Three year nursing PhD curricula content among schools participating in the Future of Nursing Scholars Program

  • Nicholas A. Giordano
    Corresponding author: Nicholas A. Giordano, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, 1520 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA, 30322.
    Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
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  • Heather Kelley
    Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

    National Program Office, Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars Program, Philadelphia, PA
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  • MaryJoan Ladden
    Former, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2008-2019, Princeton, NJ
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  • Julie A. Fairman
    Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

    National Program Office, Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars Program, Philadelphia, PA
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Published:January 06, 2023DOI:


      • PhD Curricula from 45 schools of nursing with 3-year PhD programs were analyzed.
      • Challenges to incorporating emerging priority areas in nursing science into curricula remain.
      • Overall, curricula were analogous to traditional curricula but delivered in a truncated manner.



      The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Future of Nursing Scholars program (FNS) supported 45 nursing schools to create or adapt their PhD curricula to facilitate students completing a PhD degree in 3-years.


      This analysis characterized the PhD program curricula of 45 schools. Differences in curricula were examined based on school characteristics.


      Data were collected from five cohorts of school FNS applications. Summaries of curricula are provided and differences in curricula between schools were examined.


      Most of the PhD programs (73.3%) were at very high research intensive universities. A median of 60 credit hours were needed to complete a 3-year PhD. Most programs (84.0%) required year-round enrollment, oftentimes inclusive of summers, and placed an emphasis on scholars pursuing additional coursework to meet the 3-year timeline.


      Findings highlight common elements of 3-year PhD curricula that can be utilized to inform the development and educational needs of future nurse scientists.


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