University of Wisconsin–Madison
Prof. Linsey Steege and Prof. Barbara King lead a research discussion with PhD students.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

How to Get In

Admission 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
  • Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Satisfactory academic references from individuals who can speak to your scholarly activities, research capabilities and potential for success in the doctoral program
  • Satisfactory examples of two 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
photo of Professor and mentor Barbara Bowers (left) with PhD student Andrea Gilmore-Bykovsky
Professor and mentor Barbara Bowers (left) with PhD student Andrea Gilmore-Bykovsky

An important part of the admission process involves identifying your major professor/advisor and your discipline for secondary concentration. The careful match of faculty and students research interests is important since your major professor will supervise your program and provide the research training experience. Visit the faculty page for more information.

You may contact any faculty member prior to applying. We are happy to arrange connections with current students as well. They can often provide special insight into the program, academic services and about life at the University and in Madison.

If you have any questions, would like to discuss visit options, or want to be connected with faculty members, contact us using the information at the bottom of this page.

Cost

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

Financial Support

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.

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.

  • Application opens: Early September
  • Priority deadline for Fall: February 1
  • Priority deadline for Spring: November 1
  • After the priority deadlines, completed applications will be considered for admission and financial awards as available.

Every application is given a complete and holistic review. Interviews with potential faculty advisors are scheduled as part of the application process. Telephone 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:

  • Complete and submit the UW-Madison graduate electronic application.
  • Official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) completed within the last five years. The UW–Madison code is: 1846.
  • Official TOEFL or MELAB score (international students only).
  • Names of three or four references to provide letters of recommendation. The references are submitted electronically in your online application for admission.
  • Reasons for Graduate Study: This essay will be used to evaluate your potential for success in the PhD program at UW–Madison. The document should be no more than three typewritten, double-spaced pages (11-point font or larger).  Please address each of the following:

Your Reasons for PhD Education—Describe the factors that led you to pursue a PhD in Nursing and how it will advance your career. For example, why do you want a PhD? What are your career goals? What kind of position or work will you seek after completing the PhD degree? How will having a PhD prepare you for your career path?

Your Research Interests—Describe the areas in which you would like to conduct research. If possible, identify specific populations, problems, or phenomena that you would like to study. Describe any specific research questions you would like to answer. In your response, indicate if you’ve had any previous research experiences and how they have prepared you for PhD study.

Your Reasons for Seeking Admission to UW–Madison—Discuss how your personal goals fit with the purpose and objectives of the PhD program at UW-Madison. Identify any faculty members at UW–Madison who appear to have shared interests (patient population, setting, health problem or research methods) and that you would like to have as a faculty mentor. Describe what you hope to learn from her/him. Comment on the discipline(s) you are interested in exploring as a minor area of study.

  •  Current curriculum vitae or resume.
  • At least two samples of completed scholarly work. These may include publications, thesis or major papers.

Submit these materials to the School of Nursing:

Send one complete set of 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.

Submit via postal mail to:

PhD Program Admissions
UW–Madison School of Nursing
Suite 1100 Cooper Hall
701 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

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.

Curriculum

Overview

Our program requires a minimum of 52 credits and is designed to be completed in 4 years. Students complete core courses in the areas of Scholarly Inquiry, Theory and Practice of Nursing, Policy and Leadership, and Nursing Education.

The core is supplemented through intentional and collaborative coursework outside of nursing, and guided research experiences.

Our program is delivered in a face-to-face format to actively and personally engage students in the practice of scholarly inquiry and to allow students to take advantage of the expertise on the University campus.

Core Courses

  • SCHOLARLY INQUIRY: 18 credits min

    N803 and N804 Advanced Research Design and Methods I & II (6 credits): The focus of these courses is on nursing and health related research traditions, the relationship between research paradigms and research designs and how various research designs have been used by nurse researchers. Both quantitative and qualitative methods and approaches will be examined.

    N815 Knowledge Development in Nursing (3 credits): Examination of the history of the discipline of nursing, with emphasis on the evolution of debates regarding what is known and how it is known.

    N816 Proseminar in Nursing Research (1 credit): Two semesters are required; one in the first year of doctoral study and one as the student is nearing completion of coursework (Year 3). This seminar focuses on professional development and socialization to the role of nurse scientist. Topics emphasize development of career paths that will lead to productive research, scholarly publication/presentation, master teaching, and academic leadership. Discussion includes current topics in nursing research, especially as illustrated by the planned and ongoing research of graduate students and faculty in nursing.

    N802 Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit): Ethical issues in the design, conduct, and reporting of research are examined in the context of the nature of the scientific endeavor, the structure of the research community, and professional and federal guidelines for supporting scientific integrity and controlling misconduct.

    Advanced Methods/Statistics (6 credits)

  • POLICY & LEADERSHIP: 3-9 credits min

    N703 Health Care and Public Policy (3 credits)

    N817 Research in Communities, Populations, and Systems (3 credits): Students will examine concepts and methods of research directed toward health of communities, populations, and systems. The course provides a foundation for future research.

    N847 Policy and Leadership Practicum (3 credits): Students will engage as participants and observers in varied public policy agencies that correspond to their research problems or populations of interest. The focus will be on examining how a particular set of policies can influence the health of individuals or a given population.

    N817 and N847 are required if students select this area of emphasis.

  • THEORY & PRACTICE OF NURSING: 3-9 credits min

    A Population or Phenomenon Course

    N590 Contemporary Practices in Nursing – Various Special Topics (1-3 credits)

    N702 Health Promotion and Disease  Prevention in Diverse Communities (3 credits): Health promotion and disease prevention interventions are examined for populations, incorporating multidisciplinary approaches. Focuses on developing increased knowledge, appreciation, and skills for health promotion and disease prevention among diverse communities. Addresses epidemiological, individual, socio-economic, and environmental factors related to health status.

    N722 Advanced Practice Nursing Theory: Adults and Older Adults (3 credits): This course will examine theoretical perspectives and evidence-based approaches to human responses to health and illness during adulthood and old age. Concepts and research from multiple disciplines will be examined as a framework for reflective practice with adults.

    N741 Advanced Practice Nursing Theory: Family Process & Child Development (3 credits): Analyzes selected family and child development theories and research that inform advanced practice nursing. Applies these concepts to assess child and family needs, enhance the parent-child relationship, and develop family-centered, culturally responsive interventions in health and illness.

    N751 Advanced Practice Nursing Theory: Psychiatric Mental Health (3 credits): Analysis and integration of selected theories and models in psychotherapy, neuroscience, mental health, psychiatric disorders, and advanced psychiatric mental health nursing in complex care settings with diverse patients, communities, and populations.

    N818 Patient-Centered Research (3 credits): This course addresses conceptual and methodological perspectives in how patient-centered research is conducted from the development through the testing and implementation of interventions. Attention is given to various conceptualizations of patient-centeredness, to the behavioral and physiological origins of patient-centered interventions, and to the trajectory of testing such interventions, from descriptive studies to experimental trials.

    N819 Clinical Field Practicum (3 credits): Students will engage as participants and observers in clinical or other care settings that correspond to their research problems or populations of interest. The focus will be on deepening knowledge of the health problems faced by patients in the care setting, development of research questions or proposals to improve their health outcomes, and understanding facets of the environment that influence how research is implemented there.

    N818 and N819 are required if students select this area of emphasis

  • NURSING EDUCATION: 3 credits min

    Three required credits may be earned in coursework focusing on nursing education. Suggested nursing courses (but other education-focused courses may be approved) include:

    N785 Foundations of Curriculum Development and Evaluation in Nursing Education (3 credits): Examination and application of knowledge and skills related to curriculum planning, implementation and evaluation for nursing education. Emphasis on history and philosophy of nursing curricula, models of curriculum and evaluation, and strategies for change and innovation.

    N786 Foundations of Teaching and Learning in Nursing (3 credits): The focus of this course is the planning, implementing, and evaluation of teaching and learning strategies for nursing education within diverse settings and student populations.

    N787 Nursing Education Practicum (1-3 credits): Application of knowledge and skills in the nurse educator role in selected educational environments (classroom, clinical, laboratory and/or communities). Seminar component included for discussion of instructional experiences and issues.

  • RESEARCH/DISSERTATION/GROUP PARTICIPATION: 10 credits min

    N799/N999/N990: Guided research, dissertation work, and participation in their faculty mentor’s research group (or another research group agreed upon with the mentor) each semester.

  • PhD MINOR: 9 credits min

    The purpose of the minor is to add breadth to a PhD major. Two minor options are available.

    The Option A minor requires a minimum of 9 credits in a single department/major field of study. Examples of Option A minors include Women’s Studies, Sociology, Educational Psychology, Prevention Science, Industrial Engineering, and Business.

    The Option B minor, or distributed minor, requires a minimum of 9 credits in one or more departments and can include coursework in the School of Nursing.

    There are a number of certificate programs that can be used to fulfill the minor requirement. Some examples include:

    • Bioinformatics
    • Consumer Health Advocacy
    • Fundamentals of Clinical Research
    • Gender and Women’s Studies
    • Gerontology
    • Global Health
    • Humans and the Global Environment
    • Patient Safety
    • Prevention and Intervention Science
    • Type 2 Translational Research

Careers

The purpose of our PhD program is to prepare researchers to develop, evaluate and disseminate new knowledge in nursing and health science. Our program provides nurses with the foundation to become leaders in research that advances the scientific basis of nursing and contributes to the health of the public.

We prepare graduates for roles as academic and clinical nurse scientists, with expertise in the theory and practice of nursing, health policy, and leadership. Our graduates hold positions at major universities (e.g., University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Commonwealth University, The Ohio State University), large health-care systems, and within the government.

Connect with An Advisor

An important part of your success in our PhD program is the careful match of faculty and your research interests. This is crucial since your major professor will supervise your program and provide the research training experience. Visit the faculty profile page for more information.

You may contact any faculty member prior to applying. We are happy to arrange connections with current students as well. They can often provide special insight into the program, academic services and about life at the University and in Madison.

If you have any questions, would like to discuss visit options, or want to be connected with faculty members, please contact us.

Carol Aspinwall

Career Advisor

caaspinwall@wisc.edu

608-263-9109

Kristi Hammond

DNP & PhD Program Coordinator

kristi.hammond@wisc.edu

608-263-5258

Mandi Moy

Director of Admissions & Recruitment

mandi.moy@wisc.edu

608-263-5261