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Section XI: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree Specific Program Option Information

Introduction

The South Dakota State University Doctoral Program’s inaugural year was fall 2005. The purpose of the Ph.D. in Nursing is to prepare nurse scientists who will serve as researchers, faculty members, and health care administrators with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention in underserved and rural populations, health outcomes, and nursing education. The Ph.D. program is based on the belief that nursing science can make a significant and original contributions to nursing knowledge and practice. The programs outcomes are as follows

At the completion of the program, the graduate will demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. Conduct original research relevant to the discipline of nursing.
  2. Integrate nurse scholar and scientist role components of research, teaching, leadership, mentoring, and services to the profession.
  3. Contribute to the advancement and dissemination of nursing science.

Approved by the Ph.D. teaching team
February 26, 2018

Academic (Major) Advisor / Advisory Committee

As part of the admission process, the doctoral student will select a graduate faculty member who will serve as the major advisor or dissertation chair. The student and the dissertation chair will discuss the selection of the student’s Advisory Committee.

Each student will also receive guidance from the Ph.D. Specialty Coordinator. The Coordinator will assist with student inquiries specific to the Ph.D. program/degree.

This process, the makeup of the committee, and the role of the Advisory Committee are described in the South Dakota State University Graduate Catalog.

Plan of Study

The major advisor and the student will develop an initial Plan of Study.Once the Advisory Committee is formed, the Plan of Study will be approved by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee and student must meet at least once a year or more frequently as needed.

Plan of Study Course Requirements

Total Credits Required

60-Credit Plan of Study

A minimum of 60 credits is required for a doctorate beyond the master’s degree.

Plan of Study Component

Credit Requirements

Nursing Core

17

Statistics *

6

Research Practicum

3

Electives

12-15*

*Must include one additional statistics or research methods course

Dissertation

19-22

TOTAL MINIMUM CREDITS

60

Forty (40) credits required for the degree must be earned in the program. Dissertation and transfer credits may apply. Not all courses need to be in a single department or area, but all courses should be closely related to the program area.

The Advisory Committee may require more credits than the minimum listed previously if it believes the extra requirements are in the best interest of the student.

*Statistics courses that have been approved to meet the minimum 6 credit statistics requirement for the Ph.D. in Nursing Plan of Study are as follows:

  • HSC 631 – Biostatistics I (SDSU)
  • HSC 731 – Biostatistics II (SDSU)

Statistics courses other than HSC 631 and HSC 731 on a student’s Plan of Study must be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing to be eligible to meet the statistics requirement.

90-Credit Plan of Study

A minimum of 90 credits is required for a doctorate beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Plan of Study Component

Credit Requirements

Nursing Core

32

Statistics / Research Methods

6

Research Practicum

3

Electives

27-30*

*Must include one additional statistics or research methods course

Dissertation

19-22

TOTAL MINIMUM CREDITS

90

Sixty (60) credits required for the degree must be earned in the program. Dissertation and transfer credits may apply. Not all courses need to be in a single department or area, but all courses should be closely related to the program area.

*Statistics courses that have been approved to meet the minimum 6 credit statistics requirement for the Ph.D. in Nursing Plan of Study are as follows:

  • HSC 631 – Biostatistics I (SDSU)
  • HSC 731 – Biostatistics II (SDSU)

Statistics courses other than HSC 631 and HSC 731 on a student’s Plan of Study must be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing to be eligible to meet the statistics requirement.

Minor or Supporting Courses (if required)

Few programs require a minor. Please see departmental requirements for specific minors.

Graduate Credit Requirement

Credit applied toward graduate credentials should be at the 500-level and above. At least fifty (50) percent of the credits on a plan of study must be in courses 600-series or above.

Language Requirement

There is no general language requirement for the Doctoral degree. However, individual departments may require a speaking or reading knowledge of a modern language other than English.

Research Practicum (variable 1-3 credits / student required to complete 3 credits)

The purpose of the research practicum is to immerse the student in actual ongoing research. This experience will increase the student’s knowledge in the methodology and with the phenomenon that the student has chosen to study. The following are examples of potential research practicum experiences:

  • Independent study linking the student to an institute that offers study in a particular methodology;
  • Preceptored research projects;
  • Work on ongoing research with an experienced researcher in the student’s chosen field of study.

The student has a major responsibility in setting up the practicum in collaboration with the Major Advisor. A contract needs to be completed by the Research Mentor, the Advisor, Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing and the doctoral student. (Appendix A-- Research Practicum Student Contract).

Costs associated with an external mentor are the responsibility of the student. An example of an external mentor would be an external methodology expert.

Ph.D. Grading Policy

(Policy #G4230)

Per the Graduate School catalog (Grades), no credit is given toward a graduate degree for any grade below ‘C’ in 500, 600, 700 or 800 level courses.

A student must earn a B or higher in each graduate nursing course to progress in the graduate nursing program. There is no rounding of grades in graduate nursing courses. If a C or lower is earned, the course must be repeated. SDSU Graduate Nursing Grading Policy #G4230.

Grading Scale:

  • A = 91 to 100
  • B = 81 to <91
  • C = 71 to <81
  • D = 61 to <71
  • F = <61

To pass a clinical course, a student must earn a grade of ‘B’ or higher in both the didactic and the clinical portion. If a ‘C’ or lower is earned in a required course, the course must be repeated in order to progress in the plan of study.

Per BOR Policy 2:8:3D: Repeated Courses: All courses taken appear on the student’s academic record, but when a course is repeated, only the most recent grade is calculated into the cumulative GPA. This policy applies to both the undergraduate and graduate coursework.

Relative to the number of repeats allowed:

  1. A student may enroll in a graduate course (for which credit it granted only once) no more than two times without permission of the Dean of the Graduate School.
  2. A student will be allowed unlimited enrollments in a graduate course for which credit toward graduation may be received more than once. An institution may limit the number of credit hours for courses that may be taken more than once that apply toward the requirements for a major.

A graduate student who needs to retake a course is re-enrolled in the course on a space available basis.

Doctoral Student Participation in Faculty Research

Faculty members are encouraged to make learning opportunities in research available to graduate students who are highly encouraged to work with them conducting research to meet degree requirements. Graduate students may be employed as graduate research assistants, or contract for practicum or independent study credit. When graduate students are involved in research and are enrolled for academic credit through research practicum or independent study, a tailored syllabus and/or contract between student and faculty member must be negotiated and signed by both faculty member and student with a copy forwarded to the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing prior to course registration. Faculty members may not award course credit or derive any course assignments in exchange for students serving to advance any part of the faculty member’s research which is unrelated to course objectives.

Doctoral Student Professional Development

Attendance at the annual conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) is required a minimum of two times (first attendance occurs during NURS 820) to encourage doctoral students to network with researchers and nurse scientists. During the third year of the program, doctoral students are required to submit an abstract to either MNRS or a professional conference of their choice to continue their professional development in the nurse scientist role.

Examinations

Interim Evaluation

Upon completion of the core (Nurs 815, Nurs 820, Nurs 825, Nurs 830) coursework on the Plan of Study, the major advisor and student will meet to evaluate the progress of the student, provide advice and counsel, recommend continuance or termination of the student’s enrollment in the program and complete the Interim Evaluation Form. The Interim Evaluation Form is located in D2L, Nurs 114.

Comprehensive Written Examination

The purpose of the Comprehensive Written Examination is to assess the doctoral student’s mastery of research processes, test the breadth of knowledge attained through doctoral coursework and evaluate his or her ability to integrate knowledge commensurate with expectations of the Ph.D. degree and Graduate School requirements.

All coursework in the doctoral student’s Plan of Study must be successfully completed before the comprehensive written examination is scheduled. The doctoral student will work with the major advisor and Advisory Committee to schedule the written examination the semester following completion of coursework, including the summer term.

The student must be enrolled in at least 1 credit of NURS 898 Dissertation during this semester.

Prior to scheduling the written examination, the doctoral student will submit to the major advisor and Advisory Committee, a list of all courses completed, a 1-2-page abstract of the dissertation research topic and proposed methodology, and a brief summary of 3 research proposal ideas different from, but related to, the dissertation topic. The proposal ideas should not be excerpts from previously written papers submitted for required coursework.

The major advisor and Advisory Committee members select the written examination topic from the three research proposal ideas submitted by the student. Then, the student schedules a start and end date for the written examination not to exceed three months.

On the written examination start date, the major advisor informs the student of the written examination topic selected from the 3 ideas submitted.

The student will then proceed to write a research proposal according to National Institutes of Health guidelines.

The written examination is an open book exploration of professional literature with citations. The student is solely responsible for producing the grant proposal without assistance. The written examination is to be submitted in written or electronic form by the designated due date. Committee members will have at least 10 working days to review the examination, then designating a Pass or Fail. A Pass requires approval of Grad Faculty Representative and all but one other Advisory Committee member. The major advisor will collate results, notify doctoral student of the committee decision, and provide Advisory Committee feedback to the doctoral student. A copy of the written examination is filed in the doctoral student’s permanent record in the Graduate Nursing office. Doctoral students who do not pass the written examination are allowed an additional attempt.

The Comprehensive Written Examination Checklist, Guidelines, and Rubric are located in D2L, Nurs 114.

Comprehensive Oral Examination

Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Written Examination, the doctoral student will work with the major advisor and Advisory Committee to schedule the Comprehensive Oral Examination through the Graduate School. A minimum of twenty-one (21) calendar days must transpire between official notification to the student of successful completion of the comprehensive written exam and the comprehensive oral examination attempt.

The doctoral student will meet with the Advisory Committee for two hours during which questions about the written examination document and required coursework will guide the discussion. Distance technology may be used providing the student is present with at least one College of Nursing committee member. The Advisory Committee will designate either a Pass or Fail. Passing requires the approval of the Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one other committee member.  Comments are required to support a Fail. The major advisor will submit required committee decision paperwork, including indication of successful completion of the Written Exam, using Graduate School policies.

Upon satisfactory completion of the Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations, the student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The student may use the designation of Doctoral Candidate to signify Ph.D. candidacy.

The dissertation proposal defense is scheduled any time following successful completion of the comprehensive Oral Examination.

The Ph.D. Comprehensive Oral Exam Checklist and the Comprehensive Exam rubric are located in D2L, Nurs 114.

Dissertation Process

Coursework should focus on the dissertation topic building a core of work in theory, statistics, research methods and literature review that will be used in the dissertation. According to the Graduate Catalog, the dissertation should advance or modify knowledge in the discipline and demonstrate the candidate's mastery of the subject (2019–2020). The dissertation may involve original research or secondary analysis of existing data from a credible source. The stipulation for any secondary analysis research is that the student develops original research questions, uses a conceptual model or framework, completes a Human Subjects Review application and develops a detailed analysis plan.

Dissertation Credit Registration and Expected Outcomes Contract

Ph.D. students will discuss with their designated faculty advisor regarding when/amount of dissertation credits that will be taken each semester. This information will be provided to the Academic Advisor for registration purposes.

In addition, each student who registers for dissertation credit must collaborate with the faculty (Major) advisor in the development of a Nurs 898D Student Contract. The contract will outline the Expected Outcomes of the credits for which the student is registered for that semester and the Contracted Activities that the student will be required to complete in order to receive a Satisfactory grade. Failure to meet the semester Expected Outcomes will result in a "U" grade which will require registration in additional credits towards the Plan of Study.

The Student Contract form is located in the D2L, Nurs 114 – Graduate Nursing course.

Dissertation Proposal Review by Advisory Committee

Upon successful completion of the Written Examination, the student will schedule a Dissertation Proposal. This examination will cover the completed Dissertation Proposal to include Human Subjects forms and an oral defense of the research proposal. This proposal meeting may be scheduled in close proximity to the Comprehensive Oral Examination if the student is ready to proceed with the Advisory Committee. The Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Checklist is found in Appendix H. The Rubric for Dissertation Proposal grading is located in D2L, Nurs 114.

Dissertation Research Proposal Review Meeting

The purpose of the dissertation research proposal review meeting is to assure the research questions are worthy of doctoral research, the literature supports the contentions of the study and the methodology is scientifically sound, feasible and suited to the research questions.

Once the major advisor has authorized the proposal, the student will distribute the dissertation proposal to the Advisory Committee ten working days ahead of the proposal review meeting.

  • The student will present 20 minutes on the dissertation proposal including a detailed timeline for implementation of the study.
  • The proposal may include chapters 1, 2 and 3 or an alternate form as the Advisory Committee directs. The proposal may also include the SDSU Human Subjects application.
  • Proposal will include drafts of supportive documents needed for Human Subjects Committee authorization such as consent forms, letters, protocols, risk/benefit analysis and Human Subjects Committee forms.
  • Authorization will not be sought from the Human Subjects Committee until the Advisory Committee has approved the study methodology and provided feedback on the supportive documents needed for Human Subjects Committee submission.
  • Proposal will include correspondence authorizing use and or modification of tools if such published tools are proposed.
  • The committee will ask questions related to the research proposal.
  • At the close of the discussion, the Advisory Committee may approve or require changes before submitting to the SDSU Human Subjects Committee for authorization to proceed with the study.

Advisory Committee members will ask questions and engage in dialogue about the feasibility and merit of the methodology.

If the committee decision is approval, the student may proceed with the methodology as outlined in the proposal under the direction of the Major Advisor. This record will be filed in the Graduate School and the College of Nursing. Candidacy will be granted by the Graduate School upon successful defense of the Comprehensive Written and Oral Exams.

During the defense, the Major Advisor takes notes and then assists the student to make revisions. Proposal revisions must be approved by the Advisory Committee before the student progresses to Institutional Review Board and data collection. All student researchers proposing to do human subjects research are required to take training in the protection of human research participants.

After the dissertation proposal has been approved and Human Subjects Committee approval is secured, the student may begin data collection. NOTE: Any student collecting data with human subjects must have current CPR certification and must carry malpractice insurance. Additional Human Subjects Approvals may be needed from agencies where data collection is completed.

Upon completion of the dissertation research study, students follow the manuscript dissertation (MDIS) guidelines and submit the final dissertation document to the Advisory Committee 10 working days prior to the Final Examination/Dissertation Defense. MDIS guidelines are posted in NURS 114 D2L.

Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

A two-hour final examination is conducted by the Advisory Committee. The major focus is on the dissertation defense and the student’s ability to defend the research. Questions to test the student’s general knowledge, judgment, and critical thinking are usually asked.

The student submits the final oral examination form online to the Graduate School ten working days prior to the Final Examination/Dissertation Defense. The Final Examination/Dissertation Defense must occur prior to the deadline for that semester as specified by the Graduate School on its calendar webpage. The dissertation follows the MDIS guidelines and is due to the Advisory Committee including the Graduate Representative 10 working days prior to the final defense. The student and the Major Advisor arrange the date, time (two hours) and location that is agreed upon by the Advisory Committee. The graduate program assistant will assist with the location and audio-visual requirements.

The Final Examination/Dissertation Defense focus is on the dissertation and the student’s ability to defend the research. Initially, the student gives a twenty to thirty-minute oral summary of the research. Following the presentation, the Advisory Committee questions the student about aspects of the dissertation research. Questions on general knowledge, judgment and critical thinking will follow the dissertation questioning (D2L, Nurs 114 - Dissertation Defense Rubric). The student is then dismissed and the committee makes its decision. The Major Advisor verbally informs the student of the committee’s decision. Refer to the Graduate Catalog for requirements on final submission of the dissertation to the library.

Time Limit

The Ph.D. must be completed within eight years from admission to the program. Should the completion be delayed beyond this time, initial coursework will be outdated and need to be updated to count toward degree completion.

Research Funding

Students are encouraged to apply for funding to support their research or program of study. There are numerous grants and traineeships available from the Federal government, professional organizations, and philanthropic programs. Please discuss possible funding sources with an advisor and contact the Office of Nursing Research for additional ideas and support. The research office contact information is available on the SDSU website.