Focus on Clinical Research

The YSN PhD program prepares intellectual leaders who can contribute to the development of nursing science through their theoretical, substantive, and methodological knowledge and skills.

Students bring to doctoral study unique combinations of experiences, knowledge, and capabilities that serve as the basis for developing programs of study congruent with the curriculum, but individualized to allow gaining in-depth knowledge of a particular content area. Each incoming PhD student is paired with a faculty advisor whose area of expertise and active research most closely matches with the student’s scholarly interest (content and method).

The faculty strive to establish a learning environment that provides the opportunity for interchange between students and faculty that fosters individual growth, collegial relationships, and the pursuit of knowledge.  Both faculty and students have a commitment to the development of nursing science through empirical work.  

The YSN PhD program is a full-time program that includes formal coursework, seminars, research assistantships, teaching fellowships, advisement, informal faculty and student interactions, and original dissertation research. 


All required coursework is completed in the first 2 years of the program. Particular emphasis is placed on knowledge development that is consistent with the mission of YSN “better health for all” and contributes to increasing healthy life spans, reducing health disparities, improving the quality of health care, and shaping health policy.  Coursework is organized in four areas:

Knowledge Deve​​lopment

  • NURS 912 Foundations of Scientific Inquiry I: Philosophical and Theoretical Basis for Nursing Science
  • NURS 913 Foundations of Scientific Inquiry II: Theories of Health, Symptom Management, and Self-Management

Research Methods and Analysis

  • NURS 901 Research Methods I: Quantitative Methods of Health Research
  • NURS 902 Research Methods II: Qualitative Methods of Health Research
  • NURS 903 Research Methods III: Measurement of Health


  • NURS 904 Research Methods IV: Mixed Methods
  • NURS 905 Research Methods V: Intervention Development
  • NURS 917 Advanced Biostatistics
  • NURS 929 Ethical Conduct of Clinical Research

Synthesis and Application

  • NURS 906/907 Dissertation Seminar
  • NURS 908 Science, Scholarship and Communications of Knowledge I
  • NURS 909 Science Scholarship and Communications of Knowledge II
  • NURS 910 Science, Scholarship and Communications of Knowledge III
  • NURS 911 Science, Scholarship and Communications of Knowledge IV
  • NURS 941 Health Policy, Leadership, and systems
  • Cognates related to Dissertation Research (4 courses)

Research Assistantship

During the first two years of the program, students are Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) with faculty mentors and participate in the mentor’s ongoing research. The purpose of the experience is to enhance the research training of doctoral students through participation in on-going research of faculty. GRA work includes a 15 hour per week commitment and may consist of library work, recruitment, data entry and analysis, data collection, preparation of IRB applications, grant proposal writing, abstract preparation, poster development, and manuscript preparation.  All of these activities are essential tools of the researcher and are viewed as an important aspect of doctoral education.  

Teaching Fellowship

Yale’s Teaching Fellow Program is designed to provide an excellent pedagogical apprenticeship experience for graduate students.  Teaching Fellowships provide students with the opportunity to develop teaching skills through active participation in the teaching of courses and through access to the resources of the McDougal Graduate Teaching Center.  Two terms of a Teaching Fellowship are required.  Typically, Teaching Fellowships are completed during the third year of doctoral study after required courses have been completed.  YSN Teaching Fellows usually participate in teaching larger master’s level courses such as research methods, statistics, health assessment, pharmacology and contexts of care.  Students are also able to complete a Certificate of College Teaching Preparation (CCTP) through the Graduate School.