PhD Technical Standards

Essential abilities and characteristics defined as Technical Standards are required for successful admission to and graduation from all College of Nursing (CON) programs.

Technical Standards for PhD students in nursing include all of the nonacademic abilities essential for research and academic teaching proficiency and pertain to all students regardless of setting (e.g., classroom/didactic, office, on-campus, off-campus, email communication, etc.).

These Technical Standards have also been designed to establish performance expectations that will enable students to develop appropriate timelines, maintain safety, and complete research studies with or without reasonable accommodations.

The PhD degree program at the WSU College of Nursing requires a dissertation or thesis based on independent research. Granting of this degree implies the recipient has demonstrated a base of knowledge in their chosen field of study and the ability to independently apply that knowledge to form hypotheses, design and conduct experiments, interpret experimental results, and communicate these findings to the scientific community. Thus, a candidate for the PhD in nursing must possess abilities and skills that allow for observation, intellectual and conceptual reasoning, motor coordination, communication, and professional behavior.

Although Technical Standards outline the necessary abilities of all PhD students, they are not intended to prevent any applicant or student for whom reasonable accommodations will allow for completion of competencies and graduation requirements. The use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable.


The following general abilities have been identified as necessary, with or without reasonable accommodation, to meet technical standards for progression in the graduate PhD nursing program.

I. Observation

Students must be able to acquire and assimilate knowledge by direct observation (visual, auditory, and/or tactile) of demonstrations, experiments, and experiences within research and instructional settings. If a candidate’s ability to observe or acquire information is compromised, it will be the responsibility of the student to utilize alternative means to collect and convey essential information.

II. Intellectual/Conceptual/Quantitative

Students must be able to conceptualize, measure, calculate, analyze, reason, integrate, and synthesize information as well as concepts in a timely fashion.

III. Communication

Students must be able to communicate effectively with a wide variety of individuals of diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds in life, practice, and academic settings. Students must be able to:

  • communicate proficiently in English and have the ability to understand and participate in lectures and laboratory instruction.
  • effectively analyze and present literature and research data in both large and small group settings as well as to individuals, especially those in the scientific community.
  • respond to questions in a manner that reflects the norms of professional discourse in a variety of settings (i.e., during presentations and in other educational settings).
  • communicate effectively, efficiently, respectfully, and sensitively with research participants, faculty, staff, and colleagues.

IV. Motor and Sensory

Students must possess motor skills necessary to perform procedures required for experimentation within their chosen discipline. Students must possess sufficient motor skills necessary to independently design and perform standard procedures for their coursework and research studies, such as: using a computer and software programs.

V. Behavioral and Social

Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, motivation, respect, and work ethic are all personal qualities required for a successful scientific or academic career and are assessed during the admissions and throughout the educational process.

In addition, students must possess the emotional and mental health required for a successful scientific and/or academic career, such as the ability to:

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

Graduate students with identified disabilities are to contact the University’s Access Center before the semester that they plan to attend and initiate the accommodations process. Accommodations are unique for each individual and some require a significant amount of time to prepare for, so it is essential that students notify the Access Center as far in advance as possible.

Students with a disability that is identified after enrollment, (i.e., during the semester) should contact the Access Center as soon as possible to arrange for an appointment and a review of their documentation by an Access advisor.

All accommodations must be approved through the student’s campus-specific Access Center. Contact information for the Access Center at each campus can be found at the following websites:

Policy TitlePhD Technical Standards
Policy Inception Date06/2022
Policy Applicable PartyCollege of Nursing Graduate Students
Date of Last Change03/2023
Responsible Party, Level I (to create and review)Center for Student Excellence
Responsible Party, Level II (to approve)CON Faculty & DNP Program Director
Responsible Party, Level III (to implement)Center for Student Excellence