PhD Curriculum

Part-time and full-time options are available for all pathways. Full-time study requires a minimum of 9 credits per semester. MS-PhD students who have not completed a graduate statistics course within the past five years will be required to enroll in a graduate statistics course the first fall semester of the program. The PhD program coursework is completed fully-online. Students are required to attend a mandatory, on-campus, one-week orientation known as the Resident Intensive Summer Experience (RISE) each year.


Resident Intensive Summer Experience (RISE)

At the University of Arizona College of Nursing, RISE stands for "Resident Intensive Summer Experience." For all students and faculty, RISE is an intensive but delightful experience designed to support student success in the PhD program. All doctoral students must attend RISE in Tucson, AZ each year they are in the program, until completing all coursework. RISE attendance for part-time students may vary. RISE typically occurs the week prior to the fall semester, in August of each year.

During RISE, students will:

  • become immersed in courses and research tailored to each specific program
  • meet with faculty advisors, fellow classmates and graduate student services staff
  • learn more about the PhD program, explore coursework and explore funding opportunities
  • collaborate with students, faculty and staff

Students or faculty looking for updated RISE schedules and preparation materials should log into the Doctoral Commons course in D2L.


Individualized Program of Study

Coursework in nursing and other sciences are emphasized during the early portion of an individualized program of study. As you continue through the program, time is increasingly devoted to research conducted under the supervision of a faculty researcher and mentor. For the College, our three areas of research excellence are listed below. Click on the links to see faculty with these foci and their related research or projects.

PhD Courses in Areas of Research Excellence


BSN to PhD Curriculum

You can enter the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) as a post-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student. BSN graduates interested in a research degree are encouraged to consider doctoral study early in their careers. This “Fast Track” program option is for academically talented BSN graduates who are passionate about research and committed to becoming a nurse researcher. The curriculum is designed as a full-time, four-year, 79-credit BSN-PhD program. Coursework in nursing and other sciences is emphasized during the earlier portion of an individualized program of study. As you continue through the program, time is increasingly devoted to research conducted under the supervision of a faculty researcher.

BSN-PhD Academic Program Guide

The BSN-PhD pathway includes the Nursing major and a minor. The Nursing major includes coursework in the following areas: Substantive Area of Research, Scientist/Academic Role, Philosophy and Theory, Research Methods and Dissertation.

The minor requirement can be met in one of two ways, both of which must receive prior approval from the Dissertation Committee and the Associate Dean for Student Success & Community Engagement and the PhD Program Director.

  1. Nursing Minor: Students may select an area of study within the nursing curriculum, such as Informatics, Rural Health, Border Health, Biological Injury, Reducing Risks and Promoting Health in Vulnerable Populations, or Managing Consequences of Aging or Chronic Illness.
  2. Outside Minor: A student may choose another area or discipline for a minor. Other areas may include Anthropology, Psychology, Management & Policy or Sociology. Note: This coursework may not be available via online technology. In addition, departments or colleges may require more than 9 credits to qualify as an official minor. While outside minors are possible, students will need to make special arrangements with the minor department, as well as their academic advisors. Students are strongly encouraged to complete an inside minor.

Time Limitation: Students must successfully defend their dissertation within five years of completion of written and oral examinations.


MS to PhD Curriculum

You can enter the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) as a post-Master of Science (MS) in Nursing student. The PhD is for academically talented nurses prepared at the master’s level who are passionate about research and committed to becoming a nurse researcher. The MS-PhD pathway curriculum is designed as a full-time, three-year, 64-credit PhD program. PhD students who have not taken a graduate statistics course will be required to do so during the first fall semester of the program. Coursework in nursing and other sciences is emphasized during the earlier portion of an individualized program of study. As you continue through the program, time is increasingly devoted to research conducted under the supervision of a faculty researcher.

MS-PhD Academic Program Guide

The MS-PhD pathway includes the Nursing major and a minor. The Nursing major includes coursework in the following areas: Substantive Area of Research, Scientist/Academic Role, Philosophy and Theory, Research Methods and Dissertation.

The minor requirement can be met in one of two ways, both of which must receive prior approval from the Dissertation Committee and the Associate Dean for Student Success & Community Engagement and the PhD Program Director.

  1. Nursing Minor: Students may select an area of study within the nursing curriculum, such as Informatics, Rural Health, Border Health, Biological Injury, Reducing Risks and Promoting Health in Vulnerable Populations, or Managing Consequences of Aging or Chronic Illness.
  2. Outside Minor: A student may choose another area or discipline for a minor. Other areas may include Anthropology, Psychology, Management & Policy or Sociology. Note: This coursework may not be available via online technology. In addition, departments or colleges may require more than 9 credits to qualify as an official minor. While outside minors are possible, students will need to make special arrangements with the minor department, as well as their academic advisors. Students are strongly encouraged to complete an inside minor.

Time Limitation: Students must successfully defend their dissertation within five years of completion of written and oral examinations.


PhD/DNP Dual Degree

If you are interested in attaining broader advanced clinical practice skills with strong research competencies, consider taking advantage of our dual Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. You will be prepared at the highest level of nursing science and professional nursing practice, and with advanced skills for engaging in research to create, apply and translate new knowledge to improve health care – in practice domains and/or academia. You will work closely with clinical faculty mentors to develop specialty competencies, as well as faculty research mentors to create a program of research. The PhD-DNP Dual Degrees option is available upon admission to one of the doctoral programs. Dual degree students must satisfy both DNP and PhD admission and enrollment requirements. The College of Nursing can accept up to 17 units in common from DNP coursework to meet requirements. Contact Lois Loescher, PhD Program Director, for more information.


Post-DNP to PhD Curriculum

If you are interested in attaining strong research competencies, consider taking advantage of our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. You will be prepared to engage in research to create, apply and translate new knowledge to improve health care – in practice domains or academia. You will work closely with faculty research mentors to create a program of research. Post DNP-PhD students must satisfy the PhD admission and enrollment requirements. Your plan of study will be individualized upon admission to the PhD program. The College of Nursing can accept up to 17 units from your DNP program to meet requirements. Contact Lois Loescher, PhD Program Director, for more information.

The DNP-PhD pathway includes the Nursing major and a minor. The Nursing major includes coursework in the following areas: Substantive Clinical Area of Research, Scientist/Academic Role, Philosophy and Theory, Research Methods and Dissertation.

The minor requirement can be met in one of two ways, both of which must receive prior approval from the Dissertation Committee and the PhD Program Director.

  1. Nursing Minor: Students may select an area of study within the nursing curriculum, such as Informatics, Rural Health, Border Health, Biological Injury, Reducing Risks and Promoting Health in Vulnerable Populations, or Managing Consequences of Aging or Chronic Illness.
  2. Outside Minor: A student may choose another area or discipline for a minor. Other areas may include Anthropology, Psychology, Management & Policy or Sociology. Note: This coursework may not be available via online technology. In addition, departments or colleges may require more than 9 credits to qualify as an official minor. While outside minors are possible, students will need to make special arrangements with the minor department, as well as their academic advisors. Students are strongly encouraged to complete an inside minor. DNP students may use transfer credits for the minor requirement.

Time Limitation: Students must successfully defend their dissertation within five years of completion of written and oral examinations.