The Early Entry PhD Option in nursing 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.
Application opens: February 1
Deadline: April 1
The Early Entry PhD Option program of study consists of early and intensive research training, clinical practice, and required and recommended coursework. An integral part of the Early Entry PhD Option is preparation for a career as a nurse researcher. Throughout the program, students will participate in a research team facilitated by their major advisor. As students progress in the program, there is an expectation that they will select their own focus of research and conduct independent work culminating in the doctoral dissertation.
Programs of study are individually planned by the student and the advisory committee and take into consideration the students’ backgrounds, goals, and interests. Early in the program there may be little variation from a traditional undergraduate student’s program. As students progress in the program, clinical experiences and coursework are tailored to fit with their identified areas of inquiry. Graduate course work may be substituted for undergraduate required courses. For example, Early Entry students have substituted graduate level quantitative and interpretive research courses for the undergraduate research course, thereby gaining considerable more depth in research while undergraduates. Students have also exchanged undergraduate courses for graduate-level population coursework such as enrolling in a women’s health theory course instead of an undergraduate family/perinatal course.
Early Entry students must be enrolled in the honors program, which provides an introduction to the research conducted by School of Nursing faculty and also a structure for introductory research experiences. Lean more about the Honors Program.
Entering the PhD Program
Application to the doctoral program is completed during the first year of the baccalaureate degree. If students are making satisfactory progress in the Early Entry PhD Option (including maintaining a GPA of 3.25 or higher), admission to the PhD program is guaranteed. Upon graduation from the BS program, students continue directly into the doctoral program.
At the doctoral level, students complete all requirements of the current doctoral program: existing and evolving knowledge in nursing, methods, research ethics, PhD minor, doctoral seminars, teaching and learning, research and dissertation. As part of the doctoral program, students complete a comprehensive candidacy examination at the end of formal coursework. Once students have achieved candidacy they complete the dissertation. For additional information on requirements, visit the PhD program page.
The BSN is a four-year undergraduate degree. The PhD program requires a minimum of 52 credits and is designed to be completed in 4 years. 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 these budgets: Undergraduate Cost of Attendance and Graduate School Cost of Attendance.
The School of Nursing has made a commitment to support students in the Early Entry PhD Option beyond the regular scholarship process. Once students have completed the baccalaureate program and are matriculated as graduate students, they are eligible for fellowships and research, project and teaching assistantships. Graduate students who have PA, TA, or RA appointments that are at least a 1/3 appointment for a Fall or Spring term are eligible to receive remission of full tuition.
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 other important information.
Admission to the Early Entry PhD Option typically occurs once a student has been admitted to the nursing major, although other entry options are also possible. Applications are reviewed by a faculty committee who takes into consideration the application materials and results of the Early Entry PhD Option admission interview. The decision to admit a candidate is based on the fit with the program goals, previous academic performance, and research aptitude and/or experience.
- Application opens: February 1
- Deadline: April 1
- Online application
- ACT or SAT scores: Not required if test scores were submitted to UW–Madison as part of admission
- Personal Statement: Reasons for seeking a PhD in Nursing and admission to the Early Entry PhD Option, including your interests related to nursing and your educational and career goals.
- Three References