PhD Program

Graduate students in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta are supervised by outstanding faculty researchers who are some of the best nursing academics in Canada and globally.

The faculty is a leader in Canadian nursing academia and research, with a strong track record of community engagement and global partnerships. It is the largest Canadian nursing faculty in terms of graduate and undergraduate student numbers and research productivity. Graduates of our doctoral program receive top preparation as nursing researchers, academics and leaders.

Our faculty was the first to offer PhD studies in nursing in Canada in 1991. It is currently ranked #1 overall in Canada and #5 globally in the 2023 global QS rankings. We are especially interested in attracting doctoral students who are passionate about advancing health through research that impacts individuals, communities and health systems.

The faculty is committed to equity, diversity, inclusiveness and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities. Applicants of diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous and International students are encouraged to apply.

Doctoral applicants are required to secure a faculty member who is willing and able to serve as their graduate supervisor as part of the application process.

Find a supervisor

Some applicants may find that our current faculty members are not a good match with their proposed area of research or do not have the capacity to take additional students at this time. Applicants may work with a proposed supervisor to adjust their research plans to improve the fit and alignment with the supervisor’s program of research. Although we would like you to study at the University of Alberta, we recognize that it is not always possible as a student’s success in a PhD program depends on finding a supervisor with similar research interests.

Program Mission

Embedded in a research-intensive academic context, the Faculty of Nursing’s PhD Program is renowned for global leadership. The program develops nursing scholars who generate and mobilize knowledge, speak as influential voices for nursing, and lead with purpose and inclusivity to enhance healthcare outcomes and nursing within a global context.

Program Vision

Students in the PhD Program demonstrate excellence in the development, organization and evaluation of new knowledge. The Program is characterized by rigour in the quality of scholarship and relevance to nursing and the student’s career goals and research interests.

Program Requirements

Program learning outcomes for the doctoral nursing curriculum are guided by the National Nursing Education Framework of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, and informed by the PhD Learning Outcomes as articulated by FGSR in the University of Alberta Calendar. Program outcomes are achieved through a constellation of experiences within the program, including formal coursework, teaching and research assistantships, conferences and workshops, research training opportunities, and mentorship and coaching by the graduate supervisor and supervisory committee members. These activities may occur within the Faculty of Nursing and other faculties, and within relevant professional and community networks.

It is anticipated that by completion of the program, all doctoral students will achieve these learner outcomes, recognising that there is a spectrum of attainment based on individual career goals.

Students will take the following required courses (18 credits), typically in the first two years.

  • INT D 690 Knowledge Utilization: Science and Practice (3 credits)
  • NURS 600 Knowledge Development in Nursing (3 credits)
  • NURS 601 Advanced Nursing Inquiry (3 credits)
  • NURS 609 Synthesizing Knowledge (3 credits)
  • NURS 699 Dissertation Seminar (3 credits)
  • NURS 696 Doctoral Community of Inquiry I (1 credit)
  • NURS 697 Doctoral Community of Inquiry II (1 credit)
  • NURS 698 Doctoral Community of Inquiry III (1 credit)

In consultation with the supervisor and based on individual program plans, students typically take a total of approximately 30 credits of doctoral level courses. Elective courses focus on the substantive scholarship in the field of the student’s anticipated dissertation, and research design and methods relevant to the emerging research project. The number and type of courses will vary according to students’ academic backgrounds, experiences and career goals.

Elective graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Nursing have the prefix of either NURS or INT D. All NURS courses require permission of the Faculty for registration by students from other faculties.


There are two exams during the PhD program.

  • The candidacy exam (written and oral) must be completed by the end of the 3rd year.
  • The doctoral final oral exam is based upon the completed dissertation project.