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PhD and DNP

Recognized worldwide for excellence in research, education, practice, and policy, Penn Nursing’s DNP and PhD programs prepare nurses to be leaders in innovative-practice and research-intensive environments.

Our DNP Programs

Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (PM-DNP)

Our Post-Masters Doctor of Nursing Practice is for all advanced practice nurse specialties who will practice at the most advance level of nursing.

Admission Information | Academic Program Information

Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNP-EL)

The Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNPEL) program develops master’s-prepared nurses who already have leadership experience with the executive-level skills to lead systems and organizational change.

Admission Information | Academic Program Information

Doctor of Nursing Practice for Nurse Anesthetists (DNP-NA)

Our Doctor of Nursing Practice for Nurse Anesthetists (DNP-NA) is the first of its kind to be offered by an Ivy League university and replaces our 24-month nurse anesthesia master’s degree program.

Admission Information | Academic Program Information

Our PhD Programs

Full-time PhD candidates generally complete their work and successfully defend their thesis after four Megan Streur (left) and her dissertation chair Dr. Barbara Riegel (right), 2016Megan Streur (left) and her dissertation chair Dr. Barbara Riegel (right), 2016years with us, and are given financial assistance—including tuition, fees, insurance, and stipend—for their first four years in the program, September - May.  Though you have the option to study part-time, we do not offer funding to part-time PhD students.

Application deadlines for our PhD programs are December 1. 


If you have a BSN, MSN, or an MS in a related field, you may apply directly into our PhD program.

Admission Information | Academic Program Information


Apply for this program if you’ve completed your undergraduate degree and are seeking both a Masters of Science in Nursing and a PhD.

Admission Information | Academic Program Information

Upcoming Events for PhD & DNP Programs

Doctoral Student Testimonials

  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/390,1056,1601,2265/9605_UPenn_Nursing_AB-176.rev.1564151250.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9605 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/390,1056,1601,2265/9605_UPenn_Nursing_AB-176.rev.1564151250.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/390,1056,1601,2265/9605_UPenn_Nursing_AB-176.rev.1564151250.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2133" data-max-h="3200"/>Obtaining my terminal degree from Penn Nursing was and has always been my first and only choice. I’ve known I wanted to be a nurse since the 4th grade when my church had a program to expose children of color to health care fields. A prestigious faculty member of color from Penn Nursing came to our church to discuss her career—I was blown away and wanted to be just like her. Diversity work is extremely important, especially in this day and age. We need highly trained nurse leaders to formulate policies, lobby for change and CREATE the change we wish to see in health care and in the world. Penn Nursing is the place to do this. Its facilities are state-of-the-art and there is always something new to learn. As a student and a graduate, there is rarely a closed door.</p><p> –Michelle Lockett, MSN, RN</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/384,0,2515,2133/9619_Karen_Celestine_web_2.rev.1564159341.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9619 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/384,0,2515,2133/9619_Karen_Celestine_web_2.rev.1564159341.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/384,0,2515,2133/9619_Karen_Celestine_web_2.rev.1564159341.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133"/>Initially attending Penn Nursing as one of the first accelerated BSN students in 2003, I returned in 2018 for a PhD in Nursing. Since leaving the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in 2005, I have worked in various nursing roles—bedside med-surg nursing, travel nursing in the Philadelphia & Delaware region, administrative nursing during the burgeoning field of nursing clinical care coordination and transition of care movement, nursing leadership in adult/senior living environments, and managed care nursing within the insurance industry—all while assimilating into Philadelphia life as a community resident and deepening my call to civic duty and engagement as a nurse volunteer in my local neighborhood.<br/> It all came together at Penn Nursing when I met faculty, fellow students, and colleagues who exposed me to a rich depth of scholarly inquiry, commitment to being a world changer, and improving life for the most vulnerable in our society. As a PhD student, I now conduct research focused on improving the lives of men in society, and improving the academic preparation of future nurse leaders. Since joining the program, I have found clarified purpose, developed lifelong scholarly friendships with peers and mentors, and set my expectations beyond what I ever thought possible. Penn Nursing has provided financial support and unique opportunities that allow me to have a balanced academic-personal life. That’s why I’m thrilled to be at Penn Nursing…again!</p><p> –Karen Celestine, RN, CCN, BSN, MPH</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/838,160,2809,2133/9620_Michael_Stawnychy_web_2.rev.1564159362.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9620 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/838,160,2809,2133/9620_Michael_Stawnychy_web_2.rev.1564159362.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/838,160,2809,2133/9620_Michael_Stawnychy_web_2.rev.1564159362.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133"/>I was working in documentary film production and serving as an elected rep for a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council when I realized that at the end of a long day, these jobs didn’t always leave me with the feeling that I made a specific difference in someone’s life. During my first undergraduate degree, I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician and recalled how fulfilling that was so I began to research possibilities in healthcare and had an ‘aha’ moment when I landed on nursing! Where else could I have the flexibility to wear many hats (that I got to choose), have the satisfaction of working directly to improve people’s lives, and get paid to do it? Since changing careers, I’ve saved lives and comforted families, worked with people struggling with chronic health conditions, mental health challenges, and addictions, and am now pursuing my PhD at Penn Nursing.<br/> The University of Pennsylvania is a research powerhouse and my experience with faculty here has been overwhelmingly positive. The education is challenging but you are scaffolded along the way and encouraged to explore your interests. My mentors and professors have been accessible without being overbearing. They realize that we all have lives and responsibilities and treat students with respect. At Penn Nursing, I have had experiences that I could not replicate anywhere else. My advice for incoming students is to pursue every interesting opportunity at both Penn Nursing and the wider Penn campus because you never know where it may lead.</p><p> –Michael Stawnychy, MSN, CRNP</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,704,2133,2835/9608_Penn_Nursing_ad-13.rev.1564151308.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9608 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,704,2133,2835/9608_Penn_Nursing_ad-13.rev.1564151308.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,704,2133,2835/9608_Penn_Nursing_ad-13.rev.1564151308.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2133" data-max-h="2131"/>At Penn, the DNP degree is not just a piece of paper.  It represents a wealth of knowledge that will take me to the next level in my career. Coursework is excellent and is taught by top rated professors who are at the forefront of research and innovation in health care.  Faculty are supportive and accessible, with the focus on helping students succeed. Each course has challenged me to think outside the box and has direct applicability to my current role as a clinician, educator, and leader.  If you are interested in learning from the best, to become the best, choose Penn.</p><p> –June Treston, DNP class of 2021</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/198,524,1966,2291/9606_Penn_Nursing_ad-129.rev.1564151308.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9606 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/198,524,1966,2291/9606_Penn_Nursing_ad-129.rev.1564151308.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/198,524,1966,2291/9606_Penn_Nursing_ad-129.rev.1564151308.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2133" data-max-h="3200"/>I pursued nursing because of its broad opportunities, as I was always interested in multiple and seemingly unrelated things. My Master’s in Nursing Informatics and my focus in analytics as a DNP candidate exemplifies this intersection of interests and the possibilities within the profession…at Penn, the coursework is intense but stimulating, and there’s both encouragement and expectation that this unique opportunity will be used to benefit others.</p><p> –Cyd Villalba, MS, RN-BC, PMP</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="250" height="250" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/179,204,1960,1984/9607_Penn_Nursing_ad-34.rev.1564151308.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image9607 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/179,204,1960,1984/9607_Penn_Nursing_ad-34.rev.1564151308.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/250/height/250/crop/1/src_region/179,204,1960,1984/9607_Penn_Nursing_ad-34.rev.1564151308.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2133" data-max-h="3200"/>I remember receiving a call from a faculty member during finals week. I initially thought I must have missed a deadline on an assignment. But my course advisor was just calling to check-in. She wanted to know if I had any issues with the material and reminded me to get rest and eat. This level of support was greatly appreciated and this sense of community, along with a focus on innovation, is one of the best things about Penn  Nursing. It is a very welcoming and inclusive environment; you are treated as a colleague-in-training, surrounded by the best mentors. If you experience challenges, they are framed around your growth process in nursing and faculty are always available to work through the tough moments with students.</p><p> –Tracy Walker, MSN, RN, CPNP-AP/PC</p></div>