PhD vs DNP

  1. Hi Nurse Beth,

    I am currently a Clinical Learning Coordinator where I work, so I basically do nurse orientation and help with those types of things. I am not sure what I ultimately want to do because I do love nursing education, but I also think I would really enjoy nurse management. I currently hold a Master's in Nursing with a focus in Informatics (I do love all types of nursing).

    So my question to you when going back for my doctorate, which one, the PhD or DNP, would be better for both teaching at collegiate level or being a nurse manager/director?




    Dear PhD vs DNP,

    A lot depends on which program you qualify for- DNP or PhD. Many (not all) DNP programs
    require a clinical graduate degree for entry, such as a CNS or NP.

    If you are going for your DNP in nursing leadership, you may be required to have years of experience in nursing leadership.

    It may be easier for you to find a PhD program with your background in Education. PhDs are associated with research and teaching, while DNPs are associated more with clinical focus, including nursing leadership.

    I would first decide my focus (faculty/teaching vs nursing leadership) and then look at specific doctoral programs both PhD and DNP, to begin to learn the usual requirements.


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   Stepney
    A PhD is very research oriented and takes several years to complete. While it is great for teaching at a university, you will have to find an area you are very passionate about, as you will have to do research, which can be quite tedious. A DNP has some research, as you will need to justify your areas for change or improvement and it must be evidenced-based. A masters in infomatics is a very good start as many institutions are computerized or technology-based. A nurse with advanced education who can merge clinical knowledge with technological expertise, will be invaluable to an institution. If you want to be in academic setting, think about areas such as simulation labs. Nurse Beth is right about varying requirements for entry into the DNP; however, many programs are now allowing students to go from BSN to DNP, including the the MSN in the program. Also, some allow you to do DNP adding post masters certificate in another area. Lots of choices these days. Time to do the research.

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