Programs by Campus



School of Nursing

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

Departmental URL:

(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



Program Information

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD degree) is offered through the University Graduate School. In addition, the School of Nursing offers a Master of Nursing Science (MSN degree) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP degree). See the School of Nursing Graduate Program Bulletin for more information about the MSN Program and the DNP Handbook for information about the DNP Program.

Special Departmental Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The PhD 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 PhD Options

Indiana University School of Nursing (IUSON) offers both on campus and distance-accessible courses. The distance-accessible option offers BSN and MSN nurses access to our PhD program through a variety of distance technologies. Faculty and students use web-based courses, video conferencing, telephone con­ferencing, and other emerging technologies to communicate effectively via long distance. Distance-accessible courses and faculty men­toring are coupled with required on-campus summer immersions 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 PhD in Nursing Science choose one of two focus areas; Clinical Nursing Science and Health Systems, which includes nursing education science. 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 faculty research within the focus area of Clinical Nursing Science include:

  1. Improving quality of life in persons with chronic illness, including epilepsy, stroke and renal disease
  2. Behavioral oncology across the cancer continuum (including cancer prevention, detection, and symptom management)
  3. Family caregiving across the lifespan
  4. Tailored intervention studies to improve quality of life
  5. Childhood and family adaptation to chronic illness
  6. Patient care safety

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:

  1. Teaching and learning in web-based courses
  2. Narrative pedagogies
  3. Clinical reasoning
  4. Assessment of learning and program evaluation
  5. Health policy and public policy analysis
  6. Computer systems to enhance care delivery
  7. Nursing informatics
  8. Community-based care coordination
  9. Patient care simulations

Admission Requirements

Successful applicants must meet the following criteria and submit an online Graduate School application by November 15 of each year for priority summer or fall 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 before the date of proposed enrollment for students applying to the MSN-PhD track only.
  • Current, active, unencumbered Registered Nurse licensure (RN) in state of U.S. residence.  International applicants whose program of study will not require contact with patients may be exempted from the U.S. licensure requirement by the IUSON's PhD Program Coordinator.
  • Competitive scores on the verbal, quantitative and on the analytical writing section of the Graduate Record Examination.
  • 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.
  • If applicant’s native language is not English, submission of proof of English proficiency by taking the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (TOEFL).
  • Evidence of professional focus and congruency with faculty research mentor as demonstrated by a two-to three-page essay summarizing immediate and long-range professional goals and a proposed area of research.
  • Evidence of the capacity for original scholarship and research in nursing, as demonstrated by reports, published and unpublished papers, or a thesis.
  • A current resume or curriculum vita, including descriptions of current and former employment history. Also include in­volvement in professional and voluntary organizations; any awards, honors; publications; presen­tations; 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 research mentor.
  • An interview with members of the graduate faculty (ar­ranged by the School of Nursing for qualified applicants).
  • Completion of Departmental Questions.
  • 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 including traineeships, fellowships, research teaching assistantships, and scholarships may be obtained from the Indiana University School of Nurs­ing’s Center for Academic Affairs, or by visiting our Web site at PhD 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 at or

Students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA. 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 PhD curriculum consists of six core areas and MSN to PhD Bridge coursework 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 (6 cr.)
  3. Nursing Science Research Major (15 cr.)
  4. Nursing Science Concentration (8 cr.)
  5. Minor (external or internal) (9-12 cr.)
  6. Dissertation (16 cr.)
  7. BSN-PhD Bridge Coursework (30 cr.)

Total: 90 credits, minimum

Professional Development Core: (6 credits)

  • D602 Responsible Conduct of Research or equivalent (1 cr.)
  • D701 Nursing Inquiry and Scholarship (3 cr.)
  • T800 Preparing Future Faculty (2 cr.)

Nursing Theory Core: (6 credits)

  • D607 Theoretical Perspectives of Nursing Science (3 cr.)
  • D608 Middle-Range Theory (3 cr.)

Nursing Science Research Major (15 credits total); the following 9 credits are required. Students select the remaining 6 credits from the list of Cafeteria Options below:

  • PBHL B562 Biostats for Public Health (3 cr.)
  • R603 Foundations of Quantitative Research (3 cr.)
  • R607 Advanced Statistics in Nursing Research (3 cr.)
  • R610 Foundations of Qualitative Research (3 cr.)

Cafeteria Options: Select two methods courses from below:

  • PBHL B583 Applied Multivariate Analysis (3 cr.)
  • R601 Instrumentation and Measurement (3 cr.)
  • R605 Advanced Research Design and Interventions in Nursing (3 cr.)
  • R611 Advanced Qualitative Inquiry and Methods (3 cr.)
  • R613 Grounded Theory (3 cr.) 

Nursing Science Concentration (8 cr.)

  • D751 Advanced Topics in Nursing Science (various topics offered) (3 cr.)
  • D752 Directed Research Practicum (3 cr.)
  • D609 State of the Science (2 cr.)

Internal or External Minor (9-12 cr.)

Cognate or supporting course work from inside or outside nursing. May include minor in an alternate focus area, other approved minors, or individualized plans developed by the student's program planning advisory committee.

  • Health Communication
  • Gerontology
  • Health Policy
  • Informatics
  • Life Sciences
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Women's studies, Gender Studies

Dissertation: (16 credits)

           R899 Dissertation in Nursing (16 cr.)

BSN to PhD Bridge Coursework (30 cr.)

  • D751 Relationship-centered Leadership (3 cr.)
  • N502 Theory I (3 cr.)
  • R505 Measurement and Data Analysis or equivalent (3 cr.)
  • R500 Nursing Research Methods I (3 cr.)
  • Additional graduate coursework totaling (18 cr.)

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, which may 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. The candidate submits to the School of Nursing and the University Graduate School an e-document Dissertation Defense announcement noting the date, time and location of the final Dissertation Defense. The announcement must be approved by the University Graduate School a minimum of 30 days prior to the defense. The Dissertation Defense is scheduled for two hours; the first hour is public presentation of the dissertation research. The second hour is a closed meeting with the Research Committee and student. 

For rules and guidelines for final submission of the dissertation and completion of all degree requirements, students should re­fer to

Academic Bulletins

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