PhD Program

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, various other activities and outputs, engagement with faculty and colleagues and reflection. These activities will occur in and outside of the Faculty of Nursing.

All students take the following four courses in the first two years:

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

In consultation with the supervisor and based on program plans, students are additionally expected to take design/method/analysis courses and one three-credit dissertation seminar (NURS 699). These are usually taken in the second year.

Typically, students take a total of 7-10 doctoral level courses which could include nursing history, research methods, statistics and philosophy of science as well as courses in the student's substantive area. The number and type of courses will vary according to the student's academic background, experience and career goals. The majority of courses are offered face to face and a few are offered via eLearning. Doctoral level courses are numbered 600 (see Graduate Course listings in the University calendar for descriptions).


There are three exams during the PhD program.

Comprehensive Exam at the completion of the coursework, typically at the end of 2nd year; Candidacy Exam must be completed by the end of the 3rd year; and Doctoral Final Oral Exam. 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.


There are a number of internal scholarship opportunities for full-time students in a doctoral program. We have put together a list of possible funding agencies for you to consider. The list is by no means exhaustive, but can provide you with some ideas and places to start.