How Does a DNP Program Differ From a PhD in Nursing?

Nurses who have completed a master’s degree might choose to extend their academic achievements with a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). As a PhD student, you’ll focus on research, while as a DNP student, you’ll be more involved with clinical practice. Both qualifications put you at the top of the nursing profession – just in different fields of work. 

Both programs can be completed online 

The majority of nurse practitioners will go on to take a DNP, while people who have followed a master’s degree in Nursing Education tend to opt for a PhD. Individuals who choose to study online can manage the program at their own speed, alongside their family and work commitments. Whichever option you choose, getting onto the course can be a challenge. That’s why your Wilkes application status can be checked by signing into your account and using the application number provided as part of the application process. Once you are accepted onto the online nursing program of your choice, you will be contacted immediately by a Wilkes admission counsellor via email. 

How long are the courses?

You’ll need to devote a minimum of one year to a practice-focused DNP course, and longer if you plan to study part-time. For a research nursing PhD, the minimum amount of time in which you can complete the course is three years, more for part-time students. However, once you’ve completed a PhD, you’ll never need to have your certification renewed, so you can concentrate on your career. 

What is taught in a DNP program? 

DNP students usually work in a clinical setting. They advance their skills in diagnosing, prescribing and treating patients. They learn to manage in a complex and demanding role, delivering a plan of care to patients and educating their families when necessary. Once they have completed their course, DNP graduates could find work in healthcare management, policy creation or nursing practice leadership.   

What is taught in a PhD program? 

PhD courses deal with the science of nursing, as well as the practice. Students will learn to evaluate the research and data of others, as well as establishing their own research programs. They will draft proposals and apply for grants to fund their work. Once complete, their findings will often be published. PhD students could also be involved in writing articles for medical journals, giving conference seminars and training other members of staff. A PhD degree graduate will most often choose a career in research or education. They might work in a university nursing faculty, in government or a medical facility. 

Demand for both types of graduate is high, but the right path for you will depend on what type of career you hope to follow. A DNP is better for practical people who want to maintain a hands-on role in patient care in the higher levels of nursing. If you would prefer to remain in academia or research, you should consider a PhD.