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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 a PhD in Nursing program with a focus of study on vulnerable populations and community partnerships. 

The PhD in Nursing 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 in Nursing program is to prepare nurse scientists to influence the quality of local, regional, national, and international health care.

Students in the PhD in Nursing 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 mentored research experience serves to strengthen skills in the conduct of disciplined inquiry, while the mentored teaching experience promotes skills in curriculum planning and teaching competencies. Mentored health policy allows students to affect change at the regional and national levels. 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 PhD in Nursing 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 every summer for two years for a one-week residency.

Students should access for the most recent information.

Academic Policies and Student Compliant Procedures
All matriculated PhD students are responsible for the College of Nursing Academic Policies and Procedures outlines 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 both the Graduate School and the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Applicants to both the BSN to Ph.D. and MSN to Ph.D. programs are recommended to have:

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

•   A grade point average of at least 3.5 (A=4.0) from the undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution. 

•   Documentation of current RN licensure in their state of residence.

•   Evidence of scholarship in nursing science (published article, thesis, written innovation, research report).

•   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 College of Graduate Studies 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). 

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

•   Access to high speed Internet.

•   For Post MSN students: Completed masters level courses in nursing theory, research, and statistics.

•   For Post BSN students:  Completed undergraduate level courses in nursing theory, research, and statistics.

•   Note:  GRE scores are not required.

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

•   The reference 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 in March of each year for the fall admission, with notification mailed by April 1st.  Late applications (received after March 1st) will be considered on a space available basis after the April 1st notification mail out.  

Upon acceptance, all matriculated students are required to attend a one week campus residency.

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: 843.792.3815

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
Post BSN to PhD in Nursing Science Degree Program - (Part-time study options are available)


Fall 1  (10 sh)


Residency I


NRDNP 858*

Evidence Based Practice, Quality and Safety


NRDNP 850*

Organizational Theory & Health Care Management


NRPHD 802+

Knowledge Development in Nursing Science


Spring 1   (9sh)


Frameworks for Leadership & Interprofessional Collaboration



Applied Health Care Economics & Finance



Vulnerability and Resilience: Concepts, Theories, and Approaches

 +NRPHD 802 is prerequisite


Summer 1   (7sh) Attendance at Residency for Post BSN to PhD students is highly recommended in Summer 1, not required.

Graduate Level

Elective  (3sh of an elective course is required, enrolled from within or outside of the College.  An elective can serve as prerequisite for mentored coursework.)


NRDNP 836 *

Informatics in Health Care Delivery



Residency II


*A minimum of 15 NRDNP Semester Hours is required.   NRPHD 850, and 830, 846, 858, and 836 courses are required  (15 hrs). Students desiring APRN certification will be required more courses, based on certification standards. 

YEAR 2  

Fall 2  (11 sh)


Advanced Quantitative Research Methods



Knowledge Dissemination and Translation  +(NRPHD 802 is prerequisite to 804)



Applied Statistical Methods for Nursing Research



Doctoral Toolbox Series I:  Integrative Review


Spring 2  (10 sh)


Health Policy and Advocacy                                        



Advanced Qualitative Methods



Advanced Statistical Methods for Nursing Research

(NRPHD 724 is prerequisite, or instructor permission)



Doctoral Toolbox Series II:  Publication


Summer 2 (7 sh)


Ethical Aspects of Research Involving Vulnerable Populations



Advanced Measurement Strategies  



Residency II


YEAR 3  

Fall 3  (9 sh)


Introduction to Social & Applied Epidemiology



Advanced Research Study Design & Methods (required for 2010 cohort and beyond)

(NRPHD 801, 805, and 806 are prerequisite to this course)


NRPHD 971, 800, or 808

Mentored Course **


(0,0, 1- 8)


Doctoral Toolbox Series III:  Dissertation


Spring 3  (9 sh)


Scientific Inquiry  ((NRPHD 801, 805, 806 and 727 are prerequisite to this course)



Doctoral Toolbox Series IV:  National Perspectives


NRPHD 971, 800 or 808

Mentored Course**




Residency III


Summer 3 and Beyond (1-9 sh)



Special Topics   (If not post-candidacy)



NRPHD 990 may only be taken after candidacy.  A minimum of 6 sh of 723 or 990 is required for graduation, which may be divided over the semesters or taken together in one semester.


6 sh


Minimum PhD course work   62 sh


Instructional Processes in Nursing  (spring)



Curriculum Development and Design (fall)  (NURSM 703 is Pre-requisite)



Methodologies of Online Teaching  (summer)  (NURSM 703 is Pre-requisite)



Special Topics in Nursing Science (any semester)


Course Descriptions for Courses Offered at MUSC
NRPHD-705. Ethical Aspects of Research Involving Vulnerable Populations.
This course is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of the unique ethical aspects of conducting research with vulnerable populations. Students will identify and analyze ethical dilemmas which occur when research is needed, but when the population presents unique considerations. Students will propose resolutions to these dilemmas which will facilitate the research while protecting the rights of the subjects. 2 s.h.

NRPHD-708. Advanced Health Policy & Advocacy. This course equips students with the skills necessary to develop, evaluate, and provide leadership in improving the health of the public through health policy development and the education of policy makers regarding nursing and patient outcomes. Students will evaluate the health policy making processes and the disparities in both the U.S. and international health care delivery systems. Students will use policy theory to critically evaluate the current and historic 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 organizational change and evaluate components of leadership necessary for public health improvement. Students will participate in a selected health policy making process. Prerequisite: Graduate standing 3 s.h. (3,0,0)

NRPHD-710. Doctoral Toolbox Series I: The Integrative Review
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 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-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 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-713. Doctoral Toolbox Series IV: National Perspective
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-715. Introduction to Social & Applied Epidemiology. Study of concepts, principles, and methods in applied and social epidemiology.   Application in public health surveillance, outbreak investigation, health planning, and research. Critical analysis of epidemiologic studies with regard to implications for practice and research, with a focus on the social and economic determinants of chronic and infectious diseases and other health-related events. Prerequisite: Biostatistics: Clinical Applications 3 s.h. (3,0,0)

NRPHD-723. Special Topics in Nursing Science. A tutorial series on topics related to the advancement of nursing science that are of mutual interest for students and faculty members. Variable s.h.

NRPHD-724. Applied Statistical Methods for Nursing Research.  This course provides a survey of descriptive and inferential statistics commonly used in nursing research and a working knowledge of these statistical methods and their applications.  This course is intended for graduate students in the College of Nursing, but would also be of interest to graduate students in other clinical areas. Topics include a review of measures of central tendency and variation, frequency distributions, confidence interval estimation, comparison of means and proportions, correlation and simple linear regression.  4 s.h.

NRPHD-727. Adv Research Study Design and Methods. Students will synthesize and apply concepts from previous doctoral course work related to study design and method application in a specific disciplinary prespective and to further their research question.  Students will examine and position their own research ideas in the context of the broader research pipeline: from basic sciences to clinical and nursing research, through health service and population research to implementation, translational, and improvement research. Participants will define the components of their chosen methology and devise a plan for sampling, data collection, and the creation of a database that addresses the issues necessary for cleaning, coding, analysis, and interpretation. 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-629 or equivalent. Variable s.h.

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-802. Knowledge Development in Nursing Science. Overview and critical analysis of historical and contemporary view of knowledge development in nursing science, with particular emphasis on the ways these views influence approaches to nursing inquiry. Emphasis on analyzing the underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions and implications for nursing knowledge. 3 s.h.

NRPHD-803. Scientific Inquiry. This course is designed to support the student’s development of scientific inquiry and the processes that promote it. It is a focused examination of grantsmanship and the constructs essential to successful proposal construction. As an applied action course, it is conducted within the context of dialogue, review and critique. 3 s.h.

NRPHD-804. Knowledge Dissemination and Translation. Emerging knowledge from health care theory and research is analyzed from the perspective of strategies designed to reduce the burden of illness in society. Issues of research dissemination, innovation adoption, and behavior change are analyzed at the levels of the individual, family, community and health care system. Knowledge translation emanating from diverse disciplinary perspectives will be evaluated based on its impact on improving service delivery, changing patient/provider behavior, enhancing access to appropriate health care, and protecting and motivating treatment for vulnerable populations. 3 s.h.

NRPHD-805. Advanced Measurement Strategies. In-depth study of the major techniques of quantitative data collection used in nursing research. Research techniques related to data collection by physiological instrumentation, observation, interview, and questionnaire will be explored. Reliability and validity issues will be discussed in depth. Students will develop and pilot test data collection strategies in each category. 4 s.h.

NRPHD-806. Advanced Qualitative Methods. This course is designed to provide critical analysis of qualitative methods in the development of nursing science. The course includes epistemology, philosophical assumptions, issues research planning process related to qualitative research methods, methods for data collection and analysis, and ethical issues. 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 multivariateregression, 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 receive 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-808. Mentored Health Policy and Advocacy. This elective course prepares future nurse leaders to advocate for health policy change and health issues locally, regionally and nationally. Students will identify their learning needs and specific activities will be designed with an expert mentor. Variable s.h. 1-6.

NRPHD-810. Vulnerability & Resilience. A seminar in the concepts and theories of individual and collective courses of human vulnerability and resilience, including the spectrum of social vulnerability, social determinants of health, and sources of health inequalities, risk, capacity, assests, and resilience in diverse populations. Readings, discussions, and learning activities will provide an analysis of concepts of vulnerability, related theories, global perspectives, and approaches to research with vulnerable populations, enabling potential investigators to frame research problems and health inequalities within a broader social and environmental context. Prerequisite: NRPHD 802. 3 s.h.

NRPHD-870. Residency I. The purpose of Residency I for new PhD students is to become oriented to the MUSC program, the faculty, research foci, peers, campus resources, and the online learning environment.

NRPHD-880. Residency II. The main purpose of the Residency II course for returning PhD students is to refine and solidify their research ideas through large group,small group, and individual activities.

NRPHD-890. Residency III. The purpose of Residency III course for PhD students who are nearing completion of course work is to refine and solidify research ideas and prepare for comprehensive exam and dissertation success.

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:October 2, 2013 3:05 PM
Last Comprehensive Review: Fall 2013

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