PhD in Nursing Education: Degree Program Info for Nurse Educators

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in nursing education can go on to train and educate future generations of nurses, and also lead research in the field of nursing science and education. Learn more about the program and career prospects.

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Essential Information

Sometimes called a Ph.D. in Nursing Science, these programs may offer two different tracks: one for students with only a bachelor's degree in nursing, and the other for those who have already completed a master's program. The program for bachelor's degree-only students is usually longer, and students will earn their master's along the way to the doctorate. Some schools offer different tracks in their Ph.D. programs meant to separate advanced nursing practitioners and researchers from nursing educators. Other schools offer only one Ph.D. program meant to address the needs of both.


Ph.D. in Nursing Education

Ph.D. programs in nursing typically involve a thesis or dissertation. In addition, sample courses may include:

  • Clinical teaching and instruction in nursing education
  • Assessing learning in nursing
  • Advanced design of nursing curriculum
  • Health policy leadership
  • Research design and measurement in nursing
  • Philosophy of nursing science

Popular Careers

Students who successfully complete nursing Ph.D. programs are prepared not only to become nurse educators and researchers, but high-level clinicians as well. Some career possibilities include:

  • Nurse educators
  • Nurse practitioner

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Occupation Projected Job Growth, 2014-2024 Median Annual Salary, May 2015
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary 19% $67,480
Nurse Practitioner 35% $98,190

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Continuing Education and Certification Information

All states require registered nurses to be licensed, which typically involves graduating from an approved program and passing a national exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. Ph.D. programs are terminal degrees obviously, but professional development and research are both highly encouraged for doctoral students.

Ph.D. programs in nursing education are typically designed for aspiring nurse teachers at the postsecondary level, through some programs include tracks for prospective nurse practitioners. These programs tend to focus on research leading to a dissertation, though clinical work may be required as well. Job opportunities for both nurse educators and nurse practitioners are expected to be very good, with faster-than-average growth expected from 2014-2024.

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