Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

“The most valuable parts of my experience at UW–Madison have been the incredible mentoring and opportunities. I have been able to travel and present at national and international conferences, have received funding for a pilot study, and have attended many professional development events.”

Jessica Rainbow, PhD '18

Minimum credits for the degree

Minimum years to graduate

Average faculty mentor to student ratio

How to Get In

Eligibility Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited (CCNE or NLN) program
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the last 60 credits of the most recent baccalaureate degree
  • Three or four academic references from individuals who can speak to your scholarly activities, research capabilities, and potential for success in the doctoral program
  • Two examples of original papers or other scholarly work
  • Essay

English Proficiency

If your native language is not English, or your undergraduate instruction was not in English, you need a minimum English proficiency test score: TOEFL = 580 (paper)/92 (internet-based), MELAB = 82 or IELTS = 7. Please refer to the Graduate School for more information.

You are exempt if any of the following applies to your situation:

  • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution you attended
  • You earned a degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university not more than five years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment
  • You have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than five years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment

Our program requires a minimum of 52 credits and is designed to be completed in 4 years. Graduate School cost of attendance is based on a nine-month period. Although the cost of attending UW-Madison will vary among all students, the university bases its financial aid awards on this budget: Graduate School Cost of Attendance.

We make a strong commitment to fund PhD students to support full-time study. Sources of funding include extramural, campus, and internal School of Nursing funding, including assistantship positions that may come with full tuition remission. The majority of funding decisions are made in the spring for the following academic year. All students are encouraged to apply for funding.

Visit the Costs & Financial Aid page for full information about financial support.

Submit your online application and all required application materials by the following deadlines:

  • Application opens: Early September
  • Priority deadline for Fall: December 1
  • Deadline for Fall (international applicants only): March 15
  • Deadline for Spring: October 1
  • After the priority deadlines, completed applications will be considered for admission and financial awards as available.

The faculty admissions committee will review each candidate and consider an interview when all required application materials have been received. We will continuously review those who submit eligible and completed applications.

Every application is given a complete and holistic review. Interviews with potential faculty advisors are scheduled as part of the application process. Online interviews are scheduled for international applicants. Limited funding is available to cover travel costs for the interview process.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be able to track the Graduate School and School of Nursing’s receipt of your materials through the online status system.

Submit these materials to the graduate school:

  • UW–Madison graduate electronic application: Complete and submit online
  • Official transcripts or academic records from all institutions attended. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature. If you are currently completing a degree, you will need to provide a final transcript indicating your degree was awarded.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB score (international students only)
  • Three or four letters of recommendation: Provide names and contact information of references in your online application.
  • Upload two examples of scholarly work that are related to nursing or health: We want to know more about your current thinking that is related to nursing and or scholarship. Please share with us writing samples that you think would provide us a good picture of your writing ability and thinking in these areas. Examples of your scholarly work do not have to be something that has been published. Examples could be a manuscript, paper written for a course, research report, essay, or a detailed description of a nursing program you developed and evaluated, with rationale.
    • If you are submitting a writing sample with multiple authors, please provide a description of your role in the writing process and which part(s) you were responsible for writing.
  • Your reasons for seeking a PhD in nursing: Please provide detailed responses to ALL of the following questions. Your statement must address ALL of the following in 6 pages or less, double-spaced, PDF format:
    • What are your motives in seeking a PhD in nursing? Include your career goals, future job/position you would like to pursue, as well as how getting a PhD in nursing could help you to meet your future goals and/or career pursuit.
    • At this time, what topics or questions are you interested in studying? Among what group or population might your area of research include? Additionally, what are your reasons for choosing your research interest and subject group?
    • What research experiences have you had? Please describe how these experiences may have prepared you for graduate school. If you have not had prior experience in research, then describe an experience in which you had to problem-solve your way to a good solution. How might this experience have prepared you for conducting research?
    • What are your reasons for applying to the University of Wisconsin–Madison? Include in your reason(s) how earning a PhD in nursing at UW–Madison addresses your professional goals.
    • Aligning student’s research interests with faculty expertise can be based on a topic, question, population, or type of research method used. Assuming that your ideas would develop and become refined in a PhD program, which researcher(s) at UW–Madison School of Nursing can you imagine yourself working with and why?
    • Describe characteristics you are looking for in a faculty advisor and mentor?

The Early Entry PhD Option is an innovative program designed for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a research career. With the assistance of a faculty advisory committee, early entry students plan an individualized program of study and research, drawing on existing undergraduate and graduate courses in nursing and related disciplines. The option consists of early and intensive research training, clinical practice, and required and recommended coursework.

Two degrees are awarded to students who complete this option—a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS), granted by the UW–Madison School of Nursing and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), granted by the UW–Madison Graduate School.

Connect with Us

If you have questions, would like to discuss visit options, or want to be connected with faculty members, please contact us. We are happy to arrange connections with current students as well. They can often provide special insight into the program, academic services, and life at the University and in Madison.

Kristine L Kwekkeboom, PhD, RN, FAAN

Position title: Professor, Lillian S. Moehlman Bascom Professor in Nursing and PhD Program Director


Phone: 608-263-5168

Mandi Moy

Position title: Admissions & Recruitment Director


Phone: 608-263-5261

Mariah Allen

Position title: Academic Advising Manager


Phone: 608-263-5258