UNCW Announces New Doctoral Programs in Psychology and Nursing Practice

Friday, October 30, 2015

Two new doctoral programs will enhance the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s academic offerings and help meet health care needs in the state, the university announced. At its October meeting, the UNC Board of Governors approved programs leading to Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. With the addition of these terminal degrees, UNC Wilmington will offer a total of four doctoral programs.

“The academic community of UNCW is excited and pleased to have the UNC Board of Governors approve these new doctoral programs,” Provost Marilyn Sheerer said. “These degree programs signify that UNCW has the faculty expertise in both of these areas and that the graduates coming out of these programs will address significant state needs. Currently, the university produces master’s-level practitioners in nursing and psychology, but the new terminal degrees will provide an increased scope of independent practice and compensation for individuals in these fields."

With the purpose of training front-line providers, the Ph.D. program in psychology will address critical behavioral health care needs of the citizens of North Carolina by helping reduce the significant shortage of psychologists in the state. The program will train psychologists to provide services in the areas of substance abuse treatment, developmental disabilities, dementia and psychological services in the correctional system. The UNCW Department of Psychology has expertise and leadership experience in each of these areas and considers it part of its mission to provide these much-needed services to North Carolinians.

According to, a strong market exists for nurse practitioners in North Carolina, and the profession is listed among the occupations with a bright outlook for the future. Demand is expected to grow, especially in rural areas with few medical professionals. The N.C. Institute of Medicine projects that the state is likely to experience a shortage of nurse practitioners and other primary care providers within the next 10 to 20 years. Through its Doctor of Nursing Practice program, UNCW will focus on training health care providers to serve residents of rural and underserved communities.

Both programs are tentatively expected to begin fall semester of 2016.

– Tricia Vance