Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Course Work

Completion of fourteen core courses/seminars and four cognates in the student’s area of specialization (including one advanced analysis course) is required. Successful completion of the dissertation seminar (NURS 906 and NURS 907) every term is also required. The required core courses are:

Research Methods I: Quantitative Methods for Health Research
Research Methods II: Qualitative Methods for Health Research
Research Methods III: Measurement of Health Variables
Research Methods IV: Mixed Methods
Research Methods V: Intervention Development
Science, Scholarship, and Communication of Knowledge I
Science, Scholarship, and Communication of Knowledge II
Science, Scholarship, and Communication of Knowledge III
Science, Scholarship, and Communication of Knowledge IV
Foundations of Scientific Inquiry I: Philosophical and Theoretical Basis for Nursing Science
Foundations of Scientific Inquiry II: Theories of Health, Symptom Management, and Self-Management
Advanced Statistics for Clinical Nursing Research
Ethical Conduct of Clinical Research
Health Policy, Leadership, and Systems

The grading system includes Honors, High Pass, Pass, and Fail. Students must maintain a High Pass average and achieve a grade of Honors in at least two core courses to remain in good standing. High Pass is required in all core courses in the first year for a student to be eligible to take the Preliminary Examination. After the first year, no more than one grade of Pass in a core course will be permitted. A grade of Pass or better is required for all cognates, including the required advanced analysis course.

In addition to all other requirements, students must successfully complete NURS 929, Ethical Conduct of Clinical Research, prior to the end of their first year of study. This requirement must be met prior to registering for a second year of study.

Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Fellow Experience

During the first two years of the program, students are Graduate Research Assistants with faculty mentors and participate in the mentor’s ongoing research.

Teaching experience is also considered to be an integral part of graduate education. Therefore, two terms as a Teaching Fellow are required. Teaching Fellows assist with the teaching of larger master’s-level courses, typically during their third year of doctoral study.


Successful completion of three examinations is required.

  1. The Preliminary Examination is taken in June after the first year of course work has been completed. A grade of High Pass or better in each core course is required. The Preliminary Examination is intended to allow the student to demonstrate mastery of doctoral course work. Passing the Preliminary Examination is a prerequisite for continuing in the second year of doctoral study.
  2. The Qualifying Examination typically takes place at the end of the second year of study, when required course work is completed. If the Qualifying Examination is not completed by the end of the sixth term, the student will be placed on Academic Probation. If not completed by the end of the seventh term, the student will be dismissed from the program. The student prepares a comprehensive dissertation proposal containing a statement of the problem to be studied, conceptual framework, critical review of relevant literature, design, methods, and plan for analysis. The oral Qualifying Examination typically lasts 1 to 1.5 hours. The student gives a 15-minute formal presentation of the proposed study and answers questions regarding the research and related topics. Successful completion of the Qualifying Examination is required for candidacy for the doctoral degree.
  3. The Final Oral Examination is based on the dissertation. The dissertation is intended to demonstrate that the student is competent in the chosen area of study and has conducted independent research. The Final Oral Examination typically lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. The student gives a 15- to 20-minute formal presentation of the dissertation and answers questions. Successful completion of the Final Oral Examination is required before the Ph.D. can be awarded.