The purpose of our online Nursing PhD program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) is to prepare nurse scientists who are capable of performing original research using a variety of methodologies.

We develop nurse leaders for research and academic careers who are adept at advancing the discipline of nursing through research related to improving health outcomes for patients, families, and communities. The University of Missouri, Kansas City is one of only 30 universities in the United States that has schools of nursing, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy located on the same campus alongside other healthcare facilities. This proximity of faculty and researchers from other health care disciplines provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary activities and research.

PhD students in the School of Nursing and Health Studies (SoNHS) at UMKC have access to nationally recognized and funded nurse scientists who are available to guide students’ educational pursuit using a mentor-match model. Doctoral faculty members are conducting innovative research on topics such as muscle biology, community-based prevention interventions, interventions to promote recovery from illness, adherence to treatment and behavioral change, secondary analyses and analyses of large data sets, and teaching, learning, and assessment strategies in nursing education.

Each individualized program of study is developed in collaboration with faculty-mentors, and other members of the supervisory/dissertation committee. Faculty-mentors meet with their students regularly and provide guidance with developing research skills. Graduation requirements include presentation at a professional conference, a first-authored publication published in a peer-reviewed journal, successful completion of the comprehensive examination, and proposing and completing dissertation research.

Research Areas of Focus

The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies PhD Program supports developing nursing knowledge related to individuals, families, and communities in three general areas; clinical/biological research, health systems/outcomes research, and nursing education research.

Clinical/Biological Research: The scope of clinical research ranges from acute to chronic care experiences across the life span; health promotion and preventive care … and care for individuals, families, and communities in diverse settings.” (AACN, 2006, para. 9). Nursing clinical and biological research is the basis for effective strategies to manage symptoms and tailor interventions.

Examples of Faculty Clinical Research

  • Basic and applied research on the effects of aging on the musculoskeletal system
  • Benefits of exercise for older adults including fall prevention
  • Health behavioral change interventions
  • Self-management of acute and chronic conditions
  • Animal assisted therapies
  • Biomarkers
  • Influence of mindfulness on physiological function

Health Systems and Outcome Research: “Nursing research on health systems and outcomes seeks to identify ways that the organization and delivery of health care influence quality, cost, and the experience of patients and their families…. Research regarding issues of organization, delivery, financing, quality … behavior… and outcomes” (AACN, 2006, para. 13).

Examples of Faculty Health Systems and Outcomes Research

  • Heath promotion and disease prevention related to physical activity and nutrition
  • Community-based interventions for cancer prevention
  • Large data set statistical analysis of health information and clinical trial data
  • Social determinants of health related to disparities
  • Implementation of behavior change interventions for populations
  • Interventions to promote recovery of critical care survivors
  • Delirium detection and prevention in hospitalized adults
  • Interventions to improve quality of life and cost-effectiveness

Nursing Education Research: “Nursing education research centers on developing and testing more efficient educational processes, identifying new ways to incorporate technology in order to enhance learning, and discovering more effective approaches to promoting lifelong learning and commitment to leadership…. The continuous supply of well-educated nurses is critical to maintain and enhance our nation’s health… new strategies for recruiting and retaining bright young men and women from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds into nursing must be developed and tested. New models of nursing education are needed to prepare nurses for faculty and research positions earlier in their careers” (AACN, 2006, para 14).

Examples of Faculty Nursing Education Research

  • Teaching and evaluation modalities that improve patient, family, and community outcomes
  • Developing strategies to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds
  • Incivility prevention strategies related to improving patient outcomes
  • Education interventions to improve nursing practice and healthcare outcomes
  • Effectiveness of educational interventions in emergency preparedness
  • Emerging technologies in nursing education

Examples of PhD Student's Dissertation Topics

  • Nursing Faculty Perspectives Regarding the Effectiveness of Prelicensure Nursing Education (2020)
  • A retrospective study of clinical capstone experiences on perceptions of practice readiness in Associate Degree student nurses and preceptors (2019)
  • BE RESILIENT: Examining the Relationship Between Staff Nurse Incivility and Undergraduate Nursing Students’ Sense of Belonging to the Nursing Profession (2021)
  • The relationship between staff nurses’ perceptions of nurse manager caring behaviors and patient experience: A correlational study (2020)
  • Development and pilot test of a conscientization intervention for nurses who have experienced moral distress (2019)
  • The investigating meaning/purpose and connectedness (IMPACT) study: A comparative case study of parents of adult children with schizophrenia (2020)
  • A randomized feasibility and acceptability study comparing modes of parenting education delivery for young fathers (2020)
  • A descriptive exploration of perceived stress, quality of life, and family functioning in parents of a child with congenital heart disease: The PINCHED study (2019)
  • A descriptive correlational study of rate and determinates of parental mHealth adherence to symptom home monitoring for infants with congenital heart disease during the single ventricle interstage period: The DOMAIN study (2020)
  • The influence of nurses ’attitudes, beliefs, and biases toward families on family-centered care delivery in a neonatal intensive care unit: A grounded theory (2021)
  • Impact of SYSTEMCHANGE™ intervention on medication adherence in older adults with heart failure: A pilot randomized control trial (2018)
  • Barriers to and facilitators of infertility medication adherence: A mixed-method study (2019)
  • Feasibility and acceptability of a SYSTEMCHANGE™ intervention to improve medication adherence in older adult stroke survivors: A pilot randomized controlled trial (2018)
  • Mindfulness as a treatment for military women’s chronic pelvic pain: A randomized control trial (2020)

PhD Mission Programs and Outcomes


Consistent with the SoNHS mission to prepare the nursing workforce as leaders in improving health outcomes through inter-professional practice and research, the mission of the PhD in Nursing program is to educate nurses as researchers in the development of new interdisciplinary knowledge that will positively impact the health of diverse populations.

Program Goal

  • The overall goal of the UMKC Ph.D. in Nursing Program is to impact the critical need in the U.S. for Ph.D. prepared nurses to provide leadership in education, research and practice. This program is uniquely positioned to positively impact the nursing workforce by providing the highest quality Ph.D. education in a research-intensive environment.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation the student will be prepared to:

  • Conduct rigorous, original research
  • Disseminate scholarly work
  • Contribute to the professional growth of others.

Program development guided by the American Association of colleges of Nursing (AACN) Indicators of Quality in Research-Focused Doctoral Programs in Nursing.