phd nursing online canada


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The Ph.D. program prepares graduates who will provide leadership in the generation, integration, and implementation of knowledge aimed at improving health and health care. Our graduates have expanded spheres of influence in academic institutions, practice settings, and policy arenas. Students join a community of scholars where supervisors are committed to supporting educational programs that meet students’ interests and growth in scholarly engagement with the nursing discipline. All doctoral students must successfully complete a comprehensive examination, an oral candidacy examine, and a research dissertation meeting the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requirements. Program applicants are admitted based on outstanding achievement in their master’s program; evidence of leadership potential for research and scholarship; self-direction; and goals that fit with program resources. Canadian students must hold practicing nurse registration in BC or another province. International students must meet general eligibility criteria for nurse registration in BC. Transfer from the M.S.N. to the Ph.D. program occurs based on Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations.



This exciting program prepares researchers and leaders to advance research knowledge, and the dissemination and application of findings to nursing and health care. Students join research supervisors in a community of scholars (other students and faculty members) to develop a program that takes them to new levels of knowledge and skill with career relevant competencies. In addition to core courses, students are encouraged to gain advanced expertise in research methods and other skills through rich course offerings, seminars, colloquia, conferences and independent studies available at UBC. Interdisciplinary collaboration is promoted.

Program Mission

Within a research-intensive context, the Faculty of Nursing’s PhD Program exists to prepare nursing scholars for the 21st century who are able to generate new knowledge and facilitate change to advance healthcare outcomes and nursing within a global context.

Program Vision

Students in the PhD Program are engaged in and educated for excellence in the development, organization and evaluation of new knowledge. The program is characterized by rigour, flexibility and relevance: rigour in the quality of scholarship and flexibility within and relevance to the discipline of nursing and the student’s career goals and research interests.

The graduate will exhibit competencies in each of the following core qualities:

  • Advancing nursing
  • Enhancing scholarship
  • Mobilizing knowledge
  • Extending inquiry
  • Leading change

Program Requirements

For each student, advancement of the core qualities will occur through a combination of activities, learning experiences and skills derived from supervision, course participation, scholarly experiences, various other activities and outputs, engagement with faculty and colleagues and reflection. These activities will occur in and outside of the Faculty of Nursing.

All students take the following four courses in the first two years:

  • NURS 600 – Theory Development in Nursing
  • NURS 601 – Advanced Inquiry
  • NURS 609 – Synthesizing Knowledge
  • INT D 690 – Topics in Knowledge Utilization

In consultation with the supervisor and based on program plans, students are additionally expected to take design/method/analysis courses and one three-credit dissertation seminar (NURS 699). These are usually taken in the second year.

Typically, students take a total of 7-10 doctoral level courses which could include nursing history, research methods, statistics and philosophy of science as well as courses in the student’s substantive area. The number and type of courses will vary according to the student’s academic background, experience and career goals. The majority of courses are offered face to face and a few are offered via eLearning. Doctoral level courses are numbered 600 (see Graduate Course listings in the University calendar for descriptions).


There are three exams during the PhD program.

Comprehensive Exam at the completion of the coursework, typically at the end of 2nd year; Candidacy Exam must be completed by the end of the 3rd year; and Doctoral Final Oral Exam. English is the language of study. All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the time a student first registers as a graduate student.


There are a number of internal scholarship opportunities for full-time students in a doctoral program. We have put together a list of possible funding agencies for you to consider. The list is by no means exhaustive, but can provide you with some ideas and places to start.


The purpose of doctoral education in nursing is to foster the next generation of nurse scholars who will advance nursing scholarship, nursing leadership and maintain the integrity and vitality of the discipline. Doctoral graduates in nursing should become stewards of the discipline, people who are entrusted with advancing nursing knowledge, preserving and developing the nursing literature, communicating nursing knowledge to others, and understanding and advancing the role of nursing in society.


A doctoral graduate in nursing will be self-directed, have a deep, active knowledge of a particular focus of study within the field of nursing, and will make a significant contribution to the literature in that area. In addition, doctoral graduates in nursing will possess the following:

  • A broad, critical knowledge of the nursing literature, its historical and contemporary views related to its ontology and epistemology, and how diverse aspects of nursing relate to each other;
  • The ability to discern among research methods and develop expertise in research methodologies consonant with a chosen focus of inquiry;
  • Originality and the ability to conduct independent research, including conceptualization and design, analysis and interpretation of data, dissemination of research findings to diverse audiences or stakeholder groups, and contributing to nursing disciplinary knowledge;
  • A general understanding of the centrality of nursing in society, the impact that nursing has in many fields of human health, and the impact that other disciplines have on nursing;
  • Preparation and skill to teach and translate knowledge at different levels and in different contexts;
  • An understanding of and commitment to the ethical professional engagement in the discipline of nursing;
  • A sense of membership in the community of current and former nursing scholars, and an understanding of the historical roots of this community;
  • A commitment to the profession, engaging in professional service, both within the graduate’s immediate community, and within the broader community of nurse scholars;
  • The ability to communicate the generativity and implications of nursing ideas to diverse audiences;
  • The ability to help others learn to combine creativity, imagination, and compassion with rigor, logic, and critical thinking.