Programs by Campus


School of Nursing

Departmental E-mail: nursing [at] iupui [dot] edu

Departmental URL:



Program Information
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D. degree) is offered through the University Graduate School. In addition, the School of Nursing offers a Master of Nursing Science (M.S.N. degree). See the School of Nursing Graduate Program Bulletin.

Special Departmental Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Program, consistent with the school’s mission, prepares graduates to be nurse scientists who are competent in both the generation and dissemination of new knowledge for use in clinical practice, teaching, and administration.

The Ph.D. program encompasses a wide scope of scientific inquiry including clinical research, health systems research, and nursing education research. Clinical research, based on biologi­cal, behavioral, and other types of investigations, provides the scientific basis for the care of individuals across the lifespan, families, and/or communities. Health systems research ex­amines ways to improve health outcomes in complex systems including those related to the availability, quality, and costs of health care services. Nursing education research focuses on how students learn professional practice as well as strategies to improve educational processes and outcomes in the prepara­tion of clinicians, nurse educators, nurse administrators, and scientists using traditional and innovative teaching strategies.

On-Campus and Distance-Accessible Ph.D. Options

Indiana University School of Nursing (IUSON) offers distance-accessible courses. The distance-accessible option offers BSN and MSN nurses access to our Ph.D. program through a variety of distance technologies. Faculty and students use Web-based courses, video conferencing, listserv dialogues, telephone con­ferencing, and other emerging technologies to communicate effectively via long distance. Online courses and faculty men­toring are coupled with required on-campus summer sessions for all students. Admission criteria and curriculum are the same for on campus or distance accessible options.

Focus Areas of Study with Wide Application

Students who pursue the Ph.D. in Nursing Science choose one of two sub-plans or focus areas. The two focus areas are Clinical Nursing Science and Health Systems. Doctoral students work closely with faculty mentors utilizing the resources avail­able at the Indiana University School of Nursing and partici­pate in intensive research studies. Focus areas reflect faculty research strengths.

Clinical Nursing Science

Clinical Nursing Science concentrates on the interrelationships of health promotion, health behavior and quality of life in acute and chronic illness throughout the lifespan. This focus area in­cludes the prevention and early detection of disabilities across the continuum of care and the enhancement of the health and well-being for individuals, families and communities.

Examples of scholarship and faculty research within the focus area of Clinical Nursing Science include:

  • Family adaptation to chronic illness
  • Improving quality of life in persons with chronic illness, including epilepsy and renal disease
  • Behavioral oncology across the cancer continuum (including cancer prevention, detection, and symptom management)
  • Improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease, particularly heart failure
  • Tailored intervention studies to improve quality of life
  • Patient care safety
  • Childhood adaptation to chronic illness

Health Systems

Health Systems operate to create structures and resources that enable individuals and communities to achieve optimal health. This focus area includes the science of nursing education, infor­matics, health policy, and administration.

Examples of scholarship and faculty research within the focus area of Health Systems include:

  • Teaching and learning in nursing education and practice

Narrative and other innovative pedagogies

  • Patient care simulations
  • Clinical Reasoning Reflective Practice
  • Health Systems Research
  • Assessment of learning and program evaluation
  • Health policy and public policy analysis
  • Computer systems to enhance care delivery
  • Nursing informatics
  • Community-based care coordination

Admission Requirements

Successful applicants must meet the following criteria and submit online Graduate School ApplyYourself (AY) applications by October 15 for summer admission:

  • Completion of a Bachelor of Science in nursing or Master of Science in Nursing from a program within a regionally accredited institution of higher education. (Indiana Univer­sity School of Nursing faculty retain the right to determine acceptable accreditation status of nursing programs from which applicants have graduated.)
  • A baccalaureate cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. For applicants holding a Master’s degree, a gradu­ate GPA of 3.5 or higher is required. (The master’s degree GPA will supersede the baccalaureate GPA.)
  • Completion of a 3-credit-hour graduate level statistics course with a grade of B (3.0) or higher within three years before the date of proposed enrollment.
  • Current, active, unencumbered Registered Nurse licensure (RN) in state of US residence.
  • Competitive scores (upper 50th percentile recommended) on the verbal and quantitative sections and a score of 3.5 or higher on the analytical writing section of the Graduate Record Examination (taken within five years before the date of proposed enrollment).
  • Official college transcripts, in English, from each college or university you have attended since high school. A transcript that shows transfer credits is only official for credits taken at that institution—it is not an official transcript for the transferred credits.
  • Demonstration of successful English by competitive scores (550 or higher) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for students whose first language is not English. Also required is satisfactory performance on the Interna­tional English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination or internet-based TOEFL test (IBT). (The School of Nursing accepts the score established by the Office of International Affairs.)
  • A two- to three-page essay summarizing a research interest area and immediate and long-term professional goals.
  • Example of original scholarship or research in nursing a demonstrated by a report, published or unpublished paper, or a thesis.
  • A current resume or curriculum vitae, including descriptions of the position and clinical setting of current employment, list of current responsibilities, dates of employment, and information on former employment history. Also include in­volvement in professional and voluntary organizations; any awards, honors; publications written and published; presen­tations given; and continuing educational experiences.
  • Three references, including one from a nurse faculty mem­ber who has knowledge of the applicant’s academic ability from undergraduate or master’s work.
  • A letter of support from a nursing faculty member of the Indiana University School of Nursing with graduate faculty status who has agreed to be a preliminary research mentor.
  • An interview with members of the graduate faculty (ar­ranged by the School of Nursing for qualified applicants).
  • Complete at least two Departmental Questions in the Ap­plyYourself (AY) application
  • International students must be processed through the office of International Affairs, OIA, International students must provide evidence of passing the CGFNS exam (Council of Graduates of Foreign Nursing).

Opportunities for Financial Aid

Information about financial resources for doctoral nursing students concerning traineeships, fellowships, and research teaching assistantships, as well as scholarships providing monetary compensation for tuition, fees, and health insurance may be obtained from the Indiana University School of Nurs­ing’s Center for Academic Affairs, or by visiting our Web site at Current and previous students have been successful in securing funding for their doctoral education from:

  • Research Training Grants and Fellowships
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program
  • The American Organization of Nurse Executives
  • The National Institute of Nursing Research
  • The Mary Margaret Walter Program for Cancer Care Research
  • The American Cancer Society
  • The Oncology Nursing Foundation

Students interested in financial aid should consult with the Office of Student Financial Aid Services:  

In addition, a number of nursing scholarships are available to IU School of Nursing students, awarded on an annual basis. Schol­arships are awarded on the basis of the availability of funds in each scholarship account. The amount of each scholarship may vary from year to year and, furthermore, if adequate funds are not available, some scholarships may not be awarded every year.

All scholarship applications are reviewed and recipients se­lected by the Scholarship Committee of the School of Nursing.

Scholarship application forms and further information may be obtained on the IUSON website in late January and again in the late summer or early fall: .

Curriculum Concentrations

The Ph.D. curriculum consists of six core areas totaling 90 credit hours. Up to 30 of these credit hours may be met by Master of Science course work.

  1. Professional Development Core (6 cr.)
  2. Nursing Theory Core (9 cr.)
  3. Research and Methods Core (21-30 cr.)
  4. Nursing Major Core in a Focus Area (24 cr.)
  5. Minor (external or internal) (9-12 cr.)
  6. Dissertation (including 3 cr. Dissertation Seminar) (16 cr.)

Total: 90 credits, minimum

Professional Development Core: (6 credits)

  • D602 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 cr.)
  • D701 Nursing Inquiry and Scholarship: Introduction to Doctoral Study (3 cr.)
  • T800 Preparing Future Faculty (2 cr.)

Nursing Theory Core: (9 credits)

  • D607 Nursing: Theory II (3 cr.)
  • D608 Mid-Range Theory Development for Nursing (3 cr.)Research and Methods Core: (21-30 credits)
  • N502 Nursing Theory I (3 cr.)
  • R500 Nursing Research Methods I (3 cr.)
  • R601 Instrumentation and Measurement (3 cr.)
  • R603 Foundations of Research Design and Methods (3 cr.)
  • R604 Experimental and Quasi Experimental Designs and Methods (3 cr.)
  • R605 Advanced Research Design and Interventions in Nursing (3 cr.)
  • R607 Advanced Statistics in Nursing Research (or equivalent) (3 cr.)
  • R608 Multivariate Statistics in Nursing Research (or equivalent) (3 cr.)
  • R610 Qualitative Inquiry and Research methods (3 cr.)

The following are elective options:

  • R611 Advanced Qualitative Inquiry and Research Methods (3 cr.)
  • R612 Interpretive Data Analysis (1-3 cr.)  This course advances new qualitative standing of interpretive research methods, study designs, conditions of rigor in qualitative research, and research team building,. Students will explore ways of grounding their findings in the works of interpretive phenomenology, grounded theory and other interpretive methods meeting the needs of students. Students will explore multiple avenues for dissemination of interpretive research findings.

R800 Dissertation Seminar (3 cr.)

Dissertation: (16 credits)

  • R899 Dissertation in Nursing (16 cr.)
  • Y600 Clinical Reasoning and Diagnostic Processes in Advanced Practice Nursing (3 cr.) Introduces students to clinical reasoning and diagnostic processes used in providing health care in primary and acute care settings. Students apply knowledge and skills from pathophysiology, physical assessment, and evidence based practice to decision making in direct patient care. Issues related to third party reimbursement, regulation and scope of proactice, and the ethics of diagnostic decision making are included.

Nursing Major Focus Area: (24 credits)
These credits are devised by mentor and student to match learning needs, research questions and professional goals. May include transfer courses from M.S.N., independent study courses, research practicum, etc.

Internal or External Minor: (9-12 credits)
Cognate or supporting course work from inside or outside nursing. May include a minor in an alternate focus area, other approved minors, or individualized plans developed by the student’s program planning advisory committee:

  • Women’s studies
  • Educational psychology
  • Sociology
  • Health Policy
  • Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Anthropology
  • Informatics
  • Nursing Education Science
  • Nursing Administration
  • Life Sciences

Qualifying Exam

After the student has completed all course work for the Ph.D., students are required to take and pass a qualifying examina­tion. The student’s Advisory Committee will determine the manner in which the examination is given. It will be composed of a written and an oral component. The qualifying examination must be passed within one semester after completion of course work and at least eight months before the date the degree is awarded.

Oral Defense of the Dissertation (Final Examination)

Students provide an unbound copy of the completed disserta­tion to each member of the Research Committee in sufficient time to read it in its entirety. After reading it, the committee members should have direct communication with the commit­tee chairperson regarding perceived readiness for the defense. 30 days prior to the defense, the candidate and the chair of the dissertation committee submits to the School of Nursing and the University Graduate School a one-page announcement noting the date and time of the final dissertation defense. Any member of the graduate faculty may attend the final exami­nation; upon approval of the committee and the candidate, graduate students may attend as observers, not participants. At the end of the Dissertation Defense, the Research Committee makes one of the following decisions:

  1. pass
  2. conditional pass
  3. deferred decision
  4. failure

For rules and guidelines for final submission of the dissertation and completion of all degree requirements, students should re­fer to the Graduate School’s Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations:

Academic Bulletins

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