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Academic Policies

 Graduate Nursing Program Requirements

Individual program policies may supersede this policy due to national accreditation regulations. Check with your Program Director to determine any additional requirements.

Doctoral Program of Study

The Graduate School Doctoral Program of Study (DPOS) is a binding agreement between The Graduate School and the student that must be on file and approved prior to graduation. Students must follow courses in the order and as outlined on the program of study. Modification to the DPOS may be made only in consultation with the appropriate Program Directors. Any changes must be submitted prior to beginning any change to The Graduate School on the Program of Study Adjustment Form (GS-43 (POSA)), which is submitted by the student’s Graduate Advisor. Forms are found at Graduate School Forms Library.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD) Requirements

PhD Overview

The PhD program at the University of South Carolina is designed to prepare professional nurses for research careers as nurse scientists in a variety of academic and health care settings.  The goal of the curriculum is to prepare beginning researchers in a defined area of nursing science.  This goal is accomplished through the development of individualized programs of study and research experiences.  A detailed description of the learning outcomes and courses required is found in the UofSC Graduate Studies Bulletin

  1. Generate and communicate new knowledge to public and professional audiences to advance nursing and health.
  2. Demonstrate conceptual, methodological, analytical and dissemination skills to advance nursing science within the context of planning, implementing, and evaluating research aimed at improving health and healthcare.
  3. Utilize a biobehavioral scientific approach in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team in advancing knowledge to improve health for diverse populations.
  4. Incorporate, through program deliverables and the dissertation proposal, concepts of diversity and inclusion in research, advocacy, and policy to promote health equity.
  5. Demonstrate, through the comprehensive examination, an understanding of the history, theory, and philosophy of science that serve as a foundation for a substantive research area.
  6. Use leadership and mentorship skills in research and advocacy to advance the nursing profession.

Students in the BSN entry option must complete an additional 18 credit hours of master’s level related nursing courses prior to enrolling in the PhD core courses. These courses may be selected from one of the existing nursing majors or emphasis areas or may consist of an individualized program of study. BSN and non-MSN prepared entry level students who do not have beginning level graduate courses in nursing theory, nursing research, and statistics equivalent to those required in the UofSC College of Nursing MSN degree program will need to complete these courses prior to beginning the PhD core courses. These required courses will be determined by the PhD Program Director, in consultation with appropriate course faculty and communicated to students at the time of admission. These courses may relate to the student's research area of interest. All students must have a recent (within 5 years) graduate statistics course or relevant experience.

The PhD in Nursing Science curriculum consists of core courses in which students develop the requisite knowledge and skills for the conceptual, methodological, and analytical development, implementation, interpretation, and critique of nursing research. Upon completion of the required core courses, students take the Qualifying Examination (refer to section entitled Qualifying Examination). Additional program components build on core courses and allow for the development of individualized programs of study, including the preparation and defense of the doctoral dissertation. All PhD requirements, including the dissertation defense, must be completed within ten years of initial enrollment. Curriculum varies depending on the student’s preparation at entry Post-BSN, Post MSN, Post-masters (non-MSN), Post-DNP. All students will take the following PhD core courses: NURS 800, NURS 801, NURS 803, NURS 804, NURS 810, NURS 811, NURS 813, NURS 870, NURS 898 and NURS 899 (12 hours). A detailed description of the courses required for each preparation entry is found in the UofSC Graduate Studies Bulletin website.

A summary of degree requirements is listed below. Each of the requirements is described in detail under PhD Program Academic Policies.

a.  Complete doctoral residency by enrolling in 18 graduate credit hours for three consecutive major semesters. Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credits earned during summer terms (including May session) will count toward the 18 hours required for residency. The residency requirement may be met only after admission to the PhD program;

b.  Complete an approved program of study totaling not less than 39 credits for post- DNP entry, 57 credit hours for master’s degree entry options and not less than 75 credit hours for a BSN entry option, and includes NURS 800, NURS 801, NURS 803, NURS 804, NURS 810, NURS 811, NURS 813, NURS 870, and NURS 817 (or comparable statistics course);

c.  Complete the language requirement, through either a reading knowledge of a foreign language or competency in statistics/research methods specific to the student's proposed course of study;

d.  Complete at least 3 credits of mentored research under a College of Nursing faculty member (NURS 898 Research Internship);

e.  Satisfactorily complete the Qualifying Examination (admission-to-candidacy examination) at least one full academic year prior to the date on which the degree is to be granted. Upon satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination, the  Qualifying Examination Panel completes The Graduate School Doctoral Qualifying Exam Verification Form and submits the form to the College of Nursing PhD Program Office;

f.   File an approved Doctoral Program of Study Form (DPOS) and Doctoral Committee Appointment Request Form (G-DCA) for The Graduate School prior to enrolling in NURS 899 Dissertation Preparation credit hours;

g.  Complete all course requirements on the DPOS;

h.  Satisfactorily complete a Comprehensive Examination (i.e., written dissertation proposal and oral defense of the written dissertation proposal. The Comprehensive Examination is taken after admission to candidacy and completion of all course requirements except those courses in which the student is currently enrolled;

i.   Satisfactorily complete the written and oral defense of the final doctoral dissertation. A candidate must present a dissertation and abstract approved by the student's Doctoral Committee, the PhD Program Director, and The Graduate School no later than five years after successful completion of the comprehensive examination/dissertation proposal defense;

j.   Complete all degree requirements within 10 years of initial enrollment.

A maximum of ten (10) calendar years, beginning with the initial graduate course following matriculation, is allowed for completion of the work for the PhD degree.  For post-DNP entry students, the anticipated length of the PhD in Nursing Science program is  approximately 3 years of full-time enrollment or 4 to 5 years part-time enrollment. For students who enter with an MSN degree or an MS degree in another field, the anticipated length of the PhD in Nursing Science program is approximately 3 to 4 years of full-time enrollment or 5 to 6 years of part-time enrollment. Students entering with a BSN should anticipate completing the program in 4 to 5 years of full-time enrollment or 6 years of part-time enrollment.

A PhD candidate must present a dissertation and abstract approved by the student's Doctoral Committee, the PhD Program Director, and the Dean of The Graduate School no later than five years after the comprehensive examination (i.e., Dissertation Proposal) has been successfully completed.

Upon enrollment, students are expected to make satisfactory and timely progress towards the degree. An Annual Advising Meeting will be held to review and finalize the Individual Development Plan (IDP) Form  and update the student’s bio sketch. The advising meeting will take place in the Spring or Summer of each academic year. The student is responsible for drafting the Individual Development Plan (IDP) Form, updating the bio sketch, scheduling the advising meeting obtaining signatures on the final form, and submitting the final IDP and bio sketch to the PhD Program Director.

Following three years of non-enrollment, admission to the PhD in Nursing Science program becomes invalid and students must reapply and meet current admission requirements for readmission. Upon readmission, students are subject to regulations of the Graduate Studies Bulletin in effect at the time of reenrollment.

Additionally, when courses that are taken at the University are beyond The Graduate School ten-year limit, the course must be revalidated to be applied toward the degree.  Please refer to the Graduate School Bulletin Academic Regulations section on Revalidation of Out of Date Courses for more information. Coursework taken at other institutions cannot be revalidated.

After admission to the doctoral program, the doctoral residency requirement is satisfied with 18 hours of coursework taken over three consecutive major semesters.  Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credits earned during summer terms will count toward the 18 hours required for residency. 

Upon admission to the PhD program, students receive initial academic advising with the PhD Program Director. Upon entry into the program, students will be assigned a mentor. Both the mentor and the PhD program director may be involved in academic advising during the student’s first year of course work. No later than the beginning of the second year following entry into the PhD program, the student will select a major advisor from among College of Nursing Graduate Faculty. The major advisor can be the assigned mentor. Once a major advisor is selected, the major advisor will provide academic support during degree progression through the core courses and candidacy process. Once a student has been admitted to candidacy, the primary advising role moves to the student’s Doctoral Committee Chair. Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, students are admitted to candidacy and required to establish a Doctoral Committee.


The Qualifyng/Candidacy Examination is referred to as the Qualifying Examination in the College of Nursing. 

The Qualifying Examination consists of a written paper that is evaluated by a panel of three PhD-prepared Graduate Faculty in the College of Nursing.

The Qualifying panel consists of three College of Nursing faculty: two (2) PhD-prepared faculty selected by the student and one (1) PhD-prepared faculty appointed by the PhD Program Director. 

PhD students are eligible to sit for the Qualifying Examination once they have completed all required core courses and successfully passed NURS 803. 


Prior to scheduling the Qualifying Exam, the student must complete the Graduate School Doctoral Program of Study Form (DPOS) in consultation with the PhD graduate advisor.

The student emails in writing to the PhD Program Director the request to sit for the Qualifying Examination.  The request needs to include the names of the two members of the faculty panel and the Monday date for the start of the examination.

The PhD Program Director will approve the Chair of the panel, appoint the third panel faculty member, and inform the student and Chair of the appointment and approvals.

The timeline for the Candidacy Examination follows:

  1. The student receives the written questions via email from the PhD graduate advisor in the PhD Program Office by 8am on the start date of the examination.
  2. The student has seven (7) days to complete the written questions.
  3. Once completed the student submits the written answers to the exam via email to PhD graduate advisor in the PhD Program Office by 4pm on the due date.
  4. The PhD program graduate advisor distributes the written answers to the questions to the faculty panel.
  5. The faculty panel has two (2) weeks (10 business) to grade the examination.
  6. Once graded, the faculty panel will meet and determine pass/fail and determine any general feedback to give to the student.
  7. The Chair informs the PhD Program Director of the pass/fail results of the examination. The student is informed of the pass/fail results of the examination by the PhD Program Director.
  8. The Chair of the panel completes the Qualifying Exam Verification form and submits it to the PhD program graduate advisor in the PhD Program Office if the results of the examination is a pass. The PhD program graduate advisor submits the Qualifying Exam Verification form and the final approved Doctoral Plan of Study to the Graduate School.
  9. The Graduate School confirms and confers Candidacy status.


Each panel member independently evaluates the written examination using the criteria for evaluating the PhD Qualifying Examination. The examination result is determined by the Qualifying Examination Panel. Consensus must be achieved by at least 2 of the 3 faculty panel members in reading the paper. The evaluation outcome may be either “Pass” or “Fail.” 

The Qualifying Exam may be taken twice.  If taken a second time, it is scheduled for the following semester. If the exam is failed, remediation (only after first attempt) will be offered prior to repeating the exam. If remediation, the student may be required to take and pass remediation sessions, an independent study, or other remediation support as required by the panel. If failed a second time, the student will no longer be able to continue PhD study in the College of Nursing. 

The Chair is responsible for returning copies of the written paper and evaluation results to the PhD graduate advisor. Documentation of the written examination is retained in the student file until the student graduates or leaves the program.

NOTE: The DPOS protects the student from modifications in the event of curriculum or faculty changes and must be submitted to the Graduate School prior to enrollment in NURS 899 Dissertation Preparation. To make an adjustment in the DPOS, the student must have the approval of the Program Advisory Committee, the PhD Program Director, and the Dean of The Graduate School. A Program of Study Adjustment form is required to document changes to the original Program of Study. Please consult the Office of Academic Affairs or Graduate School website for more information.

The Graduate School considers doctoral students to be candidates for their respective degrees when they have 1) been fully admitted to the doctoral degree program; 2) passed a Qualifying/Candidacy Examination; and 3) filed an approved Doctoral Program of Study form with The Graduate School. The Dean of The Graduate School admits the student to doctoral candidacy after completion of all three conditions. The Graduate School will notify the PhD Program Office if there are issues related to admitting the student to candidacy. Completion of all three components of the admission to candidacy procedures should be at least one full academic year before the degree is granted.

The PhD candidate must establish a Doctoral Committee responsible for providing guidance through the final phases of doctoral work. The Graduate School regulations governing doctoral programs are outlined on their website in the Doctoral Progress to Degree section.

The Doctoral Committee directs the student in the preparation of the dissertation, examines the student on the dissertation, and informs the Dean of The Graduate School as to whether the student passed or failed. The dissertation cannot be submitted to The Graduate School until it has been approved and signed by members of the Doctoral Committee. The Doctoral Committee must consist of at least four members, one of whom is from outside the College of Nursing.

 The Doctoral Committee Appointment Request Form (G-DCA) includes a description of The Graduate School’s policy on committees and faculty membership eligibility requirements. Questions regarding faculty who are eligible to serve should be directed to the PhD Program Director. All Doctoral Committees must receive approval before functioning as a committee. Where alteration of committee membership is necessary, the change must be initiated by the student on a new Doctoral Committee Appointment Request  Form (G-DCA).

 NOTE: If the proposed outside member of any Doctoral Committee is not a member of the UofSC Graduate Faculty, a copy of his or her curriculum vitae and statement indicating experience as a doctoral committee member and research experience relevant to the students' research topic should accompany the request for approval submitted to the PhD Program Director. 

Students must pass a Comprehensive Examination composed of a written and oral defense of their dissertation proposal (i.e., first four chapters of the dissertation) under the direction of their Doctoral Committee. In the College of Nursing, the written dissertation proposal and oral defense of the dissertation proposal constitutes the Comprehensive Exam. The written and oral portions of the Comprehensive Examination are administered by the Doctoral Committee in accordance with the approved PhD Dissertation Proposal Guidelines.

The student first needs to select the members of the Doctoral Committee. The Doctoral Committee consists of a minimum of three PhD-prepared faculty with graduate status from the College of Nursing and one outside member.  The student designates the Doctoral Committee Chair.  The outside member should be chosen based on expertise that enhances the comprehensive background on the committee members. The outside member is approved by the Doctoral Committee Chair and the PhD Program Director. 

When the Doctoral Committee Chair determines the proposal is ready to defend (i.e., first four chapters of the dissertation), the student will submit the proposal to the Doctoral Committee members. The committee members will have two weeks (10 business days) to review the proposal and give feedback to the student. The Doctoral Committee should provide the feedback to the student  one business week (i.e., 5 days) prior to the oral presentation. The student then initiates the Comprehensive Exam/Dissertation Proposal Defense Approval form.  The form is signed by all members of the Dissertation Committee indicating the written proposal is ready for the oral defense.  The proposal defense may be scheduled when the signed Comprehensive Exam/Dissertation Proposal Defense Approval Form is submitted to the PhD program graduate advisor. The Chair of the Dissertation Committee will schedule the date of the oral defense with the student, the other Doctoral Committee members and the PhD Program Director.  The oral portion includes a 30-40 minute PowerPoint presentation of the proposal. Upon successful completion of the written and oral Comprehensive/Dissertation Proposal, the Doctoral Committee Chair must submit a completed Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Verification Form to the PhD Program Director.  The form is then submitted to the Graduate School.  Two attempts at both the written and oral comprehensive exam are permitted.

A candidate must present a dissertation and abstract approved by the student's Doctoral Committee and the Dean of The Graduate School no later than five years after the comprehensive examination has been successfully completed. 




The purpose of this document is to set forth expectations, guidelines, criteria, resources and useful references for the preparation and evaluation of College of Nursing PhD Candidacy Examination. The Candidacy Examination is an opportunity for students to demonstrate scholarship. Scholarship is defined as command of a subject that encompasses discovery, integration, application, and/or teaching of knowledge (Boyer, 1990). Characteristics of scholarliness include demonstrated understanding of the relationships among theory, research, practice, and philosophy. Scholarship also includes appreciation and understanding of the value of pluralism in paradigms, articulation of the boundaries and domains of practice, research, and nursing science and how these domains influence each other.

As a student progresses through the PhD program relationships among theory, research, philosophy, and practice become apparent through a synthesis of the discipline’s different components. Over time, various course assignments contribute to this synthesis. For example, concept and philosophical analysis papers, integrative research reviews, analysis and critique of models, theories and research reports help the student synthesize existing knowledge from theoretical and data-based literature. Based on this analysis and synthesis students gain the knowledge, skill and abilities to advance nursing science based on their own nursing research agenda. The candidacy examination provides students an opportunity to demonstrate what they know, and how they think, and how they have organized and integrated or synthesized issues. The written and oral defense components of the examination should provide evidence of mastery of content associated with a student’s completion of the core nursing courses. The examination provides faculty with evidence of the student’s mastery of knowledge, skill, and abilities necessary to conduct the research required at the dissertation stage of the program. The examination is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate they have the knowledge and values that support professional identity as a nurse scientist invested in the scholarly development of the discipline.

Faculty members who evaluate candidacy exams are looking for evidence that the student is a critical thinker who can demonstrate synthesis and be advanced to the dissertation stage. Critical thinking is defined as purposeful self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as the explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based (Facione & Facione, 1996).

Synthesis is the ability to put together various elements and parts so as to form a whole. Synthesis is the process of combining elements from many sources to put them together into a structure, pattern or product not clearly present before. The synthesis represents personal and professional expression of disciplined inquiry. In order to synthesize one must develop some of the characteristics of an ideal thinker. The ideal thinker has been described as “habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open minded, flexible, fair minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit (Facione & Facione, 1996). The examination provides the student an opportunity to demonstrate these competencies.

The definition of critical thinking can be expanded and includes many sub-skills. Evidence that these skills are employed in the development of one’s ideas and oral defense is useful criteria for evaluation purposes. Critical thinking skills and sub-skills and corresponding elements are outlined below. In evaluating the examination faculty will pay attention to the presence or absence of these skills. Questions that you may want to consider as a means to help you reflect on your paper are outlined. Finally, an evaluation checklist faculty use in grading the examination is attached for your information.

Critical Thinking Skills

Interpretation: categorize, decode sentences, and clarify meaning. Knowledge of specifics and ways and means for dealing with specific facts, trends, conventions, methods, theories, content relative to nursing theory and research given an identified phenomenon of concern.

Analysis: examine ideas, identify arguments, and analyze arguments. Analysis of concepts, principles, theories, methods, and relationships among concepts, theories, variables, measures, methods, and outcomes.

Inference: query evidence, conjecture alternatives, draw conclusions. Interpretation, explanation and discussion of implications, consequences, corollaries and effects. Derive logical consequences given analysis of the evidence, and consequential results.

Explanation: state results, justify procedures, present arguments. Inductive, deductive or retrodictive development of propositions and their relationships or theoretical/conceptual framework associated with a research tradition.

Evaluation: assess claims, assess arguments. Ability to indicate logical fallacies and to compare work with standards or criteria relevant to state-of-the-art scholarship and research-based evidence.

Synthesis. Ability to draw upon many elements from many sources and put them together in a pattern or structure, plan, or communication not clearly present before -- a unique communication, a plan or proposed set of operations, derivation of a set of abstract relations based on disciplined inquiry.

Self-regulation: self-examination, self-correction. Ability to think about own thinking skills, evidence of self-monitoring, analyzing, predicting, planning, evaluation, and revising.

Questions to Consider in Evaluation of the Written Examination. Given these skills, several questions guide faculty and students in evaluating both the written and oral components of the examination. For example:

  1. To what degree does the paper demonstrate knowledge of specifics and ways and means for dealing with specific facts, trends, conventions, methods, theories, content and process relative to nursing theory and research given the identified phenomenon of concern or issue raised by the question?
  2. To what degree does the paper illustrate competent and critical analysis of concepts, principles, theories, methods, and relationships among the elements of the question or among concepts, theories, variables, measures, methods and outcomes associated with the subject matter of the paper?
  3. To what degree is competence evident in the interpretation, explanation, and discussion of the implications, corollaries, consequences and effects of issues or observations raised in the paper?
  4. To what degree is the student able to derive logical consequences from the analysis of evidence presented? Are the consequential results of that analysis adequately discussed and evaluated? Are the applications and relevancy of these issues for nursing science made explicit?
  5. How specifically did the student present and justify arguments and state results? To what degree does the student adequately develop propositions, and relationships among ideas that are associated with the research traditions relevant to the topic of the paper or the issues and observations related to the question?
  6. To what degree does the student express in writing or verbally the knowledge, values, and commitments, associated with being a nurse scientist?
  7. To what degree do you think the student possesses the knowledge, skills and abilities to conduct independent research?
  8. Does the paper demonstrate synthesis?
  9. Should the student be advanced to candidacy status? If not, why not?

The checklist on the next page can assist faculty in determining the acceptability or unacceptable nature of the criteria identified.

References and Resources

Blackburn, S. (2000). Think. London: Oxford University Press.

Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities for the Professorate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Brown, Sharon, Cohen, S, Kaeser, L et. al. (1995). Nursing perspective of Boyer’s scholarship paradigm. Nurse Educator, 20, 5, 26-30.

Chinn, P.L., & Kramer, M.K. (1999). Theory and Nursing: Integrated Knowledge Development (5th ed. ). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Facione, N & Facione, P. (1996). Externalizing the critical thinking in knowledge development and clinical judgment, Nursing Outlook, 44,3,129-136.

Howard, V & Barton, J. (1986). Thinking on Paper. New York: William Morrow.

Meleis, A. (1997). Theoretical Nursing: Development and Progress (3rd ed.) Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Pinch, W. (1995). Synthesis: Implementing a complex process. Nurse Educator, 20, 1, 34-40.

Zinsser, W.K. (1994). On writing well. New York: Harper Perennial.

*Guidelines may be changed at anytime

Specific deadlines are outlined on The Graduate School website in the Doctoral Progress to Degree section Students are urged to consult multiple Graduate School information sources to ensure timely adherence to all deadlines in their final term of enrollment, including:

  • Completion of dissertation research and other degree requirements (language examination, etc.).
  • Application for Graduation. Submit application for graduation to The Graduate School.
  • Dissertation Format Check/Defense. Verify deadlines with The Graduate School published calendars.
  • Dissertation Defense Announcement. Students are required to publish their dissertation defense date, title, and abstract on The Graduate School website 14 days prior to public defense. Consult The Graduate School website for the published deadlines for each semester.
  • Dissertation Signature and Approval Form is available on The Graduate School website
  • Dissertation Final Approval. Verify dates with The Graduate School regarding deadlines for the final approved dissertation that is submitted via the electronic thesis and dissertation/ETD process.
  • Order academic regalia (graduation gown, hood, etc.) from the UofSC Bookstore (if attending Convocation and/or hooding).
  • Attend the College of Nursing Convocation and UofSC doctoral hooding ceremony with family, faculty, and friends to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment (optional)!

 Approved by the CON Graduate Council January 11, 2020

This is the general format for the Dissertation Proposal in the College of Nursing. Students are expected to work closely with their Dissertation Chair and Committee members in tailoring the proposal to the context and methods of the dissertation research.

The Dissertation Proposal in the College of Nursing is organized as follows:

  •  Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Review of the Literature
  • Chapter 3 Conceptual Framework
  • Chapter 4 Research Plan

The following are general guidelines for the content of each chapter.

CHAPTER 1 -  Introduction

Identify phenomenon of interest

Background, context, and discussion of the relevance and significance to nursing science

Specific aims of the proposed research

CHAPTER 2 - Review of the Literature

A review of the relevant literature (i.e., scoping review, systematic review, narrative review, etc.) in relation to the phenomenon of interest. This chapter may be presented in manuscript format.

CHAPTER 3 - Conceptual/Theoretical Framework

Discuss conceptual/theoretical framework(s) guiding the proposed research. This chapter may be presented in manuscript format.

CHAPTER 4 - Research Plan

Present proposed research plan, including (as warranted) description of the research setting and context, participant recruitment plan and strategies, study vriables and measurement, data collection method(s), data analysis strategies, ethical considerations and protection of human subjects, and researcher engagement/reflexivity.

 Approved at the April 13, 2015 CON Graduate Council Meeting

The UofSC College of Nursing PhD dissertation includes three manuscripts which have been published, submitted for review, or ready to submit to a peer-reviewed journal during the period of matriculation as a PhD student in UofSC College of Nursing. The three manuscript dissertation consists of one conceptual, theoretical, or methodological manuscript or an integrated literature review and two data-based manuscripts reporting findings from the dissertation research.

Format and Structure of Three-Manuscript Dissertation

Chapter 1 – Introduction to the research; includes summary of the aims, background, and methods and brief overview of the 3 manuscripts and target journals.

Chapters 2-4 - Each of these three chapters contains one of the three manuscripts which have been published, submitted for review, or ready to submit to a peer-reviewed journal.

  • Chapter 2 – Chapter 2 contains one article that is either an integrated review of the literature or a theoretical, conceptual, or methodological manuscript.
  • Chapters 3 and 4 – Each of these chapters contains a data-based manuscript consisting of specific aims, background, methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Each manuscript included in the dissertation must be formatted for a specific journal.
  • At least one of the three manuscripts must have been submitted prior to the dissertation defense.
  • Manuscripts submitted for publication prior to the final dissertation defense must have the approval of all dissertation committee members in order to be included in the final dissertation.
  • Manuscripts that have not been submitted at the time of the Dissertation Defense must have prior approval of all committee members in order to be included in the dissertation.

Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Recommendations; includes a synthesis of the conclusions of the research, discussion of implications for nursing research, education, and practice, and presentation of future research directions.

Authorship: The PhD.Candidate must be the first author on all three manuscripts, each of which must be prepared under the guidance of at least one member of the candidate’s Dissertation Committee. The student should consult the current Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for further information on publication credit or other professional organization guidelines on authorship and acknowledgement of contributions.

***If the student has not submitted the remaining manuscripts within a two-year period following graduation, the faculty members involved in the dissertation research may re-negotiate authorship order on subsequent publication submissions.

Note: These guidelines apply to all students admitted to the PhD Program in Fall 2015 and beyond. Students admitted prior to Fall 2015 have the option, but are not required, to use the manuscript dissertation format.

All PhD students are strongly encouraged to successfully complete the requirements for Preparing Future Faculty (PFF). The PFF is a national credentialing program established by the Council of Graduate Schools, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Pew Charitable Trust and the National Science Foundation. At UofSC, the PFF program is administered through a partnership between the Center for Teaching Excellence and The Graduate School. See PFF program for more information.

Academic Standing

A student in good standing is defined as a student who: 

  • Maintains the proper GPA
  • Maintains the proper course load (without incompletes)
  • Is not on academic probation
  • Does not have two consecutive semesters of non-enrollment
  • Is on an approved leave of absence
  • Is not on financial hold nor carrying past due balances
  • Has completed the immunizations, background check, and drug screening processes with no identified problems 

A student must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 to remain in good academic standing and to graduate from the College of Nursing and the University. 

A student will be placed on probation if they 

  • Has a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00 (B) at the end of any semester. Student is allowed one calendar year to raise the cumulative GPA to at least 3.00.
  • Has a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00 due to conversion of grades of incomplete at end of semester in which the grade is posted. Student is allowed one major semester of probation dating from the semester in which the Incomplete conversion grade is received by the Registrar to raise the cumulative GPA to 3.00 or above.
  • Has earned less than a minimum grade of 80% (B) in any graduate course work.  If a grade lower than B is earned, this course must be repeated in order to enroll in subsequent nursing courses. However, the initial below B grade remains on the student record and counts toward the “Two C Rule” (see Academic Dismissal).  
  • See Appendix A, CON Graduate Pass/Fail Spring 2020 policy (CON Graduate S+/S/U for Spring 2020 Full-Term and B Term Courses Only). 

A student will be dismissed from the College of Nursing if they: 

  • Receive two grades of 79.99% (C+) or lower in the same NURS course or in any two NURS courses.
  • Fail a required graduate course twice or withdrawing from the course on the first attempt and failing the course on the second attempt or vice versa.  A student may only attempt a specific graduate course twice in the graduate program.  An attempt is any grade or W received in a course.  
  • Have a grade of ‘U’ in two courses
  • Have a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00 at end of one calendar year of academic probation.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of less than 3.00 at end of major semester of probation dating from the semester in which the Incomplete conversion grade is received by the Registrar.
  • Have a positive drug screening.
  • Are banned from a clinical agency because of unprofessional, unethical, or illegal behavior.  
  • Have a professional (RN or APRN) licensure suspension or revocation. 
  • A student in a post-license program who becomes no longer licensed or has any form of restriction/probation as a registered professional nurse by any license granting authority, no longer meet the admission criteria of the program and are no longer eligible to progress. The student will need to notify the program director immediately of the change in their licensure status.  An academic record hold will be placed on the student’s records. The hold may be released upon becoming licensed or restriction/probation removed. 
  • See Appendix A, CON Graduate Pass/Fail Spring 2020 policy (CON Graduate S+/S/U for Spring 2020 Full-Term and B Term Courses Only)

Appeals for reinstatement from students should be reviewed first by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. If the appeal is approved, then the Student Petitions Committee must forward it to the Dean of the Graduate School for action (see Student Petitions).

The Graduate School Academic Forgiveness Policy is outlined in the Graduate Student Bulletin in the Academic Regulations section.

Online Courses

All nursing courses in the PhD Program are partially delivered online through Blackboard Learning Management System which allows UofSC faculty to create a secure course web-site for class communications, posting assignments, posting readings, linking to complementary web-sites, administering exams, and much more.  In courses that use Blackboard, the course syllabus will provide basic information about accessing Blackboard.  Additional information about Blackboard is available at Getting Assistance.  

Students access online courses at Blackboard Access.  Courses offered in this format are constructed and conducted differently than traditional classroom courses. Below are some suggestions on how to be successful in online courses:

  • Become familiar with Blackboard (Bb), the course software
  • Learn how to access Bb using multifactor authentication
  • Read the “How to…” guides that are found in each course. They are well worth your time
  • Participate actively in the course

Academic Advising

For most graduate students, the academic advisor is the program director or student graduate advisor. Advisors are the principal source of assistance to students in planning an academic program, seeking advice and dealing with problems as they arise. However, it is the responsibility of the student to maintain contact with the advisor. Faculty and staff will make every effort to help students but cannot be expected to be responsible for problems not brought to their attention in a timely manner.

A mandatory online and on campus orientation is required for all new PhD students.  Each student receives advisement and is provided a Program of Study and a Plan of Study developed by the program director prior to initial registration.  Thereafter, all PhD students are required to participate in advisement as needed as communicated via Blackboard announcements.  Deviation from the plan of study will result in a mandatory advisement with the program director prior to subsequent registration.  Enrollment in other special courses is contingent upon a student fulfilling additional requirements by stated deadlines (i.e., prerequisites, immunization and other health requirements, health agency requirements, and contractual agreements in effect).  

Course Registration

Registering for courses is an important task that all students must complete throughout their time at UofSC.  New and transfer graduate Nursing students may not register for nursing courses until they have been admitted to the program, agreed to the plan of study and completed orientation. Access our registration system at Self Service Carolina (SSC).

The University Registrar establishes the official calendars followed by the University of South Carolina system. Access the full current and upcoming semester academic calendars to find key dates and information including holidays, registration dates, payment deadlines, drop or add dates, as well as exams and commencement for each term.  Each part of term has specific drop, add, and refund dates. Review your schedule in SSC / to determine the part of term for your classes.

Step 1: Review your Plan of Study in Central.  Log in Central Student Portal - make note of the courses you are projected to take in the next term. If you have questions about your plan of study or the courses you are scheduled to take, contact your program director.

 Step 2: Check your Registration Time Ticket in SSC - see “Registration” then “Registration Notices and Holds”. Make a note of the date/time and set a reminder in your calendar. 

 What is a Registration Time Ticket? It is the time the Registrar's office has appointed a student to begin registration for the next term.

 Step 3: Check your student account for holds.  See "Registration" then "Registration Notices and Holds."  What should you do if you have a hold on your account in SSC?  Contact the office that placed the hold on your account and determine what needs to be done to have the hold removed.  Ensure your hold is removed before the time on your Registration Time Ticket.

 What is an Advisement Hold? Advisement holds are placed on student records by the College of Nursing to ensure students complete all prerequisite requirements.  Advisement holds prevent registration.  Advisement holds will be removed by staff as CastleBranch compliance is confirmed.

 Step 4: Register for the classes listed on your plan of study at your designated registration time (See Step 2 above to determine your designated time).

 Students must register only for those courses listed on their plan of study. Students who deviate from their plan of study may be removed from courses by the College of Nursing.

Registration for a clinical nursing course is limited to students admitted to a College of Nursing graduate degree or certificate program.

 Registration Advisement holds are placed on student records for the following reasons:

  1. NURS 840/840A (independent study courses) requires completion of an independent study contract (G-ISC) by the student and faculty member that must be filed with the student’s graduate advisor for the student’s file and in the UofSC Registrar's Office.
  2. Prior to NURS 899: Each student must be fully compliant with program requirements of completed DPOS and request registration "signoff" from the student graduate advisor for the registration hold to be lifted and to register for the course.  The registration hold is lifted by the student graduate advisor.  

The University of South Carolina Registrar’s web page SSC  enables students to register via the internet and access their personal information such as grades, financial aid, fees, and class schedule.  The most up to date information is posted online.

Students can use SSC to add, drop, or change a course or section.  Any change in enrollment must be recorded with the Registrar’s Office.  Students may check the Academic Calendar online for the last day to drop a course without a grade of “W” being recorded and for the last day to drop a course or withdraw without a grade of “WF” being recorded.  Please note a “W” does constitute an attempt of a course. Failure to complete the official course withdrawal process has serious implications for calculation of the final course grade and calculation of grade point averages.  Students should discuss any potential changes with their program director and assigned student graduate advisor prior to making the changes.

For a refund schedule, please see the Tuition Refund section below for more information. Please note that should a student fail to attend classes in a course for which they are registered, they may not be automatically dropped from the course. Students who fail to drop a course they are not taking, but are still registered for, within the drop/add period may receive a grade of FN in that course.

Applicants to the PhD program may not register for nursing courses until they are admitted to the program, have agreed to the plan of study and completed orientation.

Registration for independent study courses require an independent study contract (see Independent Study Courses).

 Withdrawing from class can have both an academic and financial impact. For information regarding academic withdrawal, please review the withdrawal information provided by the University Registrar. You can also view the Parts of Term Dates and Deadlines located in the Academics section of  Each part of term has specific drop, add, and refund dates. Review your schedule in SSC to determine the part of term for your classes.

If you are withdrawing from all courses during a given semester, contact to obtain the Tuition Refund Appeal packet.

There are typically three sessions offered each summer.  Accelerated courses are typically scheduled to begin after spring final exams and run through July.  Non-clinical courses are typically scheduled to begin after spring final exams and run through the first of August.  Clinical courses are typically scheduled to begin after spring final exams and run through mid-August.  Registration for summer and fall courses occurs simultaneously during the Advance Registration period in the spring semester.  . 

Most assigned textbooks are available in the University Bookstore.  The University Bookstore is located on the first floor of the Russell House.  Several other bookstores such as the South Carolina Bookstore and Addams University Bookstore, located near campus, also sell required textbook and academic supplies.   

At the end of each course, students evaluate the course and its instructor. The results of these evaluations are maintained by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Course Enrollment Status and Load

Students enrolled in full-time or part-time study are entitled to use the full services of the University.  Full-time status requires enrollment in at least nine credit hours during a regular semester and six credit hours during the summer. For the purposes of financial aid, a student must be enrolled in at least six (6) hours per semester to be eligible for financial aid. Students may elect not to enroll for a summer session; however, they are not entitled to use faculty, computing or library resources during that time.  Graduate School requires any student who misses one or more semesters to submit an Update Request Form to renew your enrollment privileges. If three years or more lapse between enrollments, students must reapply for admission.

 UofSC will provide enrollment verification or a transcript to fulfill a verification request. Currently enrolled students can obtain a verification of enrollment through the National Student Clearinghouse at no charge through their Self Service Carolina account.

UofSC will also provide a student with an official transcript for a fee. An official transcript is a complete record of a student’s enrollment history, including all University of South Carolina campuses and can be used to verify credit hours completed by a student. A transcript can be used to verify a student’s degree awarded, enrollment history, GPA, good standing, or eligibility to return to UofSC.

A student may attempt a specific graduate course twice in the graduate program.  An attempt is any grade, W, or WF received in a course.  Each PhD course may only be attempted twice. 
The Graduate School definition for normal full-time enrollment status for graduate students is 9 hours for graduate students or 6 hours for students serving as graduate assistants.
  • Degree Verification
  • Enrollment Verification for Current Students
  • Enrollment Verification for Current Students for Past Academic Terms
  • Enrollment Verification for Alumni for Past Academic Terms
  • Enrollment Verifications for Third Parties
  • Academic Good Standing/Eligible to Return to UofSC
  • Good Standing Auto Insurance
  • Insurance Forms
  • Loan Deferements 

The dean of The Graduate School, under certain circumstances, may certify that a student’s full time enrollment is less than the normal requirement of 9 hours for graduate students or 6 hours for students serving as graduate assistants. This is known as Z-Status. Students seeking an exception to minimum enrollment requirements (Z-Status) should submit a written request to the dean of The Graduate School with acceptable justification from the student’s academic advisor or the graduate director of the academic program. International students must also submit the approved Exemption from Full-time Enrollment form from International Programs for Students. 

Students nearing completion of a doctoral degree requiring a dissertation may be granted special enrollment status and certified as half-time or full-time if the student has completed course work required for the degree except dissertation preparation (899). Eligibility requires verification of three conditions by the student’s academic advisor or program graduate director. The memo requesting Z-status must indicate that:

  1. all course work on the program of study has been completed except for dissertation preparation (899);
  2. the student is working on the dissertation full-time, or if applicable, at least half-time; and
  3. the student is not employed outside their graduate assistantship or, if applicable, employed no more than half-time if not on a graduate assistantship.

A Z-status request for under-enrollment privilege must be term-specific and is limited to two terms. Z-status for under-enrollment privilege may be extended beyond two terms with the approval of and justification from the academic unit and with the approval of the dean of The Graduate School.

Students who request exemption from full-time enrollment for financial aid purposes must submit the Special Academic Enrollment Release form (F 6.2) from the Office of Financial Aid.

A student taking one or more semesters off from coursework will require submission of an Update Request Form. The Admission Committee will review the URF and determine the semester of return based on the student’s revised Program of Study. A new background check and drug screen will be required upon re-enrollment. 

PhD students must contact their program director and/or graduate advisor if taking one or more semesters off from coursework.  

A student may attempt a specific graduate course twice in the graduate program.  An attempt is any grade or W received in a course.  Each PhD course may only be attempted twice. 

Students can drop a course or withdraw with a grade of W or WF via SSC.  Deadlines for dropping a course without receiving a W and WF, as well as refund dates, are determined by the part of term to which a course is attached.  Every part of term during a semester has a drop/add deadline.

Withdrawals are defined by the time in the semester you wish to withdraw. There are both academic and financial implications associated with the date you drop your course(s). Should you wish to withdraw from a course with a grade of W or WF, a grade of W or WF will be recorded on your transcript. A grade of W will not be calculated in your GPA, but will be recorded on your permanent record.  Courses dropped after the WF deadline will be recorded as a WF on your permanent record. The grade of WF is treated as an F in the calculation of your GPA. The WF deadline will vary based on the part of term for your class found in SSC. Prior to withdrawing, you are encouraged to view your Concise Student Schedule located on the Registration tab of the Student section found in SSC to identify your part of term, speak with a counselor at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for questions regarding how dropping some or all your courses will impact your aid (e.g. federal and private loans, grants, scholarships, special status, etc.).

A student who wishes to drop a course for medical reasons or other acceptable cause after the session penalty date specified on the Academic Calendar for that term (last day to receive a W), may petition for assignment of W by submitting a Request for Assignment of W for Extenuating Circumstances form (AS-122A) available from the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs with the appropriate documentation of circumstances, (e.g., a letter from a physician or health care provider). The petition requires the approval of the student’s graduate director, the instructor of each course, and the dean of The Graduate School. A request for partial reduction (rather than complete) withdrawal for extenuating circumstances must include evidence (i.e., a written statement from a physician, counselor, or other qualified professional; or other documentation of extenuating circumstances) that a reduction in, rather than complete withdrawal from, student course work is appropriate. Students must be aware that liability for repayment of student loans and other financial obligations may apply. Note:  W or WF does count as an attempt of the course.  Only two attempts per course are permitted.

For information about tuition refunds, please contact the Bursar’s Office.

Course work not part of a completed certificate program or graduate degree from USC or another institution may be transferred for credit toward a doctoral degree. A limited amount of course work may be transferred from another institution for credit toward a doctoral degree. The exact number of transfer hours varies by program, but may not constitute more than 50 percent of the hours listed on a program of study, not including dissertation preparation (899) or the equivalent.

The transfer course work must be relevant to the program and have course content and a level of instruction equivalent to that offered by the University’s own graduate programs.  All transfer credit decisions are at the discretion of the course faculty.  The appropriate content faculty member reviews the syllabus to determine equivalency and to make a formal recommendation to the appropriate program director. The Program Director routes their recommendation along with faculty member’s recommendation to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for final CON approval.   Approval for acceptance of transfer credit is then submitted to the dean of the Graduate School for final approval on the Request for Transfer of Academic Credit (G-RTC) form.  Only credits with grades of B or better (equivalent to 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale) may be transferred from another institution into a doctoral degree program. Course work transferred for credit toward a doctoral degree must be from an accredited institution and must be no more than ten years old at the time of graduation. Please refer to the Graduate Studies Bulletin Academic Regulations section on Transfer Credit before contacting the graduate advisor for more information about transfer credit. 

Students enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of South Carolina may, with permission of the academic program, request revalidation of USC graduate courses over ten years old for inclusion on the doctoral program of study. Each academic unit will determine whether a course is appropriate for revalidation. All instructions for revalidation must be followed and the Permit for Revalidation Examination (PRE) form must be completed and submitted to the dean of The Graduate School for approval prior to revalidation. Proof of payment of revalidation fees must be submitted with the Permit for Revalidation Examination form.

Note: Coursework taken at other institutions may not be revalidated.

  •  Revalidation of a course requires that the student demonstrate current knowledge of the course content by a faculty member who currently is teaching or has taught the course. 
  • Core, foundation, and Clinical Courses leading to nurse practitioner preparation cannot be re-validated. These courses must be repeated. 

 The College of Nursing Program Director recommends approval to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who then sends the request to The Graduate School for approval.  A per credit hour fee must be paid to the Bursar’s Office before revalidation can occur and a receipt must accompany the Permit for Revalidation Examination form for approvals. It is the student’s responsibility to track the Permit for Revalidation Examination form through the approval process, and to obtain the faculty member’s signature upon completion of revalidation requirements.  The completed form must then be submitted to the appropriate College of Nursing graduate advisor for filing and forwarding to The Graduate School.  

The purpose of an independent study is to allow the student to pursue an area of academic interest not adequately covered by the regular course structure. Students seeking to enroll in an independent study course should work with a faculty member willing to serve as Instructor of Record. Prior to enrolling in the course, the student and faculty member will meet to develop the learning objectives and course outcomes. A syllabus is required to be completed and approved. 

 Registration for Independent Study

The Graduate School Independent Study Contract form (G-ISC) is required for any graded, for-credit course in which the student is doing independent academic work. This contract is to contain the following information:

  • Course Description should give insight into the content to be covered within one semester or part of the semester
  • List of Tasks should include 1) a brief description of each task and how it will be assessed, 2) an estimated of when it will be due or accomplished, and 3) the weighted contribution toward a final grade, preferably expressed as a percentage.  The total of all of the tasks should be 100 percent.
  • Grading Scale should indicate the percentage ranges for each grade and must include an A and
    an F. Indicating the full range of grade possibilities is most desirable. For example: A = 90–
    100%; B+ = 85-89%; B = 80–84%; C+ = 75-79%; C = 70–74%; D+ = 65–69%; D = 60–64%; F = 0–59%.

 This form must be approved by course faculty and graduate director. The G-ISC form and syllabus should be first submitted to the graduate advisor prior to registration.  The original G-ISC should be forwarded to the Office of the Registrar before registering for the course.  

Attendance Policies 

Students are expected to attend all regular class meetings.  Unsatisfactory class attendance may be considered adequate reason by the instructor for requesting the student to withdraw from a course.  Any special circumstances (including but not limited to religious holidays) must be discussed with the course faculty prior to the start of the semester.

Students are expected to log into the course at least 2 times weekly to read announcements, access course content in Course Weekly Guides, participate in interactive online learning activities. Unsatisfactory class attendance may be considered adequate reason by the instructor for requesting the student to withdraw from the course.

Medical Clearance for Absences from Class Due to Injury or Illness

Students must notify all course and clinical faculty if injury or illness results in absence from class and/or clinical experiences (including simulation, lab, and extrinsic.)

  • The student must have the CON Medical Clearance Form completed and endorsed by a provider. A medical clearance form or a ‘return to school’ note generated from a provider, that is not documented on the CON Medical Clearance Form, will not be accepted.
  • The student must obtain a written clearance from the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, appropriate Assistant Dean for Undergraduate/Graduate Studies, or Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before returning to class and/or clinical experiences.
  • The Medical Clearance for Core Performance Standard Form can be obtained from the CON Form Library  or from Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.

Grading Policies

Student grade report is viewable within SSC in the Grades section.  Final grades are due 72 hours after the exams.  If your grade is not posted, contact your instructor.  For letter grade definitions, see 2020-2021 Graduate Bulletin, Grading Policies

The College of Nursing uses a 10-point grading scale with no grade rounding.  

A   = 90-100
B+ = 87-89.99 
B   = 80-86.99 
C+ = 77-79.99
C   = 70-76.99
D+ = 67-69.99 
D   = 60-66.99 
F   = 59.99 or lower 
The Grade Point Average (GPA) is tabulated at the end of each semester.  The University of South Carolina grades on a standard 4.00 grading system.  

Completion or satisfactory progress in these courses will be indicated by the grade of "T"; unsatisfactory progress will be indicated by a grade of "U".  No other grading options (i.e., Incomplete) are available.  These grades will not be used to calculate the student's GPA.  However, the College of Nursing does not allow a student to continue in the program with a grade of "U" in two courses. 

The role of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs  in matters of PhD grade disagreement is to investigate the processes used by faculty in determining the grade and advise the faculty member in handling any perceived problems with applying grading processes outlined in the syllabus or any other apparent violations of fairness.  The faculty member ultimately determines the grade that is awarded.

If a required course is failed, it must be repeated at the next available offering and a satisfactory grade must be achieved. The repeated course may not be taken with the Pass/Fail Option. Any courses for which the failed course is a prerequisite may not be taken until a satisfactory grade in the prerequisite course has been achieved. However, the failing grade remains on the transcript even though the student has repeated the course and obtained a passing grade or above. The failing grade is still calculated into the cumulative GPA. Violation(s) of the Nurse Practice Act will be reported to the Board of Nursing.

Graduate students may also require guidance on professional behavior or clinical remediation. A graduate learning contract may be developed by the course faculty in conjunction with the program director or graduate director. The learning contract will outline the behavior or clinical skills in need of improvement, an action plan and timeline for improvement as well as consequences if improvements are not achieved.

Incomplete Policy

A student who fails to complete a course within the prescribed period and does not withdraw from the course will receive, at the instructor's discretion, either a grade of I (incomplete) or F (<80%).  If an I grade is granted but not completed in the time period outlined the grade will revert to an F or faculty determined grade. 

A grade of incomplete in a non-clinical course is assigned by the instructor only under the following conditions:

  •  The student has academic good standing in the course with a passing grade average.
  •  The student has no more than two outstanding course requirements unmet in the course.
  •  The student and instructor have completed an Assignment of Incomplete Grade Form (AS-5).
  • The student and instructor have an agreed date of submission for all outstanding course requirements. The student has up to 12 months to complete the work unless the instructor has given an earlier deadline.

Any grade of incomplete which remains after one calendar year from date of assignment automatically converts to either an "F" or the backup grade assigned by the instructor. 

Examination Policies 

  1. All exams must be completed by the due date/time. Failure to complete any exam by the due date/time will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment. In case of emergencies and/or extenuating circumstances, please notify the faculty in advance.
  2. Point deductions will be incurred for failure to complete the exams in the designated time frame.  If you exceed the time limits for the exams, 2 points per minute will be subtracted from the grade.
  3. Discussion or reproduction of any online assessment (e.g. exams or quizzes) in any form is a violation of academic integrity and, if it happens, will be reported.

 There are 3 options for taking proctored exams: 

  • Attend test proctored sessions in person at the Distributed Learning office on the UofSC Columbia campus, at 1705 College Street, Close-Hipp, Room 203, 803-576-8457.  No fee.  
  • Attend test proctored sessions at testing centers on UofSC regional campuses.  No fee.
  • The secure online proctoring service, ProctorU, lets you schedule exam times and locations that fit your schedule. ProctorU verifies your identity and records your testing session. Each testing session is reviewed by a certified proctor to ensure integrity. You will be required to pay an $8-14 fee for online proctoring, depending on the length of the exam, directly to ProctorU during your exam. You must also have access to a computer (Windows Vista or higher (but not 10S) or Mac OS X 10.5 or higher) with a webcam and reliable Internet connection to use ProctorU. Additional options for taking proctored exams will be posted on the course site in Blackboard. You will need to pay this fee each time you take an exam.

Travel to Research Sites

Students are responsible for transportation to sites for their research each semester and for covering the cost of travel. It is the obligation of students to provide their own vehicle collision and/or bodily injury liability insurance for their personal vehicles. Neither the College of Nursing nor the University of South Carolina is responsible for the cost of any vehicle transportation or  occurrences.

Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Protocol

This protocol applies to all USC Columbia campus employees, student employees and all other USC students who have an exposure to a potentially infectious biological material.  A potentially infectious material or biological hazard may include an incident involving a microorganism (e.g. bacterial agent, viral agent, and fungal agent), human-derived material, biological toxin, or an incident involving recombinant DNA research.  Exposures through sexual contact are not included in this protocol.

 Procedures for needle sticks or other exposure to a potentially infectious material:

  • Report the incident immediately to the supervisor and clinical faculty to authorize medical evaluation.  Supervisors are responsible for ensuring students are offered immediate medical care, appropriate diagnostics and treatment.
    • Percutaneous Exposure (e.g., needle stick, cut, animal bite) – Immediately wash or flush the exposed area with soap and water for 10 minutes.
    • Mucous Membrane Exposure (i.e., eyes, nose or mouth) – Flush the exposed area with water.  If exposure is to the eyes, flush eyes (holding open) using the eyewash station for 10 minutes.
  •  The student or supervisor should immediately notify the appropriate entity within the health care institution where the exposure occurs, in order to initiate testing of the “source patient” for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infection.  It is important for rapid HIV testing to be completed with results available within a few hours. Each institution has its own procedures for obtaining “source patient” testing, and supervising faculty should know these procedures. If there is uncertainty about whom to contact within the host institution, instructions should be obtained from one or more of the following:
    • Employee health office
    • Charge nurse for the floor or unit where the exposure occurred
    • Infection control nurse
    • Administrative officer of the day
    • Clinic director (for outpatient sites)
  •  Once the necessary “source patient” testing has been ordered, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the incident (see below for specific instructions).
  •  Notify Assistant Dean for Student Affairs of incident at 803-608-7770 between the hours of 9am-9pm.  Leave a message with return phone number if no answer.  If no response within one hour, call the Office of Academic Affairs at 803-777-7412.
  • Call CompEndium for non-emergency injuries. In an emergency, visit a local emergency room or call 911.  Follow these five important steps to report your injury:
    • Immediately report the injury to your supervisor. You and your supervisor call CompEndium together at 877-709-2667 to report the injury.
    • Follow CompEndium’s Nurse Case Manager’s instructions for any authorized treatment and further reporting.
    • Complete an Employee Injury Report and have your supervisor complete a Supervisor's Report. Fax both reports to CompEndium at 877-710-2667 and to (803 777-0616, ATTN:  Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.)
    • If the treating physician does not release you to return to work, be sure to complete the Benefits Election section at the bottom of the Employee Injury Report. Meet with your department HR Contact for an explanation of your options or call the Benefits Office at 803-777-6650 for assistance.
    • Report the injury to CompEndium Services within 10 days of the date of injury.

 All exposure incidents in the clinical agencies and the client-simulated laboratory (CSL) shall be reported, investigated, and documented. If an exposure occurs and there is no faculty present, the student must notify faculty and/or the Office of Academic Affairs as soon as possible.

 Workers’ Compensation covers the following populations who experience a bloodborne pathogen exposure while working or at clinical if, appropriate reports are filed: 

  •  All university employees and apprenticeship students in the Colleges of Education, Exercise Science, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Social Work. 
  • Work study students and graduate assistants who are exposed while on the job.

 Students who suffer a Non-Job Related/Non clinical related Blood borne Pathogen Exposure during an enrolled academic session:

  • Should report to the Student Health Services for initial evaluation and referral. If the SHC is closed, students may seek care at the Palmetto Richland Hospital Emergency Department. If away from Columbia area, the student should report to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Evaluation and Review

The Associate Dean for Academics is responsible for annually reviewing this policy and procedures and its effectiveness and for updating the program as needed.

Reviewed August 2021


 Degree Completion and Graduation

The graduation application is the first step you will need to take in order to graduate from your academic program. To be eligible for graduation a student must meet all University and College of Nursing standards for receiving a degree.  Candidates for degrees must file a formal application during the last semester before graduation prior to the deadline set by the Registrar’s Office.  Deadlines are posted for each term on the official academic calendar of the University Registrar.  Applications filed after the deadline result will not be accepted and will delay receipt of diploma.  At the time of graduation, the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be at least 3.00. Additionally, the student’s average on all grades recorded on the program of study for courses numbered 700 or above must be at least 3.00 and all courses listed on the program of study must be at least 3.00. 

Review the application and award processes on the  Registrar's website to better understand what happens once you submit your application.

All degree requirements are expected to be completed within ten years.  Candidates who are unable to meet this requirement must petition for an extension to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Any additional requirements in effect at the time of re-evaluation must be completed.

All failing (“F”) and Incomplete grades must be cleared or completed by graduation day or the student’s name will be removed from the graduation list. A cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required. All University balances must be paid in full.  At the time of graduation, the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be at least 3.00. Additionally, the student’s average on all grades recorded on the program of study for courses numbered 700 or above must be at least 3.00 and all courses listed on the program of study must be at least 3.00.

The Docotoral Commencement and Hooding Ceremony is the official University graduation ceremony for doctoral students and is held for degree candidates in both Fall and Spring each year. Traditionally held in the Koger Center for the Arts, the ceremony is attended by most recipients of the doctoral degree.  The President of the University of South Carolina presides over commencement. To honor their commitment, each degree candidate is recognized by name and congratulated by the dean of the graduate’s college or school.  

To be eligible to participate, you must have completed the degree requirements, submitted an application for graduation for the term in which the commencement ceremony will be held, have an approved dissertation on file with the Graduate School and submitted the online Survey of Earned Doctoraes. 

Doctoral students who have already graduated may request to participate in commencement exercises for a term other than their actual graduation term. In order to be considered to walk late, students must submit the Request to Participate in Commencement Early/Late Form. Visit the Registrar's website for additional information regarding commencement.

In addition, the College of Nursing celebrates the accomplishments of the graduating class with a special Convocation ceremony in both Fall and Spring each year. 

Students with outstanding University balances, incompletes, “NR” or uncleared “F” grades at the time of graduation will not be able to obtain their diplomas nor will they be able to obtain any official transcripts or other University information until the balances are paid in full.

Have a question about your degree or diploma? Review frequently asked questions to find answers.

Students are encouraged to nominate themselves or others for the College of Nursing Student Awards.  More information about the nomination process will be disseminated to students during the academic year.


Upon graduation, students of the College become alumni of the University of South Carolina.  The College's alumni family is a major support system for the College and alumni donors help to support several scholarships annually.  Alumni are electronically sent copies of UofSC College of Nursing Gamecock CONnection and invited to attend annual alumni events and celebrations.  All graduates are encouraged to notify th alumni office or the My Carolina Alumni Association of address changes.  Contact us at

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