Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

School of Nursing

About the Program

The PhD program in nursing prepares research scientists, educators, and leaders who seek to improve health and healthcare across the life span with an emphasis on urban, vulnerable, and underserved populations. Graduates are expected to lead research initiatives that advance nursing science through knowledge development and interdisciplinary scholarly inquiry.



Students will study with nursing faculty whose research addresses questions that extend across a broad health spectrum, including health promotion, risk prevention, and self-management of chronic conditions. Collectively, the faculty have a variety of expertise and interests, such as health issues of women, children, and families; HIV; cancer; mental health; depression; and substance use.

In addition, students will have an opportunity to study with faculty from other Northeastern departments as well as with other Boston-area researchers. This collaboration allows students to work across disciplines and to access populations and sites essential for completing a dissertation.

Sample Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Post-master’s students (also referred to as Advanced Entry)  will build on their prior degrees and clinical foundations by completing 48 semester hours, including the dissertation. Post-baccalaureate students will complete 60 semester hours, including the dissertation. On a full-time basis, students entering with a master’s degree can expect to commit a minimum of three years to completing the program; if entering with a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of four years. Both full- and part-time options are available to all students. Course descriptions can be found in the PhD Handbook.

8 courses, 3 credits each unless otherwise noted · 22 credits
NRSG 7700 Science of Nursing
NRSG 7705 Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations in Nursing Science
NRSG 7709 Qualitative Research Methods
NRSG 7712 Quantitative Research Methods
NRSG 7715 Measurement in Clinical Research
NRSG 7750 Health Care of Urban Populations
NRSG 7770 Research Colloquium (1 credit)
NRSG 7755 Intervention Research: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation

2 courses, 3 credits each · 6 credits
PHTH 5210 Biostatistics
PHTH 6210 Applied Regression Analysis

2 courses, 3 credits each · 6 credits
Cognates are courses that are taken outside the School of Nursing and should provide depth and breadth to the student’s phenomenon of interest. Examples of cognates include:

  • PPUA 7247 Doctoral Seminar in U.S. Health Policy and Management
  • STRT 6220 Strategic Management for Healthcare Organizations
  • PHTH 5232 Evaluating Quality of Care

2 courses, 1-4 credits each · 6 credits
NRSG 9984
Students are required to complete 6 credits of supervised research practicum with a seasoned researcher. The purpose of the practicum is to develop student research skills through engagement with an active research project. Students must have a viable MA RN license. Research practicum activities vary and may include any or all of the following aspects of the research process:

  • Assisting/conducting critical literature reviews
  • Developing proposals
  • Developing human subjects guidelines
  • Recruiting and consenting participants
  • Collecting data

  • Managing data
  • Analyzing data
  • Developing presentations
  • Writing scholarly research paper(s)

In addition to the courses previously listed post-baccalaureate students are required to take:
NRSG 5121 Epidemiology and Population Health (3 credits)
NRSG 7104 Foundations in Nursing Research (3 credits)
2 Elective Courses (6 credits)

Electives may be taken in nursing or in an area related to the student’s dissertation research, including appropriate methodology and statistics courses. Some examples of outside disciplines include:

  • Public Health
  • Exercise Science
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Healthcare Policy and Administration
  • Sociology

4 courses, 3 credits each unless otherwise noted · 8 credits total
NRSG 9845 Dissertation Seminar 1
NRSG 9846 Dissertation Seminar 2
NRSG 9990 Dissertation (1 credit repeatable course, to be taken twice)

Curriculum subject to change

Admissions Requirements

Application Deadline: February 1, 2021


**Note: A Massachusetts RN license is required by matriculation in the PhD program in order to do the research practicum component of the program. If you are a registered nurse, you may enter the PhD program after completing a baccalaureate or a master’s degree. A degree in nursing is preferred.

Admissions Requirements Master’s Degree Entry Post-Bac Entry
Current U.S. RN License* X X
Minimum GPA of 3.5 X X
Official transcript(s) of ALL college-level study X X
A minimum GRE of 300 or equivalent for the verbal and quantitative combined, within the last 5 years X X
Three letters of recommendation that address your potential for a career in nursing research, with at least 2 recommendations from persons who have a PhD and can speak to the applicant’s ability to be successful in a PhD program X X
Satisfactory completion of a basic statistics course X X
Personal Statement describing your goals, your reason for pursuing a PhD in nursing and your research area of interest X X
TOEFL scores or IELTS scores  (for international applicants) X X

Experiential Learning

As part of the curriculum, students are required to complete an experiential learning component referred to as the Research Practicum. The purpose of the practicum is to develop student research skills through engagement with an active research project. Students must have a current MA RN license. In the past, students have completed the following research practicum opportunities:

  • Working with a research team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
  • Research Assistant (RA) at local, academic institutions such as the VA Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • Supporting an NUCare pilot study on a wellness coaching program at the Boston Housing Authority.
  • Participating as a member of an interdisciplinary research team with various faculty at Northeastern University.
  • Completing a secondary analysis of a study at Northeastern University led by Dr. Rachel Jones on the effects of HIV interventions on the relationship between sex scripts and sexual behaviors.

Research Practicum opportunities are available at other Boston area academic health centers.

See ‘Research Practicum’ in the Curriculum section for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the PhD program have pre-requisites?

Yes. Both post-BSN and post-MSN students are expected to show satisfactory completion of a basic statistics course.

Note: Post-BSN students will be required to take an epidemiology course as part of their PhD coursework.

What is the cost of the program?

Doctoral students in the Nursing PhD program pay per credit taken. The latest cost per credit for Bouve College of Health Sciences programs can be found on Northeastern’s Student Financial Services webpage.

Is there financial support for students?

A select number of competitive Graduate Assistantships are available for doctoral students. Graduate Assistantships cover tuition and include a stipend in exchange for working 20 hours/week as a research or teaching assistant.

Note: Graduate Assistantships are awarded each academic year. 

Can I complete the program part-time?

Yes, part-time options are available for post-BSN and post-MSN students.

Is an RN license required?

Students must have a current Massachusetts Registered Nurse (RN) license in order to complete their research practicum in academic clinical institutions.

When are courses scheduled?

While the schedule may fluctuate depending on the semester, courses have generally been scheduled during the day and early evening, 1 or 2 days a week.

Can I transfer courses into the program?

Students may be able to transfer in up to 9 credits that have not been previously used towards another degree and were taken at the graduate level for a grade of B or better. Students must receive approval from the program director prior to transferring courses and must be enrolled in the program in order to begin the transfer process.

More information about Northeastern University’s transfer policy can be found in the Bouve Transfer Policy.

Are courses offered online?

No. All required courses are offered in-person at Northeastern University’s Boston Campus. Some electives and cognates may be offered online or in a hybrid format.

Can I speak with faculty in the PhD Program that may share my research interests?

Yes, we would be happy to put you in touch with our faculty. Please send your query along with a description of research interests so that you can be appropriately matched to:

Dr. Rhonda Board
Program Director
For more information about the program you may also email:

Kalyn Diaz
Program Administrative Coordinator

Completed Dissertations

2017 & 2018

Rachel Pozzar

Charting the Path from Diagnosis to Treatment: A Grounded Theory Study of Ovarian Cancer

Advisor: Nancy Hanrahan


Meredith Scannell

Exploring the Issues of HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis and Sexually Assaulted Individuals

Advisor: Barbara Guthrie


Anna Etchin

Stress, Resilience and Reintigration Among Post-9/11 US Veterans: A Holistic Investigation
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard


Bertha Lee
Associations between Physical Activity and Positive Psychological Well-Being among U.S. Latino Older Adults
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard


Kelly Gallant
Caregiver Reactions in Pulmonary Hypertension
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard


Lidia Lika Nusbaum
Research Nurses’ Attitudes and Practices Regarding Communication of Risks and Benefits During the Research Informed Consent Process
Advisor: Brenda Douglas


Daniel David
Cognitive Impairment and Heart Failure: Identifying Factors that Diminish Self-Care
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

Maram Pic

Maram Taher Alghabbashi
Toward an Understanding of Married Saudi Women’s Attitudes and Knowledge Concerning STIS: Mode of Transmission, Personal Risk, and Perception of Their Ability to Decrease Personal Risk
Advisor: Barbara J. Guthrie

Abdulrhman Albougami
The Relationship Between Cultural Competence Levels and Perceptions of Patient-Centered Care among Filipino and Indian Expatriate Nurses Working in the Saudi Arabian Healthcare Sector
Advisor: Karen Pounds

Shirley Gilles Revised

Shirley Gillies
Fear Avoidance Beliefs and Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

Kerry Nolte

Kerry Nolte
Protecting Themselves: Toward an Understanding of Black Women‘s Approaches to Encouraging A Male Partner to Test for HIV
Advisor: Barbara J. Guthrie


Valeria Ramdin
Socioecological Factors Associated with Vitamin D Deficiency: Implications for Adults with Obesity and Chronic Pain
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

2014 & 2015

Esther Ampadu
Impact of Nurse Faculty Job Stress on Job Satisfaction and Intent to Remain in Academia
Advisor: Michelle A. Beauchesne

Fleck Revised

Patricia Fleck
Mother’s Experience During Repair of Long-Gap Esophageal Atresia: A Phenomenological Inquiry
Advisor: Carole Kenner


Michelle Plasse
Impact of Authentic Leadership of Team Psychological Safety as Mediated by Relationship Quality
Advisor: Susan Jo Roberts


Monika Schuler
Use of a Shadow: The Nurse Intervention in Early Baccalaureate Nursing Education and is Impact on Role Perspectives
Advisor: Susan Jo Roberts


Ann Malley
Key Determinants of Successful Transition into the Preoperative Environment
Advisor: Susan Jo Roberts


Rosemary Taylor
Nurses’ Perceptions of Horizontal Violence
Advisor: Susan Jo Roberts

2012 & 2013

Nadiah A. Baghdadi
Cultural Competency of Nursing Faculty Teaching in Baccalaureate Nursing Programs in the U.S.
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

Kelley Strout

Kelley Strout
Wellness and Cognition among Community Dwelling Older Adults
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

Brenda Douglas

Brenda Douglas
Characteristics Predictive of Lifestyle Change among Older Adults with Hypertension
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

2010 & 2011
Ola Sukkariah

Ola Sukkarieh
The Relationship among Diabetes Self-Care, Psychological Adjustment, Social Support and Glycemic Control in the Lebanese Population with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard

Mary Ann McDonnell,

Mary Ann McDonnell
Race, Gender and Age Effects on the Assessment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth
Advisor: Carol Glod

Contact Info

Kalyn Diaz
Program Coordinator
103 Robinson Hall

Rhonda Board
Program Director
401B Robinson Hall