Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) Program

On-Campus Program » Newly Streamlined Curriculum

Program Overview

A classroom of adult students listen intently to a nursing lecture

Scholar. Educator. Innovator.
How will you change lives with your Ph.D.?

A Ph.D. in Nursing will prepare you to fulfill your purpose. Whether you have always wanted to conduct cutting-edge research, educate and mentor future nurses, lead large health organizations, or any combination of these and more, earning a research doctorate in nursing from Kent State University can open doors of opportunity. With a Ph.D. in Nursing, you can join the highest echelons in the nursing profession throughout the world.

Located in northeast Ohio, Kent State is a leading academic choice for nurses, not only in Ohio and across the region, but throughout the nation and internationally. Because Kent State is a top public research university, you will have access to a wide variety of facilities and support services to fulfill your research ambitions.

Our newly revised doctoral nursing program is rigorous and is specifically designed to produce the next generation of nurse scientists and scholars. Our expert faculty created a state-of-the-science, streamlined curriculum, which will provide you with knowledge and skills to contribute meaningfully to nursing science.

Why Kent State? We offer you:

  • Flexibility. The program can be completed either full-time or part-time. In fact, the majority of our nursing Ph.D. students – including full-time students – continue to work while completing coursework and dissertation research.
  • Personalized faculty guidance. Students receive mentorship and advising from experienced researchers and teachers. In addition to their research expertise, faculty members in the Ph.D. in Nursing program bring strong mentorship skills to assist you to reach your goals.
  • Convenience. Kent State is the only public research university in northern Ohio that offers a Ph.D. in Nursing. Located just 40 miles from Cleveland, Ohio, and 100 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kent State University is centrally located and is easy to access from major highways.
  • Affordability. At $506 per credit hour for pre-candidacy coursework and reduced tuition rates during the dissertation process, Kent State has the most affordable nursing research doctorate program in the region.
  • Credibility. Kent State’s nursing programs are recognized throughout the region and the world for their excellence. Graduates of this program hold positions in leading universities and healthcare systems.
  • Community. Before classes even start, students attend an orientation where they are immersed in a cross-university community that only a large research institution with a culture of inclusiveness can provide. Professional development workshops, networking events, and weekend dissertation bootcamps are only a few of the opportunities that are offered to help students become socialized to the role of a research scientist.

Kent State: An NLN Center of Excellence

NLN Center of Excellence Seal

Kent State University is a two-time designated Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (2013-2017, 2017-2022). We are recognized in the "Advancing the Science of Nursing Education" category for our dedication to innovative and evidence-based nursing education.

Ph.D. Program Mission & Outcomes

Mission

To prepare nurse scientists to develop and advance nursing science using established and emerging methods to advance health, healthcare and the profession of nursing. The Ph.D. program prepares graduates to lead and promote innovative scholarly endeavors within and across disciplines, and to assume leadership roles in the profession.

Outcomes

  1. Generate new knowledge that contributes to the advancement of health, healthcare and nursing science.
  2. Disseminate advances in scientific knowledge.
  3. Use collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative approaches to knowledge generation.
  4. Assume leadership roles in healthcare and education as researchers, educators and advanced clinicians.
  5. Serve as stewards of the body of knowledge for the discipline of nursing.

Find a Faculty Mentor

Grow into Your Future You

When choosing a doctoral program, it is important to find a faculty advisor and mentor who is an expert in the research area that you are interested in. Kent State’s nursing research faculty have a wide variety of research interests, including:

  • Self-management of acute and chronic disease across the lifespan
  • Wellness in health, caregiver, occupational, and vulnerable populations within and across family systems
  • Health-related care systems and outcomes
  • Global and cultural health and wellness
  • Emerging education, translational and research methodologies
  • End-of-life/palliative care

Kent State has many innovative research institutes and initiatives that provide opportunities for cross-discipline research in areas such as brain health, environmental design, global understanding, and healthy communities. These collaborative opportunities are invaluable, as they help doctoral students gain insights from leading experts outside the discipline of nursing.

Faculty Mentors

Explore this list of doctoral faculty to learn about their research and areas of expertise. We encourage prospective applicants to ask the faculty researcher they wish to study under if the researcher will mentor them.

Program Curriculum

A Straightforward Path to Becoming a Nurse Scientist

Our newly developed, state-of-the science curriculum was specifically created to prepare students to address emerging areas of nursing science, such as geonomics, big data, and symptom science.

Important note: the program curriculum is currently under review, awaiting final approval, and is subject to change.

Year 1

During the first semester, students gain essential core knowledge by completing courses in scientific writing, research methods, statistics, and nursing history and philosophy. In the following semesters, advanced courses that build on and hone core knowledge and skills are completed.

The first of two elective courses are also completed during year one. Expert faculty guide each student to choose elective courses that supplement a substantive area of research, specific method of research, or assist them with career goals following graduation (e.g., teaching in higher education).

Fall Semester [8 credit hours]

NURS 70710: History and Philosophy of Nursing Science [2 credits]

This course examines the nature and metaphysics and epistemology and the influence of contemporary Eastern and Western philosophies on the developing epistemology of disciplinary nursing knowledge.

NURS 70711: Scientific Writing [2 credits]

This courses covers how to conduct several types of literature reviews. Students will conduct a literature review relevant to their research interest, synthesize the literature, identify gaps, and write a synthesis of the literature. Ethical issues and authorship considerations are discussed.

NURS 70712: Research Design Fundamentals [2 credits]

The course focuses on learning fundamental methodological concepts and tools that enable an understanding of research problems and serve as a basis to conduct quantitative and qualitative research. There is emphasis on linking theory and research models to research questions, hypotheses and designs.

NURS 70713: Advanced Statistics I [2 credits]

This course focuses on learning introductory descriptive, parametric and non-parametric statistical models. Students learn how to enter, clean, and handle missing data, as well as perform analyses using SPSS. Expected outcomes are a conceptual understanding of statistical models covered in the course, interpretation of output of statistical analyses, and communication of findings in oral and written work.

Spring Semester [10 credit hours]

NURS 70715: Theory Construction and Development in Nursing [3 credits]

This course examines strategies for theory development including logical-empirical-deductive and inductive approaches. Emphasis will be on elements and strategies used in theory building.

NURS 70740: Advanced Statistics II [3 credits]

This course provides in-depth knowledge of regression, general linear model, and exploratory factor analysis statistical models. Course outcomes include a conceptual understanding of these models and the ability to conduct and interpret output of statistical analyses and communicate findings in oral and written work. Knowledge of SPSS is required.

NURS 70742: Advanced Qualitative Methods for Health Sciences [4 credits]

Select qualitative research methods used to study nursing phenomena are examined. Theory and philosophical underpinnings, design, recruitment, data collection and analysis, evaluation of rigor, and ethical issues for major qualitative methods are discussed.

Summer Semester [6 credit hours]

NURS 70714: Leadership for Nursing Science [3 credits]

This course focuses on the development of the nurse scientist as a leader across health care and higher educational settings.

Elective [3 credits]

Elective courses supplement the student’s program of study in a particular substantive area of research or a specific method of research, including advanced statistical approaches, or assist the student with career goals following graduation (e.g., teaching in higher education). Advisors will assist students in choosing elective courses.

Year 2

The second year begins with 135 mentored research hours with the student's faculty advisor and culminates with the development of a first draft of the dissertation proposal. Coursework on more advanced statistical models, advanced quantitative methods, and an in-depth seminar course related to emerging scientific trends in nursing is completed.

Fall Semester [10 credit hours]

NURS 70741: Advanced Statistics III [3 credits]

This course focuses on more advanced statistical models used in nursing, including but not limited to, confirmatory factor analysis, path analysis and structural equation modeling. Course outcomes are a conceptual understanding of these models and ability to interpret output of statistical analyses and communicate findings in oral and written work.

NURS 70743: Advanced Quantitative Methods for Health Sciences [4 credits]

This course extends knowledge of quantitative research designs for nursing and focuses on cross-sectional, cohort, and case control studies, and clinical trials. Advanced knowledge of measurement, sampling, data collection and methods to improve quantitative design rigor is covered. There is emphasis on application of course content to a selected research question or hypothesis.

NURS 70798: Research in Nursing [3 credits]

Research activities are carried out by a student under faculty supervision, including but not limited to, data collection, coding, entry and analysis, inter-professional teamwork, and preparation and submission of research presentations and manuscripts.

Spring Semester [9 credit hours]

NURS 70791: Variable Content Seminar: Emerging Issues in Nursing Science and Research [3 credits]

This seminar course will examine in-depth current scientific trends and emerging topics in nursing research.

NURS 70744: Proposal Development [3 credits]

In this course, students will critically evaluate existing literature to develop persuasive and methodologically sound arguments addressing at least one critical gap for nursing science. Focus is on study design, scope, and feasibility of projects that culminate in a dissertation proposal first draft.

Elective [3 credits]

Elective courses supplement the student’s program of study in a particular substantive area of research or a specific method of research, including advanced statistical approaches, or assist the student with career goals following graduation (e.g., teaching in higher education). Advisors will assist students in choosing elective courses.

Summer Semester

Candidacy Examination: Following successful completion of 43 credit hours of coursework, the student will sit for a candidacy examination.

Year 3

In year three, work on the dissertation, with guidance from the faculty advisor, is started. The length of the dissertation is variable depending on individual student needs. When the dissertation is completed, it is defended to a committee of faculty researchers within and outside of the College of Nursing. The Ph.D. in Nursing is conferred after successful defense of the dissertation.

Fall Semester [15 credit hours]

NURS 80199: Dissertation I [15 credits]

Independent doctoral research for the dissertation under faculty supervision. Registration of at least two semesters is require, continuing until completion of 30 credit hours.

Spring Semester [15 credit hours]

NURS 80199: Dissertation I [15 credits]

Independent doctoral research for the dissertation under faculty supervision. Registration of at least two semesters is require, continuing until completion of 30 credit hours.

Any Additional Semesters

If the student does not successfully defend their dissertation by the time they have completed 30 credit hours of NURS 80199: Dissertation I, they must enroll in NURS 80299: Dissertation II every subsequent semester (including summer) until their defense is successful.

NURS 80299: Dissertation II [15 credits]

(Repeatable for credit) Continuing registration of research, after initial 30 hours of Dissertation I.

Admissions

We invite you to apply to the Ph.D. in Nursing program if you meet the following requirements:

  • Active, unrestricted Ohio registered nurse license (international students need to show proof of legal ability to practice as a registered nurse in country of origin)
  • Bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, from an accredited program1 for unconditional admission
  • Minimum overall 3.000 graduate GPA on a 4.000 point scale for unconditional admission
  • Official transcript(s)
  • GRE scores (must be less than five years old at the time of application)
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Essay (two pages, single-spaced) addressing the following questions:
    • Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing?
    • What are your professional goals?
    • How have you been involved in research, publications and professional presentations?
    • How have you been involved in professional organizations?
    • What are your research interests?
    • Why are you interested in these research areas?
    • How could research—and specifically your research—in these areas advance science?
  • Sample of written work
  • Three letters of reference from health care professionals or academic faculty members who can speak to the applicant's professional and academic abilities (two of the three references from doctoral-prepared individuals are preferred)
  • Interview
  • English language proficiency - all international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions) by earning one of the following:2
    • Minimum 560 TOEFL PBT score (paper-based version)
    • Minimum 83 TOEFL IBT score (Internet-based version)
    • Minimum78 MELAB score
    • Minimum 6.5 IELTS score
    • Minimum 55 PTE score

Priority Application Deadlines

Spring 2020: No Spring Admissions
Fall 2020: March 1, 2020

Materials to submit with application

Applicants should upload all required documents in your application portal:

  • Proof of RN licensure
    1. Search for your license on NURSYS.com Quick Confirm License Verification. Find and review the information to ensure that it is you.
    2. Click on “View Report”
    3. Click on "Download Report"
    4. Upload the document to your application portal.

    If your state does not participate in NURSYS, please contact your state’s Board of Nursing to send licensure verification to Kent State University. International students need to show proof of legal ability to practice as a registered nurse in country of origin.

  • Transcripts
    Copies of official transcripts (front and back) are required at the time of application from all universities where 8 or more credit hours were earned. Admitted students are required to submit official transcripts after they have accepted an offer of admission.
  • GRE scores
    Scores will only be accepted when sent directly from the test provider to the Division of Graduate Studies as an official test report. Scores reported by applicants will not be accepted.
    Kent State University's GRE code is 1367.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Admission Essay
    • Two pages, single-spaced, addressing the following questions:
      • Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing?
      • What are your professional goals?
      • How have you been involved in research, publications and professional presentations?
      • How have you been involved in professional organizations?
      • What are your research interests?
      • Why are you interested in these research areas?
      • How could research—and specifically your research—in these areas advance science?
  • Sample of written work.
  • References
    Three letters of reference from health care professionals or academic faculty members who can speak to the applicant's professional and academic abilities (two of the three references from doctoral-prepared individuals are preferred).
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
    All international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions) by earning one of the following:
    • Minimum 560 TOEFL PBT score (paper-based version)
    • Minimum 83 TOEFL IBT score (Internet-based version)
    • Minimum 78 MELAB score
    • Minimum 6.5 IELTS score
    • Minimum 55 PTE score

1. A bachelor's degree in a closely related health field may be considered if the applicant has a master's degree in nursing or a D.N.P. degree from an accredited program. A master's degree in a closely related field may be considered if the applicant has a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited program.

2. International applicants who do not meet the above test scores may be considered for conditional admission.

Tuition & Aid

A top-tier education at an affordable cost.

Kent State University’s Ph.D. in Nursing program is the most affordable of its kind in the region. As a public institution, we see it as our duty to offer the highest-quality education at a cost that is within the reach of students from all backgrounds.

Tuition & Costs at a Glance

  Ohio Residents Non-Ohio Residents
Fee per Credit Hour $506 per hour
Out-of-State Surcharge N/A $384 per hour
Total Hours 43 hours
Est. Cost Pre-Candidacy $21,758 $38,270
CANDIDACY
Dissertation I (2 semesters) $6,060
Dissertation II $15 per semester
Total Est. Cost $27,818 $44,330

Costs are as of the 2019-2020 academic year. Totals are estimates and do not include books, practicum fees, or other incidental fees. Online courses include an additional $12/hr fee, plus a $10/hr out-of-state surcharge for non-Ohio residents. Rates are subject to change at any time by the Board of Trustees. For more information about Kent State's tuition and fees, see the university fee register.

Funding & Financial Aid

At Kent State University, we strive to make the financial aid process as simple as possible. Our financial aid services and scholarship programs help a wide range of students make their goals affordable. Financial aid options for Ph.D. in Nursing students include:

Payment Options

  • Tuition can be paid online using a credit card or check, by mail with a check, or in-person with a check.
  • Monthly payment plan options are available.* Tuition can be spread out over 3, 4, or 5 monthly payments.
  • Students who are receiving tuition reimbursement through their employer can apply to defer tuition payment to after the semester ends.*

* Fall and spring semester only

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I continue to work while attending the program?

Yes. In fact, according to a recent survey of Ph.D. in Nursing students at Kent State, the majority continue to work full-time while enrolled in the program.

How much does the program cost?

This nursing Ph.D. program is the most affordable in the region at $506 per credit hour for Ohio residents and $890 per credit hour for non-Ohio residents. Ph.D. candidates receive a reduced tuition rate while completing their dissertation.

View the current estimated tuition and costs

How long will it take to complete the program?

The Ph.D. in Nursing program can be completed in as few as three years full-time. Many factors may contribute to extending your time in the program, such as taking the pre-candidacy coursework part-time or encountering unexpected challenges when conducting your dissertation research.

The university expects students to complete the degree in no more than nine years. Students who must be away from their studies for one or more semesters for personal, family, financial or other compelling reasons may apply for a leave of absence to attend to these issues.

Do you accept international students?

Yes, international students are encouraged to apply if they meet the admissions requirements.

All international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions) by earning one of the following:

  • Minimum 560 TOEFL PBT score (paper-based version)
  • Minimum 83 TOEFL IBT score (Internet-based version)
  • Minimum 78 MELAB score
  • Minimum 6.5 IELTS score
  • Minimum 55 PTE score

International applicants who do not meet the above test scores may be considered for conditional admission.

See the International Graduate Application Guide for additional details into the application process and the documentation you will need to provide.

Is the GRE required?

Yes, the GRE is required for admission to the Ph.D. in Nursing program. The scores must be less than five years old at the time of application. 

Kent State University's GRE code is 1367.

What is the difference between the Ph.D. and the DNP?

At the most basic level, the Ph.D. is a research-focused doctorate, while the DNP is a practice-focused doctorate.

Which doctoral degree you choose depends on your area of interest (nursing science or advanced clinical practice), your overall career goals (practice, education, research) and your prior nursing experience. 

See the Ph.D. or DNP: What Nursing Doctorate is Right for You? page to compare and contrast these two degrees.

By earning a Ph.D., would I be limiting my career options to being a professor?

No! While the Ph.D. will prepare you to work as a researcher and professor in academia, there are numerous opportunities for doctoral-prepared nurses throughout the workforce.

For example, many Ph.D. nurses are employed as researchers for hospitals and health systems. Many also hold top leadership positions within these organizations. 

Additional opportunities include independent consulting and leading nursing and healthcare associations.

Do you offer graduate assistantships?

As the majority of students in this program work full- or part-time as practicing nurses or nurse educators and have some or all of their tuition costs covered by their employer, we do not offer graduate assistantships.

The university does offer a number of awards and fellowships for graduate students. Additionally, the federal government provides generous loan forgiveness programs for nurse educators and nurses who work in public service.

See the Tuition & Aid section for more information.

Is this program online?

No. Courses are delivered face-to-face at the Kent campus.

Is this program offered jointly with the University of Akron?

No. From 1999 to 2018, a Ph.D. in Nursing program was administered jointly between Kent State University and the University of Akron. 

In the fall of 2018, Kent State University received approval for a Ph.D. in Nursing program to be offered solely at Kent State.

A new Ph.D. in Nursing program was developed to meet the needs of our students and the broader nursing community. This program will soon admit it's first class of students for the fall 2020 semester.

We thank the University of Akron for their partnership and remain eternally grateful for their 20+ year commitment to creating and nurturing a shared Ph.D. in Nursing program.

Where is Kent, Ohio?

Map of Ohio with locations of major cities and Kent State University

Kent, Ohio, is a small city located in the northeast Ohio region, near Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown. Known for its density of trees, black squirrels, and scenic sites along the Cuyahoga River, Kent is a destination for nature lovers and is home to over a dozen parks and nature preserves.

The city's proximity to multiple Interstate highways allows for easy navigation to and from major cities across the region, including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Akron.

Many adult students are deciding to plant roots in Kent, drawn to its growing diverse population, family-friendly atmosphere, highly-ranked public schools, and central location.

Discover Kent & Kent State University

When is the application deadline?
Is an interview required for admission?

Yes. The director of the Ph.D. in Nursing program, as well as the faculty member who will serve as your advisor and mentor, will interview you to assess if our program is a good fit for your background, goals, and research interests.

Does my bachelor's and/or master's degree need to be in nursing?

It is preferred that the applicant's bachelor's and master's degrees both be in nursing. However, we may consider applicants who do not meet this requirement if

  • Their bachelor's degree is in a closely related health field and they hold an MSN or DNP
  • Their master's degree is in a closely related field and they earned a BSN

Learn more about the admission requirements and how to apply