DNP vs. PhD


  • Specializes in Labor and Delivery.


I'm a 2nd year graduate student at Villanova University in the MSN Nurse Educator track and I'm thinking of pursuing a doctoral degree. I'm currently 23 years old and graduated with my ADN in '09, and my BSN in '10. My clinical background is in labor and delivery and I have over 2 years clinical experience.

I'm not sure if I should just delve right into a doctoral program? Am I required to work a certain number of hours or years before I can start pursuing a doctoral degree? I really like the academia world, but I never want to leave the hospital. I love working on the floor and no matter what I do, I'd always like to continue working as a staff nurse.


llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

Before you enter a doctoral program ... it's usually best to know what you want to do with it. Since you don't seem to know yet, I would suggest waiting a bit. Given a little more experience as a nurse, you may find yourself gravitating towards a career path for which getting one or the other would make more sense.

If you want to remain a staff nurse for your whole career, there is no need for any sort of graduate education. And if you have the extra $50,000 (or whatever) lying around and can afford to get a doctoral degree "just for fun" ... it doesn't matter which you pick: do whatever seems the most appealing to you.

But assuming you are not wealthy, I recommend waiting until you decide on a career path -- one for which a doctoral degree would be helpful. Then you will know which degree would best suit your needs.


472 Posts

Specializes in ER and family advanced nursing practice.

My advice would be to go the PhD route and start now. If education and academia are what you like then go for it. Also, there is a lot of school money, free tuition, and/or loan reimbursement for would be nursing educators. Some schools will actually waive your tuition AND give you a stipend (you have to do some GTA type stuff, but still...)

Catch you say? Why have teach full time when you are done, and usually for a number of years. But you could do worse than a guaranteed job doing something cool. And don't worry, you don't have to leave the bedside. Many educators work part time or PRN shifts because they still love it and/or to keep their clinical skills current/relevant.

I don't think the DNP route fits what you are trying to do. It may be a bit faster, but at your age that would be less of a factor. In any case, good luck with your decision and congratulations on your success thus far.



4 Posts

Specializes in Labor and Delivery.

Thank you both so much!!!!! Thankfully, I still have another year before I graduate with my MSN so I don't have to choose anything at the moment. I'm thinking I may lean towards the PhD and start by taking 1 class at a time, that way, I never lose my foot in the school realm!! Thanks again :)

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

Your plan seems like a reasonable one to me. It keeps 1 foot in school while you mature a little bit more as a nurse to help you make a good decision.