Learning Outcomes

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program prepares scholars to advance nursing science and contribute to transdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes. Graduates of the program are prepared to be leaders who engage in the three roles highlighted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): develop the science, steward the discipline, and educate the next generation of nurses.

Graduates will:

  • master in-depth knowledge in a substantive area of nursing;
  • conduct original research that generates new knowledge;
  • disseminate research results and articulate implications for policy, practice, and the profession; and
  • assimilate evolving roles and responsibilities of a nurse scholar.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in nursing requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00.

The program prepares students to advance nursing science and contribute to the body of nursing knowledge. It emphasizes student participation with faculty members on research teams; focused coursework; presentation and publication of research-based knowledge; and interdisciplinary learning experiences.

Graduate students in the College of Nursing must adhere to all Graduate College policies regarding academic standing, probation, and dismissal. Coursework taken 10 or more years before a student plans to graduate from the Ph.D. program must be updated according to University policy.

The Ph.D. with a major in nursing requires the following work.

Required Courses

NURS:6802Health Policy, Law, and Advocacy3
NURS:6811Social Determinants of Health and Health System Inequities3
NURS:7000Philosophy and Sociology of Nursing Science3
NURS:7001Qualitative Research4
NURS:7002Designing Research3
NURS:7003Quantitative Research4
NURS:7006Theory and Model Development3
NURS:7310Measurement in Health Research3
NURS:7404Biological Markers in Health Research3
NURS:7801Seminar: Research Scholarship Role Development3
NURS:7803Research Practicum I2
NURS:7804Research Practicum II2
CPH:7270Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health0, 1
Specialization courses (B.S.N.-Ph.D. only)6
Intermediate statistics3
Advanced statistics3-4

Cognate Area

Cognate courses (B.S.N.-Ph.D. only)6

Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation

Students must complete a written and oral comprehensive examination before they begin work on the dissertation. They must write the dissertation and defend it orally.


This course (minimum of 11 s.h.):
NURS:7805Dissertation Researcharr.

Applicants to College of Nursing graduate programs must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

The program is open to individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing with a bachelor's or advanced degree in any field, an advanced degree in nursing, or an advanced degree in a health-related field.

A criminal background check is required for all students upon admission. The College of Nursing has additional application requirements, as follows.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. applicants who have completed an accredited basic nursing program must hold a current license to practice nursing.

Applicants must have a g.p.a. of at least 3.00. They also must have successfully completed an upper-level statistics course within five years prior to the application deadline.

Applicants must submit along with their application:

  • a two-to-three-page statement describing their educational objectives, career goals, and an area of research for their doctoral study;
  • three recommendations from nursing professionals that speak to the applicant's potential as a scholar;
  • a current résumé or curriculum vitae; and
  • a complete transcript of all college programs and courses.

Applicants whose first language is not English must score at least 81 (internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); at least 7.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with no subscore less than 6; or at least 105 on the Duolingo English Test (DET).

Application deadline for the Ph.D. program is January 15. In order to be reviewed, the applicant's file must be complete, with all materials submitted.

The Ph.D. program prepares scholars to move nursing and health science forward. Graduates are prepared for careers as faculty members in college and university settings as well as researchers, consultants, and leaders in military, academic or industry venues, and in other nonacademic settings.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Nursing, Ph.D.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
72 s.h. of graduate level coursework must be completed; graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a
See General Catalog and website for specific requirements; must include 3 s.h. of intermediate statistics, 3 s.h. of advanced statistics, 6 s.h. of other coursework, and at least 11 s.h. of dissertation credit. Work with faculty advisor to determine courses and sequence.
First Year
CITI Training b
NURS:7000 Philosophy and Sociology of Nursing Science 3
NURS:7801 Seminar: Research Scholarship Role Development 3
BIOS:4120 Introduction to Biostatistics c 3
NURS:6811 Social Determinants of Health and Health System Inequities 3
NURS:7006 Theory and Model Development 3
BIOS:5120 Regression Modeling and ANOVA in the Health Sciences 3
Second Year
NURS:7002 Designing Research 3
NURS:7310 Measurement in Health Research 3
BIOS:5130 Applied Categorical Data Analysis 3
CPH:7270 Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health 0
NURS:7003 Quantitative Research 4
NURS:7803 Research Practicum I 2
CPH:7270 Principles of Scholarly Integrity: Public Health 1
Third Year
Comprehensive Exam d
NURS:6802 Health Policy, Law, and Advocacy 3
NURS:7001 Qualitative Research 4
NURS:7804 Research Practicum II 2
NURS:7404 Biological Markers in Health Research 3
NURS:7509 Research Residency e 3
Fourth Year
NURS:7805 Dissertation Research f 2
NURS:7805 Dissertation Research f 3
Fifth Year
NURS:7805 Dissertation Research f 3
NURS:7805 Dissertation Research f 3
Final Oral Exam (Dissertation Defense)
 Total Hours60
Students must complete specific requirements in the University of Iowa Graduate College after program admission. Refer to the Graduate College website and the Manual of Rules and Regulations for more information.
Online training modules to be completed during first semester.
Other coursework includes the following: electives, additional methods courses, Research Practicum, or Research Residency. Work with faculty advisor to determine courses and sequence.
For students admitted fall 2017 or later, the Comprehensive Exam must be completed no later than the end of the fall semester of year three.
Or take an advanced/specific methods course, third statistics course, or an elective.
Minimum of 11 s.h. of Dissertation Research required, generally distributed over multiple semesters until degree completion.