How Is A DNP Different From A PhD in Nursing?

Find your degree

Online College Plan is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

There are two different doctorate degrees that you can pursue in the field of nursing, which are the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD in Nursing). The primary difference between the two is the professional application of the degree; however, the paths to earning these two degrees are not exactly the same. This article discusses the differences between these two designations.

Both the DNP and Ph.D. in Nursing have some similar requirements in order for students to graduate, but there are different and more specific requirements for each one because of how the degrees are meant to be used professionally. Based on what your goals are in the medical world, that is how you would go about choosing which doctoral-level nursing education is going to be the most effective at helping you to meet those goals. You’ll want to check out the top online doctoral nursing programs to help you choose the best college.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The most common type of postgraduate nursing degree is the Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP. DNP programs have a core curriculum that centers around translating research evidence into medical practice, in-depth learning about healthcare policy and administration, and cultivating expertise in a student’s particular practice. The process of earning this degree can include a thousand or more hours of clinical work and a final project based on practice; this project could be something as simple as a clinical presentation or paper, or as extensive as some sort of practice-based project.

A DNP usually leads to jobs in leadership in nursing practice, such as the care coordinator at a hospital. Other jobs include management positions in a medical setting, working in healthcare policy at different types of organizations, or teaching in practice-based nursing degree programs. DNP degrees are required for most Advanced Practice Nurses. For example, those who would like to be a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist must now pursue a DNP instead of a Master’s degree as it has been in the past.

PhD in Nursing

As with any other field, a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing is a research degree. A Ph.D. is the highest level of education that one can currently pursue in the United States. The Ph.D. in Nursing has been around longer than the DNP has and has only become more specific since its implementation. The core curriculum in a Nursing Ph.D. program focuses on research methodologies so that students can learn how to conduct effective research, theories of nursing research so students can understand how to challenge and extend existing knowledge, and faculty development so that they can go on to teach the next generation of nursing professionals.

The process a student goes through in pursuit of a Ph.D. is drastically different than if they were earning a DNP. For instance, there are virtually zero clinical hours required to obtain a Ph.D.; some individual cases may require a few. The final project associated with this type of degree track is a dissertation. A dissertation is, at its simplest, the culmination of your scholarly work in graduate school. It is based on your own personal research and will be presented to a panel upon the completion of your degree and capstone project.

Someone who has a PhD in nursing is most likely going to work in a position that is heavily involved in research, whether that is directly as a researcher, or teaching nursing at the higher education level. Positions in creating health policy are also an option.

Spread the love