United States Doctorate Nursing Programs
Doctorate in Nursing Programs award top tier terminal degrees for nurses, namely the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing. Nurses who enroll in doctorate nursing programs often choose an area of emphasis such as nursing education, nurse leadership or family nurse practitioner. In these programs, students could advance their education, indicate expertise in a clinical practice area and learn to use nursing science and current research to best improve care for patients.
Doctorate in Nursing Programs: DNP vs. PhD
While both the DNP and PhD are academically equal to Doctorate in Nursing Programs, they are not the same degree. In general terms, the DNP is a practice-based doctorate, while the PhD in Nursing is a research-focused degree. Consequently, the scope of coursework and requirements to earn either doctorate degree could vary greatly.
DID YOU KNOW?
Doctoral programs in nursing fall into two principal types: research-focused and practice-focused.i
What Is a DNP?
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (shortened, DNP) degree is a practice focused doctorate degree designed to prepare experts in specialized advanced nursing practice.i The content of DNP programs is often include innovative and evidence-based practice, which means that nurses could study concepts and then, might learn to apply them into practitioner nursing roles. In fact, the 2004 DNP position statement by the AACN recommends the DNP replace the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as the entry level education for the nursing profession.i
DNP programs typically comprise the DNP Essential competencies and “specialty competencies” that are core to all advanced practice nursing roles.DNP essentials are defined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) as the eight areas that could prepare all nurses regardless of their chosen area of emphasis or functional focus. The names and course titles could vary some between schools.
- Scientific Underpinnings of Practice
- Organizational and Systems Leadership
- Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods
- Information Systems and Technology
- Health Care Policy and Advocacy
- Inter-professional Collaboration
- Clinical Prevention and Population Health
- Advanced Nursing Practice
The other significant part to a DNP program is the focused knowledge for an advanced practice nurse function. It is important since these roles often require specific licensure, credentialing, liability and reimbursement issues.
Coursework is typically geared to include the four nationally-recognized Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN) roles: (1) nurse practitioners, (2) clinical nurse specialists, (3) nurse anesthetists, and (4) nurse midwives. i
All DNP graduates who are prepared academically and clinically for these roles must then be prepared to take national exams related to their field of practice.
Aside from coursework, and to earn their DNP degree, students must complete a clinical project that demonstrates intimate knowledge of evidenced-based practices. The DNP project might consist of a clinical paper, presentation or other practice-based work, as per one’s nursing school requirements.
While it could vary, DNP students who enter their program with a BSN degree might need to complete between 70 and 95 credits and complete up to 1,000 hours of clinical work. Fewer credits are typically required for students who pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice after their MSN degree.
Admission criteria for DNP programs varies. In some schools, students need a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing or an entry-level nursing masters degree (from an accredited college or university). Aside from transcripts, some of the additional application material that students might need to furnish could include the items below.
- Current RN license
- One year RN experience
- Current resume or CV
- Goal statement
- GRE scores
- Faculty interview
- Undergraduate statistics
How Long Does it Take to Earn a DNP degree?
The time it takes to complete a DNP degree could vary. Some DNP programs might take between 3 to 5 years, but this is often affected by one’s level of education when they initiate their studies.
What Is a PhD in Nursing?
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing is designed to prepare nurse scientists and scholars. As such, they are weighted more heavily with scientific content, meta theory and research methodology. Through their studies, PhD nursing students could gain the ability to combine logical critical and scientific thinking with ethical research design. While a variable, some PhD nursing programs might entail about 45 to 60 credit hours for students who enter their program with a master's degree.
Apart from coursework, and a written exam, PhD nursing students are required to present an original research project and must complete and defend a dissertation or linked research papers. I Often, this in-depth research is faculty guided or supervised.
Curriculums for PhD Nursing programs in some schools are devoted to nursing core courses, public health statistics, electives and dissertation courses. Nursing core courses might emphasize theory and science, and while course names could differ in each school, below are some sample topics.
- Philosophical Perspectives in Health
- Scientific Perspectives in Nursing
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
- Research Design
- Grant Writing
- Measurement in Health Care Research
- Role of Nurse Scientist
Admission criteria for PhD in Nursing programs is likely to vary. Some schools require applicants to have graduated from an accredited Bachelors and Masters in Nursing program. Other material that may need to be furnished with an application (aside from transcripts), could include the following.
- Copy of RN license if applicable
- GRE scores
- Written statement about research goals
- Research interests that match faculty experience and school resources
- Minimum GPA
- Sample of writing
- Resume or CV
- Letters of reference
How Long Does it Take to Complete a PhD in Nursing?
The time needed to complete a PhD in Nursing could vary. Some students might earn their PhD in about 3 to 4 years or longer.
Doctorate in Nursing Programs: Concentrations
Whether you want to research into a specific area or refine your skill sets, Doctorate in Nursing Programs tend to offer (a) concentration area(s). If you know what type of focus you want to anchor your doctorate degree in, use it to help narrow choices for schools. Below is a brief synopsis of some of these areas of study. Discover more possible choices as you read about individual programs.
DNP - Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): A CNS is a clinical expert in the diagnosis and treatment of illness, and the delivery of evidence-based nursing interventions. Clinical nurse specialists might receive advanced instruction in medical regimens associated with the diagnosis and treatment of disease for a designated population. Adult gerontology health, adult gerontology critical care, and pediatric critical care are some examples.ii
DNP - Nursing Administration: A focus in Nursing administration could prepare nurses to lead. Coursework could cover nursing information systems, marketing, and management topics. An administrative practicum and courses in organizational behavior, health policy and innovation could round out a course of study.
DNP - Nurse Practitioner (NP): Nurse Practitioners (NPs) blend clinical expertise with disease prevention and health management, and may use their public health skills to guide patients to make smarter lifestyle choices. State laws dictate the scope of their practice however, NPs might receive instruction to diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medications and conduct diagnostic tests, design treatment plans with patients, and teach patients how to manage illnesses and medications. Many choose to pursue education to meet the health care needs of specific populations such as family, pediatric, women’s health or psychiatric care.ii
DNP - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): Family nurse practitioners provide primary and specialty care to patients and their families through their lifespan. The scope of their duties could vary by state, but coursework could include diagnosis and treatment of illness, health assessment and family systems.
DNP - Nurse Midwifery: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) coursework could prepare students to provide primary health care to women through their lifespan. CNMs also deliver babies and provide gynecological and family planning services. Therefore students could take courses about women’s reproductive health, pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care.
Accreditation for Doctorate Nursing Programs
Universities that offer DNP and PhD in Nursing programs may be regionally accredited. Typically, it is suggested that nurses seek accredited programs since state licensure boards may want to see that a student graduated from a legitimate program. The two agencies that might accredit Doctorate in Nursing programs are the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).ii
Take the Next Step
Why study to earn a DNP or PhD in Nursing? Per the BLS, employment of APRN nurses is projected to grow at a really fast rate of 31 percent from 2016 to 2026.iiiAlso, the average annual salary for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners was $107,460 in May 2016.iv
Motivated? Great! Easily compare Doctorate in Nursing Programs by subject and or location and format. Your filters could yield a set of sponsored schools that you could contact with the on-page form right away.
[i] aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/Publications/DNPEssentials.pdf | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-5
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
The dynamics of today's fast-paced, complex healthcare system requires nursing leaders with the knowledge and expertise to improve the delivery of patient care and positively influence patient outcomes.
Sacred Heart University
The online Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice program offered by Sacred Heart University infuses practice-focused doctoral education with innovation and practical clinical research and scholarship.
- Fairfield, CT
- Berrien Springs, MIBerrien Springs, MI
The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.
With the growing demand for nurses across the U.S. and elsewhere, a shortage of nursing educators has resulted. NCU’s School of Education is pleased to offer an online Doctor of Education (EdD) with a specialization in Nursing Education. NCU&rs...
The Chatham University DNP program prepares nurses to practice as leaders in the promotion and use of evidence-based practice in healthcare delivery systems. DNP graduates have skill sets and competencies to function in clinical and executive leadership r...
Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
The online Doctor of Nursing Practice – Clinical Nurse Specialist program delivers an advanced, evidence-based education with a focus on improving patient care and outcomes. Students build expert competencies in clinical theory and nursing prac...
- Teaneck, NJTeaneck, NJ
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Educates nurses for the highest level of clinically expert practice including sophisticated diagnostic & treatment competencies...
Colorado Technical University
CTU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was developed using the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. The program starts every 13 weeks. Learn more.
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Greenwood Village, CO
Indiana Wesleyan University
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree designed to prepare nurses at an advanced level of nursing science.
Liberty University Online
As the landscape of advanced practice nursing changes, Liberty University is poised to help you take advantage of new opportunities with its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Nurses in this program learn to translate evidence-based research i...
Frontier Nursing University
The ADN Bridge Entry Option allows registered nurses holding an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) as the highest degree earned (no bachelor’s in any field), to directly enter our Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.
- Louisville, KYLouisville, KY
The Doctor of Nursing Practice at Bellarmine University is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice.
- Kingston, RIKingston, RI
University of Rhode Island
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
All the master's programs allow graduates to be nationally certified in their area of specialization and to be registered with New York State as nurse practitioners. The doctoral programs focuses on advanced clinical nursing practice and health services...
- Livonia, MILivonia, MI
The graduate nursing program at Madonna University prepares nurses for a variety of roles. Adult Nurse Practitioner specialty prepares the advanced practice nurse to diagnose and manage primary health needs of adults, especially those of the vulnerab...
- Miami, FLMiami, FL
The Division of Nursing at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, provides an exciting educational experience for students interested in shaping the health care system of the new century. You work alongside expert faculty in the areas of acute and f...
- Loma Linda, CALoma Linda, CA
Loma Linda University
For specific program information please visit our website.
- Boston, MABoston, MA
MGH Institute Of Health Professions
The full-time entry-level program is designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree in any field and prepares them as advanced practice nurses eligible to sit for the nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist certification exam in their area o...