What Can You Do With a Doctoral Degree in Nursing?

Nursing doctoral degree programs are primarily designed for registered nurses and include the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing and the Doctor of Nursing Practice. This article details these degree programs and their typical career outcomes.

Career Options for Graduates of Nursing Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are for registered nurses who want to advance in the field. Careers available to graduates will depend on the type of degree program they complete, though options range from teaching and research careers to advanced practice nursing positions. Additional details and career info for Ph.D. and DNP programs are outlined below.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Ph.D. nursing programs prepare students to conduct research, teach at the university level or develop nursing health care strategies. Like most doctoral degree programs, a dissertation might be required to graduate. Students are also required to spend much of their time working as teaching assistants or professors and completing coursework in qualitative research methods, theoretical development, nursing philosophy, epistemology and teaching strategies. This program takes around five years to complete, depending on whether or not students have already earned their master's degree or are working as full-time nurses while completing program requirements.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers was $65,940 in May 2013. Colleges, universities, trade schools, junior colleges and hospitals were among the industries employing the highest levels of nursing instructors and teachers, though state governments offered the top salaries.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The DNP program usually takes three years to complete and prepares students for both clinical and administrative positions in the health care field. The programs differ from the Ph.D. in Nursing in that they are designed for students who are interesting in developing their clinical skills.

Students entering this program must be registered nurses. After earning their degree, graduates will likely pursue careers in advanced practice nursing. Degree programs offer specializations for aspiring nurse practitioners, midwives and clinical nurse specialists, among others. These professionals often provide primary care to patients and work alongside physicians in hospitals and other health care facilities.

Career Information

The BLS reports that nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $92,670 as of May 2013. Nurse midwives made a median annual wage of $92,290 during the same time.

Related to What Can You Do With a Doctoral Degree in Nursing?

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools