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; and
- serve the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world by addressing major nursing and health care issues in a scholarly manner.
- Minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited program.
- Academic record that demonstrates a minimum of a B average.
- Capacity for doctoral study based upon achievement on the GRE.
- Three satisfactory letters of reference—two from doctorally prepared nurse educators and one from a current or recent employer—that speak to the applicant’s ability to pursue doctoral studies.
- Current curriculum vitae that reflects professional achievements and productivity.
- Clearly written essay of no more than 1000 words describing educational, research, and professional goals. This statement must include a specific description of the applicant’s focus of study and a researchable topic for development.
- One or two examples of scholarly work (master’s thesis, publications, formal papers).
- Current license to practice nursing.
- A personal interview with one or more faculty members.
Admission Procedure Application forms may be obtained at http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/grad/admission from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS). The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences prefers to receive the application online and all supporting materials in one separate package. The applicant must:
- submit official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work. If an institution will not release an official transcript directly to the applicant, the student may request that the transcript be forwarded to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences;
- obtain three letters of recommendation;
- arrange to take the Graduate Record Examination. Applicants are encouraged to take these examinations as soon as possible and to send test results to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Address inquiries to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08540 or to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 1502, Berkeley, CA 94701, or at www.gre.org.
The completed application with fee and all supporting data must be forwarded no later than February 1 for September enrollment. International applicants are encouraged to submit the admissions packet before January 1.
Special Student Status When unusual and/or extenuating circumstances prevent an applicant from completing the admission process prior to the established deadline, special permission may be given for the individual to enroll in a maximum of nine credits of course work as a special student. Special Students may take one course per semester with permission of instructor. Completion of course work as a special student does not guarantee admission to the program. Special Student applications may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Services in the School of Nursing. Special students who fail a course will not be permitted to take additional coursework in the School of Nursing
To earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree the student must:
- successfully complete the prescribed program of study, including cognates, electives, and a research grant application;
- fulfill the minimum residence requirement of two consecutive semesters of full-time residential study during the academic year beyond the requirements for the master’s degree. Full-time graduate work consists of a minimum of nine credits of on-Grounds course work per semester;
- successfully complete a written comprehensive examination;
- successfully complete all dissertation requirements including (a) writing and defending a dissertation proposal, (b) conducting an appropriate research study, (c) submitting an acceptable written report of the research, and (d) passing an oral final examination on the conduct and conclusion of the dissertation;
- complete all additional requirements as specified by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the doctoral committee, and the advisor.
Students who enter the doctoral program without a master’s degree in nursing are expected to complete all requirements for Master of Nursing degree in Nursing or a related area as part of the requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.
Grades The standing of a graduate student in each course is indicated by one of the following symbols: A+ (exceptionally distinguished), A (very distinguished), A- (distinguished), B+ (very good), B (satisfactory), B- (acceptable), C (unsatisfactory), F (failure). In general, letter grades are assigned in all required doctoral courses. In courses where letter grades are not possible, CR (credit) or NC (no credit) may be used with permission from the director of graduate studies to designate student progress. The symbols S (satisfactory) and U (unsatisfactory) are used to report progress on dissertations or special projects. Minimum grades of B-, CR, or S, are required in all courses offered for any graduate degree. If a student receives a C grade in any School of Nursing course, the course must be repeated. A grade of C in any other course requires repeating the course and earning a satisfactory grade or earning a minimum grade of B- in an alternate course. Students who receive more than one C grade are automatically dropped from the program. Any F grade results in the student being dropped from the program. A grade of IN (incomplete) is a non-grade designation given for a course. The IN designation is recorded as an F if it is not removed by the end of the subsequent semester (including summer session) or by the time negotiated with the professor.
Minimal Credit Requirements for Registration and Fees For the Doctor of Philosophy degree, a student must complete a minimum of 46 credits of graduate course work beyond requirements for the master’s degree, plus 12 or more credits of dissertation research.
After completing course work, a student may pay the research fee (rather than the higher tuition rate) for the semester in which the student defends either the dissertation proposal or the completed dissertation. A student using university resources while working on the dissertation is also expected to pay the research fee. A student working on the dissertation away from the university, without the use of university resources, may register for the non-resident fee. Registration as a non-resident student is permitted only when the student is using no university resources, including faculty time. A student living in Charlottesville or Albemarle County must obtain special permission from the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to register as a non-resident student. A student must be registered at the regular tuition rate, the research rate, or the non-resident rate for the semester in which the degree is granted.
Full-Time Course Load A typical full-time course load consists of 12 credits of course work (including GNUR 997). Each student’s plan of study is determined in collaboration with his or her faculty advisor. GNUR 997 (Non-Topical Research-Preparation for Doctoral Research) must be taken concurrently with other course work until the time a dissertation chair is selected. Credits from GNUR 997 are not counted in the total program hours of credit.
Residency Requirements Students must be in full-time residential study for two consecutive semesters during the academic year beyond completion of the master’s-level course of study.
Length of Time in Program Students must be enrolled and pay full tuition and fees for at least four semesters or the equivalent. All requirements for the degree must be completed within seven years of the time of admission to the program.
Transfer of Credit Transcripts of students who have completed a master’s degree in nursing or other graduate work are evaluated, and credit may be transferred if assessed as equivalent to courses offered at the University of Virginia.
Acceptance of specific cognate and elective courses is determined by the student’s faculty advisor. Acceptance of research and statistics courses is determined by the instructor(s) who teach the course(s) in collaboration with the faculty advisor. The process of obtaining transfer credit must be initiated by the student before the end of the first year of study.
Academic and Dissertation Advising Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor. The advisor works with the student during the initial stages of program development, guiding and monitoring the student’s program of study. The student and advisor have joint responsibility for ensuring that each step in fulfilling degree requirements is completed and that an official record is kept.
At any point in doctoral study, the student may identify a faculty member other than the assigned academic advisor whose research program is more closely attuned to the student’s evolving research interests. It is entirely acceptable and appropriate for the student to request a change in academic advisor in such situations. The procedure to do so is described in the Doctoral Student Handbook. The change of academic advisor is approved by the director of the doctoral program.
A dissertation chair must be selected once an area of study has been identified. With the help of the dissertation chair, the student selects members of the dissertation committee. Dissertation committee members may or may not have been members of the student’s comprehensive examination committee. The committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members of the University of Virginia appointed to the rank of assistant professor or higher. The chair is included as one of the four members. One member must be from outside the School of Nursing and serves as a representative of the graduate committee. Three members must be faculty in the School of Nursing. A fifth member from another educational institution may be added with the approval of the dissertation chair. The purpose of the committee is to guide the student’s dissertation research and plan of study. Changes in the dissertation chair must be approved by both the doctoral program director in the School of Nursing and the student. Changes in committee membership must be approved by both the dissertation chair and the student. The dissertation chair may or may not have been the student’s faculty advisor. Selection of a chair is dependent upon mutual agreement of the student and faculty member guiding the dissertation research. Dissertation chairs must be faculty members in the School of Nursing. The chair assumes primary responsibility for assisting the student in developing a continued plan of study, monitoring the student’s progress, and guiding the student throughout the dissertation process.
Approval of Program of Study Certification that the student has completed all required and recommended course work for the Ph.D. degree is granted by the dissertation chair and committee at the time of the successful defense of the dissertation proposal. To be officially approved, the certification of completion of course work must be signed by the dean of the School of Nursing and the dissertation chair.
Scholarly Accomplishment: Research Grant Application Students are required to develop and submit a research grant application. This may be done at any time prior to candidacy, but earlier is better and should be encouraged. The student prepares the application with the advisor’s help. The advisor participates in the application as he or she deems appropriate in accordance with the requirements of the application and the funding agency.
Academic and Workload Credit for the Research Grant Application Each student is required to register for GNUR 992 and GNUR 993 (Proposal Development Seminar) to develop a research grant application. The courses are directed toward the development of grant applications, with the student product being an application for submission.
Comprehensive Examination: Knowledge Synthesis and Research Program The comprehensive examination may occur within the last semester of course work; but it must be held no later than six months after completion of course work requirements as represented in the plan of study and prior to the defense of the dissertation proposal. The purpose of the examination is to demonstrate the student’s ability to synthesize knowledge in his or her 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. The procedure is detailed in the Doctoral Student Handbook.
Dissertation Proposal Once students have passed the comprehensive examination and completed course work, they are eligible to write and defend the dissertation proposal. Prior to the meeting at which the student defends the dissertation proposal, he or she must have completed all courses required by the program and necessary to conduct the research specified by the dissertation proposal. The dissertation chair and committee members are responsible for certifying that all necessary courses have been completed. The proposal must be defended in the presence of the dissertation committee and formally approved by all committee members. Guidelines for the proposal are available in the Doctoral Student Handbook.
Admission to Candidacy After the research grant application has been developed and submitted, all course work has been completed, the examination has been passed, and the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended, the student is granted candidacy status. Ph.D. candidacy signifies that all doctoral work except the dissertation has been successfully completed and that, if the dissertation research is carried out according to the approved proposal and within the time limit, at the completion of that work the student should be awarded the doctoral degree.
Administrative and Human Rights Approval for Dissertation Research After the dissertation proposal has been approved, the process of gathering the research data may begin. Before beginning data collection (or analysis of pre-existing date), the student must assure the protection of human rights by having the proposal reviewed and approved by the Human Investigation Committee (HIC) of the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center or the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Review Board. The advisor will assist the student in determining which committee is more appropriate. Every proposal must be judged by the HIC or SBS to conform to 45 CFR 46: The Federal Regulations Governing Human Experimentation, or to be exempt from those regulations according to criteria set forth in the regulations. Information and forms for HIC and SBS approval are available at www.med.virignia.edu/medctr/committees/human-investigation/general-information. Prior to submitting a proposal to the HIC, each investigator must complete the self study module available at www.virginia.edu/researchandpublicservice/irbsbs/training.htm; information on the Social and Behavioral Review Board is available at www.virginia.edu.researchandpublicservice/irbsbs. The dissertation chairperson is jointly responsible, with the student, for the accuracy of the information provided on any Human Subject Review form and must co-sign HIC/SBS forms with the student.
Technical Requirements in Writing the Dissertation The School of Nursing requires that dissertations be written according to the format recommended by the chair and be consistent with the nature of the research. The student should be consistent in the use of the particular style manual selected throughout the dissertation research. A copy of these requirements is included in the Doctoral Student Handbook.
After making required revisions, the student prepares a final draft of the dissertation and an abstract. Students must adhere to guidelines for the title page and “Physical Standards for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertation.” Copies may be obtained from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Office of Enrolled Students, 437 Cabell Hall.
There are two options for the final dissertation. Both options must follow GSAS guidelines regarding font, paper type etc. (see Graduate Record). Either option is approved by the Dissertation Chair and committee members at the time of the proposal defense.
- Traditional Dissertation Option includes:
Five chapters (introduction, literature review, methods, results, and discussion)
- Manuscript Dissertation Option:
Final dissertation product includes the dissertation proposal (3 chapters or the 25 page PHS 398 application), author guidelines, and three publishable manuscripts based on the dissertation research (one of the manuscripts must be reporting study findings).
Student must submit journal names and author guidelines to dissertation committee for approval.
Student must be the first author on each manuscript involving others.
Copies of the reprints are acceptable and will be submitted when the article has already been published.
Legally acceptable releases from the copyright owner(s) are submitted where applicable.
Final Dissertation Defense The student must arrange a location, date, and time (approximately two hours) that is satisfactory to all committee members for the oral defense of the dissertation. It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements for the dissertation defense. The final copy of the dissertation must be distributed to committee members within a reasonable amount of time prior to the defense, with a “reasonable amount of time” being defined by those members involved. The oral defense is on the dissertation topic and on relevant contextual considerations raised by the research question and topic. All changes made in the oral defense are resubmitted to the chair of the committee for approval. Following the defense, the student submits the “Dissertation Approval Sheet” to the dean of the School of Nursing for signature. The defense must be completed at least two weeks before the date on which the final copy of the dissertation is submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, committee members’ signatures must be obtained on the Final Examination Form, which is also to be signed by the dean of the School of Nursing and submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Submitting the Dissertation for Inspection and Approval Three copies of the approved dissertation, all of which must be letter quality, must be brought to the Graduate School Office (Room 438, Cabell Hall) for inspection no later than May 1 if the degree is to be conferred in May, August 1 if the degree is to be conferred in August, or December 1 if the degree is to be conferred in January. These copies are placed in Alderman Library, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, and the School of Nursing. For more specific details regarding preparation and submission of the dissertation, please see the requirements under the General Information section of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of this Record. Detailed requirements for doctoral students in nursing are given in the Doctoral Student Handbook.
Application for Degrees Ph.D. degrees are granted in January, May, and August. The student must be registered for the fall semester to receive the degree in January; for the spring semester to receive the degree in May; and for summer session to receive the degree in August. The student must file the degree application
Voluntary Withdrawal 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 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 to the academic dean’s office at least 60 days before the next University scheduled class registration.
Enforced Withdrawal 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.
Leave of Absence The dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may grant leaves of absence to students for either a semester or a session upon written application stating the reason for leaving the University temporarily.