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Ph.D. in Nursing Science FAQ

Why should I apply to the MUSC College of Nursing?
The College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina has a high quality, established doctoral program that has graduated successful independent researchers in nurse science who are recognized for their leadership by receipt of funded research, teaching, and setting direction in health policy. Our experienced faculty guide you through coursework and the research process to facilitate your transition to being an independent researcher in nurse scientist. In addition, the MUSC College of Nursing has been a leader in online academic programs.

What is special about the Medical University of South Carolina?
MUSC is an academic health sciences center ranked within the Top 100 in the nation for receipt of federal funding. With a focus on Translational Science – bench to bedside to community - the profession of nursing plays a critical role in transforming health care within the state and nation. With numerous funded research centers and special initiatives, the possibility for interprofessional collaboration to nurture student projects is tremendous!

What is the difference between a DNP and a PhD?
The DNP Program prepares expert advanced nurse practitioners. The purpose of the program is to prepare graduates who will practice nursing at the highest clinical level. It is commensurate with practice doctorates offered by other professions, including dentistry (DDS), medicine (MD), and pharmacy (PharmD) among others.

The PhD in Nursing Science Program prepares independent researchers in nursing science who can work in academic or research-intensive institutions.  It is the highest degree awarded in academia.

Application and fee payment for the PhD and DNP Programs is separately required for each program.  Acceptance to one program does not allow for automatic transfer or guaranteed acceptance to the other program.

CharacteristicDNP Degree ProgramPhD in Nursing Science Program
ObjectivesThe practice of clinical nursing at the highest levelThe conduct of research for the advancement of nursing science
Curricular EmphasisAnalytical methods for evidence-based practice, organizational and systems leadership and management, and the translation of research to improve practiceTheoretical, methodological, and analytic approaches to discovery, testing, application and dissemination of new knowledge
Program OutcomeNurse practitioner, nurse administrator, nurse educator in clinical practice or professional education settings; eligibility for national certification examinationIndependent researchers in an academic or research-intensive settings
Final scholarly productEvidence-based, population-level practice, health, or policy improvement projectOriginal Research

Ratner, 2007, p.33

What is the focus of your Ph.D. in Nursing Science program?
The foci of our program are vulnerable populations and community partnerships; students critically analyze and develop research, educational, policy and administrative strategies that address the needs of individuals, families, and communities and groups. Faculty researchers have an emphasis on community-based participatory research, with strengths also in clinical, epidemiological, and health systems investigation. Learn more about our doctoral faculty and their research interests.

How does an online program differ from one that is campus-based?
The integrity of our doctoral coursework, mentoring, and interaction with faculty and students is preserved in our online doctoral program through the use of synchronous and asynchronous technology. The only thing that differs between an online and campus-based program is the method through which access is achieved – through advanced technology and four learning intensives.

Does your coursework allow for specialization?
With a commitment to prepare the next generation of nursing faculty, our doctoral students can take coursework in and have mentored teaching experiences with master educators and may choose to earn a Certificate in Health Care Education. Additionally, students interested in careers in health administration and health policy make take supplementary coursework and have mentored experiences with leaders in these fields. All students are required to participate in mentored research experiences with faculty or associates who are engaged in funded research.

Who would be a good match for your program?
We seek to admit a small cadre of future leaders who bring diverse interests and experiences to our program. Alignment with faculty interests is key to establishing the necessary guidance for successful completion of the program.

How long will it take me to achieve the Ph.D. in Nursing Science?
The full-time student can complete the program in as little as three years.  The part-time student can complete the program in four years. All work applied toward the Ph.D. in Nursing Science must be completed within 1.5 years times the length of the program by initial enrollment in the program. Doctoral level coursework may be transferred, pending approval after admission.

What is the access to faculty, mentors, and technology support?
Online students will have access to College of Nursing faculty and advisors through established “office hours” when synchronous communication can occur via videoconferencing, email, or telephone. Faculty and students may choose to make additional arrangements to meet. Technology support is available Monday – Friday via pager, email or phone.

You can also arrange for a mentor outside the MUSC faculty to be involved in your program of research! Students at a distance can use regional experts who will be designated as Distant Mentors.

Can I receive financial aid?
Several avenues are open to students seeking support for their doctoral education. See information for applying for financial aid.

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