Ph.D. On average, a doctoral degree in nursing takes four to six years to complete. So, in the simplest words, the main distinction is that a DNP prepares you for a lifetime in clinical practice, beyond the duration of time for university, while the Ph.D. prepares you for a career in research (Gaines, 2019). For nursing, both a Ph.D. and a DNP are called terminal degrees, and both degrees indicate that the nurse is a clinical specialist in his profession (Gaines, 2019). There are variations between the two, however. The major difference is that a DNP relies more on clinical experience, while a Ph.D. focuses on research. The choice of a degree route to take is based on the nurse's career objectives. In an advanced position (i.e., nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, CRNA), MSN-prepared nurses who want to extend their knowledge base and reach a terminal degree to develop their practice will benefit from the option of the DNP course.