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Ph.D. in Nursing Program Resources

The following information will facilitate your progression through Saint Louis University's Ph.D. in Nursing program.

We also encourage you to refer to the Ph.D. student handbook. Please note that general student rules and regulations in place at Saint Louis University apply unless superseded by policies of the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing.

Program Outcomes

Upon graduating this program, you will contribute to the continued development of the discipline and profession of nursing. You will:

  • Articulate multiple perspectives on knowledge development and a broad understanding of research methods.
  • Critique and synthesize nursing and interdisciplinary knowledge in a substantive area of inquiry.
  • Generate and disseminate nursing knowledge through research that is innovative, rigorously conducted, ethically sound, and culturally sensitive.
  • Steward the discipline by serving as leaders in health care and academic settings.

International Students

International students comprise approximately one third of our nursing doctoral students. You can find support through the Office of International Services, as well as language and writing assistance through the Student Success Center.

Cognate/Certificate Programs

Cognate courses are elective courses chosen with the assistance of your adviser. They will individually and collectively enhance your depth of understanding in your chosen research area of concentration. These courses may be chosen from other schools or departments in the University. The areas include medicine, public health, psychology, sociology, education, public policy, business, research methodology, and other relevant disciplines.

For more course information see SLU's graduate school catalog.

Classified students may pursue a certificate while seeking a Ph.D. in nursing. Many doctoral students obtain the certificate in University Teaching Skills through the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning.

Following completion of all course work, including required nursing courses, methods courses, electives and cognate courses in the area of concentration, you will take a written preliminary exam and an oral preliminary exam. You will also defend a dissertation proposal and completes and defends a dissertation.


Your dissertation will present evidence of your ability to extend your knowledge base in nursing through original research on a topic of importance that has been previously unresolved. You may choose either a traditional academic dissertation format or a non-traditional, three-paper dissertation format. Both formats require a dissertation committee, completion of 12 hours of dissertation credits, and a dissertation as a final product.

Although the formal designation of the dissertation director/committee chair and committee members cannot occur until candidacy, the anticipated chair and the presumptive committee are to review dissertation plans as early as practical in the student's program. The decision of which dissertation alternative to pursue is foremost on the presumptive committee's agenda. For more detailed information about the different dissertation formats and the process, see the Ph.D. Student Handbook.

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary examinations for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing are designed to test your comprehension and knowledge after you've completed all required course work. The examinations include a written portion and an oral portion, both of which must be completed successfully before you can be advanced to degree candidacy. To be eligible to take the preliminary examinations, all course work must be completed.

For more detailed information, see the Ph.D. Student Handbook.

Research Events

SLU has a number of research events specifically directed to doctoral students and faculty that occur at the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing annually or monthly. They include:

  • Annual Graduate Student Association (GSA) poster presentations
  • Research brown bag events (five events a year on Mondays at noon)
  • Visiting scholar presentations