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Curriculum

To earn the PhD, students must complete the following course units (CUs) in addition to satisfying several non-credit milestones.

The below requirements apply only to PhD students entering Fall 2018 and later. Students who entered in Fall 2017 and earlier should refer to the PhD Student Handbook for a complete listing of degree requirements.

Coursework

Core courses (7 CUs)

NURS750
Inquiry and Nursing

This course introduces students to the process of intellectual inquiry. It explores the intellectual foundations of scholarly disciplines in general and the discipline of nursing in particular. Emphasis is placed on the process of knowledge development, with particular emphasis on historical, philosophical, positivist, and gendered and phenomenological ways of knowing. Emphasis is also placed on having students develop their particular intellectual approach to disciplinary inquiry and on formulating ideas for publications and presentations.

NURS753
Evolving Nursing Science

A consideration of contemporary nursing research as it pertains to the current state of the art and directions for future study. Advanced analysis of methodology, assumptions, and theoretical structures that underpin the work.

NURS754
Quantitative Research Design and Methods

This one semester survey course provides an overview of quantitative clinical research design and methods. Ethical and legal considerations in human subjects research, access to patient populations, sampling designs and power analysis, experimental and non-experimental designs, measurement of variables, data collection techniques, and data management are included. This course is intended for doctoral students in the health sciences.

NURS800
Dissertation Seminar I

Advanced study and research in nursing leading to the completion of the dissertation proposal.

NURS813
Qualitative Paradigm Empirical Nursing Research

Study of selected qualitative paradigm empirical research approaches, including design and methodology. Critique of selected qualitative research reports from the literature of nursing and related disciplines. Fieldwork exercise and research proposal required.

NURS890
Nursing Doctoral Teaching Residency

The purpose of this required one semester teaching residency is to enhance the expertise of students in the role of educator. The residency will be tailored to the student’s individual learning needs. At the minimum, students with no or minimal prior teaching experience will gain a beginning level of expertise in course planning, course evaluation, dealing with difficult student situations, test construction, paper assignment construction and grading, content delivery methods, as well as other aspects of the faculty teaching role. Students with more extensive teaching experience will tailor their residences with their residency supervisor to enhance their expertise in these various areas.

NURS897
Nursing Doctoral Research Residency

The purpose of this required one semester research residency is to enhance student research training early in the doctoral program by providing a mentored research experience. The residency is designed to be a tailored hands-on experience to provide students with exposure and the opportunity to participate in one or more aspects of an on-going research project. Research residencies are experiential activities designed to meet the student’s individual learning needs. At the minimum, students with no or minimal prior research experience will gain a beginning level of experience on a variety of components of an ongoing research project. Students with more extensive research experience will tailor their residences with their residency supervisor to enhance their expertise in these various areas.

Statistics Sequence (2 CUs)

 Statistics sequence options

Students must complete a two-course statistics sequence. In most cases, students should follow the recommended sequence as determined by the academic department (i.e. SOCI 535 and SOCI 536, or STAT 500 and STAT 501). 

Part I (choose one of the following)

  • SOCI 535: Quantitative Methods I
  • STAT 500: Applied Regression and Analysis of Variance
  • PUBH 501: Introduction to Biostatistics
  • EPID 526: Biostatistics for Epidemiologic Methods I

Part II (choose one of the following) 

  • SOCI 536: Quantitative Methods II
  • STAT 501: Introduction to Nonparametric Methods and Log-linear Models
  • HPR 608: Applied Regression Analysis for Health Policy Research
  • EPID 527: Biostatistics for Epidemiologic Methods II

 

Students should consult with their faculty advisor(s) to choose the appropriate statistics sequence based on prior experience and the type of dissertation.

Concentration courses (5 CUs):

 Concentration courses

Concentration courses are intended to support the dissertation. These courses may be in a particular content areas (e.g. genetics, health disparities) that are related to the planned dissertation, or methods courses teaching specific approaches (e.g. clinical trial design). Courses may be taken in nursing or a different discipline at the University. The student should discuss possible content and methods courses with their advisors and search for courses that support the dissertation topic.

Students are required to complete a minimum of five (5 CU) concentration courses, and will work directly with their faculty advisors to determine whether additional courses are needed to complete the dissertation.


Milestones

Qualifying Examination

Students must complete the Qualifying Examination. Typically a full-time student will defend the Qualifying Exam in the fall semester of the second year. 

The Qualifying Examination determines the student’s potential for completing doctoral study. Successful completion of the examination signifies the student’s potential and the faculty’s commitment to provide scholarly resources needed to complete continuing course work and the dissertation.

Candidacy Examination

The purpose of the Candidacy Exam, also referred to as the dissertation proposal defense, is to demonstrate an understanding of knowledge in the concentration area that supports the student’s dissertation research. The preparation for the exam occurs under the guidance of the Dissertation Committee.

Dissertation Status
Once the student has completed all course requirements, they will be registered for NURS 995: Dissertation Status. Dissertation status carries full-time registration status, and will be rostered in each semester until the dissertation defense.
Dissertation Defense

Writing and submitting your dissertation are among the final steps leading to the award of the PhD degree. At the University of Pennsylvania, a student presents and defends the dissertation publicly, and then, with the approval of the dissertation committee and graduate group chair, submits the final manuscript for publication. Finally, the PhD degree is awarded to the candidate upon the recommendation of the Graduate Council of the Faculties.

A bound copy of the dissertation is shelved in the University Library, where it is available through Interlibrary Loan. A digital copy is included in the ProQuest/UMI database, accessible online to subscribers and libraries.