Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

Drop Shadow

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of doctoral education?

The Ph.D. Program prepares beginning level nurse scientists, the majority of whom become nursing faculty. The Ph.D. Program is based on the belief that nursing is a science, that nurse scholars must receive doctoral preparation to develop as scientists, and that doctoral education is best accomplished in a milieu in which faculty and students participate in a partnership of inquiry. Successful graduates think critically, conduct research and serve as successful collaborators and principal investigators on interdisciplinary research teams. Graduates develop leadership skills to influence health policy and promote social justice at local, national and global levels.

What are the curriculum requirements for the doctoral program of study?

The doctoral curriculum is comprised of four areas of study: theory development, designed to develop analytical abilities and provide the knowledge base and skills requisite to the development of the nurse scholar; conduct of research, designed to enhance the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement a program of research; area of emphasis specific to the research topic of individual interest; and dissertation, development of the research proposal, data collection, writing of the dissertation, and the final oral presentation.

How many units is the doctoral program?

The doctoral program includes a minimum of 48 units of post-master’s course work:
Theory Development (9 units)
Research (15-18 units)
Area of Emphasis (9 -12 units)
Dissertation (12 units minimum)
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required in degree courses.

What are the application requirements?

The application deadline is February 1. A minimum GPA of 3.5 (4.00 scale) is required for the Post-Master's PhD Program and a minimum GPA of 3.0 (4.00 scale) is required for the BSN to PhD Program. Three letters of reference, including two from doctorally prepared nurses, should be submitted with the application. A personal statement of research interest and professional career goals is also required. An interview will be scheduled for those who meet preliminary selection criteria.

What are the requirements for international applicants?

International applicants must generally meet the same requirements. Waiver of the California RN licensure requirement is considered on an individual basis. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is mandatory of all applicants except those who are from English speaking countries or applicants who have attained a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from an accredited school in the United States.

The English Language Academy is available on campus for students interested in improving their speaking and writing skills in the English language. 

The University of San Diego's minimum scores are:

237 on the computer-based test
580 on the paper-based test
83 on the internet-based test

Band score 7

International applicants are also required to have their transcripts evaluated by World Education Services (www.wes.org).  A Course-by-Course Report from WES must be submitted with your application. Be advised that the evaluation will take at least 20 days, sometimes much longer. Please contact the agency for more information.

What should be included in the personal statement of career goals?

The personal statement of career goals should include an area of research interest and related clinical, teaching, and/or research experience. The area of research interest should be similar to the expertise of USD School of Nursing faculty. Future career goals following the course of study graduation should also be addressed.

What is the length of the program?

Academic coursework, mentorship by faculty, and independent study provides the mechanism for a full-time student to progress through the Post-Master's PhD program in 3 to 4 years and through the BSN to PhD program in approximately 6 years.

Are financial aid and/or scholarships available?

The University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing & Health Science received funding from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish and operate a student loan fund to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty. Up to 85% of the principal and interest of the NFLP loan may be forgiven after a student completes the PhD program in advanced nursing education and works as a full-time faculty member in an accredited School of Nursing for four years.  Please contact the School for application materials at 619.260.4548.

In addition to this fund, there are Federal Stafford Loans, University Grants, and Scholarships available. To learn more about the Federal Stafford Loans and University Grants, please contact the Office of Financial Aid Services at (619) 260-4514. To receive information about the School of Nursing Scholarships, please call (619) 260-4548.

What are the career opportunities for a PhD prepared nurse?

Students receive a strong foundation in scientific inquiry with a focus on a clinically relevant area for scholarship and research, hands-on research skills, strategies to promote nursing scholarship, such as grant writing and publication, and a focus on knowledge transmission of the discipline of nursing. Nurses prepared with a PhD have career opportunities as faculty and administrators in university settings. They assume the role of nurse scientist as principle investigators or members of interdisciplinary research teams in academic and health care settings. Positions are also open to PhD prepared nurses in government or private organizations influencing health policy and health care.