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Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science

PhD Student Profile Thumb: Delilah BruskasPhD Student Profile Thumb: Delilah Bruskas
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Jane ChungPhD Student Profile Thumb: Jane Chung
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Chris ImesPhD Student Profile Thumb: Chris Imes
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Katryna McCoyPhD Student Profile Thumb: Katryna McCoy
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Shannon PetzPhD Student Profile Thumb: Shannon Petz
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Steve SimpkinsPhD Student Profile Thumb: Steve Simpkins
PhD Student Profile Thumb: Lauren ThorngatePhD Student Profile Thumb: Lauren Thorngate

About the PhD

The University of Washington School of Nursing PhD Program is recognized as a pacesetter within the world of nursing, both domestically and abroad. As a level-one research institution, PhD students come to this program to learn from expert researchers who provide not only innovative, technologically-sophisticated instruction within the classroom but also mentorship tailored to your unique needs. Ranked first in the nation by US News & World Report for over twenty years, the University of Washington School of Nursing is an ideal environment for those with backgrounds in nursing and allied health sciences who envision themselves to be leaders within the world of nursing.

You are also encouraged to review our UW School of Nursing Fact & Research Sheets which may help paint a picture of our PhD program:

What is unique about the PhD program at the University of Washington?

UW is unique in its holistic view of what constitutes nursing science. We believe that multidisciplinary approaches to creating sound science are invaluable. While our students become familiar with classical approaches to nursing theory, they are also encouraged to explore other approaches to inquiry to further enhance their unique approach to creating nursing science.

Our expert faculty represent a broad spectrum of approaches to nursing research – from bench science testing serologic samples, to enhancing disease management and prevention measures with individuals and families, to working with communities from the ground up, to evaluating health care systems to inform and impact policy. PhD students are encouraged to develop their own unique research question, building on a foundation of their life experiences, study within the program, partnerships with colleagues and mentorship by our resident experts.

The UW School of Nursing PhD program is also unique in its acceptance of non-nurses. PhD cohorts have included physical therapists, complementary and alternative medicine providers, as well as other allied health professionals. We also accept post-baccalaureate students who think that they are ready to begin intensive study of nursing science and research. Finally, each year a large proportion of our incoming cohort consists of international students from countries around the globe. Here at the UW, we embrace the notion of a community of scholars made of investigators coming from various points in their professional careers as well as differing backgrounds, as diversity allows for exponential growth of the entire student group.

Structure of the program

A new PhD cohort is accepted on an annual basis, with study in Seattle beginning in the Autumn. Following application to the PhD program, prospective students are generally contacted regarding admissions decisions in early April. After an offer of admission has been accepted, you are assigned an advisor who provides guidance with general questions as well as the process of course registration. This individual serves as your primary mentor until you self-select a Dissertation Committee Chair (generally between years 1 and 3):

Your Dissertation Chair is the School of Nursing faculty member whose research approach, interest or methodology is the most appropriate fit with your proposed dissertation project. Once your dissertation chair has been selected, the two of you work to build a team of experts (from the School of Nursing, UW at large, as well as outside the University) whose knowledge areas further enhance the development of your own research skill-set. This dissertation committee provides guidance through your general examinations, your dissertation research, and your final defense.

With regard to coursework, the first two years of study focus on attaining knowledge within the fields of nursing science, your substantive area of expertise, and research methodologies. Your dissertation committee will help you to build a program of study, which will detail the coursework necessary to build your unique scholarly skill set. Once this program of study is completed, you will begin preparing for general examinations and initiate your dissertation research project. The average length of time to complete the PhD program is 4.5 years of full-time study.

What does the first year look like?

Doctoral studies at the University of Washington School of Nursing begin with a core curriculum emphasizing nursing philosophy, conceptual frameworks, theory and research methodologies. This core curriculum is completed in sequence with your PhD cohort. For students to attend on a full-time basis, core courses are supplemented by additional classes selected with the guidance of your advisor.

Funding Mechanisms

Funding for PhD students is a priority. Common sources of funding include:

Many PhD students opt to offset costs by working for the University. A 50% position, equivalent to 20 hours a week, covers tuition in its entirety and provides a stipend as well as medical/dental/eye insurance.

Whenever scholarships or paid positions become available, they are posted to our School of Nursing Funding Blog. Common positions include working as a:

  • Research Assistant
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Graduate Student Assistant