PhD in Nursing Program Overview

College of Nursing Doctoral Students

Welcome to the College of Nursing PhD Program. Our program is clearly focused on the preparation of teacher-scholars who will be well-prepared to help alleviate the national nursing shortage by preparing diverse student populations for the delivery of nursing services.

Our program is also designed to be flexible in meeting your learning needs. The curriculum is implemented using a fall and spring semester distance learning approach complemented by on-campus summer sessions. A non-distance learning option is available for international students. Whether you are on campus or at home, the College provides you with a personalized experience -- one of the hallmarks of a Villanova Nursing program. We look forward to hearing from you.

Designed to prepare nurses as teacher-scholars for academic careers in higher education, this program builds upon baccalaureate and masters preparation in nursing, through emphasis on research and theory development. Villanova's program is distinguished by its special focus on the application of nursing knowledge and scholarly inquiry that address professional and practice concerns as they relate to teaching-learning processes in clinical as well as educational settings.

The program is driven by Augustinian Catholic values that characterize the mission of the University: the unity of knowledge, the holistic nature of human beings, the importance of community, the discovery of truth and a commitment to addressing the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

The College of Nursing, established in 1953, has a reputation of excellence and is highly respected for its contribution to graduate education, which commenced in 1980. Nursing deans, faculty and leaders in higher education throughout the United States and abroad are alumni of its programs.

The PhD Program in Nursing seeks to educate graduates who will be well prepared to teach diverse populations of students in a variety of educational and clinical settings using state of the art technology; who will be equipped to provide leadership as the architects of curricula and members of evaluative bodies; who will be active contributors to the advancement and development of research; and who will be active participants in the various roles of faculty within academic institutions.


The Doctoral Program is designed to prepare teacher-scholars in nursing for academic careers in higher education.

Graduates of the PhD program will be able to:

  • Conduct research that generates, tests, refines or extends theory and knowledge relevant to culturally competent nursing and nursing education.
  • Evaluate critically and synthesize research findings for building knowledge that advances culturally competent nursing and nursing education, and use that knowledge in education, research, advocacy, policy development and leadership.
  • Assume the role of academic nurse educator with the ability to design varied learning opportunities in clinical and didactic settings using diverse teaching strategies to meet the needs of diverse populations.
  • Collaborate with other disciplines in health research and preparation of culturally competent health care providers responsive to the needs and concerns of society.
  • Collaborate with others to improve health care for underserved and minority populations at risk for health disparities.

About the classes

The program combines innovative, traditional modalities and delivered predominately using distance learning technology combined with an on-campus feel. Fall and Spring classes are delivered via distance learning and are scheduled between 4:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on two weeknights, Monday through Friday. Summer semester classes are taught on VU campus. All students are required to attend the summer sessions while they are enrolled in course work. Designed as a 51-credit program, the length of the program will vary depending on previous education, currency of graduate education and individual needs.

Students will begin the program with an orientation at the beginning of Summer Session I (late May/early June). At that time students will continue their on-campus course work over a period of two to three weeks.

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Important Notices for Online Prospective and Current Students

The following page includes important information regarding the University’s authorization status, students’ responsibilities related to relocation and programs leading to professional licensures, and the complaint process for online students.

>>Notices for Distance Education Programs.pdf

Application Deadline

December 1 deadline to apply to the PhD Program

My view

“I chose to enter the Ph.D. in Nursing Program because my intention is to pursue a future in research and higher education. Villanova University’s Ph.D. prepares me to join my clinical background with an academic career in nursing education and scholarship.”
—Amanda Jenkinson, M.S., R.N., OCN


Authorization and accreditation

Villanova University is authorized by the Pennsylvania Department of Higher Education to grant the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Doctoral programs in nursing do not have specialized accreditation. Doctoral programs exist within regionally accredited universities. Villanova University is accredited by the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education.