DNP vs PhD: Difference and Comparison

DNP and PhD are advanced degrees that a practising nurse can acquire in healthcare.

Key Takeaways

  1. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a professional doctorate focused on clinical practice and leadership in nursing, preparing graduates for advanced roles in healthcare.
  2. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing is an academic research-based degree that prepares graduates for academia, research, or healthcare administration careers.
  3. The choice between a DNP and a Ph.D. in nursing depends on an individual’s career goals and interests, with the DNP providing advanced clinical skills and the Ph.D. emphasizing research and academic pursuits.

DNP vs PhD

The difference between DNP and a PhD is to obtain a DNP degree; the applicant should complete a specific clinical project that can prove evidence-based practices done by the applicant. PhD programs are based on genuine research and methodology followed by a final dissertation and its defence. 

DNP vs PhD

DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) is a terminal clinical practice degree. In contrast, a PhD (Doctor of Nursing) is a research-focused degree and a terminal degree in nursing.

Anyone with proper qualifications in nursing can apply for DNP or PhD in nursing. DNP programs can be pursued as part of specializing in nursing practice but applying for a PhD program, a post-graduate certificate is an essential qualification.


Education Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to education

1 / 10

Which of the following is NOT one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

2 / 10

Who is the author of the famous novel "Pride and Prejudice"?

3 / 10

Who is known as the father of modern physics?

4 / 10

What is the study of history called?

5 / 10

What is the study of the human mind and behavior called?

6 / 10

What is the most widely spoken language in the world?

7 / 10

In a class, there are children who usually get out of the social circle. How do you describe these children?

8 / 10

When should a teacher and a pupil hold a case conference?

9 / 10

What word, taken from German, names the traditional first formal year of U.S. schooling?

10 / 10

What is the basic unit of life?

Your score is



Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDNPPhD
CurriculumApplying the experience obtained through research into nursing practice and acquiring expertise in the field.Various theories related to nursing research development of research faculty.
Final projectThe final project of my DNP includes a clinical paper and its presentation, as other practical-based works.The final product of a PhD is mostly a dissertation that can make a notable contribution to the nursing field along with the defence of the dissertation.
Research practicesResearch practices of DNP include theory as well as statistics.Research practices of PhD include in-depth and proper faculty-guided research products.
Clinical practiceDNP id generally requires clinical practice of up to 1000 hours.PhD program of Nursing Practice requires only a minimum duration of clinical hours.
ScopeManagement positions in healthcare, Leadership in nursing, government, academics, administration, etc.PhD degree in nursing is helpful for the positions of nursing researcher, health policy posts, and nursing faculty posts.


What is DNP?

DNP is a terminal degree in nursing practice to make the degree holders combine their leadership, organizational, clinical and economic skills to create better patient care programs and work with more power and efficiency to fulfil a leading position in the field of healthcare.

A DNP-qualified nurse can perform nursing interferences that can influence the healthcare sector for persons and the community. These outcomes may include:

  1. Providing better care for patients
  2. Ensure better management in the areas of patient care and patient populations
  3. Lend a hand in the administrative field of healthcare and nursing organizations
  4. To be active in the development and implementation of health policies.

DNP is for practising nurses searching for a high-level degree in the field of nursing practice and prefers to acquire the highest positions in the same area, such as administration, management, or leadership.

The incorporation of DNP degrees in the healthcare sector was based on the following factors.

  1. The fast expansion of knowledge in the nursing field.
  2. The amplified complication of the care of patients.
  3. National-level concerns regarding the quality of nursing practice and concerns about patient safety.
  4. The shortage occurred in the number of practising nurses and the demand for high-level, educated leaders with expertise and power.
  5. Shortage of nursing faculty with doctoral degrees.
  6. Potential to prepare a highly equipped and efficient healthcare team.

The DNP programs generally emphasize areas that can provide support in leadership in nursing, systems management, decision-making based on supporting data, and quality improvement.

DNP is distinguishable from other terminal degrees for nursing professionals, such as PhD, DNSc, ND, etc., as it emphasises practice-based training on clinical applications. The duration of this course is between three to six years, but different countries and different universities follow different schedules and time.


What is PhD?

PhD in nursing is a research-oriented terminal degree in health care, similar to those from the other fields in course content and methodologies.

A PhD holder in nursing is engaged in teaching, research programs, program evaluations, writing and publishing related books, leading different organizations in the healthcare sector and working for governments to assist in policymaking and ensuring quality and updating in the field.

A PhD degree holder is not work in the hands-on care of patients but more in helping to increase the quality and professionalism in the field.

A nursing PhD holder can work in the following fields.

  1. Member of Nursing Faculty
  2. Nursing Research Director
  3. Clinical Service Director
  4. Administrative positions in pharmaceutical companies
  5. Administrative positions in research institutes
  6. Administrative positions in advocacy organizations
  7. High-level positions in healthcare IT corporations and many more.

PhD degree in nursing is also a high level, research-oriented degree with the same potential of other PhD degrees that provides numerous high-level positions to its holder.


Main Differences Between DNP and PhD

  1. The main difference between DNP and PhD is the application and relevance of each of these terminal degrees in the healthcare sector.
  2. DNP is beneficial to improve the clinical practices in nursing and the high-level management and policy creation in the field. PhD is focused on nursing research and developing research related faculty.  
  3. DNP is more clinical oriented where PhD is more focused on following research methodologies and theories.
  4. The end product of DNP consists of a clinical paper and its presentation whereas PhD requires a dissertation and its defense.
  5. Clinical practice is more in DNP course, whereas PhD requires only a minimum amount of clinical practice.

Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 07T165614.793
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.