PhD

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Our doctor of philosophy in nursing (PhD) program prepares clinical scholars, educators, and researchers for leadership roles in a variety of academic, industry, and healthcare settings. Because the knowledge and skills needed to produce excellent health-related research is not discipline specific, the PhD program does not require a prior degree in nursing. Indeed, we have had PhD students with academic preparation in health administration, health education, medical ethics, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, public health and social work.

Program Outcomes

While maintaining a foundational commitment to building nurse scientists, faculty collaborations within and outside the MU SSON provide a rich environment for both nurses and non-nurses to flourish and develop their scholarship.  Regardless of academic background, all PhD students are mentored to achieve the following program outcomes:

  • Assume leadership roles in nursing and health care.
  • Initiate and maintain collaborative relationships with nurses and individuals in other disciplines.
  • Advance nursing and health care knowledge by critically evaluating existing theories and knowledge and identifying new areas of inquiry for research
  • Develop the science that guides nursing practice and/or health care by conducting original research using established ethical principles and disseminating research findings to advance new directions in theory, practice and education.
  • Educate the next generation through formal teaching and mentoring.
  • Advance development of health policy, through application of research and advocacy for ethical decision-making.

PhD Program Overview

Our PhD program is highly individualized and flexible with the goal of accommodating the wide variety of learning needs of our students.  To that end, we have an online option for distance learners and an international residential option for international students.  We welcome both nurses and non-nurses with a degree in a health-related field into our PhD program and have plans of study to accommodate both post-baccalaureate or post-masters students.

Once selected for admission, you are paired with a PhD advisor with whom you have a good research match in terms of research methodology, population of interest, and/or phenomenon of interest. Your adviser provides guidance on establishing your PhD program committee.  Your PhD program committee guides your Plan of Study, research practicum experiences and, ultimately, your dissertation research.  All new PhD students are required to start during the summer semester and attend a 5-day June On Campus Intensive Orientation on the University of Missouri Campus in Columbia, Mo.

The required coursework in the PhD curriculum includes content related to theoretical and philosophical basis of research, nursing and healthcare applied sciences, substantive science seminars, statistics, responsible conduct of research, research methodologies and research practica. The core curriculum is completed in sequence and provides a strong foundation upon which to examine your research interest area.  In collaboration with your PhD program committee, you will select collateral coursework to support your research interests and professional goals.  Regardless of program option, all PhD students are expected to attend the 4-day April On Campus Intensive each year they are enrolled in coursework.

Once the plan of study is completed, you prepare for your doctoral comprehensive examination, develop your research proposal, and begin your dissertation research project. The doctoral dissertation and its defense are the program’s culmination and demonstrate your ability to identify and pursue research that meets the highest of professional standards.

Comparison of the PhD and DNP Programs

In contrast, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a terminal degree program with a focus on clinical practice or leadership. A comparison of DNP and PhD is outlined in the attached document.