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Doctoral Programs

We've been training nurse scholars for decades, preparing nurses for leadership roles in both nursing education and healthcare management. And we have no intention of stopping there.

In 2009, we launched our Doctor of Nursing Practice program so that we can prepare advanced practice clinicians as superb as our scholars.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

In the last 25 years, Widener's School of Nursing has graduated more than 150 nurse leaders who serve as pioneers in nursing education and health care. They are nationally known faculty, deans, and researchers. They hold high-level positions in the United States and abroad, and they serve on professional boards at regional and national levels.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

This relatively new program is built upon a rich tradition of excellence. Designed in
accordance with AACN guidelines, our DNP program provides the highest level of
preparation for advanced clinical practice. Graduates are prepared for leadership positions
in direct care of individuals and populations, as well as for positions which focus on patient
outcomes and complex systems management and transformation.

Flexibility to meet your needs

Both programs are designed for working practitioners, and course schedules accommodate full and part-time study. PhD classes are offered in an evening format, while DNP classes are offered in a hybrid format (combining online and in-class delivery). Either way, scheduling is sensitive to your career and family responsibilities. Part-time students can progress at their own pace within the established seven year time limit for degree completion for doctoral students.

PhD vs. DNP

While the PhD and DNP degree programs are complementary to each other, it's important for nurses seeking doctoral study to understand the difference between them and make informed decisions about which one to select.

Our PhD program prepares nurse scholars for academic careers— as teachers, scholars, and researchers. Graduates are prepared to conduct research (independently and collaboratively), to advance nursing science, to generate and disseminate new knowledge and to inform nursing, education practice and health care policy. An accelerated MSN/PhD option is available.

The DNP program, offered on both the Main Campus in Chester and in Harrisburg, prepares nurses with a MSN for delivering the highest level of quality care for their practice, and to providing competent care, positioning them to evaluate research findings, and apply them to their practice. They are prepared to translate evidence into care in a variety of settings, with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare outcomes for diverse individuals, groups and populations (particularly the vulnerable and underserved) and for improvement of systems based care.

You will learn in a collegial, diverse academic community which creates a rich learning environment and opportunity for scholarly discourse.