Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Philosophy

The School of Nursing is a community of scholars having as its central purpose the enrichment of the human mind. Within this community, the Doctor of Philosophy program in nursing seeks to prepare scholars who will advance nursing knowledge. Scholarly achievement in nursing is accomplished in a spirit of free inquiry directed toward a better understanding of human existence, especially in relation to health and illness. The domains of nursing knowledge are emerging and still being defined. Nurse scholars must participate in the study of particular phenomena and in the identification of central domains related to these phenomena. This requires that students be well informed about advanced practice in professional nursing.

Nursing knowledge is advanced through association with other disciplines and is often enhanced by the work of other university scholars. Central to the education of nurse scholars is the opportunity to interact with other scholars throughout the university community. Through dialogue and study with these professionals, nurse scholars expand their understanding of health and illness and the biological, environmental, sociocultural, ethical, legal, philosophic and historic factors influencing nursing care.

Scholars must be inquisitive, informed and committed. This requires expertise in the principles and methods of inquiry and an informed imagination for exploring substantive areas in nursing. The ultimate goal of this inquiry is to enhance nursing's contribution to the health of all persons.

Purpose and Program Aims

The major purpose of the doctoral program in nursing is to prepare scholars with expertise in selected substantive areas who will contribute to nursing theory and practice through systematic inquiry.

Aims of the doctoral program in nursing are to prepare scholars who will:

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of nursing, related sciences and humanities, and methods of inquiry;
  2. Expand the research base of nursing theory and practice; and
  3. Serve the Commonwealth, the nation and the world by addressing major nursing and health care issues in a scholarly manner.

Admission

Admission Requirements
  1. Minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an NLN accredited program.
  2. Academic record that demonstrates a minimum of a B average.
  3. Capacity for doctoral study based upon achievement on the GRE.
  4. Three satisfactory letters of reference-two from doctorally prepared nurse educators and one from a current or recent employer-that speak to the applicant's ability to pursue doctoral studies.
  5. Current curriculum vita which reflects professional achievements and productivity.
  6. Clearly written essay of no more than 1000 words describing educational, research and professional goals. This statement must include a specific description of the applicant's focus of study and a researchable topic for development.
  7. One-two examples of scholarly work (example: Master's thesis, publications, formal papers).
  8. Current license to practice nursing.
  9. A personal interview with one or more faculty members.
Admission Procedure   Application forms may be obtained from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The applicant must:
  1. Request that official transcripts of all academic work be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
  2. Obtain three letters of recommendation from persons who can speak directly to the applicant's ability to pursue doctoral study (two from doctorally prepared nurse educators, and one from a current or recent employer). The recommendations are to be sent by the writers of the recommendations directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
  3. Arrange to take the Graduate Record Aptitude Examination. All GRE scores must be current, within five years of the date of application. Applicants are encouraged to take these examinations as soon as possible and to send test results to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Address inquiries to the Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08540 or to the Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 1502, Berkeley, CA 94701.
The completed application, the application fee and all supporting data must be forwarded no later than February 1 prior to September enrollment.

Matriculation   Once a student has been admitted into the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program he/she has one calendar year in which to matriculate. A student who fails to begin classes within one year must re-apply for admission.

Special Student Status   When unusual and/or extenuating circumstances prevent an applicant from completing the admission process prior to the established deadline, special permission may be given for the individual to enroll in a maximum of nine credits of predetermined fall semester course work as a special student. Completion of course work as a special student does not guarantee admission to the program.

Degree Requirements   To earn a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Nursing the student must:

  1. Successfully complete the prescribed program of study, including cognates and electives.
  2. Fulfill the minimum residence requirement of two consecutive semesters of full-time residential study during the academic year beyond the requirements for the master's degree. Full-time graduate work consists of a minimum of nine credits of on-grounds course work per semester.
  3. Successfully complete a written preliminary examination.
  4. Successfully complete all dissertation requirements including (a) writing and defending a dissertation proposal, (b) conducting an appropriate research study, (c) submitting an acceptable written report of the research, and (d) passing an oral final examination on the conduct and conclusion of the dissertation.
  5. Complete all additional requirements as specified by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the doctoral committee, and the advisor.
Students who enter the doctoral program with a baccalaureate degree will be expected to complete all requirements in a selected area of concentration in the master's program as part of the requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

Grades   The standing of a graduate student in each course is indicated by one of the following symbols: A+ (exceptional), A (very distinguished), A- (distinguished), B+ (very good), B (satisfactory), B- (acceptable), C (unsatisfactory), F (failure). In general, it is expected that letter grades will be assigned in all required doctoral courses. In courses where letter grades are not possible, "CR" (credit) or "NC" (no credit) may be used with permission from the Director of Graduate Studies to designate student progress. The symbols S (satisfactory) and U (unsatisfactory) are used to report progress on dissertation or special projects. Minimum grades of "B-," "CR," "S," are required in all courses offered for any graduate degree. If a student receives a "C" grade in any School of Nursing course, the course must be repeated. A grade of "C" in any other course requires repeating the course and earning a satisfactory grade or earning a minimum grade of "B-" in an alternate course. Students who receive more than one "C"grade are automatically dropped from the program. Any "F" grade results in the student being dropped from the program. A grade of Incomplete is a non-grade designation given for a course. The Incomplete designation will be recorded as an F if it is not removed by the end of the next semester (including Summer Session) or by the time negotiated with the professor if earlier than the end of the next semester.

Minimal Credit Requirements for Registration and Fees   For the Doctor of Philosophy degree, a student must complete and pay tuition and fees for a minimum of 60 credits of graduate course work beyond requirements for the master's degree, plus 12 or more credits of dissertation research and at least 3 credits of non-topical research. Students who enter with prior graduate course work that is accepted in transfer must complete and pay tuition and fees for at least 48 credits of graduate course work (two full academic year sessions) beyond requirements for the master's degree, plus dissertation and non-topical research.

After completing course work, a student may pay the research fee rather than the higher tuition rate for the semester in which the student defends the dissertation proposal or the completed dissertation. A student using university resources while working on the dissertation is also expected to pay the research fee. A student working on the dissertation away from the university, without the use of university resources, may register for the non-resident fee. Registration as a non-resident student is permitted only when the student is using no university resources, including faculty time. A student living in Charlottesville or Albemarle County must obtain special permission from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to register as a non-resident student. A student must be registered, at the regular tuition rate, the research rate, or the non-resident rate, for the semester in which the degree is granted.

Full-Time Course Load   A typical full-time course load consist of nine to 12 credits of course work plus GNUR 997 Non-Topical Research. Each student's plan of study is determined in collaboration with the student's faculty advisor. GNUR 997 Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research, must be registered for concurrently with course work until the time a dissertation chairperson is selected. Credits from GNUR 997 are not counted in the total program hours of credit.

Residency Requirements   Students must be in full-time residential study for two consecutive semesters beyond completion of the master's level course of study.

Length of Time in Program   Students must be enrolled and pay full tuition and fees for at least four semesters or the equivalent. All requirements for the degree must be completed within seven years of the time of admission to the program.

Transfer of Credit   Transcripts of students who have completed a master's degree in nursing or other graduate work are evaluated and the following credit may be transferred if assessed as equivalent to courses offered at the University of Virginia:

3 credits of research methodology
3 credits of statistics
3 credits in cognate area
3 credits of electives

Specific cognate and elective courses to be accepted will be determined by the student's faculty advisor. Research and statistics courses to be accepted will be determined by the professor(s) who teach the course(s) in collaboration with the faculty advisor. The process of obtaining transfer credit must be initiated by the student before the end of the first year of study.

Academic and Dissertation Advising   Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor. The advisor works with the student during the initial stages of program development, guiding and monitoring the student's program of study. The student and advisor have joint responsibility for insuring that each step in fulfilling degree requirements is completed and that an official record is kept.

After the student identifies an area of study for her/his dissertation, she/he selects a dissertation chairperson. With the help of the dissertation chairperson, the student selects members of her/his dissertation committee. Dissertation committee members may or may not have been members of the student's preliminary examination committee. The committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members of the University of Virginia appointed to the rank of assistant professor or higher. The chairperson is included as one of the four members. One member must be from outside the School of Nursing and serves as a representative of the Graduate Committee. Three members must be faculty in the School of Nursing. A fifth member from another educational institution may be added with the approval of the dissertation chairperson. The purpose of the committee is to guide the student's dissertation research and plan of study. Changes in dissertation chairperson must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Nursing and the student. Changes in committee membership must be approved by the dissertation chairperson and the student. The dissertation chairperson may or may not have been the student's faculty advisor. Selection of a chairperson is dependent upon mutual agreement of the student and faculty member who is asked to guide the dissertation research. Dissertation chairpersons must be faculty members in the School of Nursing. The chairperson assumes primary responsibility for assisting the student in developing a continued plan of study, monitoring the student's progress, and guiding the student throughout the dissertation process.

Approval of Program of Study   Initial approval of a student's plan of study is granted by the student's preliminary examination committee upon successful completion of the preliminary examination. Certification that the student has completed all required and recommended course work for the Ph.D. degree is granted by the dissertation chair and committee at the time of the successful defense of the dissertation proposal. To be officially approved, the certification of completion of course work must be signed by the dean of the School of Nursing and the dissertation chairperson.

Preliminary Examination   The preliminary examination is a paper that the student submits within six months of completing the following courses: GNUR 800, GNUR 814, GNUR 815, GNUR 820, GNUR 821, GNUR 822, and GNUR 824. The preliminary examination requires the student to articulate his/her goals for the doctorate, describe a program of courses and research that will help to meet the goals, and synthesize in a preliminary research proposal knowledge relevant to the content and methods of research in the student's selected area of inquiry.

The student must complete the "Request to Take Preliminary Examination" form and return it to the Director of the Doctoral Program during the first two weeks of the semester during which the student plans to submit the examination. The Director will notify the chair of the Doctoral Program Committee, who will appoint an examination committee to read and grade the examination.

Additional information about the preliminary examination can be found in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Dissertation Proposal   Once a student has passed the preliminary examination and completed course work, he or she is eligible to write and defend the dissertation proposal. Prior to the meeting at which the student will defend the dissertation proposal, the student must have completed all courses required by the program and necessary to conduct the research specified by the dissertation proposal. The dissertation chairperson and committee members are responsible for certifying that all necessary courses have been completed. The proposal must be defended in the presence of the dissertation committee and formally approved by all committee members. Guidelines for the proposal are available in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Admission to Candidacy   Candidacy is awarded upon the successful defense of the dissertation proposal and the certification of completion of course work. Ph.D. candidacy signifies that all doctoral work except the dissertation has been successfully completed, and that if the dissertation research is carried out according to the approved proposal, at the completion of the work the student should be awarded the doctoral degree.

Administrative and Human Rights Approval for DissertationResearch   After the dissertation proposal has been approved, the process of gathering the research data may begin. If the student's dissertation involves the collection of primary or secondary data on human subjects, both administrative approval and human rights approval must be obtained. Guidelines for approval must be obtained from the University of Virginia Human Investigations Committee and appropriate committees of other agencies in which data are to be collected. More specific guidelines are available in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Technical Requirements in Writing the Dissertation   The School of Nursing requires that dissertations be written according to the format recommended by the chairperson and consistent with the nature of the research. The student should be consistent in the use of the particular style manual selected throughout the dissertation research.

After making required revisions, the student prepares a final draft of the dissertation and an abstract. Guidelines for the title page and "Physical Standards for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertation" must be adhered to. Copies may be obtained from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Office of Enrolled Students, 4th Floor, Cabell Hall.

Final Dissertation Defense   The student must arrange a location, date, and time (approximately two hours) that is satisfactory to all committee members for the oral defense of the dissertation. It is the student's responsibility to make arrangements for the dissertation defense. The final copy of the dissertation must be distributed to committee members a reasonable amount of time prior to the defense, with "reasonable amount of time" defined by those members involved. The oral defense is on the dissertation topic and on relevant contextual considerations raised by the research question and topic. All changes that are made in the oral defense are resubmitted to the chairperson of the committee for approval. Following the defense the student submits the "Dissertation Approval Sheet" to the Dean of the School of Nursing for signature. The defense must be completed at least two weeks before the date on which the final copy of the dissertation is submitted. In addition, committee members' signatures must be obtained on the Final Examination form which is also to be signed by the Dean of the School of Nursing and submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Submitting the Dissertation for Inspection and Approval   Three copies of the approved dissertation, all of which must be letter quality, must be brought to the Graduate School Office (Room 438, Cabell Hall) for inspection not later than May 1 if the degree is to be conferred in May or August 1 if the degree is to be conferred in August or December 14 if the degree is to be conferred in January. These copies are placed in Alderman Library, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, and the School of Nursing. For more specific details regarding preparation and submission of the dissertation please see the requirements under the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences description in chapter 5 of this Record.

Application for Degrees   Ph.D. degrees are granted in January, May and August. The student must be registered for the fall semester to receive the degree in January; for the spring semester to receive the degree in May; and for summer session to receive the degree in August. The student must file the degree application with the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on a form available at the Graduate School Office. All doctoral degree applications must be submitted not later than February 1 if the degree is to be conferred in May or July 1 if the degree is to be conferred in August or October 1 if the degree is to be conferred in January.

Candidates who do not receive a degree in the session for which their application has been approved must renew their application in proper form at the beginning of the session in which candidacy for the degree is to be awarded. Candidates who find that they will not be able to receive their degree in the session for which their application was approved must remove their names from the degree list by a specific date in the session (see calendar). If this is not done a duplication diploma fee will be charged by the Registrar.

Voluntary Withdrawal   A graduate student may not voluntarily withdraw from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences later than one week immediately preceding the beginning of course examinations. An official application to withdraw must be obtained from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Office and must be approved in writing by the Dean, with a statement of the reason for the withdrawal. The student must report to the Dean of Students Office for an exit interview. All student identification cards are to be deposited with the Dean of Students at the time of withdrawal. The official withdrawal form will be forwarded to the University Registrar, who notifies all other administrative offices of the withdrawal action.

A student who withdraws from the University for reasons of ill health must notify Student Health Services, and subsequent medical clearance from Student Health Services is among the requirements for readmission.

Failure to comply with the above regulations will subject the student to suspension from the University by the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Readmission After Voluntary Withdrawal   Readmission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is not automatic; after absence of a semester or longer, a former student must apply for readmission to the Graduate School. To apply for readmission to the University, the student must submit an application to the academic dean's office at least 60 days before the next University scheduled class registration.

Enforced Withdrawal   The student may be required to withdraw from the University if the advisor, the dissertation chairperson, the responsible department members and the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences determine that the student is making unsatisfactory progress toward a degree.

Leave of Absence   The Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may grant leaves of absence to students for a semester or a session upon written application which states the reason for leaving the University temporarily.

Program Description   Required courses in the nursing field (22 credits) are:
GNUR 800 History of American Health Care Professions and Institutions 1850-1970
GNUR 814 Scientific Progress in Nursing
GNUR 815 Philosophy of Science and Development of Nursing Knowledge
GNUR 860 Vulnerability and Resilience within the Nursing Context
GNUR 861 Health Behavior and Health Promotion Research
GNUR 862 Concepts and Methods in Nursing/Health Services Research
GNUR 875 Mentored Study: Synthesis of Focal Knowledge
GNUR 991 Professional Issues in Scholarship

Required courses in the research component (20 credits) are:
GNUR 820 Research Methods
GNUR 821 Statistical Meth in Health Care I
GNUR 822 Statistical Methods in Health Care II
GNUR 823 Statistical Methods in Health Care III
GNUR 824 Naturalistic and Interpretive Approaches to Nursing Research
GSAS 710 Research Ethics
GNUR 990 Research Practicum

Cognate (9-12 credits) requirement includes course work in a single cognate field or combination of fields that complement the student's major scholarly focus.
Electives (6-9 credits) are selected by the student on the basis of individual interest and should complement the total program of study. Cognates plus electives must total at least 18 credits.
Non-topical research (3 or more credits) provides individual advisement about the student's developing research plan prior to the dissertation stage.
Dissertation (12 credits) is a culminating experience which requires the student to plan and implement a research study of significance to nursing.

Curriculum Pattern for Full-Time Students Entering in Fall 1995

First Year
Fall Semester

GNUR 800 History of American Health Care Professions & Institutions 1850-1970 (3)
GNUR 860 Vulnerability and Resilience within the Nursing Context (3)
Cognate/elective
Cognate/elective

Spring Semester
GNUR 824 Naturalistic and Interpretive Approaches to Nursing (3)
GNUR 861 Health Behaviors and Health Promotion (3)
Cognate/elective
Cognate/elective

Summer Session
GNUR 815 Philosophy of Science & Development of Nursing Knowledge (3)
GNUR 990 Research Practicum (1-12)

Second Year
Fall Semester
GNUR 814 Scientific Progress in Nursing (3)
GNUR 821 Statistical Methods for Health Care Research I (3)
GSAS 710 Research Ethics (3)

Spring Semester
GNUR 820 Research Methods (3)
GNUR 822 Statistical Methods for Health Care Research II (3)
Cognate/elective
Cognate/elective

Summer Session
GNUR 862 Nursing/Health Services Research (3)

Third Year
Fall Semester
GNUR 823 Statistical Methods for Health Care Research III (3)
GNUR 875 Mentored Study: Synthesis of Focal Knowledge (3)

Spring Semester
GNUR 991 Professional Issues in Scholarship (1)
GNUR 997 Dissertation Research (1-12)

The plan of study for students who begin in an even numbered fall semester (for example, Fall 1996) can be found in the School of Nursing Doctoral Student Handbook.