Mar 30, 2023  
2022–2023 Walden University Catalog (September 2022) 
2022–2023 Walden University Catalog (September 2022)

PhD in Nursing

The PhD in Nursing program prepares nursing professionals for advanced careers in nursing research, practice, and education. With a focus on readying students to contribute to nursing science, advance knowledge in nursing practice, and improve healthcare services, practices, and policies, course topics include: advanced quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research design; quality improvement systems and leadership; and theoretical and scientific perspectives in nursing. The doctoral dissertation enables students to conduct and publish original research that contributes to the body of knowledge in their chosen specialty. Based on their educational and career goals, students will choose from among five focus areas: Education, Healthcare Administration, Interdisciplinary Health, Leadership, and Public Health Policy. Students wishing to continue their studies may also pursue a second, optional focus area.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be prepared to:

  1. Conduct research to generate findings that advance the knowledge and practice of nursing.
  2. Demonstrate advanced competency in research design and methodology to address social problems and needs.
  3. Engage in scientific inquiry that advances the knowledge base of research and practice in the profession.
  4. Evaluate the role of research and scholarship in the field of nursing in relation to its role in improving health interventions and advancing the development of related theory.
  5. Demonstrate leadership by generating new knowledge that promotes positive social change and addresses the social determinants of health.
  6. Contribute to the science of nursing through social change and social policy initiatives.
  7. Apply ethical decision making and values to the profession.
  8. Advocate for policies and programs that improve health outcomes by addressing the social determinants of health among culturally diverse populations.
  9. Demonstrate professional communication that supports the discipline and practice of nursing.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to act as a role model and mentor to others who wish to pursue the profession (stewardship).

Minimum Degree Requirements

The PhD in Nursing offers two entry options: BSN-PhD and MSN-PhD. See specialization pages for details on minimum required credits by specialization and entry option.

  • Foundation course (1 cr.)
  • Core courses (45 cr. or 20 cr., depending upon BSN-PhD or MSN-PhD entry)
  • Research courses (20 cr.)
  • Doctoral Seminar (5 quarter cr.)
  • Focus area courses (15 cr.)
  • Completion of the Doctoral Capstone
    • Dissertation (minimum 20 quarter cr., taken continuously until completion of the dissertation)
  • Doctoral Writing Assessment (0 cr.)
  • Four PhD residencies

Core Curriculum

BSN-PhD entry: This entry option is for registered nurses (RN) who have earned their bachelor’s in nursing degree.

MSN-PhD entry: This entry option is for registered nurses (RN) who have earned their master’s in nursing degree.

Core Courses (45 cr. or 20 cr.)

Research Courses (20 cr.)

Focus Area Courses (15 cr.)

See each focus area for course information.

Completion of the Doctoral Capstone

  • Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.

    To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Residency Requirements

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level.

8-Year Maximum Time Frame

Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements (see Enrollment Requirements). Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.