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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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Program Focus

The University of Michigan School of Nursing PhD program, which began in 1975, produces leading scientists who advance knowledge for the discipline of nursing and the health sciences. The program is predicated on a strong foundation of clinical expertise framed by a nursing perspective; education at the doctoral level builds upon and extends content acquired at the baccalaureate and master’s levels and emphasizes theory development and research skills. 
Our graduates are clinically proficient and have advanced preparation in nursing and related sciences, as well as in research methods and data analysis.  In addition to offerings within the School of Nursing, the program draws on the curricular and research resources of other disciplines and institutes within the University - a leader in education and research – making the opportunity to study the inter-relationships of physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural variables, alone or in combination, as they influence health outcomes a great strength of U-M's PhD program.
Ultimately, building off the pedagogy of all U-M School of Nursing programs, the PhD program prepares nurses who contribute to the field of nursing through active research, and progressive leadership in education, professional nursing organizations, health care systems, and other health related enterprises.
The PhD program is open to post-baccalaureate or post-master’s applicants.
See the application requirements for this program.

Substantive research focus areas within the PhD Program:

  • Health Promotion

  • Chronic Illness Care

  • Effectiveness Science

  • Vulnerable Populations


The PhD program prepares graduates to:
  • Demonstrate competence in all phases of research/scientific methods

  • Develop in-depth knowledge in a substantive research area of science

  • Conduct research that is grounded in, and in turn informs, theory, practice, and policy

  • Be a steward of the discipline of nursing

Program Appeal

  • Admitted students are matched to a current faculty member’s research, this faculty member will provide research mentorship throughout the program.

  • Students engage in scientific inquiry and increasing skills-building through ‘hands-on’ experience in grant writing and research dissemination

  • Curriculum that integrates scientific processes, analytics, and substantive research foci that is directed by the primary research mentors in partnership with designated mentorship teams.

  • Diverse student population

  • Opportunity to work with leading nurse scientists

PhD Support Package

UMSN offers funding packages for incoming PhD students enabling them to study full-time. Upon entering the program, all students must be matched with active research faculty mentors at UMSN, who are conducting high-impact research in health promotion and chronic conditions among vulnerable populations, spanning efficacy to effectiveness. In addition to PhD classes, PhD students will work with their research faculty mentors at least 20 hours per week (including time with interdisciplinary teams), developing advanced research knowledge and skills.

Details regarding the UMSN graduate fellowship funding packages:

  • Students in the first two years of the program will be supported by a variety of sources. (Included are a monthly stipend, tuition support and U-M GradCare health insurance.)

  • A third year of funding will be contingent on the receipt of student or faculty grant funding (e.g. R01, F31,T32, or similar grant).

Benefits of this program include:

  • Students’ ability to complete a PhD in nursing in three to four years, while being embedded in a research team.

  • UMSN’s ability to address the critical shortage of nurse scientists and faculty.

  • Generation of new knowledge and innovative interventions to provide new ways of caring for people in need.

  • Provision of more nurse educators to train more BSNs and other students.

Students must maintain full time student status, will be expected to submit an National Research Service Award (NRSA) by the end of the second year of study, and remain in good academic standing to retain the funding package.


The PhD program is specifically designed to focus on research in nursing. The curriculum is in an on-campus format, however a few of the courses may be offered in a web-blended format. Students admitted to the PhD program should plan to be on-campus for two or more days a week for class time. The PhD curriculum is designed for full-time enrollment with 3 years to completion (post-baccalaureate or post-masters).

Sample Study Plan

Course numberCourse titleCreditsTerm offered
HS 851Scientific Methods for Health Science: Applied Inference4Fall
N880Philosophical Influences and Theory Building in Nursing4Fall
N804Systematic Research Synthesis2Fall
HS 852Scientific Models for Health Sciences: Linear Modeling4Winter
N881Intervention Research3Winter
N805Grant Writing2Winter
HS 853Scientific Methods for Health Sciences: Special Topics4Fall
N803Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship1Fall
N806Preparing Publications2Fall
N890Substantitive Research Focus I3Fall
N891Substantitive Research Focus II3Winter
N990Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy1Fall/Winter
N995Dissertation: Candidacy8+Fall/Winter
CognateElective course as selected by the student4Fall/Winter
Additional courses required for Post Baccalaureate students:
N595Clinical Scholarship Praxis I3Fall
N696Clinical Scholarship Praxis II3Winter
Minimum credits required for all all pre-candidates: 37
Post-Baccalaureate students will take 6 credits of clinical scholarship, in addition to the required 37 credits pre-candidacy.
A minimum of 8 credit hours are required at the Dissertation/Candidacy level (course N995)