Doctor of Philosophy

Nursing PhD

Program Description

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in nursing is designed to prepare you as a research scientist for positions as nursing faculty members, leaders in the application of innovative technologies to nursing education and clinical care, executive leaders in health care systems, and scientists who contribute to the body of nursing knowledge through their research.

Student research must align with faculty research areas.

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Program Objectives

At the completion of the PhD in nursing program, graduates will be able to:

  • Conduct research to generate a body of knowledge and test theories that advance nursing science
  • Develop a program of scholarship that integrates research, teaching, leadership, and service to the profession
  • Contribute to interdisciplinary solutions that advance health care in a global society

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The Nursing PhD program is delivered online with two multiple-day onsite intensives per year. The program requires a minimum of 60-credit hours beyond a master’s degree in nursing. This includes 36-credit hours of required courses that focus on foundation, knowledge development and research methods; 15 dissertation credit hours; and 9 credit hours of electives, allowing students to gain additional expertise in the area chosen for their dissertation. At least two of the three elective courses must be taken outside of the College of Nursing. The cohorts will be encouraged to attend research conferences together, along with faculty, to increase dialogue and socialization. 

Policies and guidelines for this program are located in the Nursing PhD Handbook.

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Application Requirements

UCF General Education Requirements 

UCF requires all prospective student to fulfill the general UCF graduate admissions requirements. Visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog.

Nursing Program Requirements

  • Transcript: an official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended
  • MSN and BSN degree: must be from a regionally accredited institution or equivalent
  • GRE: an official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years
  • RN License: must be a licensed registered nurse in state in which you practice
  • Written Essay: no more than 500 words, double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins 
    (see below for evaluation criteria)
  • Interview: an interview with faculty 
    (see below for evaluation criteria)
  • Research Interests: that match faculty expertise
  • Curriculum Vitae: CV should reflect prior education, recent clinical accomplishments, any recent scholarly work (publications and presentations), awards, additional certifications, and activities with professional organizations. For recent graduates, this can include accomplishments as a student.
  • Letters of Recommendation: provide three letters of recommendation evaluating potential for doctoral study preferably by nursing instructors, nurse employers or nurses with advanced degrees

Optional for All Applicants

  • ETS PPI (Personal Potential Index) report: Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the necessary information requested for the ETS PPI report that is available during the GRE examination. All official PPI reports must be submitted directly to the UCF College of Graduate Studies (use UCF Institution Code: 5233).

Written Essay and Interview Evaluation Criteria

The applicant is able to:

  • Conceptualize or develop a research idea or construct
  • Engage in creative thought
  • Explain their driving motivation to earn a PhD
  • Discuss the fit of career goals with focus of PhD education
  • Identify the fit of research interest with a CON faculty member’s program of research
  • Present an understanding of time commitment for doctoral education
  • Provide examples of ability to work effectively as part of a team
  • Discuss prior research and quality improvement experience
  • Display excellent written skills including grammatical and paragraph structure, spelling and proofed the document prior to submitting

The College of Nursing accepts the most qualified students based on evaluations of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations and match of UCF programs with applicant's career goals. Students are admitted to the program in the summer for the program of study.

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Program Coordinator


Donna F. Neff, PhD, RN, FNAP
p: 407-823-5489
f: 407-823-5675



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* deadline extended for Summer 2017

UCF is listed among the best nursing schools for earning a MSN and DNP, and is also listed as a best online graduate nursing program, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Please note: Online programs may not meet immigration requirements for students holding an F1 or J1 Visa to maintain status. If you have questions, please contact the International Services Center at or call 407-823-2337. 

Please note: Due to restrictive state regulations, UCF is not permitted to provide online courses or instruction to students in select states. If you reside in one of these states, you may not be permitted to enroll in or be admitted to a UCF online program. Please contact your state’s higher education regulation authorities or the respective program coordinator for more details.