Nursing Programs

Despite the fact that many industries are rapidly losing members of their workforce, the nursing profession continues to grow substantially. With nursing, the higher of a degree a student earns, the more job opportunities and money are afforded them.

Earning a doctoral degree will ensure marketability for numerous positions in various fields of work. In fact, the demand for nurses holding a doctoral degree is expected to grow profoundly in the next 10 years.

This article will discuss the important aspects related to what is required and what to expect in nursing doctoral programs. The different types of doctoral degrees available will be discussed as well. Also included are references to many accredited reputable online and campus-based schools offering nursing doctoral degree programs.

Doctoral Nursing Program Admission Criteria

As with any other doctoral degree program, nursing doctoral programs have several minimum requirements for admission. Generally the requirements are about the same, but may vary slightly in test score numbers depending upon the school chosen and the state in which the school is located. Also, some states are more strict about mental health, drug or background screening than others. Here are a few important factors to consider about admission criteria:

License & Education Eligibility Requirements

At the time of admission, applicants must hold either a master’s or baccalaureate nursing degree from an accredited college. All students must currently hold a valid nursing license in their state of residence.

Exams & Test Scores

Prospective students must have satisfactory Graduate Record Exam scores within a recent time frame, defined by the school. International students applying for admission must meet minimum requirements for the TOEFL test, also defined by the school.

Additional Admission Requirements

Most schools offering doctoral degrees in nursing will have a minimum GPA requirement; usually a 3.0 or higher is acceptable on a total 4.0 grading scale. Several nursing doctoral programs will have additional requirements such as up-to-date vaccinations and proof thereof, drug tests, a criminal background check, mental health screening, an entrance essay and professional reference letters.

Acquired Knowledge

Depending upon whether a student holds a master’s or baccalaureate degree upon entrance into a PhD program, the length of study is about 3-5 years for those attending full-time. There are several different areas of concentration but regardless of the specialty area chosen, in addition to electives most classes will focus on science, medical phenomena, research, research statistics and research practicum.

Following are some of the areas of specialty students seeking a doctoral degree may choose:

PhD – Doctor of Nursing Philosophy

This degree may be achieved either directly through the PhD program or by way of an MSN/PhD bridge program. The MSN/PhD bridge program option will afford a student holding a BSN when entering the program to earn their MSN degree while in the process of completing the PhD degree.

This option usually takes about 5 years and is very intensive. Some examples of classes are additional philosophy classes, methodology, leadership, risk management, psychology, communications and extensive courses in the nursing science category.

DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice

The DNP degree focuses on patient care. Nurse practitioners often perform some of the same tasks a doctor or PA would. During the span of study time, several clinical practices will be required for hands-on experience pertaining to the areas of study.

In addition to co-requisite and supporting science and health classes, required areas of study will include courses in leadership, analytical methods, management, psychology, healthcare technology, finance, health and prevention methods, statistics analysis and gathering of statistics.

DNSc – Doctor of Nursing Science

Students earning this degree will be required to complete several classes related to applied biological and physical sciences, applied research techniques, research data and research analysis. Classes related to outcomes of measurement, statistical analysis, psychology, healthcare economics and clinical practice are also required alongside assigned co-requisite classes.

ND – Doctor of Nursing

Earning the plain ND degree is one of the most versatile options, as it affords a student a very wide variety of opportunities. Courses included in this degree program are variable by state, but generally include classes pertaining to applied ethics, research and methodology, clinical practice, analytics relating to health, health management and a required residency term. Residency terms are defined by each state and must be completed in order to obtain this degree.

Employment Opportunities

Once a student has earned a doctoral degree in nursing, limitless opportunities are available in the career field. After valuable clinical or residency experience is completed, nurses will enjoy the options to work for hospitals, universities, research labs, nursing care facilities or starting their own clinical practice or business. Growth potentials are endless in these fields for those just beginning in the field.

The following are some career opportunities available for nurses holding doctoral nursing degrees, along with average salaries per year to be expected:

Clinical Nurse Specialist

This is a title often referring to positions in management, consulting, teaching, clinical practice and research. The Clinical Nurse Specialist is responsible for analyzing health issues and providing a solution based on knowledge in clinical settings.

Average salary ranges for Clinical Nurse Specialists are between $75,000 and $88,000. Nurses will have the opportunity to advance to higher supervisory or directory positions in some locations.

Nurse Anesthetists

Nurses who obtain certification to work with anesthetics will be in charge of administering anesthesia alongside doctors performing procedures requiring anesthesia. This critical position will require the nurse to maintain strong communication with the doctor about the condition of the patient in relation to the anesthesia and its effects. Average salary ranges for this position are between $136,000 and $156,000.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners have an important and extensive job. These nurses work in a clinical setting and are responsible for examining the patient, analyzing data gathered and providing a diagnosis. A recovery or treatment plan is then formulated by the Nurse Practitioner and carried out. Often, Nurse Practitioners are in charge of supervising many other employees. Advancement opportunities are available in many avenues to gain a higher position in the chain of command. Salaries to be expected range between $76,000 and $90,000.

Facility Administration

Nurses who become administrators in medical facilities will oversee the operations of the location. Hiring of employees, employee evaluations, inservice coordination, patient care planning and state regulation requirement assurance are a few of the major roles the multi-tasking administrator must perform. Salaries for facility administrators should be expected to average between $71,000 and $87,000.

Head Of Nursing

Once a nurse holding a doctoral degree earns 10-15 years of experience, they may qualify for a Head of Nursing position. The holder of this title is responsible for hiring, training and overseeing the entire nursing staff in a facility. The salary range is quite extensive in these positions but very generous, ranging between $149,000 and $208,000.

Professor Of Nursing

Teaching jobs are often highly sought among graduates of a nursing doctoral program. Professors will teach a variety of classes for nursing students seeking their BSN, MSN or doctoral degrees. Often a professor will teach more than one variety of class either in the classroom or online. Advancement to department head is available, as well as additional opportunities to sit on committees and boards. Salaries for professors average between $55,000 and $100,000.

Accredited Online Classes

There are a few schools which offer doctoral nursing degrees online. These programs include several classes that must be completed by independent study, as well as clinical practices. Clinical practice is generally performed under the direction of an approved professional in a medical facility.

Following are some of the schools offering doctoral nursing degrees online:

University of Phoenix

3157 E. Elwood Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(866) 766-0766
-This school offers the PhD degree option.

Medical University of South Carolina

Office of the Associate Dean for Academics
Administrative Director of Doctoral Program
College of Nursing
99 Jonathan Lucas Street
PO Box 250160
Charleston, SC 29425
(843) 792-3815
-This school offers the PhD and DNP options.

Capella University

Capella Tower
225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(866) 933-5981
-This school offers a PhD in Nursing Education

Rutgers University

Mary Ann Scoloveno, RN, EdD
Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education, and Professor
18 Bishop Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8530
(973) 353-5060
-This school offers the PhD degree option.

University of Michigan/Flint

School of Health Professions and Studies
Nursing DNP
251 Thompson Library
303 East Kearsley Street
Flint, MI 48502-1950
(810) 762-3171
-This school offers the DNP degree program.

Campus-Based Classes

The majority of students seeking a doctoral nursing degree attend classes on a campus. There are a wealth of schools offering classes on campus. Students who know they will learn more effectively in a classroom setting should seek campus-based classes. Some of the most reputable schools offering doctoral programs on campus are:

Georgia Southern University

P.O. Box 8158
Statesboro, GA 30460
(912) 478-5479
-This school offers the DNP degree program.

University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee Health Science Center
College of Nursing/Office of Student Affairs, Suite 637
877 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-6125
-This school offers both the DNP-CRNA and PhD degree options.

Columbia University

Columbia University School of Nursing
Attn: Admissions
617 West 168th Street, Suite 134
New York, NY 10032
(800) 899-8895
-This school offers the PhD and DNP degree programs.

Loyola University Chicago

Niehoff School of Nursing
Lake Shore Campus
1032 West Sheridan Road
Granada Center 3rd Floor, Room 360
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 508-3249
-This school offers the DNP and PhD degree programs.

University of Pittsburgh

School of Nursing
3500 Victoria Street
239 Victoria Bldg
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586
-This school offers the DNP program with options to specialize in either Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner or Nursing Administration.

The University of Texas at Tyler

College of Nursing & Health Sciences
3900 University Blvd
Tyler, TX 75799
(903) 566-7320
-This school offers the PhD degree program.

Johns Hopkins University

School of Nursing
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-7548
-This school offers the PhD degree program.

Texas Christian University

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program
Annie Richardson Bass Bldg.
Room 336
TCU Box 298627
Fort Worth, TX 76129
(817) 257-6726
-This school offers the DNP program with focus on either Nurse Practitioner or Nursing Administration.

Texas Woman’s University

5500 Southwestern Medical Avenue
Dallas, TX 75235-7299
(214) 689-6510
-This school has 3 campus locations offering the DNP program with focus on Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery.

University of Kansas

School of Nursing
Student Affairs Office
Mail Stop 2029
3901 Rainbow Blvd
Kansas City, KS 66160
(913) 588-1619
-This school offers the DNP degree program.

Campus-based courses are found in every state. For an extensive directory of reputable accredited campus courses, please visit

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One Response to “Nursing Programs”
  1. David Sogbaike

    Is it possible for a DNP degree holder to pursue a PhD degree in nursing. If possible, I woud like to know what it takes and the schools that offer such a program conversion from DNP to PhD.


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