurgical specialty units), medical intensive care units, and pediatric and neonatal intensive care units.
  • Emergency Room, PACU, Critical Care Transport, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, and Flight Nursing do not fulfill the critical care experience required to apply. 
  • Current American Heart Association BLS, ACLS, and PALS certifications are not required to apply but must be current upon matriculation.

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at SMU is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, but SMU graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent. This means that students who borrowed to attend SMU have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

SMU is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for nurses include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition, books, and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and supplies
  • Room and board
  • Transportation
  • Personal expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs. Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming. We are here to help. Financial aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards, and understanding the process. The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student. We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email. finaid@samuelmerritt.edu or 510.879.9200

NURSG 774 – Population Health and Clinical Prevention, 3.0 units
NURSG 772 – Nursing and Healthcare Science for ANP,  3.0 units
NURSG 757A/757L-A – Adv. Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology 1, 5.0 units (lab/lecture – 3/2)
NURSG 752 – Adv. Pharmacology 1, 4.0 units
Total 15.0 units

NURSG 700 – Evidence-Base Translation for ANP, 3.0 units
NURSG 720 – ANP Project Conceptualization and Design, 2.0 units
NURSG 757B/757L-B – Adv. Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology II, 5.0 units (lab/lecture – 3/2)
NURSG 754 – Adv. Pharmacology II, 4.0 units
Total 14.0 units

NURSG 706 – Information Systems and Technology for APN, 3.0 units
NURSG 721 – Adv. Nursing Practice Project Management, 2.0 units
NURSG 749/749L – Adv. Health Assessment, 4.0 units (lab/lecture 3/1)
NURSG 751/751L — Principles of Anesthesia I, 5.0 units (lab/lecture 4/1)
Total 14.0 units

NURSG 705 – Organizational and Systems Leadership,  3.0 units
NURSG 755/755L – Principles of Anesthesia II, 5.0 units (lab/lecture 4/1)
NURSG 726 – Adv. Acute and Chronic Pain Management, 3.0 units
NURSG 756L – Clinical Anesthesia I, 2.0 units
Total 13.0 units

NURSG 702 – Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Healthcare, 3.0 units
NURSG 701 – IP: Improving Health Outcomes, 3.0 units
NURSG 758L – Clinical Anesthesia II, 2.0 units
NURSG 760/760L – Adv. Principles of Anesthesia I, 5.0 units (lab/lecture 4/1)
Total 13.0 units

NURSG 761L – Clinical Anesthesia III, 3.0 units
NURSG 762/762L – Adv. Principles of Anesthesia II, 5.0 units (lab/lecture 4/1)
NURSG 730 – Adv. Nursing Practice Residency I, 1.0 units
Total 9.0 units

NURSG 763L – Clinical Anesthesia IV, 3.0 units
NURSG 727 – Pharmacology Comprehensive Exam, 1.0 units
NURSG 731 – Adv. Nursing Practice Residency II, 2.0 units
Total 6.0 units

NURSG 764L – Clinical Anesthesia V, 3.0 units
NURSG 728 – Oral Comprehensive Exam, 1.0 units
NURSG 732 – Adv. Nursing Practice Residency II, 2.0 units
Total 6.0 units

NURSG 729 – NCE Prep, 1.0 units
NURSG 765L – Clinical Anesthesia VI, 3.0 units
Total 4.0 units

Grand total 94.0 units

Note: Italicized courses are 100% online.

Clinical Experiences

Students complete a 24-month clinical residency that encompasses diverse practice settings including but not limited to large academic medical, trauma centers, community hospitals, rural hospitals, critical access hospitals, in medically underserved and healthcare provider shortage areas. Practice settings include CRNA independent, anesthesia care team, and medical direction practice models.

Clinical Sites

Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno
David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield
Fresno Veterans Administration Medical Center, Fresno
Highland General Hospital, Oakland
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Walnut Creek
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Antioch
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fresno
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Roseville
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, North Sacramento
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Richmond
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Redwood City
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Roseville
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Jose
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Folsom    
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fremont     
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Leandro
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Rafael
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Rosa
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South Sacramento
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, South San Francisco
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vacaville
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vallejo
Mercy Medical Center, Mount Shasta
San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco
San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco
San Joaquin General Hospital, French Camp
St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Stockton
Sutter Medical Center Sacramento
Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto
UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento
UCSF Mission Bay Hospital, San Francisco
UCSF Parnassus Hospital, San Francisco
UCSF Mount Zion Hospital, San Francisco
Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Visalia

Graduates of our accredited program will be eligible to take the national certification exam (NCE) to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Clinical practice rights are granted by reciprocity in all states after successful completion of the NCE.


The Anesthesia Doctorate of Nursing Practice (ADNP)  program strives to educate skilled clinicians and healthcare leaders who are vigilant in the delivery of care and exercise cultural competency throughout the full scope of anesthesia practice.


We will become nationally recognized as a premier nurse anesthesia program, through innovative instruction, a solid foundation in science-based theories, and translational research.


The ADNP program and our faculty are led by:

  • Diversity
  • Wellness
  • Integrity
  • Grit
  • Professionalism

PLO1: Integrate nursing science with biomedical knowledge and evidence-based interprofessional best practices for the highest level of nursing practice.

PLO2: Provide leadership for the organization, delivery, quality, safety, sustainability, accountability, responsiveness, and continuous improvement in healthcare.

PLO3: Translate evidence into practice, evaluate practice, improve outcomes of care, and participate in collaborative research.

PLO4: Identify, appraise, implement, and evaluate information technology and systems to provide and improve care.

PLO5: Design, advocate, and implement health care policy to support equitable and inclusive health care access, financing, regulation, safety, quality, and efficacy.

PLO6: Provide leadership to facilitate collaborative team functioning and interprofessional practice to improve healthcare outcomes.

PLO7: Analyze health risks within the biological, environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic determinants of health to develop, implement, and evaluate clinical prevention measures to improve population health.

PLO8: Practice in a specialty role using advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, accountability, and innovation to design, deliver, and evaluate evidence-based care to improve healthcare outcomes.

ADNP Attrition Rates

Class of 2025 Attrition Rate (COA) to be Determined

ADNP NCE (NBCRNA) Pass Rates (1st Time/Subsequent Pass Rate)

Class of 2025 NCE Pass Rates (COA) to be Determined

ADNP Graduation Rate *

Class of 2025 Graduation Rate (COA) to be Determined

Class of 2025 Employment Rate (COA) to be Determined

ADNP Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation) **

*Percent of entering Cohort Graduated Within 150% of Expected Time

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni or Employer Surveys; the employment rate is not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni or Employer Surveys

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The Anesthesia- DNP Program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).

The COA requires that all students matriculating into a nurse anesthesia educational program on Jan. 1, 2022, or thereafter be enrolled in a program approved by the COA to award a practice doctoral degree. 

During its Oct. 13-15, 2021 meeting, the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) informed the Samuel Merritt University Program of Nurse Anesthesia of the approval of the doctoral degree program for entry into practice starting in the Fall of 2022. The decision recognizes the program for providing a graduate-level curriculum leading to the award of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.  The program is scheduled for its next consideration of continued accreditation by COA in the Spring 2024.

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
10275 W. Higgins Road Suite 906
Rosemont, IL 60018-5603

The doctoral degree programs in nursing at Samuel Merritt University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

DNP Accreditation

Initial Accreditation Date: Sept. 24, 2012
Most Recent Accreditation Date: Nov. 2-4, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: fall 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: fall 2030

The Anesthesia Doctor of Nursing Practice (ADNP) program strives to educate outstanding clinicians who demonstrate a high level of competence in the full scope of anesthesia practice. We are committed to providing innovative educational opportunities that engender reasoned, safe, culturally sensitive, evidence-based practice, and practitioners who value integrity and professionalism. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to the ADNP program as well as current students who are candidates for retention, promotion, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue a medical education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse healthcare workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately upon acceptance to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from the FNP program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Observational skills: A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. Also, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral, and medical information. Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient physiologic data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses. Also, candidates must have sufficient capacity to make accurate observations, interpret and effectively participate in the context of patient care and simulated learning activities.  

Communication skills: Candidate must be able to perceive changes in mood, activity, posture; and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communications from patients and others. Each candidate must have the ability to effectively communicate with patients, their family members, and other professionals in health care and classroom settings.  The candidate must be able to document patient care to maintain accurate clinical records effectively. 

Motor skills: The candidate must perform complete physical examinations utilizing multiple types of diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate must be able to perform and assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, management and operation of diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment utilized in the initial administration, maintenance and emergent of anesthesia for patients. The candidate must possess the stamina to meet the demands associated with satisfactory and safe performance in clinical and classroom settings.

Intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities:  Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to, classroom instruction; laboratory, including cadaver lab; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology. A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the ADNP curriculum including, but not limited to, the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures; effectively participate in individual, small group, and lecture learning modalities in the classroom, clinical and community settings; learn, participate, collaborate, and contribute as a part of a team; synthesize information both in person and via remote technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based, conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and acquire the knowledge through various modalities and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral and social attributes: Candidates must possess the physical, mental, and emotional health required for the application of intellectual abilities and the employment of sound judgment appropriately and promptly. Candidates must be able to function effectively under physically taxing workloads and in times of physical and mental stress. Candidates must accept constructive criticism, display compassion, sensitivity, and empathy while maintaining professional integrity, in addition to professional moral and ethical standards at all times.

Our Campuses

Samuel Merritt University offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and nursing certificate programs at three campuses in Northern California and online.


3100 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, California 94609


2710 N. Gateway Oaks Dr.,
Suite 360 Sacramento,
California 95833


1791 E. Fir Avenue
Fresno, California 93720

San Francisco Peninsula

1720 South Amphlett
Boulevard, Suite 300
San Mateo, California 94402