Nursing — Ph.D.

The aim of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in nursing is to prepare nurse scholars for leadership in education, health-care administration, and research. The Ph.D. degree in nursing is a research-oriented degree with emphases on the development of nursing science in the areas of vulnerable populations, health/wellness/wholeness, and health systems research.  The nurse-scientist who completes this program should be committed to the generation of knowledge critical to development of nursing science and practice. Graduates join other nursing leaders in furthering the development of nursing science and improving health-care delivery throughout the world.  The program is designed for entry with a minimum of a B.S. degree.  Advanced standing, of up to 32 units, is given to students with a prior master's degree in nursing.  See program requirements for more details.   The program completion range is three-to-seven years (projected mean is five years) depending on whether students are full or part time.

Learning outcomes for Doctor of Philosophy

The learning outcomes of the Ph.D. degree program are designed to prepare nurse scientists and scholars with a Christian perspective for leadership in education, health-care administration, and research within a global community. Upon completion of the Ph.D. degree, the nurse will:

  1. Embrace a holistic perspective on life and demonstrate this by integrating the bio-psycho-social-spiritual dimensions in teaching, scholarship, and service.
  2. Extend Christ-centered values to nursing scholarship and education.
  3. Serve as a nurse scholar through the generation and dissemination of knowledge relevant to nursing science, health policy, and the nursing profession.
  4. Explain complex phenomena clearly in spoken and written English to both professional and lay audiences.
  5. Demonstrate advanced competency and leadership in the use of technology for the purpose of generating new knowledge in nursing.
  6. Engage in collaborative discourse, scholarship, and leadership contributing to health care and society.

The curriculum

The Ph.D. degree program is offered using a year-round hybrid/blended format. The hybrid/blended format will use both face-to-face on the Loma Linda University campus, and distance- learning strategies.  The curriculum has six domains: core courses (B.S. to Ph.D.), Ph.D. role courses, concentration/elective courses (to support the dissertation), methods courses (research methods and statistics), religion, and dissertation units. The department has identified approximately twenty courses within the School of Nursing that could be selected to satisfy requirements within the domains as well as a variety of courses in other Loma Linda University schools and the NEXus* consortium that may support the student’s dissertation interest.   

The doctoral degree program is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of knowledge development within the discipline of nursing through philosophical, theoretical, and scientific methods of inquiry.  The student is encouraged to select an individually focused area of advanced inquiry that will support his/her chosen area of expertise in nursing that falls within the broad scope of vulnerable populations, health/wellness/wholeness, or health systems research.  The individual area of concentration should fit established research programs of the School of Nursing faculty or other University faculty as advised. 


NEXus is a partnership among select Western Institute of Nursing institutions to facilitate enrollment in doctoral courses not available on the student's home campus. Through NEXus, the institutions have identified courses that are available at a distance and open for enrollments from partner institutions. 

Progression criteria

The following sequential elements are required for progression in the doctoral program:

  1. Area of concentration developed and approval of student's proposed academic plan by the end of the first year of full-time study.
  2. Complete all core, concentration, and methods courses.
  3. Pass oral comprehensive examination.
  4. Successful defense of research proposal.
  5. Advancement to candidacy.
  6. Successful defense of dissertation.

Refer to guidelines from the Faculty of Graduate Studies* and the Ph.D. degree student handbook for dissertation format requirements.

The normal time to complete the program is three to seven years—(5 years projected mean) based on less than full-time enrollment.

*The Ph.D. Program Oversight: Faculty of Graduate Studies

In addition to Loma Linda University admission requirements, the applicant to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in nursing must also complete the following requirements:

  1. Minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited program.  Applicants with a prior master's degree in nursing are eligible to receive up to 32 units of advanced standing.*
  2. GPA of 3.3, both cumulative and in nursing courses
  3. Current  RN license before application*
  4. Three electronic recommendations from recent professors or current work supervisor
  5. Interview by faculty members in the School of Nursing
  6. Health Science Reasoning Test
  7. Evidence of scholarly work as determined by faculty


* Non-nurses who have completed health related Master’s degree may be considered for admission on an individual basis.

NGRD 650Advanced Role Development and Collaboration 14
NGRD 651Theoretical Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice 24
NGRD 652Health-Care Systems Leadership 14
NGRD 653Health Systems Policy Development and Advocacy 14
NGRD 657Intermediate Statistics 24
NGRD 658Translational Research for Advanced Practice 24
PhD Role
NGRD 659Writing for Publication4
NGRD 680Strategies for Advanced Theory Development in Nursing4
NGRD 681Philosophical Foundations of Nursing Science4
NGRD 688Nursing Science Seminar 32
Focused courses foundational to dissertation and/or the PhD role. 420
RELR 5__Graduate-level Relational3
RELE 5__Graduate-level Ethics3
RELT 5__Graduate-level Theological3
Research and Statistics
NGRD 664Advanced Statistics4
NGRD 683Mentored Research (Advanced Methods) 34
NGRD 684Quantitative Research Methods4
NGRD 685Qualitative Research Methods4
NGRD 686Applied Psychometrics for Health Care (Advanced Methods Course) 54
or NGRD 695 Advanced Qualitative Research
NGRD 697Dissertation Research 320
Total Units107

 Advanced standing given for students with a prior masters degree in nursing.


 Advanced standing given for students with a prior masters degree in nursing if the course has been taken within the last five years.


 Multiple registrations required to fulfill total unit requirement.


 Advanced standing up to 8 units given for students with a prior master's degree in nursing.


 NGRD 686 if study design is quantitative;  NGRD 695 if study design is qualitative.

Normal time to complete the program

5.5 years based on less than full-time enrollment