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Top PhD in Nursing Programs

What is a phd in nursing.

  • Types of Programs
  • Online PhD Programs
  • PhD Overview
  • Is a PhD Program Right for You?

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Updated and Reviewed by Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

A PhD in nursing is the highest degree available within the nursing profession. The PhD in Nursing degree is one of two terminal degrees available to nurses. The other is the Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP.

DNP vs PhD in Nursing

Unlike the DNP degree , which focuses on advanced clinical practice, the PhD in Nursing degree prepares you for a science- and a research-focused career spent furthering knowledge that is essential to nurses and nursing education at all levels.

Main Differences Between a DNP vs PhD:

  • Where a PhD in Nursing’s goal is to research and develop new knowledge in nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice’s goal is a higher level of expertise and skill in patient care and service leadership.
  • Where a PhD in Nursing prepares graduates to design, conduct and publish research, a DNP prepares graduates to provide the highest level of practice and care.
  • Where a PhD in Nursing prepares graduates for a career in research and scientific inquiry dedicated to improving nursing outcomes, a DNP prepares graduates for Advanced Practice Nursing in specialty practice areas, as well as for leadership.

>> Related: Top Online DNP Programs

Types of PhD in Nursing Programs

There are currently more than 135 PhD in Nursing programs available in the United States and those progams are available for nurses at nearly every education level.

RN-to-PhD Program

Designed for RNs who have earned their Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) and want to pursue a career in nursing science research without first pursuing their MSN degree. These programs generally consist of required coursework, electives, doctoral comprehensive examinations, and a dissertation.

MSN-to-PhD Program

Designed for Registered Nurses who have earned their Master of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited program. These programs generally include core courses for the doctoral program, electives, and dissertation study.

DNP/PhD Dual Degree Program

These rigorous programs provide students with the opportunity to attain expertise in scientific inquiry and faculty practice at the same time as providing them with the practical skills of expert nurse clinicians. Show Me DNP Programs

Are PhD in Nursing Programs Available Online?

Yes! A PhD in nursing degree’s focus is on scientific inquiry, there is no need to arrange for onsite hands-on practical hours, unlike with most Advanced Practice Registered Nurse degree programs.

Though most programs do have a minimal amount of time that each PhD candidate is required to spend on campus, for the most part, all that a student needs is Wi-Fi access in order to earn a PhD in nursing.

Every PhD program has its own benefits and features, and the program that is best for one potential attendee may not be the right choice for another. In assembling our list of top programs, we paid particular attention to objective criteria, paying special attention to ensuring that each is accredited and has proven outcomes for its graduates. 

Our selection process considered the following factors:

  • Cost of attendance
  • Program length
  • Admission requirements
  • Variety of available programs
  • Ranking according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Additional accolades that the program has received

1. University of Pennsylvania

  • The University of Pennsylvania boasts one of the top PhD programs in the country. While expensive, the program offers a generous stipend to students during  the first four years of the program for full-time students.  In exchange for a nine-month stipend (September-May), students may be funded as a Teaching Assistant to support School of Nursing courses at up to 16 hours a week. Incoming Teaching Assistants will receive a ten-month stipend (August-May). The stipend amount for 2022-2023 is $30,547. This significantly reduces the cost of the doctorate program.
  • Cost: $45,062 per year
  • Application Due Date: December 1st
  • Length of Program: 4-6 years depending on dissertation and full-time/part-time study
  • $80 application fee
  • Online application
  • Written response to essay questions
  • Three letters of recommendations
  • Transcripts
  • Verification that you’ve completed the requisite statistics class
  • Official results from the TOEFL or IELTS exam (if  needed)
  • Copy of official RN license
  • Contact Phone Number: (215) 898-4271
  • Contact Email Address: [email protected]

2. Duke University

Duke University was recently named the #2 Best Graduate School for Nursing by the 2023 U.S. News & World Report. The goals of the program is to prepare nurses to be scholars and build nursing science by leading multidisciplinary research to help determine the relationship between chronic illness and care systems. 

  • Cost: Fully funded for the first two years of the program if approved
  • Optional GRA
  • Personal statement
  • $95 Application fee
  • Personal Interview
  • Nursing License
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Contact Phone Number: (919) 684-3786
  • Contact Email: [email protected]

3. Duquesne University

A fully online PhD program, Duquesne University’s program offers flexibility to those that are unable to relocate for a program, have families, or need to work throughout the program. The program is the first completely online PhD program in the country. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad at the Duquesne campus in Dublin, Ireland. It’s important to note, that students from Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington are not eligible to apply for this program.

  • Cost: $91,560 (entire program)
  • Application Due Date: Due between July 1st and February 1st (Scholarship deadline: February 1st)
  • Length of Program: 3 or 4 years depending on which program length best fits your goals and lifestyle. At application time, you must apply to a specific track and can not switch.
  • Graduate Statistics course
  • Graduate Nursing Research courseThree letters of recommendations
  • Online Application
  • Personal Essay
  • Scholarly writing sample
  • Contact Phone Number: (412) 396.6539
  • Contact Email: [email protected]

Show Me DNP Programs

4. Columbia University

Columbia University offers three major areas for students to focus on: theoretical foundations of nursing science, analytical foundations of nursing science, and electives and application. This program is very heavily focused on publication, grantsmanship, presentation, and networking. On top of normal course requirements, students have additional responsibilities in order to successfully graduate from the program.

  • Cost: Three years (eight semesters) of funding for tuition, related fees, health insurance, and a stipend for full-time PhD students.
  • Length of Program: 3 to 4 years
  • BSN Or MSN degree
  • $75 Application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Video Essay (Two questions)
  • Timed writing sample (10-minute timed essay)
  • Two written essays
  • Personal Statement
  • Social Justice/Health Equity Essay
  • New York State RN licensure or eligibility
  • International Applicants Only: TOEFL Exam Score
  • Graduate Level Health Policy Course
  • Contact Phone Number: (212) 305-5756
  • Contact Email: [email protected]

5. Rush University

The PhD program at Rush University is primarily online, but students do have to visit campus periodically throughout the program. Students are also required to identify the research area or clinical population prior to acceptance. Unfortunately, students from Louisiana and Tennessee are not able to enroll in this program. Rush University does suggest contacting your individual state’s board of nursing to confirm the program is acceptable.

  • Cost: $82,304 (total program)
  • Application Due Date: December 2nd
  • Length of Program: 3 to 5 years depending on dissertation and full-time/part-time study
  • Minimum of BSN degree from an accredited institution
  • Calculated GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Personal essay questions
  • Three professional letters of recommendations
  • TOEFL scores, if required
  • Contact Phone Number: (312) 942-7100
  • Contact Email: [email protected]

What to Expect in a PhD in Nursing Program

The focus of a PhD in Nursing degree is on scholarship and nursing research, and once you have completed your doctoral program, you will be able to conduct your own independent research into topics that will advance the practice and delivery of nursing, as well as to publish your findings for the benefit of the greater community and to lead groups of researchers.

Because the PhD in Nursing program is focused on scientific inquiry rather than the improvement of your practical skills, there is no clinical requirement.

Instead, you will be required to complete a long-form research paper called a dissertation. To write your dissertation, you'll complete independent research based on a significant and relevant scientific inquiry in the nursing field. 

>> Related: The Best Nursing Research Topics

What Can You Do With a PhD in Nursing?

PhD in Nursing programs are designed to prepare their graduates with the ability to pursue careers in research and teaching, advanced clinical practice, health care administration and policy.  Following graduation, your future may hold a career as a nurse scientist, as an administrator, as a nurse educator, or in establishing health policy.  Show Me DNP Programs

PhD in Nursing Salary

The salary available to PhD nurses is largely dependent upon the career path that they pursue after their graduation but Payscale reports nurses with a PhD earn an average annual salary of $93,000.

How Much Does a PhD in Nursing Degree Cost?

High-quality PhD in Nursing programs can be found that charge less than $400 per credit hour, while some of the most recognizable teaching institutions in the country charge as much as $2,300 per credit hour.

It is important to remember that many PhD program fees are almost entirely funded by the institution itself or through federal grant funding designed to encourage the research that is being pursued. These grants are more frequently available for students who are studying for their doctoral degree on a full-time basis, while part-time students are required to pay the full tuition fee.

How Long Do PhD in Nursing Programs Take?

PhD in Nursing programs can be pursued on either a full-time basis or a part-time basis and are also available online. Most take three to five years of full-time study to complete.

What Will You Learn in a PhD in Nursing Program?

PhD degrees’ emphasis on nursing research means that they will share certain core elements designed to make them experts in the field of nursing, and include:

  • The philosophical and historical foundations of nursing knowledge
  • Review of existing and evolving nursing theory
  • Methods and process of developing theory
  • Research methodology and data management
  • Academic, research, practice and policy development

Programs will typically include:

  • Leadership strategies related to nursing, healthcare, and research
  • Mentorship and working alongside faculty on their individual research programs
  • Immersion experiences designed to encourage leadership and scholarship.
  • Each student will be required to complete a dissertation.

PhD in Nursing Program Requirements

The requirements for admission into a PhD in Nursing program are dependent upon whether the program is created for students entering with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or a Master of Science in Nursing degree, but generally, every program will require the following:

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s in Nursing degree from an accredited program
  • A personal statement indicating research goals
  • GRE scores if applicable
  • A minimum scholastic GPA of 3.0
  • Interview with faculty if moved forward by the admissions committee
  • Writing sample
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Unencumbered RN license
  • Official Transcripts from all post-secondary schools
  • TOEFL or IELTS if applicable

Is a PhD in Nursing Degree Right for Me?

If it is your goal to play an essential role in nursing leadership, in scientific and academic research in the field of nursing or to become a nurse educator, then applying to a PhD in Nursing program is the best way for you to move forward. In doing so, you will attain the highest level of nursing education while putting yourself in a pivotal role in the future of healthcare and nursing knowledge.

Next Steps to Enroll in a PhD in Nursing Degree Program

If you have decided that a PhD in nursing is in your future, these are the next steps you need to take to make your dream a reality:

  • Research PhD programs and spend time looking at each program’s research focus to find one that matches your particular interests, and your financial needs.
  • Make lists of each one’s requirements and deadlines , then begin putting together everything that they need to ensure that your documentation is ready and on time.
  • Prepare! If you receive word from a school that you are under consideration, prepare for your interview carefully, paying particular attention to your reasons for choosing their particular program and your indicated research interest. You can also reach out to any faculty members that might act as a mentor or research leader with whom you hope to work.

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PhD Program in Nursing

Mentoring nurse scientists of the future is our priority.

PhD Program

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How to Apply

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The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, relationships, confidence, critical thinking and analytical capacity essential for discovering and disseminating research-based evidence to support innovative solutions that lead to better health outcomes and advance the science of nursing.

What makes our program distinct?

The PhD in Nursing curriculum provides students two options to attend their course class sessions. One option is to be in the classroom with the faculty and the other option is to attend the class via a video connection with the students and faculty in the classroom. Students choose the one delivery method that works best for them. Please note that due to student  visa requirements, international students must attend courses in-person. Courses may use a HyFlex instruction format that combines synchronous in-person scheduled class sessions and asynchronous online learning activities.

At the start of their program (last week in August) and the last week in May, all students gather on campus annually for a four-day Doctor of Nursing Philosophy Immersive Experience (DIvE) focused on engagement, mentorship and professional development and a 1 credit academic course.

PhD students are eligible for significant financial assistance in their first two years through a combination of graduate assistantships and scholarships for students devoted full-time to their studies following the relevant recommended plan of study.

We also advocate for and support our PhD students with funding from a range of national sources. Current PhD students are supported with substantial grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Jonas Philanthropies.

The PhD in Nursing program is enriched by the vibrant research and academic programs at the School of Nursing and the university.

You will be carefully matched with faculty who are uniquely suited to help you develop your research focus and build an ongoing research program. Nationally-renowned faculty mentor PhD students throughout the program and build long-standing professional relationships beyond graduation.

Why a nursing PhD?

Across the country and around the world, demand for PhD-prepared nurses who can mentor future nurses and advance nursing science continues to grow. Our PhD program focuses on areas of science in which the health needs are greatest as described by AACN's strategic plan. We seek to admit students with exceptionally strong backgrounds in a major field of study such as nursing or the physical or behavioral sciences.

While many applicants are registered nurses with Masters degrees, we admit individuals who are not nurses to the PhD program if they desire to learning about and conducting research that contributes to nursing science. We also strongly encourage nurses with a BSN degree to apply. We support both types of students with additional formal coursework to be successful.

See admission criteria and application procedures

Length and commitment

Our past graduates have completed their degree in 4-5 years.

Full-time students follow the relevant recommended program plans typically take the required courses with a consistent cohort of students to foster peer support and learning.

Program Plans

Program Plan - MSN or DNP Prepared

Program Plan - BSN/Pre-Licensure Master's Prepared Nurse

Program Plan - Prior Degree in Non-Nursing Discipline

Information for international students

Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity

The School of Nursing welcomes and affirms all. We embrace the equity and diversity commitment of the University of Minnesota. Learn more on our  Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity  page. Read about our  Doctoral Education Pathway for American Indian/Alaska Native Nurses .

Get to Know Us

Knoo Lee

A student in the PhD program

“We need a person who brings a perspective of nursing, who knows how to interpret the results, and have the interpretation in the perspective of nursing, so that when we are seeing the data, we know how to use this data to improve patient care.”

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Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)

YOU ARE BOUVÉ

Young woman of color presenting her PhD research

Advance the science of nursing through innovation and interdisciplinary inquiry .

The PhD in Nursing program at Northeastern University prepares future nurse-scientists to advance nursing through innovation and interdisciplinary inquiry to improve the health of individuals and communities. Graduates are expected to lead research initiatives that advance nursing science through knowledge development and interdisciplinary scholarly inquiry.

Placeholder image with Northeastern N

Students will study with nursing faculty who collectively have a variety of expertise and interests and whose research addresses questions that extend across a broad health spectrum.

In addition, students have an opportunity to study with faculty from other Northeastern departments, as well as with other Boston-area researchers. This collaboration allows students to work across disciplines and to access populations and sites essential for completing a dissertation

Degree: Nursing PhD Application deadline: June 1 GRE: Required Study options: Full-time/part-time

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Video: The Arnold F. Goldstein Simulation Lab

The Arnold F. Goldstein Simulation Lab

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Post-master’s students  (also referred to as Advanced Entry)  will build on their prior degrees and clinical foundations by completing  48 semester hours , including the dissertation. 

Post-baccalaureate  students will complete  60 semester hours , including the dissertation.

On a full-time basis, students entering with a master’s degree can expect to commit a  minimum of three years  to completing the program; if entering with a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of four years. Both full- and part-time options are available to all students. Course descriptions can be found in the PhD Handbook.

Graduates are expected to lead multidisciplinary research initiatives that advance nursing and health care through knowledge development and interdisciplinary scholarly inquiry. Students will work with nursing faculty whose research address innovative questions that seek to advance knowledge for improvement of care. In addition, students will have an opportunity to collaborate with faculty across the broader Northeastern University community in addition to Boston area research and healthcare institutions. This collaboration allows students to work across disciplines and to access populations and research sites essential to the success of their original dissertation study.

CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) logo

The Baccalaureate, Master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at Northeastern University School of Nursing are accredited by the  Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ,  655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791

Handbooks and Manuals

Sample curriculum.

Sample curriculum, subject to change.

Prerequisites

Both post-BSN and post-MSN students are expected to show satisfactory completion of a basic statistics course . Note:  Post-BSN students will be required to take an epidemiology course as part of their PhD coursework.

Full-time Sample Curriculum

Research core.

8 courses, 3 credits each unless otherwise noted — 22 credits

NRSG 7700  Science of Nursing

NRSG 7705  Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations in Nursing Science

NRSG 7709  Qualitative Research Methods

NRSG 7712  Quantitative Research Methods

NRSG 7715  Measurement in Clinical Research

NRSG 7750  Health Care of Urban Populations

NRSG 7770  Research Colloquium (1 credit)

NRSG 7755  Intervention Research: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation

Research Practicum

2 courses, 1-4 credits each · 6 credits

NRSG 9984 Students are required to complete 6 credits of supervised research practicum with a seasoned researcher. The purpose of the practicum is to develop student research skills through engagement with an active research project. Students must have a viable MA RN license. Research practicum activities vary and may include any or all of the following aspects of the research process:

  • Assisting/conducting critical literature reviews
  • Developing proposals
  • Developing human subjects guidelines
  • Recruiting and consenting participants
  • Collecting data
  • Managing data
  • Analyzing data
  • Developing presentations
  • Writing scholarly research paper(s)

Post-Bac Required Courses

In addition, post-baccalaureate students are required to take:

NRSG 5121  Epidemiology and Population Health

NRSG 7104  Foundations in Nursing Research (3

2 Elective Courses (6 credits)

Electives may be taken in nursing or in an area related to the student’s dissertation research, including appropriate methodology and statistics courses.

2 courses, 3 credits each · 6 credits

Cognates are courses that are taken outside the School of Nursing and should provide depth and breadth to the student’s phenomenon of interest.

PHTH 5210  Biostatistics

PHTH 6210  Applied Regression Analysis

Dissertation

4 courses, 3 credits each unless otherwise noted · 8 credits total

NRSG 9845  Dissertation Seminar 1

NRSG 9846  Dissertation Seminar 2

NRSG 9990/9991  Dissertation

Admissions Requirements

*Note: A Massachusetts RN license is required by matriculation in the PhD program in order to do the research practicum component of the program. If you are a registered nurse, you may enter the PhD program after completing a baccalaureate or a master’s degree. A degree in nursing is preferred.

To apply to the PhD in Nursing you will need the following:

Current U.S. RN License *

Minimum GPA of 3.0

Official transcript(s) of ALL college-level study-to-date resume

Personal statement  indicating applicant’s personal goals for obtaining a DNP and expectations of the program

A minimum GRE of 300 or equivalent  for the verbal and quantitative combined, should be taken within the last five years

Three letters of recommendation  that address your potential in a career in nursing research

Satisfactory completion of a basic statistics course

Personal Statement   describing your goals, your reason for pursuing a PhD in nursing and your research area of interest

For international applicants  TOEFL scores or IELTS scores

Got questions?

Amanda Choflet, DNP, RN, NEA-BC 617-373-3488 [email protected]

Graduate Admissions 617-373-2708

how to get phd nursing

Past PhD Dissertation Topics

Utilization of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale for Postoperative Pain in Anesthesia Chris Gill

Understanding college students’ motivations for the use and discontinued use of fitness related technology in relation to their physical activity behaviors Jessica Wallar

Experiences of School Nurses Caring for Newly Arrived Immigrant and Refugee Children Jacqueline Brady

An Exploration of the Influence of Stigma and Trauma in the Illness Representations of those Veterans who Decided to Initiate Treatment for Hepatitis C Virus Casey Garvey

Toward an Understanding of Suicidal Ideation Among Career Firefighters Elizabeth Henderson

Mold Exposure Levels in Inner-City Schools and Homes: An Examination of the Relationship Between Fungal Exposure and the Prevalence Rate of Asthmatic Symptoms Among Children Ages 5 to 15 Evin Howard

New-onset Delirium among Elderly Acute Care Orthopedic Trauma Patients: Sleep Disturbance and Nutritional Status as Modifiable Risk Factors Susan Maher

Stress, Resilience and Reintigration Among Post-9/11 US Veterans: A Holistic Investigation Anna Etchin

Exploring the Issues of HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis and Sexually Assaulted Individuals Meredith Scannell

Charting the Path from Diagnosis to Treatment: A Grounded Theory Study of Ovarian Cancer Rachel Pozzar

Frequently Asked Quesions

What’s the difference between the dnp and phd programs.

Northeastern offers two different doctoral degrees in nursing: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The PhD is a research-oriented degree, while the DNP is practice-oriented. Nurses interested in leadership might be interested in the DNP, whereas those interested in becoming nurse scientists would be a good fit for the PhD program.

What financial support is available for students?

A select number of competitive Graduate Assistantships are available for doctoral students. Graduate Assistantships cover tuition and include a stipend in exchange for working 20 hours/week as a research or teaching assistant.

NOTE: Graduate Assistantships are awarded each academic year.

Can I transfer credits towards the program ?

You may be able to transfer in up to 9 credits that have not been previously used towards another degree and were taken at the graduate level for a grade of B or better. Students must receive approval from the program director prior to transferring courses and must be enrolled in the program in order to begin the transfer process.

More information about Northeastern University’s transfer policy can be found in the  Bouve Transfer Policy.

Can I attend the program on a part-time basis ?

Full-time or part-time enrollment is available. Students who attend full-time complete the degree in five continuous semesters (21 months).

Students who attend part-time usually complete the degree in three years . Students must consult with the financial aid office to assure PT status is acceptable for loan eligibility . All students (full-time or part-time) must take the NRSG7100 Leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice course as the first course which is offered in the Fall.

Can I speak with faculty in the PhD program that share my research interests ?

Yes, we would be happy to put you in touch with our faculty. Please send your query along with a description of research interests so that you can be appropriately matched to:

Dr. Rhonda Board Program Director [email protected]

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PhD Admissions

Admission requirements.

A baccalaureate or master’s degree in nursing from a U.S. program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or an international program with commensurate standards is required for admission to the PhD Program in Nursing.

Post-baccalaureate Students

Applicants with a baccalaureate degree in nursing must demonstrate exceptional academic qualifications, have clear research-oriented career goals, and choose a dissertation topic congruent with the research program of a Graduate Faculty member in the School of Nursing. Applicants with baccalaureate degrees must complete a nursing research and a graduate-level statistics course.

Applying for Admission

The following admission materials must be submitted online to the  Duke University Graduate School . Prospective applicants should familiarize themselves with the Graduate School requirements.

Official, confidential transcript(s) of all college-level coursework.

Optional GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores - Applicants can submit GRE scores should they feel the scores enhance their application. [Taken within the past 5 years]. For a free online GRE guide, see  http://www.greguide.com / . For free online GRE practice tests, see  http://www.greguide.com/gre-practice-tests.html . Or visit Go Grad for the GRE Guidebook .

Three letters of recommendation. These letters should be solicited from individuals with doctoral degrees who can address the applicant’s academic abilities and potential for doctoral study.

English language proficiency test scores. Foreign graduates must submit either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International Language Testing System (IELTS) accepted, but IELTS is preferred.

Personal Statement. Applicants should submit a paper (1 - 2 typed pages, 12-point font, single-spaced) indicating:

Purposes and objectives for undertaking graduate study

Research interests and career goals

Strengths and weaknesses in the chosen field

A description of a prior research project or research participation and how this has influenced career choice and desire to pursue graduate studies

Reasons for choosing Duke for PhD studies

Name(s) of PhD Nursing faculty members in the School whose research program most closely fits with the applicant’s research interests.

The application and the $95 application fee must be received by December 1.

Personal Interview

Applicants may be asked to interview by Zoom or come to campus for an interview. The School covers the costs for campus interview travel except for international travel. International applicants are interviewed via Zoom.

Duke University's Annual Clery Security Report as Mandated by Federal Statute 20 USC § 1092

The Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report include institutional policies concerning campus safety and security, as well as statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Duke University property and on public property adjacent to campus and fires that have occurred in residence halls. A copy of this Report can be obtained by contacting the Duke Police Department at 684-4602 or writing to 502 Oregon Street, Durham, NC 27708, or by accessing:  duke.edu/police/news_stats/clery

Technology Requirements

Learn more on recommended computer specifications and Duke Office of Information Technology-supported software here .

Students with Disabilities: Duke University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please get in touch with the Duke Student Disability Access Office  in advance of your participation or visit.

Nursing License

Students must hold a valid current nursing license in a U.S. state, preferably North Carolina. To obtain information about nurse licensure procedures for the State of North Carolina, consult the  Licensure/Listing Page of the North Carolina Board of Nursing website , or telephone the North Carolina Board of Nursing at (919) 782-3211. Exceptions to holding a U.S state nursing license for international students can be waived by the PhD Program Director.

All PhD in Nursing applicants are required to have a baccalaureate or master’s degree in nursing accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), or an international nursing program with commensurate standards.

Applicants are expected to have completed a graduate-level statistics course prior to starting the program. This course must have been completed within the last 5 years.

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Home / Getting Your Ph.D. in Nursing

Getting Your Ph.D. in Nursing

Becoming a ph.d. nurse, what does a ph.d. nurse do, ph.d. nurse salary & employment, ph.d. vs. dnp in nursing, helpful organizations, societies, and agencies, what is a ph.d. nurse.

A Ph.D. nurse is one who has completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree. A Ph.D., or doctoral degree, is the highest level of education a nurse can achieve. Different from a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, which focuses on advanced clinical practice, a Ph.D. in Nursing program is a research and science-focused degree that prepares nurses for careers conducting important medical research that will advance the entire nursing profession and for teaching nursing at the college level.

how to get phd nursing

In order to become a Ph.D. nurse, of course, nurses must complete a Ph.D. in nursing program, which generally takes 4 to 6 years to finish. An aspiring Ph.D. nurse must have a strong interest in conducting medical research and/or teaching future nurses. Strong leadership skills are also important, as many Ph.D. nurses go on to supervise and mentor other nurses, whether they work in scientific research, management, or teaching capacity.

What Are the Educational Requirements For a Ph.D. Nurse Program?

A Ph.D. in Nursing program is known as a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest level of education for the nursing profession (in addition to the DNP degree, another separate nursing doctorate program track). Prior to entering a Ph.D. program, nurses must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. In some cases, applicants to a Ph.D. in Nursing program must also complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which provides advanced education in nursing practice with courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and clinical practice.

Educational Prerequisites

Specific requirements to complete a Ph.D. in Nursing program will vary slightly from school to school. Schools offer Ph.D. in Nursing programs in traditional classroom formats, as well as online and hybrid styles that combine in-person study with online coursework. In addition to a variety of formats for Ph.D. in Nursing programs, students can also sometimes opt to take these programs on a full-time or part-time basis to suit their personal schedules.

The curriculum for a Ph.D. in Nursing program is research-focused, with coursework in advanced scientific research principles, data analysis, and statistical measurement. Ph.D. programs generally culminate in a dissertation and original research project. As an example of Ph.D. curriculum, below is a selection of courses offered by the Medical University of South Carolina as part of their online Ph.D. in Nursing Science program:

  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Advanced Statistical Methods for Nursing Research
  • Advanced Study Design and Methods
  • Advanced Health Policy & Advocacy
  • Research Team Leadership

A Ph.D. nurse conducts scientific research that advances the nursing profession. The knowledge that Ph.D. nurses gather and present as a part of their scientific research powers positive change in the quality of patient care and outcomes in the entire nursing field. In addition to their role as nurse scientists, Ph.D. nurses also teach and mentor nurses at the college/university level, working to shape the next generation of nurses.

What Are the Roles and Duties of a Ph.D. Nurse?

The majority of Ph.D. nurses pursue careers in either the research or teaching fields, so their day-to-day duties will vary depending on which career track they have chosen.

For a nurse researcher , typical duties may include:

  • Identify research questions, and design and conduct scientific research in partnership with other scientists from various fields
  • Collect and analyze scientific data and publish reports detailing findings
  • Write proposals and apply for grants to help fund their research
  • Establish and maintain quality assurance programs to ensure the validity of their data findings
  • Train and supervise laboratory staff and other nurses or scientists

For a Ph.D.  nurse educator who has chosen to pursue a faculty position, typical duties may include:

  • Plan, prepare, and revise curriculum and study materials for nursing courses
  • Deliver lectures to undergraduate and graduate level nursing students
  • Supervise students' laboratory and clinical work
  • Grade students' classwork, laboratory, and clinical performance
  • Mentor and advise students regarding their future work in the nursing industry

For faculty members who pursue department chair or administration roles, additional duties may include:

  • Hire, supervise and conduct performance reviews of faculty members
  • Assist with the scheduling of classes and professors
  • Oversee department curriculum and provide quality control as to the content and materials of given nursing courses

Workplace Settings

A Ph.D. nurse can work in a variety of settings, depending on the career path he or she has chosen. A Ph.D. nurse may find employment at a hospital, medical laboratory, research facility, or university as a research scientist, or may work at a nursing school, college, or university as a faculty member or department chair. In some cases, a Ph.D. nurse may also work as a public health nurse in a government setting, helping to develop research-based solutions to public health issues.

Salaries for Ph.D. nurses vary based on the type of employment a nurse seeks after graduation. Nurse researchers, a primary career path for Ph.D. nurses, can expect a median salary of $90,000 according to Payscale.com. For Ph.D. nurses who pursue a teaching position, the median annual wage for post-secondary nursing instructors is $77,440 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2021. Geographical location, career length, and experience level are all factors that can influence a Ph.D. nurse's annual salary.

The nursing profession as a whole has a particularly bright employment outlook, with the employment of registered nurses projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030 according to the BLS. In addition, a large number of healthcare facilities are looking for nursing professionals with higher degrees, which means the demand for Ph.D. and DNP level nurses will continue to grow. In fact, the Institute of Medicine 's 2015 "The Future of Nursing Report" emphasized the need for more Ph.D. level nurses.

As there are two doctorate-level nursing program types to choose from, there may be some confusion as to the differences between a Ph.D. nursing program and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The primary difference between the two programs relates to nurses' career aspirations. A DNP program trains nurses to perform the highest level of nursing practice and to translate research into high-quality patient care, while a Ph.D. program prepares nurses to conduct cutting-edge research that will advance the science of nursing and patient care. In addition to research positions, a Ph.D. program prepares nurses for leadership and teaching positions at hospitals and colleges/universities. To simplify, a DNP is a nursing practice doctorate degree, while a Ph.D. is a research and teaching doctorate.

Other key differences between DNP and Ph.D. programs are curriculum and program length. A typical DNP program includes courses on advanced nursing practice, leadership, and management topics and requires patient care clinical hours as well as a final capstone project. A Ph.D. program includes coursework on research methodologies, data analysis, and healthcare leadership and policy, and requires students to complete original research and a dissertation. In general, a Ph.D. program takes longer to complete than a DNP program, with Ph.D. programs taking an average of 4 to 6 years to complete and a DNP program taking 3 to 4 years, but can be completed in as little as 2 years depending on the school and program chosen.

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing
  • American Nurses Association
  • International Association of Clinical Research Nurses
  • National Institute of Nursing Research

PhD info sessions

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2025 PhD Admission

Next application deadline: December 1, 2024

Program Overview

Prospective student advising & faculty mentor match

Success in our PhD program begins with matching your doctoral research goals with one of our faculty’s research and scholarly expertise.

  • Go to the faculty search tool , check the box “Accepting PhD Students,” and use the keyword search to find faculty members whose research and scholarly expertise match your area of research (for instance, “gerontology” or “sleep”).
  • If they are  not a good match or are unavailable for mentoring, ask if they can offer recommendations for other faculty members who are a better fit with your goals.
  • why these individuals are potential faculty mentors, and
  • how your research area would be facilitated by working with these faculty members.

If you have any questions about finding a faculty match for your research interests, contact our Student Outreach Coordinator in Student and Academic Services at 206.221.7708 or [email protected] .

The Student Outreach Coordinator will also talk with you about your background, your proposed area of focus for your doctoral studies, and your next steps in the application process.

Information sessions

Join Simone Nelson, Manager of Student Outreach and Recruitment, to get an overview of the PhD application, the admissions process, being a PhD student at the University of Washington, and have your questions answered.

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Johns Hopkins Nursing Magazine

On the Pulse

5 Reasons to Get Your PhD in Nursing at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

how to get phd nursing

Written by Deb Driscoll

If the next step in your professional journey is a PhD in Nursing, Johns Hopkins may be a good fit. Graduates advance the theoretical foundation of nursing practice and health care delivery; they assume a leadership role in nursing and in the broader arena of health care.

Prospective scholars looking to transform the discipline, here are 5 reasons Johns Hopkins School of Nursing should be at the top of your list.

#1: Research requires funding, and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Ranks No. 1 in funding from NIH.

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Ranks No. 1 in NIH Funding

Research takes money (a lot of money!) so you want to make sure the school you select—and your faculty mentor—has a strong track record in obtaining funding. Check out faculty you are interested in working with and view their grant-writing history. And even better, part of our curriculum is specifically targeted towards teaching students to write and submit a successful grant application.

#2: You get to work with world leaders among the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing faculty—and the world leaders in other Johns Hopkins schools, too.

Our faculty are amazingly supportive and accessible to students, and PhD students at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing have access to top tier faculty across all schools at Johns Hopkins University. What’s more, many collaborate with faculty at the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, and the School of Engineering to name a few (there is even an engineering grant that supports students with their PhD work!). The most valuable resource at any school is knowledge, and at Johns Hopkins you will have access to cutting edge research being done in a variety of areas. 

Review your faculty mentor assignment and reach out to that person before committing to a school—this relationship will be key in your success and experience as a PhD student.

Meet Faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

#3 You will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, libraries, and research infrastructure.

When you are doing research, you need resources! As a research institution, Johns Hopkins ensures PhD students have the support of libraries with unlimited access and help from people well-versed in the research process, all of which is backed by institutional infrastructure developed specifically to support the research process.

Explore Research at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

#4 Johns Hopkins has a world-renowned global health footprint.

If you have a passion for global health and humanitarian work, connect with change-makers from Johns Hopkins—they have an impact all over the world.  Many faculty have their own international research projects in progress that you can join! 

Explore Community, Global, and Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

#5 Diversity, equity, and inclusion is baked into the Johns Hopkins approach to theoretical, methodological, and analytical training.

A strong background in theory, methods and analysis will prepare you to be a successful researcher.  At Johns Hopkins, a part of that is our commitment to embracing diversity, and incorporating a social determinants of health perspective into all PhD dissertation analyses. From local to global populations, our leadership is committed to an academic atmosphere that supports and respects underserved populations.

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Values: Diversity, Inclusion & Community

Ready to apply?

Applications open in August 2021 for the fall 2022 PhD in Nursing cohort at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. These resources can help you put together a strong application.  

  • PhD or DNP/PhD Tips and Tricks for a Strong Application
  • Doctor of Philosophy and DNP Advanced Practice Track/PHD Dual Degree Programs  (detailed program information with faculty)
  • Doctor of Philosophy and DNP Advanced Practice Track/PHD Dual Degree Programs  (virtual open house with student panel )

Join our email list so you can keep up with the latest opportunities to connect and learn more

Admissions talks  is a series by the admissions team at johns hopkins school of nursing. hopkins nurses are full partners and leaders in the health care process, and their role in patient care is unmatched. the admissions team is here to offer advice and guidance on how to be a competitive applicant.  admissions & financial aid at the johns hopkins school of nursing.

  • Admissions Talks: You’ve Been Admitted to a Johns Hopkins DNP Executive track! Now What?
  • Admissions Talks: Rocking the Interview for DNP Executive Tracks
  • Virtual Visits: Making the Most Out of Our Reality
  • Admissions Talks: Recommendations for Recommendations
  • Admissions Talks: 4 Tips to Write a Strong Doctoral Admission Essay

how to get phd nursing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DEB DRISCOLL

Deb Driscoll is Assistant Director of Recruitment for the  DNP Executive Track ,  DNP/MBA ,  PhD , and  DNP/PhD  programs at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She has worked in higher education since 2008, and at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing since 2017. Born in Valencia, Spain, she is lawyer by education and a member of the Maryland State Bar Association. She believes strongly in the personal connection that is the hallmark of the ‘Johns Hopkins Experience’ and encourages nurses interested in Johns Hopkins School of Nursing graduate programs to reach out to her directly at 410-502-4132, [email protected], on  LinkedIn  or  Twitter .

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The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is No. 1 in the nation for its master’s programs in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2021. The school ranks No. 3 for its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and top ranked across the board within specialty rankings. JHSON is currently ranked No. 3 globally by QS World University.

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PHD IN NURSING

The Fitzpatrick College of Nursing (FCN) PhD Program follows a unique Teacher-Scholar Model, training PhD-prepared Nurses to become academic educators and nurse scientists. Our distinguished faculty provides comprehensive support to students pursuing research programs aimed at advancing nursing education science and clinically-based research. Graduates from our program possess the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct high-quality studies addressing significant and timely topics, ultimately improving patient outcomes across diverse populations.

Depending on the college or university's Carnegie Classification of Institutions®, a PhD-prepared nurse may choose to focus primarily on teaching or dedicate their time to research. However, all faculty members with nursing backgrounds are expected to actively participate in scholarly activities. Our recently revised curriculum caters to the various responsibilities of doctorly-prepared educators, fostering research and scholarship skills.

DOCTORAL READINESS SURVEY

This assessment is a guide to evaluate the type of doctoral program that best fits your career goals. Assessments are anonymous and Villanova Nursing will not receive your responses to the survey. 

*There is no relationship between your responses and the evaluation of your application for admission into the FCN PhD Program. 

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Doctoral Degrees

Know How to Go from an MSN to a PhD

Home » PhD and DNP Degrees » Know How to Go from an MSN to a PhD

With many nursing schools nationwide facing a faculty shortage, the demand for qualified nursing educators continues to grow.

In addition to the personal satisfaction of educating a new generation of nurses, nursing educators and scholars play a vital role in groundbreaking scientific research to fight disease and improve patient outcomes.

While the master’s degree in nursing is typically the minimum education required for a nursing educator, the PhD in nursing is gaining momentum as the preferred standard for nurses looking to advance their career in higher education and research. Moving from an MSN to PhD in nursing can have several benefits for nurses who want to make the transition from the bedside to the classroom.

Why get a PhD in Nursing?

If you already have a master’s degree in nursing, you may wonder, “Why do I need a PhD?” The answer is: If you’re looking to become a nurse educator or researcher, your chances of landing one of those coveted roles greatly improves with a doctorate in nursing education.

One reason to choose the MSN to PhD path is that most nursing schools are looking for PhD-trained nurses when hiring faculty.

A survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found a nursing faculty vacancy rate of almost 8% at nursing schools nationwide. But even with the current faculty shortage, the AACN survey found 56% of the vacancies were for faculty positions requiring a doctoral degree, and another 34% were for positions that preferred PhD candidates. A PhD in nursing certainly gives faculty candidates a leg up over the competition when applying for nursing faculty positions.

Transitioning from an MSN to PhD in nursing also can bolster one’s research credentials. Nursing graduates with a PhD in nursing are better prepared to conduct important nursing and other healthcare research related to disease prevention and treatment and methods for improving patient care.

“When nurses do research on their doctorate, many people tend to think that it primarily focuses on nurses and nursing care,” according to the AACN . “In reality, nurses carry out clinical research in a variety of areas, such as diabetes care, cancer care and eating disorders.”

Nursing educators with doctoral degrees have opportunities to publish the findings of their research in scholarly journals, write grant proposals and might be asked to speak as experts at healthcare meetings or conferences.

And while a career in higher education might be the most common career path for those with a PhD in nursing, it’s not the only option. A research-focused doctoral degree in nursing can pave the way for nurses to conduct clinical research in hospitals, research laboratories or in public health and public policy, as well as to move up into executive and leadership positions in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Other benefits of a PhD in Nursing

Getting a doctorate in nursing education can have other less tangible but equally important benefits for those looking to pursue careers as nurse educators. The National League for Nursing listed some of the top reasons to consider a career as a nurse educator, including:

  • Working in an intellectually stimulating environment.
  • Having greater autonomy and flexibility.
  • Being able to teach from virtually anywhere, using technology.
  • Conducting important research that advances the field.
  • Shaping the future of healthcare.
  • Educating and mentoring a new generation of nursing professionals.
  • Teaching a love of nursing to others.

And while a career in academia can be challenging, the working conditions may be appealing for nurses who are looking for a change of pace from their roles in direct patient care settings. Many nursing faculty work nine months a year with summers off, and nurse educators typically do not have to work long 12-hour shifts or overnight hours like clinical nurses often do.

Finding the right PhD program

Many MSN to PhD programs are available for master’s educated nurses, and there are several factors to consider in choosing the right program.

Selecting a doctoral program comes down to personal choice, but important things to consider include the quality and accessibility of faculty and the program’s commitment to research.

In choosing a PhD program, students can consider several questions that could tip the balance toward the perfect program. For instance, students may want to consider whether they have opportunities to work one-on-one with a faculty member on an independent study or individually designed project and whether they can publish alongside faculty. Also, can students participate in research projects or other professional initiatives.

Students also need to decide whether they want to pursue their degree in a traditional on-campus environment or online.

Online MSN to PhD programs can be an attractive option for master’s trained nurses who want to continue working while pursuing their doctoral studies. Many MSN to PhD programs can be completed in as little as two to three years of coursework, but a dissertation or research project also is required, which usually takes at least another year. Students should carefully review the requirements of the programs they’re considering — including number of required credit hours and cost — when making a decision about a doctoral program.

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DNP vs. Ph.D. in Nursing: What's the Difference?

portrait of Daniel Bal, MS.Ed

Contributing Writer

Learn about our editorial process .

Updated July 26, 2023 · 5 Min Read

how to get phd nursing

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Nurses who have already earned a masters degree and are looking to pursue the next step in their education have two options: doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing.

Both degrees offer nurses a variety of professional opportunities, allowing them to utilize their expertise to benefit the field of nursing.

This guide outlines the differences in earning a DNP vs. a Ph.D. in nursing, and what opportunities lay ahead for graduates of either program. In understanding the roles and responsibilities of each, nurses can determine which degree is right for them.

DNP and Ph.D. in Nursing Key Similarities and Differences

A DNP and Ph.D. are both terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest degree a nurse can earn. Regardless of their choice of program, interested nurses need a bachelor of science (BSN) degree in nursing, an active and unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license, and clinical experience before gaining admittance to either doctorate program.

While a DNP and Ph.D. are both advanced degrees, they prepare nurses for different roles within the nursing field. DNP programs focus on educating nurses who want to pursue leadership roles in a clinical setting. Ph.D. programs provide nurses with an education to pursue academic or research-based positions.

What is a DNP?

A DNP is an advanced degree for nurses who want to become experts in clinical nursing. The degree is an alternative to research-centric doctoral programs, and provides nurses with skills and training to work at an advanced level in the nursing field.

What is a Ph.D. in Nursing?

Earning a Ph.D. in nursing prepares graduates for work either in academia or research settings. Graduates often pursue faculty positions with academic institutions or in a career that involves performing research in a medical laboratory.

Source: Payscale

Popular DNP Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Duties and Responsibilities

The roles of a nurse with a DNP vs. a Ph.D. in nursing are fundamentally different. The former focuses on clinical work, whereas the latter is geared more toward research and education.

Their duties revolve around those two major areas. As such, DNPs are more likely to work with patients, while Ph.D graduates focus on educating nurses and analyzing medical practices.

What Can You Do With a DNP?

Nurses with a DNP are considered expert clinicians who are prepared for the highest level of nursing practice.

Upon earning the degree, nurses can choose to focus on leadership and administrative roles (public health, healthcare policy, informatics, etc.) or clinical care (clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, etc.).

After earning a DNP, nurses' responsibilities may include:

  • Diagnose and treat patients
  • Prescribe medications
  • Order various diagnostic tests
  • Handle patient complains
  • Consult on complex cases
  • Implement policy changes

Keep in mind that some DNP programs are for roles (clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator) that will not have authorization to perform some of the above responsibilities.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Nursing?

Nurses with a Ph.D. often focus on the areas of education and research. They may design studies and conduct research on clinical practices, nursing education, health systems, and public policy.

People with a Ph.D. in nursing often find employment in academic, business, or governmental settings. Overall, nurses with a Ph.D.can:

  • Design, conduct, and publish research
  • Develop new nursing knowledge and methods
  • Utilize research results to improve nursing outcomes
  • Write proposals and apply for grants to fund research
  • Mentor and advise students
  • Compose curriculum for nursing courses

Education Prerequisites

When looking to earn either a DNP or Ph.D., most programs require applicants to have similar prerequisites. Institutions often look for candidates who have attained an undergraduate degree, are actively able to practice nursing, and can meet certain academic requirements.

How to Earn a DNP

To apply for a DNP degree program, candidates need a BSN or master of science in nursing (MSN) from an accredited institution, a GPA of at least 3.0, and an active nursing license.

Once enrolled, students can choose an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) role such as clinical nurse practitioner (CNP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

CNPs and CNSs then choose a population focus (i.e., neonatal, pediatrics, womens health, psychiatric-mental health). DNP candidates often focus on a research or capstone project throughout their entire program.

The program can last 2-4 years, and full-time students are able to earn their degree faster than their part-time counterparts. Students participate in courses on informatics, health policy, healthcare delivery systems, evidence-based practice, and project management.

Learners must also complete a total of 1,000 clinical hours, 500 of which can stem from a previous masters program that resulted in national certification. Learners with previous hours may become more common as some programs, like CRNA, transition from MSN to DNP-only.

How to Earn a Ph.D. in Nursing

To get accepted to a Ph.D. program, candidates need a BSN or MSN from an accredited program, a 3.0 to 3.5 minimum GPA, and an active nursing license. Applicants must also provide a CV or resume, professional references, and a personal statement.

The length of a Ph.D. program ranges from 4-6 years depending on the status of the student (full-time vs. part-time). The curriculum revolves around theory, analysis, and statistics, with students taking classes in grant writing, research design, and research methods. Since their work takes place within education and research, Ph.D. candidates are not required to complete clinical hours.

Salary and Career Outlook

Upon program completion, DNP and Ph.D. graduates may benefit from a higher earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a steady need over the next decade for nurses with advanced training.

Ultimately, degree type, specialization, and population focus dictate the average annual salary and the type of demand nurses should anticipate.

$107,000 Average Annual DNP Salary

$99,000 Average Annual Ph.D. in Nursing Salary

DNP in Nursing Salary and Career Outlook

While the average salary of nurses with DNPs is approximately $107,000, their chosen specialization impacts their earning potential and demand. DNP-holders working a CRNAs average $164,340 per year, according to July 2022 Payscale data, while those who work in pediatrics earn $92,030 .

Not only do CRNAs earn the highest average salary, but they are also one of the most in-demand specializations; the BLS projects a job growth rate of 45%, significantly higher than the 9% average for all other professions.

Another main factor that influences DNP earning potential is years of experience. Entry-level nurses earn an average annual salary of approximately $87,000 , according to July 2022 Payscale data. Whereas those with more than 20 years of experience can earn upwards of $187,000 depending upon the specialization.

Ph.D. in Nursing Salary and Career Outlook

Much like nurses with a DNP, the salary of one with a Ph.D. varies based on focus. According to the BLS , nurse educators with a Ph.D. can receive upwards of $125,930 annually.

While all nurses with advanced degrees continue to be in demand, Ph.D. graduates who choose to become educators can especially benefit from this need. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing , nursing schools had to turn away over 80,000 qualified applicants in 2019 due to the shortage of educators.

Many states are looking to provide incentives to nurses who choose to become educators, thereby increasing the benefit of selecting this role.

DNP vs. Ph.D. in Nursing: Which Degree is Right For Me?

Deciding which degree works best depends upon a nurse's personal and professional goals. The degrees lead nurses down two fairly distinct paths – one clinical and one research-oriented.

DNP and Ph.D. graduates are both in high demand and have above-average earning potential. The degrees differ in time commitment and responsibilities.

Nurses who prefer to work in a clinical capacity either directly with patients or in a nursing leadership role should pursue a DNP. Graduates often find themselves in a variety of clinical settings, such as hospitals, specialty practices, or public health offices.

Learners more interested in preparing future nurses or conducting research that aids in the development of new and effective nursing methods should pursue a Ph.D. Nurse Ph.D. graduates often use their expertise in settings such as colleges and universities, research facilities, medical laboratories, and government agencies.

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Doctoral Degrees in Nursing

Doctoral nursing degrees

Table of Contents

What is a doctoral degree in nursing.

A doctoral degree in any field is what we consider to be the terminal or final degree for that field. A doctorate is the highest degree you can possibly earn. When it comes to nursing, there are a couple of options to consider if you’re thinking about getting your Doctorate. Each has a different focus and specialization that uniquely supports the profession of nursing.

Doctor of Philosophy, PhD

The PhD is probably most likely what people think of when it comes to Doctoral degrees that are outside what a physician would have. There are numerous PhD focuses out there across many disciplines and professions, and they all focus on research within their field or specialty. 

The PhD in nursing is a research-focused degree with an emphasis on creating new knowledge as it relates to things like nursing practices, healthcare, patient outcomes, and education. These nurse scientists identify a problem, create a hypothesis, develop a way to evaluate that hypothesis through statistical analysis, and synthesize new evidence and knowledge based on their findings.

The PhD project has some great resources you can check out for more insight into what the Doctor of Philosophy is all about. 

Doctor of Nursing Practice, DNP

The DNP degree could be the doctoral degree most directly relatable to the practice of nursing at the bedside. Throughout the DNP academic program, the focus is on evidence-based practice and how to bring that practice to the patients. As a DNP, you are prepared to view potential problems in practice, identify the solution to that problem by investigating and reinforcing best practices, and assist in putting those best practices into action.

Another way to think of this is that the DNP can pick up where the PhD left off, because one complements the other.

A PhD-prepared nurse scientist conducts research and produces evidence from that research. The DNP-prepared nurse focuses on translating that evidence into practice to support optimal patient outcomes.

To learn more about the possibilities in achieving your Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree, check out Doctors of Nursing Practice .

Doctorate in Education, EdD

The EdD is, as you may have guessed, all about education. This is another degree that touches many different disciplines of education outside of nursing, such as those professionals directing school systems who seek to advance scholarly practices. 

The EdD is available with a focus on nursing education through some universities and colleges. Those pursuing their EdD with a focus on nursing will be prepared to be leaders and innovators in the academic preparation of future nurses.

If you’re interested, a great resource to check out the EdD options out there is EdD Programs .

What Can You Do With a Doctoral Degree in Nursing?

Any of the Doctoral degrees mentioned here likely have some elements to set you up for success as a leader in your field. Depending on what you want to do with your professional life, or what your current professional role includes, one of the Doctoral pathways could be better suited than the others.

Nurses with Doctoral degrees have knowledge and skills that support roles outside of what many might consider traditional and can include roles like

  • Academic faculty
  • Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN)
  • Nursing science and research
  • Clinical leadership
  • Health executive 
  • Health policy analyst
  • Healthcare lobbyist
  • Healthcare data analyst
  • Health Writer
  • Nurse consultant
  • Health Program Director

Which Doctoral Degree is Right for Me?

Which Doctoral degree is right for you depends on you as a person, and the reasons you are considering it in the first place. The decision to pursue a Doctoral degree and the pathway to getting there should be guided by what you want to do with your degree when you’re done.

You don’t want to decide you’re going to get your PhD and then try and figure out what you’re going to do with it. You should be thinking in the reverse. Think about what roles you could see yourself in and make your decisions about which Doctoral pathway to pursue based on that. The last thing you want to do is labor through a PhD program geared toward research and academia when your true heart’s desire is to be a clinical leader.

If you think you want to be a member of the nursing faculty, then any of the three mentioned Doctoral programs will likely serve you well. If you want to be a nurse scientist focused on research, you would want to stick with a PhD. The end goal needs to justify the means.

Is a Doctoral Degree The Right Choice For Me?

If you’re thinking about someday pursuing a Doctoral degree you really need to make sure you want it badly enough to put in the work. Sometimes nurses like the sound of completing their Doctoral degree, but when it comes down to the work they run out of steam or they find it’s just too much with everything else in life they need to manage.

Completing a terminal degree is a tremendous amount of work. You will eat, breathe, and sleep school for a period of time, and it does get tiresome. By the time I finished my own DNP degree program I didn’t want to think about or speak about my chosen area of research at all. I was just plain sick of it for a while.

Trust me, there were many times throughout the program that I wanted to throw in the towel, but I’m very happy I didn’t. This is not meant to scare people, it is meant to make sure you have a realistic idea of what the expectations are. Ask around, and talk to some people you know who have been through it. See what their opinion on the workload is.

How Do I Get Started and When?

When and where you get started depends mostly on where you are now. Most Doctoral programs will require at least a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s level coursework to be completed as a component of their admission requirements.

There are some exceptions to this, especially with many of the APRN programs that have transitioned to DNP programs. For these programs, you can be accepted into the program with a Bachelor’s degree and work through the Master’s level coursework as a matriculated DNP student.

The timing of when to start depends a lot on what your life is like and what responsibilities you may be managing while also in school. Some people prefer to delay until their kids are in school or until some other major life event has passed. That is totally okay, and nobody is going to be able to make that decision better than you.

I will also say it’s never too soon or too late to start at least thinking about Doctoral programs if you’re interested, but you need to do your research.

You do not want to apply to and enroll in the first Doctoral program that shows up in your Google search. You need to research the program and think about its unique requirements and how they fit your needs.

Here are some things to consider when looking at programs:

  • Does this program fit my future career goals?
  • Does the enrollment timing of this program match the needs of me and my family?
  • Do I need a program that is online, in-person, or a combination of both?
  • Does the program have on-site residency requirements I might need to satisfy?
  • How long is the program?
  • How much is the program?
  • What is the program’s reputation?
  • Check out the faculty; are there any faculty members that have research interests that align with yours?
  • What are the clinical or research requirements?
  • Are you allowed to take any semesters off if needed?

Matt Murphy

Matt is a registered nurse currently working in nursing professional development specializing in supporting the development of current and future nurses. He obtained his Bachelors in Nursing from Utica College and both his Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and Master’s degree in Nursing Education from Sacred Heart University.  Matt maintains two national board certifications as a Certified Emergency Nurse and a Trauma Certified Registered Nurse. Matt’s free time is mainly spent with his three children as they are always reliable in keeping him active.

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PhD in Nursing (Online)

Launched in 2008, the Queen's Nursing doctoral degree has an online and in-person blended delivery model. Our experienced faculty use both synchronous and asynchronous teaching modalities to lead small graduate seminars, engaging you in a lively, critical examination of philosophy, policy and theory while you delve into your own areas of research interests.

This innovative research program will not only give you the tools you need to become an expert in clinical, theoretical, and health system issues, but it will also prepare you for a career as a leader in health research, nursing education, clinical practice, and health care administration.

Questions? Contact the graduate nursing office →

Program overview, general information.

Our PhD program consists of six courses, five in the first year and one in the second year. There are three mandatory on-site intensive weeks ranging from 5-10 days in length, normally held in early September, mid-January, and early May of the first year of the program. After the intensive weeks, the courses continue with weekly online seminars.

Following the completion of the first-year courses, students will write the comprehensive exam and then take the sixth and final course which is designed to support students in developing a thesis proposal. After a successful oral examination of the thesis proposal, students submit their project for ethics review and then proceed to data collection, analysis, and writing. The thesis requires independent, original research and makes up at least two-thirds of the time normally required for the program.

Upper year students are expected to visit campus at least once per year, normally coinciding with the annual student research conference in spring (usually May); students are required to attend the final thesis examination in person. Nurtured by close mentoring relationships with faculty supervisors, the Queen’s model is to ensure graduate students present and publish their research, and normally complete their program in 4 years.

Additional Resources

  • School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA)
  • SGSPA Academic Calendar
  • SGSPA Academic Calendar - Nursing Section
  • Society of Graduate and Professional Students
  • Queen’s Nursing and Health Research
  • Queen’s Collaboration for Health Care Quality (QcHcQ)

Interprofessional Education

Interprofessional education is essential to equip health professional students with the knowledge, expertise, and fundamental values required for collaborative practice. Learn more about how Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences supports interprofessional education .

  • Mandatory o nsite residency in September
  • NURS 901: Philosophy of Nursing Science   (online)
  • NURS 902: Qualitative Research Methods (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with PhD supervisor) 
  • Mandatory o nsite residency in January
  • NURS 900: Advanced Statistics and Analytic Techniques (online)
  • NURS 903: Advanced Quantitative Measurement, Methods and Design (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with supervisor)

Spring/Summer:

  • Mandatory o nsite residency in May (includes NURS 905)
  • NURS 905: Nursing, Health Services and Public Policy in Canada  
  • Prepare for comprehensive exam (independently with supervisor)
  • Write c omprehensive examinations in early fall
  • NURS 906: Thesis Seminar Course   (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research   (independently with supervisor)
  • Graduate Research Day (May)
  • Oral t hesis proposal exam late summer/early fall

Year 3/Year 4

  • Participate in Graduate Student Research Day each spring
  • Final oral t hesis exam, onsite at the end of fourth year

For more course information please visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Academic Calendar .

School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

International student resources, funding & awards, indigenous applicants.

Deadline to apply: Applications for Fall 2024 are due February 1, 2024.

Applications to all graduate programs are made through the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs starting in September for admission the following year.

Please note, only complete applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee in the School of Nursing.

Academic Requirements

  • Master's degree in nursing science or equivalent, and a b accalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited university.
  • Minimum overall average equivalent to B+.
  • Two academic letters of reference (e.g. course professors).
  • Statement of Interest  (see Additional Required Information tab).
  • We strongly encourage applicants to contact  potential supervisors before applying.
  • Applicants without an baccalaureate degree in nursing will be considered, but are strongly encouraged to contact the program prior to applying.

Additional Required Information

In addition to the online application submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, the following documents must be submitted to [email protected] :  

  • Describe your research experience to date (e.g. grants, publications, unpublished studies). Max. 250 words.
  • Describe your proposed plan of research. What problem do you plan to address and why? What is its importance to the discipline? Describe a possible study design (e.g. framework, methodology). Max. 400 words.
  • Describe how you have advocated for health equity, diversity, inclusion, indigeneity, and/or accessibility (EDIIA) within the healthcare system. How has your experience influenced your career path and other pursuits to this point? Max. 300 words.
  • What will be your strategy in your personal and professional life to manage the time commitment this program requires? This can include any academic accommodations that you plan to request. Max. 250 words.
  • Proof of registration as a nurse in local province or own country; and
  • Curriculum Vitae .

International Applicants

The required  b accalaureate degree in nursing must be equivalent to a 4-year Canadian program.

In addition to the academic requirements, applicants must provide:

Proof of registration as a registered nurse in own country (will not be required to register with College of Nurses of Ontario). International students who are not registered in Ontario will be unable to conduct thesis research that requires registration;

Proficiency in English . Applicants whose first language is not English or who have not recently studied for at least one complete year at a post-secondary institution where English is the official language of instruction, will be required to obtain satisfactory results in an English language proficiency test, as part of the application process, and before their application will be considered complete.

Please visit the   School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an international student who is not registered with the college of nurses of ontario, can i still apply.

As an international applicant you are not required to be registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario, but must be registered as a nurse in your own country.  If you are not registered as a nurse in Ontario during the program you will be unable to conduct thesis research that requires registration.  This limitation on thesis research topics should be considered and discussed with a potential thesis supervisor prior to submitting your application.

Can I take the program part-time?

No, this is a full-time program only. Most of the course work involved in the program occurs in the first year and most classes are organized for Mondays and Tuesdays.

How do I decide on a thesis supervisor?

The decision on a supervisor is made by the Graduate Program Committee, following discussions between you and a potential faculty supervisor. A faculty member must be able to supervise thesis research in your area of interest and be willing to do so, given their current work commitments. It is recommended that you review profiles of faculty members on the  School of Nursing website  to determine if there is someone who conducts research in your area.

Do I have to have a thesis topic before I come?

Normally, you should have a general area of research interest before you begin the program, but a specific thesis topic is developed as you engage in course work and discussions with your thesis supervisor. On occasion, an applicant may have a specific plan for research, but this is not typical.

Are there scholarships available?

The Graduate Program Committee nominates individual applicants and students for internal scholarships and awards for which they are eligible. In order to be considered for awards in the first year, your application should be completed by February 1st. You are also encouraged to apply for external scholarships and fellowships as early as possible, as some of these may then be available to you during your first year of study. These are often offered by professional organizations or associations in nursing. You may also have the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and/or research assistant.   Contact us  if you would like more information about potential external funding. 

My experience as a student in the Doctorate of Philosophy in Nursing was so many things. The courses were taught by brilliant professors who are experts in the subject matter. I learned the fundamental skills necessary to be a successful researcher and academic. The program encourages dissemination of student research and provides opportunities for national and international networking. After completing the program, I was recruited for a tenure-track faculty position at my university of choice. I have a career that I love and the knowledge and ability to help make a difference.

Amanda Vandyk , RN, PHD (Queen’s 2013) Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa

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Earn your Ph.D. in Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis

UMSL's Ph.D. program in nursing is a dynamic and prestigious academic endeavor designed to cultivate future nurse leaders and scholars in the field. With a strong emphasis on research and scholarship, the program aims to equip students with the expertise needed to make significant contributions to the discipline of nursing and healthcare science. The PhD program is designed for students seeking a traditional research doctorate with the desire to master both the broad discipline of nursing as well as the depth of a specific area of study.

Program type:

Doctorate, Ph.D.

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PhD Nursing

Program Options

  • Full-time and Part-time BSN to PhD
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GRE scores are not required

Outcomes and Career Outlook

The Ph.D. program aims to equip graduates with expertise in the healthcare discipline, advanced research skills, and effective leadership abilities. Students develop their own research programs focusing on patient-related outcomes and translate nursing research into practice and policy. Upon completion of the program, graduates can advance in their current career, pursue roles as researchers, faculty scholars, policy advocates, institutional administrators, consultants, or entrepreneurs. Our Ph.D. graduates have a diverse range of career opportunities and options.

The median annual salary for Nursing Careers is $93,000  according to wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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With UMSL Nursing, you’ll join an empowering and inclusive community of dedicated nurse practitioners and researchers you’ll have access to a network of leading healthcare providers in the region to advance your career in nursing.

The UMSL College of Nursing is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and leadership through academic, clinical and research initiatives. We are proud to prepare nurses as clinicians, scientists, and educators, and facilitate professional advancement through our innovative programs.

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As one of the largest preparers of professional nurses in Missouri, UMSL nursing graduates are well prepared to adapt to new technology, bridge cultural differences, adopt new standards of care and deliver care in challenging circumstances.

UMSL College of Nursing advisors are ready to create a personalized plan to help you reach your goals. Whether you’re looking for an undergraduate degree or are furthering your education, the College of Nursing offers a variety of degree programs to get you where you want to go.

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When it comes to your education, we know one size doesn’t fit all. Offering exceptional academics at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, our degree programs are built to fit any schedule. Whether you want to earn your degree on campus, fully online, during the evening or weekends with our 4-, 8-, 12- and 16-week course offerings – UMSL will meet you when and where you want.

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  • Guide to Applying for Graduate School

The process of preparing for and applying to a PhD program can be overwhelming. The University of Pennsylvania has created this webpage to help prospective PhD students think through the process so you can put together a strong application.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree one may obtain within a particular field of study. This ranges from studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields; Social Science fields such as Education, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology; as well as Humanities fields such as English, History, Music, Philosophy, and more. The PhD degree aims to prepare people to think critically, develop research, and produce scholarship that may be used for further research or implementation. The PhD historically prepared students to take on faculty roles in colleges and universities, and that is still the goal for many students pursuing the PhD. However, today the PhD is a sought-after degree in many other industries including pharmaceutical research, arts organizations and other nonprofits, publishing, government policy, big tech, finance, and more.

  • Who can apply to a PhD program?  PhD education is available to people from various educational, occupational, socioeconomic, and demographic backgrounds.
  • Who should get a PhD?  People interested in uncovering new ideas, solutions, processes, etc. within a specific area of study through conducting independent research.
  • Why is it important for diverse candidates to become PhD holders?  Our world thrives on heterogeneous ideas and experiences, which is why it is indispensable to include students with diverse perspectives in our PhD programs. These students will generate important and original research.

Most PhD programs are fully funded, meaning that for a specific number of years, the program will pay for your tuition and fees and health insurance, as well as provide you with a stipend for living expenses. The structure of this funding varies by field. Below is an outline of general funding information as well as trends according to field of study.

  • Funding packages provided by educational institution.
  • Funding packages provided through faculty research grants: Many STEM fields fund students through research grants awarded to faculty. In these cases, students perform research alongside the faculty. 
  • Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships: Part-time service that provides teaching and research training opportunities within your area of study.
  • Fellowships: Internal or external merit-based funding. Some fellowships require an application while others are given via nomination. Educational institutions typically have a resource listing fellowship opportunities. Winning a competitive fellowship looks good on your resume.
  • Grants: Requires an application with supporting materials of either your grades, scholarly work, and/or anticipated research. These are available through internal and external means. Grants greatly vary so be sure to always understand the requirements. Educational institutions typically have a resource listing grant opportunities. Winning a competitive grant looks good on your resume.
  • Employment: For example, serving as a residential advisor, on-campus jobs, etc. Some PhD programs restrict additional employment, so be sure to check before applying for jobs.
  • The funding opportunities described here often can be combined.

Choosing a school or program that provides the most potential funding may be a challenging decision. The value of the same amount of funding will differ depending on the cost of living in different geographic locations. Admitted applicants should investigate cost-of-living tools (available on the web) and be sure to understand how their funding will be structured. Ask questions when you are admitted, such as: 

  • Could you share more about your program’s funding mechanism?
  • For how long is funding guaranteed? How does that compare to the average time-to-completion? Historically, what percentage of students have received funding beyond the guaranteed funding package?
  • Does funding cover tuition, fees, books, etc.?
  • Does the funding rely on teaching, research, or other service? How much and for how long? 

Choosing a program for your studies is a personal decision that should reflect not only your research interests, but your work style, and interests outside of the classroom. Here we have identified five key tips to consider when selecting schools. 

  • Ask about which programs are strong in your area of interest, which have high completion rates, which have career outcomes that align with your goals, etc. 
  • Conduct a general internet search with terms related to your research interest.
  • Determine your geographic and personal preferences. Does the area meet your community needs? Is it important that the university aligns with your sociopolitical values? Do you prefer a large city or a smaller/college town? Is there a particular region(s) that has better access to resources needed to conduct your research?
  • Access your current or former university career center. These services are often still available for former students!
  • As you narrow your choices, try to identify at least 3 faculty in the programs of interest with whom you’d like to study. Also note how many of them have tenure. If relevant, research which of those faculty are taking on advisees in your year of matriculation.
  • Read articles from faculty with similar research interests.
  • Note the number of awards, publications, and service activities of faculty.
  • Identify research opportunities funded by both your program and university at large.
  • Connect with current and former students in the program for informational interviews.
  • Connect with campus Diversity Offices.
  • Whenever possible, before submitting your applications, make an appointment to visit the campuses and department(s) that interest you.
  • Use  LinkedIn  to see what graduates of your program are doing and how they are involved in their communities.
  • Estimate your feasible cost of living by geographic location and compare to the funding package offered.
  • Consider availability of health insurance, childcare, housing, transportation, and other fringe benefits.
  • Connect with a local bank or your prospective university’s financial services office for budgeting, savings, and other financial wellness advice.
  • Your First Year in a Ph.D. Program
  • What Does Academic Success Mean and How to Achieve it?  (STEM)
  • Pathways to Science  (STEM)
  • 7 Advantages PhDs Have Over Other Job Candidates  (Industry)
  • During your undergraduate/master’s education, you should pursue coursework and/or research that will prepare you for the higher expectations of a PhD program; for example, taking a research methods course, pursuing a summer research experience, or conducting research with a professor at your home institution.
  • Identify instructors who could write a letter of recommendation. Ask them to write letters even if you do not intend to apply to PhD programs immediately. Their letter will be stronger if they draft it while their memory of you is fresh.
  • Experiences outside of higher education can also strengthen your PhD application. These may range from project management to volunteer work.
  • Develop soft or hard skills. A soft skill that is most useful from the first day of your PhD program is networking. This is necessary not only for meeting other students but also to find collaborators with similar research interests and selecting faculty for your dissertation committee. Learning how to negotiate will also serve you well when approaching collaborative projects. Hard skills related to your field might include learning statistical analysis software, economic theory, a foreign language, or search engine optimization. In short, identify a few soft and hard skills that you can familiarize yourself with prior to your program’s start date.
  • Finally, prepare by identifying leading researchers and practitioners in your field, exploring peer-reviewed literature and/or publications, and gain familiarity with research methods.
  • Be sure to address all the specific questions/topics in the personal statement prompt. 
  • Clearly state why you want to pursue a PhD.
  • Propose your research interest.
  • Identify the faculty you’d like to study under. 
  • Discuss the unique qualities/experiences you offer to the program/school.
  • Outline what you hope to do with your degree.
  • Ask for recommendation letters early in the process, at least 2-4 weeks before the deadline. A good letter takes time to write!
  • Provide recommenders with your resume, information about the program, your personal statement and/or information about your research interests and research goals.
  • Consider your current/former instructors, supervisors, colleagues. These should be people who can speak to your work ethic, academic abilities, and research interests.
  • Test scores (i.e. TOFEL, GRE, GMAT, etc.) may or may not be required.
  • All transcripts including those for coursework completed abroad and transfer credits. Some programs require official transcripts, which take longer to procure.
  • Writing sample (field dependent): Include a graduate-level sample and update any statements, statistics, etc. as needed. It is highly encouraged that you edit your previous work.
  • Diversity statement: Many institutions offer an optional short statement where students can expand on their diverse backgrounds and experiences that may contribute to the diversity interests/efforts of the school.
  • Typically, PhD applications are due 10-12 months in advance of the program’s start date (i.e. apply in November to start the following September). A good rule of thumb is to begin your application process 6 months before the deadline. 
  • The availability of reduced application fees or fee waivers varies and sometimes depends on financial status and/or experiences (AmeriCorps, National Society of Black Engineers, attending certain conferences, etc.). If you are interested in a reduced fee or waiver, reach out to the program coordinator for details.
  • Dress professionally, even if the interview is virtual. You don’t necessarily need to wear a suit but dress pants/skirt and a blouse/button down shirt would be appropriate.  
  • Develop an engaging elevator pitch, a 30-60 second summary, of your research interests and what you hope to gain by becoming a student at that particular university. Practice your pitch with friends and ask for honest feedback.
  • Prepare 2-3 questions to ask during the interview. These could include questions about program expectations, the experience and success of their PhD students, and (academic/financial/mental health) support for PhD students.
  • Some interview programs will include multiple activities including a social event. Be sure to maintain a professional attitude: do not drink too much and keep conversation on academic/professional topics.
  • This is also your opportunity to decide whether this campus is a good fit for you.
  • Academia Insider  is a good resource. 

Unlike undergraduate and master’s level education, coursework is just one component of the degree. A PhD comes with additional expectations: you must independently conduct scholarly research in your field of study, train in specific activities such as teaching or lab/field research, pass “milestone” requirements along the way, such as comprehensive exams, and complete the process by writing a dissertation. Furthermore, some fields require you to write multiple articles (number varies by field/program) for conference presentation and/or peer-reviewed publication.

There are other important elements as well:

  • Student/Advisor relationship. This is one of the most valuable relationships you can have as a PhD student. Your faculty advisor not only assists you with learning how to approach your research topic, but also typically serves as the lead supervisor of your dissertation research and writing, and ideally mentors you throughout the PhD experience. The selection process of choosing your advisor varies so be sure to know what is expected of you as a student and what is expected of the faculty member. Whenever possible, it is important to align your personality and work style with that of your faculty advisor. Many universities publish expectations for the PhD student/faculty advisor relationship;  AMP’ed  is Penn’s guide.
  • Other relationships: Your faculty advisor is far from the only important person during your PhD career. Other faculty members will also serve on your dissertation committee and be potential mentors. Other students in your program can also provide good advice and guidance along the way.
  • Coursework: Most programs have a number of required courses all students must take regardless of research interests. Once you have finished this requirement, the classes you choose should closely align with your research topic. Choose courses that will help you learn more about your dissertation topic and research methods. It is a good idea to discuss elective course selection with your advisor. 
  • The dissertation is a large-scale, written document that explores a narrow research topic of your choice. It is the final step before receiving your degree and must be presented and “defended” to your dissertation committee (made up of faculty members) for approval. Defending means that you have to answer in-depth questions about your topic. While this might sound daunting, the dissertation is simply a demonstration of all the knowledge and expertise you have acquired through your PhD education. 
  • Networking comes in many forms and includes connections with your fellow classmates, faculty members, and scholarly community. Formal networking events typically take place at academic conferences, where scholars and students present research. Increasing your academic circle will not only allow you to have study buddies, but offer you the opportunity to collaborate on articles or even gain employment. Your school’s career center can provide best practices for effective networking. 

Explore  graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania  and click on the programs that interest you to learn more about admissions and academic requirements.

Upcoming Penn recruitment events include:

  • Fontaine Fellows Recruitment Dinner (by invitation only): Friday, March 22, 2024
  • IDDEAS@Wharton  (Introduction to Diversity in Doctoral Education and Scholarship): April 18-19, 2024. Deadline to apply is January 31.
  • DEEPenn STEM  (Diversity Equity Engagement at Penn in STEM): October 11-13, 2024. Application opens in March 2024.
  • DivE In Weekend  (Diversity & Equity Initiative for Mind Research): Fall 2024

National conferences to explore:

  • The Leadership Alliance  supports students into research careers
  • McNair Scholar Conferences
  • SACNAS , the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the U.S.
  • ABRCMS , the annual biomedical research conference for minoritized scientists
  • The PhD Project  for students interested in business PhD programs
  • Andy & Barbara Gessner College of Nursing

Prospective Students

Gessner college of nursing locations.

University of Houston at Sugar Land Brazos Hall 14004 University Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas 77479 Phone: 832-842-8200 Email: [email protected]

University of Houston Health Building 2 4349 Martin Luther King Blvd., 2019 Houston, TX 77204-6065 Phone: 832-842-8200 Email: [email protected]

University of Houston at Katy 22400 Grand Cir., Katy, TX 77449 Phone: 832-842-8200 Email: [email protected]

A nursing student looks at her watch while she measures the pulse of her instructor.

The University of Houston offers RN to BSN, Second Degree BSN and MSN degree programs at the Sugar Land instructional site and the UH main campus. Our face-to-face and web-enhanced classes are designed to work around your busy schedule, and you will receive a quality university education from excellent faculty at a great value. Our innovative programs will allow you to advance your career by completing your nursing degree.

Undergraduate Programs

Graduate program, about the gessner college of nursing.

A pilot resiliency course for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students: Lessons learned

Affiliations.

  • 1 University of Arizona College of Nursing, 2606 Patricia Ct., Ann Arbor, MI 48103, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 2 Duke University School of Nursing, USA.
  • 3 Arizona State University Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, USA.
  • 4 University of Arizona College of Nursing, USA.
  • PMID: 38369365
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2023.12.001

Graduate nursing students can face varied and significant stressors during their programs of study. The need for interventions to promote nursing student resiliency has been reported in the literature, by accrediting bodies, and in previous research conducted with students at the same university. Thus, the purpose of this project was to pilot a resilience course for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students. The theoretical frameworks guiding the design and implementation of the resiliency pilot program were andragogy (the science of adult learning) and rapid cycle quality improvement. The course included eleven monthly modules addressing resiliency content with written material, original videos, and online discussions and meetings. The first module overviewed the resiliency skills (Belief, Persistence, Trust, Strength, and Adaptability), five modules were dedicated to a specific resiliency skill, two modules addressed recent and anticipated challenges, two modules concentrated on the application (clinical and academic) of the resiliency skills, and the last module focused on reflection. Results of this pilot program indicate that DNP students can benefit from receiving resiliency content during their studies, especially from faculty involvement and increased peer support; however, future resiliency content may be more accepted and effective if embedded into nursing program curriculum and activities.

Keywords: Advanced practice nursing; Andragogy; Burnout; Nursing students; Online education; Resilience.

Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Education, Nursing, Graduate*
  • Faculty, Nursing
  • Quality Improvement
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Students, Nursing*

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    So you want to...Get a PhD. McMahon, Janet Tompkins MSN, RN. Author Information. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!: September/October 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 5 - p 8-11. doi: 10.1097/01.NME.0000470087.34758.a0. Free. Metrics. The PhD-prepared nurse is a necessity to serve as the principal scientist within a healthcare system and the community at ...

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    Admission Requirements A baccalaureate or master's degree in nursing from a U.S. program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or an international program with commensurate standards is required for admission to the PhD Program in Nursing.

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    If you have any questions about finding a faculty match for your research interests, contact our Student Outreach Coordinator in Student and Academic Services at 206.221.7708 or [email protected]. The Student Outreach Coordinator will also talk with you about your background, your proposed area of focus for your doctoral studies, and your next ...

  11. 5 Reasons to Get Your PhD in Nursing at the Johns Hopkins School of

    #2: You get to work with world leaders among the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing faculty—and the world leaders in other Johns Hopkins schools, too. Our faculty are amazingly supportive and accessible to students, and PhD students at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing have access to top tier faculty across all schools at Johns Hopkins University.

  12. PhD in Nursing: Definition, Benefits and How To Earn One

    To achieve the prerequisites and earn a Ph.D. in nursing, you can follow these steps: 1. Complete a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree Earn a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field if you're interested in pursuing this career.

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    One reason to choose the MSN to PhD path is that most nursing schools are looking for PhD-trained nurses when hiring faculty. A survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found a nursing faculty vacancy rate of almost 8% at nursing schools nationwide. But even with the current faculty shortage, the AACN survey found 56% ...

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  23. Guide to Applying for Graduate School

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    Admission to PhD Nursing course will be done based on the candidate's performance in the entrance examinations conducted by the admission authorities such as JIPMER, AIIMS etc. Some colleges also grant admission on the basis of the candidate's performance in the postgraduate examination. Top PhD Nursing Colleges in Maharashtra

  25. Prospective Nursing Students

    Gessner College of Nursing Locations. University of Houston at Sugar Land Brazos Hall 14004 University Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas 77479 Phone: 832-842-8200 Email: [email protected]. University of Houston Health Building 2 4349 Martin Luther King Blvd., 2019 Houston, TX 77204-6065 Phone: 832-842-8200 Email: [email protected]

  26. Earn Your PhD in Nursing Education Online: Explore Top Programs

    The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is a public university with its main campus located in Greeley, Colorado, approximately 60 miles north of Denver. UNC's Nursing Education PhD is committed to increasing the number of doctoral-level nurse educators to fill faculty roles in both healthcare organizations and academic settings. Program delivery is primarily online with all coursework ...

  27. Nurse Educator Track

    To earn a Master of Science degree in nursing following the nurse educator track, students must successfully complete 35 course credit hours, 180 practicum hours and a comprehensive exam. After 2 years of full time faculty experience, graduates of the nurse educator program will be eligible to take the National League for Nursing (NLN ...

  28. A pilot resiliency course for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP ...

    Graduate nursing students can face varied and significant stressors during their programs of study. The need for interventions to promote nursing student resiliency has been reported in the literature, by accrediting bodies, and in previous research conducted with students at the same university. Thus, the purpose of this project was to pilot a ...