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  College of Nursing 2010–2012 Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program Program Description  

Program Description


The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) program is designed to meet the educational needs of nurses who are committed to playing a significant role in the creation, clarification, and refinement of nursing knowledge. The program prepares nurse scientists who advance the discipline of nursing through research, theory development, and other academic endeavors. Graduates are expected to provide leadership for the advancement of the discipline in the scientific community and in academic and service institutions. The Ph.D. program is offered in an online and blended format.

A graduate of the Ph.D. program in nursing will be prepared to:

1. evaluate the theoretical, philosophical, and historical concepts of nursing and examine critically the multiple dimensions of contemporary research;
2. design and test theoretical explanations about phenomena of concern to nursing;
3. design, conduct, and evaluate original research;
4. provide leadership in creating and disseminating new knowledge; and
5. collaborate effectively with scholars in the scientific and professional communities.


The Ph.D. curriculum requires 59 credits beyond the master's degree. Of that total, 26 of these credits are in nursing. The nursing courses include 18 credits of theory development and research, 6 credits of dissertation seminars, and 2 credits of contemporary issues in nursing. In addition, 15 credits are required in the following areas:  research methodology, statistics, cognate, and elective courses. Twenty-four credits are allocated for dissertation research which include Dissertation I and II (26:705:701, 26:705:702). A course in data management must be completed prior to or upon initial enrollment in the program. The credits from this course do not count toward the Ph.D. credit requirements. This course may be waived by passing an equivalency test conducted by the College of Nursing.  Ph.D. students must also follow all other policies of the Graduate School–Newark.

In addition to the 59 credits of study, students seeking the Ph.D. must:

1. take a qualifying examination for admission to candidacy. This examination is given after a student has completed 26:705:678 Theory Development and Research in Nursing II and the major portion of the course requirements.
2. submit a dissertation proposal;
3. complete a dissertation that is based on original research in a significant aspect of nursing; and
4. make an oral defense of the dissertation.

The faculty believes that theory development and theory testing are integral parts of the research process. Therefore, students entering the Ph.D. program are expected to have passed a master's-level course in nursing theory and nursing research and have completed successfully a basic statistics course before they enroll in the nursing sequence. As an initial course or before admission, the student also must complete successfully 26:705:570  Management of Health Data. The credits for this course do not count toward the Ph.D. credit requirements.

Each student should work with his or her chair to map out the number of credits he or she will take for dissertation research. In the early stages of their dissertation work, students should take no more than 6 credits per semester of dissertation research.

Time Limit

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within eight years.


The requirements for admission to the Ph.D. program are:

1. a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited program;
2. a master's degree with a major in nursing from a nationally accredited program;
3. a cumulative graduate grade-point average of at least 3.2 (where A = 4.0);
4. a satisfactory combined score on the GRE (verbal, quantitative, and analytical and/or writing abilities);
5. a personal interview (a telephone interview, when appropriate, may be arranged);
6. submission of the following materials:
    a. current registered nurse licensure
    b. an essay describing the applicant's goals for doctoral study and career goals relative to nursing research
    c. curriculum vitae
    d. two scholarly papers of which the applicant is the sole author
   e. three letters of reference from professional sources that support the applicant's ability to succeed in the Ph.D. program. Two of these letters must come from nurse  academicians.
    f.  official transcripts of all previous college work
    g. completed application form.

Admission for Foreign Applicants

In addition to the admission requirements listed above, to qualify for full graduate status, foreign applicants must also meet all of the following additional criteria:

1. Completion of a college or university program equal to the unit requirements for a master's degree in nursing

2. Completion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a satisfactory score for students whose first language is not English (the Test of Written English, part of TOEFL, is required)

4. Satisfactory completion of Rutgers' English as a Second Language Placement Examination. This test is administered by the Program in American Language Studies (PALS) and is given prior to the semester for which the student is accepted. Details about taking the test are sent to the student by the admissions office along with the letter of acceptance to the program. Based upon the student's performance on this placement test, the PALS program makes recommendations that are to be followed by the graduate program in nursing.

5. Applicants in F-1 or J-1 student status must prove that they have sufficient funds to cover both their educational and living expenses.

6. Transcripts of courses or degrees completed at academic institutions outside of the United States must be evaluated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Schools of Nursing (CGFNS).  Please instruct CGFNS to forward their evaluation to the graduate admissions office in Newark.

Academic Advisement

When a student is fully or conditionally accepted into the Ph.D. program, the senior program coordinator for student affairs consults with the graduate program director and assigns a member of the graduate faculty as the student's academic adviser. Students are notified of their advisers' names during new student orientation.

A student's adviser will be changed if a faculty member leaves the College of Nursing, if the adviser or student indicates that a change would be beneficial, or if the faculty member's workload needs to be readjusted. The change may be initiated by the adviser or student in a written request to the associate dean for graduate education. The senior program coordinator for student affairs, in consultation with the graduate program director, assesses and coordinates reassignment of the student to another adviser.

Academic Policies

1.  A full-time course load is defined as 9 or more credits, and a course load of 18 credits or more requires the approval of the associate dean for graduate education.

2.  A student registered for 8 or fewer credits has part-time status.

3.  Students must be registered every semester to continue matriculation. Those students who interrupt their studies may register, with the approval of the associate dean for graduate education, for matriculation continued for up to 3 consecutive semesters. Students receiving funding based on maintaining full-time status must contact the Graduate School–Newark to register for full-time matriculation continued.

4.  When a student applies for admission, the requirements for the degree at that time become the student's program of study. Students must complete all degree requirements within the eight-year time frame for earning the Ph.D. degree.

5. As many as 12 credits of graduate coursework taken at other fully accredited institutions before enrollment in this program may be considered for replacing courses within the student's program. The courses must have been taken within the eight-year time limit for the degree and all must meet the stipulations outlined in this catalog. To petition for approval of substitute courses, students should complete a transfer credit form which is available at the Office of Student Affairs. Transfer of credits does not occur until a student has completed at least 12 credits in the Ph.D. program.

6. No more than 9 credits with a grade of C or C+ may be used in meeting the requirements for a Ph.D. degree.

7. Students are expected to earn grades of B or better in their coursework. An overall B average is required for graduation.

8. The grade of incomplete, IN, can be granted when a student has not completed the assigned work in a course because of illness or other reasons satisfactory to the instructor. The grade of IN is issued at the discretion of the instructor. The IN grade must be converted to a letter grade by the end of the drop/add period in the next semester if the course with the incomplete grade is a prerequisite for a current course the student is taking. Any student failing to complete the assigned work to remove the IN grade is required to drop the subsequent course. University regulations require the removal of incompletes within a calendar year. If not removed, the IN remains on the transcript.  In unusual and compelling situations, an extension may be recommended by the graduate program director and approved by the associate dean for graduate education. A specific plan for completion is required for an extension to be approved. The Request for Incomplete Status form may be obtained from the College of Nursing Office of Student Affairs.

9. All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within eight consecutive years from the date of matriculation. Should extenuating circumstances necessitate prolonging the time limit, the student's record is reviewed. Extensions are granted only to those students who have a history of satisfactory performance and can document a timetable and plan to complete the requirements within a reasonable period of time. A written request for such an extension is made to the academic adviser, who makes a recommendation on the matter to the associate dean for graduate education. The associate dean for graduate education reviews the student's record and forwards the appropriate document of approval or disapproval to the dean of the Graduate School–Newark. The final decision rests with the associate dean for graduate education of the College of Nursing.

Grade Complaints

The nursing program has procedures to ensure that all parties get due process when a grade complaint arises. Any complaints by students about their grades should be handled within the graduate program. The program's procedures give the student a chance to determine if an error was made in assigning the grade. On the other hand, they enable the instructor to explain why the grade was given. Complaints about grading practices of individual instructors are handled in the following manner:

1. Within 10 days of receiving notification of the grade, the student should meet with the instructor who recorded the grade.

2. If the two parties cannot resolve the matter, the student must file within 10 school days a written complaint with the graduate program director or a designee.

3. The program director's office reviews the case and attempts to mediate the dispute. Within 10 school days of receiving the written complaint, the graduate program director or designee shall consult with all parties and propose a resolution.

4. If the student is not satisfied with the results achieved at that level, he or she can refer the matter to the Student Life Committee. To support this appeal, the student must forward to the chair of the Student Life Committee the previously written complaint and all materials submitted earlier in the case.

5. To review materials the student has submitted, the Student Life Committee forms a subcommittee composed solely of its members who have graduate faculty status.

6. Within 15 school days of receiving the complaint, the committee shall render a decision. In arriving at its decision, the committee may consult with anyone it chooses. In extraordinary cases, it even may ask third parties from among the faculty to review the grade in question.

7. Any student wishing to pursue the matter further may appeal the program faculty's decision to the dean of the Graduate School–Newark. Such an appeal must be made in writing within 10 school days from the day the student received notice of the program faculty's decision. In this document, the student should outline clearly the grounds for the appeal.

8.  The dean of the Graduate School–Newark shall render a decision within 10 school days of the receipt of the appeal. This decision is final.

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