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CSON faculty, students, and alum answer your questions from our virtual accepted students page.


Andrew Dwyer

Connell School of Nursing Associate Professor Andrew Dwyer, Ph.D., FNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN, with Katlyn Noonan, DNP'22, FNP-BC, RN

Q: Do you have a mock-up semester by semester schedule for a part-time pediatric DNP student?

A: We do not have a set plan of study for part-time students to complete the didactic courses prior to clinical. There is some flexibility to allow the students to make the best schedule for themselves in a given semester. A vast majority of part-time students will take two courses per semester leading into the DNP project and then into clinical. In looking at the first two semesters of the full-time plan of study, this could manifest itself in nearly any combination of the first eight courses listed. For a part-time student, however, this would encompass four semesters. While our part-time students have up to eight years to complete the doctoral degree, they generally complete the degree in five years.

- Response from Connell School Graduate Office

Q: If you are completing the DNP program part-time are you able to balance having a job as an RN? If so, how many hours per week do you work?

A: When deciding on a graduate school program, I was extremely nervous about how I would manage classes and a full-time work schedule. One reason I chose Boston College was because of how flexible the part-time program is. My adviser has been extremely helpful in navigating my academic schedule to ensure it fits with my work schedule. I work three twelve-hour night shifts a week at Brigham and Women's Hospital and so we tailored my school schedule to fit, with two classes each semester and one in the summer. By doing this, I’ve been able to dedicate an entire day to classes and schoolwork, while working my three scheduled night shifts at work. In regard to course load, I’m typically able to do schoolwork on my dedicated class day and some weeks, when necessary, I dedicate another day to schoolwork. Thus far, it has been extremely manageable. However, I anticipate having to reduce my hours at work once clinicals start later in the program.

- Response from Lizzy N., part-time DNP student 

Q: How were you able to finance your education? 

A: I was able to get all the necessary funding through FAFSA loans and the GradPlus loan. I haven’t needed to pay out of pocket. Every person's situation is different. A few reasons for my choice is that my husband and I relocated to Boston so that I could start this program, and rent here is higher here than other places we’ve lived. I wanted more financial flexibility now, knowing that I am going into a career with high rates of job placement and a dependable salary. I was confident I would be able to swiftly repay my loans with my higher income as an NP compared to bedside nursing. I would recommend just cold-calling BC’s financial aid office and talking to a financial advisor. I did, and they were incredibly helpful. They’re experts who can answer lots of questions so you don’t get lost in details that may or may not be relevant.  

- Response from Katie C., DNP'22, CPNP-PC 


My adviser has been extremely helpful in navigating my academic schedule to ensure it fits with my work schedule.

Q: Are there resources on campus to help you succeed in your courses (tutors, small groups etc.)? 

A: Depending on the course you are in, there is often a teaching assistant assigned for the course. This is someone who has taken the course before and is utilized by students as a resource. The professors are often readily available and willing to meet with students on a regular basis to help you succeed as well.

– Response from Katlyn N., DNP ’22, FNP-BC, RN

Q: What does the clinical placement requirement look like for graduate students (do you have to find your own placements)?

A: Clinical placements are arranged and assigned by the specialty program director in conjunction with the clinical placement office. The program director will work with the students to find a variety of settings to ensure they meet the necessary requirements to sit for the boards, as well as to meet students’ professional goals. Please note, some sites are not accessible by public transportation.

- Response from Associate Professor Andrew Dwyer, Ph.D., FNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN

Q: What is the average of number of credits taken during a semester for a full-time student?

A: The average number of credits taken by a full-time student during the fall and spring semesters is 12 (four courses). 

- Response from Graduate Office

Q: I'm nervous about making the transition from working three twelve-hour shifts, which allows for a lot of flexibility to do things like travel, to having a full-time job plus part-time school. Do you find that the class schedule allows for being able to still do things like travel?

A: I am a part-time student in the DNP program and work full time at Children's. I had the same concerns as you prior to starting the program and felt anxious about losing my freedom and ability to travel frequently. I have found it to be very manageable and I have been able to adjust my course load to how much I personally wanted to take on each semester. Last summer I took one class and last fall I took three I also have spread the work over 4.5 years so this coming year I will only be taking one class each semester. I think if you decide where your priorities lie you can make your course schedule work for you. There will be others in the program who prioritize getting through the program as fast as possible but for me I am in my mid-late twenties and still want to be able to travel and enjoy all that I did prior to the program starting so I have prioritized flexibility over speed. I also have found with working full time, taking it slower has allowed me to absorb the information and really get all that I want out of it. The way the program is set up allows for a great deal of flexibility and now that the majority of students are in the DNP program I think it will be even more flexible.

- Response from Bridget J., part-time DNP student, expected graduation Spring 2024


Q: What is the rapport/relationship between professors and students? What about the class ratio (student: teacher)?

A: I believe there is a great rapport/relationship between the professors and students. We learn in collaboration with one another which is something I found refreshing and very helpful in an academic setting. The class ratios vary slightly with different classes. The more general classes for the degree may have more students averaging 20-30 however as you progress later in the program into the more specialized classes there could be less than 10 students per class.

- Response from Katlyn N., DNP ’22, FNP-BC, RN

Q: Where did you find the most opportunities for employment (universities, hospitals, private practice etc.)?

A: Come graduation, as a WHNP graduate, the positions most willing to hire me as a new grad were family planning facilities and a few FQHCs. However, those were the kind of jobs I was looking for, so I can't speak to other specialties, since I wasn’t looking for those types of positions. Some of my classmates took jobs at private practices, college health, and I believe someone started at a fertility clinic.

- Response from Claudia M., ‘19 WHNP alum  

Q: Why did you enroll in the DNP program at BC (as opposed to exclusively obtaining your MSN elsewhere)?  

A: Good questions. Why the DNP?

1) The transition into a provider from a bed-side nurse could be a big one from multiple levels. Compared with a two-year MSN program, I think the three-year DNP program will better prepare me from book knowledge to practical knowledge. I would like to take the learning process slow and deep dive in the courses--not only cram the knowledge into my head for the tests. I really enjoy the learning process and try to absorb as much as I can before I work as a provider one day. While I am still practicing as a nurse when I am in this program, I benefit from the interaction of classroom learning and bedside practice. They feed up each other and I believe this helps build the foundation of critical thinking as a future nurse practitioner.

2) Healthcare system is evolving. It requires a comprehensive skills and knowledge set of science, leadership, even understanding of business to navigate yourself better in this filed. Obviously with the training of DNP, you can build your skill set better with broader and deeper courses. Although it is my very first semester, I already feel like it is so worth doing the DNP program because I am being educated to grow into a better human being exponentially. It is not only about the wholesome of the knowledge, also about the vision and view.

Why BC? I realized the DNP might be the last degree in my life. I did intensively research before I applied to this program, to make sure I would make the correct decision.

1) I already know that I will never regret attending BC. Everyone here I have interacted with from administration to faculty are kind and professional.

2) The course framework of DNP is a well and balanced designed. The faculty are amazing! I really enjoy the faculty’s high quality of course materials and their lectures. 

– Response from Lihua Z., part-time DNP student