Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) degree is designed to prepare scientists and scholars with the analytical and research skills required to expand knowledge of clinical, theoretical, and health systems issues.
Doctoral students have the opportunity to engage in one of three broad areas of research:
- Effective Care and Health Outcomes
- Nursing Health Systems, and
- Critical Approaches to Health and Health Care
Graduates of the program will demonstrate:
- Superior understanding of the theoretical foundations of nursing science;
- A broad appreciation of the relationship between nursing science and the scientific basis of other health disciplines;
- In-depth knowledge and specialization related to a selected aspect of nursing science;
- The ability to design and conduct research studies of relevance and importance to nursing science;
- Commitment to ethical scholarship and collaboration in furthering knowledge with a critical and objective perspective on research; and,
- The ability to contribute to the education of undergraduate and graduate nursing students.
Continuing the tradition of first in nursing graduate education, our graduates are leaders in research and scholarship, clinical practice and health care administration, occupying positions of influence in policy and practice nationally and internationally.
PhD students must enrol on a full-time basis. PhD students normally aim to complete the degree in four years of full-time study. All requirements for the degree must be completed within six calendar years from the date of the student’s enrolment in the program.
The required course components of the PhD program are offered in-class only.
As your first step, please email email@example.com for information on the PhD program and the application process including identifying a supervisor.
Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Graduate Department of Nursing Science’s additional admission requirements stated below:
- Applicants must hold a master’s degree or its equivalent in nursing or related field with at least a B+ standing from a recognized university.
- All English facility requirements must be met at the time of application. An interview may be required.
Please note: Meeting minimum admission requirements does not ensure admission to the program.
Transfer from the MN Program into the PhD Program
Exceptional students who are excellent candidates for the PhD program may apply to transfer from the MN to the PhD program. Students must currently be enrolled in the MN program at the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto to qualify.
Candidates applying to transfer from the MN program must have:
1. Completed the following two required MN courses, both with a minimum grade of A:
- NUR1017H History of Ideas in Nursing
- NUR1022H Research Design, Appraisal and Utilization or NUR1028H Introduction to Qualitative Research
2. Agreement of an identified supervisor.
Please visit our How to Apply section for detailed information on the application process and required documents.
Fields of Study
Students will elect to study in one of three research fields:
1. Effective Care and Health Outcomes:
The focus of this research field is on rigorous evaluations of conventional and innovative forms of nursing and health care, using randomized controlled trials, theory-driven evaluations, and systematic reviews of the evidence. Studies are conducted in formal and informal health-care settings, addressing a wide variety of health and illness issues in, for example, maternal-newborn health, cancer care, genetics, critical care, cardiovascular disease, acute and chronic pain in adults, infants and children, and in the area of sleep. The Randomized Controlled Trials Unit is housed within this field, as a resource for faculty and students designing and conducting randomized trials.
The required course is NUR1087: “Foundations of Clinical Research.”
2. Critical Approaches to Health and Health Care:
Scholars in this research field explore issues in health and health care using a range of critical and social theories as a foundation. The work of this eclectic group incorporates a number of research methodologies, with an emphasis on qualitative, participatory, and theoretical inquiry. Three strands of investigation are pursued. Several members of this field study health disparities that stem from interconnected and marginalizing social relations of gender, income inequality, disability, racism and heteronormativity. Others analyze the historical, ethical and political basis of health care. Finally, there is a strong focus on migration, and international/ global health.
The required course is NUR1085: “Topics in Critical Perspectives in Health and Health Care.”
3. Nursing Health Systems:
Nursing health systems research involves the application of research methods from social and health sciences, biostatistics, and economics, to investigate questions related to nursing and health services resource planning, organization, management, financing, and delivery. Research foci include health human resources, nurse migration, nursing effectiveness, nursing and health outcomes, nurse costing, quality work environments, health-care teams, technology, patient safety, and nursing leadership. The Nursing Effectiveness, Utilization, and Outcomes Research Unit is housed within this field.
The required course is NUR1086: “Nursing Health Services Research Methods.”
The PhD in Nursing is offered as a full-time program.
Successful completion of all required courses by the end of Year 2 in the program.
Students must successfully complete a minimum of 3.0 full course equivalents (FCEs) that include:
PhD Seminar (1.0 FCE)
Field of Study Course (0.5 FCE) that includes one of the following:
- NUR 1085H (for students in the critical perspectives in health and healthcare field of study)
- NUR 1086H (for students in the Nursing Health Systems field of study) or
- NUR 1087H (for students in the Effective Care and Health Outcomes field of study)
- At least one method course (0.5 FCE) relevant to the field of study and to the dissertation plans
- At least one course (0.5 FCE) related to the substantive area of the field of study and thesis plans
- The fifth required course (0.5 FCE) may be either a method or substantive area course as determined by the student and the supervisory committee.
Students must attain a minimum average standing at the B+ level for required courses.
Students are normally expected to complete all five required courses (3.0 FCEs) by the end of Year 2. If all required courses are not successfully completed (with a minimum average standing at the B+ level) by the end of Year 3, the Faculty of Nursing will normally make a recommendation to SGS for termination of registration.
All doctoral students should visit the SGS site on PhD supervision. It has important information on the topic of student-supervisor relationship: SGS PhD Supervision
Literature Review Paper
Successful completion of the literature review paper.
The literature review paper topic as well as type and format of the literature review paper must be approved by the supervisor (with signed documentation by the student and supervisor) by April 30 of Year 1. This agreement should specify the problem statement, the format/type of literature review that is appropriate to the field of study, and to the scholarly traditions within which the student’s research is situated.
The literature review paper must be submitted by September 15 of Year 2. The submitted literature review paper will be formally reviewed and evaluated by the supervisor and at least one additional thesis committee member. Written and verbal feedback about the submitted literature review paper will be provided to the student at a supervisory committee meeting. For the literature review paper to be considered a pass, both faculty members’ assessments of the literature review paper must be at the successful completion or pass level. If both examinations are considered pass, the student may receive either a satisfactory or excellent rating at their supervisory committee meeting. If one or both paper reviews are rated unsatisfactory or not pass, then the student receives an unsatisfactory rating at the supervisory committee meeting.
If the student does not successfully complete the literature review paper first submitted, the student will have one additional opportunity to revise and rewrite the literature review paper, based on the feedback received at the supervisory committee. The student must resubmit the revised literature review paper by December 1 of Year 2. This revised literature review paper must be formally evaluated by the supervisor and one other thesis committee member (normally the same committee member who completed the assessment of the original literature review paper). The student will receive feedback about the revised literature review paper at a supervisory committee meeting. For the literature review to be considered a pass, both faculty members’ assessments of the literature review must be at the pass level. If both reviews are considered pass, the student may receive either a satisfactory or excellent rating at their supervisory committee meeting. If one or both reviews are rated failure/not pass, then the student receives an unsatisfactory rating at the supervisory committee meeting.
If the student does not successfully complete the literature review paper on the second attempt, the Faculty of Nursing will normally recommend to SGS that the student’s registration in the PhD program be terminated.
Successful defense of the thesis proposal, normally by the end of Year 2. Students are normally expected to defend their thesis proposal by the end of Year 2 of their program. Students must successfully defend their thesis proposal no later than the end of Year 3. The format of the proposal will be similar to that of a modified tri-council grant application. Assessment of the thesis proposal consists of both the written proposal and the oral defence of the proposal. Students who do not successfully defend the proposal after the first attempt may have one additional opportunity to successfully present and defend the written proposal, and this must be accomplished before the end of Year 3 of the program.
If the student does not successfully defend the thesis proposal by the end of Year 3 (including a second attempt, if required), the Faculty of Nursing will recommend to SGS that the student’s registration in the PhD program be terminated.
The student’s dissertation will be defended in the Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the School of Graduate Studies.
Program Length: 4 years full-time; 5 years transfer-from-master’s
Time Limit: 6 years full-time; 7 years transfer-from-master’s
Course Code Course Name Description NUR1077H Implementation Science in Healthcare Implementation science is built on the foundation of effective utilization of evidence in practice through a series of processes and theoretical models defined under the umbrella of knowledge translation. Knowledge translation (KT) is defined as the exchange, synthesis and ethically-sound application of knowledge within a complex system of interactions among researchers and users to accelerate the capture of the benefits of research for Canadians through improved health, more effective services and products and a strengthened health care system (CIHR).
This course will address the definitional, theoretical, methodological, clinical, evaluative and sustainable aspects of Implementation Science (commonly referred to as KT) reflected as an integral component in (a) the thesis of the doctoral level student who is interested in evaluating KT interventions or methods; (b) the thesis of the doctoral level student to maximize the impact and generalizability of their research results and to enhance scholarly outputs or (c) a selected initiative of the senior Masters level student (Year 2) demonstrating the application of research into practice (based on availability and permission of the instructor).
NUR1081Y PhD Student/Faculty Seminars The PhD Student/Faculty Seminars are an important and integral aspect of the preparation of doctoral students in the Graduate Department of Nursing Science. They afford students opportunities to hear about the research of faculty and their fellow students, to become part of a community of scholars in the Department, and to improve their presentation and seminar participation skills. All students in the first and second years of the PhD program are required to attend the seminars, and students in later years are welcome to attend any or all of them. Faculty members who are involved in PhD student supervision are also expected to participate in the seminars.
(2 hrs of class every week)
NUR1085H Topics in Critical Perspectives in Health and Health Care This seminar focuses on the current research and scholarship of faculty in the newly formed PhD field of Critical Perspectives in Health and Health Care. It will address such topics as new directions in critical perspectives in both theory and method as they pertain to research, practice and policy in health care. This flexible course is intended to facilitate the involvement of several core faculty members and distinguished visiting scholars with research programs in this area. NUR1086H Nursing Health Services Research Methods This seminar based course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of health services research, skill in critiquing health services research studies, and knowledge of the methods and analytical approaches used in health services research. This course will address topics related to study designs for health services research, validity and reliability in the measurement of health services phenomena, analytical challenges associated with multi-level data and/or data obtained from secondary sources, risk adjustment in outcomes research, testing mediation and moderator effects, and sampling strategies for health services research. NUR1087H Foundations of Clinical Research This course focuses on the rationale for and conceptualization of a clinical research study, ensuring links between the research problem, theory, questions and outcomes to be examined. Students will be guided in how to choose, develop and tailor research evidence/theory/conceptual frameworks to make the argument for their research problem. Students will be challenged to critique their own ideas and those of other researchers (including faculty members) through various lenses. Study design and methods will be addressed as secondary issues, with a focus on the contribution of the study conceptualization and rationale to design-related decisions (without going into the details of various study designs). This course will be most useful to students who are planning experimental and non-experimental quantitative studies including, but not limited to, randomized controlled trials of simple and complex interventions, prognostic studies, descriptive-correlational studies and pilot work in preparation for larger studies/grant applications.