Doctoral Program in Nursing

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Program at UMass Lowell provides study in health promotion. Graduates will advance knowledge in health promotion for individuals, families, groups, and communities.

The Ph.D. Program
Admission Requirements
Degree Requirements
Course of Study
Qualifying Examination
Health Promotion Studies
Health Promotion Program of Studies

The Ph.D. Program

The goals of the Ph.D. program are to develop nurse scholars who (a) demonstrate leadership roles as researchers, clinical scientists and educators; (b) create new knowledge in the area of health promotion; and (c) improve the health of diverse populations through the development, implementation and evaluation of health promotion interventions and strategies.

The Ph.D. program was established in 1996 as a collaborative effort with the University of Massachusetts Boston Nursing Ph.D. program that provides study in health policy. Two programs share some faculty resources and scholarly activities.

Admission Requirements

Students who wish to apply for admission to the Ph.D. program must submit a graduate admission application form. The graduate application form can be obtained from the UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions Office.

Additional requirements include:

  1. A master’s degree and/or B.S. degree in nursing with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.3 (Applicants who hold a non-nursing master’s degree but have a B.S. in nursing, who have established professional records in nursing, and who show potential for success in the Ph.D. program will be considered for admission on an individual basis) 
  2. A current Massachusetts R.N. license or eligibility (International students may waive this requirement and will be evaluated on an individual basis); 
  3. A minimum of two years of professional nursing experience; 
  4. Evidence of successful completion of a graduate course in statistics, which may include multivariate and bivariate analysis; 
  5. An official report of scores on the general aptitude sections of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) within the past five years; 
  6. Two official transcripts of all previous academic records (both graduate and undergraduate); 
  7. A personal statement about the applicant’s interest in the program and professional goals; 
  8. Three letters of recommendation including at least two from individuals who can assess the applicant’s academic preparation for doctoral work.

The Ph.D. Admissions Committee is chaired by the Ph.D. Program Director and comprised of at least two faculty members who teach in the graduate program. The Admission Committee will interview applicants and make the final decision. There are three types of decisions: (1) Accept, (2) Accept with conditions, or (3) Denied.

The application process is described as follows:

  • Applicants log onto Graduate Admissions website to obtain all required application forms and documents.
  • Prepare application documents.
  • Submit all required application documents to the UML Graduate Admissions.
  • The Graduate Admissions Office forwards all applicant documents to Director of Ph.D. Program in Nursing.
  • Ph.D. Admission Committee reviews all applicants.
  • Ph.D. Admission Committee conducts interview.
  • Ph.D. Admission Committee decides acceptance or denial of the applicant.
  • The Decision is submitted to Graduate Admissions.
  • Applicant receives a letter from Graduate Admissions for either acceptance or denial.
  • Accepted students will receive a official letter from Director of the Ph.D. Program.

Degree Requirements

The doctoral program in health promotion requires a total of 60 semester credits beyond the master’s degree. These credits are distributed as follows:

Nursing Core Courses 9
Health Promotion Courses 9
Research Core Courses 27*
Cognate Courses 9
Elective Courses 6
Total Credits 60 credits

*Includes 12 dissertation credits

Course of Study

33:701 Philosophy of Science 3
33:703 Research in Nursing and Health Promotion 3
33:709 Intervention Development in Nursing and Health Promotion 3
Total Credits 9 credits

33:710 Statistics I 3
33:704 Research Methods I 3
33. 706 Research Methods II[1] 3
33:711 Statistics II 3
33:716 Qualitative Methods 3
33:753[2] Dissertation
33:753  Dissertation
33:753  Dissertation
33:753  Dissertation
Total Required 27 credits

33:707 Epidemiology of Health Promotion 3
33:702 Theoretical Foundation for Health Promotion 3
33:712 Research Apprenticeship in Health Promotion  3
Total Required 9 credits
Total Required 9 credits
Total Required 6 credits
Total Program Credits Required: 60 credits

[1] 33.714 Advanced statistics course at UMB and 33.717 Evaluation Research course are considered as an option for Research Method II course.

[2] 33.753, 33756, and 33.759 are dissertation course numbers. 33.753 is a 3 credit-dissertation course number; 33:756 for 6 credits/semester and the course number 33:759 for 9 credits/semester.

[3] Cognate courses (9 credit hours) are designed for students to study specifically in their area of research interest. Department of Nursing offers the course Curriculum and Teaching in Nursing – 33.713 to prepare doctoral students for the role of nurse educator. Students shall consult with their advisors and the Ph.D. Program Director for selection of cognate courses.  

Nursing Qualifying Examination

Students must pass a Nursing Qualifying Examination (NQE) at the completion of the first thirty-six credits of required core course work before enrolling in subsequent courses. Upon successful completion of the NQE and all required course work, the student will be designated a candidate for the Ph.D. in Nursing.


Dissertation planning may be initiated in the first year, but formal work begins following successful completion of the Nursing Qualifying Examination. At this time a Dissertation Committee is formed to direct the student’s research. The dissertation requirement is designed to demonstrate that the student has acquired a substantial body of knowledge related to the selected field of study, has developed the ability to use appropriate data analysis methods, and has contributed to the advancement of nursing knowledge related to health care policy or health promotion, and the student’s dissertation work must be original.

Health Promotion Studies

Studies in health promotion, concentrated at UMass Lowell will prepare graduates to conduct research studies that target behavioral and social factors as areas of intervention for health promotion and disease prevention at the individual, group, family and community levels. Faculty and students will engage in research that develops, implements and evaluates interventions of health promotion. Graduates will be prepared for careers as researchers, clinical scientists, and educators who:

  1. Create change in health care delivery through the development and implementation of health promotion programs/interventions.
  2. Extend the knowledge base of nursing in health promotion through research and theory development.
  3. Contribute to health promotion policy development and evaluation at local, regional, and national levels.
  4. Develop and implement health promotion interventions to achieve high levels of wellness in target populations.
  5. Assume leadership roles in the identification and resolution of health promotion needs across the lifespan.

Health Promotion Program of Studies

Core Courses:

Philosophy of Science 3 credits

Research in Nursing and Health Promotion 3 credits

Intervention Development in Health Promotion 3 credits

TOTAL: 9 credits

Research Courses:

Statistical Methods 6 credits

Research Methods 6 credits

Qualitative Methods 3 credits

Dissertation 12 credits

TOTAL: 27 credits

Concentration Courses:

Epidemiological Foundations of Health Promotion 3 credits

Theoretical Foundations for Health Promotion and Nursing 3 credits

Research Apprenticeship in Health Promotion 3 credits

TOTAL: 9 credits

Cognate Courses

Three 3-credit courses selected to complement the individual student’s academic focus

TOTAL: 9 credits

Elective Courses

TOTAL: 6 credits

Cumulative Total: 60 credits


This Ph.D. program is offered jointly by the Boston and Lowell campuses of the University of Massachusetts. Faculty from both campuses participate according to the focus of the respective campus Nursing Departments: Boston - Health Policy; Lowell - Health Promotion. For more information on the faculty for this joint program, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator: 

Barbara Mawn, PhD, RN
Director, PhD Program in Nursing