Connell School of Nursing

The William F. Connell School of Nursing offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree program preparing individuals for advanced nursing practice as nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists; a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program, preparing individuals for advanced nursing practice as nurse practitioners; and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program preparing highly qualified individuals for research and leadership roles in nursing, health care, research, and academic settings.


All nurse practitioner degree programs are nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). For additional information, visit the CCNE website. The Nurse Anesthesia program is accredited by the Council of Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Progam with a Major in Nursing

The Ph.D. Program in Nursing emphasizes knowledge development and research to advance nursing science and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. For the program objectives, please refer to the student handbook.

The Ph.D. program includes two phases: coursework and dissertation. After finishing the required coursework, the student completes a comprehensive examination. The purpose of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination is to demonstrate mastery of the program objectives through written and oral responses to questions related to knowledge development, research methods, substantive knowledge, ethical judgment, and nursing/healthcare issues and health policy. After successful completion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination, the student moves to the dissertation phase, in which she/he develops and conducts original dissertation research. The Ph.D. program and defense of the final dissertation must be completed within eight years of initial enrollment. Policies and procedures are consistent with those of the University.

Consistent with the recommendations of leading professional organizations, full-time doctoral study is highly recommended. Fellowships, scholarships, and other financial resources are available to full-time Ph.D. students through the Connell School of Nursing (CSON), Boston College, professional nursing organizations and governmental agencies (e.g., HRSA, NIH, and NINR). The full-time plan of study allows students to complete required coursework in two years; some students may take longer to complete required coursework or may need to take additional coursework. Most full-time students complete the entire Ph.D. program in four–five years. Part-time students usually take longer to complete the degree. Nonetheless, the entire Ph.D. program, including dissertation research and defense, must be completed within eight years.

Low student-to-faculty ratios and research mentorship facilitate student success and program completion in a reasonable amount of time. Multiple resources for scholarly development are available within the Connell School of Nursing, the University, our consortium University partners, and through research collaborations with research and clinical academic centers of the Greater Boston area. The Ph.D. program offers a variety of learning opportunities through course work, CSON forums, interdisciplinary colloquia, and collaborations through the Harvard Catalyst, independent study, and research practica. An individualized plan of study is developed according to the student’s educational background, research interests, and stage of development in scholarly activities.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Program

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is a terminal nursing practice degree emphasizing holistic and compassionate care in the preparation of advanced practice nurses. The DNP program prepares advanced practice nurses with the knowledge and skill for providing comprehensive primary care to patients, families, communities and populations within our complex and ever-changing health care system. With a focus on innovative and effective leadership, evidence-based practice, quality improvement and a systems approach to care, the DNP advanced practice nurse is equipped to become an expert nurse leader in improving health outcomes and systems. 

The DNP program builds upon and integrates core course work in Epidemiology, Health Care Policy for Nursing Practice Leaders, Healthcare Information Technology Management, Program Planning and Evaluation for Population Health, Healthcare Quality Management, as well as the three P’s (Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology Across the Life Span, Advanced Health/Physical Assessment Across the Life Span, Pharmacotherapeutics in Advanced Practice Nursing) throughout the curriculum and clinical practicum courses. A focus on the history of nursing science, nursing’s ethical responsibilities, as well as a strong foundation in evidence-based practice, culminates in the development of a student-led, innovative practice improvement or change project (DNP project).

Master of Science Degree Program with a Major in Nursing

         The Master of Science degree prepares individuals focus of the programs is on human responses to actual or potential health problems. The approach to clients is multi-faceted and includes the development of advanced competencies in clinical judgment. Graduates go on to provide theory- and evidence-based direct care to individuals, families, and communities. Additional roles of the advanced practice nurse include indirect services such as staff development, consultation, health care management, and participation in research to improve the quality of patient outcomes. Program objectives can be found in the Master's Student Handbook.

General Information

Read below for more information regarding graduate study at the Connell School of Nursing.