Doctoral study in Nursing

Why study with us?

  • The School of Nursing is now New Zealand’s largest postgraduate nursing school and an influential leader within nursing education nationally and internationally.
  • We offer first-rate PhD qualifications, and our graduates are highly sought after by employers.
  • Enrol with us and you will be studying in a dynamic and innovative learning environment with highly qualified staff and first-class educational facilities.

Research opportunities

As a student you’ll be taught and mentored by staff who are involved in research studies that have the potential to impact on patient outcomes, healthcare delivery and the wider community.

The School of Nursing is proud of its strong research culture and undertakes collaborative research activities with other schools in the faculty and other universities both nationally and internationally.

The School has rapidly gained recognition for its research outputs and has won grants from leading agencies such as the Marsden Fund and Health Research Council (HRC).

Our highly qualified research staff contribute directly to the development and teaching of the programmes to ensure they are underpinned by current evidence-based practice and research.

We welcome research proposals in topics relating to our key research specialisations:

Acute clinical care and patient safety

Research includes a broad mix of projects centred on patient safety and quantifying change in clinical practice.

  • Keratin4VLU: a trial of wool-derived keratin dressings for venous ulcers
  • Low dose aspirin for venous leg ulcers: a randomised trial (Aspirin4VLU)
  • Avoidance of routine endotracheal suction in patients having cardiac surgery who are ventilated for less than 12 hours


This body of research focuses on the assessment, prevention, and management of cancer treatment-related toxicities, and inequalities in cancer treatment and outcomes.

  • Women’s Wellness After Cancer programme
  • Geriatric oncology
  • Intrachemotherapy exercise
  • Oranga Tu: an intervention for Māori men with prostate cancer
  • Improving early access to lung cancer diagnosis for Māori and Rural Communities
  • Reducing delay and increasing access to early diagnosis for colorectal cancer

Ageing and rehabilitation

  • Mental Health and older people
  • Older people in the community
  • Workforce development
  • Best practice

Healthy communities

  • Investigating differences in fructose absorption in high school students
  • Genetics of diabetes and obesity
  • Harnessing the spark of life: Maximising whānau contributors to rangatahi wellbeing
  • Youth 2000 Survey series: National youth health and wellbeing surveys 2001, 2007, 2012; Alternative Education Surveys 2000 and 2009
  • National Science Challenge project; Supporting healthy lifestyles: A Māori and Pasifika Health approach
  • Professional rugby clubs as a vehicle to deliver weight loss programmes for men
  • Neighbourhoods for Active Kids – participatory GIS to understand links  

Mental Health and Addictions

  • Use of advance directives in mental health services
  • Therapeutic interventions in the criminal justice system
  • History of mental health services
  • Mental health law in action
  • Police response to community mental health crises
  • Improving physical health care for mental health service users
  • Primary mental health
  • Pedagogical issues  

Our people

Pursue your topic with us and benefit from exceptional standards of support and supervision from internationally recognised researchers.

Professor Merryn Gott
Palliative and end of life care, ageing and care for older people; user involvement and participatory research

Professor Matthew Parsons
Gerontology, health services for older people, chronic disease

Associate Professor Robyn Dixon
Child and family studies, adolescent health and development

Associate Professor Andrew Jull
Wound management and healing, weight management, obesity prevention, nursing

Past research topics

  • “Adolescents and health literacy”, supervised by Robyn Dixon and Dr Nicolette Sheridan
  • “Management of diabetes by Primary Health Care Nurses”, supervised by Professor Bruce Arroll, Dr Nicolette Sheridan and Associate Professor Tim Kenealy
  • “Promoting independent living study”, supervised by Ngaire Kerse and Nicola North
  • “An exploration of the combat experience of RNZAF aircrew of WW2, from the perspective of the veterans, their spouse/partner, children and/or grandchildren”, supervised by Mathew Parsons and Jennifer Hand

Scholarships and awards

Help and advice

For help enrolling in your PhD, please contact the FMHS student centre.

If you have questions about a particular specialisation, or for general information about doctoral study in nursing, please contact the relevant staff member from the School of Nursing.  

Apply for doctoral study