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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
in Nursing Science Program

Introduction to UD's PhD in Nursing Science Program

Apply for full time or part time study in the PhD in Nursing Science Program

Application Deadline

The PhD in Nursing Science program prepares researchers and academic faculty for positions in college, university, and health care settings. Graduates are prepared to advance the art and science of nursing and to assume leadership positions in the profession.

They will take responsibility for shaping and advancing healthcare, with a goal of improving individual, family and population health through the integration of theory, research, and evidence-based practice. The PhD in Nursing Science program emphasizes specific areas of study in which nursing makes a significant contribution towards health.

These areas are defined by the research expertise of faculty in the context of interdisciplinary resources available at the University of Delaware and Delaware Health Sciences Alliance campuses and the local, national and international communities.

Graduates are prepared to collaborate with other scientists and health professionals to contribute to the development of knowledge. The breadth of focus of the PhD in Nursing Science curriculum ranges from nursing research in the bio-behavioral sciences to health services.

PhD Program

Requirements for Admission

PhD in Nursing Science admission requirements originate at two levels: the University and the School of Nursing. The University-level requirements may be found in the Graduate Admissions section. Admission decisions will be made by the PhD Program Committee of the School of Nursing (SON). Students will be admitted to the program based on enrollment availability, identification of an appropriate and available faculty advisor and their ability to meet the following minimum recommended entrance requirements.

  • A baccalaureate in nursing degree from an accredited college/university (minimum GPA 3.0)
    • A master’s degree in nursing or other health related discipline, e.g. health care administration, from an accredited college/university (minimum GPA 3.5)
    • A GRE score of 1050 (300) on math and verbal sections combined; GRE scores must be earned within the last 5 years.
    • Official results from the TOEFL or IELTS exam taken within the last 2 years (for non-native English speaking applicants only); it is required that all students in the program be proficient in both the verbal and written English language.
    • A written statement of goals and objectives (Application Personal Statement) that clearly identifies the applicant’s research and curriculum interests and describes how admission to the program will facilitate his/her professional objectives.
      • The Personal Statement should indicate how the applicant’s research interest, topic and/or proposed research question is consistent with the research expertise of a SON faculty member.
      • See College of Health Sciences Research Programs & Faculty, SON faculty profiles online and the SON Research web page clicking on each of the research foci to identify potential research mentors.
      • Applicants are encouraged to contact SON faculty and discuss research interests before submitting an application.
      • Answers to the required questions on the application Personal Statement will serve as the critical writing sample and demonstration of competence in written communication and ability to critique and synthesize the literature on a specific topic related to the applicant’s research interest, topic and/or proposed research question.
    • Three letters of recommendation from an academic, employer and/or other professional sources who can address the scholarship potential of the applicant.
      • Reference persons identified by applicant will be notified electronically to submit a letter and complete a Graduate Recommendation Form AFTER the application has been submitted; therefore, allow ample time before the application deadline for reference persons to submit their letters/complete form.
      • Letter of recommendation should include explicit examples of applicant's abilities that substantiate the ratings on the Graduate Recommendation Form.
      • Letters of recommendation and Graduate Recommendation Form ratings must be received by the application deadline.
    • Active Registered Nurse (RN) license
    • A curriculum vitae or resume
    • A minimum of 3 credits undergraduate level statistics. A minimum of 3 credits graduate level statistics earned within the last five years

Financial Aid

Financial assistance for students in the PhD in Nursing Science program is obtained from a variety of external sources and will vary in form and availability. Assistantships on funded studies will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who best fit the needs of the granting agencies and sponsoring faculty. Students enrolled in full-time study may receive full stipend and tuition waivers and be expected to work 20 hours per week on faculty projects. A funded assistantship is available to part-time students during the university-required year of full-time residency. Partial tuition scholarships are available to students enrolled in part-time study. Please refer to Graduate Student Appointments for more information.

Requirements for the Degree

The PhD in Nursing Science program requires 41 credit hours of coursework plus 9 credit hours of dissertation. Students are required to work with their advisor to develop a plan of study. The initial plan must first be approved by the academic advisor and then the PhD in Nursing Science Program Committee by the end of the first semester of study in the program.

In addition to coursework, degree completion requires successful completion of a written comprehensive examination, successful defense of the dissertation proposal and successful defense of the dissertation.

Please refer to the Graduate Program Policy Manual for more specific details about these processes and selection of examination and dissertation committees. Students are expected to complete the program in seven years.

Outstanding Graduate Program Features

  • Competitive graduate assistantships including stipend, tuition waiver & health care benefits available for students during full-time enrollment.
  • Area of study defined by applicant’s fit with research expertise of Nursing and Interdisciplinary faculty
  • Interdisciplinary resources at UD and Delaware Health Science Alliance campuses of Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Christiana Care Health Systems, and Thomas Jefferson University
  • Breadth of curriculum ranging from nursing research in bio-behavioral & clinical sciences to health services
  • School of Nursing areas of research emphasis:
    • Health promotion & risk reduction across the life span
    • Health systems management, policy & education
    • Management of chronic conditions
  • First PhD in Nursing Science Program in the State of Delaware
  • Individualized attention in small cohort of students
  • Immersion in the research process through assistantships on funded studies
  • Higher education in nursing course content paired with teaching assistantships
  • Full time study allows completion of coursework, comprehensive exam and dissertation in three to four years.
Michelle Kennedy


Coursework will be specified in the student’s plan of study and must include the following:

Core Courses (13 credits):
NURS 810: Philosophical and Theoretical Basis of Nursing Science (3)
NURS 833: Nurse Scientist Special Topics Seminar I (1)
NURS 834: Nurse Scientist Special Topics Seminar II (1)
NURS 835: Nurse Scientist Special Topics Seminar III (1)
NURS 841: Philosophical and Theoretical Basis of Nursing Education (3)
NURS 842: Nursing Higher Education: Structure, Processes, & Outcomes (3)
NURS 850: Dissertation Proposal Seminar (1)

Research/Methods/Analysis Courses (16 credits):
NURS 812: Responsible Conduct of Research (1)
NURS 814: Advanced Quantitative Research in Nursing Science (3)
NURS 816: Advanced Qualitative Research in Nursing Science (3)
Research Methodology Course (3): Course offered by other departments and is relevant to student’s research focus, determined with academic advisor and with approval of course faculty.

Cognates (12 credits):
Electives taken to build substantive knowledge in area of dissertation topic. (12)
Electives are intended to enhance and broaden the student’s scholarly involvement, build an inter-professional team of advisors, and contribute to successful completion of the dissertation, determined with academic advisor and with approval of course faculty.

Pre-Candidacy Study NURS 964: (3-12credits P/F)
Research and readings in preparation of dissertation topic and/or comprehensive
examination for doctoral students before admission to candidacy but after completion
of all required course work

Dissertation (9 credits):
NURS 969: Doctoral Dissertation (9)
NURS 999: Dissertation Sustaining (if needed)

For additional information contact

Mrs. Joanne Marra
Graduate Program Assistant
(302) 831-8386

  • College of Health Sciences  •   School of Nursing  •   25 North College  •   Newark, DE 19716
    Phone: 302-831-1253   •   Fax: 302-831-2382  •  ud-nursing@udel.edu   •  © 2014
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