The Research-Focused Doctoral Program in Nursing: Pathways to Excellence


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The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)1 degree represents the highest level of formal education to prepare individuals to advance the scholarship of discovery for a given discipline (AACN, 2010). The PhD is a prerequisite for academia and certain senior leadership roles in multiple disciplines within academic institutions and development of independence in scientific or scholarly pursuits outside academia. The PhD is a research-focused degree that prepares individuals to create, translate, and communicate new knowledge as leaders within institutions of higher education and outside of academia. Postdoctoral study is recommended for individuals who plan to pursue careers in a research-intensive environment and wish to acquire expert understanding of the theories, methods, and analytics of a field. Conferral of the PhD demonstrates the graduate’s strong scientific emphasis within the discipline as well as an understanding of the importance of translational science, dissemination of innovations, and engagement in interdisciplinary 2 collaboration. In the field of nursing, the PhD graduate is prepared to steward the profession, develop its science, define its uniqueness, maintain its professional integrity, and educate the next generation of nursing professionals. To achieve its vision of improving health outcomes for all people, particularly those in populations experiencing social and health inequities, the profession must produce and support PhD-prepared nurses, nurse educators, and nurse scientists who reflect the broad diversity of society as a whole.

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