Assessing nursing student intent for PHD study

Allison Squires, Christine Kovner, Farida Faridaben, Deborah Chyun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nursing faculty shortages threaten a country's ability to produce the amount of nurses necessary to sustain the delivery of healthcare services. Programs that "fast track" graduate education options for registered nurses are one solution to the problem. Objectives: To 1) evaluate admission criteria into PhD programs for direct entry from a bachelor's degree; 2) ascertain bachelors and masters degree nursing students' perspectives on pursuing a BSN to PhD course of study; 3) clarify factors that influence students' decision-making processes behind pursuing a PhD and identify characteristics of those who would be likely recruits for PhD study; 4) to test the survey questions to develop an instrument for future use. Design: A cross-sectional pilot study. Setting: A nursing program at a large urban university in the United States of America with an enrollment of over 1400 students. Participants: Currently enrolled bachelor's, master's, and doctor of nursing practice students. Methods: Students were sampled via a 10-question (including one open-ended question) electronic mail survey that included 1385 eligible subjects. Results: Among the 606 respondents (57% response rate), 63% were between ages 18 and 30 and 87% indicated that full tuition funding with a living stipend would make them more interested in pursuing a PhD. Current program track was a significant predictor of course of study and area of interest (p = .029). Analysis of the 427 respondents to the open-ended question revealed themes around "time" and "money" as the main barriers to study. The desire to gain clinical experience prior to PhD study was the third theme and an unanticipated finding. Conclusions: The questionnaire offered some predictive ability for gauging intent to study for a PhD among bachelor's and graduate degree prepared nurses. The results do offer some suggestions for nursing workforce development to help address faculty shortages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1405-1410
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Bachelor's in nursing
  • Doctoral study
  • Graduate education in nursing
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing faculty
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Education


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