Doctor of Nursing Science



The Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), accreditated by SACS, is designed to prepare nurse educators and scholars for leadership roles in nursing education, health policy related to vulnerable populations, and applied research. The graduate will function as a nurse leader with expertise in nursing and healthcare phenomena related to evidence-based practice, the investigative skills of an applied researcher, and the leadership skills for influencing health care systems, particularly related to population-based health disparities. The curriculum focuses on nursing education and health policy within the context of health disparities and population based health care. Coursework will prepare the graduate to evaluate and influence nursing practice and health care delivery systems, and to educate the next generation of nurses through various faculty roles.


Upon successful completion of the DNS program graduates will be able to:

  • Synthesize knowledge of the theoretical foundations of nursing and related fields.
  • Integrate acquired knowledge into a philosophical and intellectual frame of reference that can be applied to nursing education and practice-based solutions to health and health care problems.
  • Advance the body of nursing knowledge by identifying gaps in the knowledge base of practice, conducting applied research and evaluation of nursing interventions and health care outcomes, and disseminating evidence-based solutions to problems within health care.
  • Demonstrate leadership, analytical, and collaborative strategies in the development and implementation of population-based health care models and health care responses to health disparities locally and globally.
  • Demonstrate leadership, analytical, and collaborative strategies in the development and implementation of innovative and outcome focused nursing curriculum models incorporating nursing, philosophy, and education theories to facilitate student learning and success.

Admissions Process


The admissions process for the doctoral degree consists of multiple levels of review and is a highly competitive process. The admissions process begins with online application and submission of all required materials to the KSU Graduate College. When all materials have been received by the Graduate College the applicant file will be forwarded to the WellStar School of Nursing for review.


The final evaluation of applicant files is con­ducted by the WellStar School of Nursing’s Doctoral Admissions Committee. That committee, composed of doctoral program faculty representatives, employs rubrics to systematically evaluate the merits of each applicant’s admission file. The Committee’s recommendation for admission into the DNS program is based upon the Committee’s collective professional judgment of the overall merits of the applicant’s case in the context of the quality of the applicant pool and the availability of openings for doctoral student supervision with the faculty in the program’s areas of concentration. Consequently, the more qualified applicants there are for a limited number of new student openings, the more competitive the selection process becomes.


A critical aspect of the final level of review is the applicant’s interview with program faculty. Interviews are struc­tured with a predetermined set of questions to which applicants respond.


The determination of the merits of each applicant’s case focus on a number of key variables that are vitally important to a candidate’s ability to successfully complete the program at the highest level of scholarly study which includes a major applied research contribution to the profession of nursing related to leadership in nursing education or responses to health disparities. Those factors include: related undergraduate and gradu­ate degrees (master’s required); academic performance and achievement; professional practice and employment history; verbal and writing skills; quantitative and problem solving skills; evidence of professional effectiveness and ethics; evidence of professional leader­ship; compatibility with program mission and goals; and other related con­tributions and achievements of note.


Applications must be received by March 1 for Fall Admission.


For admission requirements, see below. To apply, go to the KSU Graduate Admissions website.



Admission Requirements

  1. Official transcripts of all previous college work, graduate and undergraduate.
  2. Master’s degree with a major in nursing from a nationally accredited
  3. Official GRE scores of 500 Verbal, 500 Quantitative, and 3.5 (minimum) analytic writing. GRE scores will be considered from applicants whose scores are more than 5 years old (GRE reporting limit), but who can produce “official documentation” of their scores.
  4. A current license to practice professional nursing in the United States. (Nursing credentials of international students will be assessed individually).
  5. A course in statistics.
  6. A course in research at the graduate level.
  7. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can address the applicant’s abilities to do doctoral level work.
  8. A curriculum vitae or resume.
  9. A written statement of personal and professional interests and goals related to nursing doctoral study (1-2 pages in length). Be sure your name is on your statement.
  10. Personal interview with program faculty. 

Again, applications must be received by March 1 for Fall admission.



Transfer Credit


If accepted into the program, up to 15 post-master’s graduate semester hours of compa­rable transfer credit for the DNS may be accepted toward completion of the requirements. Transfer credit will not be accepted for the core course requirements that are central to the program’s distinctive focus. Consequently, transfer credit considerations are typically restricted to elective courses and possibly statistics courses. Decisions about the acceptability of trans­fer credit will be made on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the doctoral advisor and director of the doctoral program.



Curriculum and Program of Study


The DNS Curriculum is 60 credit hours composed of 6 hours of statistics, 33 hours of core nursing coursework, 9 hours of electives (one specified in education), and 12 hours (minimum) dissertation credits. All students take coursework in the 2 program foci: Leadership in Nursing Education and Leadership in Responses to Health Disparities. Students may attend the program full-time(9 hours per semester) or part-time (6 hours per semester).


The core component of the program will be offered 50% online and 50% on campus. Classes will meet on campus all day Friday and Saturday once per month. Electives may not fit this schedule, however.



Contact Info


For contact information and questions, please see the contact information on the Advisement Center page.