Doctorate in Nursing Education

Doctorate Degrees in Nursing Education
Nursing faculty academic staff shortages are being attributed with the ever reducing number of nurses ready to enter and practice nursing.

Reduction of nursing school faculty members directly leads to the reduction in the number of students admitted in nursing programs. Schools have to follow the set guidelines of faculty to student ratios to ensure quality delivery of education and personalized nurse training.

So if you are thinking of becoming a faculty nurse educator at the doctorate level, go fast. Thousands of nursing schools will be looking for you in a bid to fill the large gaps in their nursing faculties. It is not a vague promise; you might not even look for long without landing a lucrative job as a nurse educator. But to reach the highest management levels and salaries in a nurse educator career, having a Doctorate in Nursing Education will open many doors.

PhD in Nursing Education Vs DNP in Nursing Education

Terminal nursing degrees are available in two options: the practice based-Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the research-oriented PhD option. As such, individuals wishing to become nurse educators at the doctorate level also have the choice of choosing between the two options. A review of each of the options is given below:

DNP in Nursing Education

College faculty nurses rarely interact directly with patients in providing patient care. This means it is also quite a task to find a nurse educator program that focuses on practice rather than research. Since the DNP is highly oriented in evidence-based practice; which faculty nurses won’t handle, it is not the most preferred option.  Only a few universities in the US offer the nursing education as a specialty of their DNPs. They include;

i)        University of South Alabama

For this, the DNP in Nursing Education is a Subspecialty of the DNP and is offered simultaneously with Advanced Practice Nursing subspecialty

ii)      Samford University- Alabama

Just like the former program, this program is also not offered on its own but rather, as a subspecialty along another Advanced Practice track.

PhD in Nursing Education

The scholastic PhD is a much more common nursing education doctorate degree option when compared to the DNP. The reason could be that nurse educators will more likely be interested in research, academics and pedagogical outlook- that perfectly fit the faculty nurse roles rather than practicing.  Even as such, some universities only offer students an opportunity to take additional courses in nursing education alongside other areas of research as in the DNP.  Given the reduced percent of practical courses, most universities offering this option also have the students to choose between online and on-campus study plans with online plans being more prevalent. This is as opposed to having a dedicated track like what is usually observed in Master of Science-nurse educator programs.

Given the reduced percent of practical courses in these programs, most universities offering this option enables students choose between online and on-campus study plans with online plans being more prevalent

i)        University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV)

At UNLV, the PhD in nursing education is one of the two PhD track options along with the “Urban Sustainability” track. It is an online PhD in nursing program hence all coursework is delivered via web-enhanced formats. Every fall semester though, student visit campus for a 3-day intensive session.  Students can also choose between the full and part time modes of curriculum coverage.

ii)      Nova Southern Eastern University (Nova)

The PhD in Nursing Education online Program at Nova is open to master-prepared registered nurses.  It is a 60 semester credits programs whereby, all courses are offered 100% online and is therefore suitable for working nurses. However, students must visit campus for an annual residency period of 1 week.

iii)    University of North Dakota (UND)

The PhD in nursing with a specialization in faculty nursing is offered under the UND Online and Distance Education programs. This means it is also offered online: live web classes and recorded lectures with only 1 or 2 campus-based intensive sessions required per annum. The program starts every fall semester and welcomes both post-master and post-bachelor nurses. Students with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree but with a master degree in another area may also be admitted through an advanced placement plan.

iv)   Capella University

At Capella University, the PhD in nursing education specialization is open to master-prepared nurses only. This 120 quarter credits program is delivered in an online mode in addition to attending three 4-day residency programs during the course of the period.

v)     University of Northern Colorado (UNCO)

A PhD in Nursing education (online program) is offered at UNCO. The 60 credit hours can be taken completely online with the exception of few residency programs: an orientation session at the start and other sessions for oral exams, proposal hearing and dissertation defense. Students must also attend a mandatory Annual Nurse Educator Conference in the University grounds. The program is designed to take 4 years to complete.

vi)   Case Western Reserve University

Case offers a PhD in nursing that focuses in nursing research but still offers students an option to choose additional PhD Education courses. Such additional courses include curriculum and instruction, teaching practicum and theoretical foundations of teaching and evaluation. What’s more, students receive paid teaching assistantships opportunities while still at school. The program offers students four entry options to choose from:

  • Traditional Option
  • Summer Program
  • Accelerated Option
  • Fast Track Option

General Study Plans for Doctorate Nurse Educator Programs

Doctorate nurse educator programs have a similar progression and most take 4 years to complete.  Generally the 1st and 2nd years are dedicated to core courses while the 3rd and 4th year may be exclusively for nurse faculty roles including teaching practice. There may be variations in time depending on the entry option, past education level and the mode of learning ie part time or full time

There is also a common observation of program being offered online rather than on campus-based formats. However, even with the online options, students still need to visit their universities for mandatory residency programs. This may therefore not work well if you are living in a state very distant from where the residency sessions happen. Students therefore need to evaluate the economic and time implications of this factor.