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Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing

Become a Nurse Scientist

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Nursing is a research degree designed to prepare nurse scholars to advance the art, science and practice of the discipline. The competency-based curriculum is taught with a combination of online and intensive formats. Courses are completed online, and in addition, students will attend a one or two week intensive experience in Denver. Students will travel to Denver once each semester (fall, spring and summer) while completing coursework and two to three times during their dissertation research.

We offer three research foci to students pursuing the PhD in Nursing:

  • Health Care Systems Research
  • Caring Science
  • Biobehavioral Sciences

Career Possibilities

The College of Nursing’s online PhD program equips nurses to conduct research and to engage in knowledge development and scholarly inquiry across a variety of roles and settings including:

  • Scientist/Researcher
  • Scholar
  • Educator
  • Administrator
  • Health Care Policy Analyst

PhD Pathways

The College of Nursing has three major pathways to the PhD. Applicants may enter the PhD program with either a bachelor's in nursing or master's in nursing.

  • The post-bachelors BS-PhD pathway offers direct admission to the PhD program for applicants who already hold a bachelors degree in nursing and have completed the GRE. Coursework is individualized for each student. Email to learn more about this option.
  • The post-bachelors MS-PhD pathway offers a 30-credit MS degree (or an advanced practice specialty) leading into PhD coursework and research. Both degrees are awarded. For more information, visit the MS-PhD program page for application and program specifics.
  • The post-masters PhD pathway is designed for applicants who alreday hold a masters degree in nursing. Two to three years of post-master’s doctoral course work leads to the PhD dissertation and PhD degree. Applicants with a master's in nursing should follow all PhD program requirements for admission.


The PhD program includes 42 credits of coursework and 18 credits of dissertation. All students must take the core courses in addition to selecting a focus in health care systems, caring science or biobehavioral science.

Graduate Qualities

The College of Nursing expects to instill many qualities in every PhD graduate. Students will:

  • Demonstrate mastery in a selected substantive area of the nursing discipline.
  • Understand methodologies for critiquing, developing and extending disciplinary knowledge.
  • Pursue learning as a journey of ongoing personal development and excellence in research within and beyond the discipline.
  • Apply logical, critical and creative thinking to a range of research problems.
  • Work both autonomously and collaboratively as a scientist within and beyond the discipline and community of scholars.
  • Commit to ethical social responsibility and action as a scientist.
  • Communicate effectively as a scientist and as a leading member of the discipline.
  • Appreciate an international perspective and cultural sensitivity in research.
  • Embrace the diversity of opportunities for career development, professional roles and ​​disciplinary leadership as a nurse scientist, scholar, educator and mentor.