Nursing Doctoral Education in the United Kingdom and Ireland

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Nurses have been able to pursue doctoral study in the United States for decades. Nursing has only recently been integrated into the university setting in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland. Prior to this a small number of nurses registered for doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in departments of education, sociology or psychology. In the last 10 years, nursing in Europe witnessed a large increase in the number of nurses pursuing doctoral study. Many of these are now being mentored in university schools of nursing and are undertaking research of direct relevance to nursing. Another interesting trend is the introduction of professional doctorates. This professional doctorate, the Doctorate of Nursing Science, includes lectures, course work and examinations, in contrast to the traditional U.K. Ph.D. earned by a thesis or published work. This paper explores the emergence of these different types of doctoral degrees, discusses some reasons why they are flourishing, and describes the differences between them.