Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science

phd student presentation

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science program is designed to educate nurse scientists. Applicants are admitted to the College of Graduate Health Sciences (CGHS) upon recommendation by the nursing faculty. Students have the opportunity to learn and network with CGHS students from other disciplines while enrolled in biostatistics, health policy, and medical ethics courses in addition to their nursing course work.

Students work closely throughout their program of study with a faculty mentor with whom they share a common research interest. The two main areas of faculty research concentration are bio-behavioral interactions and interventions, and improving patient outcomes.

The mission of the PhD Program in Nursing Science is to prepare nursing scientists and scholars for collaborative and socially responsible inquiry that improves and promotes health today and for the future. This is achieved through an educational program that emphasizes (1) developing and testing theories and models of nursing care; (2) clinical and biological nursing research; and (3) social, ethical, political, legal, and economic implications of health care policies and practices.

 PhD openhouse presentation

PhD Program Outcomes

  1. Analyze, test, refine, extend and expand the theoretical basis of nursing practice;
  2. Conduct and disseminate research that generates and advances nursing as a discipline;
  3. Provide leadership as nurse researchers, educators, and/or administrators in current and emerging health care settings;
  4. Collaborate with members of other disciplines in health related research of mutual concern; and
  5. Analyze, develop, and recommend health care policy at various levels.

Our students also have obtained extramural funding from professional organizations (e.g., National Institute of Nursing Research; H. W. Durham Foundation; Sigma Theta Tau International; International Transplant Nurses Society; American Nephrology Nurses Association; and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to support their dissertation research. We also offer several financial incentives to support students enrolled in our PhD program. Tuition waivers are available to cover full tuition for students who are enrolled full-time and who agree to provide 6-8 hours/week (~120 hours per term) as a Research or Teaching Assistant. We also provide a limited number of full or partial stipends for full-time students, in addition to the tuition waiver.  Please see the College of Graduate Health Science’s Bylaws for details. 

The nurse scientists in the College of Nursing strive to transform health through excellence in scientific inquiry. These faculty have established local, regional, national, and international reputations for their contributions to nursing scholarship and leadership. Faculty consistently contribute paper and poster presentations at conferences such as those sponsored by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse Practitioners, American Society of Nephrology, ANA Council of Nurse Researchers, Autonomic Society of America, International Society of Nurses in Genetics, International Stroke Conference, International Transplant Nurses Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, and Society of Critical Care Medicine. Two faculty members have achieved distinction as one of the National Institutes of Nursing Research top 25 nurse researchers. In addition, the College of Nursing has previously been ranked among the top federally funded nursing programs in the nation, as a result of extramural grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Faculty have also received extramural funding from professional organizations and foundations including the H. W. Durham Foundation, International Transplant Nurses Society, National Kidney Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, North American Transplant Coordinator's Organization, and Sigma Theta Tau International.

Preference is placed on students who enroll full-time.  However, students who have already completed a master’s degree may request enrolling in a part-time plan of study. This structured part-time schema will permit students to complete their doctoral education 5.5 years. We have instituted this structured part-time curriculum to meet the challenge of increasing access to doctoral education for those qualified individuals whose lifestyles prohibit full-time study.  Please be aware that this part-time option substantially increased the time required to complete the program and the personal and financial costs as well.



Sample Plans of Study

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Doctor of Philosophy
Contact Information

J. Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD
Professor, PhD Program Director
Department of Advanced Practice and Doctoral Studies
Boling Center, 711 Jefferson #182
Memphis, TN 38105

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