Kent State University’s College of Nursing will welcome its first nursing cohort into the revised Ph.D. in Nursing program in the fall 2021 semester. The newly developed, state-of-the-science curriculum was thoughtfully constructed to prepare students to address emerging areas of nursing science by gaining essential knowledge in areas such as history and philosophy of nursing, theory, scientific writing, research methods, statistics and quantitative and qualitative research methods and emerging areas of nursing science.

“The restructured program meets the needs of our students and the broader nursing community,” said Wendy Umberger, Ph. D., associate dean for graduate programs and director of the Ph.D. in Nursing program. “It can be completed full-time or part-time, allowing more flexibility for students, many of whom continue to work while completing their coursework and dissertation research.”

Two-time alumna Judy Risko, Ph.D. ‘18, PMHCNS-BC, assistant professor of nursing in Florida, had always dreamed of becoming a nurse scientist. With a desire to lead a research team of her own, Risko knew she would need to obtain her Ph.D. The close proximity of Kent State University campus to her then home in northeast Ohio, along with a great experience at Kent State during her MSN and the convenience of both in-person and online courses, made Kent State’s Ph.D. in Nursing program desirable to Risko. 

“It was important to me to earn my Ph.D. so I could learn about people’s experiences and add their voices to our nursing knowledge base,” said Risko. “It is so empowering to really listen to what someone has to say and then formulate that into something meaningful and helpful for the entire nursing profession.”

In order to best educate students to become scientific leaders for the future of nursing research, each Ph.D. nursing student will work closely with a faculty member who shares a similar research interest. Throughout the duration of the Ph.D. program, students will have the opportunity to publish and present research alongside their faculty advisors, thus learning through a hands-on-approach while being socialized to the role of a nurse scientist.

“It’s important for doctoral students to receive professional socialization early on in their program in order to learn what it means to be a researcher and scientist,” Umberger said. “When choosing a doctoral program, students will seek out a faculty advisor and mentor who is an expert in the research area they find thought-provoking.”

Kent State’s nursing research faculty have a wide variety of research interests, including:

  • Self-management of acute and chronic disease across the lifespan
  • Wellness in health, caregiver, occupational, and vulnerable populations within and across family systems
  • Health-related care systems and outcomes
  • Global and cultural health and wellness
  • Emerging education, translational and research methodologies
  • End-of-life/palliative care

“I am so appreciative of the personalized assistance and support I received from my Ph.D. committee, especially from my advisor and chair, Dr. Umberger, during my program and dissertation process,” expressed Risko. “I was grateful to be included in several studies where I was immersed in real-world research experiences and dissemination at conferences.”

Additionally, Kent State has many innovative research institutes and initiatives that provide opportunities for cross-discipline research in areas such as brain health, environmental design, global understanding and healthy communities. These collaborative opportunities are invaluable, as they help doctoral students gain insights from leading experts outside the discipline of nursing.

“As a Ph.D. nursing student, I had the opportunity to take additional courses in health psychology where I learned from other knowledgeable faculty members and was introduced to Ph.D. psychology students studying a similar topic under a different disciplinary lens,” said Risko. “I am a firm believer that the more education nurses acquire, the better equipped we are at seeing the bigger picture of the nursing profession and how we serve and care for our patients.”

The priority deadline for applications for the Ph.D. in Nursing program is March 1 of the year the student wishes to begin classes. This program only admits students for the fall semester and can be completed in as few as three years for students who attend full-time. For more detailed program information, please visit Register to participate in an upcoming graduate program informational webinar by visiting