About the Program

About the Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program is designed to prepare nurse scientists who will assume a variety of roles in education, research, leadership and health policy.  The holistic review process is used when considering applications for admission to the PhD Program in Nursing.

Meet some of our alumni.

phd students around a table


The goal of the program is to prepare nurse scientists to:

  • generate knowledge, test interventions and evaluate outcomes to reduce risks of illness/disability and promote quality of life.
  • collaborate with other disciplines to improve the delivery of health care.
  • assume research, leadership, executive, public policy and/or teaching roles.
  • affect health policy through the application of scientific knowledge.
See what students and alumni say about our program.


Two progression tracks are offered in the program:

  • BSN to PhD: BSN to PhD students complete the first year of coursework at the master’s level and then continue on to doctoral level work.
  • MSN to PhD: The MSN to PhD students enter directly into doctoral coursework.

Plan of Study

The BSN-PhD and MSN-PhD programs are offered on-site. While the majority of courses are face-to-face, some cognate courses may be offered on line.  Most courses are offered in a traditional semester long format; however, selected nursing core courses may be offered in an intensive format.

Full or part-time programs of study are available. Each student’s plan of study includes required core courses and elective courses based on individual student interests. In addition to course work, students receive intensive mentoring by experienced faculty researchers. Emphasis is placed on developing relationships between established and developing scholars to facilitate student success in research, grant writing and dissemination activities.

Following completion of course work, students take a qualifying examination. A dissertation is required once coursework is completed and the qualifying exam is successfully taken. The dissertation may be completed in a traditional or manuscript option format.

CCNE logo

The bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, and doctor of nursing practice programs at University of Louisville are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Application Deadlines:

Fall Term Admissions - February 15th
Spring Term Admissions - November 15th

 Applications  may be considered after the deadline on a space available basis.

The holistic review process is used when considering applications for admission to the PhD Program in Nursing. The holistic review considers multiple criteria for admission, including: the applicant’s professional career goals, academic capabilities, GPA, GRE scores, research interests, RN license, area of expertise, community engagement, and potential for scholarly career in nursing.

 Submit the following items to the UofL School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

  1. UofL Graduate Application available online at graduate.louisville.edu/apply.
  2. Transcripts. If BSN applicant official transcripts from all undergraduate college course work with a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.  If MSN applicant official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate college coursework with a cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale.  Bachelor’s degree must be from an institution with a NLN or CCNE accreditation.
    Applicants who have attended a college or university outside the United States are also required to submit an evaluation of their transcript through World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE)Please note that transcript evaluations can sometimes take several weeks.
  3. Graduate Record Exam (GRE).  Scores that indicate strong verbal, quantitative and analytical potential. Successful candidates generally have an analytical score of 4.0 or higher. For GRE scores prior to August 2011, successful candidates generally have a combined Verbal and Quantitative minimum score of 1100. For GRE scores from August 2011 and after, successful candidates general have scores of 156 Verbal and 146 Quantitative.  Test information is available at www.ets.orgNo longer required effective Fall 2020 admissions.
  4. Students for whom English is not their primary language must show English language proficiency by 1) demonstration of a degree awarded from an acceptable English language institution or 2) acceptable examination: TOEFL; International English Language Testing System (IELTS); successful completion of the exit examination for the advanced level of the intensive English as a Second Language Program.  Recommended test scores are available on the University International Student website.
  5. Three Professional Letters of Recommendation from individuals who can speak of academic and/or professional capabilities and potential for a scholarly career.  Recommendations should be chosen from among: former faculty members, current or immediate past employer, or other nursing/health professionals.  Each person providing a recommendation for you must complete the UofL Graduate School Letter of Evaluation form.  This form is available on line at https://sharepoint.louisville.edu/sites/SIGS/Documents/grad-rec.pdf At least two references should be from nurses.  Recommendations forms/letters must be completed within the last year.
  6. A current curriculum vitae or resume.  Include nursing license number on resume. International students need to be licensed as registered nurses in their country of origin, if licensure is available.  If direct patient care activities are provided, a Kentucky RN licensure prior to December in their first year of study must be obtained.
  7. A written statement of career goals, area(s) of expertise, research interest, and reasons for pursuing doctoral studies.  Maximum three pages; double spaced; 12 point font.

Submit the following to the UofL School of Nursing Office of Student Services

  1. Completed online Legal Questionnaire.  Link will be provided with the receipt of application confirmation.
  2. Personal interview with School of Nursing faculty will be required.

A Certified Background Check - Please complete the background check through this link. The school code is Ni53bc. You will not send this information to the School of Nursing, as it is handled through the outside agency. If you have issues with the background check, please contact customer service at 888-666-7788 Toll Free.

PhD Tuition & Program Costs

School of Nursing Costs

Background Check

$58; at point of application to SON


Cost varies

Cardinal Card (Student ID)

$10 Replacement Costs


Visit Campus Health website for individual costs.

Major Medical Health Insurance

Visit Campus Health website for individual costs.  May waive with proof of insurance

Parking Permit

Required for UofL campus parking. Costs vary.

Student Health Fee

$52.50 per semester, Campus Health Services

Financial Aid

Full-time students can apply for fellowships and assistantships to support their doctoral studies. Fellowships provide tuition, a stipend and health insurance for one to two years without a work requirement. Assistantships provide tuition, a stipend and health insurance in exchange for a 20 hour per week work requirement as a graduate research or teaching assistant. Fellowships and assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis.

Applicants must consider a number of factors when considering how to pay for graduate school. The following resources will help in the process.

School of Nursing Office of Student Services

Phone502.852.1196 or
1.877.81NURSE (816-8773)

Health Science Campus
555 S. Floyd Street
Third Floor, School of Nursing
Louisville, KY 40292


UofL Office of Admissions


Office of Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the focus of the PhD program?

A: The program is designed to prepare nurse scientists who may assume a variety of roles in education, research, leadership and health policy.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: BSN to PhD full-time students complete coursework in three calendar years and then focus on completion of their dissertation. MSN to PhD full-time students complete coursework in three calendar years and then focus on completion of their dissertation. Students may attend on a part-time basis and time to completion varies by the number of credits completed each semester.

Q: Can you be a part-time student?

A: Yes. Please review residency information below.

Q: Is there a requirement for full-time residency?

A: To assure that students have the opportunity to utilize the educational facilities fully and to participate in the intellectual life and research atmosphere of the University, at least two years of study must be spent at the University of Louisville and at least one must be spent in full-time residency. To be considered in full-time residency for one year, a student must be registered for 18 hours in a 12 month period.

Q: Can I transfer in hours?

A: Yes. The maximum number of semester hours transferable, upon request, is six. Up to six additional hours may be requested and considered for special approval. Credits which have been applied toward an earned degree may not be applied toward the doctoral nursing degree.

Q: Are there any courses required prior to starting the program?

A: Applicants accepted into the MSN-PhD program are strongly advised to have completed a three-credit master’s level statistics course (applied descriptive and inferential statistics) with a grade of B (3.0) or higher within five years before the date of enrollment. Applicants who do not meet this requirement will be advised of available statistics courses prior to beginning fall PhD coursework in statistics. In order to do a self-assessment of knowledge in statistics, the following represents anticipated basic competencies from previous statistics coursework:

    • Design of research
    • Frequency distributions
    • Central tendency and variability
    • Probability theory
    • Normal distributions
    • Correlation
    • Simple linear regression
    • Statistical inference
    • Decision, error, and power
    • T-tests
    • One and two-way ANOVAs
    • Nonparametric tests