BSN to PhD Nursing Programs

A PhD in Nursing program is geared toward preparing you for research-based careers in the healthcare field. If you already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, you'll find that many colleges offer BSN to PhD programs that don't require you to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in between. In this article, we'll look at program requirements and what a PhD can do for your career.

BSN-to-PhD Program Description

The BSN-to-PhD program is meant for students who want to enter the research or teaching field. The curriculum can include between 70 and 90 credits of coursework, with some schools requiring students to complete bridge coursework designed to help them transition to graduate-level study. Here, we'll look at some of the more common courses.

Nursing Theory

In a nursing theory class (also called theoretical foundations), you'll spend your time studying theories in the nursing field and how they're developed. You'll also discover the interrelationship between theory, research, and practice. You'll learn how to evaluate and compare theories in different types of research scenarios.

Healthcare Policy

Depending on the college, this class may be combined with the study of healthcare systems. Overall, you'll look at policies in healthcare, how policy affects the healthcare system, and how changes can be put in place. You may also discuss advocacy for policy changes. You will look at political trends, and how these, as well as cost, affect policy changes in the US.

Quantitative Research

In quantitative research courses, you'll learn about the different types of statistical methods and how they can be used in research designed to better the healthcare system and patient care. You'll compare the different types of experiment designs, such as quasi-experimental and correlational designs, and analyze their results. You may also design studies and look at ethics in research.

Nursing Scholarship

In a nursing scholarship course, you'll explore your research interests in nursing. You'll also learn how to develop your problem-solving and creative thinking skills. Ethical considerations and proper conduct related to research might also be discussed. This course is often included in a program's bridge coursework.


Many nursing BSN-PhD programs include an internship or a practicum where you'll put your research skills into practice. Under supervision, you'll develop and carry out a research project in your area of interest. You might implement pilot testing, analyze result data, and disseminate your research.


You may have heard of a DNP as the top degree program for nurses but might be wondering how it compares to a PhD in nursing. These two programs are quite different, though both can lead to similar career paths. Let's take a look at the differences now.


The PhD component of this program includes at a lot of research-based courses that cover experimental design and research methods. A PhD program can lead to a career as a research scientist, a nurse educator, or a healthcare administrator. It can take from four to five years to earn a PhD. These programs typically end with a research project and/or dissertation, often with an oral defense. They could also include a teaching component.


A DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, is a terminal degree for nurses who want to practice. A DNP program prepares you to work in some of the highest-level positions in the nursing field, such as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), nurse midwife, or advanced registered nurse practitioner, in addition to qualifying you for roles in administration and public policy. You'll earn your master's degree in nursing along the way, which means coursework will include clinical experiences in your area of practice in addition to courses in research methods and nursing leadership. A DNP program can end with a capstone project or residency. Often times, a DNP applicant will need to be a licensed registered nurse for entrance.

A BSN-to-PhD program can lead to a career in research, education, or administration. These programs are research-based, and the courses you'll find in these 4- to 5-year programs often look at the theories and methodologies for nursing and healthcare research.

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