Return to: School of Nursing: Programs/Courses
The School of Nursing is a community of scholars having as its central purpose the enrichment of the human mind. Within this community, the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Program seeks to prepare scholars who will advance nursing knowledge. Scholarly achievement in nursing is accomplished in a spirit of free inquiry directed toward a better understanding of human existence, especially in relation to health and illness. Nurse scholars must participate in the study of particular phenomena and in the identification of central domains related to these phenomena. This requires that students be well informed about advanced practice in professional nursing.
Nursing knowledge is advanced through association with other disciplines and is often enhanced by the work of other university scholars. Central to the education of nurse scholars is the opportunity to interact with other scholars throughout the university community. Through dialogue and study with these professionals, nurse scholars expand their understanding of health and illness and the biological, environmental, sociocultural, ethical, legal, philosophic, and historic factors influencing nursing care.
Scholars must be inquisitive, informed, and committed. This requires expertise in the principles and methods of inquiry and an informed imagination for exploring substantive areas in nursing. The ultimate goal of this inquiry is to enhance nursing’s contribution to the health of all persons.
Purpose and Program Aims
The major purpose of the doctoral program in nursing is to prepare scholars with expertise in selected substantive areas who will contribute to nursing theory and practice through systematic inquiry.
Aims of the doctoral program in nursing are to prepare scholars who will:
- Demonstrate advanced knowledge of nursing, related sciences and humanities, and methods of inquiry.
- Expand the research base of nursing theory and practice.
- Serve the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world by addressing major nursing and health care issues in a scholarly manner.
The PhD program consists of courses, research and teaching activities, and required experiential elements (comprehensive exam, grant submission, dissertation proposal defense, dissertation and its defense). We support our PhD students in obtaining the skills needed for teaching in a future faculty role. Many students gain teaching experience within a funded Graduate Teaching Assistantship. Students are encouraged to work with their advisors to identify other teaching resources within the University as well.
The evolution and current state of nursing knowledge are examined from both historical and philosophical perspectives and serve as the basis for the establishment of critical inquiry and study in addressing the increasingly complex health care needs of vulnerable populations.
The research component of the program includes courses in research design and methodology, statistics, individually designed research practicums, and the dissertation. The dissertation is a culminating experience which requires the student to plan and implement a research study of significance to nursing.
Students planning on using qualitative research methods should take a second advanced qualitative methods course, and students planning on using quantitative research methods should take an additional advanced quantitative methods course that is specific to the method they plan to use for their dissertation research.
Cognate Minor (9-12 credits)
The cognate requirement includes course work in a single cognate field or combination of fields outside the School of Nursing. The cognate field is intended to complement the student’s major scholarly focus. Cognates must be at the 5000 level or higher and be offered from departments outside of the School of Nursing (not GNUR classes).
Electives (3-6 credits)
Electives are selected by the student on the basis of individual interest. These should complement the total program of study and may be taken both within and outside the School of Nursing. Electives must be at the 5000 level or higher and may include GNUR classes.
NOTE: Students must have a total of 15 credit hours of cognates plus electives. If 12 credit hours of cognates, 3 credit hours of electives are required. If 9 credit hours of cognates, 6 credit hours of electives are required. All cognate and elective credits must be graded on an A through F scale.
All students are required to write a comprehensive exam. The comprehensive examination may occur within the last semester of course work, but must be held no later than: (1) if coursework is completed in the spring or summer, comprehensive exams must be completed by the end of the following fall semester; (2) if coursework is completed in the fall semester, comprehensive exam must be completed before the start of the following fall semester. Students may apply to the Director of the PhD Program for an extension of one semester maximum. Failure to complete the examination within the allotted timeframe constitutes a failure to make satisfactory progression and can be grounds for involuntary withdrawal from the program. Students can apply to take comprehensive exams after completion of course work requirements as represented in the Plan of Study, and comprehensive exams must be completed prior to the defense of the dissertation proposal. The purpose of the examination is to demonstrate the student’s ability to synthesize knowledge in the student’s area of expertise, to visualize the long-term development of a program of research in that area, and to place the planned dissertation research in the context of that program of research and the area of knowledge (more details in the School of Nursing PhD Handbook).
Once the Comprehensive exam is completed, students must enroll in GNUR 9890, Dissertation Seminar, every semester until graduation unless exempted by dissertation advisor.
Dissertation (12 credits of GNUR 9999)
The dissertation is a culminating experience which requires the student to plan and implement a research study of significance to nursing.
Application for Degrees
PhD degrees are granted in December, May, and August. The student must be registered for the fall semester to receive the degree in December, for the spring semester to receive the degree in May, and for summer session to receive the degree in August. The student must apply to graduate via the Student Information System (SIS).
A graduate student may not voluntarily withdraw from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences later than one week immediately preceding the beginning of course examinations. An official application to withdraw must be obtained from the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and must be approved in writing by the dean, with a statement of the reason for the withdrawal. The student must report to the Office of the Dean of Students for an exit interview. All student identification cards are to be deposited with the Office of the Dean of Students at the time of withdrawal. The official withdrawal form is forwarded to the University Registrar, who notifies all other administrative offices of the withdrawal action.
A student who withdraws from the University for reasons of ill health must notify the Department of Student Health, and subsequent medical clearance from Student Health is among the requirements for readmission. Failure to comply with the above regulations subjects the student to suspension from the University by the vice president for student affairs.
Readmission After Voluntary Withdrawal
Readmission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is not automatic; after an absence of a semester or longer, a former student must apply for readmission to the Graduate School. To apply for readmission to the University, the student must submit an application per the requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The student may be required to withdraw from the University if the advisor, the dissertation chair, the responsible department members, and the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences determine that the student is making unsatisfactory progress toward a degree.