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Curriculum Overview

Areas of Study

PhD students may pursue an individualized plan of study or a concentration in Health Policy. Students wishing to have a PhD in Nursing with a concentration in Health Policy must be formally accepted into the concentration at the time of admission to the PhD program or subsequent to admission to the PhD program through submission of required materials by the deadline. All students take the same 24 credits of core courses and prescribed research methods courses. The substantive area coursework will vary, depending on the student's plan of study (individualized vs. Health Policy). The student's advisor and Committee on Studies will guide the student in selecting coursework that will help meet personal, professional, and scholarship needs.

Curriculum Plan

The PhD curriculum consists of a core of PhD courses on philosophy of science, theory, statistics, health policy, and research design. Students additionally choose from a selection of research methods courses, substantive area courses, and electives. Students admitted under the BSN entry option complete 18 prerequisite credits before starting the PhD coursework. Post-baccalaureate students should consult the PhD Program Director for requirements that are in addition to those listed in this section.

NOTE: Students admitted under the BSN entry option should consult the PhD Program Director for any requirements in addition to those listed in this section.

Required Core Courses - 24 credits

NURS 600*           Philosophical Foundations of Nursing Science
NURS 601*           Theory I: Methods and Processes of Nursing Knowledge Development
NURS 602            Theory II: Synthesis of Knowledge for Nursing Inquiry 
NURS 606*           Quantitative Methods in Health Research
NURS 607*           Qualitative Methods in Nursing Research
NURS 620*           Health Care Statistics I
NURS 621            Health Care Statistics II
NURS 640*           Health Policy, Politics, and Evidence
NURS 690            PhD Seminar (1-3 credits)

*Courses required to sit for the progression exam at the end of Year 1.

Health Policy Courses - 10 credits (required for Health Policy students; may serve as electives for students pursuing an individualized plan of study)

NURS 641           Health Disparities and Policy
NURS 642           Applied Health Economics
NURS 648           Introduction to Health Policy Field Placement
NURS 649           Health Policy Field Placement

Methods Courses - 6 credits
All students are required to select at least two of the following methods courses (612 Health Outcomes Research or N623 Advanced Qualitative Methods) PLUS one additional course:

NURS 612            Health Outcomes Research
NURS 613            Mixed Methods Research
NURS 616            Secondary Data in Health Research
NURS 623            Advanced Qualitative Methods

Electives – 12 credits

  • Students following an individualized plan of study will take at least seven elective courses (21 credits) in the student’s area of interest approved in advance by the student’s Dissertation Committee Chair.
  • Health Policy students take three elective courses (9 credits) related to health policy, approved in advance by the student's Dissertation Committee Chair.
  • For all students, subject to the approval of the Committee on Studies, up to 6 credits of electives may be taken as independent study as part of the program of studies; however, no more than 3 credits of independent study in Nursing may be applied to the degree requirements.

Note: Students are strongly advised against replacing a methods course with an independent study, such substitutions will be considered only in special circumstances.

NURS 605           Symptom Management Science
NURS 608           Environments of Human Health and Nursing
NURS 609           Family Health: Concepts, Issues, and Outcomes
NURS 611           Rural and Cultural Health
NURS 615           Critical Ethnography and CBPR in Health Care Research
NURS 641           Health Disparities and Policy
NURS 693           American Indian/Alaska Native Health Research
NURS 694           Research Practicum
NURS 715           Genetics and Genomics for Advanced Practice Nursing
NURS 727           Health Care Innovation and informatics

Dissertation – 18 credits
Students must:

  • Complete 18 credits of NURS 699 Dissertation (3-9 credits). Once enrollment in NURS 699 begins (may be counted no earlier than the semester in which the student passes the PhD comprehensive exam), the student must enroll in at least 6 credits of NURS 699 each semester until completion of the PhD degree.
  • Students may include the NURS 699 credits in their Application for Candidacy during the semester in which they pass the PhD comprehensive examination and subsequent semesters.
  • During completion of the dissertation, it is possible that students will have enrolled in more than 18 credits of NURS 699; however, no more than 18 credits of NURS 699 will be counted in the Application for Candidacy for degree requirements. NOTE: During the semester of the comprehensive examination, a student may enroll in 3 credits of NURS 699.


Credit Breakdown

Total Credits

Individualized Plan of Study

51 credits of coursework + 18 credits of dissertation

69 Credits

Health Policy Concentration

52 credits of coursework + 18 credits of dissertation

70 Credits

BSN Entry Option (Includes 18 credits of bridge coursework)

69 credits of coursework + 18 credits of dissertation

87 Credits

Graduates of the PhD program will demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Conduct independent research pertaining to the generation and synthesis of new knowledge and theory that contributes to the health of individuals and communities.
  • Conduct independent formal inquiry pertaining to health care, reflective caring practice, critical synthesis of existing knowledge, and the generation of new knowledge and theory.
  • Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence, and integrating creative and critical thinking.
  • Cultivate research expertise relative to a particular population, setting, or human response to health or illness.
  • Evaluate and critique social policy relevant to the organization and delivery of health care.