As the highest degrees in nursing practice, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) degrees can catapult advanced practice nurses to the top of the pay range. Some prospective students, however, may wonder how the salaries of these different degree types stack up. The short answer is that the differences in salary between nurses who hold a DNP and those with a Ph.D. are minimal, with an average difference of approximately $4,000 per year. However, things such as location, organization, and job title will ultimately determine a salary for a nurse with either degree type.

RELATED: DNP vs PhD in Nursing


A DNP operates at the highest level of clinical practice, and the salary average for a nurse with this degree lands at approximately $100,000 per year. This is variable amongst jobs, as a clinician salary is higher than an educator salary. In other words, individuals who work at universities teaching nursing students average less income than those practicing with patients. For example, a DNP practicing as an Advanced Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner averages closer to $110,000 per year. Most DNP-prepared RNs tend to opt for clinical practice careers. Some job titles a DNP may search for include: Advanced Practitioner, Quality Improvement Manager, Healthcare Informaticist, Clinical Educator, Policy Maker, and more.

RELATED: Do Dual DNP/PhD Nursing Programs Exist?


A Ph.D. prepared nurse spends time researching, conducting analysis and performing scientific studies. They also commonly enter academia as professors and educators. According to Payscale, a Ph.D. educated nurse's average salary is $96,000 per year. This makes the salary very competitive in comparison to that of a DNP. Similar to a DNP-prepared nurse, there is variability in salary depending on setting and institution. A nurse researcher can expect to earn a yearly salary of approximately $95,000 per year. Some job titles a Ph.D. may search for include: Nurse Researcher, Nurse Scientist, Policy Maker, Academic Professor, Author.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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