Doctoral Degree

Nursing Science (PhD)

Become a leader in the field as a nurse scientist that is prepared to advance the profession through scholarship, education, and research.

nursing graduate student sim lab

Program Overview

In our doctor of philosophy (PhD) program, you’ll join a tradition of academic excellence that will prepare you to be a nurse scientist. For more than three decades, our powerhouse program has guided nurses to become scholars and leaders in nursing education and to go on to inform the nursing profession.

Here, you’ll be engaged in nursing science and develop the skills to conduct research that advances theory and the application of nursing education and practice.

Led by our expert, full-time faculty, our program offers you the flexibility to meet the course requirements on a timeframe that complements your demanding career and family responsibilities.

Program Options

View the Loading... for information on coursework and curriculum requirements. 

The PhD program offers full- and part-time options. Classes are offered in an evening format to meet the scheduling demands of working practitioners.

Part-time students can progress at their own pace within the established seven-year time limit for degree completion for doctoral students.

The PhD program is available on our Main Campus in Chester with hybrid, synchronous online learning opportunities for students outside of the Chester-area with occasional on-campus experiences. 

An accelerated MSN-to-PhD option is available. Visit the Loading... to view program requirements and admissions information. 

Admissions

Graduates of accredited BSN, MSN, or DNP programs are invited to apply for admission by submitting evidence of:

  • A completed online application.
  • Transcripts from previously attended higher education institutions.
  • A minimum of 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in the highest degree obtained.
  • Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five years. No minimum score required. Information pertaining to the GRE may be obtained from the Educational Testing Service. Students achieving less than 3.0 on the Analytic Writing Score on the GRE may be required to complete a remedial graduate-level writing course.
  • A graduate statistics course with a grade of at least B (3.0) is recommended.
  • A graduate course in nursing theories and conceptual models with a grade of at least B (3.0) is recommended.
  • Two references—one from an educator and one from an employer with a graduate degree. One of these must have a research doctoral degree.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Statement explaining goals for doctoral work in nursing with emphasis on proposed area of specialization.
  • Interview with a School of Nursing faculty member (this is arranged after a preliminary review of application materials).

View the Loading... for full admissions information.

International students need satisfactory Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. They should contact the International Student Services Office at 610-499-4499 for immigration requirements. More information can be found by visiting International Students Admissions

  • July 15—for matriculation in the fall semester
  • November 15—for matriculation in the spring semester
  • April 1—for matriculation in summer sessions

Program Highlights

Step into greater nursing leadership with a doctor of philosophy.

Leadership Development

Our program emphasizes personal leadership development. Your student experience will be enriched with a specialized leadership course focused on the behaviors required as a leader and the necessary skills to overcome the challenges that face higher education and health care settings.

Nursing doctoral student and faculty member

Faculty Mentorship

Thrive in a learning community that provides close mentorship and one-on-one support. Our full-time faculty members bring active clinical and academic research experience to the classroom. Here, you'll build a network that will follow you long after graduation.

Research Opportunities

You'll have opportunities to collaborate with Widener's Leadership Center for Nursing Education Research whose mission is to advance the science of nursing education through rigorous educational and educational-clinical research. Expert research consulting services for constituents within the nursing and nursing education community and professional development are available. 

Faculty

Partner with expert faculty who aren’t just teaching the courses but are creating the science of nursing education.

Darrell Spurlock Jr.
Professor and Scholarship Director

"I teach because I believe sharing knowledge and stimulating thinking is a fundamental task of any discipline. I believe that education is change, and change is a constant human feature; education is, in this way, choosing to change. Though the focus of my scholarship and teaching centers on research methods, measurement, evaluation, and quality improvement, these knowledge areas form the bedrock of evidence-based practice—the kind of practice all health care professionals aspire to deliver to patients, families, and communities."

Rose Rossi Schwartz
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

"As a teacher, my role is to help students go beyond the facts. It is equally important to help students grow as people, support their professional and intellectual development, and to expand their world views. Through this growth process, students better understand themselves, their clients, and the clients' experiences."

Donna M. Callaghan
Professor

"My teaching philosophy has its roots in Bandura's Theory of Self-Efficacy. I believe that students learn (and clients change behaviors) through observing others perform activities, doing the activities themselves, having positive feedback provided, and having their anxieties decreased."

Barbara J. Patterson
Professor

"As an educator, researcher, and student advisor, I am passionate about preparing the next generation of nurse leaders, educators, and scholars. I believe advancing the science of nursing education is dependent upon preparing doctoral students who question and explore how they teach while generating the best evidence for their teaching practices."

Paula A. Gray
Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing

"I am a proud graduate of Widener's FNP program and very passionate to teach, mentor and guide students to achieve their goals in becoming successful graduates of this program. The program is well known in the Tri-State area and beyond, and because of our certification pass rate and graduate's preparedness for the work-force, our graduates are able to be employed as APRN's very soon after graduation."

Kim A. Noble
Associate Professor

I believe that an education with a foundation in science is essential for entry into nursing or advanced practice nursing. Nursing clinical reasoning skills grow as students apply an understanding of disease as the loss of normal function.

Students have great variation in their manner in which they acquire, process, manipulate, store, and retrieve learned information. It is a faculty priority to assist students with the development of metacognitive strategies to assist learning success and retention.

Nancy Laplante
Associate Professor

I consider myself to be compassionate and caring, and strive to engage my students in respectful dialogue. Teaching is a collaborative process between students and faculty, and there is a reciprocal relationship as we all learn from each other. As an advanced holistic nurse, I incorporate self-care, self-responsibility, spirituality, and reflection in my teaching and seek to be a role model for my students.

Shirlee M. Drayton-Brooks
Professor of Nursing

I ascribe to a pragmatic philosophy of teaching and learning. I believe that nursing education must be practical and logically aligned to the diverse needs of the population we served.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

Our graduates have gone on to leadership roles in local and international health care and research institutions.

Recent Employers & Industry Connections

  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • National League of Nursing
  • Tower Health
  • Oman College of Health Science

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Academic/clinical faculty member
  • Nurse researcher
  • Academic administrator
  • Nurse leader
  • Nurse educator

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

Visit Us

To visit Widener is, more often than not, to fall in love with the place. To fit your timeline and schedule, we offer a variety of ways to get to know us.

View Tuition and Fees

Explore program costs and payment options.

Financial Aid

At Widener, opportunities for financial aid extend to graduate students. Discover how Widener can help make obtaining your degree possible.

Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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