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
  • Bio-behavioral Sciences


Interested in our other PhD track-options? We have info sessions recorded for Caring Science and Health Care Systems you can watch.

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
  • Healthcare 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 already 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 bio-behavioral science.

Expected PhD Program Outcomes

  1. Create new knowledge through the research process.
  2. Demonstrates commitment to the profession through publications and conference presentations or engagement in professional organizations.
  3. Examines multiple theories and methodologies for application to research problems.
  4. Engages with fellow scientists and students in scholarly discourse.
  5. Demonstrates ethical responsibility and action as a scientist.
  6. Considers research findings relevant to public health and healthcare policy.