Nursing programs offers two terminal doctorate-level degrees: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing or PhD in Nursing.
Of the two terminal doctorate degrees in nursing, the PhD in nursing is the research-oriented or “academic” degree and the DNP is the practice-oriented degree. The PhD in nursing degree program is designed to prepare nurse scholars to be able to effectively develop and conduct scientific research that will advance the theoretical foundation of healthcare delivery and nursing practice. PhD students will develop skill essential for launching a successful career in nursing research and education.
Please note that there are several other doctorate level degrees in nursing, however, they are in the process of being phased out and converted to the DNP or PhD in nursing. The Doctor of Nursing (ND) and DrNP are transitioning into the DNP and the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc, DSN or DNS) is being transitioned into the PhD.
The following chart shows a comparison between a typical DNP and PhD program in nursing
DNP vs. PhD Comparison
To prepare practicing nurses at the highest level of nursing who will lead in applying and translating nursing research into practice
Prepares nurses at the highest level of nursing science to conduct research that advances the theoretical and empirical foundations of healthcare and nursing globally
Competencies and Content
Knowledge and skills in applying and translating research into practice; leads integration and dissemination of new knowledge, processes, and technology in healthcare organizations
Knowledge and skills in theoretical, analytical, and methodological approaches to the discovery and application of knowledge in nursing and healthcare
Practice leaders such as an advanced practice nurse caring for individuals or other practice leadership positions in nursing such as healthcare administration
Nurse scientists prepared for a career in research in academia or other research-intensive environments focused on the design and testing of interventions to advance nursing and healthcare
A practice application-oriented DNP capstone project
Completion and defense of an original research project
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