Additional Requirements

Study Progression and Graduation Requirements

Progression in the program requires active enrollment status and maintaining a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Graduation requirements include a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA, successful completion of the qualifying exam, dissertation proposal defense, and completion of original dissertation research.

Leaves of Absence

PhD in Nursing students in good standing and making satisfactory progress toward their degrees who must interrupt their studies for a compelling reason (e.g., illness, study abroad, family conditions, or crises) may petition for a leave of absence for a stated period of time not to exceed two years. Requests for a leave must be in writing and state both the reasons for the leave and the semester in which the student will re-enroll. Leaves of absence must be approved by the department chair and the dean of the School of Nursing in advance of the semester for which the leave is requested.

The petition for return to enrolled status should be filed one full term before the intended date of re-enrollment. If the student went on leave with conditions for re-enrollment, these must be fulfilled before re-enrollment may occur. If a student is on leave for two years, the Doctoral Admissions Committee, as well as the student’s advisor, the doctoral studies chair, and the dean will review her/his re-enrollment petition. Depending upon the amount of time elapsed, the student’s stage of study in the program, and the student’s academic activity during the leave, readmission may be contingent.


Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is taken upon the completion of between 15 and 21 units of doctoral work, including GNRS 700, 701, 702, and 706. (The student must petition for exceptions.) The examination is comprised of a relatively brief paper (i.e., 25–30 pages) and oral review by a committee of faculty. The purpose of the paper is to encourage synthesis of first-year coursework as it relates to the student’s current research interest area. The focus of the paper specifies the student’s interest area with potential researchable questions and methodological approaches, together with relevant aspects of nursing theory, nursing knowledge development, and methods of inquiry. The subsequent oral examination provides the student an opportunity to formulate a synthesis of her/his thinking in response to questions.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

Successful completion of the dissertation proposal signifies competence to pursue independent research with the advice and guidance of the dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal defense allows the student to demonstrate familiarity with the state of the science in a particular area; awareness of currently active topics of investigation in the area; theoretical dimensions and design issues related to potential questions; and recognition of potential, practical, and ethical challenges arising at the intersection of research questions, population, and instruments.

APU Institutional Review Board

Following advancement to candidacy, the student must submit the appropriate paperwork to the APU Institutional Review Board (IRB) and any additional IRBs. Following approval from the IRB, the student may begin data collection.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation reports the results of original, independent research of substantial but circumscribed scope, undertaken in consultation with the student’s dissertation committee. The student presents a prospectus or proposal specifying the question, method, design, data collection instruments or strategy, projected data analysis, plan for access to subjects/participants/data, and projected timeline for data collection, analysis, and dissertation completion.

The dissertation committee serves in an advisory capacity to the student and ensures that the dissertation research and the written dissertation demonstrate the student’s competence to conduct independent research in the discipline. Committee members work with the student throughout the process of data collection, analysis, and writing, with primary support provided by the chair/sponsor. When the student has substantially finished the work to the satisfaction of each committee member, the committee meets to hear the student’s defense of the overall work and the decisions it entailed, and to discuss the student’s plans for publication and post degree program of research.

Students may not have the degree posted to their transcript until the document has been accepted by the library and the School of Nursing. Any exceptions are by petition only.

Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.

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