Jun 10, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Philosophy - Nursing

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Plan Description

Individuals who complete the Ph.D. in Nursing Program will be prepared to advance nursing science and practice through rigorous research, evidence-based education, and dynamic leadership. 

Graduates will demonstrate the following program outcomes:

  • Provide leadership in the advancement of nursing as a scientific and practice discipline through the conduct of culturally competent scholarship and identification of implications for policy, the discipline, and the profession.
  • Conduct and communicate original research that generates new knowledge.
  • Develop, implement and evaluate innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Course Offerings:
Doctoral courses offered by the School of Nursing are web-based. However, students are required to attend an on-campus orientation prior to the first semester of enrollment. These meeting times and dates are set in advance to allow students adequate time to make appropriate plans. Students are also required to be on campus for their oral comprehensive exams, proposal defense, and final dissertation defense.

Programs of Study:
There are three options in the current Ph.D. in Nursing Program:

  • Nursing Education Track
  • Post-MSN-Nursing Education Accelerated Degree Track
  • Post-D.N.P. to Ph.D. Track

The UNLV School of Nursing (SON) Ph.D. in Nursing Curriculum Framework outlines the shared required core courses in the Ph.D. Nursing Program.

View Program Disclaimers.

For more information about your program, including your graduate program handbook and learning outcomes please visit the Degree Directory.

Plan Admission Requirements

Application deadlines

Applications available on the UNLV Graduate College website.

Admission into the nursing doctoral program is contingent upon the qualifications of the applicant and the availability of open positions. Students are admitted once a year in the fall. Applicants must have submitted all required materials by the deadline posted on the School of Nursing website.

All applicants must provide the following:

  1. Generally, a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 = A scale) earned in a nursing or health-related master’s program of study is required. Students who graduated from accredited competency-based schools are advised to contact the Program Director for additional information.
  2. Successful completion within the last 5 years of graduate course work or equivalent in statistics with a B or better.
  3. Current unencumbered and unrestricted license as a Registered Nurse in at least one state or territory of the US.
  4. Applicants must present GRE scores on verbal, quantitative and analytic measures. The exam must have been taken within the last five years. Post DNP applicants are exempt from this requirement.
  5. Three letters of recommendation are required from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s motivation, academic capability, scholarship potential, and personal integrity for doctoral study in nursing.
  6. Evidence of current health and malpractice insurance. Accepted applicants must, prior to enrollment, show proof of completion of the Hepatitis B vaccine series, a titer indicating presumptive immunity, or a statement from a health care provider indicating that vaccination is contraindicated for health reasons and validation of a negative drug screen. Other immunization and health data requirements are identified in the student handbook.
  7. Two representative samples of scholarly work (e.g., thesis, demonstration project, publications, etc.).
  8. Written statement of personal career, educational and scholarship goals including identification of research interests. Statement should include description of how the applicant’s research goals align with specific faculty programs of research.
  9. Curriculum Vita or resume.
  10. Applicants are required to participate in an interview with members of the Admissions Committee, either in person, video conference, or by telephone.


Post-D.N.P. to Ph.D. Track applicants must also submit:
Evidence of an earned Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the National League for Nursing (NLN) Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA), or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is required. In addition to the required courses below, students must have 17 units from an accredited DNP program.

Nursing Education or Post-MSN-Nursing Education Accelerated Degree Track applicants must also submit:
Earned master’s degrees in nursing (MSN) require programs accredited by CCNE, NLN CNEA, or ACEN; persons educated outside the United States need to demonstrate proof of equivalent education and advanced degrees.

Persons holding a bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in a health-related discipline from an accredited institution are eligible for admission but will need to successfully complete graduate level courses in health and public policy and nursing theory.

Post-MSN-Nursing Education Accelerated Degree Track applicants must also submit:
Upon approval of all the previous requirements, applicants who completed NURS 709, 710, 724, and 733 or equivalent course work during either their masters’ or postmasters’ education are eligible to apply for the Post-MSN-Nursing Education Degree Track.

All domestic and international applicants must review and follow the Graduate College Admission and Registration Requirements.

Students are accepted into a degree program as described in the Graduate Catalog. The faculty and corresponding sub-disciplines and sub-plans within the described programs are subject to change at any time.

Subplan 1 Requirements: Nursing Education Track

Total Credits Required: 62

View Subplan Disclaimers

Subplan 2 Requirements: Post-MSN-Nursing Education Accelerated Degree Track

Total Credits Required: 50

View Subplan Disclaimers

Subplan 3 Requirements: Post-D.N.P. to Ph.D. Track

Total Credits Required: 45

View Subplan Disclaimers

Plan Degree Requirements

Complete the minimum credits required.

A grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained in all courses required for the degree; no grade less than B is acceptable for curricular completion of the program.

Upon admission, each student will be assigned to the Ph.D. coordinator as their initial academic advisor who will plan the student’s entire program of study. Approved courses will include those taught in other disciplines but must relate to the student’s area of research.

After the student has selected a research topic, the student will select an advisor based on research focus and needs. Upon student recommendation, faculty acceptance, and approval from both the Ph.D. Coordinator and the Graduate College, the advisor will be changed.

In consultation with his/her advisor, the student will organize a dissertation committee of at least three departmental members. In addition, a fourth member from outside the department, known as the Graduate College Representative, must be appointed. An additional committee member may be added at the student and department’s discretion. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.

Upon completion of all required course work other than dissertation and research seminar, each student must take a written and oral Comprehensive Examination that will assess a doctoral student’s readiness to begin the doctoral dissertation. Specifically, the examination will evaluate a student’s written and oral articulation of a possible dissertation research focus or problem. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam, the student achieves candidacy and may register for dissertation credits and begin dissertation proposal development followed by independent dissertation study.
Students who do not successfully complete the exam will be placed on academic probation.
Failure to successfully complete the exam or meet the requirements of academic probation will result in separation.

Upon successfully completing the comprehensive examination, the student submits a dissertation prospectus to his/her committee for approval. After approval, the student submits a “Prospectus Approval Form” to the Graduate College. The student’s major advisor and dissertation committee are responsible for the student’s progression through the dissertation.

Upon completion of the dissertation, the student must pass a final oral examination which involves the successful defense of the dissertation study. All dissertation committee members must be present for this examination and may question the student following presentation of the study. The defense will be scheduled and conducted in accordance with the Graduate College’s policies for dissertation completion.

Plan Graduation Requirements

The student must submit all required forms to the Graduate College and then apply for graduation according to the timeline established by the Graduate College.

The student must submit and successfully defend his/her dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.

After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here. 

Plan Disclaimers

Subplan 1: Nursing Education Track: This program does not result in licensure and certification.

Subplan 2: Post-MSN-Nursing Education Accelerated Degree Track: This program does not result in licensure and certification.

Subplan 3: Post-D.N.P. to Ph.D. Track: This program does not result in licensure and certification.

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