PhD in Nursing

New delivery model for Fall 2021

The PhD in Nursing at the University of Minnesota prepares scientists for a lifetime of discovery and leadership in nursing research, academia and health systems improvement.

Fang Yu in the magnetic resonance facility

The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, relationships, confidence, expertise, critical thinking and analytical capacity essential to finding and implementing innovative solutions that lead to better health outcomes.

What makes our program distinct?

Our PhD program provides full funding for the first two years of study through a combination of graduate assistantships and scholarships for students devoted full-time to their studies.

The PhD in Nursing curriculum is delivered in a HyFlex instruction format that combines face-to-face and online learning. Each class session is offered in-person and synchronously online through video connection. Students can decide how to participate. Throughout the program all students gather on campus annually for a four-day immersive experience focused on engagement, mentorship and professional development. 

We also advocate for and support our PhD students with funding from a range of national sources. Current PhD students are supported with substantial grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Jonas Center. 

The PhD in Nursing program is enriched by the vibrant research and academic programs at the School of Nursing. 

You will be carefully matched with faculty who are uniquely suited to help you develop your research focus and build an ongoing research program. Nationally-renowned faculty mentor PhD students throughout the program and build long-standing professional relationships beyond graduation. 

Meet four PhD Advisors

Engage in research

Whether your interests lie in improving public health in the Congo, reducing teen pregnancy, improving outcomes for children with cancer or slowing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing offers extraordinary opportunities to engage in research.

The school’s research is concentrated in four areas:

  • Health Promotion among Vulnerable Populations
  • Prevention and Management of Chronic Health Conditions
  • Symptom Management
  • Health/Nursing Informatics and Systems Improvement

The School of Nursing is also home to six research centers that provide research and scholarship opportunities that foster collaboration, stimulate clinically-relevant research questions and innovative approaches, and facilitate creative partnerships.

Why a nursing PhD?

While most applicants are registered nurses, we DO admit individuals who are not nurses to the PhD program if they commit to conducting research that contributes to nursing science.

Across the country and around the world, demand for PhD-prepared nurses who can mentor future nurses and advance nursing science continues to grow. Our PhD program focuses on areas of science in which the health needs are greatest as described by AACN's strategic plan. We seek to admit students with exceptionally strong backgrounds in a major field of study such as nursing or the physical or behavioral sciences. 

Length and commitment

Our past several sets of graduates have completed their degree in 4-5 years (4.4 years for those graduating 2014-21015, 5.0 years for those graduating 2015-2016). Our statistics for the last five years (2011-2016) indicate an average of 5.0 years for completion of the PhD degree. The PhD program admits students with baccalaureate or master’s degrees.

Full-time students typically take the required courses with a consistent cohort of students to foster peer support and learning.

Information for International Students


At the University of Minnesota

Nationally-renowned faculty mentor students and provide research opportunities

The University of Minnesota is a world-class research institution in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a rich and collaborative environment for discovery, ranking tenth in National Science Foundation research funding.

Dates & deadlines

Priority deadline:
December 1
Applications received by this date will be prioritized for funding. Applications will be accepted on a space-available basis after this date.

Final deadline:
February 1

Contact us

Admissions & Enrollment
George Sakkal

Director of PhD Program
Donna Bliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA
Our PhD advisors



Melissa Horning

Why nursing Research?
Watch our video


PhD Profile

“For me, actually, the dream job is to be able to do a combination of practice and research. Nursing is a practice discipline,”
 - Sandy Hagstrom, PhD ’15

Read more


PhD Profile