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Doctor of Philosophy Curriculum and Program Design

Review the curriculum and program design for KU School of Nursing's Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree.

The KU School of Nursing has three entry options to the Ph.D. in Nursing program. You can apply to the research doctoral program after completing a BSN, M.S. or DNP degree.

Three Entry Options

M.S.-to-Ph.D. degree requires 67 credit hours: 52 credits of coursework and 15 credits of dissertation.

BSN-to-Ph.D. students complete six additional credits from the graduate nursing core: NRSG 748 Theories for Practice and Research and NRSG 754 Healthcare Research.

  • The post-BSN entry option is for exceptionally well-qualified BSN graduates who wish to progress as rapidly as possible toward the doctoral degree in nursing.

DNP-Ph.D. students complete a special curriculum of 42 credit hours: 27 credits of coursework and 15 credits of dissertation.

  • The DNP-to-Ph.D. option is an accelerated pathway that prepares the graduate to conduct independent research for nursing science.

Format Combinations

  • Three on-campus one-week summer intensives at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Online coursework throughout the academic year, including synchronous web-based conferencing on a regular basis.
  • On-campus and e-mentoring by faculty for research and career advisement and scholar development.

Each student has a primary faculty mentor. The KU School of Nursing faculty mentors teach in the doctoral program and are approved for dissertation chair privileges.

The Ph.D. in Nursing program is heavily focused on research skill-building through didactic coursework, seminar learning and application experiences.

The oral comprehensive exam will be conducted at the time of the dissertation proposal defense. Students are required to demonstrate competency in research skills and responsible scholarship.

On-campus Residencies

The first summer intensive provides all students with an orientation to doctoral education, allows a match with an academic and research mentor and offers a structured opportunity to network with fellow students and doctoral faculty.

During the subsequent summer residencies at the end of year two and year three, students will be immersed in coursework and synthesis workshops with faculty advisors/mentors and fellow students.

Each of these workshops will end with a qualifying exam that will evaluate each student's depth of knowledge and skill development. Students must pass this qualifying exam in order to progress to the next level of study.

Sample Program Plans

Program Objectives
  • Integrate science-based theories with clinical expertise and organizational management to provide leadership in health care systems and in development of health care policy.
  • Apply research utilization skills in various health care delivery systems.
  • Synthesize, interpret, and apply knowledge from nursing practice, research, and theory to promote and sustain evidence-based advanced nursing practice.
  • Demonstrate professional values in advanced nursing practice roles.
  • Communicate and collaborate with colleagues in nursing and other disciplines to meet the health needs of client systems in varied health care delivery systems.
  • Use information and technology in the development and implementation of programs to evaluate outcomes of care, care systems, and quality improvement.


KU School of Nursing

KU School of Nursing
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mail Stop 2029
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-1619 | TTY 711