Community & Public Health Nursing Doctoral Programs

Empowering Communities: Exploring Doctoral Programs in Community & Public Health Nursing

As a registered nurse, you’ve likely witnessed firsthand the impact that community and public health initiatives can have on the well-being of entire populations. If you’re passionate about making a difference on a larger scale and advancing your career in this crucial field, pursuing a doctoral degree in community and public health nursing could be the perfect next step.

Understanding the Different Types of Doctoral Programs

When considering doctoral education in community and public health nursing, you’ll typically encounter two main paths:

  1. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): DNP programs are designed for nurses who want to apply research findings to improve patient outcomes and healthcare systems. These practice-focused programs usually take 3-5 years to complete, depending on your prior education and experience.

  2. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing: If you’re more interested in conducting original research and contributing to the academic side of nursing, a PhD program might be the better fit. These research-intensive programs prepare nurses for roles in academia, research, and policy development, and typically take 4-6 years to complete.

Both types of programs aim to equip you with advanced knowledge and skills in areas like population health, health promotion, disease prevention, and health policy. You’ll dive into core courses on advanced nursing theory, research methods, epidemiology, and biostatistics, as well as specialization courses tailored to your interests in community health.

Meeting the Admission Requirements

While the specific admission requirements for community and public health nursing doctoral programs can vary by institution, most programs will expect you to have:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Completion of prerequisite courses in statistics, research methods, and public health
  • Acceptable scores on standardized tests like the GRE
  • Relevant work experience in community or public health nursing
  • Strong letters of recommendation and a compelling personal statement

The application process will involve gathering and submitting all the required materials by the specified deadlines, which can differ depending on the program and institution. It’s important to carefully review each program’s requirements and start preparing your application well in advance.

Unlocking Diverse Career Opportunities

One of the most exciting aspects of earning a doctoral degree in community and public health nursing is the wide range of career opportunities it can open up. Graduates of these programs are well-prepared to make a meaningful impact in roles such as:

  • Academia and research: Share your passion for community health by teaching the next generation of nurses and conducting cutting-edge research to advance the field.
  • Public health organizations: Put your skills to work at local, state, or national public health agencies, developing and implementing programs and policies to improve population health.
  • Government agencies: Take on leadership roles at influential agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Non-profit organizations: Lead community-based organizations focused on health promotion and disease prevention, making a direct impact on the communities you serve.
  • Healthcare administration and leadership: Manage public health programs or serve in executive roles at healthcare organizations, guiding them towards better population health outcomes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical and health services managers, which includes public health administrators, was $104,280 in May 2020. Even more promising, the projected job growth for these roles is 32% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations (

Finding the Right Program for You

With so many doctoral programs in community and public health nursing available, it can be challenging to know where to start your search. Here are three accredited programs to give you a sense of what’s out there:

  1. Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

– Address: 525 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205
– Program: DNP Executive Track – Public Health Nursing & Leadership
– Description: This part-time, online program prepares nurses for leadership roles in public health nursing and policy development. The program can be completed in 2-3 years and includes a practicum experience and a final capstone project.

  1. University of Washington School of Nursing

– Address: 1959 NE Pacific St, Seattle, WA 98195
– Program: PhD in Nursing Science – Community Health Nursing
– Description: This full-time, research-focused program prepares nurses for careers in academia and research related to community health nursing. The program typically takes 4-5 years to complete and includes coursework, research, and a dissertation.

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing

– Address: Carrington Hall, CB #7460, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
– Program: PhD in Nursing – Health Care Systems and Outcomes
– Description: This full-time program prepares nurses for research and leadership roles in healthcare systems and public health. The program typically takes 4-5 years to complete and includes coursework, research, and a dissertation. The estimated tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year are $18,962 for in-state students and $45,018 for out-of-state students (

As you explore different programs, consider factors like the curriculum, faculty expertise, research opportunities, and location to find the best fit for your goals and interests.

Navigating the Challenges and Reaping the Rewards

Embarking on a doctoral degree in community and public health nursing is no small feat, and it’s important to be prepared for the challenges that may come along the way. You’ll likely need to balance work, family, and academic responsibilities, which can be especially tricky if you’re in a part-time or online program. Time management and staying motivated throughout the rigorous coursework and research requirements will be key to your success.

But for all the challenges, the rewards of earning a doctoral degree in this field are immeasurable. You’ll be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities to make a real difference in the health and well-being of entire communities. You’ll have the opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research, shape public health policy, and mentor the next generation of community health nurses.

As you consider taking this next step in your nursing career, remember that you have the power to create meaningful change in the world of public health. With the right education and determination, there’s no limit to the impact you can make.

Online Community & Public Health Nursing Doctoral Programs


University of Colorado Denver

  • 1250 14th Street Denver, CO 80217
    Doctoral Programs: Community & Public Health Nursing, General Nursing
    (303) 556-2400


Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University


Rush University

Governors State University


University of Massachusetts


University of Minnesota

  • 80 Church St. SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
    Doctoral Programs: Community & Public Health Nursing
    (612) 625-5000

New Mexico

New Mexico State University

New York

Binghamton University