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Graduate Program

PhD Program in Nursing Science

PhD students in front of the College

The PhD in Nursing Science program prepares scientists to contribute to empirical knowledge and scholarship in nursing science. We prepare graduate students to perform in a range of health-related professional roles and function in interdisciplinary teams. Our graduates move on to provide leadership to community, professional, and scientific organizations. 

Learn more about our program

  • The USF College of Nursing highly values the support and development of a unique and diverse community of scholars and is committed to recruiting a diverse pool of applicants who are highly motivated to achieve the PhD in Nursing Science objectives. Admission to the program is based on a number of factors that measure a student's potential for academic success at the doctoral level in alignment with our research pillars. Explore our research pillars and meet our team of researchers.

    • Submit an application to the University of South Florida
      • Apply directly to the Fall semester you plan to begin classes at the university.
      • Select the PhD in Nursing Science as your degree level and Tampa as the campus.
      • International students must submit the university application no later than February 15th.
    • Submit an application to the College of Nursing through NursingCAS
      • Wait until you receive your U Number from USF Admissions before starting the NursingCAS application.
      • All supplementary materials must be complete prior to submitting your application.
    • B.S. in Nursing from an accredited program (for BSN-PhD only)
      • Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in other fields may also be considered.
    • M.S. in Nursing from an accredited program (for MSN-PhD only)
      • Applicants with a master’s degree in other fields may also be considered.
    • DNP Clinical doctorate from an accredited program (for DNP-PhD only)
      • Applicants must have the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree completed to enter this pathway.
    • Statement of Goals and Research Interests
      • Applicants are required to write a 3-part essay outlining professional research goals and interests for the PhD in Nursing Science. View the guideline document here.
      • Students will be required to identify 1-2 faculty mentors and how your scholarly interests would be facilitated by working with them specifically. To learn more about our researchers' expertise, view our Nursing Science Without Limits video playlist and find faculty members whose research and scholarly expertise match your area of research interest. Be sure to contact them prior to including them in your statement of goals and research interests.
    • Personal Statement
      • Please use the personal statement to emphasize how you will contribute to the community of scholars at USF. View the guideline document here.
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Florida RN License
      • Licensure as a registered nurse in the state of Florida is only required if research involves clinical work.
    • Three Letters of Recommendation
      • We highly recommend seeking letters of recommendation from the following individuals: academic nursing faculty or instructor, nursing or clinical supervisor, and PhD-prepared nurse or researcher.
      • Competitive letters will be formatted on letter head and physically signed by the professional submitting a recommendation on your behalf.

    Important Information:

    All admitted nursing students are required to complete a background check, immunization verification, and drug screening. Additionally, students will be required to provide proof of current health insurance. Admitted students will be provided with the steps to complete this process.

    To learn more, please consult the Graduate Catalog.

  • There are three entry points to the PhD program:

    1. BS-PhD (4-5 years of full-time study) 80 credit hours
    2. MS-PhD (3-4 years of full-time study) 64 credit hours
    3. DNP-PhD (2-3 years of full-time study) 52 credit hours

    Specific requirements are determined on an individual basis by the student’s supervisory committee. Students are to meet with faculty mentor for individual program planning after being selected for admission.

    Curriculum Overview

    • Core – 40 Credit hours
      Required for all PhD pathways
    • Content area and additional coursework – 25 credit hours
      Post-bachelor’s requirement only
    • Advanced Directed Research – 3 credit hours
      Post-bachelor’s and post-master’s requirement only
    • Cognate – 9 credit hours
      Post-master’s requirement only
    • Dissertation – 12 credit hours
      Required for all PhD pathways

    Format: We offer live classes on the Tampa campus each semester in conjunction with Canvas for online learning. Please see our PhD Program Plans for more information.

    Teaching Certification: PhD students who take the 13 credit hour Nursing Certificate Program are eligible to sit for the certification exam offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN) Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE) program. Students who have master’s degrees in nursing would be eligible to sit for the certification exam after completing 9 nursing education credit hours. Students who hold bachelor’s degrees would sit for the exam after being awarded their PhD degree.

    Please review the USF College of Nursing Student Handbook for more details about the PhD in Nursing Science academic policies, procedures, and standards.

  • Applicants who meet the admission requirements should complete the steps below to successfully apply:

    1. Submit a Graduate Admissions Application

    • USF Graduate Admissions Application
    • For all questions, contact the USF Admissions Office at (813) 974-3350 or email
    • Applicants will receive an eight digit university ID number (U Number) upon submission of the university application. This will be required to complete the NursingCAS application for the PhD program.
    • Note: Do not upload supplemental documentation; please bypass these sections of the application (e.g., test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements). All supplementary materials, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and supporting documents should only be sent and uploaded to the NursingCAS application.

    2. Submit a NursingCAS Application

    • NursingCAS Application
    • All documentation (e.g., transcripts, resume, letters of recommendation, certifications, etc.) must be uploaded to NursingCAS and applications must reach the verified status by the deadline for applications to be considered.
    • For technical questions regarding your NursingCAS account, please contact NursingCAS at 617-612-2880 or Please refer to the Application Deadlines tab for reference if you do not see your desired term of entry in NursingCAS.

    Interview Requirement: In addition to fulfilling the application requirements, a personal interview with faculty members of the PhD Admissions, Curriculum, and Academic Affairs Committee will be required.

    Learn more by viewing the graduate information session and application workshop.

    International Applicants

    • Foreign Transcripts: All coursework and degrees completed outside the United States require a course-by-course evaluation from an approved evaluating agency. Please note this process could take three to six months. A list of foreign transcript evaluation services is provided by the USF Office of International Admissions. The Florida Board of Nursing maintains its own list of approved evaluating agencies. Transcripts from foreign institutions that have gone through an official transcript evaluation service must be received by NursingCAS electronically or in their original sealed envelopes by the application deadline. Click here for a detailed guide on how to submit these transcripts directly to NursingCAS. Note: NursingCAS will not accept foreign transcripts that have not gone through an official evaluation process with an approved vendor. Please complete the evaluation process before sending transcripts from a foreign institution.
    • English Language: Applicants from countries where English is not the official language must demonstrate English proficiency. Please visit the USF Office of International Admissions for completion details.
    • Scholarships/Funding: Students that require university funds and/or scholarships to attend the PhD in Nursing Science program must identify and qualify for funding sources offered by the College of Nursing. Additional screening steps may be required for students coming from a country of concern. Please visit the USF HR website for more information on the screening process. Students who do not clear HR screening will not be eligible for university funding.
  • USF Tampa Campus – Fall Entry Only

    Priority admission and consideration for financial support will be limited to those meeting the priority deadline of December 15th

  • What is the difference between the PhD in Nursing Science and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?

    Click here for the comparison details.

Meet our program staff