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MUSC Bulletin | College of Graduate Studies

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Section Contents
Academic Policies and Student Compliant Procedures  | Admission Requirements | Time Frame | MUSC Faculty | PhD in Nursing Science Degree Program | Curriculum | Course Descriptions

The Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing offers an accelerated PhD program with a focus of study on vulnerable populations and community partnerships.

The PhD program is designed to prepare graduates for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry that manifests itself in creative scholarship and research, often leading to careers in social, governmental, and health care organizations  as well as traditional careers in university  and college settings. The purpose of the PhD program is to prepare nurse scientists to influence the quality of local, regional, national, and international health care.

Students in the PhD program acquire knowledge and skills to conduct research and are prepared to advance and refine nursing science as the basis for nursing practice, education, and administration. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a core foundation in nursing theory development, research, and knowledge translation.  The rnentored research experience serves to strengthen skills in the conduct of disciplined inquiry. Program options build on the core foundation and allow students to develop an individualized program of study in conjunction  with a faculty advisor. The goal of the curriculum is to prepare beginning researchers in a defined area of nursing science.

The accelerated PhD program is offered exclusively online with synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students are required to come to campus for a week-long initial residency before their first fall's matriculation and thereafter one other residency.

Students should access for the most recent information.

Academic Policies and Student Complaint Procedures
All matriculated PhD students are responsible for the College of Nursing Academic Policies and Procedures outlined in the CON Student Handbook available at

For your reference, the MUSC Student Complaint Procedure is found in The Bulletin  under “Academic Policies and Information” . 

Admission Requirements
Regulations governing admission to graduate study in nursing include those established by the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Applicants to the accelerated Ph.D. program are recommended to have:

•     A baccalaureate in nursing (BSN) from a program accredited by the NLNAC or CCNE. 

•     Non-nurses with related health care experience will be considered.  It is advisable to contact the program director to discuss eligibility before making application. 

•     A grade point average of at least 3.5 (A=4.0) from the undergraduate and/or graduate degree-granting institution. Applicants who attended a program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be a competitive applicant.

•     For nurses, documentation of current RN licensure in the state of residence.

•     Evidence of scholarship (published article, thesis, written innovation)

•     Curriculum Vita

•     Personal statement summarizing immediate and long-term professional goals, motivation for doctoral study, and a proposed area of research (1-2 pages, 12 point font).

•     Three reference forms and letters of reference that address research and scholarly potential and academic motivation.

•     Interviews with two nursing faculty, (scheduled via videoconference or telephone after the complete application package is received and reviewed). 

•     Computer literacy through experience or completed courses in word processing, spreadsheets, database management, and presentation graphics.

•     Access to high speed Internet

•     Recently completed statistics course (within 3 years) or ability to complete a statistics course before the program start. 

•     Note:  GRE scores are not required.

•     Applicants may submit other credentials they believe reflect their abilities.

•     The reference checklist form for transfer students must be signed by all applicants. Those who are currently or previously enrolled in a doctoral program must have the form completed by the director of the program from which they wish to transfer.

Acceptance decisions are made March of each year for the fall admission, with notification mailed by April 1st.  Upon acceptance, all matriculated students are required to attend a one-week campus residency held in July.

International Applicants: Due to the distance-education nature of this program, MUSC is unable to issue I-20 forms to allow students to obtain F-1 student visas. Only U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and those holding other valid U.S. visas will be accepted.

For more information, please contact:

PhD Program Coordinator
College of Nursing
Medical University of South Carolina
99 Jonathan Lucas Street, MSC 160
Charleston, SC 29425
Phone: 843.792.3116

Time Frame
The PhD in Nursing is designed to be completed in three to four years of full-time study or five to six years of part-time study. The need to commute or to engage in part-time study is taken under consideration during program planning with students. All work to be applied toward the PhD must be completed within eight years of initial enrollment in the program.

MUSC Faculty
Faculty are listed on the web at

PhD in Nursing Science Degree Program
Note:  Visual display of course credit allocation are standardized by lecture/didactic hours, seminar hours, clinical/lab hours in the following format:  4 s.h. (2,0,2).  Contact hours per credit hour will be a ratio as follows: lecture/didactic 1:1, seminar 2:1, clinical/lab 3:1.  Part time study options are available.

Sample Year Round Curriculum

Course Descriptions for Courses Offered at MUSC

NRPHD-710. Doctoral Toolbox Series I: The Integrative Review. The Doctoral Toolbox Series (I-III) provides an opportunity for socialization of students into doctoral work and the production of scholarly outcomes.   Students will use weekly discussion, videoconferencing, and downloadable guest lectures to build skills in the research process. This Toolbox course is focused on developing the student's ability to create integrative review of the literature as a foundation for research. 1 s.h.

NRPHD-711. Doctoral Toolbox Series  II: Publication. The Doctoral Toolbox Series (I-I III) provides an opportunity for socialization of students into doctoral work and the production of scholarly outcomes.  Students will use weekly discussion, videoconferencing, and downloadable guest lectures to build skills in the research process. This Toolbox Session is designed to examine the aspects of successfully writing for publication.  1 s.h.

NRPHD-712. Toolbox Series III: Dissertation Process. The Doctoral Toolbox Series (I-IV) provides an opportunity for socialization of students into doctoral work and the production of scholarly outcomes. Students will use weekly discussion, videoconferencing, and downloadable guest lectures to build skills in the research process. This Toolbox Session is designed to examine the elements of successful dissertation development. 1 s.h.

NRPHD 730. Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Science. Overview and critical analysis of historical and contemporary views of knowledge development in science, with particular emphasis on the way these views influence approaches to nursing inquiry. Emphasis is placed on analyzing concepts and theories of individual and collective sources of human vulnerability and resilience, and the social determinants of health in diverse populations. Course activities will facilitate exploration of the iterative process of scientific inquiry from knowledge generation through implementation on improved equity in health outcomes of diverse populations. 3 s.h.

NRPHD 732. Health Policy and Advocacy in Research. This course is an overview of the skills necessary to develop, evaluate, and provide leadership to improve the health of the public through health policy development, analysis and advocacy regarding nursing and patient outcomes.  Students will review the health policy-making processes for specialty areas such as policies addressing health disparities, care for the elderly, advance nursing practice expansion, and research advocacy. Students will discuss policy theory where applicable, current policies, laws, and financial incentives that affect health care delivery and nursing practice.  They will explore how health services research can motivate change in public health and policy making.  They will apply principles of leadership necessary for public health improvement and participate in a selected health policy analysis or development process. 1 s.h.

NRPHD 734. Research Team Leadership. The course explores foundational concepts of the leadership role in the research environment.  Students evaluate their own leadership potential and desire. They use readings and participate in weekly postings to apply strategies for achieving successful outcomes in diverse research teams. 1 s.h.

NRPHD 736. Ethical Issues in Research. This course examines the ethical aspects of the conduct of research, primarily from the Belmont Report, as they apply to diverse vulnerable populations. This course is designed to provide an analysis of ethical aspects of conducting research with vulnerable populations. Students will identify and analyze ethical dilemmas related to equity, inclusion, and bias that may contribute to disparities in human subjects research. Students will propose resolutions to these dilemmas that will facilitate the research while protecting the rights of the subjects/participants.  1 s.h.

NRPHD 738. Statistical Methods for Nursing Research. This course is designed to provide a conceptual background and applied use of advanced statistics used in nursing and health science with the goal of completing a statistical analysis and interpreting results. The advanced statistical methods covered include: complex analysis of variance, multiple regression, logistic regression, multiple correlation analysis, path analysis, and factor analysis. Students will conduct these analyses with SPSS statistical software using research datasets.  Students will interpret results through statements of statistical and clinical conclusions with an emphasis on cultural variations, diverse populations, and potential for describing disparities. 3 s.h.

NRPHD 740. Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research. This course is designed to provide an introduction to and critical analysis of qualitative and mixed methods in the development of nursing and health science. The course includes epistemology, philosophical assumptions, issues in research planning process related to qualitative research methods, differentiation between types and purposes of qualitative study designs, and methods for data collection and analysis. The course attends to ethical issues with an emphasis on cultural variations diverse populations, and potential for describing disparities. 3 s.h.

NRPHD 742. Advanced Measurement strategies for Vulnerable Populations. This course allows in-depth study of the major techniques related to data collection by physiological instrumentation, observation, interview, and questionnaire are explored, as well as how they are adapted to vulnerable and disparate populations. Reliability and validity issues will be discussed in-depth. Students will develop and pilot test data collection strategies in a selected category and will consider methods for addressing vulnerable and/or disparate groups and addressing cultural competence. Prerequisites: NRPHD 801 3 s.h.

NRPHD 744. Application of Theory to Research. This course builds upon foundations constructed in the first theory course to further explore and develop the theoretical foundation of a research question and problem. Course activities will encourage potential researchers to identify and understand theoretical perspectives appropriately aligned with a specific research problem.  Students determine the position of the proposed problem in the research pipeline resulting in a synthesis document that shapes their area of inquiry. Emphasis will be placed on developing a theoretical approach that takes into consideration the social and cultural variations and needs of diverse populations.  Prerequisites: NRPHD 703  3 s.h.

NRPHD 746. Advanced Study Design and Methods in Research. This course is designed to identify and apply appropriate study design and associated methods, including articulation of proposed research significance and innovation. Using concepts from social and applied epidemiology and statistics, this course will prepare students to define the rationale for their study design and components of the chosen methodology, as well as issues that may affect the internal and external validity of their study findings. Students will position their research ideas in the context of the broader research pipeline: from basic science discoveries through implementation and dissemination of research findings. The course will focus on common study designs found in descriptive, observational, quasi-experimental and experimental research, as well as measures of association and procedures for data collection, management and analysis. Multi-level and ecological study effects will also be introduced, along with the expectations of mixed methods research.  Emphasis on methods to ensure validity and reliability of study results, identify limitations of potential study designs, and practical procedures for protocol implementation. The course is intended to provide students with comprehensive skills for designing and conducting research. Prerequisites: NRPHD 801, NRPHD 740, & NRPHD 742 3 s.h.

NRPHD 748. Proposal Development. This course aims at synthesizing the student’s research interest and course work, leading towards the dissertation.  Students focus on their dissertation topic, developing aims, hypotheses, and their research plan, including analytical approaches while addressing diversity, equity, disparities and vulnerable populations as appropriate. Course activities will facilitate critical reflection on issues of equity, inclusion, and bias related to the study sample.  Students work in groups as they develop their dissertation proposals, critiquing others and learning to value constructive critique themselves. In addition students work closely with their chair and committee throughout the semester.   The final project of this course will be an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. Prerequisites: NRPHD 801, NRPHD 740, NRPHD 742, & NRPHD 746 3 s.h.

NRPHD-800. Mentored Teaching. This elective course will provide students with the opportunity to work with a faculty member in order to explore the role of educator. Students will identify their learning needs and specific activities will be designed with the faculty mentor.  Prerequisite: Enrollment in Ph.D. program and NURSM 703 (3,0,0)

NRPHD-801. Advanced Quantitative Research Methods. Advanced study of quantitative methods,  designs, and analyses in the study of nursing science. The goal is to facilitate the student's ability to integrate design and analysis in the study of nursing phenomena  and apply these principles to the student's research interest 3 s.h.

NRPHD-807.  Advanced Statistical Methods for Nursing Research. This course provides the conceptual background and applied use of advanced multivariate statistics that are appropriate to Nursing Science in order to interpret the results of research students that have utilizes such methods as well as apply these analytical methods to their own data analyses as part of their thesis or dissertation research studies. The multivariate statistical methods covered include:  multiple multivariate regression, factory analysis (exploratory and confirmatory, path analysis, latent variable analysis, and the overreaching structural equation modeling. Students will implement these analyses with AMOS and EQS statistical software using\ current, large and multidimensional research datasets with an emphasis on pre-analysis data screening and description.  At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to identify and carry out an appropriate statistical analysis and to interpret result through statements of both statistical and clinical conclusions.  Student also receives instruction in the use of a SEM statistical software packages, AMOS and EQS. Prerequisite: Enrollment in PhD program and NPRHD 724. 3 s.h.

NRPHD-971. Mentored Research. This elective course provides students with the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a funded research project. This experience will provide hands on experience with many research skills to include subject recruitment, outcome testing, interrater reliability, interviewing, and data entry, analysis, and management. The student's personal goals and interests will be identified and linked with those of a faculty member in this interactive experience.  Variable s.h.

NRPHD-990. Dissertation.  Variable s.h. All.

Last Published with Edits:July 14, 2014 10:38 AM
Last Comprehensive Review: July 2014

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