The PhD is a research doctorate in Nursing Science which prepares graduates to meet the critical need for nurse scientists, nursing faculty, and administrators in academic and health care settings. The program prepares graduates for scholarly roles by advancing their knowledge of theory and policy and increasing their skills in research methods. Graduates of the program focus on improving the health of individuals and communities through nursing science. Graduates will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct research that changes lives through improving patient outcomes and reducing health disparities.

Entry into the program is available every summer. Currently, only applicants with a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree may apply. Students admitted to the program are mentored and taught by faculty from both The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing and the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Nursing.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Ph.D. program is determined by the Joint Ph.D. Oversight Committee who will assess the entire composite of information gained from a variety of sources. Each applicant must meet the following criteria and/or provide:

  • An application to the Joint Ph.D. Graduate Program. The application can be located here (link to application).
  • Submit all official transcripts to The University of Alabama in Huntsville Office of Graduate Admissions by mail or an electronic transcript service.
  • Evidence of successful completion of a bachelor of science in nursing degree at an accredited program and a master’s degree in nursing or a closely related health field. Applicants with bachelor’s degrees in a closely related health field and master’s degrees in nursing also will be considered.
  • A minimum graduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Official transcripts must be sent to the university Graduate College.
  • Official evidence of scores on the Graduate Record Examination taken within 5 years of application. GRE information can be obtained online at The GRE requirement can be waived with a graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher or with 5 years or more of experience in the field or with an advanced degree in the US.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Three (3) letters of reference from professionals or professors who can adequately evaluate the applicant and the applicant’s previous work or potential for success. Two of the letters are strongly preferred from nurses with doctoral degrees.
  • Scientific Writing Sample: This sample of your written work should demonstrate your intellectual ability (such as logic, critical thinking, analysis, or synthesis) and your technical writing skills (composition, grammar, references or citations). For example, you could submit an academic paper, essay, published article, or a professional report written by you. If someone other than you contributed to this document (including editing), explain your contribution and the contributions of others.
  • Statement of Purpose: In four double-spaced pages respond to the following:
    • Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D. in Nursing Science?
    • What professional goals do you hope to achieve during and beyond your Ph.D. program?
    • Describe prior experiences that have prepared you for doctoral study (e.g. research, presentations, publications, leadership roles in practice, education, or professional organizations).
    • What are your research interests?
    • How might research in this area advance the science of nursing?
  • Copy of active RN license. Note: Licensure must be maintained throughout the program.
  • Transfer applicants: Evidence of good academic standing at the current institution. Determination of whether or not credits may be transferred will be based on evaluation of comparability of requested transfer course to Ph.D. course and university policy, and is completed after admission.

After the first review of the application and at the request of the Joint Ph.D. Oversight Committee, applicants will be asked to successfully complete personal interviews with Oversight Committee members. Research interests, professional involvement, and motivation for successful completion of doctoral study in the Ph.D. program will be assessed.

Completed applications are reviewed by the Oversight Committee throughout the year for summer enrollment. Applications (with GRE scores, transcripts, etc.) must be completed by March 1st if enrollment in the program is desired for that summer. Applicants must register for courses within two (2) years of acceptance into the Ph.D. program, or the acceptance is void.

Upon admission, you will receive written notification of admission from the Deans of the Joint Ph.D. Program. You will also receive a letter from the graduate advisors at both UA and UAH outlining requirements for entry into the Ph.D. program. Admission is contingent upon providing documentation of a background check and drug screen and results were acceptable to the admission committee.

Students enrolled in the joint PhD in Nursing Science will have the following requirements:

  1. Three, one week residencies to be hosted on alternating campuses, in the summer semesters. All residencies will be attended by faculty from both campuses
    1. The initial residency is orientation to the program and to the first courses. This provides an opportunity to meet faculty and access student resources such as library, writing centers and financial aid.
    2. Residency 2 is designed to integrate cohorts into the study of nursing science and provides opportunities for social support among faculty and students.
    3. At the conclusion of coursework, this residency provides students and faculty mentors the opportunity to finalize plans for implementing the dissertation. The student will present a dissertation proposal defense.
  2. Qualifying Examination. At the end of semester 6, students will be given a take home exam that will evaluate writing and critical thinking skills and to assess synthesis of knowledge of the program’s core concepts.
  3. Final Dissertation Defense. At the conclusion of the 24 required dissertation hours, students will be required to present the findings and implications of their dissertation.

Nursing Sciences - Post Masters to PhD Curriculum

Transferred elective from prior master's degree program3
Summer 1
NUS 750Philosophy of Science3
NUS 752Informatics3
Fall 2
NUS 754Ethical Con Legal Iss Research3
NUS 756Appl of Theoretical Models3
NUS 758Quant Resrch Methods & Designs3
Spring 2
NUS 760Statistics I3
NUS 762HC Policy Rural Undrsvd Popul3
NUS 764Scientific Writing3
Summer 2
NUS 766Epidemiology3
NUS 772Qualitative Research Methods3
Fall 3
NUS 768Statistics II3
NUS 770Grant Writing3
Cognate I 13
Spring 3
NUS 776Advanced Research Methods3
Cognate II 13
Summer 3
NUS 799Dissertation Hours12
Fall 4
NUS 799Dissertation Hours12
Total Hours72