VCU School of Nursing

Educating nurses from entry-level through the doctorate. Ranked in the top 4% of undergraduate nursing programs nationally.

Nurses Can Complete Doctorate Through Combined Online and On-site Format
The VCU School of Nursing is making a Ph.D. degree more convenient for nurses who want to continue working while pursuing a doctorate. The school announced today that its Ph.D. program has been enhanced to incorporate a hybrid instructional format starting next fall.
Under the new format, nursing Ph.D. candidates will take a combination of mostly online courses with limited on-campus requirements. The nursing Ph.D. hybrid program will be the first based in Virginia and will place VCU among only a few schools in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer this degree option.
Ann Hamric, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, associate dean of Academic Programs, said the hybrid format is designed to expand the Ph.D. program’s reach to a wider range of students who aspire to become scholars, make a significant difference in the field of nursing, and study with nationally recognized nurse scientists who conduct cutting-edge biobehavioral research.
“We have a tradition of using the latest technology and best practices to educate the nation’s top nurses, so we feel it’s important to adjust our instructional format to reflect the needs of today’s workforce,” Dr. Hamric said. “The hybrid format gives us the ability to attract nurses nationwide and even globally. Whether they live in the Midwest, Northeast or Richmond, Ph.D. candidates will have the opportunity to participate in mentor-guided research and scholarly experiences that are designed to be transformative to the nursing profession and health care.”
“Upon graduation, they will be prepared to become nurse scientists committed to the highest ideals of nursing excellence,” she added.
In addition to online courses, the hybrid format consists of an on-campus schedule of five days during the fall, three days during the spring and two days during the summer semester for the first two years. When students are on campus, they will attend classes and participate in activities that may include biobehavioral research, advisory meetings, presentations, manuscript development, technology and library skill development, and socialization activities to foster group cohesiveness. Following the initial two years, the hybrid format will require periodic on-campus experiences and continuous enrollment in the Ph.D. program until the dissertation is successfully completed.
During their research experiences, Ph.D. students will have a wide range of opportunities to discover why VCU Nursing has consistently ranked in the top 25 schools of nursing nationwide based on research funding from the National Institutes of Health. With the establishment of the school’s National Institute of Nursing Research-funded P20 Center for Biobehavioral Clinical Research (CBCR) in 2004, VCU Nursing was placed among a few elite schools in the U.S. focusing on the development of biobehavioral science for nursing. In 2009, NINR awarded the school a P30 grant, expanding the CBCR into the Center of Excellence for Biobehavioral Approaches to Symptom Management. Ph.D. students will be able to consult with center scientists, use center services or support staff, and participate in center symposia and collaboration with VCU Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center with Magnet status.
“Our focus on biobehavioral research is an important component of the Ph.D. experience,” said Nancy McCain, D.S.N., RN, FAAN, Nursing Alumni Endowed Professor and chair of the school’s Doctoral Program Committee. “Center researchers are making important discoveries that advance nursing knowledge, particularly by enhancing symptom management and biobehavioral outcomes. We’re looking for students who share our desire to make a difference in our profession.”
Applications for the Ph.D. hybrid program will be accepted until June 1. Preference will be given to applications completed by March 30. For more information, contact Susan Lipp, M.S.N., RN, assistant dean, at (804) 828-5171 or

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