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Doctorate in Nursing Programs | Philosophy of Nursing Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

School of Nursing

As a student in the PhD in Nursing program you will gain the knowledge and skills needed to identify and examine health problems that impact urban and underserved populations. Upon graduation, you will be able to assume the role of researcher, educator and scholar in a school of nursing, clinical agency, research center, or other setting. You will find yourself providing leadership for the profession and developing new knowledge that will influence nursing practice and improve health outcomes for all individuals. If you are a registered nurse, you may enter the PhD program after completing a baccalaureate or a master’s degree in nursing.

Research Opportunities

You will study with nursing faculty whose research programs address a broad spectrum of clinical nursing questions and urban healthcare problems. Collectively, the faculty has expertise in a variety of research methods and a range of research interests, including health issues of women, children and families, depression, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse and perinatal injury.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to study with faculty from other Northeastern departments and research centers and with others in Boston’s nursing community whose work addresses clinical problems with urban and underserved populations. Our close ties with the University’s Institute on Urban Health Research and School of Social Science, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, as well as with the Center for Community Health Education, Research and Service and other organizations provide opportunities to work across disciplines and access populations and sites for your dissertation. Visit the Northeastern University Faculty Research site:

Application Deadline

June 1

Contact Info

Alice Murphy
Administrative Coordinator, PhD and DNP Programs
School of Nursing
102 Robinson Hall

Barbara Guthrie
Program Director
102B Robinson

Sample Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Post-master’s students will build on their prior degrees and clinical foundations by completing 49 semester hours, including the dissertation. Coursework includes research, urban health, and statistics. Post-baccalaureate students will complete 69 semester hours, including the dissertation. All students select a doctoral advisor to guide selection of electives and help with research design. 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.

Post-Baccalaureate Option
  • NRSG 5121 Epidemiology and Population Health
  • NRSG 5126 Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice
  • NRSG 5116 Pharmacology – Clinical Cognates
  • NRSG 7700 The Science of Nursing
  • NRSG 7750 Health Care of Urban Populations
  • NRSG 7782 Multiple Regression Analysis in Health Sciences
  • NRSG 7706 Design and Methods for Clinical Nursing Research
  • NRSG 7712 Quantitative Research Methods
  • NRSG 7715 Measurement in Clinical Research
  • NRSG 7709 Qualitative Research Methods
  • LPSC 7305 Research and statistical methods
  • NRSG 7781 Statistics Lab – 3 Electives
  • NRSG 9845, 9846 – 2 Dissertation Seminars
  • NRSG 9990 Dissertation
Total semester hours required: 69
Post-Master's Option
  • NRSG 7700 The Science of Nursing
  • NRSG 7750 Health Care of Urban Populations
  • NRSG 7782 Multiple Regression Analysis in Health Sciences
  • NRSG 7706 Design and Methods for Clinical Nursing Research
  • NRSG 7712 Quantitative Research Methods
  • NRSG 7715 Measurement in Clinical Research
  • NRSG 7709 Qualitative Research Methods
  • LPSC 7305 Research and Statistical Methods
  • NRSG 7781 Statistics Lab – 2 Electives
  • NRSG 9845, 9846 – 2 Dissertation Seminars
  • NRSG 9990 Dissertation
Total semester hours required: 49

Curriculum subject to change

Read Student Testimonials

Student Testimonials

Esther Ampadu

Several years after graduating from Northeastern, I considered returning to my alma mater to pursue a PhD in Nursing. I was hesitant to return to school after a long break, and concerned about my ability to fulfill the obligations of the academic program and my family responsibilities at the same time. However, when I interviewed with the Program Director Elizabeth Howard, she looked at me and said: “You can do it.” And, she was right. I am now in my second year, having successfully completed four courses. My research focus is adolescent mental health, specifically adolescent schizophrenia and the experience of family members who, with minimal or no training, provide in-home care to relatives diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am also interested in the ways immigrant family members perceive and cope with a mental health diagnosis as different cultures have different perceptions of the disease.

Nadiah Baghdadi

After receiving my Bachelor degree in Nursing, I worked as a staff nurse at an internationally recognized hospital in Saudi Arabia. As a new graduate, the opportunity was challenging. However, I soon realized that the hospital was a melting pot for nurses and physicians from different countries. This provided me a wonderful, unique learning opportunity and I tried to learn as much as I could from them. Pursuing graduate education became my goal as I was developing into a successful nurse serving her community. As a nurse working with expatriates in my country, I witnessed and recognized the need to develop the nursing profession in Saudi Arabia. This need propelled me towards pursuing my graduate degree and now my PhD degree. I strongly believe that as I acquire more knowledge, the better I will be in serving my community.

My ultimate goal is to return to my country prepared with the knowledge and skills to build fundamental policies that focus on hiring and retaining of qualified Saudi nurses and implementing culturally sensitive patient care.

Patricia Fleck

I have returned to Northeastern to pursue a PhD in Nursing with a focus on Maternal and Child Health. I have enjoyed a variety of roles in Maternal and Child Health Nursing and completed my MSN with a focus in Neonatal Critical Care at Northeastern in 1994. As an advanced practice nurse I found myself in both the informal and formal role of educator, sharing my expertise in the care of high-risk newborns. Working in the nearby world-class academic settings, I also had an opportunity to see how the scientific model uncovers new methods and interventions to improve the outcomes of this vulnerable population. I believe, with the mentoring of the nursing faculty here, my studies at Northeastern will allow me to realize my goals of that of a nurse researcher and scholar to contribute to the nursing care of mothers and their children in this ever changing world.

Kelly Gallant

I am currently attending Northeastern for the sixth consecutive year, as I graduated last spring with my BSN and immediately enrolled in the PhD program. I’m enjoying every second the opportunity has provided me – living in Boston, taking my PhD classes, and having the chance to work in multiple hospitals throughout the city. Currently, I am studying Pulmonary Hypertension, a progressive disease in which the pulmonary artery pressures are elevated resulting in extreme shortness of breath, among a multitude of other symptoms. In the future, I look forward to continuing research as well as teaching. I consider Northeastern my second home, and I can often be found skating in Matthew’s Arena.

Mechelle Plasse

I have worked as an Advance Practice Nurse for over 10 years, in various settings from mental health to administration, and, to education. These diverse environments allowed me to see the various facets of the healthcare system, including its strong and weak points, and prompted me to return to school. My area of interest is the effect of workplace relationships between professionals on healthcare quality and on patient outcomes. As a psychiatric APRN, I am continuously curious about people. I find dynamics within and among groups particularly intriguing. When a patient is sick enough to require hospital level of care, the stakes are so high that there is no room for error. My interests lie with the error – what happened with the functioning of the team that created the loophole? What role did communication, or lack of it, play in that poor outcome? I focus on examining the interrelationships between healthcare professionals to create the most effective, efficient and healing milieu possible.

Valeria Ramdin

The desire to care and a passion for nursing led me to pursue a doctorate in nursing. Almost a decade ago, after years of self-evaluation and achieving one goal after another, I decided I was perhaps setting the bar too low. I needed to challenge myself. As I was working in a practice setting, I wondered how I could contribute more to the scientific field of nursing. In practice, I was touching one life at a time. I felt that if I returned to teaching, I could touch many more through my students’ rendering compassionate, competent care. I decided to pursue my PhD in nursing. I chose Northeastern University because it epitomized compassionate care and was connected with the urban community. My area of interest grew out of my practice and the desire to understand how care can be more person-centered than medicine-centered. I hope to study how ambulatory monitoring of hypertension can contribute to the management of chronic hypertension in a vulnerable population -specifically, the elderly.

Kelley Strout

Immediately upon entering the nursing profession, I recognized the need for change in the health care delivery system. High-cost medical interventions have financially destabilized the health care system, the patient population, and the American economy. Furthermore, I recognized that focusing on “sick care” depleted patient quality of life and nurse job satisfaction. I believe, that the nursing profession can contribute to shifting healthcare from “sick care,” and corresponding high-cost medical interventions to “well care” and increased availability of non-pharmacologic health treatments. A PhD in nursing will provide me the opportunity to research and support the positive financial and health outcomes linked to preventative and non-pharmacologic health interventions. In anticipation of the shortage in nursing faculty, I am eager to obtain the necessary credentials to contribute to educating future nurses and nurse leaders.

Rosemary Taylor

I chose Northeastern because my research interests are well supported here. Finding connection with Susan Jo Roberts’ work was an important factor in my decision to return to school and pursue my PhD. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her and other distinguished faculty in the School of Nursing. My primary areas of interest are lateral violence and communication. I am interested in the incommensurability between the behaviors associated with lateral violence and the science of nursing. I am also interested in “voice” (“being heard”, “speaking up” and “speaking out”) and advocacy, as well as the importance of disclosure and creating cultures that encourage the reporting of errors through non-punitive approaches. My goal is to investigate communication and other issues, including workplace stressors and culture, which contribute to and perpetuate lateral violence in nursing and to find solutions that will improve nurses’ work experience and patient outcomes.

Stephen Wood

In my pursuit of a Doctor of Philosophy degree, I will focus on family and community health with the hope to be an active participant in community health programs, which serve the immigrant, homeless and underserved populations. In my educational pursuits, I would like to focus on evidence-based preventative medicine with an emphasis on community health programs in the emergency department and in-patient setting. Most importantly, I hope to initiate sustainable programs that engage patients, students, and current healthcare providers, integrating experts in healthcare as well as in education, social work and public health to design programs that are both accessible and user-friendly. I have a particular interest in vaccines as I feel that this area can have a great impact on both health and well-being. Education at Northeastern University, supported by renowned faculty and access to excellent research and clinical resources, would provide the best nursing research opportunities and education available. That, coupled with the focus of the Northeastern program on urban and underserved populations, match my clinical and research interests.

Lika Nusbaum

I worked for leading healthcare and academic institutions in Israel in the areas of med-surgical and emergency nursing for over 15 years. My experience as a nurse educator and clinician defines my goals: to contribute to the expansion of evidence-based practice and to promote health and healthcare education. I hope during my doctoral studies I will acquire the knowledge, skills and tools to realize both of my ambitions. My nursing career has been a journey from practical to educational nursing and now I am ready to move forward to develop new nursing knowledge in my quest for professional, academic and personal growth.

Dympna O’Carroll

I am an experienced nurse who enjoys teaching and providing a quality, cohesive education to nursing students. Previously, I was a clinical faculty instructor in our School of Nursing teaching the Med/Surg 2 course and providing clinical supervision on in-patient hospital units.

Daniel David

Prior to my nursing career, I received a Master’s degree in Biomedical Science with a concentration in Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. For ten years I investigated neurodegenerative diseases, movement disorders, aging and drugs of abuse in animal models. Following a career change to nursing, I became a staff nurse on a med/surg floor in a small community hospital in Needham, MA. At Beth Israel Deaconess – Needham hospital I began my inquiry into why certain patients were more likely to be readmitted following discharge. Since 2007, I have been a research nurse at the Clinical Research Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, MA. As a research nurse, I provided patient care for subjects in research studies while assisting investigators in developing their protocols. While helping other investigators I began to develop areas of research that I wanted to pursue as a nurse researcher. My recent research looks at the impact of nurse practitioners on cardiac patient outcomes. In collaboration with co-investigators, I found that the involvement of nurse practitioners on medical teams caring for cardiac patients following ICU admissions greatly reduced hospital readmission. As a doctoral student at Northeastern University I plan to look at the transitions of patients with chronic diseases from the inpatient to the outpatient setting.

Ann Malley

I graduated with a BS in Nursing from Salem State College in 1984 and an MS in Adult Primary Care from Northeastern University in 1994. I am certified as an Adult Nurse Practitioner and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. I have over twenty seven years of clinical experience in direct patient care in a variety of settings and teaching experience in the clinical and non-clinical environment. As an experienced practitioner, my goal of developing a skill set in nursing quality and safety research is a natural and logical professional career trajectory. Through scientific inquiry we cannot only identify the challenges that confront us but we also can investigate the use of emerging technology and information systems that can assist us with meeting the challenges and improve efficacy and ultimately patient outcome. I believe there is a critical need to disseminate and incorporate what we learn from this type of scientific inquiry into nursing education. My goals upon completion of Northeastern University’s PhD program are to conduct research in an academic environment and contribute to the formal and informal education of future nurses. I am thrilled to be returning for this next phase of my nursing career to Northeastern University to study with nursing faculty whose expertise and commitment to nursing education is unparalleled.

Kerry Nolte

I started my nursing career at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, after being inspired by working with ER nurses through my work as an Emergency Medical Technician. After completing my Bachelors of Nursing, I completed the New Graduate Critical Care Program at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire and worked in the Intensive Care Unit. I then returned to further my education at the University of New Hampshire completing a Masters in Nursing, specializing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. My program afforded me the opportunity to teach undergraduate students, a passion which I hope to continue as a faculty member in the future. After completing my program as a Family Nurse Practitioner, I have been practicing in a Community Health Center/ Healthcare for the Homeless Program in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I have continued to teach undergraduate nursing to students in clinical and classroom settings including a Global Health Course conducted in Ghana. I have returned to Northeastern University to pursue my PhD in Nursing with the goal of guiding a new generation of nursing through research and education.

Monika Schuler

I came into nursing as a second career having worked previously as a cranberry biologist. My experience as a second career nurse, then clinical instructor and assistant professor at a small college in Boston has peaked my interest in how we educate our nurses. With so many entries into practice I wonder if there is a relationship between the varied paths and readiness for and transitions to practice. I choose to pursue these studies at Northeastern because of its reputation as a leader in innovation and research. I am currently completing my first year of course work and have benefited from the support and guidance of experienced and dedicated nurse scholars. Living on the south shore I commute to NEU multiple times a week; even so, the leadership, support, mentorship, and guidance make it worth the trip!

Admissions Requirements

MSN to PhD

  • a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5
  • official transcript(s) of ALL college-level study
  • a minimum GRE of 300 or equivalent for the verbal and quantitative combined, within the last 5 years
  • three letters of recommendation that address your potential for a career in
    nursing research
  • satisfactory completion of an epidemiology course and a basic statistics course
  • essay describing your goals and reason for pursuing a PhD in nursing and
    your research area of interest
  • TOEFL scores (for international applicants)

BSN to PhD

  • a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5
  • official transcript(s) of ALL college-level study
  • a minimum GRE of 300 or equivalent for the verbal and quantitative combined, within the last 5 years
  • three letters of recommendation that address your potential for a career in
    nursing research
  • satisfactory completion of a basic statistics course
  • essay describing your goals and reason for pursuing a PhD in nursing and your research area of interest
  • TOEFL scores (for international applicants)

Completed Dissertations

Kelley Strout, Ph.D., M.S., RN
Wellness and Cognition among Community Dwelling Older Adults
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard, Ph.D., RN, ANP


Brenda Douglas, Ph.D., M.S., RN
Characteristics Predictive of Lifestyle Change among Older Adults with Hypertension
Advisor: Elizabeth Howard, Ph.D., RN, ANP


Ola Sukkarieh, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S.N., RN
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, Ph.D., RN, ANP


Mary Ann McDonnell, Ph.D., RN, CS/NP
Race, Gender and Age Effects on the Assessment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth
Advisor: Carol Glod, Ph.D., RN, CS, FAAN


Apply to the PhD in Nursing Program.
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