Doctor of Philosophy
The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) degree program at ETSU is to prepare expert practitioners and nurse scientists who are capable of conducting research that will improve health and provide leadership in the health care delivery system. Graduates of the program will meet an escalating need for nurse educators and researchers in schools of nursing, health agencies, and complex health care delivery systems across the state and nation. The Ph.D. program prepares students with advanced knowledge and skills in the science of nursing, with an emphasis on the application of knowledge to improve the health of rural and/or underserved population groups. The student is expected to demonstrate a sound knowledge of research methods and techniques of data analysis, and acquire analytical and leadership skills for dealing with social, ethical, cultural, economic, and political issues related to nursing, health care education, and research. The curriculum is designed to provide the student with coursework in the philosophy of science, ethics, statistical procedures, research methods, nursing science, and selected in-depth study in a selected cognate area.The curriculum is designed to accommodate working professionals and delivered in a blended/ online format with required on-campus intensive sessions once each semester. A dissertation on a topic of interest is required.
Program Admission Requirements
Applicants seeking admission to the Ph.D. degree program at East Tennessee State University must fulfill all the requirements for admission to both the School of Graduate Studies and the College of Nursing. The School of Graduate Studies requires that all students submit the following materials: a completed application with payment of a nonrefundable application fee; official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work; and a written essay.
In addition, College of Nursing requirements for admission to the Ph.D. degree program include:
- BSN from a nationally-accredited nursing program and a non-nursing master’s degree (longer program of study may be required).
MSN from a nationally-accredited nursing program or Master’s degree in a related discipline with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4 point scale.*
- Submission of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores;
- Licensure in the United States as a registered nurse and eligibility for licensure in Tennessee or compact state;*
- At least two (2)-years of full-time work experience (or equivalent) in nursing as a registered nurse;
- Three (3) letters of recommendation, one (1) from the applicant’s current (or most recent) supervisor, one (1) from a faculty member who worked directly with the applicant during previous graduate study, and one (1) from an individual selected by the applicant;
- Completion of an interview;
- Completion of a writing sample on a selected topic at the time of interview;
- A cover letter expressing the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study (unless clearly articulated in the written essay requested by the university); and
- A résumé or vita, as appropriate.
* Or equivalency for international applicants.
The completed application form and fee, official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, essay, additional documentation required of international students (if applicable), documentation of nursing licensure in the United States, letters of recommendation, and résumé/vita must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. The personal interview and time for preparing the writing sample will be scheduled by the College of Nursing’s Ph.D. Admissions Committee.
Factors given consideration in the admission decision include: previous graduate grade point average (GPA), level of GRE performance, clarity of goals for doctoral study as stated in writing and during the interview, writing ability, professional work experience and achievements, professional honors and awards, interest in rural and underserved population groups, and quality of references/recommendations. The Ph.D. Admissions Committee may admit a promising applicant who has not met all the admission requirements on a conditional basis.
Students in graduate nursing programs must meet the requirements of the School of Graduate Studies to remain in good standing. An overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better must be maintained.
In addition, a nursing student must achieve a “C” (2.0) or better in every required course in the graduate nursing program. Policies of the School of Graduate Studies for progression will apply.
If a student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0, she/he will be placed on academic probation the following semester. If the student does not achieve a 3.0 cumulative grade point average at the conclusion of one probationary semester, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Nursing will determine if the student should be dismissed from graduate study or continued on academic probation. No student will be allowed more than two probationary semesters, whether consecutive or cumulative. At the end of a second probationary semester, a student whose cumulative grade point average is still below 3.0 will be dismissed from graduate study.
Students whose performance results in a GPA so far below 3.0 as to make it mathematically impossible to attain an overall GPA of 3.0 after one semester may be subject to dismissal without a probationary term.
An incomplete grade (“I”) indicates that the student was passing the course at the end of the semester, but due to circumstances beyond the student’s control, was unable to complete the course work for which the “I” is assigned. The “I” grade cannot be used to allow a student to do additional work to raise a deficient grade or to repeat a course. An “I” grade must be removed no later than one calendar year from the time the grade is awarded. Time extension requests for removal of an “I” grade must be submitted to and approved by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies before the allotted time expires. An “I” grade not removed under the guidelines in the Graduate Catalog will be converted to an “F.”
Students who wish to change from part-time to full-time status must submit a written request to the College of Nursing’s Office of Student Services. Request will be approved on an individual basis, taking into consideration the student’s academic performance and available clinical slots.
Criminal Background Checks
To progress clinically, students will be required to complete a Criminal Background Check at his or her own expense from a specified vendor. Unfavorable results may result in a student’s inability to continue in clinical courses; review of the contents of the background check and the determination for eligibility for participation at a clinical site will be conducted by affiliated clinical agencies. Although the College of Nursing does not receive the contents of the background check, documentation of completion is kept with the student’s Clinical Course Health Requirement file.
Upon admission to the doctoral program, the student will be assigned a faculty advisor who will work with the student in developing the initial program of study and advising the student throughout their program of study and residencies.
Requirements for Completion of the Degree
Students must comply with all policies of the ETSU School of Graduate Studies regarding retention, progression, and graduation as described in the Graduate Catalog. If dismissed, a student has the option to apply for reinstatement. Students must become licensed or authorized to practice professional nursing in Tennessee or a compact state, demonstrate evidence of professional malpractice insurance in the amount of $1,000,000/$3,000,000 coverage, have current CPR certification and a knowledge of universal precautions, have completed a criminal background check per College of Nursing policy, and comply with the clinical requirements of the College of Nursing. A student may be asked to present evidence of physical or mental health at any time during the nursing program, and continuance in the program may be contingent upon this evidence.
Residency Requirements—The purpose of the residency requirement is to build a community of scholars. It provides doctoral students with significant time for sustained participation with peers and faculty members in scholarly and creative activities. A student in the Ph.D. program will fulfill the residency requirement by accomplishing selected professional activities such as scholarly writing, research, presentations, consulting, and grant writing, as specified in a residency plan. (Guidelines for Residency Activities will be provided.) The residency plan must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Ph.D. Coordinator in the College of Nursing. Each student must complete the required approved residency activities and submit a residency portfolio as documentation no later than thirty days prior to the candidacy examination.
Candidacy Examination—The goal of the candidacy examination is to demonstrate the student’s ability to synthesize knowledge accrued in the PhD core courses prior to admission to candidacy, and to move the student forward in the dissertation process. To demonstrate knowledge synthesis and at the same time contribute to nursing science, the student will prepare a state-of-the-science paper in his or her area of research interest. The work will be a primary representation of the student’s intellectual abilities and independent scholarship. The paper, after approval by the Candidacy Examination Committee, will be submitted to a professional journal, and the student will be admitted to candidacy. All students must be registered for a minimum of one (1) semester hour of coursework in the semester in which they take or re-take the candidacy examination; upon completion of all coursework the student should register for one (1) credit hour of NRSE 6960 Readings and Research. The outcome of the Candidacy Examination process can be “Pass” which means the student has successfully completed all steps of the process or “Fail”, which means the student begins the candidacy process again. Students whose second written submission is unacceptable will be dismissed from the program.
Dissertation—Each doctoral candidate must complete a dissertation as a major requirement for the Ph.D. degree. A dissertation proposal consisting of the first three (3) chapters of the dissertation will be completed and presented for approval to the student’s advisory committee prior to seeking IRB approval, and initiation of the research project. A dissertation proposal consisting of the first three (3) chapters of the dissertation will be completed and presented for approval to the student’s advisory committee prior to beginning data collection for the research project. Once the dissertation research has been conducted, the results analyzed, and the report written and accepted by the advisory committee, an oral defense of the dissertation will be scheduled. The dissertation must be prepared in accordance with School of Graduate Studies guidelines and submitted to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for approval. General guidelines on the dissertation format and procedures to be followed in scheduling an oral defense are available in the School of Graduate Studies.
Time Limit—The time limit for completion of the Ph.D. degree program by a student is seven (7) years from the date of enrollment in the earliest course applied toward the degree.
Program of Study—The PhD curriculum is composed of a minimum of 59 credit hours, including courses in foundations of scientific inquiry, research methods and data analysis, and nursing science; cognate courses, to complement the student’s previous experiences, career goals, and dissertation focus; and dissertation hours. A minimum of twelve (12) credits is required for the cognate. Opportunities for role development are provided within the nursing and cognate courses and through professional activities as specified within the student’s residency plans. Students in the Ph.D. program may select courses only at the 5000, 6000, or 7000 levels; at least one-half of all courses within the doctoral student’s program of study must be at the 6000/7000 levels. A summary of the curriculum follows:
Prerequisite: An introduction to statistics course at the graduate level*