Program of study

Doctoral students register for courses that are core PhD program requirements and other courses recommended by the adviser or supervisory committee based on the student’s research interests. The program of study is a written description, by each doctoral student in communication with the faculty adviser initially, and then with the supervisory committee, of:

  1. the substantive emphasis of the courses taken or planned, including the emphasis in nursing theory and the related field selected;
  2. the outcomes of each course; and
  3. the inquiry focus for the doctoral dissertation.


Developing your program of study

  1. Beginning the first year of the doctoral program, an ongoing program of study is to be completed each quarter by the student. Students must consider far in advance if they would like to petition for previous course work equivalency.
  2. Once the student’s supervisory committee has been appointed, the program of study functions as an initial draft to the committee, to be used for planning future course needs and learning.
  3. The program of study is then submitted by the student for formal review to the entire supervisory committee, including the Graduate School Representative, along with a statement of research interest.
  4. Using a set of prescribed guidelines, the supervisory committee conducts a formal review of the program of study, making any suggestions for modifications prior to approval.
  5. Following the supervisory committee’s approval, the program of study is submitted to Student and Academic Services (SAS) for placement in the student’s file, accompanied by a formal letter of approval by the chair of the committee.

Guidelines for approval of the program of study

The supervisory committee evaluates the proposed program of study using the following guidelines:

  1. Does the coursework support the student’s substantive emphasis in theory and knowledge development?
  2. What is the content and scope of plans for guided scholarship/independent study? Is adequate “guidance” available?
  3. Are the related courses logically consistent for the described program of study?
  4. Are the statistics and methods courses adequate to prepare the student for the conduct of the dissertation?
  5. How has the Program of Study enabled the student to strengthen reasoning, writing and communication skills?
  6. What is the degree of exposure of the student to various faculty expertise across the School and University?
  7. To what extent does the program provide a) depth of study as well as preparation beyond the single dissertation planned, and b) role development as a researcher and teacher?
  8. Are all program requirements met? Does the program of study comply with all University rules and regulations?
  9. Is the program of study feasible to implement and complete in a timely manner?
  10. If courses are proposed that were taken at another University or for another program of study (a master’s degree, for example), do they represent adequate content? Is the content appropriately current? Do the courses fall within the ten-year limit?
  11. With what other scholarly work has the student been involved? Has the student been involved in Research or Teaching Assistant activities? Has the student submitted a National Research Service Award application for an Independent Fellowship? Has the student published any articles while in the doctoral program?

What to include in the program of study

  1. Number, name and number of credits of each course taken or to be taken;
  2. Faculty member teaching each course;
  3. Date course taken, or proposed schedule;
  4. Course description and outcomes, such as course product, reasoning skills, communication skills;
  5. Rationale of each course’s placement within the areas of Theory and Domain of Knowledge or Scholarly Inquiry;
  6. Rationale for how the contents of a course taken prior to admission supports the program of study;
  7. Space for signature and date of supervisory committee chair and each supervisory committee member attesting to their approval of the program of study.

Considerations for developing your program of study

Course Load and Credits

Ten credits is considered a full-time course load. Each doctoral student must have completed ninety credits, sixty of which must have been completed in residency at the University of Washington, in order to earn the doctoral degree.

Academic Progress and Scholarship

A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better is required for completion of any graduate program at the University of Washington. A minimum of 2.7 is required in each of the required nursing core courses, including NURS 587, NURS 588, NURS 589, NURS 590, NURS 591, NURS 592, NURS 595 and NMETH 580.

Course Scheduling

The majority of required courses are offered in the academic year, autumn through spring quarter. All required courses, exclusive of the dissertation, can be completed in two years of full time study. As the majority of students enrolled in the program work concurrently with their course work, nursing core courses are arranged to consolidate offerings to two to three days during the week. We do not recommend working over twenty hours per week while in the program. Some scholarships, loans and research or teaching assistantships are available.

Faculty Availability

Most School of Nursing faculty have nine-month appointments, and may or may not be teaching in summer quarter.

Independent Study

NURS 599: Selected Readings is defined as individual reading or work on a paper with a faculty member. NMETH 600: Guided Scholarship is defined as individual work on a research project (not the dissertation) in which manipulation of data is included. A form stating agreement between the faculty member and the student as to the purpose of the study is required before enrolling in either of these independent study options. Forms are available in SAS and must be returned to SAS for your file when the study experience has been completed.

Previous Credits

Although the University does not accept transfer credits into the doctoral program, up to thirty credits of graduate course work taken as part of a master’s program may be requested to meet part of the nursing or the related fields requirement within Theory and Domain of Knowledge. Such courses must be directly relevant to the student’s area of research, and have been taken within the previous ten years. The Supervisory Committee approves such requests when it approves the student’s program of study. The approved program of study is then forwarded to SAS for the student file.