Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD)

The UW School of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD) program is recognized as a global leader in nursing science. Students come from all over the world to create a community of scholars and learn from expert researchers. These researchers provide mentorship tailored to students’ needs using technology-driven instruction. The UW School of Nursing is an ideal environment for those with diverse backgrounds who aspire to become premier leaders in nursing research.

The UW is unique in its holistic view of nursing science. Our faculty’s scholarship represents a broad spectrum of research projects and methodologies. Some of our approaches include:

  • Bench science
  • Enhancing disease management and prevention measures
  • Working with communities
  • Evaluating healthcare systems to inform and impact policy

Students will learn classical approaches to nursing theory, and are also encouraged to enhance their research using their own original ideas and methods.  PhD students will develop a unique research question by building on a foundation of life experiences, academic study, partnerships, and faculty mentorship.

The UW School of Nursing’s PhD program does not require a prior degree in nursing or a master’s degree. Post-baccalaureate students who are ready to begin intensive study of nursing science and research are encouraged to apply.


PhD applications are due January 15 each year to begin study the following Autumn Quarter.

A Scholarly Community of Diverse Backgrounds

Our PhD students come from a variety of backgrounds, including non-nursing disciplines:

  • Physical therapists
  • Complementary and alternative medicine providers
  • Healthcare policy
  • Psychology
  • Music
  • Public health

Learn from Leaders in Nursing Research

Once offered admission, students are assigned an advisor to provide guidance and help answer questions until the student selects a dissertation committee chair (between years 1 and 3). The PhD curriculum is designed for students to complete in three years of full-time study.

The first year in the PhD program focuses on a core curriculum emphasizing nursing philosophy, conceptual frameworks, theory, and research methodologies. Core curriculum is completed in sequence. A PhD student collaborates with their advisor to identify additional coursework to supplement the core curriculum in the first year.

The dissertation chair is a School of Nursing graduate faculty member whose research approach, interest, or research methods is the best fit with a student’s proposed dissertation project. A student and their dissertation chair collaborate to form a supervisory committee of faculty members from the School of Nursing, the UW at large, and experts outside the University. This committee guides the student through their general examinations, dissertation research, and final defense.

The dissertation committee helps develop a program of study, which determines the courses taken throughout the program. Once the program of study is completed, the student prepares for general examinations and begins the dissertation research project.

Current and former PhD student dissertation projects include:

  • Improving Foster Care Health Outcomes
  • Mobility in Elderly & Telehealth
  • Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Gerontology: Infectious Disease in Older Adults
  • Public Health Systems: Maternal/Child Health Promotion
  • Adults Aging with HIV
  • Neonatal Neurodevelopment

PhD Graduates in the Field

Graduates from our PhD in Nursing Science program bring leadership and research excellence to a variety of healthcare roles:

  • Faculty at a major university school of nursing
  • Health policy consultant
  • Nurse scientist
  • Research consultant