The field of nursing is a very varied and popular profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over two million people hold some form of nursing licensure. A nurse may earn a certificate of nursing, a two-year degree, four-year degree or master's degree in the field. Nurses may also earn a doctorate in nursing.

Ph.D. Definition

A Ph.D. is a doctoral degree. Candidates complete from four to six years of study on a graduate level to receive this diploma. Those pursuing a doctorate may study full-time or part-time, depending on factors such as finance.


In order to apply for a doctoral program in nursing, the candidate must have completed all undergraduate work. LPNs are licensed practical nurses. They complete 18 months of training. RNs are registered nurses. An RN attends a two-year of four-year college or school of nursing. After passing state licensing exams, the RN may choose to further her education by completing a master's degree in the field of nursing. Once she has finished her undergraduate education, spent time working in field of nursing full-time and completed her master's degree, the RN may apply for admission to a doctoral program.


There are four different kinds of doctoral degrees in nursing. A Nursing Doctorate--N. D.--program prepares nurses to push for change and help fellow nurses prepare for their future technological advances. A Doctorate of Nursing Practice is a three-year study program designed to prepare students to learn to lead others in the practice of nursing. A Doctor of Nursing Science degree is a science-based degree that emphasizes clinical science research methodology. A Doctor of Philosophy program seeks to prepare students to combine scientific research with leadership roles in nursing policy formation.


Doctorate of nursing programs require candidates to take classes in advanced mathematics and the hard sciences such as chemistry, as well as coursework in human psychology, grant writing, statistics and health informatics. Candidates can expect to work extensively on their own and complete a publishable thesis.


A doctorate in nursing can lead many different job opportunities. Doctorate holders may supervise nursing homes, instruct students at a graduate level, work closely with doctors on original research, head local health outreach efforts and assume responsibility for nursing practices in an entire hospital.

Related Articles