School of Nursing - LSU Health New Orleans

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the Doctor of Nursing Science degree? The purpose of the DNS program is to educate qualified persons to make dynamic contributions to the discipline of nursing through research and other scholarly activities. The unique feature of this program is its emphasis on nursing research with select patient/client groups within and across nursing specialties.
  2. How does the DNS degree differ from the:
    1. PhD? The PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy degree, is the most commonly offered research-focused degree. However, some schools may award a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS or DNSc) as the research-focused doctoral degree. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2001) recommends the use of the same quality indicators for research-focused doctoral programs in nursing whether the program leads to a PhD or a DNS degree. Individuals educated in research-focused doctoral programs are traditionally prepared to pursue careers in research and teaching. Graduates of these nursing programs are also prepared to pursue careers in the fields of nursing and health care administration and policy.
    2. DNP? The Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. A practice-doctoral degree in nursing prepares nurses with advanced preparation (nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists) and specialized knowledge in an identified area of nursing practice. DNP-prepared nurses are well-equipped to fully implement the science developed by nurse researchers prepared in PhD and DNS programs.
  3. Do I have to attend this program as a full time student? You may attend this program as either a full or part time student. Full and part time plans can be found in the University catalog and student handbook.
  4. Is the program online? Classes are held on campus approximately 4 times per semester (once a month). However, many course sessions and activities are conducted online or via other media/distance formats. Class dates are published at least several months before the subsequent semester.
  5. How long does it take to complete the DNS Program? On average, full time students complete doctoral studies in approximately 5 years. Part time students will take longer to complete the DNS program. The School of Nursing requires that all work towards a DNS degree be completed in not more than eight calendar years.
  6. How will I use my clinical knowledge while enrolled in the DNS Program? After I complete the program? Your clinical knowledge and expertise is strongly valued as a doctoral student. During doctoral study, students build upon existing clinical knowledge about various populations to generate questions for further study. For example, you will utilize current knowledge and evidenced based practices for groups such as women with breast cancer, chronically ill elderly, preterm infants, nurse managers, nontraditional nursing students, or disaster survivors, etc to examine current scientific evidence in a particular field. Knowledge of the population characteristics, the most current treatment modalities or healthcare delivery models and issues is essential to design studies that will eventually guide practice, education, and health care policy. As a doctorally prepared scholar, you will use your clinical knowledge throughout your professional career.
  7. Do I need to know a dissertation topic prior to applying to the DNS program? What if I change my research topic during coursework? Prior to applying to the DNS program, most students have ideas or areas that they would like to develop into proposals for dissertation research. Under the guidance of faculty and your major professor, your original ideas or areas of interest will be investigated as a possible topic for research. You may change your topic; however, your major professor will assist you to focus on a topic of choice and the proposed method.
  8. What financial assistance programs are available for DNS students? The LSUHSC Student Financial Aid Office administers grants, loans, scholarships, and part-time employment ( Each year the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Louisiana Board of Regents award the School of Nursing funding which is used to support graduate student study. DNS students are invited to submit an application to the Associate Dean of Nursing Research, Scholarship & Science for the position of Teacher and/or Research Assistant. These awards are for a period of one semester, and can be renewed each semester by competitive application and review.
  9. What are career opportunities for a DNS prepared nurse? There are many career opportunities for nurses who have a doctor of nursing science degree. Traditionally, doctorally prepared nurses are employed in schools of nursing where they teach nursing and other students at all levels. However, DNS prepared nurses are also employed in hospitals, local, state and federal agencies and private organizations. They are employed in a variety of roles including educators, administrators, researchers, consultants, project managers, policy analysts, etc. See the LSUHSC School of Nursing website to view "Spotlight on DNS graduates."

For further information, fill out the inquiry form at:

AACN (2001). Position Statement: Indicators of Quality in Research-Focused Doctoral Programs in Nursing. Retrieved on October 5, 2010 from:

Spotlight on DNS Graduates