Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree


Completion of fifteen core courses 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 in the fall and NURS 907 in the spring) until the final dissertation defense is also required. The required core courses are:

Quantitative Methods for Health Research
Qualitative Methods for Health Research
Measurement of Biobehavioral Phenomena
Mixed Methods Research
Intervention Development and Introduction to Implementation Science
Synthesis of Knowledge and Skills for Nursing Science
Knowledge Development for Nursing Science
Chronic Conditions: Risk Factors, Prevention, and Management of Adverse Outcomes
Nurse Scientist and Grant Writing
Responsible Conduct of Research
Achieving Population Health Equity
Biostatistics in Public Health II
Population and Public Health Informatics
Biostatistics in Public Health
Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology
Multivariate Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences

Cognates are designed to support the student’s dissertation research, including, but not limited to, content, methodology, and/or analysis. Cognates can be chosen from a variety of disciplines such as public health, psychology, physiology, family and human relations, and sociology. Cognates may also include independent study with Ph.D. program faculty.

The grading system includes Honors, High Pass, Pass, and Fail. Students must maintain a High Pass average in each term throughout the program. Students must achieve a grade of Honors in at least two core courses by the end of the fourth term to remain in good standing. 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, Responsible Conduct of 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.

The Yale School of Nursing does not offer the option of a combined degree.

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 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 teaching, typically in the master's program and 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 coursework has been completed. The Preliminary Examination is intended to allow the student to demonstrate mastery of doctoral coursework. 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 coursework 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 or theoretical framework, critical review of relevant literature, design, methods, and plan for analysis. The oral Qualifying Examination typically lasts one to one-and-a-half hours. The student gives a fifteen-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 one-and-half to two hours. The student gives a fifteen- to twenty-minute formal presentation of the dissertation and answers questions. Successful completion and approval by committee and GSAS of the Final Oral Examination is required before the Ph.D. can be awarded.