Nursing needs researchers to advance the boundaries of nursing science in today's complex, collaborative, and technology-rich health care field. The Catholic University of America's online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing gives you the research skills to create, implement, and evaluate strategies to achieve optimal care for all. Graduates will gain the skills necessary to advance the body of nursing knowledge and improve health care as nurse scientists and nurse scholars.

This research-intensive program focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing to develop the next generation of nurse researchers. The PhD coursework focuses on live situations and clinical practice, emphasizing the skills needed to function at the highest levels of nursing research. Catholic University's online nursing PhD program requires 70 credit hours, including:

  • 12 credits of core classes
  • 22 credits of research courses
  • 9-12 credits of elective course supporting the dissertation and/or professional goals

The PhD in Nursing curriculum is designed to give nurse practitioners and clinicians the skills needed to develop, implement, and test research initiatives aimed at improving the health care sector. Some of the specific topics you will study include:

  • The philosophy of science
  • Statistics and research in health care
  • Qualitative and quantitative research and methods
  • Bioethics and health care policy
  • Theory development

As part of the program, you'll complete dissertation research to explore a specific aspect of patient care issues that's most important to you or to your future career in nursing research. You'll complete your dissertation under the close guidance of Catholic's dedicated faculty members. The professors at Catholic's School of Nursing take their roles as mentors and guides very seriously, and they'll be ready with encouragement and insights to make sure you stay on track to complete your degree.

After successfully completing the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program, you will be able to:

  • Develop, apply, and test theories
  • Conduct nursing research to support the development of nursing science
  • Design, implement and evaluate interdisciplinary research programs and policies for the improvement of health care
  • Assess the impact of social, political, and ethical issues in health care on the discipline of nursing science

PhD vs. DNP

The Ph.D. in Nursing program is a research-focused doctoral nursing degree that is designed to produce nurse scientists, nurse scholars, and nurse educators. RNs who would like to advance their career while continuing to practice may be interested in the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, which prepares advance practice nurse clinicians for leadership roles in nursing practice.

Find an Engaging Community of Learners and Innovators

The Catholic University's PhD in Nursing program dates back to the 1960s and was one of the first such degrees to be offered in the country. Throughout the years, the School of Nursing has been awarded many competitive federal grants, a recognized marker of excellence and a testament to our commitment to research and discovery in the field. It's all anchored by our enthusiastic and distinguished faculty members, the key element to our success-and yours.

A PhD in Nursing from one of the top nursing programs in the country will prepare you for leadership positions in academia, clinical settings, health care systems, pharmacological companies, and other organizations and businesses that seek to promote scholarly health care research. The current shortage of nurse educators makes academia a promising path for nurses with PhDs, though there are countless career opportunities for nurse researchers and scholars in the private and public health care sectors.