Jul 14, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Nursing Major, PhD

The College of Nursing offers a doctoral program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in nursing. The doctoral program prepares nursing scholars capable of integrating research, theory, and practice into their roles as researchers, educators, and/or administrators.

Student Learning Outcomes - Graduates of the program are expected to:

  • Analyze, test, refine and expand the theoretical basis of nursing.
  • From multiple modes of inquiry, select the most appropriate to conduct research that generates knowledge and advances nursing as a discipline.
  • Provide leadership as nurse scientists in transforming health and healthcare.
  • Collaborate with members of other disciplines in theory development, health-related research, and other scholarly activities.
  • Maintain professional standards, ethical principles and scientific integrity in scholarly activities.
  • Communicate the outcomes and implications of scholarly activities to professional and general audiences through multiple modes of dissemination.

The program offers part-time as well as fulltime study options. The PhD program in nursing can be completed in an accelerated option of four consecutive semesters of course work (15 months), followed by the dissertation. Part-time and BSN-to-PhD options are also available. The program is delivered by a mix of onsite and distance education modalities. Students spend two intensive weeks in residence each term, while participating in distance learning the remainder of the time. The doctoral residence requirement is met by two consecutive terms of full-time enrollment. Optional certificate programs in nursing education and health policy are available. The certificate in health policy is offered jointly with the Department of Public Health. Additional information on the PhD program in nursing can be found at www.nursing.utk.edu


  • Submit online application to Graduate Admissions Office. Meet admission requirements of the Graduate School.
  • Hold a master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Some outstanding applicants who are prepared at the bachelor’s level in nursing may be considered. In such cases, graduate level courses in nursing theory, concentration specialty, and/or research will be integrated into the formal program of doctoral degree requirements.
  • Have a minimum cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale for previous college work.
  • Achieve a competitive score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Have successfully completed a basic statistics course and graduate nursing theory and research courses prior to enrollment in nursing doctoral level courses.
  • Have TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper test or 80 on the Internet-based Test if native language is not English.
  • Complete Graduate Program Data Form, College of Nursing.
  • Submit Graduate Rating Forms from three college level instructors and/or nurses and administrators who have supervised applicant’s professional work.
  • Submit a sample of scholarly writing (e.g., thesis, published paper).
  • Submit an essay describing personal and professional aspirations.
  • Submit Graduate Application for Admission, academic transcript(s), Graduate Record Examination scores, and, if required, TOEFL scores to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Submit three Graduate Rating Forms, sample of scholarly writing, and Graduate Program Data Form with essay to Chair of the PhD program prior to February 1 in the year of expected fall admission.
  • Schedule a personal interview with the College of Nursing PhD Student Admissions Committee prior to February 1 in the year of expected fall admission. Applicants may be interviewed by telephone or teleconferencing at the discretion of the PhD Admissions Committee.


The following courses are required for all students.

  Credit Hours
NURS 601 - Philosophy and Knowledge Development for Nursing Science   3
NURS 603 - Nursing Inquiry and Research Design   3
NURS 605 - Middle-Range Theoretical Formulations for Nursing Science Development   3
NURS 606 - Nursing Research Seminar   3
NURS 607 - Qualitative Nursing Research   3
NURS 608 - Quantitative Nursing Research   3
NURS 611 - Advanced Quantitative Nursing Research   3
NURS 609 - Research Practicum   3
NURS 610 - State of the Science Seminar   3
NURS 612 - Health and Health Care Policy   3
NURS 613 - Nursing Leadership in Complex Systems   3
               - Inferential Statistics 3
               - Multivariate Statistics 3
               - Cognates* 6
NURS 600 - Doctoral Research and Dissertation   24
  Total 69

* Possible cognate areas include, but are not limited to, anthropology, child and family studies, psychology, education, management, public health, social work, philosophy, and statistics.

Doctoral Committee

Early in the student’s program, a nursing faculty advisor will be selected by the student in consultation with the program director. The student’s comprehensive examination committee consists of the faculty teaching core courses and one representative from the cognate area. Four faculty, holding the rank of assistant professor or above, comprise the dissertation committee, three of whom (including the chair) must be approved by the Graduate Council to direct doctoral dissertations. At least one member of the committee must be from an academic unit other than nursing.

Special Policies

  • A maximum of 6 graduate credit hours taken before acceptance into the doctoral program may be applied toward the degree. 
  • Prior to enrollment in the PhD program, each student must successfully complete a criminal background check. 
  • A minimum grade of B in all nursing doctoral courses and a 3.0 cumulative GPA are required for continuation in the program.
  • The College of Nursing requires all students to have professional liability insurance coverage before enrolling in nursing courses.
  • BSN to PhD students must be eligible to practice nursing in Tennessee or one of the interstate compact states.