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 abilities 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 in residence 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 inequities, improving the quality of health care, and shaping health policy.  Coursework includes required core courses and 4 cognates. The plan of study is listed below:


Fall Semester          

NURS 901  Quantitative Methods for Health Research

NURS 908  Synthesis of  Knowledge and Skills for Nursing Science  

NURS 912  Knowledge Development for Nursing Science    

EPH 505a   Biostatistics in Public Health I

Spring Semester          

NURS 902  Qualitative Methods for Health Research

NURS 909  Nurse Scientists and Grant Writing

NURS 913  Chronic Conditions: Risk Factors, Prevention and Management of Adverse Outcomes

EPH 505b   Biostatistics in Public Health II

NURS 929   Responsible Conduct of Research


Fall Semester          

NURS 903  Measurement of Biobehavioral Phenomena

NURS 905  Intervention Development and Introduction to Implementation Science

NURS 906  Dissertation Seminar 

BIS 633a    Population and Public Health Informatics

2 Cognates

Spring Semester          

NURS 904  Mixed Methods Research

NURS 907  Dissertation Seminar

CDE 534    Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology or STAT 660 Multivariate Statistics

2 Cognates

Summer Intensive (June)

NURS 985 Achieving Population Health Equity


 NURS 906/907  Dissertation Seminar  Fall and Spring semesters

Conduct of dissertation research


NURS 906/907  Dissertation Seminar  Fall and Spring semesters

Completion and Defense of dissertation research

Completion of all core courses and four cognates in the student’s area of specialization (including one advanced analysis course) is required.  Successful completion of dissertation seminar (N906/907) years 2-4 or until dissertation is complete and successfully defended, is also required.

Potential Cognate Courses Categorized by Area of Specialization and Content

Course Number/Title


Infectious Diseases

Yale School of Public Health (YSPH)

EMD553b Transmission Dynamic Models for Understanding Infectious Diseases

Use of transmission dynamic models as tools for studying complex patterns that arise from interaction between pathogens and hosts. …Why do some pathogens fail to spread effectively in a host community while others increase in prevalence before eventual elimination? Why do some infections oscillate in frequency while others occur at relatively constant levels over long periods of time? How is it possible that an intervention could perversely increase the burden of disease in the community, even as it reduces overall prevalence of infection?


EMD 512a, Immunology for Epidemiologists

.. fundamentals of immunology including antigens, antibodies, methods for detecting antibodies, cells of the immune system, products of such cells, and immune mechanisms. Experience is gained in analysis of research papers…


EMD 517a/b, Principles of Infectious Diseases I/II

A:  explores the epidemiology and biology of infectious agents and the diseases they cause. Through a theme-based, integrated approach, students learn about the epidemiology, pathogenesis, prevention, and control of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic parasites of public health importance. Emphasis is placed on epidemiological methods, routes of transmission, host-pathogen interactions, and mechanisms of virulence.

B:  The course introduces new topics such as infectious causes of chronic diseases; and vector-borne, zoonotic, and emerging pathogens.


EMD 531  Genomic Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases

This course provides an overview of how we can harness microbial evolution to study epidemiology… learn the basic skills to implement next-generation sequencing and phylogenetic approaches to investigate different stages of infectious disease outbreaks…[and] critically evaluate genomic epidemiology case studies to understand the applications and limitations of genomic data, what aspects can be used to inform outbreak responses, and how the information can be communicated to the public.

Health Disparities / Marginalized Populations / Social Determinants of Health


SBS 570b, LGBTQ Population Health

      Sexual and gender minority individuals (e.g., those who identify as LGBTQ) represent a key health disparity population in the US and worldwide….. Students consider social and ecological influences on sexual and gender minority health, including migration, community, and neighborhood influences. … Students apply lessons learned to evaluating and developing policy and health care interventions for this increasingly visible segment of the global population.


EPH 507 Health Equity & Social Justice

     This course outlines the social and structural determinants related to health inequities in the US and globally. The course explores conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches to understanding social justice and health equity. The course will focus on health determinants including health care, social class, poverty, oppression and power, stigma and discrimination, neighborhood and social factors.  The course takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating methods and research from epidemiology, social sciences, and medicine. The course explores the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal influences that lead to healthy and unhealthy outcomes.  Prerequisites:  None


SBS 573a, Social and Cultural Factors in Mental Health and Illness

This course is an introduction to mental health and illness with a focus on the complex interplay between risk and protective factors and social and cultural influences on mental health status… The social consequences of mental illness such as stigma, isolation, and barriers to care are explored, and their impact on access to care and recovery considered.


SBS 581a, Stigma and Health

This course engages students in conceptualizing stigma as a fundamental cause of adverse health. After reviewing conceptual models of stigma, students examine the multiple mechanisms—both structural and individual—through which stigma compromises the health of a large proportion of U.S. and global populations. Students compare individual- and structural-level interventions to reduce both stigma at its source and its downstream impact on individual health.

Yale School of Management

680E  ​Population Health and Health Equity

The course will introduce and examine the intersections between social phenomenon, health care delivery system incentives, technological advances, patient engagement, and health outcomes across groups in the US.  The tension and synergies across prevailing frameworks will be illustrated. Opportunities to innovate and advance both population health and health equity will be highlighted and identified. 


CDE 505/PSYC 657: Social and Behavioral Foundations of Health  

T  This course provides students with an introduction to social and behavioral science issues that influence patterns of health and health care delivery. The focus is on the integration of biomedical, social, psychological, and behavioral factors that must be taken into consideration when public health initiatives are developed and implemented. The course emphasizes the integration of research from the social and behavioral sciences with epidemiology and biomedical sciences.


SBS 699

Advanced Topics in Social and Behavioral Sciences

T    This course provides an in-depth examination of key areas in the social and behavioral sciences. For each topic, we explore a general overview of the area and noted gaps in the literature, the primary theories driving research in the area, common methods and analytic techniques, and recent research examples. Students explore topics in current and emerging areas of social and behavioral sciences including topics focusing on health care, maternal-child health, reproductive health, mental health, social determinants of health, stigma, obesity, and aging.


CDE 545b, Health Disparities by Race and Social Class: Application to Chronic Disease Epidemiology

This course explores disparities in the chronic diseases that contribute disproportionately to ill health, resource utilization, reduced quality of life, and mortality. Taking a life course perspective as we explore disparities across the spectrum of chronic diseases, we focus on differences in health between diverse racial/ethnic and/or socioeconomic groups, primarily in the United States. The primary focus of this course is on understanding the determinants and consequences of health disparities, learning to critically evaluate health disparities research, and thinking creatively about elimination strategies.


Anth 651b Intersectionality and Women’s Health

This interdisciplinary online seminar, designed for students in Anthropology, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, Sociology, African American Studies, Public Health, and related fields, explores contemporary intersectionality theory—namely, how the intersections of race/class/gender and other axes of oppression (e.g., based on religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexuality, etc.) affect women’s lives, reproductive health, and well-being in the contemporary United States. In this course, Black feminist approaches to intersectionality theory will first be introduced. Then intersectionality will be explored through works that explore four broad themes: 1) The Afterlives of Slavery: Reproductive Liberty and Justice, 2) Settler Colonialism: Reproductive Politics on the Reservation; 3) Wars and Borders: Reproducing Immigrants and Refugees; 4) The Carceral State: Substances, Criminalization, and Survival. Reproduction is the key women’s health issue that threads its way through these sections. But other women’s health issues will also explored in diverse time periods, contexts, and social locations throughout the US.

Acute and Chronic Illness: Risk Factors, Response, Interventions


Elective: Patients, Populations, and Pandemics: Responding to COVID-19

Through this elective, students will 1. Demonstrate nuanced understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic using an interdisciplinary approach. 2. Enhance clinical reasoning in a situation of uncertain and emerging evidence on clinical and epidemiological perspectives, therapeutics, and social implications for patients and the community. 3. Build synthesis skills through appraise and interpreting emerging literature during a pandemic and gain experience defending a position in uncertain times. 4. Create an informational platform accessible to the public

YSPH/Yale School of Medicine (YSM)

IBIBIO 530a/MCDB430a, Biology of the Immune System

This course focuses on the development of the immune system, cellular and molecular mechanisms of immune recognition, effector responses against pathogens and  autoimmunity.


IBIBIO 532b, Inflammation

This course covers fundamentals of inflammation from a broad biological perspective. Both physiological and pathological aspects of inflammation will be the focus of this course.


SBS 529a, Foundations of Behavior Change

       The focus is on integration of social, psychological, and behavioral factors that must be considered in developing and implementing best clinical practice and public health initiatives. This course emphasizes use of empirical evidence from social and behavioral sciences as the basis of public health practice and policy


CDE 572a, Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle Interventions

    This course reviews the methods and evaluation of obesity prevention and lifestyle interventions conducted in multiple settings (e.g., individual, family, and community settings, as well as policy-level interventions). Topics include physical activity, nutrition, and weight-loss interventions in various populations (children, adults, those who are healthy, and those with chronic diseases). The course combines didactic presentations, discussion, and a comprehensive review of a particular lifestyle intervention by students. This course is intended to increase the student’s skills in evaluating and conducting obesity prevention and lifestyle interventions.


SBS 531a, Health and Aging

    This course explores the ways psychosocial and biological factors influence aging health. Topics include interventions to improve mental and physical health; effects of ageism on health; racial and gender health disparities in later life; and how health policy can best adapt to the growing aging population. Students have the opportunity to engage in discussions and to develop a research proposal on a topic of interest.


Soc 636b Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

     This graduate seminar (with limited enrollment, but open to all graduate students at Yale, and undergraduates with permission) will cover topics at the intersection of the natural and social sciences, including behavior genetics, gene-environment interactions, gene-culture co-evolution, social epigenetics, and diverse other topics. We will focus on the ways in which our genes and our bodies are in a (short and long) conversation with our social environment. To what extent does our genetic makeup influence our behaviors? To what extent do our behaviors and social experiences influence our genes? To what extent do our genes increase or decrease our risk for particular outcomes given particular environmental exposures? What are the biological bases of resilience? And how does the social environment come to regulate our genome? How do social exposures reshape neural and endocrine processes? How do social exposures “get under our skin”? How are they literally embodied?



BIBIS 639, Descriptive Analysis of Public Health Data   

This course introduces methodology for extracting disease rates from public sources and using them to analyze temporal-spatial trends for disease. It also uses survey data on exposure to putative risk factors and results from analytical studies to quantify the extent that known etiology can account for disease trends. This information is also used to assess the impact of public health policy on disease control.


Clinical Database Management Systems and Ontologies

This course provides an introduction to database and ontology in the biomedical domain. It will review how data and information are generated through biological and biomedical experiments and through patient care. It will introduce different approaches to representing/modeling, managing, querying, and integrating data and information…


BIS 634a  Computational Methods for Informatics

This course introduces the key computational methods and concepts necessary for taking an informatics project from start to finish: using APIs to query online resources, reading and writing common biomedical data formats, choosing appropriate data structures for storing and manipulating data, implementing computationally efficient and parallelizable algorithms for analyzing data, and developing appropriate visualizations for communicating health information. The FAIR data-sharing guidelines are discussed. Current issues in big health data are discussed, including successful applications as well as privacy and bias concerns. This course has a significant programming component, and familiarity with programming is assumed. Prerequisite: CPSC 223


Introduction to Health Informatics CBB 740

Students will gain foundational knowledge in clinical information systems, health data standards, electronic health records and data security/privacy issues, among other areas.  Students will survey a variety of informatics subfields including research, laboratory/precision medicine, imaging, and artificial intelligence…. applying these ideas in real-world contexts.

Advanced Research Methods


    BIS 621a, Regression Models for Public Health

This course focuses on the applications of regression models and is intended for students who have completed an introductory statistics class but who wish to acquire the additional statistical skills needed for the independent conduct and analysis of study designs frequently seen in public health. Topics include model selection, implementation and interpretation for linear regression with continuous outcomes, logistic regression with binary/multinomial/ordinal outcomes, and proportional hazards regression with survival time outcomes. The class explores advanced topics within these domains including the analysis of (1) blocked and nested study designs, (2) linear contrasts and multiple comparisons, (3) longitudinal data or repeated measures, (4) missing data, and (5) pragmatic clinical trials using propensity scores to reduce selection bias, etc.


BIS 623a, Advanced Regression Models

        This course provides a focused examination of the theory and application behind linear regression. Topics include linear regression, estimation, hypothesis testing, regression diagnostics, analysis of variance, adjusting for covariates, transformations, missing data, and generalized linear models.


B   BIS 628b, Longitudinal and Multilevel Data Analysis

This course covers methods for analyzing longitudinal data in which repeated measures have been obtained for subjects over time and for analyzing multilevel data, which can be either hierarchically or nonhierarchically structured, e.g., nested, crossed, and/or clustered. The course teaches the common analytic techniques that can be used to analyze both longitudinal data and multilevel data with both continuous and discrete responses. Emphasis is on mixed-effects models and generalized estimating equations (GEE). Rationales on whether population-average research or subject-/cluster-specific inference research may be more appropriate for various study designs and data types are discussed and illustrated.

Implementation Science


Implementation Science EMD 533

 This course will provide an introduction to the use of implementation science to systematically identify barriers and facilitators to delivery of evidence-based practices. Participants will learn the language of implementation science to describe key concepts and methods for translating scientific evidence into practice, including: community engagement, mixed-methods research, theories of behavior change, measurement and study design for evaluation, frameworks for implementation and evaluation, and pathways for dissemination. Implementation science is an exciting and rapidly emerging field whose approach offers broad and novel insights into the gaps between knowledge and practice in public health.


Advanced Topics in Implementation Science Yale Center for Implementation Science (Post doctoral fellows)

This course will explore advanced topics in implementation science….with a presentation of focal topic content in an interactive format, with critical thinking and discussion around theories, concepts and research tools….[then] a case study to illustrate key concepts and challenges in conceptualization and implementation of studies using advanced methods. 

Community Health

School of the Environment                    (formerly FE&S)

F&ES 721a/EVST 333/HLTH 332  Climate Change Adaptation; Resilience and Resistance in Global Health

… Environment and health-centered activities resulting from thoughtful, interdisciplinary approaches and audits will be held as the ideal among various adaptive responses. Scope will include but not be limited to food, energy and water security as well as the readiness of health systems in the U.S., Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean.

Sociology Department

SOCY 632   Social Network Analysis

Social Network Analysis…methodological techniques. .. “structure” emerges as a persistent pattern of interaction that can influence a multitude of behaviors, such as getting a job, income attainment, political decision-making, social revolutions, organizational merges, global finance and trade markets, delinquent youth behaviors, the spread of infectious diseases…


CDE 551b, Global Noncommunicable Disease

This course focuses on the contemporary burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), with a particular focus on the health impact of NCDs in low- and middle-income countries. The first part of the course briefly covers the etiology and global distribution of four key NCDs: cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. We then discuss the shared behavioral, metabolic, and physiologic risk factors for these diseases and explore how NCDs are associated with economic development, globalization, and the demographic and health transitions. The second half of the course focuses concretely on approaches to NCD intervention, from individual-level approaches to coordinated global action. The last five lectures are by guest speakers offering insight into the successes and challenges of their own intervention attempts.

School of the Environment                    (formerly FE&S)

F&ES 721a Environmental Justice/Climate Justice

In this seminar, we will focus on the evolution and development of the environmental justice movement. We will pay particular attention to its embrace of climate justice, and we will ask what conception of justice is at play in both the environmental justice and climate justice movement. We will begin with a legal and social-historical survey but will quickly bring the inquiry up to the current moment. We will explore the legal and policy developments that have followed the environmental justice critique. I will expect students to choose a particular movement (or one expression of it) and write a paper bringing to bear all of the questions we raise in the seminar. (For example, how did opposition from environmental justice advocates lead to a reformed climate change initiative in California? Or What is the genesis of the Sunrise movement and what legal or policy changes would be required to make it a reality.)The paper need not focus on a domestic response, because the environmental/climate justice critique is now global.



EPH 510 – Introduction to Health Policy and Health Care Systems

The course provides an introduction to the making, understanding, and evaluation of health policy. The design and performance of the health care system are assessed, with particular attention to the complex and often contested choices that face policymakers.

The course examines the fundamental concerns—affordability, accessibility, and quality— that shape the development of health policy and health systems in all countries. It examines the key social institutions that serve as building blocks for the design of health policy in each country, and it looks to the health systems of a variety of countries in order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of alternative approaches to combining those institutional building blocks.  The course also provides an overview of the important social institutions and key actors in the health care and political systems. Students are introduced to methods for understanding the behavior of these policy-makers and key stakeholders. Health issues are placed in the context of broader social goals and values.




 This course is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of the government institutions and political forces that shape health policy. Ideas for new policies can emerge from numerous sources. The processes that identify some options as appropriate for adoption and that shape how enacted policies are best implemented reflect a variety of influences: political leadership, electoral opportunities, cultural values, constitutional limits on government authority, interest groups, mobilized citizenry, and changing social circumstances. This is a complex interplay in every policy domain. In health care it is further complicated by contested goals (e.g. are societal goals best defined in terms of health, health care, or health insurance?), outcomes that carry a large emotional valence for those most affected (patients and their loved ones), and expectations that are driven by an ever changing set of medical technologies and aspirations.

Research Assistantship

During the first two calendar 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 Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.  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 master’s level courses such as research methods, health assessment, pharmacology, clinical management courses, and contexts of care.  Students are highly recommended to complete a Certificate of College Teaching Preparation (CCTP) through the Graduate School.