PhD Program in Nursing

PhD student working with ABSN studentPhD Program in Nursing Program Goals

The goal of the PhD Program in Nursing is to prepare nurse scholars who will build nursing science by leading interdisciplinary research initiatives targeting the interface between chronic illness and care systems with a lens towards health equity. These initiatives aim to better understand, develop, and test innovative interventions and translate research into practice. PhD student tuition and 12-month stipends are fully funded for up to five years.

The Duke University School of Nursing PhD Program builds on the foundational knowledge and expertise acquired in a BSN education and on the advanced substantive and expert knowledge gained in an MSN education to develop nurse scientists who will contribute significant new knowledge related to chronic illness and care systems.

Our approach at Duke University School of Nursing is to admit a small number of highly qualified applicants so that every student will work closely with one or more faculty members in a series of mentored experiences supported by formal coursework.


Your work with our faculty will:

  • Socialize you to the role of nurse scientist;

  • Ensure you gain significant knowledge and acquire the skills for launching a successful independent program of research post-doctorate; and

  • Prepare yourself for an entry-level role as a nurse scientist in a research setting (e.g., academic, clinical, or industry).

To help our students succeed, the Duke School of Nursing PhD Program provides:

  • A broad perspective on the philosophy of science and its application to solving challenging health problems facing our nation, particularly those related to chronic illness care systems, the social determinates of health, and health equity;

  • Experience with standard and emerging research designs and methods;

  • Rigorous training in statistics; and

  • Mentored research and teaching experiences to reinforce knowledge acquisition and skill development.

In addition to addressing the standards of Duke University and ensuring the highest-quality PhD education, the Duke PhD Program in Nursing is designed to meet the indicators of quality in research-focused doctoral programs set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Study with Duke expert faculty focused on:

  • Acute & Long-Term Care Systems

  • Adaptive Leadership

  • Decision Making

  • Disease Prevention

  • Family Caregiving

  • Health Equity

  • Informatics

  • Multi-level Interventions

  • Nurse-led Models of Care

  • Palliative and End-of-Life Care

  • Perioperative Care

  • Social Determinants of Health

  • Symptom Management

    • Specialty Populations

    • Premature and High-Risk Infants

    • Children with Acute and Chronic Illnesses

    • Adults with HIV, Hepatitis C, Diabetes, Sickle Cell Disease, Cancer, or Cardiovascular Disease

    • Older Adults

PhD Program in Nursing Theme and Description

The PhD Program in Nursing will prepare nurse scientists to conduct nursing research in the broad area of Trajectories of Chronic Illness, Care Systems, and Health Equity.

The program requires a minimum of 52 credit hours of graduate coursework (post-MSN) before a dissertation. Students will work on active research projects, and it is expected that most will graduate with a record of publication. Coursework is structured with a substantive core (31 credits) of nursing science and research methods to be taken in the School of Nursing. This core will be expanded with elected statistics, research methods, and minor area courses (15 credits) to be taken mainly outside of nursing in other Duke University departments or other Universities in the areas where Duke has agreements (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, North Carolina Central University). Additional requirements include a 1-credit research practica and 5 credits that count toward a teaching certificate.

In addition to course work, the PhD Program in Nursing will require each student to develop a scholarly portfolio, complete a preliminary examination, and the dissertation.

Terminal Objectives

After the PhD Program in Nursing, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate expertise on chronic illness and care systems trajectories and the intersection between these, as applied to a specific population (e.g., age, gender, ethnic or specific illness groups).

  2. Contribute to developing conceptual models and theories about trajectories of chronic illness, care systems, and their intersection, which reflect a synthesis of knowledge from nursing and other disciplines.

  3. Evaluate and synthesize research conducted in nursing and related disciplines.

  4. Demonstrate scientific integrity in designing and conducting nursing research using appropriate methods and analysis techniques, especially longitudinal methods.

  5. Conduct interdisciplinary research addressing trajectories of chronic illness, care systems, and the intersection between these, using culturally competent approaches.

  6. Disseminate research findings to advance the evidence base for nursing and health care practice, particularly addressing chronic illness and care systems trajectories.

Scroll back to top automatically