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 of Nursing 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 #2 overall in Canada; tied for #1 in reputation ranking with the University of Toronto Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing; and tied for #2 in research ranking with the University of British Columbia. The Faculty ranked 18th in the 2020 global QS rankings (up 5 spots from last year).  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. Click here to 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
Within a research-intensive context, the Faculty of Nursing’s PhD Program exists to prepare nursing scholars for the 21st century who are able to generate new knowledge and facilitate change to advance healthcare outcomes and nursing within a global context.
Program Vision

Students in the PhD Program are engaged in and educated for excellence in the development, organization and evaluation of new knowledge.  The program is characterized by rigour, flexibility and relevance: rigour in the quality of scholarship and flexibility within and relevance to the discipline of nursing and the student’s career goals and research interests. 

The graduate will exhibit competencies in each of the following core qualities:

  • Advancing nursing
  • Enhancing scholarship
  • Mobilizing knowledge
  • Extending inquiry
  • Leading change
Program Requirements

For each student, advancement of the core qualities will occur through a combination of activities, learning experiences and skills derived from supervision, course participation, scholarly experiences, engagement with faculty and colleagues, and personal reflection.  These activities will occur in and outside of the Faculty of Nursing.

English is the language of study.  All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the time a student first registers as a graduate student.

All students take the following five courses:

  • NURS 600 - Theory Development in Nursing
  • NURS 601 - Advanced Inquiry
  • NURS 609 – Synthesizing Knowledge
  • INT D 690 – Topics in Knowledge Utilization
  • NURS 699 - Dissertation Seminar

Typically, students take a total of 7-10 doctoral level courses which could include research design/methods/analysis courses, statistics, philosophy of science, and other substantive courses related to the student’s dissertation proposal.  The number and type of courses will vary according to the student’s academic background, experience and career goals, and are determined in consultation with the graduate supervisor. Doctoral level courses are numbered 600 (see Graduate Course listings in the University calendar for descriptions).

Examinations

There are three exams during the PhD program.

  • A written comprehensive exam occurs at the completion of the coursework, typically at the end of 2nd year.
  • 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.  
Graduate Student Funding

The University of Alberta has a significant award and funding program for graduate students, with awards offered both by the Faculty and the University. Generous donors and sponsors make it possible to offer awards to graduate students in the Faculty of Nursing. Most funding opportunities are by competitive application. Please consult the website of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for additional information about awards and funding.

Some graduate supervisors may be able to provide funding through the external grants that support their research projects. Graduate supervisors will also assist students to apply for funding from sources that are appropriate to the student’s program of studies and level of academic achievement. 

Graduate student funding is available from the Faculty of Nursing through a program of graduate teaching and research assistantships. 

Please note that doctoral students in Nursing are strongly encouraged to be prepared to self-fund their doctoral studies as there is no guaranteed funding for graduate students.

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Finding a Supervisor