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UCF students working on their nursing degree who are seeking a Ph.D. now have the opportunity to take an online class at UCF to access world-class research facilities and university faculty.

The state's first online Ph.D. program is specifically designed to educate nurse scientists through UCF's College of Nursing Program, one of the nation's best online graduate programs for nursing.

Online Ph.D. students will have access to the university's state-of-the-art facilities, experience small class sizes of fewer than 20 and receive one-on-one academic support to help meet their educational goals, according to a press release from UCF spokesman Gene Kruckemyer.

"The 60 credit-hour program combines the strengths of the nation's second-largest university with the convenience and flexibility of an online format," the release states.

The first classes will begin the summer of 2015 and applications are currently being accepted. The application deadline is Jan. 15.

"By creating an online program, we're able to attract and prepare more nurse researchers who are the future of health care," said Susan K. Chase, associate dean for graduate affairs in the College of Nursing. "Graduates will be able to serve in senior leadership roles in the fields of academia, health care, military and more, and will make valuable contributions to advance nursing and solve some of our world's ever-evolving health concerns."

The Ph.D. program aligns with The Indicators of Quality in Research-Focused Doctoral Programs in Nursing published by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

"This new program expands our existing online offerings to seven and aids in the growing demand for nurse Ph.D.s," said Donna Neff, program coordinator and interim director of research.

The UCF College of Nursing program currently has 14 faculty scholars actively engaged in cutting-edge research in fields including simulation, health systems and health care self-management.

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