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Online PhD in Nursing

About the Program
About the Program

First offered in 2008, the PhD program at the Queen’s University School of Nursing transitioned to a blended-delivery model in Fall 2018, combining online and in-person learning. This innovative program will prepare you with the skills required to expand knowledge related to clinical, theoretical, and health system issues. Situated in an academic environment that embodies rigorous scholarship, you will be well-prepared for a career as a leader in research, clinical practice, or health care administration. Our experienced faculty members use both synchronous and asynchronous teaching modalities to lead small graduate seminars, in which you will engage in a lively, critical examination of philosophy, policy, and research, and delve into your own areas of interest.

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 defense 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 May; students are required to attend the final thesis defense 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.

Nursing PhD Map

Whether you are considering or have embarked on graduate studies at Queen’s, use this map to plan for success in five overlapping areas of your career and academic life.

Watch our Webinar Info Session to learn more about our Online PhD in Nursing. The webinar was hosted by Dr Rosemary Wilson, Associate Director of Graduate Nursing Programs.

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree in Nursing Science or equivalent
  • Minimum overall average equivalent to B+
  • Undergraduate university degree in nursing 
  • Two academic letters of reference (e.g. course professors)
  • Statement of academic, research, and professional plans. Advance contact with potential supervisors is strongly recommended. 
  • Applicants without an undergraduate university degree in nursing will be considered, and are strongly encouraged to contact us prior to applying.

The required undergraduate university nursing degree 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 for more details.

In addition to the online application submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, the following form must be completed and the following documents uploaded with the form  

Doctoral Nursing Program Questions

  • Proof of registration as a nurse in local province or own country; and
  • Copy of Curriculum Vitae (Resume).

Course Sequence

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 999 

Thesis Research (independently with Supervisor)

NURS 906

Thesis Seminar Course (online)

Graduate Student Research Day onsite in May

NURS 999

Thesis Research (independently with Supervisor)

Oral Thesis Proposal Defence late summer/early fall


Graduate Student Research Day onsite each spring

NURS 999

Thesis Research (independently with Supervisor) 

Final Oral Thesis Defence Onsite end of year 4


The application period for Fall 2021 is now closed

Deadline to apply: Applications for Fall 2021 are due February 1, 2021

Applications to all graduate programs are made through the School of Graduate Studies 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.

"I loved the collegial atmosphere provided by the caring and supportive faculty. It was at Queen's that I developed my thirst for knowledge through evidence based research."


Dean of the School of Health and Community Services at Durham College


The research programs of faculty in the School of Nursing are reflected through 3 clusters: 

Practice environments

  • Models of care
  • Leadership
  • Workplace culture, structure and health
  • Communication strategies and systems

Populations with complex conditions

  • Optimizing function and well-being
  • Multimorbidity
  • Mental health and/or addictions
  • Outcomes monitoring

Health care quality

  • Advancing safety
  • Risk assessment and reduction
  • Educational and technological innovations
  • Health system service and delivery

For more course information please visit the School of Graduate Studies Calendar

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. 


In keeping with the School of Graduate Studies policy, eligible full-time PhD students qualify for research assistantships (RA), teaching assistantships (TA), teaching fellowships (TF), Queen’s Graduate Awards (QGA), and internal awards. We encourage you to apply for additional funding through external scholarships. Entering students with federal government Tri-council awards are automatically provided a $5,000 top-up award by Queen’s.

“My experience as a student in the Doctorate of Philosophy in Nursing was so many things. The courses were taught by brilliant professors who are experts in the subject matter. I learned the fundamental skills necessary to be a successful researcher and academic. The program encourages dissemination of student research and provides opportunities for national and international networking. After completing the program, I was recruited for a tenure-track faculty position at my university of choice. I have a career that I love and the knowledge and ability to help make a difference.”

AMANDA VANDYK, RN, PHD (Queen’s 2013) 

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa

Questions? Feel free to contact us