Dec 03, 2023  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Nursing, Ph.D.

General Program Information

Dr. Lisa Haddad, PhD, RN, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs
207 Roy S. Nicks Hall
Box 70629
(423) 439-5626

Dr. Jean Croce Hemphill
2-204 Roy S. Nicks Hall
Box 70629
(423) 439-4603

Faculty: Sharon Bigger; Myra Carew; Teresa Carnevale; Robin Foreman; Lisa Haddad; Christy Hall; Patty Harnois-Church; Jean Hemphill; Leann Horsley; Sharon Loury; Judy McCook; Kendra Todt; Holly Wei; Florence Weierbach; Mary Ellen Wright; PiMIng Yeh

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 intensive sessions once each semester. A dissertation on a topic of interest is required.

For application terms and deadlines please refer to the College of Nursing website.

Admission Policy

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;
  • 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:

  1. BSN or higher degree from a nationally-accredited nursing program.
  2. Unencumbered licensure in the United States as a registered nurse and eligibility for licensure in Tennessee or compact state; *
  3. 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;
  4. Completion of an interview;
  5. A cover letter expressing the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study (unless clearly articulated in the written essay requested by the university); and
  6. résumé or vita, as appropriate.
  7. Completion of a writing sample at the time of application addressing the following topic: Based on your nursing experience, discuss a possible researchable nursing problem, including implications for nursing practice. Essay should be typewritten, double-spaced, and at least 2 pages but not more than 4 pages in length.  
    * Or equivalency for international applicants.

The completed application form and fee, 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 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), 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 some of the admission requirements unconditionally with provisions (E.g., such as taking one prerequisite undergraduate course.)

D.N.P. to Ph.D. Degree

A student holding an earned doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution may qualify for a second doctoral degree and may have a program of study that is up to 15 credits shorter depending on coursework taken in the prior doctoral program and approved by the student’s ETSU advisory committee and PhD Director. All specific program requirements, with the possible exception of elective courses or duplicative courses, must be met for the second degree. Degree  requirements that must be met include the candidacy examination and dissertation for the PhD. In warranted circumstances credit used to satisfy approved ETSU graduate certificate requirements may be applied toward the second doctoral degree. Please consult the PhD and curricula and concentrations for specific program requirements and sample programs of study.

Progression Standards

  1. 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.
  2. In addition, a nursing student must achieve a “B” (3.0) or better in every required course in the graduate nursing program. 
  3. 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 associated Program Director 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Policies of the School of Graduate Studies for progression will apply.
  6. 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. Requests 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.

General Information


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 the 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 PhD 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 PhD Director 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 purpose of the candidacy examination is to ensure that students are able to think analytically, have a comprehensive knowledge of the field and specialty, and be deemed capable of completing the dissertation. The examination tests the nursing core courses in philosophy of science, theory, quantitative and qualitative research, statistics, health policy leadership, bioethics, and a cognate.  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 - Doctoral Dissertation . 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. Guidelines for the Candidacy Examination will be provided. 

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. Instead of producing a traditional dissertation, students may author three publishable manuscripts to fulfill the dissertation requirements. One of the three manuscripts must be published prior to approval of the dissertation. Students must comply with applicable University and College guidelines during the dissertation process. Choosing this option will be a joint decision made by the doctoral student and the dissertation chair. The decision to choose the manuscript dissertation option may occur at any time during the student’s program of study. The manuscripts may be produced during upon completion of any doctoral course or during the candidacy period. 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 PhD 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 60 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 nine (9) credits is required for the cognate courses. 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 PhD 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. 

Nursing, Ph.D. Degree Requirements: 60-68 credits

Core Requirements 39 credits
Advisor Approved Electives 9 credits
Dissertation 12-20 credits
TOTAL 60-68 credits

Advisor Approved Electives: 9 credits

Dissertation: 12-20 credits

D.N.P.-Ph.D. Degree Requirements: 48-65 credits

Required Courses 30 credits
Advisor Approved Electives 6 credits
Foundation Courses 0 - 9
Dissertation 12-20 credits
TOTAL 48-65 credits


D.N.P.-Ph.D. Advisor Approved Electives: 6 credits

Cognate I (3 credits) and Cognate II (3 credits) must be approved by faculty advisors in advance. An additional cognate may be required to support the student’s proposed dissertation.

D.N.P.-Ph.D. Dissertation: 12-20 credits


All students must be registered for a minimum of one semester hour of coursework in the semester in which they take or re-take the qualifying examination. If all coursework is completed, students must register (until they are admitted to candidacy) for at least one semester hour of NRSE 6990 - Readings and Research each semester.

* Students in the Nursing PhD program who are currently completing and are admitted into the following certificates, Global Health Certificate, Health Care Management Health, Data Analysis, Public Health, Rural Health, Nursing Administration, Nursing genetics, and Nursing Education may apply up to nine credits from the certificate into the Nursing PhD program with advisor approval, as long as the courses fall within the matriculation limits.