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Courses Open to Non-Matriculated Graduate Nursing Prospects

Registered nurses who hold a master’s degree in nursing or who have earned at least 24 credits toward a master’s degree in nursing are permitted to register for a maximum of nine credits of doctoral courses as non-matriculated students. With instructor permission and course availability, doctoral courses that may enroll non-matriculated students are: NGC 701 State of Nursing Science; NGC632 Interpreting Health Care Policy; NUS 705 Designing and Testing Interventions and Innovations; NUS 694 Quantitative Methods in Health Care Research (see placement policy); NUS 697 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods; NUS 691 Advanced Information Technology in Practice, Education, and Research; NGC 692 Seminar in Grantsmanship; 695 Advanced Statistical Techniques; and NUS710 Interpretive Phenomenology. Students may also consider updating their research and statistical analysis knowledge by enrolling in NGC 526 Evaluating Research Evidence for Health Care I (required for BS-PhD students) or NGC 527 Evaluating Research Evidence for Health Care II (required for BS-PhD and MS-PhD students who are unsuccessful in passing the required statistical assessment placement examination). A non-degree application must be filed with the Office of Student Services.

Courses Open to UB Non-Nursing Graduate Students

UB graduate students who are not enrolled in nursing programs may take doctoral courses in the School of Nursing. Interested individuals should contact the School of Nursing’s Office of Student Services and the faculty of the course of interest.

Distance Accessibility

The PhD program curriculum is accessed by students through distance technology. Courses are offered in asynchronous, synchronous and hybrid formats as determined by the faculty. Regardless of the manner in which courses are offered, each course has due dates for assignment completion and required levels of student participation in on-line discussion, projects with fellow students, etc. Students are required upon admission to obtain required hardware and software and work with the School’s distance learning specialist to receive approval of their equipment and assure their ability to connect. Ongoing disruption of class due to student’s inappropriate technology and/or failure to work with IT to make appropriate corrections will not be tolerated.

BS-PhD Research Elective Requirement

Three credits of research elective (to be taken as 1 to 3 credits over the first year of enrollment) are required the first year as a BS-PhD student.

The Research Area Elective is a course taken individually with a faculty member, usually in the School of Nursing, who is expert in the same or similar substantive content area as the student.  The elective nature is because the student is free to choose the faculty member with whom the course is taken. It is very likely that the faculty member chosen will be the student’s advisor or prospective dissertation chair.

The course is taken in the first full time year of study. It may be taken as three full credits or divided among semesters (for example, one credit in the first semester and two in the second semester. The course is designed to be flexible. The student and his/her advisor will decide together whether the elective is taken as an independent study (for example, guided readings and in-depth discussions) or a course in the student’s substantive content area of research interest. Regardless, the aim of the research area elective course is to support students’ in-depth exploration a research area of interest (e.g. through the published literature) in order to identify and refine the PhD research program which will culminate in the dissertation research.

Students must consult with the prospective faculty member they have chosen and their advisor (if not the same) and receive approval prior to enrolling. Students will register using NGC 600 for Independent study, or register for a course in their substantive area with their advisor’s approval. If taken as NGC 600, the student and faculty member will complete and submit the Independent Study application for approval by the PhD Committee.

Post-MS to PhD Transfer Credits

Post-MS to PhD students are eligible to transfer a minimum of 15 credits from their Master’s program. To graduate from the Post-MS PhD program, students must have a minimum of 72 credits (transfer and UB unique); 36 must be unique to UB.

Statistics Assessment for Placement

All accepted Post-MS to PhD students must take and pass the statistical assessment test to enroll in NUS 694 Quantitative Methods in Health Care Research (the first course in the PhD level statistics series in the School of Nursing). Minimum passing score is >80% on each of the four parts. Students should consult with their advisors first prior to enrolling in NUS 694. If students do not achieve a passing score, they are required to complete a graduate level statistics course with grade B or higher (NGC 527 or approved substitute course).

For new students the assessment must be completed during the summer prior to their fall enrollment.

The assessment is self-administered through the UBlearns Blackboard system, where detailed information about the assessment can be found. Incoming students are given access to the system upon admission to the program. 

NGC 600 - Independent Study (PhD students)

NGC 600, Independent Study, is available to any graduate student as an elective when appropriate to the student's educational goals and with the approval of the student's advisor. Students may enroll for Independent Study under the guidance of an appropriate university faculty member.

Guidelines for Independent Study for DNP Students

Independent Study may consist of directed study, readings, individualized instruction, field experience, research or other appropriate activities. Students may apply up to a maximum of 6 credits of Independent Study to their program. Approval of a proposal for Independent Study is contingent upon the availability of faculty and facilities and approval of the student's advisor.

The student must make an explicit agreement with a graduate faculty member or with other appropriate faculty as recommended by the student's advisor. The student must submit an Independent Study Proposal Form to the Office of Student Services as soon as plans are finalized.  The proposal is then reviewed by the School of Nursing PhD Committee and, if approved, forwarded to the Graduate School for review.  Independent Study proposals should be submitted in the semester prior to that planned for implementation.

One copy of the Independent Study Form should be retained in the Office of Student Services to submit to the Graduate School with the student’s Application to Candidacy (ATC).

NUS 699 - Dissertation Credit

Dissertation credit is most typically taken following the completion of required coursework.  After the student has completed nine credits of required doctoral courses, the student may register for dissertation credit. Up to six dissertation credits maximum may be taken prior to taking the Qualifying Examination. The student’s dissertation chair must be approved by the assistant dean for the PhD program before the student can register for any dissertation credit.  The faculty advisor works with the student to identify the dissertation chair (which may be, but is not required to be, the faculty advisor). The selected dissertation chair must also agree. The advisor sends a memo to the assistant dean indicating the student’s choice for a dissertation chair. Once approved, the assistant dean sends a memo indicating such to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the faculty advisor and the dissertation chair. 

NUS 702 - Dissertation Seminar

The purpose of this one credit course is to facilitate the process of completing the dissertation for students who have completed their coursework, and to facilitate the role transition from PhD student to post-graduate roles in academia and research. Once coursework is complete, this course must be taken until the student is finished with their degree. The seminar is required each dissertating semester (a minimum of 2 credits of dissertation seminar is required), but since completing a dissertation often takes longer than 2 semesters, it is likely that students will take more than the minimum number of NUS 702 credits.

NUS 708 - Research Practicum

The purpose of this practicum is to provide students an opportunity to advance their research experience by working with a principal investigator or a team of researchers. To obtain actual research experience, the student will participate in an ongoing research program, and be supervised by a faculty mentor who has a current program of research. This is a one credit course (two credits are required) and can be completed in one semester or in two consecutive semesters, as one credit each. One credit equals a minimum of six hours per week in the practicum. The research practicum must be completed before the qualifying examination.

Students will register for this course with consent of their advisor and the research mentor who will supervise the experience. Objectives to be achieved and the plan for the semester should be developed with the mentor prior to beginning the research practicum. A form titled NUS 708 Research Practicum must be completed with the faculty mentor. A copy of the document is then submitted to the mentor, the faculty advisor, the assistant dean of PhD program, and the Office of Student Services. The form is located in the PhD UBlearns course.

In the middle and end of the semester, the student will provide written evidence of meeting the learning objectives to the mentor. The mentor may request additional evidence of meeting objectives before determining satisfactory completion of the practicum. Grading will be on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Cancellation of Courses (PhD Program)

From time to time it may become necessary to cancel a course due to low enrollment or other issues. This will be done at the discretion of the assistant dean for the PhD program and the Office of Academic Affairs.

Progression of PhD Students

All BS-PhD students must maintain a 3.25 grade point average during the first year of study and will be evaluated after the first year by the PhD Committee. Following the first year for BS-PhD and for all MS-PhD students, a 3.00 GPA or B average must be maintained to progress through the program.  All students will be evaluated by the PhD faculty every spring prior to continuing in the PhD coursework.

Annual Academic Review and Doctoral Student Annual Report

PhD students will receive a formal evaluation of their academic progress after the first semester of enrollment and annually thereafter. The annual meeting will include faculty who teach and advise PhD students in addition to members of the PhD Committee and the assistant dean. The student evaluation includes feedback on progress in the program, including assessing overall GPA, addressing any incomplete or resigned courses, monitoring progress toward completing coursework, preparing for the qualifying exam and timely defense of proposal and defense of dissertation. A follow-up letter regarding the student’s standing will be sent by the assistant dean of the PhD program indicating his/her progress and status in the program.  In the event of need for improvement, the assistant dean will consult with the student’s advisor for appropriate feedback and recommendations for advisement and mentoring.

All doctoral students are required to meet with their advisors for discussion, approval and submission of a completed PhD Student Annual Report and up-to-date Program Agreement. The Office of Student Services will send all PhD students the requirements for the annual report.  The student must email an electronic copy of the program agreement to his/her advisor or dissertation chair by the posted deadline (usually April). Once completed and discussed with the program advisor/dissertation chair, the reports are sent to the Office of Student Services. 

On-Campus PhD Program Orientation and Research Immersion

All matriculated (new and continuing) PhD students are required to attend (in person) and participate in a student orientation and research immersion, scheduled in August immediately prior to the semester start date. Students who have defended their dissertation proposal successfully are not required to attend but are welcome to do so.

Professional Socialization Requirement

All matriculated PhD students will participate in a program of non-credit activities to support professional socialization. Until the completion of coursework, PhD students will be required to participate in four professional socialization activities per semester. After completion of coursework, such PhD students will be required to attend three such activities per semester. Students are encouraged to attend a variety of events and are expected to join and participate in a School of Nursing Scholarly Team, preferably that of their advisor or chair, for at least the first two years of the program. Students should feel free to attend other scholarly team meetings as needed.

  • Professional socialization activities may include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Attendance at the School of Nursing Lunch and Learn Symposia
  • Attendance at School of Nursing research functions or special presentations
  • Attendance at Scholarly Team meetings
  • Attendance at proposal or dissertation defenses
  • Presentation of a paper at a local, national or international professional meeting
  • Authorship of a paper for publication

Activities supporting the fulfillment of the professional socialization requirement should be planned in collaboration with the student’s faculty advisor who will assess the appropriateness of activities proposed by the student and establish the means by which such activities are documented.

Failure to attend at least four professional socialization activities per semester (or three per semester after coursework is complete) will result in review of the student’s standing by the PhD Committee and potentially the requirement to perform an additional scholarly activity. Typically, working over 20 hours per week for full-time students is discouraged. International students seeking employment must consult with International Student and Scholars Services as immigration and visa implications may arise.

PhD Dissertation Committee

The student’s dissertation committee prepares, administers and grades the qualifying examination. The dissertation committee also is responsible for evaluating the student’s preparation for conducting a dissertation, reviewing and approving the dissertation proposal, guiding the research, certifying completion of the dissertation, and preparing the student for a successful defense.

 The student will select the dissertation chair with assistance from the faculty advisor. The student with consultation from the dissertation chair will then select the dissertation committee members. The proposed dissertation committee must be approved by the Assistant Dean of the PhD program. Once the dissertation committee is approved, the dissertation committee will oversee the remainder of the student’s work. Any change in the dissertation committee membership must be approved by the assistant dean for the PhD program. Criteria for the dissertation committee are as follows:

  1. The dissertation chair must be a PhD prepared faculty member at UB, a member of the School of Nursing faculty, and a full member of the graduate faculty.
  2. Two additional members must be full members of the graduate faculty at UB.   
  3. At least one individual on the dissertation committee must be a nurse who is a member of the School of Nursing faculty as well as a full member of the graduate faculty at UB.
  4. Members in addition to the three required members may be added as needed, to include:
    • An advisor/expert in a “distant” location
    • Post-Docs with an appropriate level of expertise

PhD Qualifying Examination

General Principles

The major purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine whether or not the student meets minimum criteria (at the doctoral level) in nursing science and research methods. The examination is designed to test the student’s knowledge related to analysis and synthesis of the graduate program course content including elective courses. The examination will focus on the student's ability to synthesize knowledge and principles relative to their focus of study. It is recommended that all required course work for the PhD degree be completed prior to taking the qualifying examination.

Specific Procedures

The dissertation chair, in consultation with the student, determines the student’s readiness to take the qualifying examination and sets the date for the examination.

  1. The student files a Notification of Intent form (found within the UBlearns PhD site) with the Office of Student Services, who will send a copy to the assistant dean for the PhD program.
  2. The dissertation committee writes the examination questions and administers and grades the examination. The examination will include questions testing the synthesis of theory, research and specialized substantive knowledge. Research questions will require the student to analyze nursing and related research, including specialized substantive knowledge, and to discuss specific research and statistical issues in general terms.  Responses to the questions should include illustrative examples. The student is given a take-home examination consisting of multiple parts; each part is to be completed within a specified time (i.e., 3-5 days). Parts of the examination may include theory, research and the student’s substantive or research interest area.  All of the questions can be given at the beginning of the examination and each part returned to the dissertation committee chair at an agreed upon time; or, one question can be given at the beginning of the examination and, upon returning it for correction, the student may receive the next question, etc.
  3. The examination should be typed (double spaced) using a 12 point font and submitted to the dissertation chair electronically.
  4. The examination will be graded individually by each member of the dissertation committee using the Qualifying Examination Evaluation form (found in UBlearns PhD site).
    • Each question and the examination as a whole is graded "pass" or "fail."
    • If the dissertation committee is not unanimous in its decision about the grade, members will meet as a group to discuss an area in which there were marked differences in evaluation.
    • At the committee's discretion, another written and/or oral examination of the student may be held to address areas of ambiguity in the student's written response.
    • If there is still disagreement about the student's performance, the decision of "pass" or "fail" will be made by majority vote.
  5. If the student passes the qualifying examination, the dissertation chair and each member of the dissertation committee signs the Examination Evaluation form and submits it to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the assistant dean for the PhD program.  If the student fails the qualifying examination, the chair of the dissertation committee sends a written memo indicating such to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the assistant dean for the PhD program.  A failed examination may be repeated once without penalty. A second failure will result in dismissal from the program. The assistant dean for the PhD program will be informed by the chair of the dissertation committee of the second failure and will notify the student that he or she is dismissed from the program.

PhD Dissertation Proposal Defense

  1. The student submits the dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee for review and makes revisions based on recommendations of the dissertation committee.
  2. A date for the dissertation proposal defense is mutually decided upon by the student and the dissertation committee.
  3. The date and time of the dissertation proposal defense must be posted on the nursing faculty and doctoral student listservs at least 10 working days in advance of the scheduled defense to allow interested students and faculty the opportunity to attend. The student makes arrangements for the room, equipment and availability of IT to facilitate the participation of students/public attendees.
  4. A copy of the dissertation proposal must be made available for review on the PhD program information center on UBlearns as a PDF file. The student should provide a copy of the proposal 10 days prior to defense to the administrative staff of the PhD program, who will upload the file to UBlearns. All proposals shall have on the cover page “Privileged Communication. Do Not Copy.” No hard copy is required.
  5. The presentation should include:
    • Purpose of the dissertation
    • Background justification and significance
    • Contribution of the dissertation to theory development and/or testing
    • Theoretical framework
    • Research questions and/or hypotheses
    • Detailed description of methodology (for example, design, setting of the study, sample, measurement, data collection procedures and/or protocols, data analysis)
    • Scope and limitations of proposed research

Presentation of the proposal should continue to be made in the traditional (in-person, on-campus) manner and be limited to approximately 30 minutes. Limited exceptions to an on-campus presentation will be granted at the discretion of the assistant dean for the PhD program in consultation with the dissertation chair and PhD Committee.

Immediately following the student’s formal presentation, questions and comments will be moderated by the dissertation chair beginning with questions from the dissertation committee followed by questions from the public. Following the formal presentation, the dissertation committee, in private session, decides whether or not the student’s proposal is approved unconditionally, approved with modifications, or should be rewritten. The dissertation committee chair submits written notification regarding the outcome of the proposal defense to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the assistant dean for the PhD program Dissertation Proposal Defense form (found in PhD UBlearns site).

PhD Dissertation Format

The dissertation should be an original contribution to the field as determined by the dissertation committee. Doctoral dissertations will be written in English.

It is the responsibility of the candidate and the dissertation chair to ensure that the standards of organization, presentation and documentation traditionally prescribed for publication in nursing are observed. Similarly, all copies of the dissertation must be substantially free of errors before they are submitted to the dissertation chair for final approval before the M-form is signed and the dissertation is prepared for electronic submission. 

Guidelines for Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Preparation and Submission

PhD Final Defense of the Dissertation

The final defense is a public event scheduled by the dissertation chair and student that is attended by the candidate’s dissertation committee, members of the faculty from the School of Nursing and the University as well as interested community partners and guests. The date and time of the dissertation must be posted on the nursing faculty and doctoral student listservs at least 10 working days in advance of the scheduled defense to allow interested students and faculty the opportunity to attend. The student makes arrangements for the room and equipment, and contacts IT to arrange accessibility to remote attendees. A copy of the dissertation must be made available for review at least 10 days prior to defense in PDF form on the PhD program Information site on UBlearns. The student should provide a copy to the administrative staff of the PhD program who will upload the document.

Presentation of the dissertation should be conducted in the traditional (in-person, on-campus) manner and be limited to approximately 30 minutes.  Limited exceptions to an on-campus presentation will be granted at the discretion of the assistant dean for the PhD program in consultation with the dissertation chair and PhD Committee.

Immediately following the student’s presentation, questions and comments will be moderated by the dissertation chair beginning with questions from the dissertation committee followed by questions from the public. Following the public defense, the dissertation committee will meet privately to determine the outcome of the dissertation defense.  Following a successful defense, the dissertation committee chair will send the completed Dissertation Defense Approval Form to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the assistant dean of the PhD program. If the defense is unsuccessful, the dissertation committee chair will send a written memo indicating such to the Office of Student Services with a copy to the assistant dean for the PhD program. The dissertation committee has final approval of the dissertation.

Survey of Earned Doctorates

Changes within PhD Committees when Graduate Faculty Leave UB

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