PhD in Nursing Program

exterior view of the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies building
Admission application deadline for September 2021 program start is Jan 15, 2021


Prepare nurse scholars who can conduct independent research and assume leadership in settings including academia, research centres, healthcare settings, and government.


Foster the development of transformative knowledge and innovations in three areas of scholarship:

  • Health for persons and communities. Focuses on developing knowledge that informs the promotion and positive transformation of health across the lifespan (i.e., children, youth, adults, and older adults) at the individual, group, community, and global level.
  • Healthcare services and systems: Aims at transforming healthcare services and systems through research, leadership, policy development, and organizational change, in order to enhance health, quality of life and system accessibility, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Education in nursing: Aims at expanding knowledge on high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and continuing nursing education through research, transformative and caring pedagogies and other innovations in teaching-learning approaches and practices to support the development and sustainment of excellence in nursing practice.


Graduates will:

  1. have a substantive knowledge base in a selected area of scholarship;
  2. advance the discipline of nursing through knowledge generation i.e., research and theory development to inform nursing practice and education, policy development, and high quality healthcare;
  3. provide leadership in nursing, in the health care system, and within interdisciplinary teams through activities such as knowledge generation and mobilization; and/or
  4. provide education in undergraduate and/or graduate and/or continuing nursing education programs that will prepare the next generation of nurses for careers across a full range of practice domains (clinical practice, nursing education, research, and leadership).

Admission Requirements

  1. Master's of Science in Nursing (MScN/MSc Nursing) degree, with a minimum grade point average of B+ calculated over the courses of the program. Will also consider: students with a Master’s in Nursing (MN) with the minimum grade point average and substantial research experience or equivalent; and students who are registered nurses with a Master’s degree in another discipline and have the minimum grade point average, substantial research (or equivalent), and nursing experience;
  2. Three satisfactory letters of reference (e.g., minimum rating of ‘good’ in all letters), including: a) an academic reference from a faculty member who taught the applicant at the graduate level; b) a reference from a direct workplace supervisor of the applicant within the past 5 years; and c) a nurse in a leadership position who can evaluate the applicant’s actual and potential contributions in the profession of nursing;
  3. Statement of academic, research, and professional plans - clearly stated, logically developed, and congruent with the PhD program;
  4. Identified supervisor: The applicant will have identified a supervisor from the PhD program faculty who agrees to be the dissertation supervisor. Complete the form "PhD Supervisor Applicant Form (.pdf)" and upload to myfile.
  5. For applicants who have not completed four full years of studies at the secondary-school level or university level in a country where English is a primary language or where English is the primary language of instruction, they must demonstrate their language proficiency in English. Accepted tests include TOEFL, IELTS, YELT and others. Detailed scores can be found here:

How to Apply:

Applying for admission to the PhD program is a 2-step process:

  1. Fill out the Online application, then wait one week minimum for your York reference/student number and access to myfile account
  2. Once you have access to myfile please start uploading all the additional documents required before the deadline. Note:Referee information is added to myfile by the applicant and the university contacts the referees for a reference. Applicants can initially upload unofficial transcripts to their myfile but if admitted to the program students right away must provide all official transcripts to York University (mailing address).

Program Requirements

The program requirements include coursework, a dissertation proposal examination, and a dissertation:

1) Courses
Students are required to complete a minimum of 18 credits, to be completed in the first two academic calendar years (5 terms) of the doctoral program. Of the 18 credits, 12 are required, and the remaining 6 are elective. Students will participate in Doctoral Seminars (no credits) in Years 1 and 2.

  • Required (12 credits): GS/NURS 7000 6.0 – Philosophical Foundations of Contemporary Nursing Science; GS/NURS 7005 6.0 – Research Approaches in Nursing Science
  • Electives (6 credits): Two 3-credit electives at the graduate (Master’s or PhD) level, inside or outside Nursing. Electives will be chosen by the student in consultation with her/his supervisor.
  • Required non-credit courses: GS/NURS 7015 0.0 – Doctoral Seminar Year I; GS/NURS 7020 0.0 – Doctoral Seminar Year II

2) GS/NURS 7105 0.0 - PhD Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal Defense

The examination/defense is conducted after coursework is completed. The PhD Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal Defense must be successfully completed within 28 months after starting the PhD program.

3) Dissertation GS/NURS 7100 0.0 – Dissertation
The dissertation will normally take four to six terms (two calendar years) and involves:

  1. completion of independent, original research that makes a contribution to nursing scholarship in the student’s area of focus;
  2. the preparation of a traditional dissertation or equivalent (i.e., three publication quality papers); and
  3. the successful completion of an oral examination.

The following faculty members are currently available to supervise PhD students:

Lillie Lum
Mahdieh (Fay) Dastjerd
Mary Fox
Patricia Bradley
Elsabeth Jensen
Christine Jonas-Simpson
Nazilla Khanlou
Christine Kurtz-Landy
Tsorng-Yeh Lee
Judith MacDonnell
Eva Peisachovich
Beryl Pilkington
Shahirose Premji
Mina Singh
Cheryl van-Daalen Smith

**Please note that graduation from the Ph.D. program in Nursing does not confer status as a Registered Nurse in the Province of Ontario.  For information on how to qualify for practice as a Registered Nurse in Ontario, please visit  the CNO website **