FAQ-PhD Program

If I want to teach nursing, wouldn't it make sense to get my doctorate in education?

Your greatest opportunity for advancement and security in a teaching post is to have comparative educational credentials and a record of scholarship in your profession. If you are teaching nursing, the PhD in nursing provides advanced knowledge in the science of nursing as well as in nursing research, publication and grantsmanship. There are opportunities in the program to acquire skills in presentation, organization and information technology that would enhance your work as a teacher.

Why would I need a doctorate in nursing if I don't want to teach?

While the greatest need for PhD prepared nurses is as faculty for nursing programs of all levels, the program prepares nurse scientists who are employed in a wide variety of settings, including health care systems, commercial corporations, research institutions, government agencies and the military, as well as in their own enterprises.

If I don't have a special area of nursing research interest, shouldn't I get a non-nursing degree?

Your specific area of research interest need not be perfectly conceptualized in order to begin doctoral study, particularly if you are a recent graduate of your undergraduate program. However, you should have a general focus of interest in order to find appropriate mentorship. Engaging in PhD study in nursing will provide a major support to your search for a specific area as you progress through the program.

What kinds of positions do nurses with PhDs in Nursing hold?

PhD-prepared leaders are needed in nursing education, administration and research. Not all are teaching faculty; some are academic administrators and deans of major schools of nursing or chief executive officers of large health facilities. Others hold high-level positions in state, federal, and international government. Some work in research institutes, such as the NIH, while others may work in commercial research development.

What kinds of research do nurse scientists do?

Nurse scientists are involved with research encompassing every kind of methodology and topic. Some acquire skills in basic science (e.g., microbiology, physiology, genetics, molecular biology), others in clinical science to study patient problems (e.g., nausea after chemotherapy, osteoporosis prevention, low birthweight neonatal development), and others study psychosocial or biobehavioral issues (e.g., intimate partner violence, depression in the elderly, palliative care at end of life).

As a Nurse Scientist, will I be able to become an independent researcher?

Yes. Research and proposal writing skills are among those developed in the PhD program. These are essential skills needed to design and implement research projects, publish and prepare grants. New graduates may enter academic systems at the entry level as assistant professors. As such, faculty often work in collaboration with senior investigators to get their research programs and partnerships established. Students who wish to advance their programs of research may undertake post-doctoral fellowships.

Won't getting a degree in nursing take me away from clinical issues?

On the contrary. The research programs and proposals of many nurse scientists are focused on answering clinical issues, from patient symptoms to testing nursing interventions. Nurse scientists generate the nursing care research studies that provide the evidence for evidence-based practice.

How can I work and go to school at the same time? And can I go part-time?

Many doctoral students are employed while in doctoral studies. Full-time students typically work on a part-time basis. However, we strongly discourage full-time students from attempting to work full-time. Full-time employees can study on a part-time basis but should realize that part-time study will require a longer timeline for completion.

How long is the program?

Full-time students should be able to complete course work in just over two years. Part-time students can complete course work in three years. Completion of the dissertation requirement may take additional one or two years, but could be less depending on the study.

What is the difference between a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)?

The PhD curriculum and objectives are focused on developing and enhancing the science and theory of nursing through research. Research options are diverse and can include physiological, behavioral, clinical, and community oriented studies. As an academic degree, PhD graduates must meet all the requirements of the Graduate College. The DNP is a professional degree, granted by the College of Nursing, and is designed to prepare nurses at the highest level of nursing practice who will lead in applying and translating research into practice.

What is the cost of the PhD?

Tuition costs per semester are dependent on the number of hours taken and any associated fees for online or laboratory courses. Current fees are posted at the OUHSC website: Tuition & Fee Charts

What types of financial assistance are available?

  • Financial assistance may be available through loans and/or grants.
  • Scholarship funds can also be applied for from professional organizations and federal sources.

Are any courses offered online?

Most of the nursing courses will be available online within the coming years. Substantive courses in other disciplines are not always available in distance formats but there is flexibility in where these courses are taken. You may find these courses close to you if they are acceptable to our program

How do mentorships fit into the plan or program for my area of nursing interest?

Doctoral students will work closely with a faculty advisor until they select their dissertation chair. They will work closely with the dissertation chair throughout completion of the program. Additional mentors are available for methodological help.

What is the difference in a prospectus and a proposal?

In our PhD program, the prospectus is the blueprint, background, literature review, and methodology for the actual dissertation proposal.

What are the employment opportunities for a nurse (RN) with a PhD in Nursing?

Employment opportunities are high, despite the current economic situation. The highest need is in teaching positions. Gaining experience in this area may be an excellent first employment situation before preparing for others.

What do I do if I am unable to find faculty doing research in my area of interest?

Discuss this with the PhD program Director or faculty in areas that seem related. Your area of interest may have a related link to that of one of our faculty. Your interest may not be as restricted as you initially thought.

Sooner Nursing: Integrity, Compassion, Excellence