Advantages of a research-focused nursing Ph.D.


A Ph.D. is the highest educational qualification available in nursing, and holders can expect career opportunities commensurate with this fact. However, a Ph.D. is by its nature a research-focused doctorate, which distinguishes it from the equally well-respected Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) qualification which, as the name suggests, is focused more on practical nursing. Each prepares students for a different career path and utilizes different methodologies, targets and fundamental principles to achieve these aims.

Independent inquiry 

The role of a Ph.D. in nursing is to encourage independent and thorough intellectual inquiry. Students should gain the confidence and skills necessary to pursue a career in advanced research or clinical practice, teaching or healthcare administration and policy. Once they complete the doctoral program, students will be expected to carry out their own independent research, culminating in a dissertation. There is no clinical requirement for a Ph.D.; hence the research requirements are exceptionally rigorous.

Benefits and opportunities 

For those with wondering about Ph.D. in Nursing salary expectations, this will vary depending on the type of career they choose. However, they will find their expertise in high demand from nursing schools, hospitals and universities and policy-making organizations on a local, national and even global scale. Less than one percent of all nurses in the US hold a Ph.D. or DNP, and Ph.Ds. are extremely sought after by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions.

Typical salaries 

As stated above, it’s difficult to predict the salary you can expect with a Nursing Ph.D. as so many factors will affect this. As a Nurse Researcher or Nurse Practitioner you may expect upward of $95,000 per year, while a chief nursing executive could earn up to $300,000 per year in 2019. A nurse educator with Ph.D. should expect around $112,000 annually.

Shortage of educators 

There is a well-documented shortage of qualified, practicing nurses in the US. That shortage is predicted to reach crisis point over the next few years. One of the reasons for this is the scarcity of qualified nurse educators. With a research-focused Ph.D. you will find that there is great demand for your skills and knowledge, enabling you to embark on a personally fulfilling career helping to train tomorrow’s nurses to work in a rapidly expanding healthcare system.

Personal satisfaction 

The act of studying for and obtaining a Ph.D. in Nursing is extremely satisfying, and a successful candidate will need to be extremely self-motivated. On graduating, your ability and knowledge will be recognized and respected at the highest levels, and you may be called upon to contribute to policy decisions besides serving as a faculty leader or mentor to future generations. The personal satisfaction in knowing that you have helped improve not only your own practice but the level of nursing care generally is immeasurable.

The research component of a nursing Ph.D. will help you to build critical knowledge around nursing issues and advance your research skills generally. This, in turn, will potentially lead you into a career as a thought leader in teaching, policy-making, pure research or team management. A wide range of career opportunities are available, with impressive salaries to match.