Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree program in the School of Nursing (SON) at ISU prepares the student to develop and conduct scientific research and participate actively in lifelong scholarship, leadership, and education. The research emphasis is dedicated to extending the knowledge base of nursing and improving the delivery of health care for rural and vulnerable individuals, families, and communities within existing cultural, geographical, and health care contexts. An interprofessional research focus provides an opportunity for students to advance science collaborating with other professionals in identifying research opportunities, recognition of the contribution of other disciplines to the improvement of health status, open channels of communication, and prepare graduates for leading change and advancing health and health care systems.

The ISU SON enrolls students interested in improving health status in rural and other vulnerable populations and overcoming fragmented health care systems, practices, and beliefs. The future of nursing practice requires advances in theory and research to address highly complex problems through innovative solutions. The Ph.D. program prepares graduates to be full partners in health care provision and design for improving health and health care globally.

Ph.D. Degree Program Outcomes

Each student will complete a core curriculum and work closely with faculty to complete an individualized course of study that fulfills the student’s goals and develops the foundation for a program of research using online technologies integrating an interprofessional approach to communicate scientific knowledge through mentorship, collaboration, and dissemination.

  • Create original research that contributes to scientific nursing knowledge
  • Contribute to the development of methodologies congruent with the broad concerns of the nursing discipline
  • Contribute to the discovery, application, and integration of nursing and interprofessional knowledge and leadership.

Admission Requirements

The student must apply to and meet all requirements for admission and application to the ISU Graduate School. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. The SON Ph.D. Admissions committee will make the final recommendation regarding admission. This decision will be based on evaluation of established application and admission requirements. In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

  1. Application through the ISU Graduate School website with payment of appropriate fees.
  2. Earned Bachelor of Science (BS in Nursing or BSN) from program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or other nationally recognized accrediting body for nursing education. A master's degree in nursing from an accredited program will be considered.
  3. Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S. or B.S.N.) program of study or 3.5 or higher GPA based on previous 60 credits of most recently completed degree. If a post-master's applicant, the GPA is calculated based upon all master's coursework and BSN until 60 credits are reached.
  4. English Proficiency Exams: The School of Nursing Ph.D. program follows the Graduate School Admissions policy for students who have not graduated from an accredited college or university in the United States (at the undergraduate and/or graduate level) and whose native language is not English.
  5. Verification of valid and current unencumbered Registered Nursing license.
  6. Completion of a preadmission interview by the School of Nursing Ph.D. Admissions committee. If the applicant resides at a distance over 100 miles, an interview by video conference may be arranged. Being interviewed is not a guarantee of admission; the results of the interview may exclude an applicant from acceptance, despite meeting other qualification criteria.
  7. Mandatory attendance at the orientation for the Ph.D. program to be held on the ISU campus in August of the year of admission.

Application Requirements:

The student must apply and meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School. In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

1. Submission of official transcripts to the Graduate School from each institution at which they have taken any postsecondary work. Evidence of a completed BS in Nursing or BSN from an accredited nursing program must be listed in official transcripts.

2. Submission of a professional essay (3-4 pages, see application in CollegeNet for essay instructions).

3. Submission of a writing sample (professional paper).

4. Three professional references attesting to the applicant's capacity and potential for doctoral study using the form provided on the application site. At least one reference should be from an academic source and one from a professional source. 

5. Submission of a professional vitae or resume. 

Selection Schedule for Ph.D. Program

Application for the Ph.D. program will open in September of any academic year. Preference will be given to applications submitted by December 1 of any year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the class is filled. All application and admission requirements as posted on the website for the Ph.D. degree program apply. Notification of successful applicants for admission and alternates will begin in late April of any year.

Dissertation Preparation and Advancement to Candidacy Comprehensive Examination

The student must complete designated required and elective courses in order to complete the comprehensive qualifying examination requirements. If the student fails any component of the comprehensive examination, the student may retake the examination one time within established ISU and SON guidelines, policies, and procedures.

Admission to Candidacy

Each student who has successfully completed the written comprehensive examination components may apply for degree candidacy.


Once the student has been admitted to degree candidacy, the student enrolls in NURS 8890 Dissertation for completion of the dissertation until completed.

Continuous Enrollment

Students must maintain continuous enrollment in NURS 8890 while in the process of research and writing the dissertation. The student must maintain continuous enrollment as outlined in the Graduate School policy.

The SON website and SON Ph.D. Student Handbook provide further information about the Ph.D. program. 

Required Courses and 6 Credits of Electives
NURS 8805Philosophy of Nursing Science and the Role of the Nurse Researcher3
NURS 8808Theoretical and Conceptual Analysis in Nursing Science3
NURS 8809Research and Practice in Rural and Global Communities2
NURS 8813Qualitative Inquiry and Analysis3
NURS 8814Statistical Methods in Health Research I3
NURS 8815Statistical Methods in Health Research II3
NURS 8816Quantitative Inquiry and Analysis3
NURS 8820Ethics in Nursing Research3
NURS 8825Research and Grant Writing3
NURS 8826Approaches to Scholarly Writing2
NURS 8830Current Trends in Research Design and Methods3
NURS 8840Health Policy in Advanced Nursing Practice3
NURS 8881Research Seminar I3
NURS 8882Research Seminar II2
NURS 8883Research Seminar III2
NURS 8890Dissertation12

Curriculum for the Full-Time Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Ph.D. in Nursing Program

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits SummerCredits
NURS 88053NURS 88153 Orientation0
NURS 88083NURS 88163  
NURS 88133NURS 88403  
NURS 88143NURS 88813  
 12 12 0
Second Year
NURS 88092NURS 88203  
NURS 88262NURS 88253  
NURS 88303NURS 88832  
NURS 88822Elective3  
Elective3Comprehensive Examinations   
 12 11
Third Year
  NURS 889012 
Total Credits: 59

Curriculum for the Part-Time Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Ph.D. in Nursing Program

First Year
NURS 88053NURS 88153
NURS 88143NURS 88403
 6 6
Second Year
NURS 88083NURS 88163
NURS 88133Elective3
 6 6
Third Year
NURS 88092NURS 88253
NURS 88262NURS 88813
NURS 88303 
 7 6
Fourth Year
NURS 88822NURS 88203
Elective3NURS 88832
 Comprehensive Examinations 
 5 5
Fifth Year
NURS 88903NURS 88903
 3 3
Sixth Year
NURS 88903NURS 88903
 3 3
Total Credits: 59