Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)

The mission of the PhD program is to educate future nurse scientists, educators, and health care leaders.  We offer three routes to the PhD-for BSN, MSN and DNP prepared nurses.

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Individualized education in a challenging, supportive setting is at the heart of the PhD program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You’ll benefit from a program of study designed to reflect your unique interests and meet your career goals, with small classes and a committed faculty whose members value community, quality, innovation, and accessibility. You’ll also become part of an exciting community of scholars engaged in nursing research and scholarly writing. Doctoral students regularly present papers and posters at meetings, publish in scholarly journals, and contribute chapters to faculty-edited books. An advantage of PhD study at UT is the 3-manuscript dissertation, in which scholarly work is disseminated throughout the program, not only at the end. The final paper presents the findings of the student’s dissertation research.

An advantage of pursuing the doctorate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is access to the rich resources of one of the top research institutions in the nation. PhD students are taught by, and work collaboratively with, nationally and internationally prominent researchers in nursing and many other disciplines. Key research foci of the college are technology, symptom science, caregiving, and translation science. Certificate programs are offered in nursing education and health policy. Both full-time and part-time options are available. The faculty is committed to quality, innovation, accessibility, and mentoring.


The application deadline for the 2024 admissions cycle is December 1. Applicants are typically notified of their admission decision five to six weeks after the application deadline. Notifications are sent by email.

The PhD program at the College of Nursing uses a holistic admissions process in which the applicant’s essay and personal interview are given priority. These items are used to assess the applicant’s previous educational and work-related accomplishments and their readiness for PhD study. Career goals and research focus of the applicant are emphasized to permit assignment of appropriate faculty mentors. A strong focus on doctoral student mentoring is a hallmark of the UT PhD program. 

All prospective College of Nursing students must apply online through UT Graduate Admissions.  Application materials must be submitted directly to Graduate Admissions prior to the application deadline.

A complete application consists of:

  • Online application and fee
  • Transcripts
  • Essay- Prompts can be found here.
  • Resume/CV
  • Recommendation forms
  • TOEFL scores, if required
  • Writing sample such as a previous class paper or published article
  • Nursing license
  • Phone or Zoom interview after file is complete

Detailed information about specific admission requirements can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your application is complete. You are strongly encouraged to check first with Graduate Admissions to see if all your transcripts and materials have been submitted properly. You can check the status of your application via the UT Graduate School Status Checker.

The University’s Graduate Admissions office determines if the application meets the University’s minimum admission requirements. If deemed minimally admissible, the application will then be reviewed by the College of Nursing. Graduate Admissions processes applications in the order of submission; due to the application queue, prospective students are strongly encouraged to submit applications well in advance of the College of Nursing’s deadline. Applications will be reviewed upon submission.

If you have any questions, contact the College of Nursing Graduate Programs at


  • Opportunity to work with nationally and internationally prominent nurse scientists and scholars from other disciplines, including public health and education
  • State-of-the-art simulation lab for research in instructional technology and innovative clinical education and research
  • Equal emphasis on both qualitative and quantitative research
  • Opportunity to receive substantial financial support through fellowships from the Graduate School and the College of Nursing
  • Blended curriculum delivery* through distance technology, with two on-campus sessions per semester
  • Optional certification in nursing education or health policy
  • Full-time or part-time options
  • Options for cognates/ minors/concentrations
  • Colloquium, a time for PhD and DNP students and faculty to share and discuss topics of interest
  • Distinguished faculty with diverse fields of research

*600-level nursing courses in the PhD and DNP programs are offered in a flexible blended format with two coordinated on-site face-to-face course sessions per term complemented with live online group and collaborative discussions and activities; structured asynchronous individual, group, and self-directed work; and individual guidance, mentoring, and advising.


Research in the PhD program at UT is an exciting trajectory including a carefully planned, mentored sequence of activities. Early in the program, students become involved in research conducted by nursing faculty mentors and interdisciplinary teams. The culmination of PhD study is original research that generates new knowledge to improve health outcomes. An advantage of PhD study at UT is the 3-manuscript dissertation, in which scholarly work is disseminated throughout the program, not only at the end. The final paper presents the findings of the student’s dissertation research.



To learn more about the PhD program please email PhD program chair Sandra Thomas at

Program Handbook