The original doctoral program at the University of Washington (1978) was developed around the domains of knowledge identified as four fields of study:
- individual adaptations to wellness and illness,
- family adaptations to wellness and illness,
- environments, supportive and non-supportive, and
- clinical therapeutics.
As the program evolved, increasing interest in scientific ways of knowing and the philosophy of science, including nursing science, added course content. A strong component of the doctoral program was to provide the students with a program of study that would prepare them for conducting research and pursuing an academic career.
In 1992 the PhD Coordinating Committee began a thorough review of the program by faculty who taught in the program, graduates, and then-current students. Overall, the review supported the strength of the research preparation. It was decided that the fields of study in nursing science could be synthesized into a more integrated framework, primarily through the Ecology of Human Health course (NURS 590) and The Science of Nursing Therapeutics course (NURS 592). Courses were developed to provide overviews of philosophical, theoretical, and methodological issues in knowledge generation, each with a strong link to nursing science content. In 1997, the revised curriculum was implemented.