PhD in Nursing Science


The University of Delaware School of Nursing Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing Science program prepares researchers and academic faculty for positions in college, university, and clinical settings.



Advance the art and science of nursing and to assume leadership positions in the profession. Take responsibility for shaping and advancing healthcare with a goal of improving individual, family, and population health through the integration of theory, research, and evidence-based practice.

Core Courses (16 credits):

  • NURS 810: Philosophical and Theoretical Basis of Nursing Science (3)
  • NURS 839: Nurse Scientist Seminar (1)
  • NURS 843: Policy and Finance for Healthcare Delivery (3)
  • NURS 849: Philosophy, Theory & Curriculum in Nursing Education (3)
  • NURS 850: Dissertation Proposal Seminar (1)
  • NURS 870: Writing for Dissemination (2)
  • NURS 891: Teaching Practicum (3)

Research/Methods/Analysis Courses (19 credits):

Statistics from BHAN, EDUC, PSYCH, SOC, STAT (6) NURS 812: Responsible Conduct of Research (1)

NURS 814: Advanced Quantitative Research in Nursing Science (3) NURS 816: Advanced Qualitative Research in Nursing Science (3)

NURS 892 Research Practicum (3)

Research Methodology Course (3) (offered by other departments, relevant to student’s research focus

Cognate Electives (6-9 credits)**

Post-BSN Bridge Coursework (9 credits):

For BSN to PhD students, the following three bridge courses are taken in the first year of the program:

  • NURS 813 Leadership & Innovation in Population Health (3 credits)
  • NURS 844 Population Healthcare Informatics (3 credits)
  • NURS 881 Population Health I (3 credits)

Dissertation (9 credits)

**Students entering post-BSN will take 9 credits; post-MSN students will take 6 credits.

UD Tuition

The 2023-2024 UD graduate student tuition rate per credit hour is $1,352.

Tuition Credit

Due to a College of Health Sciences Dean’s Scholarship, the student tuition rate is lower than the published UD graduate tuition rate. The final student tuition rate for the PhD in Nursing Science program is $1055/credit. Please contact the department for more information. 

  • Competitive graduate assistantships
  • Area of study defined by applicant’s fit with research expertise of Nursing and interdisciplinary faculty
  • School of Nursing areas of research emphasis:
    • Aging / Healthy Aging
    • Symptom Science / Self-Management
    • Health Services
  • Interdisciplinary resources at UD
  • Only PhD in Nursing Science program in the State of Delaware
  • Individualized attention in small cohort of students
  • Immersion in the research process through assistantships on funded studies
  • Full-time study allows completion in three to four years
  • Students may enter with post-BSN or with master’s degree

Applicants must have completed a minimum of 3 credits undergraduate and 3 credits graduate level statistics and will adhere to the University’s Office of Graduate & Professional Education procedures using the online admission process accessible here.

  • BSN from an accredited college/university (minimum GPA 3.0) and/or MS in Nursing or other health-related discipline from an accredited college/university (minimum GPA 3.5)
  • Active Registered Nurse license in the U.S.
  • Three Essays addressing:
    • Identification of research focus, including brief literature review to support potential research questions
    • Alignment of professional objectives with UD SON environment and resources
    • Summary of education and experiences that prepare you for doctoral study
  • Three letters of recommendation from an academic, employer and/or other professional source
  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • An interview with PhD Program Director and/or Program faculty prior to admission
  • English proficiency requirements for international applicants can be found here.

The School of Nursing PhD Program Committee makes an admission decision after reviewing the completed application.

Q: Can I work full-time and take classes in the PhD in Nursing Science program part-time, on course at a time?
A: Part time enrollment options are available. Programs of study will be tailored to meet individual student situations. However, UD’s PhD in Nursing Science Program requires one year of full time study during the period of earning a PhD. All requirements of the program through dissertation defense must be completed within 10-14 semesters per University policy. See question and answer below about maximum time to complete the Ph.D.

Q: If I am accepted into the PhD in Nursing Sciences Program as a full-time students can I continue to work pat-time in my position outside of UD?
A: Students who are funded and are employed as graduate assistants may seek approval from the UD Graduate College and provide a rationale for their request including evidence that their graduate studies will progress as indicated in their plan of study. Priority is given to employment associated with development as a researcher.

Q: What financial support is available to . me as a full-time or part-time student in UD’s PhD program?
A:  Students accepted into the PhD in Nursing Science Program may be offered graduate assistantships that will pay a stipend in exchange for working 20 hours per week as a research assistant or a teaching assistant. See the UD Graduate College website for guidelines and Graduate Funding Policy with stipend rates for the current academic year.

Q: What is the research focus of UD’s PhD program?
A:  Research foci of doctoral students must fit within one of the three broad research foci of the School of Nursing and compliment the program of research of one of the School of Nursing faculty who will serve as the doctoral student advisor/mentor. The three areas are:

  • Aging / Healthy Aging
  • Community Based Research / Health Disparities
  • Symptom Science / Self Management

Please visit our website for more information about our research program, a description of selected funded nursing studies and profiles of individual School of Nursing faculty.

Q: How long will it take me to complete the PhD Program?
A:  Students enrolled full time can complete course work within two years, after which students must pass a comprehensive exam, and defend a proposal comprised of the first three chapters of their dissertation research. Depending on the timeframe of these requirements and the nature and complexity of the dissertation research the PhD program can be completed within three to four years. Time to completion for part time students will depend upon the customized plan of study determined at time of admission but must meet the UD requirement of 10-14 semesters.

Q: Can the PhD in Nursing Science program be completed online?
A:  UD’s PhD in Nursing Science Program is a hybrid delivery method. PhD level nursing courses are offered online, either in synchronous or asynchronous format. Statistics, cognate and methodology elective courses are offered by departments outside the College of Health Sciences and may or may not be offered online.

Q: What is the maximum allotted time for completing the PhD in Nursing Science Program?

A:Students are expected to complete the program 10-14 semesters, when entering with a Master's degree or BSN, respectively, University policy.

Q: Are applicants to the PhD program required to be nurses?
A: Yes; a copy of a current registered nurse license must be uploaded as “other documents” in the application

Q: Do you admit nurses with a BSN only to UD’s PhD program?
A:  Yes, you can enter as a BSN prepared nurse.

Q: Are GRE’s required for admission into the PhD in Nursing Science program?
A: No. Effective for Fall 2016 admissions, GREs are no longer required.

Q: What kind of jobs, positions and opportunities are available for PhD nurses?
A: There is a severe shortage of PhD nurses. Of the more than 3 million nurses in the United States less than 1% is PhD-prepared and most of the PhD prepared nurses are working in academic institutions. The Future of Nursing report (2011) by the Institute of Medicine recommends a doubling of the number of nurses with doctorates by 2020. Consequently, PhD nurses are needed to fill roles in:

  • Academia (e.g., clinical and research faculty),
  • Acute care (e.g., research facilitators, project directors, administrators, data managers),
  • Community/public health (e.g., administrator, population-based projects),
  • Pharmaceutical industry (e.g., research and development, managing drug trials),
  • Biomedical industry (e.g., testing new mechanisms, interventions and inventions),
  • Non-profits (e.g., advisory and trustee boards), and
  • Government sectors (e.g., advisor/consultant at state or federal agencies, elected roles).

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program and post graduate APRN certificate program at the University of Delaware are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (