How Long Does IT Take To Get A PhD IN Nursing?

Oct 20, 2021

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing prepares nursing professionals for careers in research, health administration, or advanced clinical practice. Nursing programs follow specific guidelines for each level of education.

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Nursing Ph.D. Program Information

When considering a nursing Ph.D. program, it can be helpful to get an idea of how long it might take as well as the curriculum and admissions programs. There are also a few other doctoral level programs for nurses to consider. Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing programs require that students prepare a dissertation consisting of original research that will advance healthcare delivery systems and nursing practice. They generally take at least three years to complete, but completion time can vary by student. Some schools offer online nursing Ph.D. programs, which take about the same amount of time to finish as those on campus. Graduates are prepared to function as nurse administrators, researchers, and scholars.

These research-based programs require a significant amount of time commitment on the part of the student. Students can expect to engage in full-time study, including classes in the summer. Nurses in a doctorate program select a specific area of research to focus on, along with the required coursework. Topics covered in courses include:

  • Philosophy of nursing science
  • Probability and statistics
  • Linear models
  • Grant writing
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Qualitative research methods

Admissions Requirements

In order to enroll in a nursing Ph.D. program, it is necessary to have at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). There are also some programs that require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) prior to enrollment as well as programs that give preference to applicants with previous work experience in the field of nursing. Students may also need to meet minimum GPA and prerequisite course requirements. Other application materials can include:

  • Undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Goal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume

Doctor of Nursing Practice

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) builds on traditional master's degree programs to prepare nurses in leadership, quality control, and evidence-based practice. The DNP program is designed to be a terminal degree and focuses on clinical practice rather than research. It usually takes about two years of full-time study to complete the program.

Doctor of Nursing Science

It takes approximately five years to complete a Doctor of Nursing Science program. This program is designed to teach nurses the skills needed to conduct investigative research. Nurses also develop leadership and clinical skills. Many programs focus on healthcare policy, data analysis, ethics, and health outcome measurements.

Trained nurses who want to conduct advanced research can enroll in Ph.D. in Nursing programs, which vary in length. DNP and Doctor of Nursing Science programs are also available.

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