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Doctor of Philosophy Program

****NOTE: The PhD application deadline has been extended to April 1, 2017****

The UC Irvine School of Nursing offers a course of study leading to the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree. The purpose of the PhD in Nursing Science is to:

  • Advance the scholarly discipline through development of theory and empirical research
  • Contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the field
  • Create the future academic leaders of the profession

As a PhD graduate of the UC Irvine School of Nursing, you will be equipped to advance the science of nursing as well as to address the critical shortage of nursing faculty with PhDs.

Program goals

The program aims to prepare nurse scientists with expertise in clinical-translational research methods to develop new knowledge that will enhance the health of individuals, groups, communities and populations.

Rigorous scientific inquiry is necessary to advance nursing practice, which benefits all people and contributes to healthy communities both locally and globally.

Emphasis will be placed on combining translational science methods with traditional models for research to address health needs and concerns of local, national and global communities. You will be prepared for an academic career as faculty and researcher.

Graduates will:

  • Creatively develop and comprehensively test new knowledge in a selected area of nursing science
  • Incorporate translational science into nursing research endeavors
  • Provide leadership for the health and well-being of communities through translational science and the understanding of social, cultural, economic and political milieu within which knowledge translation operates
  • Contribute to collaborative and interdisciplinary research initiatives in your area of expertise
Program Focus Areas »

Consistent with faculty research expertise, the PhD program will specifically promote the development of scientific and theoretical expertise that contributes to scholarly endeavors in four key areas:

  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Disease and symptom management
  • Health disparities and diversity
  • Health services and health policy

These areas of research emphasis intersect as they contribute to healthy communities.

1. Health promotion/disease prevention

Health promotion is defined as empowering others to modify and improve their health.

This happens at the individual, family and community level. Health-promoting activities often lead to disease prevention. Students choosing this focus may study with UC Irvine faculty in developing research centered on stress and coping, women’s health, obesity prevention and nutrition, to name a few specific areas.

2. Disease and symptom management

Many people face challenges in managing chronic illness. Our focus is to aid individuals to be healthy within the context of living with a chronic illness by investigating factors influencing self-management and developing best intervention strategies for symptom management.

Students choosing this focus will study chronic illness demands and the experiences, coping efforts and challenges that patients face. Our research at UC Irvine covers a variety of diseases including asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, mental illness, dementia and cancer.

3. Health disparities and diversity

The focus on health disparities acknowledges that there are individuals, families and communities without equal access to quality healthcare. Many do not have the means to achieve an equal level of desired health outcomes.

Our emphasis will examine these health disparities among diverse populations who encounter differences in treatment and outcomes. Students choosing this focus will work with diverse communities in Orange County and beyond. They will be mentored by researchers who study the experiences of these community members.

4. Health services and health policy

Health policy and the economics of delivering healthcare are important issues that affect health outcomes. Students who choose this area of concentration will examine the implications of policies and services on health and health system outcomes. Students will study with researchers who have expertise in healthcare system management, law, organizational theory and behavior and quality of care.

Where to begin

Prospective students should start by reviewing Nursing Science faculty profiles online. You are encouraged to meet individually with faculty to discuss your questions and/or interests in doctoral study. Individual faculty research interests may not be limited to the areas listed below.

Faculty Areas of Expertise Focus Areas
Miriam Bender Microsystem care delivery models, multiprofessional care delivery dynamics, theoretical and methodological approaches to identifying and measure care delivery dynamics 4
Candace Burton

Violence and abuse, trauma effects on women’s health, mental/physical health, reproductive and sexual health, health disparities, cellular and genetic impacts of stress, biobehavioral research

1, 3
Lorraine Evangelista Exercise, nutrition adherence, quality of life, self-management and psychological response in patients with heart failure 1, 2
E. Alison Holman Stress and coping, mental/physical health, consequences of trauma, acute/posttraumatic stress and cardiovascular disease, genetic vulnerability to stress-related disease 1, 2
Yuqing Guo Ecological factors on infant and young child development, parenting, attachment, emotion regulation, perinatal health on birth outcomes and women’s mental health 1, 3
Jung-Ah Lee Healthcare system management, cost effectiveness, patient safety, clinical and systems outcomes, implementation of evidence-based clinical guidelines, venous thromboembolism anticoagulation management, simulation, eHealth and games for older adults 2, 4
Adey Nyamathi

Coping and adjusting to illness, health promotion, risk reduction with vulnerable homeless and drug-addicted adults and adolescents at risk for HIV/AIDS, TB, HBV and HCV and women in India living with AIDS

1, 3
Curriculum »

You are required to take 44 quarter units of formal coursework consisting of:

  • Five core Nursing Science courses in theory and research methods
  • A two-course statistics sequence
  • A research methods elective
  • A statistical methods elective
  • Two other supporting courses chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor

The program is full-time. There is no part-time option available.

Early coursework will introduce you to theoretical foundations in the discipline and advanced research methodologies in nursing, health sciences and related fields.

You will take electives and independent studies that contribute to expertise in areas of research leading to your dissertation. You are required to participate in the educational mission of the Program in Nursing Science as teaching assistants for two quarters.

The remainder of the program will be devoted to a dissertation based on original research that contributes to the scholarly and scientific knowledge of the nursing discipline. The dissertation must be successfully defended.

The PhD program also includes individually tailored, independent modes of teaching and learning. These include opportunities for you to participate in research sponsored by faculty, individual guidance related to the your own research and teaching opportunities.

You will have two formal examinations along the process toward writing your thesis:

  • First, you will write a comprehensive examination at the end of the second year of study and following completion of required coursework.
  • The next benchmark is the qualifying exam. Students advance to PhD candidacy and completion upon successful presentation and submission of an original dissertation research proposal and oral defense of the proposal.

First year

Fall Winter Spring
Nur Sci 212 Philosophy of Science and Theory Development in Nursing Science (4 units) Nur Sci 220 Nursing Science and the Ecology of Healthy Communities (2 units) Nur Sci 222B Doctoral Seminar in Clinical Translational Science (2 units)
Nur Sci 246 Qualitative Research Designs in Nursing Science (4) Nur Sci 247 Quantitative Research Designs in Nursing Science (4) Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 399 (10)
Stats 201 or Psy Beh P264A Statistical/Quantitative Methods (4) Nur Sci 222A Doctoral Seminar in Clinical Translational Science (2)
Nur Sci 399 University Teaching (4) Stats 202 or Psy Beh P264B Statistical/Quantitative Methods (4)
Nur Sci 399 University Teaching (4)

Second year

Fall Winter Spring
Nur Sci 222C Doctoral Seminar in Clinical Translational Science (2) Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 298, 299 or 399 (12) Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 298, 299 or 399 (12)
Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 298, 299 or 399 (10) Qualifying Examination

Third year

Fall Winter Spring
Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 298, 299 or 399 (12) Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 299 (12) Supporting Coursework and/or Nur Sci 299 (12)
Dissertation Proposal Defense Dissertation Proposal Defense Dissertation Proposal Defense

Fourth and fifth years

Fall Winter Spring
Nur Sci 296 Doctoral Dissertation Reading and Writing (12) Nur Sci 296 Doctoral Dissertation Reading and Writing (12) Nur Sci 296 Doctoral Dissertation Reading and Writing (12)
Nur Sci 298 Directed Studies in Nursing Science Nur Sci 298 Directed Studies in Nursing Science Nur Sci 298 Directed Studies in Nursing Science
Nur Sci 299 Independent Study in Nursing Science Nur Sci 299 Independent Study in Nursing Science Nur Sci 299 Independent Study in Nursing Science
Nur Sci 399 University Teaching Nur Sci 399 University Teaching Nur Sci 399 University Teaching
Admission Criteria »

Applicants must:

  • Have earned a bachelor or master of science degree in nursing from a regional, CCNE-accredited institution with degree standards equivalent to the University of California
  • Currently be licensed as a registered nurse and provide proof of state licensure
  • Have a 3.2 or higher cumulative grade point average for undergraduate work and a 3.5 or higher GPA for graduate work
  • Have completed a course in descriptive and inferential statistics (completed within the last five years) and a graduate-level nursing research course 
How to Apply »

Applications are accepted between Sept. 1 and April 1 for the following fall quarter entry. Priority deadline for university fellowships is Dec. 1. 

You must meet the admission requirements of the UC Irvine Graduate Division and the School of Nursing, and you must submit:

  • UC Irvine Online Application for Graduate Admissions to include a personal history statement and a statement of purpose that addresses all questions in the personal history/statement of purpose guidelines ›  For international applicants, please complete the Statement of Purpose essay in the application, and then email the Personal History essay to
  • Two copies of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the last five years — send electronically from the Educational Testing Service to UC Irvine using institutional code 4859.
  • A minimum of three recommendation letters, as follows: one from your most recent employer, preferably a nurse; one from a college professor or instructor who can assess your performance and judgment in the area in which you wish to study; and one from an individual (not a relative) who is familiar with your professional preparation and experience and can evaluate your qualifications for doctoral study — all recommenders should address the questions in the letter of recommendation guidelines (PDF) and follow these guidelines for submitting recommendation letters online ›
  • Curriculum vitae detailing your educational background, professional work, previous research, volunteer work or other relevant information
  • Two samples of scholarly work, which can include publications, thesis (or portion) and/or major research papers
  • TOEFL or IELTS test scores to show proficiency in English (if your native language is not English) — learn more about submitting these scores ›

Copies of official transcripts, curriculum vitae and samples of scholarly work should be mailed directly to:

Nursing Science Student Affairs
Attn: PhD Application
106 Berk Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-3959

Applicants being considered for admission will be contacted for a personal interview. Acceptance is based on materials submitted, research interests related to those of faculty and interview results.

International Applicants »

If you have completed degrees and/or coursework outside of the United States, be advised that your final transcripts must be submitted in English. If necessary, please send your transcripts to a translation service before submitting them to UC Irvine.

Financial Aid »

Funding sources are available in the form of fellowships, stipends, teaching and/or research assistantships, campus scholarships and grant awards.

Please review the UC Irvine Financial Aid website for information on financial assistance available to graduate students. Financial Aid website ›

Financial assistance for graduate students differs substantially from that of an undergraduate student. The information on the Financial Aid website will help you to understand the types of assistance available.

To be eligible for financial assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 2. Note that international students are not eligible for need-based financial aid and should not complete the FAFSA. All graduate students, international and domestic, are eligible to receive university fellowship funding as long as you are documented.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ›

We encourage you to look for and apply for any scholarships that you can find outside of UCI.

In addition to offsetting the cost of tuition, outside nursing-specific scholarships introduce students to organizations that can broaden one’s idea of what a nurse can accomplish and how nurses are needed in today’s society.

The UC Irvine Financial Aid website’s external scholarship database has a sub-listing for scholarships available to both Nursing Science graduate and undergraduate students. To view these scholarships, click on the nursing tab. Financial Aid and Scholarship database ›