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PhD in Nursing (Online)

PhD in Nursing (Online)

Launched in 2008, the Queen's Nursing doctoral degree has an online and in-person blended delivery model. Our experienced faculty use both synchronous and asynchronous teaching modalities to lead small graduate seminars, engaging you in a lively, critical examination of philosophy, policy and theory while you delve into your own areas of research interests.

This innovative research program will not only give you the tools you need to become an expert in clinical, theoretical, and health system issues, but it will also prepare you for a career as a leader in health research, nursing education, clinical practice, and health care administration.

Questions? Contact the graduate nursing office →

Program Overview

Our PhD program consists of six courses, five in the first year and one in the second year. There are three mandatory on-site intensive weeks ranging from 5-10 days in length, normally held in early September, mid-January, and early May of the first year of the program. After the intensive weeks, the courses continue with weekly online seminars.

Following the completion of the first-year courses, students will write the comprehensive exam and then take the sixth and final course which is designed to support students in developing a thesis proposal. After a successful oral examination of the thesis proposal, students submit their project for ethics review and then proceed to data collection, analysis, and writing. The thesis requires independent, original research and makes up at least two-thirds of the time normally required for the program.

Upper year students are expected to visit campus at least once per year, normally coinciding with the annual student research conference in spring (usually May); students are required to attend the final thesis examination in person. Nurtured by close mentoring relationships with faculty supervisors, the Queen’s model is to ensure graduate students present and publish their research, and normally complete their program in 4 years.

Additional Resources


Interprofessional Education

Interprofessional education is essential to equip health professional students with the knowledge, expertise, and fundamental values required for collaborative practice. Learn more about how Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences supports interprofessional education.


  • Mandatory onsite residency in September
  • NURS 901: Philosophy of Nursing Science (online)
  • NURS 902: Qualitative Research Methods (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with PhD supervisor) 


  • Mandatory onsite residency in January
  • NURS 900: Advanced Statistics and Analytic Techniques (online)
  • NURS 903: Advanced Quantitative Measurement, Methods and Design (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with supervisor)


  • Mandatory onsite residency in May (includes NURS 905)
  • NURS 905: Nursing, Health Services and Public Policy in Canada 
  • Prepare for comprehensive exam (independently with supervisor)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with supervisor)
  • Write comprehensive examinations in early fall
  • NURS 906: Thesis Seminar Course (online)
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with supervisor)
  • Graduate Research Day (May)
  • Oral thesis proposal exam late summer/early fall
  • Participate in Graduate Student Research Day each spring
  • NURS 999: Thesis Research (independently with supervisor)
  • Final oral thesis exam, onsite at the end of fourth year

For more course information please visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Academic Calendar.

Apply Now

Applications for Fall 2023 are now closed.

Deadline to apply: Applications for Fall 2024 are due February 1, 2024.

Applications to all graduate programs are made through the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs starting in September for admission the following year.

Please note, only complete applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee in the School of Nursing.

Apply Now

  • Master's degree in nursing science or equivalent, and a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited university.
  • Minimum overall average equivalent to B+.
  • Two academic letters of reference (e.g. course professors).
  • Statement of Interest (see Additional Required Information tab).
  • We strongly encourage applicants to contact potential supervisors before applying.
  • Applicants without an baccalaureate degree in nursing will be considered, but are strongly encouraged to contact the program prior to applying.

In addition to the online application submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, the following documents must be submitted to  

  • Statement of Interest (max. 1200 words total):
    • Describe your research experience to date (e.g. grants, publications, unpublished studies). Max. 250 words.
    • Describe your proposed plan of research. What problem do you plan to address and why? What is its importance to the disicipline? Describe a possible study design (e.g. framework, methodology). Max. 400 words.
    • Describe how you have advocated for health equity, diversity, inclusion, indigeneity, and/or accessibility (EDIIA) within the healthcare system. How has your experience influenced your career path and other pursuits to this point? Max. 300 words.
    • What will be your strategy in your personal and professional life to manage the time commitment this program requires? This can include any academic accommodations that you plan to request. Max. 250 words.
  • Proof of registration as a nurse in local province or own country; and
  • Curriculum Vitae.

The required baccalaureate degree in nursing must be equivalent to a 4-year Canadian program.

In addition to the academic requirements, applicants must provide:

Proof of registration as a registered nurse in own country (will not be required to register with College of Nurses of Ontario). International students who are not registered in Ontario will be unable to conduct thesis research that requires registration;

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose first language is not English or who have not recently studied for at least one complete year at a post-secondary institution where English is the official language of instruction, will be required to obtain satisfactory results in an English language proficiency test, as part of the application process, and before their application will be considered complete.

Please visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

As an international applicant you are not required to be registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario, but must be registered as a nurse in your own country.  If you are not registered as a nurse in Ontario during the program you will be unable to conduct thesis research that requires registration.  This limitation on thesis research topics should be considered and discussed with a potential thesis supervisor prior to submitting your application.


No, this is a full-time program only. Most of the course work involved in the program occurs in the first year and most classes are organized for Mondays and Tuesdays.

The decision on a supervisor is made by the Graduate Program Committee, following discussions between you and a potential faculty supervisor. A faculty member must be able to supervise thesis research in your area of interest and be willing to do so, given their current work commitments. It is recommended that you review profiles of faculty members on the School of Nursing website to determine if there is someone who conducts research in your area.

Normally, you should have a general area of research interest before you begin the program, but a specific thesis topic is developed as you engage in course work and discussions with your thesis supervisor. On occasion, an applicant may have a specific plan for research, but this is not typical.

The Graduate Program Committee nominates individual applicants and students for internal scholarships and awards for which they are eligible. In order to be considered for awards in the first year, your application should be completed by February 1st. You are also encouraged to apply for external scholarships and fellowships as early as possible, as some of these may then be available to you during your first year of study. These are often offered by professional organizations or associations in nursing. You may also have the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and/or research assistant.  Contact us if you would like more information about potential external funding.