Background: The rapidly increasing number of nursing doctoral programs has caused concern about the quality of nursing doctoral education, including in Korea. Objectives: To describe the perceived quality of Korean nursing doctoral education in faculty, student, curriculum and resources. Design: Focus group. Settings: Fourteen Korean nursing doctoral programs that are research focused and include coursework. Participants: Four groups of deans, faculty, students and graduates; students completed three semesters of doctoral program; and graduates completed doctoral programs within the most recent 3 years. Methods: Focus groups examined the strengths and weaknesses of faculty, students, curriculum, and resources. Results: Faculty strengths were universities' recognition of faculty research/scholarship and the ability of faculty to attract extramural funding. Faculty weaknesses were aging faculty; high faculty workload; insufficient number of faculty; and teaching without expertise in nursing theories. Student strengths were diverse student backgrounds; multidisciplinary dissertation committee members, and opportunities to socialize with peers and graduates/faculty. Students' weaknesses were overproduction of PhDs with low academic quality; a lower number and quality of doctoral applicants; and lack of full-time students. Curriculum strengths were focusing on specific research areas; emphasis on research ethics; and multidisciplinary courses. Curriculum weaknesses were insufficient time for curriculum development; inadequate courses for core research competencies; and a lack of linkage between theory and practice. Resources strengths were inter-institutional courses with credit transfer. Weaknesses were diminished university financial support for graduate students and limited access to school facilities. Variations in participant groups (providers [deans and faculty] vs. receivers [students and graduates]) and geographical location (capital city vs. regional) were noted on all the four components. Conclusions: The quality characteristics of faculty, students, curriculum, and resources identified in this first systematic evaluation of the quality of nursing doctoral education can inform nursing schools, universities, and policy-makers about areas for improvement in Korea and possibly in the world. Geographical variations found in these four components of doctoral education warrant attention by policy-makers in Korea.
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