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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.

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 Advisor / Major Faculty Adviser / Advisory Committee

As part of the doctoral student admission process, an initial academic (major) advisor will be appointed for the student. The student may request a change of academic advisor following Graduate School guidelines to allow for evolving research interests and changing circumstances.

The student and the advisor will complete the process for the selection and appointment of the student's advisory committee. The dissertation chair may or may not be the student's academic advisor but must be a member of the student's advisory committee. All advisory committee members must have graduate faculty status.

Co-advisors are allowed for any state of doctoral studies. Students will also receive guidance from the associate director for student services and the Ph.D. program director to assist with student inquiries specific to the Ph.D. program and degree.

Additional details about 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 faculty 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 19
Statistics * 6
Electives 9-12* *Must include one additional statistics or research methods course
Dissertation 23-26
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.

Elective courses must be approved by the student's faculty advisor prior to inclusion on the plan of study.

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 31
Statistics / Research Methods 6
Electives 27-30* *Must include one additional statistics or research methods course
Dissertation 23-26
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.

Elective courses must be approved by the student's faculty advisor prior to inclusion on the plan of study.

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.

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.

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

Annual Review

In accordance with Graduate School requirements the student's academic advisor and committee are expected to conduct an annual formal review oft he student's progress toward degree completion, including assessment of satisfactory performance in coursework and completion of dissertation goals. The review will include a written evaluation summary documenting review findings and include discussion of progress, future recommendations and the opportunity for student input and rebuttal. The annual review form is posted in D2L, NURS 114 in the content area.

Comprehensive Written Examination: Student Portfolio

The purpose of the Comprehensive Written Examination is to assess the doctoral student’s progress in attainment of program competencies and student learning outcomes, including mastery of research processes and integration of knowledge commensurate with expectations of the PhD degree and Graduate School requirements.

Commencing with nursing PhD students admitted in Fall 2021 and thereafter, a Student Portfolio will be used to satisfy the Comprehensive Written Exam requirement. The Student Portfolio documents the student’s accomplishments in meeting the program competencies and student learning outcomes of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing program. Deliverables in each portfolio component demonstrate academic and professional growth and development in an organized, coherent format to facilitate monitoring and evaluation by the student’s major advisor and advisory committee.

In collaboration with the major advisor, the student is responsible for creating a program timeline to fulfill portfolio requirements and scheduling regular meetings, according to the timeline, with their advisor and advisory committee to review progress in selecting and completing the portfolio components. Periodically during the program and when the student has completed or is nearing completion of coursework, the portfolio may be submitted to the student’s major advisor and advisory committee for evaluation. Upon successful completion of portfolio components and passing the exam as determined by the advisory committee, the student may progress to the Comprehensive Oral Exam.

The student must be enrolled in at least one NURS 898 dissertation credit when the comprehensive written examination is taken. Student portfolio documents are posted in D2L, NURS 114.

Comprehensive Oral Examination

Upon passing the comprehensive written examination, the doctoral student will work with the major adviser and advisory committee to schedule the comprehensive oral examination through the Graduate School. A minimum of 21 calendar days must transpire between official notification to the student of successful completion of the comprehensive written examination and the comprehensive oral examination attempt.

The doctoral student will meet with the major advisor and advisory committee for approximately 2 hours during which questions about the written examination portfolio document and required coursework will guide the discussion for the Comprehensive Oral Examination. Distance technology may be used providing the student is present with at least one College of Nursing committee member. The advisory committee will designate the outcome as either a Pass or Fail. Passing requires the approval of the Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one other advisory 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 Comprehensive Examination, using Graduate School policies.

The student must be enrolled in at least one NURS 898 Dissertation credit when the Comprehensive Oral Examination is taken. Upon satisfactory completion of both the Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations, the student is formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. The student may use the designation of Doctoral Candidate to signify PhD candidacy. The abbreviation PhD(c) and variations are not recognized credentials and should not be used.

The dissertation proposal defense may be scheduled any time following successful completion of the Comprehensive Oral Examination. The PhD Comprehensive Oral Exam Checklist and the Comprehensive Exam rubric are posted 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.

After achieving candidacy, Ph.D. students will discuss the timing and number of dissertation credits taken each semester with their faculty research advisor who may or may not be their academic advisor). This information will be provided to the academic advisor for registration purposes.

Each semester, students who register for dissertation credits must collaborate with the faculty research adviser to develop a NURS 989 dissertation student contract describing contracted activities and expected outcomes for the respective credits that semester which must be completed to receive a satisfactory grade. Failure to meet the semester expected outcomes will result in a "U" grade requiring registration in additional dissertation credits towards the plan of study.

The student contract form is posted in D2L in NURS 114.

Dissertation Proposal and Review Meeting
Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

Upon achieving candidacy, the student may schedule the dissertation proposal review. The purpose of the dissertation research proposal review meeting is the assure the proposed research is original, feasible, rigorous, methodologically sound and meetings program expectations before granting approval to proceed with the proposed research.

  • The student is expected to complete training and hold valid certification on the protection of human research participants as required by the university at the time of the proposal. 
  • The proposal is expected to provide written information typically found in a dissertation proposal or the equivalent - Chapters 1: Introduction, 2: Review of the Literature, and 3: Methodology, or an alternate form as the advisory committee directs.
  • The proposal will address provisions for research compliance and protection of human subjects. This may include supportive documents such as participant invitation and consent forms, protocols, risk and benefit analysis, and a completed Human Subjects Research Application form. Proposals will not be submitted to the Human Subjects Committee until approved by the advisory committee. Multiple applications for human subjects protection may be required depending on institutional requirements and where data is collected. 
  • The proposal will include correspondence authorizing use or modification of tools to be used in the proposed research.
  • At the review meeting, the student will make a 20 minute presentation on the dissertation proposal and timetable for completion of the proposed research. The advisory committee will ask questions and engage in dialogue about all aspects of the proposed research and may offer suggestions or proposed revisions or improvements before rendering a decision. 
  • The committee decision options are to approve unconditionally, approve with recommendations, or to disapprove authorization to proceed with the proposed research and submission of the Human Subjects Research application. Approval with recommendations may require a second committee review at the discretion of the advisory committee. 
  • With advisory and human subjects committee(s) approvals, the student may begin data collection. 
Any student collecting data with human subjects must have current CPR certification and must carry malpractice insurance. The Ph.D. dissertation proposal checklist and the rubric for dissertation proposal grading are posted in D2L, NURS 114.

Manuscript Dissertation Requirement

The dissertation for SDSU Nursing Ph.D. program students admitted in the fall 2019 and thereafter will be written in the form of a manuscript dissertation (MDIS) consisting of a minimum of three manuscripts suitable for publication. The traditional five-chapter dissertation is not an option.

Upon completion of the dissertation research, the student follows the MDIS guidelines and submits the final dissertation document to the advisory committee at least 20 working days prior to the final examination/dissertation defense. MDIS guidelines are posted in D2L, NURS 114.

Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

The student negotiates and arranges the Final Examination/Dissertation Defense exam date, time, and location with the major advisor and advisory committee. Distance technology may be used providing the student is present with at least one College of Nursing committee member for the exam. The student submits the final oral examination form online to the Graduate School at least 10 working days prior to the final examination/dissertation defense. The final examination/dissertation defense must occur prior to the Graduate School deadline for that semester. College of Nursing staff are available to assist with arranging the location and technology needs.

This final oral examination of approximately 2 hours is conducted by the advisory committee beginning with a 20-30 minute summarization of the dissertation research by the student open to the public with opportunities for questions and answers. The advisory committee and student then enter closed session discussion. The major focus is on the dissertation research and the student’s ability to defend the research but may include questions about the student’s general knowledge, judgment, critical thinking, educational journey, and future scholarly pursuits.

Following the presentation and discussion, the student is dismissed for closed committee discussion. The advisory committee will designate the outcome as either a Pass or Fail. The advisor will notify the student of the decision. Passing requires the approval of the Graduate Faculty Representative and all but one other advisory committee member. Comments are required to support a Fail. The major advisor will submit required committee decision paperwork following Graduate School policies.

Refer tot he Graduate Catalog for requirements on final submission of the dissertation. The dissertation defense rubric is posted in D2L, NURS 114.