PhD in Nursing Science 

Further your education in the profession you love . . . .

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.

Graduates are prepared to:

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.

Application Deadline: March 1st

  • Admission decisions anticipated by March 1st for entry of fall cohort of students
  • Acceptance of offer of admission must be made by April 30th for entry of fall cohort of students

Outstanding Features:

  • 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
    • Community-Based Research / Health Disparities
  • 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
  • Seven years allotted for part-time students to complete requirements
  • Students may enter with post-BSN or with master’s degree
Frequently Asked Questions

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 is an on-site course of study and 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 seven years per University policy.

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 Office of Graduate and Professional Education 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 Graduate and Professional Education website for guidelines and Graduate Funding Policywith 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 seven years.

Q:Can the PhD in Nursing Science program be completed online?
A:  UD’s PhD in Nursing Science Program is primarily an on-site course of study. At the present time one PhD level nursing science course is offered online, several courses are offered hybrid. Statistics, cognate and methodology elective courses are offered by departments outside the College of Health Sciences and may be offered online. However, to maximize on-site time allotted to course work for each cohort of doctoral students, every attempt is made to arrange course scheduling in blocks of time to best accommodate students and faculty.

Q: I am an international student and live a long distance from UD. Must I complete an interview?
A:  An interview is a requirement of the PhD in Nursing Science application process. However, time, place and format of the interview will be negotiated between members of the PhD in Nursing Science Program Subcommittee (who will conduct the interview) and the applicant. Interview options include use of Skype or other telecommunications /electronic means.

Q:What is the maximum allotted time for completing the PhD in Nursing Science Program?
A:Students are expected to complete the program in seven years per 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).


General Course Information

Core Courses (13 credits)

  • NURS 810:  Philosophical & Theoretical Basis of Nursing Science
  • NURS 849:  Philosophy Theory & Curriculum in Nursing Education
  • NURS 843:  Policy & Finance for Health Care Delivery
  • NURS 839:  Nurse Scientist Seminar I
  • NURS 850:  Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • NURS 870:  Writing for Dissemination

Research/Methods/Analysis Courses (16 credits)

  • Statistics from ED, PSYCH, SOC
  • NURS 812:  Responsible Conduct of Research (online)
  • NURS 814:  Advanced Quantitative Research in Nursing Science
  • NURS 816:  Advanced Qualitative Research in Nursing Science
  • Research Methodology Course (offered by other departments and relevant to student’s research focus)

Cognate Electives (12 – 24 credits) **
Dissertation (9 credits)

**Students entering post-BSN will take 24 credits; post-MSN students will take 12 credits.

Admission Requirements & Criteria

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 at

  • 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 (upload a copy as Supplemental Document)
  • 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 at

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

Lorraine J. Phillips, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA
PhD Program Director
302-831-8392 |