This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Advanced study in nursing is available through a dual degree and certificate program sponsored by the School of Nursing.

The program allows students to earn a post-professional Certificate in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a minimum of 51 credits rather than the 60 credits necessary if the two plans of study were pursued separately. This efficiency lowers the overall cost of tuition while also reducing time to earning both degrees.

Program goals

Graduates will achieve advanced nursing practice competencies by demonstrating:

  • Systems and organizational leadership
  • Implementation of advanced nursing practice interventions
  • Effective use of research and technology
  • Systematic evaluation of interventions and outcomes
  • Use of quality and safety outcomes to evaluate practice improvement initiatives
  • Skills in using evidence-based practice to achieve sustainable practice change
  • Advanced decision-making skills founded in ethics and the highest level of nursing practice
  • Leadership strategies to influence health policies
  • Interprofessional collaboration in health care systems

Among the many benefits offered by participation in the dual degree and certificate are the following:

  • Graduates are eligible to be dually certified in two population foci increasing their employment opportunities

Students are eligible to take the nurse practitioner certification exam at the conclusion of their clinical rotations, two semesters prior to graduation, and be awarded the post-professional certificate. At the completion of the program, graduates will be awarded a doctoral degree.

Student learning outcomes

See each program page for student learning outcomes. 

Other information


The plan of study is developed by the program director, who oversees both the certificate and doctoral programs. Advising is a joint effort between the graduate student coordinator and program director until the students start taking their family nurse practitioner population-specific courses. Once the students enter population-specific courses, the certificate lead will take a more direct role in student advising. The graduate student coordinator will keep students apprised of pertinent registration, School of Nursing and university information through the use of the student email group and other methods.