Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

​This doctoral program develops nurse scientists who are expert clinical scholars equipped to provide leadership in nursing practice, research and education. The degree is designed to educate professionals for excellence in nursing scholarship through original research. Our thesis-based degree offers opportunities to become research-intensive, gain core disciplinary knowledge and develop expertise within a substantive field. Before applying, candidates are required to seek out members of our award-winning faculty who they believe would be a good “fit” with their research plans. The University of Calgary is committed to helping new doctoral students get funding support through awards, faculty research programs, teaching assistantships, and research scholarships.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Topics include philosophy of science in nursing, contemporary issues, quantitative and qualitative research and others.

  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.

  • Candidacy: Students will complete both oral and written candidacy exams.


Healthcare, community health, advanced practice nursing, pediatrics, gerontology, mental health, acute care, ICU, oncology, palliative care, maternal/child health, NICU, pulmonary care, clinical simulation, nursing research, nursing education, critical incident stress, health policy, spiritual care.

A PhD in nursing is usually considered a final degree, but may lead to post-doctoral study.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, and must agree to oversee the student's research before admission will be granted

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.


Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Karen Benzies

    Karen Benzies

    Accepting Inquiries
    Parent-Child Relationships, Early Childhood Development, Family Integrated Care, Welcome to Parenthood
  2. Eloise Carr

    Eloise Carr

    Accepting Inquiries
    Patient experience of pain, Patient and professional education in pain, Organizational aspects, Human and animal pain interactio - the HAPI project
  3. Cuthbert Headshot

    Colleen Cuthbert

    Accepting Inquiries
    Health Services Research, Cancer Survivorship, Mixed Methods
  4. Añiela dela Cruz

    Añiela dela Cruz

    Accepting Inquiries
    HIV Cascade of Care; Vulnerable Populations; Population Health Promotion; Social Determinants of Health
  5. Placeholder Profile Image

    Tam Truong Donnelly

    Accepting Inquiries
  6. Andrew Estefan

    Andrew Estefan

    Accepting Inquiries
    Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing, Gender, Sexuality, Sexual Orientation, Narrative Inquiry
  7. Kathryn King-Shier

    Kathryn King-Shier

    Accepting Inquiries
    cardiovascular health, ethno-culture, gender, access to care, secondary prevention
  8. Catherine Laing

    Catherine Laing

    Accepting Inquiries
    Pediatric and adolescent oncology; psychosocial oncology
  9. Nicole Letourneau

    Nicole Letourneau

    Accepting Inquiries
  10. Candace Lind

    Candace Lind

    Accepting Inquiries
    Adolescent/youth health promotion

Admission Requirements


A minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units).

Minimum education

Registered nurse holding CPR certification at the Basic Rescuer or Basic Cardiac Life Support or 'C' level. A masters degree with specific graduate-level coursework: One graduate-level course in quantitative methods One graduate-level course in qualitative methods One graduate-level course in statistics Exceptions may be considered.

Work samples

Samples of written scholarly work.


  • A C.V.
  • A notice of support from proposed supervisor indicating a willingness to provide supervision throughout the program
  • A study plan outlining the areas of proposed concentration, goals in undertaking doctoral work, initial intentions regarding course work, and a statement of the preliminary plans for thesis research
  • A security/police clearance letter

Reference letters

Three, one of which must be from the Master's degree supervisor.

Test scores


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:

  • TOEFL score of 97 (Internet-based). Our institution code is 0813
  • IELTS score of 7.0 (Academic version)
  • MELAB score of 83, or higher
  • PTE score of 68, or higher (Academic version)
  • Tier 3 of the International Foundations Program with minimum grades of B,B,B (Writing & Grammar, Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension & Oral Fluency)


For admission on September 1

Canadians and permanent residents: 

  • Dec. 1 application deadline (early admission)
  • Feb. 1 application deadline

International students:

  • Dec. 1 application deadline (early admission)
  • Feb. 1 application deadline

For admission on January 1

Canadians and permanent residents: 

  • Sept. 15 application deadline

International students:

  • Sept. 15 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Nursing Graduate Programs

Faculty of Nursing, Professional Faculties, Room 2279
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, ABT 2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website

Faculty of Nursing

Professional Faculties, Room 1238
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Nursing website

Related programs

If you're interested in this program, you might want to explore other UCalgary programs.