PhD in Nursing

The goal of the PhD Program, which is ranked among the top eight programs in the U.S. by the National Research Council, is to prepare students to conduct clinical research that generates new knowledge applicable to nursing practice. A foundation of research and scholarship gained at the master's level is further enhanced at the doctoral level. Our students are prepared to assume roles in a variety of settings, from private industry to community colleges to top research-intensive nursing schools affiliated with major academic health centers. 

Interdisciplinary research opportunities are emphasized. Invaluable mentoring by faculty members and collegial interactions among doctoral students support the development of nurse researchers. 

Doctoral students have the opportunity to participate in faculty members' research programs, such as psychosocial and biobehavioral interventions for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, management of critically ill patients, promoting self-management of chronic illnesses, domestic and workplace violence, tobacco policy and smoking cessation, occupational health and safety, health disparities, health risks in pregnant women, pediatric asthma and more.

The faculty is well-qualified in both research and clinical practice. Faculty and students alike are very successful in obtaining extramural funding for their scholarly activities. With research as a central component of the College's mission, College faculty and students boast more than $20 million in its research portfolio as they produce groundbreaking knowledge in cardiovascular disease, tobacco control policy, diabetes, cancer, agricultural health, health disparities, maternal-child health, chronic pain, acute injuries and mental health. Click here for more information on the College's research initiatives.

Graduates of the program will be able to:

  • Establish a pattern of productive scholarship and participation in team science that results in the dissemination of scholarly work to lay and professional audiences
  • Contribute to the development of science and the discipline of nursing through the ethical conduct of culturally competent, original clinical and translational research
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the evolving roles and professional responsibilities of a nurse scholar through participation in professional and interprofessional teams and organizations and the provision of professional and research leadership and mentorship
  • Use different science perspectives and an in-depth knowledge of a substantive area to develop and apply a conceptual knowledge base that enhances the link among theoretical advances, research and practice to improve health outcomes

The PhD program was initiated in 1987 and has produced 130 graduates since 1992. Current enrollment is approximately 46 students, of which 9 percent are international and 15 percent are male. 

There are three entry points to the PhD Program:

Post-BSN Option: for those who wish to build on their BSN degree to become active nurse researchers and contribute to the development of science that improves health outcomes. The coursework can be completed in three years of full-time study. This does not include the minimum two semesters required for dissertation research.

Post-MSN Option: for those with an earned master's degree in nursing who desire to develop research skills that contribute to science, scholarship and improved health outcomes. The coursework for this option can be completed in two years of full time study, however this does not include the two semesters required for dissertation research.

Post-DNP Option: for those with an earned Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from an accredited program and wish to contribute to the development of science that will improve health outcomes. Required coursework for this option can be completed in one year, not including two additional semesters for dissertation research.

All entry options also have part-time plans. Deadline for fall admission is Feb. 15. Admission decisions are made on a competitive basis. Applications received after Feb. 15 will be considered on a space-available basis.