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Students with experience or interest in leading the transformation of health care through nursing education and research are sought for the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Doctor of Philosophy program. Ideal students want to focus on important societal health issues through the work of advancing health and improving the systems that provide health services.

Bills Randall, R.N., Ph.D.—Class of 2020


Graduates of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing are prime candidates for formal leadership positions. Graduates exercise leadership through scientific approaches, vision, initiative, cultural inclusiveness, teamwork, and a commitment to assuring health care is highly effective, compassionate and accessible.

The full-time, academic, doctoral program prepares graduates as leaders in health care, health policy and education and research at the university level to:

  • conduct transformative research
  • educate health professionals and researchers
  • effect system change
  • influence and implement policy
  • advance health from multiple settings

Doctoral students take core courses plus electives and must complete a dissertation. The doctoral program is a four-year program and requires full-time enrollment. Core courses are offered fall, winter and spring quarters (not summer). Students in the doctoral program should expect to be on campus at least three days a week. Students should expect that some quarters, they need to be available on certain weekends and evenings. Course schedules vary each quarter by individual student areas of interest. Electives vary for all students and are conducted on both the Sacramento and Davis campuses.

For more information about whether it is best to pursue a Ph.D. degree or a D.N.P. degree based upon your career goals, please click here.

A mandatory Leadership Immersion Week serves as an orientation for students. This full-time, three-day experience runs Wednesday through Friday the week before fall quarter begins. Throughout the week, students experience nursing leadership, team building and develop faculty relationships. The coursework provided that week serves as the foundation for the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate program curriculum.

Required courses for the doctoral program include a combination of core courses and electives. Students work with their advisers to select electives appropriate to their areas of interest.

  • International graduate requirements
  • Full time enrollment (12 units per quarter) is required.
  • Required courses for the doctoral-degree program include a combination of core and elective courses. A series of courses in research methods is also required.
  • Doctoral students are required to pass an oral qualifying examination. The intent of the oral qualifying examination is to determine whether the student is adequately prepared and sufficiently intellectually independent to conduct doctoral-level research. The exam may include both an oral component as well as the student’s proposal for the dissertation research.
  • A doctoral dissertation is required. Students will enroll in dissertation units as full-time students after the qualifying exam until the dissertation is complete.
  • Ph.D. students are expected to complete the program in four years.

Program goals for the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership are:

  1. Develop leadership skills to transform health care.
  2. Evaluate and integrate multiple interprofessional/interdisciplinary perspectives to work and communicate as teams.
  3. Generate nursing science to improve health and reshape health systems through transformative research.
  4. Integrate cultural inclusiveness in research, practice, leadership and community engagement.
  5. Create, evaluate, and integrate engaged and interactive approaches to nursing education, research and practice using innovative technology.