Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Since its inception in 1954, the PhD program in nursing at the University of Pittsburgh has been characterized as pioneering. The University of Pittsburgh was one of the first three schools in the nation to recognize the importance of doctoral preparation in nursing and to offer a Doctor of Philosophy program of study. The PhD Program offers in depth training in clinical and laboratory research and research methods that prepares students to become outstanding nurse scientists. Students work with internationally recognized faculty who lead cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that is supported by the National Institutes of Health in focal areas that include technology use in patient management, patient adherence, cancer survivorship, genomics, behavioral interventions in chronic conditions, symptom management, and primary prevention in chronic disease.  Students also gain teaching and mentoring skills through coursework and experiences in clinical and didactic instruction as well as mentorship of undergraduate students through our Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program

Program Description

The School continues to be a trend setter, modifying the curriculum in response to current and future needs and offering both the MSN to PhD and BSN to PhD tracks. The current program ensures that the reputation for timeliness and excellence will continue. 

The PhD program of study provides a coherent series of courses, seminars, and discussions designed to develop in the student a mature understanding of content, methods, and values of the discipline of nursing and its relation to other fields. The curriculum includes courses in history and philosophy of science, theoretical foundations for research, and the structure of knowledge. Additional courses include advanced statistics, advanced quantitative methods, quantitative and qualitative research methods, research emphasis seminars, instrumentation, and several research practica with experienced research mentors. Students work closely with faculty researchers from nursing and other disciplines. The dissertation is the culminating requirement in the course of study.

Doctoral study is rigorous and requires considerable time and energy on the part of both students and faculty. The Doctor of Philosophy Degree requires a distinctive level of performance as a scholar and researcher; this goes beyond an acceptable level of performance in individual courses that comprise the program of study.

Research interests and expertise of doctoral program faculty reflect a diversity of educational backgrounds and research experience. Early in the program, the student selects an area of research emphasis. This research interest needs to match a faculty member's research emphasis. The focal areas of research are in keeping with the goals and mission of the University, its resources and cooperating agencies, and with the expertise of the School of Nursing doctoral faculty.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the PhD in nursing degree program is to prepare scholars who will discover and extend scientific knowledge that advances the science and practice of nursing and contributes to other disciplines. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared to:

  1. generate new knowledge through research and testing of theory;
  2. examine the trends and factors that influence the generation of knowledge and its use in health care;
  3. contribute to solutions that advance health care in a culturally diverse society through communication of knowledge to the clinical, public, professional, and scientific communities of interest and public policy makers;
  4. reflect a nursing and interdisciplinary perspective in research and scholarly endeavors.

Graduate Academic Regulations and Student Responsibilities

Contact Information

Dr. Marilyn Hravnak, PhD Program Director
Phone: 412-383-5148

Kirsti Stark, Graduate Advisor
Phone: 412-624-5477

Leslie Smith, Admnistrative Secretary
Phone: 412-383-5148

View the program brochure

Academic Integrity Policy for Students