PhD in Nursing Programs


A doctoral degree in nursing is the highest nursing degree that you can hold; however, there are two doctoral degrees. The Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP) is the doctoral degree for practicing while the Doctor of Science in Nursing is the PhD degree and is more research based than practice based. The DNP has become the preferred degree for nurses who wish to move higher in their field and attain executive status or work in highly specialized areas such as midwife nurse practitioners.

Choosing the best PhD in nursing programs is the first step to a long and successful career as a high ranking nurse.

The Best of the Best

Everyone wants to choose the best school for their education, it simply makes good sense. Employers look more favorably upon some institutions simply due to the reputation they have earned for graduating some of the best in the industry. The following schools have been deemed to be the top schools for PhD in nursing programs based on peer assessment. They are presented in order of ranking for you to review and consider as you look toward advancing your degree.

#1 John Hopkins University: This prestigious medical teaching school offers nurses two options for obtaining their doctoral degree in nursing, the DNP and the PhD. The NDP program for practicing nursing at the highest possible level allows students to create their own nursing path based on their specialized interests such as anesthesia, midwifery and more. The PhD program is more attuned to nurses who want to pursue research type careers.

#1 University of Philadelphia: The Penn Nursing program has long been recognized as a leader in producing top quality nurses. The PhD program prepares nurses for advanced careers in research environments. Students can also choose to get a joint degree by add Bioethics or Business Administration to their curriculum.

#1 University of Washington: The University of Washington offers nurses both the DNP and the PhD option. The programs last from one to three years, depending on the educational background of the student. Students can choose part-time or full-time studies and for some courses choose distance learning. The DNP has several different specialty paths such as pediatric, midwifery, mental health and more. The PhD takes up to 5 years and does not allow part-time study until after the first completed year. This program is much more intense and focuses on research and study instead of practice in the nursing field.

#6 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor: Like many other prestigious universities, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor offers both the PhD and the DNP programs as well as a Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship. The PhD in nursing program prepares nurses to become forerunners in the advancement of nursing through research and a strong emphasis on theory rather than practice. The DNP program focuses on advanced practical nursing skills and leadership. This degree has become the preferred degree for nurses entering specialized fields and will become the accepted credentials for many of these specialty areas, such as nurse midwifery. One of the requirements for the DNP program is at least 1000 hours of advanced clinical work.

#7 Duke University: Noted not only for its nursing program but for its medical facilities as well, the School of Nursing at Duke University offers nurses both the PhD program and the DNP program. Students who graduate from this program can pursue teaching positions in nursing schools or move into research in a post doctorate program. The DNP program at Duke offers online courses with planned on-campus days. This program prepares nurses to improve patient care as leaders in their area of nursing.

As shown here, there are many excellent schools of nursing that offer doctoral programs in nursing. The main thing you need to decide is if you want to get a research doctoral degree (PhD) or a clinical practice degree (DNP). Once you know this, you can decide on the school that best meets your needs.

PhD in nursing programs allows nurses to reach the pinnacle of their education and become leaders in the healthcare field. The DNP has become to go-to degree for many areas that once had certifications only and will overtime become the desired doctoral degree for nurses who wish to remain actively practicing.

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