Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Nursing Science, Ph.D.

Department: Dean’s Office


The Ph.D. prepares scholars to

  • Enact the evolving roles and responsibilities of a nurse scientist;
  • Use innovative research approaches to advance nursing science;
  • Contribute to team science and interdisciplinary collaborations;
  • Conduct original research that informs practice and health policy;
  • Contribute to a global, inter-professional or interdisciplinary community of scholars;
  • Provide leadership to community, professional, and scientific organizations; and
  • Disseminate research findings to professional audiences and identify implications for policy, nursing practice and the profession.


Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements, as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • B.S. or M.S. in Nursing from an accredited program
  • Clinical doctorate from an accredited program (for post-clinical doctorate program)
  • Clear potential for research contributions
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Demonstrated commitment to doctoral study and scholarly productivity
  • Evidence of potential for leadership in nursing profession
  • Licensure as a registered nurse if performing clinical work
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Written Statement of professional goals including research focus
  • Applicants to the Ph.D. program are required to complete both a NursingCAS application and a USF Graduate Studies Application.

*Applicants with degrees in other fields may also be considered

Curriculum Requirements

For students entering with a baccalaureate degree, the majority of work can be completed in four to five years by full-time students. For students entering with a master’s degree, the majority of work can be completed in three to four years by full-time students. Students entering with a clinical doctoral degree can complete the majority of work in two to three years by full-time students. Specific requirements are determined on an individual basis by the student’s supervisory committee.  NOTE:  Students are to meet with curriculum advisor for individual program planning.

Total Minimum Program Hours:    

80 credit hours (post-bachelor’s)
52 credit hours (post-clinical doctorate)
Post-Bachelor’s Requirements:
  • Core – 40 Credit hours
  • Content area and additional coursework – 25 credit hours
  • Advanced Directed Research – 3 credit hours
  • Dissertation – 12 credit hours
Students may also need to take nine (9) credit hours of cognate, as determined by the transcript evaluation.


Content Area and Additional Coursework (25 credit hours)

For students entering with a baccalaureate degree, a minimum of 25 hours of graduate coursework is required in addition to the core Ph.D. requirements. The additional coursework must be a 6000 or 7000 level course and approved by the student’s supervising committee. These 25 hours should provide students with the foundational knowledge to conduct their proposed research. 

Advanced Directed Research (3 Credit Hours Minimum)

Specialized individual participation in research activity, including but not limited to pilot studies and other investigative activities.

Cognate (9 Credit Hours) (Post-Master’s Only)

Students select a cognate area to further support the student’s area of expertise in nursing and the research problem that will be addressed by the dissertation research. Examples of appropriate areas of study for the cognate might be health policy, physiology, cognitive psychology, organizational psychology, gerontology, epidemiology, biostatistics, informatics, entrepreneurship, applied anthropology or measurement.

Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying examination is to be taken as soon as all coursework is completed.   The purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess the student’s level of scholarship and research skills and to determine if the student possesses the critical and analytical skills necessary to undertake the dissertation research. The qualifying examination consists of a written exam covering core and specialty content related to the student’s dissertation proposal.

Dissertation (12 Credit Hours)

Students must complete 12 dissertation hours minimum. In the last semester of dissertation hours, the student is required to successfully defend their dissertation research.