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Doctor of Philosophy

Photo of School of Nursing Ph.D. student

The University of Kansas welcomes your consideration of our online/distance education nursing doctoral program. The PhD in Nursing program was established in 1983 and has prepared over 150 graduates as nurse educators and research scholars in academic and healthcare settings. Our KU PhD graduates are equipped with skills to advance the art and science of nursing and to assume leadership positions in the profession.


The four purposes of the doctoral program at the KU School of Nursing are to prepare graduates to function in faculty positions in college and university settings; to conduct independent research and scholarly endeavors in nursing; to generate and expand theoretical, empirical, and philosophical bases for nursing practice; and to provide leadership to the profession and interpret nursing to society.


The doctoral program at the KU School of Nursing is based on theory and research skills gained in baccalaureate and master's education in nursing. The focus is on the development of critical thinking, independent decision-making and evaluation. The student develops expertise in research methods related to the biological, social, and nursing sciences. Development and analysis of concepts and theories used in nursing education and practice are integral components of doctoral education.

The nurse engaged in doctoral study is an adult learner with unique perspectives gained from personal, professional, and educational experiences. This individual tends to be self directed, goal oriented, highly motivated and capable of abstract, original thinking. Individual interests are explored through study in a related discipline. Learning is achieved through independent study and research, as well as through completion of courses of instruction.


  1. Develop expertise in the application of theoretical and conceptual frameworks to nursing.
  2. Conduct and communicate research that advances the body of scientific nursing knowledge.
  3. Analyze, develop, and evaluate concepts and theories that contribute to the science of nursing.
  4. Evaluate the impact of the expanded knowledge base in nursing and external forces on the provision of health care to society and on the development of health care policy.
  5. Examine the ways in which nursing knowledge and practice are influenced by historical developments, philosophical thought and cultural diversity.

Time to Degree

The median time to degree for students who graduated in 1986-2012 and completed the course work on a full time basis is three years.  The median time for all students who graduated in those years is 5.7 years. 

Employment After Graduation

Of the PhD program graduates, 75 percent have been employed in nursing education as faculty members, researchers, and administrators.  Employment categories for the remaining 25 percent include directors of research in hospitals, hospital systems and other health agencies, pharmaceutical research, clinical practice settings, National Institutes of Health, consultation, professional writing and nursing administration positions in hospitals and other agencies. 

Nursing Licensure

This program leads to an academic credential and is not a licensure preparation program. As of July 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education implemented Regulation 34 CFR 668.43 (a) (5) (v) that requires professional nursing programs to provide information on how their curriculum meets education requirements for professional licensing in each state. You may review KU School of Nursing's information on licensure by state.

Last modified: Nov 16, 2020