LA CROSSE, Wis. -

In four years, the first Viterbo students will graduate with a doctoral degree.

Starting next fall, students will be enrolled in the university's first Doctor of Nursing Practice program. It will replace the current Master's program at the university.

The school estimates it will start with about a dozen students.

The assistant program director says it will give students a more thorough preparation to enter the medical field. "Nurse practitioners and other advance practice nurses are educated more broadly and have the highest level of practice to offer the patients for better outcomes," said Asst. Program Director Bonnie Nesbitt.

The university already has a class admitted for the fall, although there are a few spots available in the post-master's portion.