PhD—Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science

PhD-LabThe UW School of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD) program faculty are global leaders in nursing science. Students from all over the world create a community of scholars and learn from expert researchers. Our expert nursing scientists provide mentorship tailored to student needs using technology-driven instruction.

The UW PhD program is ideal for students with diverse backgrounds who want to become premier leaders in nursing research.

We maintain a holistic view of nursing science and our faculty’s scholarship represents a broad array of research projects and innovative methodologies. Some examples include:

  • Symptom science
  • Laboratory sciences
  • Health promotion and disease management across the lifespan
  • Policy analysis and advancement of cost-effective health care systems
  • Health equity
  • Innovative methodologies

A Diverse Community of Scholars

We welcome applicants with a baccalaureate degree in any field. We encourage post-baccalaureate students who are ready to begin intensive study of nursing science to apply.

UW PhD students have a wide range of academic backgrounds, including:

  • Nursing
  • Public health
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Health care systems and policy
  • Music
  • Humanities


Our PhD program is highly individualized with a goal to create independent thinkers with demonstrated ability to articulate, investigate, and report on original research that makes a substantial contribution to health care knowledge.

The program is flexible, reflecting the enormous scope and impact of the latest nursing research and policy making. Although the PhD curriculum can be completed in three years of full time study, individual student program lengths are expected to vary.

Once offered admission as a PhD student, you are matched with a faculty adviser. Your adviser provides guidance and helps answer questions until you select a supervisory committee chair (between years one and three). Your chair then serves in an advisory capacity and as the supervisor for your dissertation.

The first year of the PhD program focuses on required core courses emphasizing nursing philosophy, conceptual frameworks, theory, and research methodologies. In addition, students complete their statistics sequence and may take selected electives or engage in research or teaching practica. At the end of the first year, students complete the preliminary exam. Students who enter the PhD program with a BSN can earn a MS in Nursing Science during the program following successful completion of the first year of the PhD program and the preliminary examination.

After the first year, courses and other scholarly activities are determined by you and your supervisory committee to comprise your individual program of study. The supervisory chair is a School of Nursing graduate faculty member whose research approach, interest, or research methods aligns with your proposed dissertation project. You and your chair complete the supervisory committee by selecting faculty members from the School of Nursing, the UW at large, and other appropriate experts outside the University. This committee approves your program of study and guides you through the general examinations, dissertation research, and final defense.

Once the program of study is completed, you prepare for general examinations and begin your dissertation research project. The doctoral dissertation and its defense are the program’s culmination and demonstrate your ability to identify and pursue research that meets the highest of professional standards.

Degree program requirements