Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


The College of Nursing at the University of Rhode Island offers a Ph.D. program in nursing. Its purpose is to prepare outstanding and compassionate nurse researchers and scholars to advance knowledge through the conduct of research and the development and testing of theory to influence health and nursing practice. The program cultivates inquiry and stimulates collaborative relationships with professional colleagues both in nursing and other disciplines. Although part-time study is possible, students are encouraged to study on a full-time basis in order to fully engage in the Ph.D. program.


  • Knowledge and Inquiry – Expand the scientific knowledge base within and beyond the discipline through generation and dissemination of relevant theoretical knowledge and independent and/or collaborative research.
  • Nursing Practice – Produce knowledge that has relevance for nursing and health care.
  • Professionalism – Develop knowledge while upholding ethical and social responsibility.
  • Communication and Collaboration – Disseminate knowledge generated from individual and/or team science.
  • Societal and Global Influences – Provide leadership in generating and disseminating nursing knowledge to guide research and/or policy related to societal and global health and health care.
  • Leadership – Assume leadership in conducting and disseminating high impact, translational and innovative research and scholarship that addresses health and health care challenges.

Financial Aid

A variety of traineeships, graduate assistantships and loans are available to help finance Ph.D. education. Qualified full-time Ph.D. students who obtain a graduate assistantship/teaching assistantship from the university will receive full-time tuition, health benefits and a stipend for two years.   

Sculco Scholars Program

Outstanding full-time Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to apply for supplemental funding as a Sculco Graduate Nursing Research Scholar (GNRS). Each GNRS receives additional funding of approximately $48,000 over 3 years, in tandem with the assistantship (above), GNRS awards provide summer funding and research training and enhancement funds to advance nursing research and scholarship. GNRS awards are made possible by a generous donation from URI CON alumna, Dr. Cynthia Sculco, and her husband, Dr. Thomas Sculco.

Areas of Research Focus

CON faculty are engaged in a variety of funded research projects and research-related activities. Areas of research focus include: 

  • Health equity and disparities
  • Health promotion
  • Infants and families
  • Adolescent and emerging adult health and risk behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Telehealth
  • Aging
  • Palliative care and end-of-life care
  • Implementation science
  • Violence prevention and screening


Application Requirements

Application deadline is January 15 for fall start. The following are required to complete the online application to the URI Graduate School:

  • Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. PLEASE NOTE: If you attended URI as an undergraduate or graduate student, you will still need to upload your Unofficial copies can be uploaded into the online application and, upon admission, official copies will be required prior to course registration. If any courses were transferred as credit toward your baccalaureate degree, please be sure to upload those transcripts as well.
  • Three letters of recommendation (academic and professional) attesting to the applicant’s capability for doctoral study, one of which must be by a Ph.D.-prepared.
  • Curriculum vita or resume.
  • 1-2 page goal statement which includes your reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. degree in nursing, your research focus and planned progression through the program (i.e., part-time or full-time study). Applicants should identify potential faculty mentors.
  • Submission of a scholarly paper or writing sample is required  (term paper, thesis or similar accepted).
  • GRE scores (preferred  but not required for 2021).
  • The TOEFL is required for all international applicants for whom English is not the primary language. A TOEFL score > 100 is preferred.

Admission Requirements

Admission decisions will be based on a comprehensive review of applicant qualifications presented as a total package. Preference will be given to applicants who plan to study on a full-time basis. The following criteria will be used as the guidelines for admission decisions:

  • Baccalaureate degree from AACN or NLN-accredited program in nursing or its equivalent with a minimum P.A. > 3.0
  • Master’s degree in nursing or its equivalent; G.P.A. >3 is desirable.
  • Scholarly paper, term paper, master’s thesis or similar to demonstrate advanced writing skills.
  • Completion of an undergraduate course in statistics that includes inferential statistics.


The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 53 credits beyond the M.S. degree. The Ph.D. program consists of a minimum of 35 credits of course work, including core and elective courses and 18 credits of dissertation research. The core courses in theory and research methods provide the basic knowledge and skills necessary for generating new knowledge in nursing. In addition, a minimum of six credits in advanced statistics and 9 credits of cognates / electives are required. Students are provided with opportunities for hands-on research training experiences and are encouraged to publish and write grant proposals while enrolled in the program. The Ph.D. program culminates with written and oral comprehensive exams and the completion of dissertation research. Students have seven years to complete all degree requirements. Most students can complete the program in three to four years of full-time study.

Program Requirements

Core Courses in Nursing Theory & Philosophy (10 credits)

  • NUR 600 Philosophical Foundations of Health Care Research (3 crs)
  • NUR 602 Construction of Nursing Theory I: Inductive Process (4 crs)
  • NUR 603 Construction of Nursing Theory II: Deductive Process (3 crs)

Core Courses in Research Methods (10 credits)

  • NUR 649 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 cr)
  • NUR 650 Research Roles and Methods in Nursing (3 crs)
  • NUR 651 Advanced Methods in Nursing Research I (Qualitative Methods) (3 crs)
  • NUR 652 Advanced Methods in Nursing Research II (Quantitative Methods) (3 crs)

Advanced Statistics (6 credits)

Cognates & Electives (9 credits)

Dissertation Research (18 credits)

Example course sequence

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