Apr 14, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Nursing, (PhD)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

Dr. Lin Zhan
Dean and Professor

Dr. Shirleatha Lee Associate
Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Associate Professor

The Loewenberg College of Nursing at The University of Memphis offers a PhD degree in Nursing, the highest academic degree for individuals planning to pursue scholarly careers in the nursing discipline. This PhD Program is designed for those who plan to assume a role as nurse researcher/scholar/educator in academic nursing as well as healthcare settings through research experimentation and theory application to generate new knowledge. The program will emphasize health equity in practice, education, and policy locally to globally.

Graduates of the PhD program will be prepared to:

  1. conduct rigorous nursing and interdisciplinary research,

  2. generate new knowledge that guides nursing practice, and

  3. lead educational research in program and course design, clinical education, and the evaluation of learning that prepares nurses of the future.

Program Admission

The applicant must meet all criteria for admission to the graduate school. A master’s degree is required for admission and international applicants will be expected to submit a minimum score of 550 on the paper, a 210 on the computer-based, or 79 on the internet based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Additionally, applicants will:

  1. possess an unencumbered RN license or equivalent in the student’s state/nation of residence.
  2. earned Master’s Degree with minimum GPA of 3.0. If a GPA is not available, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required with scores from the last five years with a minimum of verbal and quantitative score of 140 and analytical writing score of at least 3.0.
  3. provide three letters of reference from individuals familiar with the applicant’s capabilities for doctoral study and for future performance as a nurse scholar and researcher. Generally, two letters from former professors will be expected.
  4. submit a personal statement of approximately 750-1000 words indicating his/her present interests and career goals, including how the PhD in Nursing will prepare the student to achieve those goals.
  5. provide a writing sample (e.g., published paper, or coursework from previous degree program is acceptable).
  6. provide a copy of the applicant’s curriculum vitae (CV) or resume.
  7. interview via phone, face-to-face, or Skype will be required.

The PhD Program Committee will review all submitted materials. Admissions decisions are made on the overall quality of the applicant’s professional background in nursing, scholarship, academic ability, as well as the applicant’s “fit” for the program in terms of academic background, research interests, and career goals.

Program Requirements

Credit Hours:

To qualify for graduation, students must meet all U of M Graduate School requirements. Additionally, students must complete a minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate course work beyond the master’s degree and 54 semester hours beyond the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Transfer Credit:

Previously earned doctoral credits may be considered for transfer by the student’s advisory committee in accordance with the Graduate School policy; however, residency requirements stipulate that the last thirty semester hours of credit for the doctoral degree (including 9 dissertation hours) must be earned at the U of M. Credit towards a graduate degree does not transfer automatically. However, graduate work completed at another institution in a program accredited at the graduate level may be accepted in a graduate degree program at the University, with the following provisions. (1) They relate to the content of the graduate program and/or are comparable to those offered at the University. (2) They do not exceed time limitations set for doctoral programs.

Credit previously earned at another institution must be presented for evaluation no later than the end of the student’s second semester of enrollment. Forms are available on-line or from the Graduate School Graduation Analyst. Only transcripts received directly from an issuing institution are considered official. Approved transfer credit may be accepted for one-half the number of semester hours of course credit toward a doctoral degree. Credit will be transferred to apply toward a doctoral program upon approval of the student’s advisory committee.

Courses proposed for transfer credit must meet the following two requirements. (1) a minimum of 750 contact minutes for each semester credit (2250 for a 3-hour course). (2) a minimum of 3 hours of class work per week for 3 hours of credit. Grades earned at another institution will not be computed in the University cumulative grade point average, nor will they be accepted for transfer, unless they are “B” (3.0) or better. No credit will be transferred unless it meets with the approval of the major advisor or program graduate coordinator.


Full-time students are expected to carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester, and to devote full time during their enrollment to the pursuit of degree-related activities. Full-time students with graduate assistantships are required to enroll for 9 credits each semester. Part-time students are expected to carry a minimum of 6 credits per semester, unless permission is granted from the advisor for a reduced course load.


All doctoral students are expected to be active in research collaboratively with members of the faculty each semester they are enrolled.

Retention Requirements:

Students must earn a grade of B (3. 0) or higher in all required courses. The PhD program will adhere to Graduate School policy regarding course grades and repetition of courses. All courses applied toward PhD degree program requirements must have the advisor’s written approval.

Retention requirements are per policies stipulated by the U of M Graduate School. In terms of course performance, no more than seven (7) credit hours in which a grade of C or below was earned will be counted toward degree requirements.

In order to remain eligible for departmental funding, you must maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4-point scale. A minimum of 3.0 is also required for graduation. According to the U of M Graduate School, grades of “D” and “F” will not apply toward any graduate degree, but will be calculated in the GPA. Please note that grades from other institutions are not computed in calculating the GPA.

Residency Requirements:

The last 30 credit hours must be earned at The University of Memphis. Credit will be transferred to apply toward a doctoral program upon approval of the student’s advisory committee in accordance with Graduate School policy.

Comprehensive Examination:

Prior to enrolling for dissertation hours (NURS 9000), a student must successfully complete both a written and oral comprehensive examination. The examination will assess mastery of areas covered in the doctoral program. The content of the examination will consist of theory and methodology, and nursing issues central to the student’s main research area. Since the examination is designed to test each student’s knowledge of the field, it is not confined to material covered in classes.

Prior to initiating the examination process, a student must have completed at least 30 credit hours of coursework in the program. Additionally, he/she is required to be enrolled during the semester he/she proposes to take the comprehensive exam.

  • The student’s comprehensive examination will be reviewed by the committee in relation to:
  • Quality of written and oral examination
  • Ability to conceptualize and analyze the topic in depth
  • Capacity for original thought and substantive knowledge in the focused area
  • Integration of state of the art knowledge

University policy does not consider comprehensive examinations to be a course; therefore, the results of the examination are not appealable. University policy allows you to take the comprehensive examination twice; failure to pass on the second attempt results in dismissal from the university. The dismissal may be appealed (see Retention Appeals in the Graduate Catalog).


To fulfill the requirements for the PhD in Nursing, the student must write and defend a dissertation. The dissertation must adhere to the format outlined by the Graduate School. The dissertation topic will be determined by the student in consultation with the advisor and input from the advisory committee.

Program Curriculum:

The Nursing PhD Program is a 60-semester hour degree program beyond the master’s degree and 54-semester credit hours beyond the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Electives: 6-12 credit hours

A total of six (6) credit hours are required post DNP and twelve (12) credit hours are required post MSN, example courses are:

Dissertation: 12 credit hours

PhD Nursing Program Requirements

In addition to completion of the 60 semester hours of required coursework beyond the master’s degree or 54 semester hours beyond the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, program requirements include successful completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations, and the preparation and successful defense of a dissertation in accordance with the University of Memphis Graduate School policies and guidelines.

For questions about the PhD in Nursing program curriculum, degree requirements, or how to apply?

Dr. Eric Bailey
Assistant Dean of Students

Dr. Shirleatha Lee
Associate Dean of Academic Programs

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