The need for more medical professionals has continued to grow as the population has increase across the state. Board members at the University of Mary say the second doctoral program is a way to fill that need.
The Board of Higher Education recently approved the school's request to change the nursing master's program into a doctorate.
Students say this change impacts not only them, but the state of North Dakota. Giving communities more qualified nurses who can travel around the state.
With her bachelor's under her belt, Stacy Cederstrom says she knew she wanted to further her education, so she began working on her master's.
"It's much smarter to get the education that you need, because I'm going to be able to provide my patients and their families, and my communities the education and knowledge that they need to make their lives better," says DNP student Stacy Cederstrom.
Stacy says being a working mom and a student hasn't been easy, but it's worth it.
Officials say the amount students work, more than 1,100 clinical hours, on average seeing 14,000 patients in a year, it seemed right to change the program.
"We are very much looking forward to offering this program. Moving it from a master's degree to a doctorate degree, because that really helps us elevate the program of nursing," says Billie Madler of UMary.
The competitive nature of the program is expected to grow even more now. Currently, the program only has 24 spots available, and close to 80 students applied for a position.
"You can help bring some of the cutting edge technology from the literature right to the bedside," says Jenna Herman of UMary.
Cederstrom says she knows her next year will be hard, but this degree will open more doors.
"Over all I can impact legislature, health care quality. So, it's going to be better for my and my community to get my doctorate," says Cederstrom.
School officials say this program is versatile so students can take some of the program online as well as in the classroom.
UMary school administrators say the first doctoral class of nursing students is expected to graduate May of 2016.