20 Best Online Doctorate in Nursing Education [2021 Guide]

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If you’re interested in furthering your nursing career and branching into a position where you can contribute to the development and expertise of current and aspiring nurses, then pursuing your online doctorate in nursing education may be the right fit for you.

Online Doctorate in Nursing Education

With a doctorate in nursing education, you can play a key role in educational and scientific research by instituting new approaches and methods to nursing education and developing more informed understandings of medical practices and treatments.

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A degree in nursing education can help you build on the foundation you’ve made as a registered nurse and expand into new practice areas based in research and academia.

Online Nursing Education Doctoral Programs

Nursing Instructor letting the nurses practice on a mannequin

Terminal nursing degree programs, the highest level of education attainable in the field of nursing, can be obtained in various career pathways, including education, clinical practice, and research.

Other positions that you may be qualified for once you’ve completed your doctorate in nursing education include chief nursing officer, director of nursing, nurse practitioner, and medical scientist.

Depending on the program you choose to attend, you may obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), or a Doctor of Education (EdD). Online nursing education doctoral programs, in particular RN to DNP programs online, focus on teaching methods and practices used to train and prepare students for a career in the field of nursing.

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With your completed doctorate in nursing education, you may be qualified for a position as a faculty member within a postsecondary institution, such as a college or university, or as an instructor within a teaching hospital or medical center.

While the primary focus of a nursing education doctoral program is to prepare you for teaching nursing students, the breadth of material covered in the program may qualify you for non-teaching roles as well, such as positions in leadership or academic research.

Research is a significant component of a doctoral program in nursing education. It may provide you with the knowledge and experience needed to embark on a career where you can lead research initiatives in relation to nursing education.

Nursing Education Careers & Salaries

Nursing Education Careers & Salaries

With your completed doctorate in nursing education, your career options could include teaching and education, clinical practice, research, and leadership.

The position of a nurse educator is a common career path with a degree in nursing education. A nurse educator may work as a faculty member in a traditional postsecondary institution or as a nurse instructor in a teaching hospital or medical practice.

As a nurse instructor, you could play an important part in the academic development and proficiency of current and future students in the field of nursing.

This work may include developing curriculum and educational programming, instructing students, evaluating student progress, performing academic and scientific research, and remaining engaged and active in clinical nursing practice.

Nurse Practitioner working in a hospital

Another career option that you may be qualified for with your doctorate in nursing education is nurse researcher. As a researcher, you may work within universities, research facilities, hospitals, medical centers, and pharmaceutical companies.

As a nurse researcher, you may engage in medical research with the goal of devising new or improved treatment options for various illnesses. You may also analyze patient care data, conduct scientific or educational nursing research, and report research findings to other medical professionals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a doctorate in nursing education may lead to a number of rewarding careers:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Nurse Anesthetist $183,580
Chief Executive in Healthcare $160,950
Health Administrator in Research $149,140
Hospital Administrator $112,870
Nurse Practitioner $111,680
Nurse Midwife $111,130
Medical Health Researcher $99,840
Public Health Professor $99,090
Nursing Service Director $89,880
Nursing Instructor $75,470

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts job growth in a number of nursing education career paths, including medical scientists (6%), postsecondary teachers (9%), nurse-midwives (12%), and nurse anesthetists (14%).

The positions of medical and health services manager and nurse practitioner are poised to see significant job growth, with the careers predicted to have a positive job outlook of 32% and 52%, respectively.

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While some positions, such as nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife, may be obtained with a master’s degree, some employers may prefer a doctorate degree as an entry-level educational requirement.

Choosing a Nursing Education Doctorate Degree

Nursing education doctorate degree programs that are offered by various schools may come with unique program elements. You should take these variations into consideration when deciding which program is the right fit for your academic and career goals.

  • Program Type: A doctorate in nursing education may be conferred in the form of a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), or a Doctor of Education (EdD), depending on the school you choose to attend.
  • Admission Requirements: The admission requirements of various programs may impact the school that you choose to apply to. Entry-level GPA requirements, letters of recommendation, and previous research experience are all factors that may impact which programs you’re qualified to attend.
  • Attendance Structure: While full-time programs may be completed more quickly, part-time studies may allow for work and family commitments.

Comparing the various programs that you’re interested in attending can help you narrow down the options that best suit your individual needs. Other important considerations may include program cost, accreditation status, and supplemental funding options.

Doctoral Nursing Education Curriculum & Courses

Medical and Health Services Managers in a meeting

Doctorate of nursing education online programs often include course curricula that build on existing knowledge and skills in the field of nursing and add to that foundation with coursework focused on adult learning, curriculum development, and instruction principles.

Some online course options include:

  • Nursing theory in nursing education: An exploration of nursing theories and best practices in relation to teaching those theories in nurse education settings.
  • Adult learning theories: A review of theories in pedagogy and andragogy and how to go about applying those theories in nursing education.
  • Healthcare policy: An examination of health policies and the impact on nursing education, nursing practice, and healthcare overall.
  • Advanced statistics: An exploration of statistical methods used in scientific and educational research.
  • Qualitative research in nursing: A comprehensive review of qualitative research design and methodology in nursing, education, and healthcare.
  • Quantitative research in nursing: An examination of quantitative research practices, including design, methodology, and application in relation to nursing and education.
  • Research ethics: An advanced review of ethical practices and conduct in research, testing, and experimentation for educational nursing.
  • Nursing education leadership: An in-depth look at leadership theories and their application in healthcare and education settings.
  • Curriculum design and learning outcomes: An exploration of various curriculum design theories in nursing education, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of nursing education.

The coursework offered for a doctorate in nursing education may differ depending on the school and program you’re interested in as well as the type of degree offered.

Admissions Requirements

Nursing Education student studying in a library

Admission requirements may vary from school to school, but many doctorate degree programs in nurse education include the following as entry-level requirements:

  • Active registered nursing license: Many doctorate programs require you to have practical nursing experience and to maintain an active RN license in the state where you reside or work or in the state where the school is located.
  • Letter(s) of recommendation: One or more letters of recommendation may be requested as part of your application. This may include letters of reference from current or former supervisors.
  • Master’s in nursing: In many cases, having a master’s degree from an accredited institution may be required for entry into a doctorate program in nursing education.

Additional admission requirements may include an in-person interview, a completed application form or package, and a minimum GPA and GRE score. The minimum score for acceptance into a doctorate program generally varies from school to school.

Accreditation

Online Doctorate in Nursing Education Accreditation

Accreditation of a doctorate program in nursing education verifies that the coursework is of high academic quality and that the education received within that program is on par with other accredited programs.

Accreditation verifies that the program meets state and national licensing or certification requirements. So, attending an accredited program when obtaining a doctorate in nursing education is of particular importance.

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Online resources like the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provide up-to-date information on the accreditation status of various schools and programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for Online Doctorate in Nursing Education students

Enrolling in a doctorate in nursing education program can be a significant financial investment. Luckily, there are a number of funding options that you may be eligible for that could help reduce the overall cost of your degree.

In some cases, the school you’re attending may fund the program in exchange for the research activities you may be engaged in on behalf of the institution. Federal and state governments also offer grant and loan programs that you may be eligible to apply for.

Additionally, scholarships from private organizations exist for those pursuing advanced degrees in nursing, each of which may have varying eligibility requirements.

For more information on student aid options that you may be eligible to receive, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) offered by the U.S. Department of Education.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Education Doctorate?

Medical Scientist working in a laboratory

Obtaining your doctorate in nursing education may prepare you for a career as a nurse educator at a teaching hospital or as a member of faculty at a postsecondary institution.

This position would allow you to design a nursing curriculum, train students looking to begin their career in nursing, and support practicing nurses with professional development.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a doctoral level of education, you may also be qualified for positions outside of teaching, including roles like nurse practitioner, medical scientist or researcher, nurse education researcher, health services manager, and chief nursing officer.

What’s the Difference Between a DNP vs. Doctorate in Education?

Nurse Instructor demonstrating proper way to do CPR

A DNP is a Doctor of Nursing Practice in nursing education, and the doctorate is heavily focused on clinical medical practice in nursing.

Obtaining DNP nursing education may prepare you for a nursing position in advanced clinical practice. This degree is intended to be equivalent to a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), a Doctor of Medicine (MD), and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).

Many students who pursue a DNP already hold a masters degree in nursing. However, a growing number of universities offer both the option to return to the traditional classroom or to enter online BSN to DNP programs, so that students may continue working while going to school.

A Doctor of Education (EdD) focuses on education and instruction practices. This degree may prepare you for a career as a nurse instructor at a teaching facility or as professor at a postsecondary institution. A doctorate in education may also allow you to work in an academic research position within the field of nursing.

What’s the Difference Between a DNP vs. PhD in Nursing Education?

Medical Researchers working in a laboratory

A DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, focuses on advanced clinical learning and practice.

A PhD in Nursing Education is a professional doctorate with greater emphasis on educational theories, development of nursing curriculum, instruction of nursing theories at a postsecondary level, and academic development and evaluation of aspiring nursing students.

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Completing a PhD in Nursing Education may aid in the pursuit of careers in health administration, research, and education.

How Much Does a Nursing Education Doctoral Program Cost?

Nursing Education Doctoral student studying online

A nursing education doctoral program may cost between $400 and $2,300 per credit hour. Notably, some doctoral degree programs in nursing education may be partially or entirely funded by the school you choose to attend due to the high volume of research that is undertaken as part of most programs.

This is determined on a school-by-school and case-by-case basis, but receiving funding support from an institution may significantly reduce the overall cost of your degree.

Federal and state grant or loan programs and private scholarship funds are additional funding options that may help lessen the overall cost of obtaining a doctorate in nursing education.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Nursing Education?

Nurse Practitioner taking care of an elderly patient

While program lengths may differ, if you’ve already earned your master’s in nursing education, the average time it takes to complete a PhD in Nursing Education is 3 to 5 years of full-time study.

Some programs may be offered on a part-time schedule, allowing you to balance your degree requirements with other commitments such as work or family life, while others offer accelerated nursing online programs. Opting to enroll in a program on a part-time basis will likely extend the length of time required to complete your degree.

Is a Doctorate in Nursing Education Worth It?

Yes, a doctorate in nursing education is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs are set to grow at 15% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Common nursing education careers in this field include nurse educator, researcher, health services manager, chief nursing officer, and nurse practitioner. Obtaining a doctorate in nursing education may allow you to pursue a number of diverse career paths in education, business leadership, and academic research.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Nursing Education Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Bryan College of Health Sciences

Bryan College of Health Sciences campus

Bryan College of Health Sciences offers a Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Nursing Education. It’s one of the few programs of its kind in the country and is the only one with an emphasis in nursing education in the entire region. Three total visits to campus are required.

Bryan College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Students pursuing doctoral degrees in nursing education can enroll in Capella University’s PhD in Education program and select the Nursing Education concentration. The program includes 6 core courses, 8 specialization courses, 3 electives, and 3 residencies. Students can transfer up to 16 previously earned credits. A dissertation is also required.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia University

Columbia University campus

The Doctor of Education in Nursing Education program at Columbia University is specifically designed for nurses who currently hold masters degrees and are looking to become educators in staff development or academic settings.

The program puts a heavy focus on collaboration between professors and students and among the students themselves.

Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University’s Doctorate of Education ​in​ ​Educational Leadership​ ​and​ ​Management​ ​program offers students 10 concentrations to choose from, including one in Nursing Education. It’s an accelerated, ​part-time program that students can finish in 3 years, and it’s offered entirely online or in the executive weekend hybrid format.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Duquesne University

Duquesne University campus

Students have two options when undertaking the PhD in Nursing program at Duquesne University. They can select the 3 or 4 year curriculum. The courses are the same, but the 3 year program is more intense and fast-paced. Notable courses include methods of scientific inquiry, measurement issues, and grant writing.

Duquesne University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Immaculata University

Immaculata University campus

Immaculata University’s Doctor of Education in Higher Education program features a concentration in Nursing Education.

The course requires 54 credits for completion and includes advanced courses in program development and evaluation, instructional design and curriculum development, advanced scientific inquiry and learning theory, and practice for classroom and clinical nursing education.

Immaculata University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The PhD in Nursing at Liberty University offers a concentration in Nursing Education that puts God first, is accredited, and offers ultimate flexibility for working professionals. It requires 60 credits for completion, but 30 can be transferred. The program’s goal is to educate the next generation of global nursing scholars.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

Northcentral University created its Doctor of Education in Nursing Education program as a response to the increased demand for nurses within the US. Students are taught to enhance their leadership skills, conduct ethical and effective research, and develop scholarship. Upon graduating, students should be prepared to teach in various settings.

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus

Nova Southeastern University offers a PhD in Nursing with an emphasis in Nursing Education. The curriculum is incredibly comprehensive, requiring a minimum of 60 credits and a dissertation to graduate. Students will take multiple courses on biostatistics and research design and ethics as well as a multitude of other courses.

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rowan University

Rowan University campus

There are four track options in Rowan University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program. One of these is the nurse educator track. The program seeks to prepare educators for innovative, 21st century leadership in nursing fields. A high premium is placed on research, policy change, data evaluation, and leadership.

Rowan University is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education, a unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University campus

The Doctor of Education in Nursing Education program at Southern Connecticut State University is a cohort-based program for students who already hold masters degrees in nursing.

The curriculum is designed to turn nurses into higher education professors of nursing. Classes include leadership theories, methods of teaching, and classroom and clinical teaching.

Southern Connecticut State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University campus

At Stony Brook University, students can enroll in the PhD in Nursing program online, but they’ll be required to come to campus approximately one day a week. Upon completion of the program, students should be able to conduct ethical research and master in-depth knowledge in a specific field of nursing.

Stony Brook University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

The University of Alabama’s Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership program features a concentration in Nurse Education.

It’s a 73 credit, hybrid program that utilizes the cohort method of instruction and must be undertaken full-time. Major courses include ethics and education, distance technologies, electronic instructional design, and inquiry as interpretation.

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

University of Mary Hardin Baylor campus

The Doctor of Education program at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor provides students with a Christian education in one of three concentrations: higher education, K-12, or leadership in nursing education.

The nursing concentration focuses on providing students with sufficient experience in application strategies, collaboration, ethics, leadership theory, and data-driven decision making.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Nevada – Las Vegas

University of Nevada - Las Vegas campus

University of Nevada – Las Vegas’s PhD in Nursing allows students to choose from the nursing education track or the post-MSN-nursing accelerated track. Both tracks feature the same excellent faculty, comprehensive and demanding course curriculum, and wealth of practical experience. A 100% online curriculum is not available to students in some states.

The University of Nevada – Las Vegas is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Northern Colorado

University of Northern Colorado campus

Students enrolled in University of Northern Colorado’s PhD in Nursing Education program should be prepared to teach upon graduating.

There are three main areas of focus in the curriculum: research, leadership, and education. Students learn to generate new knowledge, advance the field of nursing, and promote innovative approaches to education.

The University of Northern Colorado is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of St Augustine

University of St Augustine campus

The University of St. Augustine’s Doctor of Education program is designed for working professionals in the various health science fields who want to take the next step in advancing their careers. The curriculum prepares students to become educators or administrators and helps them improve their overall leadership skills.

Augustine is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia campus

University of West Georgia’s 60 credit Doctor of Education in Nursing Education program is entirely online and is one of the few of its kind in the nation. Students can transfer up to 6 hours of previously earned credit into the program, and the required total credits includes a 12 credit dissertation.

UWG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University campus

The Doctor of Education in Nursing Education program at Western Connecticut State University is designed specifically for nurses looking to move into academic educator roles. It’s the only program of its kind in Connecticut and covers topics such as the ethical, legal, political, and social issues currently affecting higher education.

Western Connecticut State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Winona State University – Rochester

Winona State University - Rochester campus

Winona State University – Rochester students who are interested in nursing doctoral degrees have several concentration options as part of the school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

A few of these include psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and two separate concentrations in nursing leadership.

WSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Nursing Education Degree Online

Nursing Education Degree student studying on his laptop

A doctorate in nursing education may allow you to impact the future of nursing through the education and development of current and future nursing professionals. The terminal degree may also enable you to have a role in the development of the profession through academic research.

Nursing education programs can provide a great depth of knowledge in relation to curriculum development, student evaluation, research, and instructional methods.

Knowledge and experience gained by obtaining your doctorate may qualify you for positions as a nurse educator. Your doctorate may also qualify you to be a researcher, health services manager, or chief nursing officer.

Completing a program in nurse education from an accredited university may prepare you to work in education, research, and leadership positions.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.