Photo of a current PhD student

Online PhD in Nursing Program

  • Application Period opens July 1, 2020, for May 2021 Admission 

  • Application Deadline - February 1, 2021

  • NO GRE or Application Fee Required

The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in nursing program began in 1994. This research focused degree has been offered online to a national and international audience since 1997. In over 20 years, the PhD program has graduated over 100 nurse scientists who have gone on to careers in nursing education, research and organizational leadership in the United States and abroad.

DNP to PhD: Our Innovative PhD Admission Option

This PhD option permits nurses with a DNP degree to gain valuable skills that will enable them to function as independent researchers.
Learn more about the program

3-year and 4-year Curriculum Options

In concert with current trends in nursing as well as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report and the Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars Program, the School of Nursing offers a 3-year and  4-year PhD program in Nursing. Students now have the option to apply to the program that fits with their goals and lifestyle. The 3 and 4-year options are identical but differ in intensity and duration. Both programs assist students in identifying, clarifying and articulating their research topic and ideas early in the program. During the program, students are mentored as they focus on their ideas and research goals. Emphasis is placed on the health needs of vulnerable individuals and populations within the context of social justice.

The 3 and 4-year programs are offered online with residency requirements on campus in Pittsburgh, PA, and one residency as part of a study abroad experience at Duquesne's Rome and/or Dublin Campus. It is expected that students will complete the PhD in nursing in three or four years depending on the program chosen. Students applying to the 4-year program would typically complete 6 credits per semester, whereas the 3-year program students would complete 6-10 credits per semester. Students interested in applying to the 3-year program must have a commitment to prioritizing their time in order to complete the program unencumbered by expectations of over-demanding life/work/job.

The goal of the 3-year and revised 4-year PhD program in nursing is to engage students in an intensive rigorous manner that prepares them as nurse scholars to enter the workforce in a reasonable amount of time.

Residency Requirements

Residency 1: Doctoral Week (Summer of year 1)
Every student admitted to the PhD program is required to come to campus for the first residency, usually held during the second or third week of May. This week includes an orientation to the PhD program and provides an opportunity for students to meet faculty and participate in live classes for the courses in which they are enrolled that summer.

Residency 2: Study Abroad (Summer of year 2)
Students enrolled in GPNG 924 Methods of Scientific Inquiry II will take part of the course as a study abroad experience (approx. 10-14 days) in locations such as Dublin, Ireland where students will have housing at the Duquesne University Ireland campus.

Residency 3: Topic and Committee Approval
(Year 2 for 3-yr program and Year 3 for 4-yr program)
This residency provides an opportunity for the student to meet with his/her faculty mentor either at Duquesne University or another location such as a conference setting for intensive discussion and writing around dissertation topic development in preparation for approval.

Residency 4: Final Dissertation Defense
(Year 3 for 3-yr program and Year 4 for 4-yr program)
Students are required to come to campus for the final public defense of their dissertation.


Nursing Viewbook

PhD Admission Process Video

In this video, hear about the Online PhD in Nursing Program
from Drs. Rick Zoucha and Melanie Turk

Graduate Student Handbook

University Graduate Catalog

Technology Requirements


PhD Curriculum

Since 1997, Duquesne University’s PhD Program in Nursing has had the unique distinction of being the first completely online PhD nursing program in the country. ThePhD curriculum reflects not only the national trends in nursing research, but also the faculty research agenda including vulnerable and underserved populations. Applied research courses in both qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodologies will prepare students to function as independent researchers upon graduation. Pre-doctoral funding will be emphasized early on in the program. Courses (cognates) to supplement the student’s dissertation study have been developed and will also be offered online. The curriculum is research-focused and designed to prepare students for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry, creative scholarship, and research. Students have up to eight years to complete the program.

Three Year PhD Curriculum

Four Year PhD Curriculum

Program Outcomes

PhD Program Outcomes

The overall purpose of the PhD in Program in Nursing is to prepare graduates for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry, creative scholarship, and research.  Graduates of the program will be competent in research, scholarship, and leadership within the profession of nursing.  The graduate must possess and demonstrate specific competencies. These include the ability to:

  1. Function as an independent researcher and conduct original research that builds upon prior research and expands the science of nursing.
  2. Integrate theoretical frameworks and research finding from other disciplines to enhance the practice of professional nursing.
  3. Produce scholarly work that contributes to the science and profession of nursing by communicating creative solutions to problems in nursing and health care.
  4. Demonstrate leadership and collaborative strategies to reduce health care disparities on a local, national, and international level.
  5. Help improve the health of the community by generating new evidence for nursing practice that solves problems related to health care delivery.
  6. Evaluate issues that affect health care and advocate for change in health care policies based on evidence and the principles of social justice.

Students may not be enrolled in more than one doctoral program at any given time.