PHD in Nursing Programs – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Many Ph.D. programs are online or hybrid courses designed to help students balance work, study, and family duties. A survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that enrollment in these programs increased by over 10 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

How You Can Prepare for a PhD in Nursing

You need a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in Nursing to be considered for entry into a Ph.D. program. An excellent GPA and a good Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score helps. Many programs want candidates who have already published scholarly articles in their area of expertise, or have demonstrated skills in obtaining grants or other funding for research.

Your PhD in Nursing Dissertation

Ph.D. programs are approximately 60 credits, many of which are dedicated to your dissertation – an academic project in which you conduct original research on a particular topic. You must write the dissertation and defend it in front of an academic committee. It can be used in your future academic career, or be the basis for more articles or a book. Because it is such a large and central portion of a Ph.D. program, many candidates complete all of the other requirements quickly but then take additional months or years to complete a dissertation.

Which Doctorate is Right for Me? DNP vs. PhD

By Andrea Kelley

Andrea Kelley wants to improve cancer care by better understanding the patient’s cancer experience through research. To accomplish this goal, she is working toward a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. “I wanted to pursue a PhD to be at the top of my field, to increase awareness of nursing as a legitimate science, and to change the way care is delivered to patients,” she explains.

Kelley is doing what nurses desiring a doctoral education have traditionally done—attain research-focused terminal degrees such as a PhD or a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS, DNSc). In recent years, a variety of factors have led to the burgeoning development of a practice-focused degree option: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Today over 150 DNP programs exist, another 160 are in the planning stages.

Click here for a list of DNP programs by state.

In contrast to PhD or DNS/DNSc programs, which prepare nurse researchers to develop new knowledge and advance nursing science, the DNP program prepares nurses to incorporate evidence into practice and policy in order to improve outcomes.

“The PhD [program] will prepare me to be a nurse scientist,” says Kelley. “[whereas] the DNP [focus] is to translate research into practice through research utilization.” Kelley’s comparison reflects that of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which defines the DNP role as one translates research to practice, evaluates and applies evidence, and implements innovative interventions to transform nursing practice.

“The DNP program prepares nurses to incorporate evidence into practice and policy in order to improve outcomes.”

When Nancy Cabelus, RN, MSN, DNP, learned about the DNP program in Forensics Nursing at the University of Tennessee, she thought it would be a better fit for her. “I was not striving to work in research or academia full time,” she explains. “The DNP degree has given me the knowledge, tools, and resources to conduct myself as an advanced practice nurse in leadership and program development, and also to work with systems and policy change.”

DNP programs are comprised of eight essential content areas: From The AACN DNP Essentials:)

  1. Scientific underpinnings for practice;
  2. Organizational and systems leadership for quality improvement and systems thinking;
  3. Clinical scholarship and analytical methods for evidence-based practice;
  4. Information systems technology and patient care technology for the Improvement and transformation of health care;
  5. Health care policy for advocacy in health care;
  6. Interprofessional collaboration for improving patient and population health outcomes;
  7. Clinical prevention and population health for improving the nation’s health; and
  8. Advanced nursing practice

Despite its appeal, the DNP program has generated some controversy. The AACN endorsed the DNP degree in 2004 and proposed that it be the minimum entry-level education for all APNs by the year 2015. Though lauded by some as putting APNs on equal footing with other health care-related disciplines such as pharmacists (PharmD) or physical therapists (DPT), not everyone agrees with this requirement. “I don’t feel the DNP should be mandated as the entry level degree for APNs,” says Cabelus, “but [it] should be considered an option.”

Regardless of whether an NP holds a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) or a DNP, the scope of practice (as defined by the state) has not changed. However, a survey conducted by ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners magazine in 2009 indicated that DNP-prepared nurse practitioners were earning nearly $8000 annually more than their master’s prepared counterparts.

Despite the controversies, the decision to pursue a PhD, DNS/DNSc, or DNP is largely based on an individual’s professional goals and interests. For Cabelus, the DNP was the right choice. “I feel that I am prepared to accept new challenges and opportunities that may come my way,” she says.

According to the AACN, following are the core ways in which DNP programs differ from PhD programs:   (AACN, 2004)

  • DNP programs have less emphasis on theory and meta-theory
  • Considerable less research methodology content, with a focus being on evaluation and use of research rather than the conduct of research
  • Different dissertation requirements, ranging from no dissertation to theses or capstone projects (termed dissertations in some programs) that must be grounded in clinical practice and designed to solve practice problems or to inform practice directly
  • An emphasis on practice in any research requirement
  • Clinical practica or residency requirements
  • Emphasis on scholarly practice, practice improvement, innovation and testing of interventions and care delivery models, evaluation of health care outcomes, and expertise to inform heath care policy and leadership in establishing clinical excellence

List of PHD Programs

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
Adelphi University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Garden City, NY
Azusa Pacific University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Azusa, CA
Barry University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Miami Shores, FL
Binghamton University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Binghamton, NY
Boston College – MS to PhD
MS to PhD
CCNE Accredited
Chestnut Hill, MA
Boston College – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Chestnut Hill, MA
Case Western Reserve University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
ACEN Accredited
Cleveland, OH
Catholic University of America – The – Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
CCNE Accredited
Washington, DC
Catholic University of America – The – Online PhD in Nursing
Online PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Washington, DC
Columbia University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
New York, NY
Duke University – PhD Program
PhD Program
CCNE Accredited
Durham, NC
Duquesne University – Online PhD in Nursing
Online PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Pittsburgh, PA
Durham Regional Hospital – PhD Program
PhD Program
ACEN Accredited
Durham, NC
East Carolina University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Greenville, NC
East Tennessee State University – Online PhD
Online PhD
CCNE Accredited
Johnson City, TN
Emory University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Atlanta, GA
Florida Atlantic University – Online PhD in Nursing
Online PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Boca Raton, FL
Florida International University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Miami, FL
George Mason University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Fairfax, VA
Georgia Health Sciences University – Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Augusta, GA
Georgia State University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Atlanta, GA
Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Saint Louis, MO
Hampton University – Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
ACEN Accredited
Hampton, VA
Helene Fuld School of Nursing in Camden County – Doctoral Degree
Doctoral Degree
ACEN Accredited
Blackwood, NJ
Idaho State University – Online PhD in Nursing
Online PhD in Nursing
ACEN Accredited
Pocatello, ID
Illinois State University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Normal, IL
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis – BSN to PhD option
BSN to PhD option
ACEN Accredited
Indianapolis, IN
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis – Online PhD in Nursing Science
Online PhD in Nursing Science
ACEN Accredited
Indianapolis, IN
Johns Hopkins University – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Baltimore, MD
Johns Hopkins University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Baltimore, MD
Joint DNP Program University of Alabama – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Birmingham, AL
Kennesaw State University – Doctorate of Nursing Science
Doctorate of Nursing Science
CCNE Accredited
Kennesaw, GA
Kent State University – Doctoral Nursing Program
Doctoral Nursing Program
ACEN Accredited
Twinsburg, OH
Kent State University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Kent, OH
Loma Linda University – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Loma Linda, CA
Loyola University Chicago – PhD in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Maywood, IL
Marquette University – PhD
PhD
CCNE Accredited
Milwaukee, WI
Medical University of South Carolina – Ph.D. Program
Ph.D. Program
CCNE Accredited
Charleston, SC
Mercer University – Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Atlanta, GA
Michigan State University – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
East Lansing, MI
New Mexico State University – Online Doctorate of Philosophy in Nursing
Online Doctorate of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Las Cruces, NM
New York University – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
New York, NY
Northeastern University – Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
CCNE Accredited
Boston, MA
Nova Southeastern University – Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Education
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Education
CCNE Accredited
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Oregon Health & Science University – Online Doctor of Philosophy
Online Doctor of Philosophy
CCNE Accredited
Portland, OR
Pennsylvania State University – BS – PhD Degree
BS - PhD Degree
CCNE Accredited
University Park, PA
Pennsylvania State University – Ph.D. Degree Program
Ph.D. Degree Program
CCNE Accredited
University Park, PA
Pennsylvania State University – PhD Program
PhD Program
ACEN Accredited
University Park, PA
Saint Louis University – Online PhD
Online PhD
CCNE Accredited
Saint Louis, MO
Seton Hall University – PhD Nursing
PhD Nursing
CCNE Accredited
South Orange, NJ

Still Looking for a Nursing Program?

Here are some of the most popular nursing programs. On each page you will find a detailed writeup of the program, specific courses, and even schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.