Nursing, PhD

The mission of the doctoral program of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is to develop scholars of the discipline of Nursing capable of building a program of research that advances nursing knowledge and contributes to the health of individuals, families, and communities.  

Graduates of this program will serve as leaders at the forefront of nursing research and its translation into practice locally, nationally, and globally. These nurse scientists will create new knowledge and be informed by a nursing perspective to enhance health and to develop and test innovations to improve outcomes of healthcare, with a priority on populations at greatest need.

The foundation of program success is the substantive match between the student and the faculty advisor. The educational experience focuses on the processes of exploring and examining substantive bodies of knowledge.  The researcher’s development is fostered through exposure to an array of philosophic and methodological aspects of nursing and related basic and applied disciplines.

Our full-time PhD students are fully funded for the first three years, which includes a living stipend and covers tuition, fees, and health insurance.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.


A total of 22 course units are required for graduation. Students who have completed a related Masters degree prior to starting the PhD program will be awarded 8 course units of transfer credit toward the degree requirements.

Full-time students will take three to four courses each fall and spring semester. Most students complete their coursework within three to four years and then will be on dissertation status until the final dissertation defense.

Required Courses
NURS 750Inquiry and Nursing1
NURS 753Evolving Nursing Science1
NURS 754Quantitative Research Design and Methods1
NURS 800Dissertation Seminar I1
NURS 813Qualitative Paradigm Empirical Nursing Research1
Select two courses 12
Teaching Residency
NURS 890Nursing Doctoral Teaching Residency1
Research Residency
NURS 897Nursing Doctoral Research Residency1
Concentration Courses
Select five courses 25
MS Courses or General Credit 38
Total Course Units22

Program Milestones

  • Qualifying Examination/MS-General Examination
  • Candidacy Examination
  • Dissertation Status
  • Dissertation Defense

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2020 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

Students who enter the PhD program with a master's degree receive a 8 course unit waiver toward the 22 course unit requirement. Students will take 3-4 courses per semester for the first two to three years before moving into the dissertation phase of the program.

View sample plans of study: