Jim McMahon Classroom

PhD in Nursing and Health Science

Academics and Curriculum

Our full-time PhD in Nursing and Health Science curriculum prepares you as a nurse or health care scientist to conduct research with a patient-first approach, both as an independent researcher and as a key member of an interdisciplinary team.

As a PhD student at the UR School of Nursing, you work closely with research faculty who are active in research and experts in their field. Your plan of study is carefully mapped out with an advisor before you start any coursework.

The rigorous program is reading- and writing-intensive. You should expect to take more time for thinking, writing, and preparing for classes where your active engagement in discussion of what you have prepared will be expected. Study at the doctoral level requires a self-directed, highly organized work style, as you are gathering and critiquing information on your own dissertation research topic. Having a strong support system while in this program is key to your success.

The UR School of Nursing is dedicated to helping you discover new knowledge in a dynamic, collaborative environment. We offer the resources and challenges you need so you are prepared to embark on a new kind of career as a researcher.

Below is a map of what it takes to earn your PhD in Nursing and Health Science at the UR School of Nursing. Join us!

Phases of the PhD Program

Phase Features of this phase

Length:  2 years

  • intensive full-time coursework (designed to build skills in logical thinking, writing and oral expression) which becomes increasingly specialized over time
  • several days/week of reading and writing outside of class hours
  • four cognate courses (within UR SON or elsewhere) to support research interest
  • 360 hours of Research Assistantship (RA)/Teaching Assistantship (TA) work
  • Qualifying Exam after completion of first year coursework
Proposal Development

Length:  One to two semesters


  • constitution of a dissertation committee
  • participation in Dissertation Workshop in preparation for proposal defense
  • finalization and defense of the dissertation research proposal

The dissertation proposal is a written document developed by the student and revised in response to critique by the primary dissertation advisor and committee members. When it is judged ready for defense, the student prepares a public presentation of the proposed research, which is followed by a critique and oral defense conducted in private with the dissertation committee. Additional changes in the written proposal may be requested at that time.

Dissertation Research

Length: 6 to 18 months, depending on nature of research

Once the proposal has been successfully defended and research review board approval has been secured, the student conducts the dissertation research project independently under guidance of the committee. The final dissertation is then written, revised with critique from the committee, and defended publicly with a private critique to follow.

At the end of the PhD curriculum, you’ll be able to:

  • critique, synthesize, and apply theory and research evidence on clinically relevant issues and problems
  • articulate the contributions of your research and your discipline
  • design, execute, and disseminate clinical research that is rigorous, ethical, theoretically congruent, and clinically and socially significant
  • demonstrate progression toward a leadership role in health science research, education, and policy
  • recognize the importance of mentoring students and facilitating professional advancement of colleagues in clinical and educational settings
  • disseminate information through scholarly presentations and publications to promote the growth of the profession