College of Nursing

PhD Program in Nursing Science

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Our PhD Program prepares nurse scientists to educate the next generation of nurses. Students who earn PhDs in nursing science from USF can affect the lives of millions of people by creating the science that impacts patients, families, and communities. The PhD program provides the link between practice and research. Full-time students may be eligible for scholarships and/or graduate assistantship positions

Executive Format: To meet the needs of working professionals, our PhD Program now offers an executive format with intensive on-campus experiences combined with web-based activities; see our PhD Program Calendar for more information. To explore our current research initiatives and meet our team of researchers, click here.

PhD vs DNP Comparison

What is the difference between the PhD in Nursing Science and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?

Click here for the comparison details.

Why Nursing Science?

Discover ways nursing science impacts our lives every day by reading the National Institute of Nursing Research: Advancing Science, Improving Health publication on NINR’s Publications website.

Certification: Beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, PhD students are eligible to sit for the certification exam offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN) Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE) program. Students who have master’s degrees in nursing would be eligible to sit for the certification exam after completing 9 nursing education credit hours. Students who hold bachelor’s degrees would sit for the exam after being awarded their PhDs.


Accreditations
– Visit our Accreditation page to learn more.



  • Admission Requirements

    Prerequisites and More

    The College is committed to recruiting a diverse pool of applicants who are highly motivated to achieve the doctoral program objectives. Admission to the program is based on a number of factors that measure a student's potential for academic success at the doctoral level. 

    Applicants must meet the following requirements in order to apply for the program: 
    • 3.0 GPA 
    • BS in Nursing from a regionally accredited program (for post‐baccalaureate entry)* 
    • MS in Nursing from a regionally accredited program (for post‐masters entry)*
    • Clinical doctorate from a regionally accredited program (for post-doctorate entry)
    • Clear potential for research contributions 
    • Curriculum vitae 
    • Demonstrated commitment to doctoral study and scholarly productivity
    • Evidence of potential for leadership in nursing profession 
    • GRE
    • Licensure as a registered nurse if performing clinical work
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Written Statement of Professional Goals
    • Prerequisite NGR 7848 or equivalent prior to full‐time enrollment  

    *Applicants with degrees in other fields may also be considered.

    Important Notification:

    All admitted nursing students are required to complete a Background Check, Immunization Verification, and Drug Screening. Admitted students will be provided with the steps to complete this process.

    Complete By: First week of class
    Required Immunizations: MMR, Varicella, Hepatitis B, Tdap Booster (Documentation), TB Skin Test, CPR Certification (American Heart Association), Flu Shot

    Note: This requirement is not the same as the USF Student Health Services (USF Health Form) and cannot be submitted as a substitute.

  • Curriculum

    Three Entry Points

    I have a BSN -

    A minimum of 87 hours post-baccalaureate is required. Coursework must be approved by the student’s supervising committee. This coursework should provide students with the foundational knowledge to conduct their proposed research.

    Students will recieve a tailored plan of study developed in collaboration with their supervising committee.

    NOTE: Students are to meet with a faculty advisor for an individual program plan.


    I have a MSN -

    A minimum of 57 hours post-master’s is required. Specific program requirements are determined on an individual basis by the student’s supervisory committee.

    Curriculum

    Knowledge Building Core (33 Credits)
      • NGR 7111 Disciplinary Perspectives of Nursing Science (3)
      • NGR 7125 Model Development for Nursing (3)
      • NGR 7810 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research I (3)
      • NGR 7812 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research II (3)
      • NGR 7813 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research III (3)
      • NGR 7814 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research IV (3)
      • NGR 7932 Responsible Conduct of Research (2)
      • NGR 7930 Scientific Inquiry Forum (1) – required each semester prior to candidacy (4 minimum)
      • NGR 7837 Innovative Programs in Biobehavioral Research (3)
      • NGR 7838 Innovative Programs in Symptom Management Research (3)
      • NGR 7954 Communicating Nursing Science (3)

    Satisfactory completion of the required courses prepares students to successfully complete the dissertation research.

    Advance Directed Research in Nursing (3 Credits)

    These courses offer students the opportunity to participate in a readings or research project under the direction of a credentialed College of Nursing faculty. They are taught as an independent directed research option; therefore, specific objectives and learning activities will be different for each student enrolled. Students learn the components of the research process in prerequisite courses and will utilize this course to carry out specific aspects of the research process in an area of interest.

    Cognate (9 Credits)

    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 organizational administration, health policy, physiology, cognitive psychology, organizational psychology, gerontology, epidemiology, biostatistics, administration, applied anthropology, educational measurement or a nursing specialty.

    Qualifying Examinations:

    The qualifying examination is to be completed after the majority of core and minor 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 two-day written exam covering core and specialty content.

    Dissertation (12 Credits)

    Students must complete and successfully defend a dissertation.


    I have a Clinical Doctorate -

    A minimum of 45 hours post-doctorate is required. Specific program requirements are determined on an individual basis by the student’s supervisory committee.

    Curriculum

    Knowledge Building Core (33 Credits)
    • NGR 7111 Disciplinary Perspectives of Nursing Science (3)
    • NGR 7125 Model Development for Nursing (3)
    • NGR 7810 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research I (3)
    • NGR 7812 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research II (3)
    • NGR 7813 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research III (3)
    • NGR 7814 Design, Measurement and Analysis in Nursing Research IV (3)
    • NGR 7932 Responsible Conduct of Research (2)
    • NGR 7930 Scientific Inquiry Forum (1) – required each semester prior to candidacy (4 minimum)
    • NGR 7837 Innovative Programs in Biobehavioral Research (3)
    • NGR 7838 Innovative Programs in Symptom Management Research (3)
    • NGR 7954 Communicating Nursing Science (3)

    Satisfactory completion of the required courses prepares students to successfully complete the dissertation research.

    Qualifying Examinations:
    The qualifying examination is to be completed after the majority of core 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 two-day written exam covering core and specialty content.

    Dissertation (12 Credits)
    Students must complete and successfully defend a dissertation.

    As approved by Graduate Council Fall 2016, effective Fall 2017. Will be published in 2017-2018 USF Graduate Catalog.

  • Apply

    Application Process

    Applicants who meet the admission requirements should complete the steps below to successfully apply:

    1. Submit a Graduate Admissions Application
      • USF Graduate Admissions Application
      • For all questions, contact USF Admissions Office at (813) 974-3350 or visit it's website
      • Note: Do not upload supplemental documentation; please bypass these sections of the application (e.g., test scores, transcripts and personal statements)
    2. Submit a NursingCAS Application

    Required Documentation: All documentation (e.g., transcripts, resume, certifications, etc.) must be uploaded to NursingCAS by the deadline in order for applications to be considered.

    Interview Requirement: In addition to fulfilling the application requirements, a personal interview with faculty will be required. 

    International Admissions

    • Foreign Transcripts: All coursework and degrees completed outside the United States require a course-by-course evaluation from an approved evaluating agency. Foreign transcript evaluation services are approved by the USF Graduate School. Please note that the Florida Board of Nursing maintains its own list of approved evaluating agencies. Transcript evaluations must be received at the College of Nursing in their original sealed envelopes by the deadlines posted.
    • English Language: Applicants from countries where English is not the official language must demonstrate English proficiency. Please see USF Graduate Catalog for more information or contact USF Office of International Admissions.
  • Application Deadlines

    All steps in the application process must be completed by 5 p.m. on the deadline established for application submission. Priority admission for the PhD Program has a deadline of December 15 at 5 p.m. for each admission cycle.

    • After December 15, applications may be accepted until July 1st on a space available basis. Before submitting your application, we advise that you check directly with the admissions advisor at (813) 974-2191 to confirm if space is available.
    • Priority admission and consideration for financial support will be limited to those meeting the February 15 deadline.
    • NOTE: Application deadlines for Graduate Student Success fellowships, including the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, are often prior to the February 15 College of Nursing deadline. Applicants should consult the pertinent funding agency as additional application materials may be required for each fellowship.