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Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)
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Graduate Studies Calendar 2021-2022 Program Descriptions Nursing NURS Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)
1. Degree Offered
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy program is designed to educate professionals for excellence in nursing scholarship through original research related to specialized practice with identified client populations.

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements, the Faculty of Nursing requires that an applicant must:

a) Normally be a Registered Nurse.

b) Normally hold CPR Certification at the Basic Rescuer or Basic Cardiac Life Support or “C” level.

c) Submit a study plan outlining the areas of proposed concentration, goals in undertaking doctoral work, initial intentions regarding course work, and a statement of the preliminary plans for thesis research.

d) Provide examples of the applicant’s written scholarly work such as publications, research reports, course assignments, etc.

e) Provide a curriculum vitae.

f) Provide a letter of commitment from the identified supervisor indicating willingness to provide supervision throughout the program of studies and supporting the applicant’s study plan.

g) For applicants required to provide proof of proficiency in English, submit a minimum TOEFL score of 97 (Internet-based test); IELTS score of 7.0; PTE score of 68; or a CAEL overall score of 70 (no less than 70 on reading and writing sections). This requirement can also be met by completing the Academic Communication Certificate with a minimum grade of "A-" in writing courses.

h) Have successfully completed one graduate-level course (3 units) in quantitative methods, one graduate-level course (3 units) in qualitative methods, plus one graduate-level course (3 units) in statistics. Exceptions may be considered, but the onus will be on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to warrant exception. Deficiencies must be successfully eliminated prior to or in the first year of the doctoral program.

i) Submit three references, one of which must be from the applicant’s supervisor of their master’s program.

j) Submit a security/police clearance letter (Alberta Health Services require security clearance checks for nursing graduate students who will be doing a practicum or research in the region).


Public health authorities have determined that in order to participate in clinical research it is mandatory for students to be immunized against/tested for a variety of communicable diseases. They also must be fit tested for a N95 mask. Fit testing is only valid for two years; therefore students must present proof of fit testing at the time of expiration. Further information is available on the Faculty of Nursing website. Please note requirements may change during the program as determined by Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines. Current employment with AHS does not exempt students from complying with these requirements. Students who are not compliant with fulfilling the immunization requirements will not be allowed to undertake a clinical placement with AHS.

Academic Accommodation Policy for Students with Disabilities

It is important for students with documented disabilities, who have met the admission criteria, to note that the Academic Accommodation Policy does not require the University to lower or substantially modify standards in order to accommodate students with disabilities. Adaptive technology and/or academic accommodations are available to facilitate learning, but they do not relieve students of their responsibilities to develop the essential skills and abilities expected of all other students.

3. Application Deadline

Deadlines for submission of complete applications are available on the Future Students website:

4. Advanced Credit

Applicants must include requests for advanced credit, accompanied by a rationale, when they apply for admission. For courses taken outside the University of Calgary, applicants must provide official transcripts and a copy of the course outline detailing the course description, objectives, assignments, readings, etc. See Advanced Credit.

5. Program/Course Requirements

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies' requirements, the Faculty of Nursing requires the following:

a) For students prepared at the master's level in nursing, a minimum of 18 units is required: Nursing 705, 769, two courses in advanced research methods at the 700 level, and two doctoral thesis seminars (Nursing 711 and 733).

b) Students in the doctoral program normally are required to take advanced research methods courses at the 700 level in both qualitative and quantitative research approaches, one of which must be Nursing 721 or 783.

c) After completion of the student's course work and approval of the thesis research proposal, a candidacy examination with a written and an oral component is required.

Baccalaureate and non-nursing master's prepared applicants must complete additional coursework beyond the six core courses listed in (a). Applicants are individually assessed. The number and types of additional courses required will vary according to the applicant's academic, research and practice background as well as the proposed research plan.

6. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Not given.

7. Time Limit

Expected completion time for doctoral students is four years; maximum completion time is six years.

8. Supervisory Assignments

Doctoral students require a Faculty of Nursing member to commit to their supervision as a condition of admission.

9. Required Examinations


In addition to Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements for candidacy, the program requires the following:

The doctoral candidacy examination has a written and an oral component. The written component focuses on three areas:

a) the theory that defines existing knowledge in the student’s chosen area of nursing research.

b) the literature that defines existing knowledge in the student’s chosen area of nursing research.

c) the proposed research method and data analysis/management strategy chosen for the thesis. The student has three weeks to complete the written component. The candidacy committee has approximately two weeks to review the written submission before the oral examination.

Students are expected to defend and extend their knowledge in these three areas. Questions about the student’s proposed research may be asked.

New candidacy requirements are effective from September 1, 2015. See

Thesis Examination

In addition to Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations for thesis examinations, the program requires:

Scheduling of the Examination
All members of the Supervisory Committee must have reviewed the student’s draft thesis document before an examination can be scheduled.

Composition of the Committee
The Internal Examiner may be internal to the home program.

The final thesis examination is open.

10. Research Proposal Requirements

Doctoral students must have their research proposals approved in principle by their supervisory committee prior to candidacy. Students must receive formal approval of their research proposals from the supervisory committee before proceeding to ethical review and implementation of the project. The approved proposal will be housed in the Research Office, Faculty of Nursing.

Students whose research involves human subjects must receive ethics approval from the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board.

11. Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see the Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar. Scholarship application packages will be available on the Faculty of Nursing Website prior to each competition deadline. The application deadline for internal scholarships is February 1. Students admitted to the doctoral program are highly encouraged to seek external funding to support their studies and research. Please note that the deadlines for external funding applications may not coincide with the February 1 deadline.