The program is designed to assist the student to develop the knowledge, skills, and habits of a Nurse Scientist Educator through mentorship, didactic teaching and research experience. The program requires 52 credits and is designed to be completed in 48 months of full-time study that includes work in the summer months. There is a one-year residency requirement.
The structured mentorship experience begins upon admission, when students are assigned to work with a specific faculty mentor to guide the student in academic writing, writing for publication, grant writing, and completing qualifying examination requirements. A doctoral seminar is held three or four times a semester on scholarly topics based on student needs and interests. Seminar presentations include educational, chronic illness and research methods topics. A Doctoral Student Research Development Day is held annually for second- and third-year doctoral students to present their research ideas and progress for dialogue and feed-back from fellow students and faculty to help students further their research ideas and methodology. Once a student has submitted the first paper for publication, the student selects a dissertation committee chair who further mentors the student in their research. In addition, students are educated didactically, through course work, seminars, tutorials, and on-line learning.
Each student’s experiential learning includes writing for publication, grant writing, opportunities for research and teaching assistantships, taking qualifying examinations, dissertation proposal hearing and defense of the completed dissertation.
The curriculum addresses four core areas of study: knowledge development in nursing; nursing education; research methods; and the theory and research in promoting health, guiding people through health/illness experiences and shaping the health care system with a focus on nursing care of people with chronic illness. The curriculum includes courses in philosophy of science and strategies for developing nursing knowledge. Research expertise is developed through courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods, statistics, clinical research topics, a series of research practica and dissertation advisement. Relevant cognate or elective courses are planned with the advisor for the chosen area of research concentration.
Substantive Knowledge: 9 credits
Nurse Educator: 9 credits
Elective: 3 credits
Students select one PhD-level course from the following three areas:
- Elective in Research/Theory
- Issue pertinent to Health/Illness
Comprehensive Examination: 0 credits
To fulfill Qualifying Examination criteria, the student presents evidence to the PhD committee that the first manuscript is in review for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and the second manuscript has been approved by the student’s advisor for submission to a journal. Upon approval of the PhD Committee, the PhD Program Director certifies to the Office of Graduate Studies and Admissions that the student has satisfactorily completed the Qualifying Examination. Successful completion of Qualifying Examination review admits the student to candidacy for the PhD degree and enables the student to begin formal work on the dissertation.
The dissertation research proposal is submitted in Fall of Year 4 by December 1. All dissertation work follows the format of the American Psychological Association Manual for Publication, 6th Ed. and the relevant University guidelines in “Requirements for Theses and Dissertations” available at http://www.umassd.edu/graduate/administration.cfm . Although the length of the proposal will vary with the candidate and the topic, the proposal must include the following elements:
- cover page;
- table of contents;
- 300-400 word abstract;
- introduction that clearly states the problem, establishes its significance, states the research questions to be examined or the hypotheses to be tested;
- clear statement of the conceptual-theoretical-empirical structure that will guide the research;
- critical review of the literature that synthesizes the current research on the problem, explores related bodies of knowledge that contribute to the understanding of the problem, and explores the theoretical framework of the study;
- thorough description of the methodology including research design, a description of the study population and sample, a plan to access the study population, human subjects considerations, data collection methods, and the plan for data analysis;
- work plan that identifies needed resources, indicates how they will be obtained, and presents a realistic time line for data collection and analysis;
- appendices with informed consent letters and instruments.
The candidate works closely with the chair of the committee. Together they decide when to forward the draft proposal to the entire committee for review. After review, the candidate and the chair review the committee members’ recommendations and make necessary adjustments to the proposal. The chair schedules a proposal hearing that is open only to the dissertation committee members. Three weeks prior to the scheduled hearing the final draft of the proposal must be received by all committee members. All members of the committee are expected read the proposal, forward any clarification questions to the full committee and the candidate 72 hours in advance of the proposal hearing, and attend the proposal hearing. For external committee members, either a video or audio conference call can beFollowing the hearing, the committee meets in executive session and makes one of four determinations regarding the proposal: 1) approve; 2) approve subject to minor changes; 3) action deferred pending major revisions; and 4) disapprove. In the case of approval, the candidate may proceed with the dissertation. In the case of approval with minor revisions, the candidate need only resubmit the revised proposal to the chair and any other specified committee members. Once approved, the chair forwards two (2) copies of the proposal to the Graduate Program Director with a letter stating that all minor revisions have been satisfactorily completed. In the case of major revisions, the candidate must resubmit the proposal to all committee members. The candidate must complete both minor and major revisions within three months. In the rare case of a rejection, the committee will meet with the candidate and decide how to proceed.
The candidate works closely with the chair and other appropriate committee members throughout the data collection, data analysis and final writing phases of the dissertation. The candidate should expect repeated iterations of the dissertation to accommodate the committee chair’s and members’ input and guidance.
The dissertation contains all of the elements listed under Dissertation Proposal above. In addition, the methods section is revised to report the actual protocol for data collection and analysis. The following content areas are added to the dissertation manuscript:
- Identify new and/or confirmed knowledge
- Relate this new knowledge to the research question(s), theoretical framework and previous literature discussed earlier in the paper
- Identify limitation of the data / study
- Summarize the findings
- Discuss implications of these findings for nursing science, practice, and education
- Identify further research questions that arise this study
A dissertation defense is scheduled by the committee chair after the committee members agree that the dissertation is sufficiently complete to undergo defense. Three weeks prior to the scheduled defense the final draft of the dissertation is delivered to all committee members. All members of the committee are expected to read the dissertation, forward any questions to the candidate and the committee at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled dissertation defense and attend the dissertation defense hearing.
Following the dissertation defense, the dissertation committee meets in executive session and makes one of two determinations: 1) approve; or 2) approve subject to minor changes. In the case of approval, the chair forwards two copies of the dissertation cover sheet to the graduate program director and the candidate can prepare the dissertation for binding and microfilming.
In the case of approval with minor revisions, the candidate need only submit the revised dissertation to the chair and any other specified committee members. Once approved, the chair forwards two copies of the dissertation cover sheet to the graduate program director and the candidate can prepare the dissertation for binding and microfilming. The dissertation manuscript must conform to Requirements for Theses & Dissertations at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth: see http://www/umassd.edu/graduate/administration.cfm. The College of Nursing has designated the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Ed. as the format for organization, tables, illustrations and references. Students must pay particular attention to deadlines and the timing of their dissertation defense hearing to allow enough time for a completed manuscript to be filed prior to Commencement exercises.