Doctoral Nursing Program

Overview of the PhD Program

Kent State University and The University of Akron offer the PhD in Nursing program, a single doctoral program with a single, unified doctoral nursing faculty and doctoral student body. Students may choose which university will grant their degree. The diploma will be issued from the student's university of record and will recognize the joint Doctor of Philosophy program. PhD courses are cross listed and scheduled at each university.  A single, blended tuition rate is charged.

Conceptual Foundation

The PhD in Nursing  program is built upon the foundation of the Boyer Model of Scholarship. Boyer (1990) described four types of scholarship:  discovery, teaching, application, and integration, and emphasized knowledge dissemination as central to defining the adequacy of a scholarly activity. The PhD program interprets the four types of scholarship as:
  • Discovery: generation of new knowledge.
  • Integration: knowledge interpretations and connections across disciplines that bring new insights into original research.
  • Application: advances in new knowledge to improve practice.
  • Teaching:  advances in new knowledge to improve the educational process.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Position Statement, Defining Scholarship for the Discipline of Nursing, described scholarship in nursing through standards reflective of the Boyer Model. Scholarship in nursing was defined in the AACN statement as "those activities that systematically advance the teaching, research, and practice of nursing through rigorous inquiry that (a) is significant to the profession, (b) is creative, (c) can be documented, (d) can be replicated or elaborated, and (e) can be peer-reviewed through various methods" (AACN, 1999, p. 2). Therefore, the mission of the PhD program is to prepare graduates who demonstrate such scholarship. The mission is based on a philosophy that values students' socialization as leaders in advancing the discipline.

Mission Statement

The focus of the PhD program is to prepare nurses for scholarship in discovery and integration.  Further, the program provides opportunities for the development of scholarship in application, and teaching.

Characteristics of the Graduate:
Graduates of the program will:

  • Generate new knowledge for the discipline of nursing (discovery).
  • Use collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches toward knowledge generation (integration).

In addition, opportunities are available for graduates to: 

  • Advance new knowledge for nursing practice (application).
  • Bring the values of intellectual inquiry and scholarship to teaching (teaching).


The curriculum consists of five components: (1) nursing knowledge, (2) research methods and statistics, (3) cognates, (4) health care and nursing policy and leadership, and (5) the dissertation. Courses focus on the structure and development of disciplinary knowledge using the Boyer organizing framework with content relevant to each student's interest. Instruction in research methods includes both qualitative and quantitative approaches with courses in advanced statistics to support quantitative designs. The advanced research courses take into account the unique goals of students by allowing them to select one course that promotes their research agenda, including advanced qualitative or quantitative methods, and either measurement or grantsmanship as a nursing cognate. One additional cognate course requires work outside the nursing discipline to strengthen and support students' selected research areas. Health care policy and leadership focus on current issues allowing nurses to contribute to national, and even international, health policy evaluation. The dissertation provides the student with a practicum for developing and refining research and scholarly skills.

The nursing doctoral program builds upon the nursing master's degree preparation. The program of study consists of a minimum of six full-time semesters of credit beyond the master's degree as depicted in the Full-time curriculum plan. These semesters provide time for courses, the preliminary examination, which is taken after seven courses (History and Philosophy of Nursing Science, Construction and Development of Nursing Theory , Statistics I and II, Foundations of Research Design, and Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods), six other courses, the qualifying examination for candidacy to the dissertation, and the dissertation. While the program consists of a minimum of six full-time semesters the faculty recognizes that, in practice, the program may be longer depending on the student's research and time management. Also, because many students apply for part time status, a curriculum for the part time student also is depicted (see Part time curriculum plan).

Students belong to a single nursing doctoral student body and are given advisors depending on research interest and faculty load. Students are mentored and monitored for progression through the program. In addition, each student is assured sufficient contact with the entire faculty by participation in courses and through dissertation and governance committees, as well as by working with faculty on research and other scholarly activities.

Research Conducted by PhD Program Faculty and Students

The scholarship of discovery, integration, teaching, and application is pursued through faculty and student research related globally to (1) gerontologic health, quality of life, and nursing care outcomes, (2) prevention and treatment of trauma and violence across the lifespan, and (3) promotion of health and prevention of chronic illness in vulnerable populations. These research areas are not exhaustive and all areas of research interest are welcomed and evaluated for current relevance to the discipline of nursing.