College of Nursing

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Milestones for Dissertation Students

First Year, Fall Term

Work with your supervisor to form your Advisory Committee and meet with them to finalize your cognate course choices.

First Year, Winter Term

Continue or complete coursework.

First Year, Spring/Summer

Begin or continue to work on your dissertation proposal. Be sure to allow time for your supervisor to read the drafts.
When the proposal is ready to go to defense, your supervisor will ask the Graduate Programs Assistant to book a meeting for the committee.
Copies of the proposal should go to the chair of the Advisory Committee at least three weeks prior to the date of the proposal defense.

Comprehensive Exams

The College of Nursing policy states "Upon completion of all required course work, students will complete a comprehensive examination in a written and oral format. The examination questions will relate to the doctoral student's field of study and area of research. The PhD Advisory Committee will assign 2-3 questions addressing the following areas: (1) nursing theory and philosophy (knowledge of the discipline), (2) substantive theory and research pertinent to the student's field of study and (3) research design and analysis. The members of the Advisory Committee and the doctoral student will submit suggested questions in all three areas. Normally, the exam will be a one month take home format, during which the student will answer the questions in scholarly paper form. The PhD Advisory Committee is responsible for determining the detailed procedure for the examination."
The written and oral examination will be graded by the Advisory Committee on a pass/fail basis. Following receipt and reading of the written work by the Advisory Committee, the student will be required to discuss the papers in an oral examination, chaired by the Graduate Chair or designate. The comprehensive examination may be repeated once, with permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Proposal Defense

Students prepare a presentation of the proposal approximately 15 minutes in length. After the presentation, there is general discussion of the proposal and its components. This can be a very spirited dialogue! At the end of the meeting, the student has permission to proceed with certain revisions/amendments, or is required to re-present the proposal with the required revisions. Following the proposal defense, a College of Nursing progress report must be sent to the Graduate Programs Assistant.

Ethics Approval

Ethical approval can only be obtained AFTER successful completion of the proposal defense. Ethics approval forms list the supervisor, as the Primary Investigator (PI) for dissertation research; therefore, the supervisor as well as the Associate Dean, Research, Innovation and Global Initiatives will sign the form. If doing secondary analysis of an already established research project, you still need to obtain an ethics exemption from the Ethics office.

Dissertation Meeting

When the supervisor and the student have deemed the draft dissertation ready, an advisory meeting is called, with the collaboration of the Supervisor, the Graduate Chair and the Graduate Programs Assistant. All members must have a copy of the dissertation at least three weeks before the scheduled dissertation meeting, including the Graduate Chair.
The meeting is chaired by the Graduate Chair or designate. The student prepares a 20 minute presentation used for the dissertation defense, and following this, a general discussion of the dissertation and presentation is held. Any revisions to the dissertation and/or presentation are discussed and agreed to by all members. Choices for the External Examiner are also discussed, as well as potential dates for the defense.
Graduate Chair contacts potential External Examiners and finalizes a date. The choice of External Examiner must be approved by the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
The Graduate Programs Assistant books the room, makes arrangements for equipment and sends a poster advertising the defense to the usual distribution list.

Dissertation Defense

The final copy of the dissertation must be given to all committee members and the Graduate Chair at least three weeks prior to the scheduled defense.  
A copy for the External Examiner is given to the Graduate Programs Assistant, who will ensure it is delivered to the External Examiner (this copy CANNOT be delivered by the student).
The dissertation defense is a public event. It is chaired by the Dean of the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies or designate and will follow the procedures established by the College of Nursing. Following introductions, the candidate (student) gives his/her presentation. This is followed with questioning by the External Examiner and each of the committee members, including the Supervisor. When all questions have been answered, the candidate and guests leave the room and the remaining individuals have a discussion. Any required revisions or changes are discussed and the final outcome of the defense is decided. The candidate is welcomed back to the room and the outcome communicated.