Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science


Texas Woman's University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing Science program is for the nurse ready to assume or further a leadership position in nursing research. The Ph.D. prepared nurse demonstrates the ability to integrate nursing knowledge with that of other health care disciplines in order to research and solve problems, as well as to teach and mentor others. Ph.D. graduates engage in education focused on advanced nursing knowledge, investigative expertise, and the management skills needed to shape healthy policy and provide leadership in clinical, classroom, and community settings.

The program is offered from the Denton and Houston campuses in an online format that requires 3 or 4 synchronous online meetings and an annual two-day, in-person colloquium on either the Denton or Houston campus during the fall semester.

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. ​Be a master educator who contributes to the formal and informal education of future nurses through discovery, application, and integration.
  2. Function as a nursing leader with the ability to integrate scholarship, research, teaching, mentoring, and service to advance the profession.
  3. Be a proficient mentor with in-depth knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of the professional nurse within the context of the health care system.
  4. Be an interdisciplinary communicator and collaborator for the effective delivery of health care and/or participation in scientific research teams.
  5. ​Be an innovator and trend-setter with an appreciation of the history, philosophy, diversity, and evolving nature of the nursing profession to identify interprofessional solutions that transform health care and health systems in a global society.
  6. ​Function as a professional nurse with the philosophical, ethical, and theoretical foundations to guide the generation of policy and standards for nursing and healthcare practice.


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

The academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

 The total number of semester credit hours for degree completion is 60 beyond the master's, which includes 12 semester credit hours of Research Tools. Students are required to have a graduate level nursing theory course from their MSN or MS degree for admission to the program. 

Required Courses
NURS 6023Philosophy of Nursing Science3
NURS 6033Ethical Dimensions of Nursing3
NURS 6043Policy, Power, and Politics3
NURS 6053Exploring Scholarship3
NURS 6503Exploring Scientific Literature3
NURS 6513Measurement and Instrumentation in Nursing Research3
NURS 6523Qualitative Nursing Research3
NURS 6533Theory for Nursing Research and Practice3
NURS 6543Quantitative Nursing Research 3
NURS 6573Nursing Research Proposal Development3
NURS 6583Nursing Research Feasibility Practicum3
NURS 6593Determinants of Health3
NURS 6613Introduction to Clinical Investigation in Nursing3
NURS 6623Systematic Inquiry in Nursing3
Electives (related to student's area of research) 12
NURS 6983Dissertation (proposal development and defense)3
NURS 6993Dissertation (Research and Final Defense)3
Total SCHs60

Research Tools

Required by the Graduate School, Research Tools are courses designed to enhance the student's knowledge, skills, abilities, and access to instruments that facilitate the research process. Required research and tools include: One Research Tool required of all Ph.D. Nursing Science students is the completion of six semester credit hours of graduate-level statistics. The second Research Tool requires completion of NURS 6503 and NURS 6513 courses.

Required Courses

30 semester credit hours plus a minimum of 6 semester credit hours of dissertation.

Elective Courses

Elective courses require twelve semester credit hours to supplement student learning in areas of research topic, methods, or professional issues. Elective courses may be taken in departments other than the College of Nursing.

Dissertation Courses

A minimum of 6 semester credit hours of dissertation are required to complete the program. The first 3 credit course focuses on development and oral defense of the research proposal.  The student enrolls in a second 3 credit course to conduct the dissertation study, analyze results, and present findings.  Both courses may be repeated, but only three hours of credit count toward the degree for each of the courses.  

Policy for Assigning Ph.D. dissertation Course Grades

To receive semester credit hours for Ph.D. dissertation courses, the student registers sequentially in NURS 6983 and NURS 6993 upon which load, tuition, and fees are determined. Students are required to enroll in a minimum of six dissertation credit hours to earn the degree of Ph.D. in Nursing Science for which the grade of CR (credit) appears on the transcript. The grade of CR is not used in the calculation of the grade point average (GPA).

During semesters in which the student is engaged in dissertation research but does not complete the requirements for the course (NURS 6983 - research proposal officially filed in the Graduate School; NURS 6993 - successfully defended dissertation filed in the appropriate format in the Graduate School), a non-credit course grade of PR (in Progress) is assigned.

Non-credit options for dissertation include

  • PR (in progress) - No semester credit hours nor effect on GPA. Consistent or adequate progress made toward dissertation course objective in the current semester.
  • LP (lack of adequate progress) - No semester credit hours nor effect on GPA. Minimal progress made toward dissertation course objective in the current semester Examples include but are not limited to the following: failure to meet predetermined goals or timeline, submission of products that lack substance or completeness, inability to critically and/or correctly analyze and synthesize literature or data.
  • NP (no progress) - No semester credit hours nor effect on GPA. No progress made toward dissertation course objective in the current semester. Examples include but are not limited to the following: extreme lack of communication between the student and the dissertation chair, no evidence of data collection or other components of research process, failure to submit written materials as requested by the dissertation chair.

Any Ph.D. student in the College of Nursing receiving two consecutive semester grades of LP (lack of adequate progress) and/or NP (no progress) or three cumulative semester grades of LP/NP across the dissertation courses (both NURS 6983 and NURS 6993) will be dismissed from the program.

Any student receiving the grade of NP or LP will be required to meet with a College of Nursing advisory committee to establish a progression plan.

Only enrolled graduate students may consult with faculty, access library resources, or use technology, writing, statistical or other services.

Special Requirements

Grade of B or higher is required in all Ph.D. coursework. A student who has earned a grade of less than B (C, D, or F) in two Ph.D. courses at the graduate level or who has earned a grade of less than B (C, D, or F) twice in the same graduate-level course will be removed from the nursing program. For the purpose of removal from the nursing program, a grade of less than B is counted as a grade of less than ‘B’ even if the course has been successfully repeated.

Qualifying Exam

Ph.D. Portfolio Components and required supporting documentation satisfy the requirements for the Ph.D. qualifying examination. The Scholarly Portfolio documents the student's accomplishments in meeting the program objectives of the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science. Components of the portfolio demonstrate academic and professional growth and development in an organized, coherent format to facilitate evaluation by the student's academic advisory committee.

Students advance to Ph.D. candidacy, and subsequent enrollment in dissertation courses, following successful presentation of the completed portfolio qualifying exam.

Final Examination

An oral exam over the completed dissertation.