Academic Programs Catalog

College of Nursing

Graduate Study

Nursing - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy degree program with a major in Nursing is designed to prepare nurse scientists to successfully address emerging health challenges locally, nationally, and globally by applying and developing knowledge in nursing and related disciplines.

A major emphasis of this program is to prepare graduates for a career in intervention and translation science in the areas of wellness behaviors, risk reduction, and self-symptom management.

Graduates of the program will be well-positioned to conduct original research using appropriate designs, measures and methodologies; apply relevant concepts and theories and frameworks to develop the science related to wellness, risk reduction and chronic illness; to improve health outcomes through nursing interventions and translation of science; and lead interdisciplinary teams to advance team science in nursing.


In addition to meeting the requirements of the university as described in the Graduate Education section of this catalog, students must meet the requirements specified below.

  1. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 for all previous academic work.
  2. Bachelor's or master’s degree in nursing. Admission to the program without a master's degree in nursing may require additional course work as specified by the College of Nursing.
  3. Three letters of recommendation on official letterhead stationery from academic or employment sources that are knowledgeable about your potential for doctoral study and research in nursing.
  4. Written statement that addresses your area of research interest, program goals and career goals, and how the Michigan State University College of Nursing program and faculty fit those research interest and goals.
  5. Completion of an undergraduate or graduate-level statistics course with a grade of B (3.0) or better within the past five years.
  6. International applicants whose academic language in not English must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as a condition for regular admission to Michigan State University. See the International Student Admission Minimum Requirement for Regular Admission section in the Graduate Education section of this catalog. All official transcripts must be translated into English by a certified translator.
  7. Must possess a current, unrestricted professional nursing license in Michigan or home jurisdiction.

Applicants with completed materials are reviewed by a faculty committee. Applicants identified as well-matched with the College of Nursing academic standards and program focus will be contacted for a required personal interview and written evaluation with representatives from the doctoral program faculty. Recommendations for admission are made by the faculty committee to the Director of the Doctoral Program and the Dean of the College based on the requirements for admission and the personal interview.

Students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nursing program may be accepted provisionally. Provisionally admitted students are required to satisfy deficiencies as specified in the letter of admission and will be formally removed from provisional status once the deficiencies are satisfied. Students on provisional status may not progress in the program if deficiencies are not satisfied in the specified time frame. Provisional course work does not count towards fulfillment of degree requirements.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Nursing

In addition to meeting the university requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, students will complete required courses which guide the student in the principles and methods of research for the evaluation and testing of current and developing theories relevant to nursing. Courses in the selected area of focus offer opportunity for students to build upon their educational and experiential backgrounds to develop greater depth of knowledge in their research area. Students will be required to participate in a research team to gain experience in the conduct of nursing research.

The program of study is planned by the student in consultation with the major professor and guidance committee. Components will include core nursing and selected courses relevant to the student’s chosen research concentration.  Each student must:

  1. complete a minimum of 65 credits of course work as defined below and approved by the guidance committee at time of admission.
  2. earn a grade of 3.0 or higher in each NUR course and have an overall grade-point average of 3.0 at graduation.
  3. satisfy Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCR) requirements.
  4. maintain University and College of Nursing compliance requirements.
  5. submit one external grant.
  6. submit a first-authored, peer-reviewed manuscript approved through the college process.
  7. pass the written and oral defense of the comprehensive examination.
  8. pass the written and oral defense of the dissertation
Course Requirements
1. All of the following (52 to 54 credits):
EPI 808 Biostatistics I 3
EPI 809 Biostatistics II 3
NUR 920 Translation of Research and Scientific Knowledge to a Practice Setting 3
NUR 921 Scientific Foundations of Nursing Knowledge Development 3
NUR 924 Designing Interventions for Improving Health Outcomes 3
NUR 930 Methods in Clinical Research 3
NUR 939 Improving Health Outcomes: Scientific Foundations 4
NUR 940 Research Practicum 4 to 6
NUR 950 Nursing Research Seminar I 1
NUR 951 Nursing Research Seminar II 1
NUR 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research 24
2. A minimum of 6 credits in advanced research methodology and analysis, as approved by the student's guidance committee. 6
3. A qualitative research course as approved by committee. 1 to 3
4. At least two courses in area of focus, as approved by committee. 6

Part-time Students
Although some students (post-BSN or post-master’s in nursing; post-DNP) choose to enroll in the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Nursing on a part-time basis, all Ph.D. degree candidates will be expected to maintain minimum degree progress standards established by the College of Nursing and published in the College of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Nursing Student Handbook. Students are also expected to complete at least one course per semester until the degree is earned.

Transfer Credits

Up to 45% (22 semester credits) of graduate course work (excluding dissertation credits) may be transferred into the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program from other accredited institutions upon the approval of the College of Nursing.

Transfer of course credits from other accredited institutions must be completed through the following procedure:

  1. Course credits for transfer must be part of the student’s program plan and must be approved by the student’s guidance committee and the director of the doctoral program. The student is responsible for requesting that an official transcript of the grade(s) for course work completed at another institution be sent to the Director of the Doctoral Program in the College of Nursing.
  2. When requesting credit for transfer courses completed without prior approval, students must submit the course syllabi and an official transcript for review and approval by the student’s guidance committee and the director of the doctoral program.