The PhD program prepares graduates to function in faculty positions in college and university settings; conduct independent research and scholarly endeavors in nursing; generate and expand the theoretical, empirical, and philosophical bases for nursing practice; provide leadership to the profession; and interpret nursing to society. Students have opportunities to expand their theoretical knowledge and research skills in a minor area; develop expertise in nursing theory development; expand research skills; and gain a historical and philosophical perspective that broadens their professional orientation and provides a basis for understanding changing social expectations, cultural perspectives, and economic and political trends.

Nurses engaged in doctoral study are adult learners with unique perspectives gained from personal, professional, and educational experiences. These individuals tend to be self-directed, goal-oriented, highly motivated and capable of abstract, original thinking. Individual interests are explored through study in a related discipline, i.e., minor area of study. Learning is achieved through independent study and research, as well as instructed courses.

The KU School of Nursing's baccalaureate, master's, and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 887-6791. This organization is a nationally recognized professional accrediting body for collegiate nursing programs. The baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP programs also are approved by the Kansas State Board of Nursing. The Nurse Midwifery Program is accredited by the Accreditation Division of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, 818 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 728-9860.

PhD Admission

Admission Criteria

New students are accepted to the PhD degree program once a year, for instruction that begins in June during the summer semester. The application deadline is December 1st for the following summer. Prospective students can apply using the KU Medical Center online application at

  1. Completion of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science (MS) in nursing degree from a nationally accredited program is required. Prerequisite preparation must include the following courses:
    • Basic Graduate Statistics - 3 credit hours
    • Analysis of Variance - 3 credit hours
  2. Preference is given to students with a Master's Degree GPA of 3.25 for the master’s degree in nursing.
  3. Expected Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are 1,000 on the verbal and quantitative sections and at least five on the analytical writing section (or a score of 1,500 on the three-part GRE taken before October 2002).
  4. Potential for leadership and scholarship in nursing should be demonstrated.
  5. A background check is required during the admission process; it may affect the student's eligibility to enter the program.
  6. For international applicants, a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language or the International English Language Testing System taken within the last two years is required. See KUMC Graduate Studies for information.

Applicants who do not meet the admission criteria for regular admission status may be considered on an individual basis for provisional admission status as either degree-seeking or nondegree-seeking students.

See also Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

PhD Requirements

Program Options

Students may apply to the doctoral program after completing the master’s degree in nursing or the baccalaureate degree with a major in nursing. The post-baccalaureate entry option is for exceptionally well-qualified BSN graduates whose career goals are research-oriented and who wish to progress as rapidly as possible toward the research doctorate in nursing.

Course Requirements

The PhD program is offered in a combination of ways, including: three on-campus, one-week summer intensives, online coursework throughout the year, and e-mentoring by faculty for research and career advisement.

The nursing portion of the doctoral program has 3 major components:

  • Theory
  • Empirics
  • Leadership

A total of 50 coursework credit hours and 15 dissertation credit hours are required, for a total of 65 credit hours.

Theory (6)
NRSG 940Knowledge and Theory Development in Nursing Science3
NRSG 942Theory Application in Nursing Science3
Empirics (14)
NRSG 943Methods for Quantitative Research3
NRSG 944Quantitative Research Application2
NRSG 946Measurement Principles and Practice3
NRSG 947Qualitative Research Application3
NRSG 802Methods for Qualitative Research3
Leadership (13)
NRSG 935Professionalism and Scholarship Workshop1
NRSG 938Informatics and Technology Applications2
NRSG 941Preparing for Doctoral Leadership3
NRSG 945Synthesis Workshop I1
NRSG 948Advancing Organizational and Clinical Quality2
NRSG 949Synthesis Workshop II1
NRSG 877Foundations in Education and Learning3


The Minor includes 11 coursework credit hours in the student’s area of choice. Minor courses must support the student’s research interest area; e.g., American studies, anatomy, anthropology, biochemistry, business, child development, communication, economics, education, history, pathology, pharmacology, philosophy, physiology, political science, psychology, sociology, or any other graduate area offered by KU. One of the 11 Minor credit hours is taken through enrollment in NRSG 970, Minor Synthesis. NRSG 970 is taken after completion of  other minor coursework and entails completion of a scholarly paper synthesizing content taken throughout the minor course sequence.

Support Courses

This area requires these courses:

Statistics (6)
Regression Analysis3
Multivariate Analysis3


Each PhD student must complete a study that shows the planning, conduct, and results of original research. See Doctoral Degree Requirements, Dissertation, in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog. The minimum number of post-comprehensive dissertation credit hours is 15.

The program also requires satisfactory completion of the university's research skills and responsible scholarship requirement, and two qualifying examinations: comprehensive oral (dissertation proposal defense) and final oral (dissertation defense).