UMSN PhD student

Ph.D. program focus

The University of Michigan School of Nursing Ph.D. 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.

As a student at the School of Nursing, you can take advantage of all of the disciplinary strengths of the University of Michigan. Our students have the opportunity to study physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural variables, alone or in combination, as they influence health outcomes supported by strong interdisciplinary methods and teamwork.

Meet our current Ph.D. students and recent graduates.

UMSN's Hillman scholars start out in the BSN program and complete the Ph.D. immediately afterwards, leading to a longer and more productive research trajectory. Meet the current scholars

Find a mentor for current Ph.D. students

Find a faculty mentor to help you towards your goals.

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Apply for the Ph.D.

The Ph.D. program is open to post-baccalaureate or post-master’s applicants. See the application requirements for this program.

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Substantive research areas

  • Health promotion
  • Chronic illness care
  • Effectiveness science
  • Vulnerable populations


The Ph.D. 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


  • Admitted students are matched to a current faculty member’s research who provides mentorship throughout the program
  • Students engage in scientific inquiry and increasing skills through grant writing and research dissemination
  • Curriculum integrates scientific processes, analytics, and substantive research foci directed by the primary research mentors in designated mentorship teams
  • Diverse student population
  • Opportunity to work with leading nurse scientists


UMSN offers funding packages for incoming Ph.D. students enabling them to study full-time.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program for Fall 2018 may also apply for a unique funding opportunity: a T32 fellowship focused on innovations for promoting health and safety.

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 coursework, students will work with their research faculty mentors approximately 20 hours per week in order to develop advanced research knowledge and skills.

Details regarding 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 Ph.D. 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 a National Research Service Award (NRSA) or equivalent training grant by the end of the second year of study, and remain in good academic standing to retain the funding package.


In addition to following all UMSN student policies and guidelines contained in the handbooks, Ph.D. students are required to comply with Rackham Graduate School policies. These include: 


The Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. program should plan to be on-campus for two or more days a week for class time. The Ph.D. curriculum is designed for full-time enrollment with 3 years to completion (post-baccalaureate or post-master's). Thirty-seven credit hours are required for pre-candidates. Post-baccalaureate students will take six credits of clinical scholarship in addition to the 37 pre-candidacy hours. A minimum of eight credit hours are required at the dissertation/candidacy level (course 995).


  • HS 851: Scientific Methods for Health Science: Applied Inference
  • HS 852: Scientific Models for Health Sciences: Linear Modeling
  • HS 853: Scientific Methods for Health Sciences: Special Topics
  • NURS 803: Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship
  • NURS 804: Systematic Research Synthesis
  • NURS 805: Grant Writing
  • NURS 806: Preparing Publications
  • NURS 880: Philosophical Influences and Theory Building in Nursing
  • NURS 881: Intervention Research
  • NURS 890: Substantive Research Focus I
  • NURS 891: Substantive Research Focus II
  • NURS 990: Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy
  • NURS 995: Dissertation: Candidacy
  • Cognate (elective course selected by student)
  • For post-baccalaureate students: NURS 595: Clinical Scholarship Praxis I