Difference between a PhD in Nursing and a DNP

Difference between a PhD in Nursing and a DNP

The current shortage of nurses has increased the demand for nurses who have terminal degrees. This has seen many nurse trainees enrolling for doctoral studies. The main terminal degrees in nursing are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). While DNP is concerned with the advancement of learners’ clinical practice, PhD emphasizes on the improvement of their research skills. This paper discusses the difference between the two programs. It also discusses my choice of one of the degrees, and gives an explanation for the choice.


DNP is a degree intended for nurse practitioners seeking to advance their clinical practice (McWhirter, 2021).  It aims at equipping nurse trainees with important clinical skills that can enable them to provide quality care services, and evaluate patient outcomes of specific populations.  DNP also focuses on molding nurse leaders who are able to use research evidence in improving standards of care, and care systems (AACN, 2020; Moskowitz, 2021). Such leaders can also play an important role in leading interdisciplinary teams. The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) recommended the DNP to become a terminal nursing degree in the year 2015. It replaced the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as the minimum requirement for nurses embracing advanced practice. To join a DNP program, experience is not a pre-requisite (Campaign for Action, n.d.). As a result, many nursing programs have incorporated the degree into the contents of their curriculum. This has led to a significant increase of the number of nurses pursuing DNP. A standard DNP program usually takes 1 to 3 years. At the end of the program, learners are required to complete a capstone project (Moskowitz, 2021). The goal of the project is to contribute to the improvement of clinical practice.


On its part, PhD in nursing is a degree that focuses on research work (AACN, n.d). Its main purpose is to equip nursing students with scientific nursing knowledge. PhD graduates are normally given the responsibility of leading various research teams (AACN, n.d.; McWhirter, 2021). For instance, they design and conduct various studies whose purpose is to address the effect of diseases, and improve systems of care. In these studies, the graduates help nurses in interpretation of scientific theory, evaluation of statistics, and analysis of data. Apart from involvement in research, the PhD holders work in different academic settings (AACN, n.d.). They teach students, and play an important role in developing research based educational programs. It is for this reason that many PhD programs prefer enrolling trainees who have some teaching experience (Campaign for Action, n.d.). This is unlike DNP programs that emphasize more on clinical experience than on the experience of teaching. A PhD program often takes between 4 to 5 years. At the end, students are asked to submit a research dissertation (Moskowitz, 2021). They are supposed to defend the work.

My Choice and Why

As a nurse trainee, I intend to continue with my education up to the doctoral level. If I reach there, I will choose to pursue a DNP since I have the desire to serve as a clinician. In the next five to ten years, I want to see myself in a nursing leadership role. I feel that a DNP will be the best choice for me since it will help me to acquire important leadership skills (Moskowitz, 2021). I aspire to become an influential nurse leader who can make a meaningful contribution to care standards and the health care system in general.


AACN. (2020). DNP Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/DNP-Fact-Sheet

AACN. (n.d.). Phd in Nursing. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Research-Data-Center/PhD

Campaign for Action. (n.d.). Transforming Nursing Education. Retrieved from https://campaignforaction.org/issue/transforming-nursing-education/

McWhirter, K. (2021). Types of Nursing Degrees and Levels. Nurse Journal. Retrieved from https://nursejournal.org/degrees/types-of-nursing-degrees/

Moskowitz, K. (2021). The Difference Between a DNP and a PhD in Nursing? Retrieved from https://www.nursingce.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-dnp-and-a-phd-in-nursing/

Essay Tutors
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why You Should Choose Us

Affordable Prices

Since we know that we are dealing with students, either part time or full time, many might be having financial constraints, but still want to pursue academic life. This has made us ensure we have very affordable prices, and wonderful discounts, yet give high quality products.

Professional Writers

Our reputation has been built because of the dedicated and highly qualified writers in our team. The writers give clients high quality products which guarantees return clients and referrals.


Our team is dedicated to giving clients the best quality products. However, if a paper does not meet the requirements stated by the client, our team will provide free revisions to the satisfaction of the client.

Moneyback guarantee policy

We believe that clients should get value for their money. If the client finds that the product has not met the requirements stated, we will refund the amount paid.

Original papers

We understand how plagiarism can ruin clients’ careers and reputation. We thus strive to provide original papers to our clients. We use several tools to check plagiarism. This ensures that clients get products that meet their institutions’ standards.

24/7 Customer Support

You can reach our support team via, live chat, email or phone. All your issues will be dealt with asap as the team works round the clock.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

You have other errands to run? No need to worry. Place your order with us, carry out your errands while we do your paper and deliver on time.

Blog Writing

Give us a topic you want your blog based on, and let our team handle the rest. You will get the best article to be published in any forum you want. We have able team to do all the work for you.


Many students are given assignments by their tutors. However, students find it challenging to just even come up with a topic. This should no longer be a problem to you. Just visit our site, contact the support team that will help you place your order, and find the best writer to handle the assignment.

Dissertation Services

Dissertation has proven to be challenging to most students. For this reason, we have specialized writers who handles only these kind of papers. You will be in constant touch with the writer and the support team once you place a dissertation order to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Editing and Proofreading

Some students have good points and writing prowess. However, they make minor mistakes that deny them good grades. To avoid such cases, you can give us your already written paper so that our team can edit it to the correct formatting style, language, proper flow and the correct academic language. This gives you an upper hand to get the best grade than a person whose job has not been edited.