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Online PhD in Nursing Ethics

Nurses are on the front lines of ethical issues in health care. They typically spend the most time with patients and are most familiar with cases. Yet, they are often constrained by things like institutional policy and limited decision-making authority when ethical situations arise.

Our PhD in Nursing Ethics program—the first in the country—is intended to provide nurses with a greater voice and a better framework for handling these situations. You will learn how to think and debate in a rational way, as well as feel more empowered to stand up for what you know is right.

This research-focused program will help you develop the intellectual skills and the practical knowledge to:

  • Identify ethical issues in nursing practice.
  • Evaluate both the various options according to moral and ethical reasoning and standards of evaluation that are decidedly ethical in nature.
  • Come to a well-reasoned resolution and conclusion.

This is an interdisciplinary program offered with the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts Center for Healthcare Ethics, so your courses are taught by a mixture of clinical nursing faculty and health care ethicists, all of whom really understand theoretical ethics.

The PhD in Nursing Ethics is an online program, which has three in-person residency requirements including a study abroad component. The program may be completed in four years. Learn more about the program and residency requirements using the tabs below.

Required Residencies

Residency 1: Doctoral Week (Summer of Year 1)

Every student admitted to the PhD program is required to come to the Pittsburgh, PA, campus for the first residency, usually held during the second or third week of May. This week includes an orientation to the PhD program and provides an opportunity for students to meet faculty and participate in live classes for the courses in which they are enrolled that summer.

Residency 2: Study Abroad (Summer of Year 2)

Students enrolled in GPNG 924 Methods of Scientific Inquiry II will take part of the course as a study abroad experience (approximately 10-14 days) in locations such as Dublin, Ireland, where students will have housing at the Duquesne University Ireland campus.

Residency 3: Dissertation Final Defense (Year 4)

Students are required to come to campus for the final public defense of their dissertation.

Informative Videos

PhD in Nursing Ethics Roundtable Videos

Dr. Rick Zoucha, chair of the Advanced Role and PhD Program, discusses the PhD in Nursing Ethics program with Dr. Eric Vogelstein, associate professor, and Dr. Michael Deem, assistant professor.

Gain an overview of our School of Nursing and the online PhD in Nursing Ethics Program, our commitment to ethics, and our partnership with the Center for Health Care Ethics.

Learn about the role of a nurse ethicist and what type of jobs are available to them.

Listen to a discussion about the curriculum for the PhD in Nursing Ethics program.


Find out what sort of candidates we are looking for and how to apply.