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2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin 
  Jul 13, 2024
2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin [Archived Catalog]

Nursing Science, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. degree is designed to prepare graduates for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry through creative scholarship and research. Students in this doctoral program acquire the knowledge and skills to conduct research that will contribute to furthering nursing practice, education, and administration.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate skills necessary to analyze, apply, and develop theories within the context of the planning and implementation of nursing and health research. 
  • Students are able to identify and implement the necessary steps in the research process for nursing practice, education, and research. 


The admission process attempts to identify individuals who have a high probability of successfully completing the program. All factors are considered in combination. Specific requirements include:

  1. one of the following options:
    1. B.S.N. entry-a bachelor of science in nursing degree from a program that is nationally accredited;
    2. M.S.N. entry-a bachelor of science in nursing degree and a master’s in nursing degree from nationally accredited programs;
    3. non-M.S.N. master’s entry-a bachelor of science in nursing degree from a nationally accredited program and a master’s degree in another discipline
    4. D.N.P. entry- a doctor of nursing practice degree from a nationally accredited program.
  2. GRE General Test Scores (verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytic writing) completed within the past 5 years (exempted for D.N.P. entry);
  3. transcripts of all previous college studies;
  4. registered nurse licensure in South Carolina or eligibility for S.C. licensure or possession of an unencumbered license in the location in which the research will occur;
  5. completed application to The Graduate School with the College of Nursing supplement;
  6. potential for scholarship in nursing science as evidenced by the following:
    1. two or three examples of scholarly work, e.g., research reports, published articles, thesis, course papers, and written innovations;
    2. written statement of career goals;
    3. three letters of reference from doctorally prepared individuals that address research and scholarship potential;
    4. interview with two nursing graduate faculty members;
    5. resume or cv.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for earning the Ph.D. include:

  1. doctoral residency of at least 18 graduate credit hours for three consecutive major semesters.  Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credits earned during summer terms (including May session) will count toward the 18 hours required for residency.  The residency requirement may be met only after admission to the PhD program;
  2. completion of an approved program of study totaling not less than 39 credits for D.N.P. entry options (at least 30 credits must be earned at the University of South Carolina); not less than 57 credit hours for master’s entry options and not less than 75 credit hours for B.S.N. entry option;
  3. completion of the admission-to-candidacy examination at least one full academic year prior to the date on which the degree is to be granted;
  4. completion of a foreign language and/or research methods requirement, met through a reading knowledge of a foreign language or competency in statistics/research methods specific to the student’s proposed course of study;
  5. completion of a mentored research experience under the supervision of College of Nursing faculty (NURS 898);
  6. completion of a comprehensive examination taken after admission to candidacy and completion of all course requirements except those courses in which the student is currently enrolled;
  7. completion of an oral defense of a doctoral dissertation.

Length of Program: For students entering with a D.N.P., anticipated completion time for the Ph.D. degree program (39 credits minimum) is a minimum of five semesters; for students entering with a master’s degree in nursing, anticipated completion time for the PhD degree program (57 credit hours) is a minimum of seven semesters. For students entering with a B.S.N. degree, anticipated completion time for the PhD in Nursing Science (75 required credit hours) is a minimum of nine semesters.


Students in the Ph.D. program conduct research that generates and refines nursing science as the basis for nursing practice, education, and leadership.

The curriculum in the Ph.D. program is designed to provide students with a core foundation in professional role development, nursing theory, nursing research design and methods, grant writing, and statistics. The goal of the required core curriculum, consisting of a minimum of 27 semester hours is to prepare beginning researchers in a defined area of nursing science inquiry. This will be accomplished through the development of individual programs of study and research experiences.

Students who do not have beginning level graduate courses in nursing theory, nursing research, or statistics equivalent to those required in the USC College of Nursing master of science in nursing degree program will need to complete these courses prior to beginning the Ph.D. core courses. Students in the B.S.N. entry option will need to complete 18 additional credit hours of master’s level courses which may be from one of the existing nursing majors or emphasis areas or in an individualized program of study. These courses must relate to the student’s research area of interest. Enrollment in these additional 18 credit hours must occur before enrollment in the Ph.D. core courses. To enroll in the initial research course, NURS 810 - Nursing Research Methods I students must have completed a graduate level statistics course with a grade of B or higher within the past 5 years.

Distribution of Ph.D. Requirements (minimum of 57 hours required for post-Master’s entry):

Core Courses (minimum of 27 hours required)

Contributing Courses (minimum of 18 hours required by advisement of Program of Study committee)

  • Statistics (minimum of 3 hours beyond BIOS 700  / EDRM 710  or equivalent)
  • Advanced Nursing Courses (minimum 9 hours)
  • Elective Courses (minimum 6 hours must be taken outside the College of Nursing)

Dissertation (12 Hours):

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