Background: Nursing profession has intensified education and training of nurse researchers who could enhance the health of people through the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. This resulted in rapid increase in the number, of doctoral programs in nursing in many countries in recent decades, but the guidelines for quality programs are lacking. Objectives: To develop guidelines for quality criteria, standards, and indicators for doctoral programs in nursing that may be used worldwide. Methods: The work of the quality criteria, standards and indicators (QCSI) committee of the International Network for Doctoral Education in Nursing formed the basis of this paper and authors supplemented it by a literature review and consultation with international experts. Findings: The major criteria of quality of doctoral program were: the nature of the mission, the quality of faculty, the students, the curriculum, program administration, and resources. Sub-criteria, standards and indicators for each of these criteria were identified in sufficient detail to provide guidance for quality doctoral programs in nursing. Concerns as to whether the QCSI would apply to those countries and doctoral programs that focus on a research thesis only, without formal coursework were addressed. Experts from across the world felt that the QCSI would be applicable for most program types. Conclusions: Global criteria, standards, and indicators for doctoral programs in nursing presented in this article may serve as guidelines for most doctoral programs in the world as these were developed by experienced nurse scholars representing eight countries from five continents. The degree of detail in these parameters is sufficient to enhance the utility of the QCSI for all doctoral programs worldwide. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.