Many nurses, after working at the bedside, seek different ways to utilize their knowledge and clinical skills. Some prefer to advance their career and become nurse practitioners and earn either an MSN or DNP. However, some nurses hope to take their knowledge and apply it to something a bit different than a clinical focus - research and education. Ph.D. prepared nursing helps address critical issues in healthcare and even helps shape policies and legislation.

Nursing knowledge in healthcare and research is essential. Nurses provide a unique perspective and use a patient-centered approach to various issues in healthcare. This perspective helps to benefit both patients and organizations and improves care outcomes. Since many who choose the Ph.D. in a nursing pathway do so to become educators, this degree type paves the way to shape the next generation of nurses.

2021 - Best Ph.D. in Nursing Programs

For highly skilled and ambitious nurses, the Ph.D. in Nursing pathway is the pinnacle of registered nursing education. Many RNs feel called to research and academia, and a Ph.D. can provide ample opportunities for success in these areas. There are few things more important than choosing the right Ph.D. program, which is why we have ranked the top online/hybrid Ph.D. in Nursing programs available across the country. Check out our rankings below and take the first step toward a high-level nursing career.

For more information on our top nursing school rankings, visit our Methodology Page (

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

The University of Central Florida in Orlando is home to two online Ph.D. in Nursing tracks: the BSN to Ph.D. and the MSN to Ph.D. These programs include virtual classroom study alongside a dissertation in which students will conduct research and apply their knowledge to strengthen their nursing leadership skills. Upon graduation, students will have the proper foundation to advance as research scientists in the area of nursing.

PhD Programs
Tuition & Fees:
  • $$$$$
Quick Facts:
  • Public 4-Year
  • 63-72 credit hours required
  • Choose a specific area of focus
Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY

Located in New York, Stony Brook University offers a Ph.D. in Nursing program that is delivered on-site with computer-assisted curriculum. This pathway is designed for the MSN-prepared nurse and broken into three phases: Coursework, Proposal Development, and Dissertation. Enrolled students study nursing science topics such as symptom science and health promotion over the course of the full-time, cohort-driven program.

PhD Programs
Tuition & Fees:
  • $$$$$
Quick Facts:
  • School has a Hospital Affiliation
  • Public 4-Year
  • 54 credits required
Texas Woman's University

Denton, TX

Texas Woman's University is home to a traditional Ph.D. in Nursing Science program, as well as a DNP to Ph.D. bridge program. For both programs, students can opt for the 100% online format through the Denton campus, or the hybrid format through the Houston campus. These program pathways prepare students to become problem-solvers, researchers, teachers, and mentors in the field of nursing.

PhD Programs
Tuition & Fees:
  • $$$$$
Quick Facts:
  • Public 4-Year
  • Part-time and Full-time options available
  • Award-winning online programs
University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Honolulu, HI

The University of Hawai'i at Manoa offers several Ph.D. programs for motivated registered nurses. These pathways include the BSN to Ph.D., the Master's to Ph.D. (for nurses with an MSN or master's degree in a healthcare subject), and the Graduate Entry Program in Nursing for non-nurses with a non-nursing bachelor's degree. These programs are offered in a hybrid format with select courses offered online and the rest offered on-campus. Students graduate as interdisciplinary nursing scholars.

PhD Programs
Tuition & Fees:
  • $$$$$
Quick Facts:
  • Public 4-Year
  • Programs are full-time
  • Students receive individualized advising
Endicott College

Beverly, MA

Endicott College of Massachusetts offers a 45-credit Ph.D. in Nursing program. This hybrid program focuses on research and leadership, and the comprehensive curriculum is delivered by highly skilled faculty. Students move through the coursework as a cohort, with a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio to establish a community of engagement and collaboration. The program can generally be completed in three years if students take two courses per semester.

PhD Programs
Tuition & Fees:
  • $$$$$
Quick Facts:
  • Private Non-Profit 4-Year
  • No GRE required
  • Research-based curriculum

Which Ph.D. in Nursing Program is Right for Me?

Selecting a Ph.D. program can be challenging. Each nurse has individual work and family demands, so the school needs to fit into the nurse's busy life. There are a few considerations nurses should take into account when looking for a Ph.D. program:

  • Online Learning vs. Classroom Learning - Selecting an online program vs. an on-campus program is a personal choice. While some prefer the convenience and flexibility of online learning, some enjoy face-to-face, interactive learning, along with peer support. Some programs are 100% online, and some require minimal campus visits (often referred to as "hybrid" programs). Whichever the learning method, nurses should choose the one right for them.
  • Accreditation - National accreditation is critical when selecting a Ph.D. program. Proper accreditation ensures the school meets strict quality standards and allows the nurse to pursue future degree options. Also, nursing boards in some states require national (as opposed to local) accreditation for licensure. Students should look for accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) when researching schools.
  • Program History - Some nursing programs, including online programs, are popping up left and right. Students should be cautious and do their research when looking at Ph.D. programs. Schools that have been around a long time tend to be more reputable, and they also likely have enough data (for example, graduation rates) that the student can use to measure the program's success.
  • Program Cost - Cost is a significant factor when deciding to return to school. Most websites are transparent with the tuition cost and associated expenses, so there won't be any surprises. Many schools offer financial aid options as well as the choice to attend part-time. However, students should also prepare for additional expenses such as immunization requirements, technology equipment requirements, supplies, parking fees, and graduation or university fees.
  • Residency/Internship Requirements - Studying course material is one part of Ph.D. programs, but nurses must also apply what they've learned to real life. Nurses should make sure that whichever program they choose, they are able to meet the practicum requirements. Ensuring they have resources and mentors in the community and surrounding organizations is crucial to the student's success.

RELATED: Dual DNP/PhD Programs

On-Campus vs. Online PhD in Nursing Programs

As stated earlier, choosing an online program vs. an on-campus depends on the needs of the student. Below are some advantages of both online and on-campus programs:

Online Ph.D. Nursing Program Advantages

  • Flexible schedule - Nurses can work around the clock. They may work weekends, holidays, swing shifts, and graveyard shifts. For this reason, a school must be flexible. Online programs allow nurses to study course material when they can as well as learn at their own pace. They can submit assignments and correspond with instructors and peers electronically, not having to wait until the class or the instructor's office hours.
  • Tuition and Costs - An advantage of online Ph.D. programs is cost. In some cases, students may select a school that is based outside their state. Schools sometimes don't charge different tuition rates for out-of-state students in their online programs, which is a significant cost-saver and allows more education options. Students are encouraged to research this thoroughly, however.
  • Accessibility and Convenience - As stated earlier, online programs are far more flexible than campus programs. At the touch of a button, students can access learning materials, peers, instructors, and online learning modules. They can study in the middle of the night, on holidays, on weekends, or whenever it's convenient. They are not limited to certain hours on certain days. Plus, they don't need to waste time commuting, parking, and walking to class.
  • Fast Completion - Many online programs boast rapid completion. While students need to be wary of schools that advertise this (specific curricula must be completed), some legitimate online programs do allow students to finish faster than traditional, campus programs. This is because students can study at their own pace. If eager to start out in their new role, online learning might be the way to go.

On-Campus Ph.D. in Nursing Program Advantages

While more and more online nursing programs are popping up, some students still prefer traditional campus learning. Some advantages of on-campus education include:

  • The ability to interact face-to-face with peers and instructors
  • Not having to worry about technology issues
  • Not needing to spend extra money on electronic or technological supplies
  • Accreditation is usually not a concern

Admission Requirements

While admission requirements for a Ph.D. in nursing program may vary between schools, prospective students may be required to:

  • Hold a current, unencumbered RN/APRN license
  • Hold a BSN or MSN from an accredited university (some schools allow admission for BSN nurses)
  • Have completed a specific number of clinical hours
  • Provide transcripts from all schools attended
  • Have a GPA of 3.5 or higher (specific GPA requirements may vary between schools)
  • Submit a written goal statement to include research career goals
  • Interview with faculty

Ph.D. in Nursing Course Topics

Since the Ph.D. in nursing is more research and education-focused, the course topics differ from that of a more clinically-focused degree program (such as the DNP). Course topics may include:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Synthesis and application of nursing knowledge
  • Research development
  • Statistics
  • Chronic illness and care systems

Program Length

The didactic/clinical portion of the Ph.D. program can take around 1-3 years to complete depending on if the nurse starts from a BSN or MSN. The first year is reserved for core courses, while the following year and beyond focus on electives specific to the student's goals and the completion of a teaching practicum. Students are also required to complete a dissertation as well; the dissertation period may take another 1-3 years to complete, depending on the student's area of focus.

Which Nursing Careers Require a Ph.D.?

While some nurses choose to earn a Ph.D. to fulfill their educational goals, sometimes it is a requirement for certain positions. Examples include:

Some may even consider a Post-Doctoral Nursing Fellowship Program.

Organizations/Helpful Resources

List of Ph.D. in Nursing Programs

Popular with nurses interested in teaching and research, Ph.D. nursing programs have grown in popularity and are available at schools across the United States. Below you will find a state-by-state guide on available Ph.D. in nursing programs.

Select Your State:


SchoolContact Information
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 975-7529


SchoolContact Information
Arizona State University
550 N 3rd St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 496-2644
University of Arizona
PhD Programs
1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154


SchoolContact Information
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)
PhD Programs
4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7000


SchoolContact Information
Azusa Pacific University Monrovia
PhD Programs
606 E Huntington Dr
Monrovia, CA 91016
(626) 815-6302
Loma Linda University
11262 Campus St.
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-4923
UC Davis
2570 48th St.
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 734-2145
Factor Bldg, 700 Tiverton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-9193
University of California San Francisco
2 Koret Way
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-1435
University of California, Irvine
106 Berk Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-3959
(949) 824-1514
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4600


SchoolContact Information
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152
University of Northern Colorado
PhD Programs
501 20 ST.
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-1890


SchoolContact Information
University of Connecticut
231 Glenbrook Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
(860) 486-3716
Yale University
PhD Programs
400 West Campus Drive
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 785-2389


SchoolContact Information
University of Delaware
25 North College
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-1253


SchoolContact Information
Barry University
11300 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami Shores, FL 33161-6695
(305) 899-3379
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
(561) 297-6261
Florida International University
PhD Programs
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-7703
University of Central Florida
12201 Research Parkway, Suite 300
Orlando, FL 32826
(407) 823-2744
University of Florida
1225 Center Dr
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-3261
University of Miami
P.O. Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-3666
University of South Florida
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd MDC Box 22
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 974-2191


SchoolContact Information
Augusta University
1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767
Emory University
1520 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980
Georgia State University
33 Gilmer St SE
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 413-2000
Mercer University
1501 Mercer University Drive
Macon, GA 31207
(180) 063-7237 x8


SchoolContact Information
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2528 McCarthy Mall, Webster Hall
Honolulu, HI 96822
(202) 887-6791


SchoolContact Information
Idaho State University
921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
(208) 282-2102


SchoolContact Information
Illinois State University
PhD Programs
Campus Box 4040
Normal, IL 61790
(309) 438-2583
Loyola University of Chicago
PhD Programs
1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000
Rush University
PhD Programs
600 S. Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-7100
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
PhD Programs
845 South Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 996-7800


SchoolContact Information
Indiana University Online
PhD Programs
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-5555
Purdue University
PhD Programs
610 Purdue Mall
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-4600


SchoolContact Information
University of Iowa
50 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-7018


SchoolContact Information
University of Kansas
PhD Programs
1246 West Campus Road Room 153A
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-6414


SchoolContact Information
University Of Louisville
2301 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40292
(502) 852-5555


SchoolContact Information
Southern University and A&M College
801 Harding Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70807
(225) 771-4500


SchoolContact Information
Johns Hopkins University
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766
University of Maryland
655 W. Lombard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-6109


SchoolContact Information
Boston College
PhD Programs
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-4250
Endicott College
PhD Programs
376 Hale Street
Beverly, MA 01915
(197) 892-7058 x5
Northeastern University
PhD Programs
360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000
University of Massachusetts Amherst
PhD Programs
651 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-2703
University of Massachusetts Boston
PhD Programs
100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 287-5000
University of Massachusetts Lowell
113 Wilder Street- Suite 200
Lowell, MA 01854
(978) 934-4525
University of Massachusetts Medical School
PhD Programs
55 Lake Avenue
North Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-3488


SchoolContact Information
Michigan State University
PhD Programs
220 Trowbridge Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 355-1855
Oakland University
PhD Programs
433 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370-4253
University of Michigan
PhD Programs
426 N. Ingalls St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 763-5985
Wayne State University
PhD Programs
5557 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 577-4082


SchoolContact Information
University of Minnesota
PhD Programs
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 624-9600


SchoolContact Information
University Of Mississippi Medical Center
PhD Programs
2500 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39216
(601) 984-1000
William Carey University
710 William Carey Parkway
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
(601) 318-6051


SchoolContact Information
Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing
4483 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 454-7055
Mizzou Online- University of Missouri
PhD Programs
136 Clark Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-2491
University of Missouri - St. Louis
PhD Programs
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-5000
University of Missouri Health
S235 School of Nursing
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0277
University Of Missouri Kansas City
PhD Programs
5100 Rockhill Rd
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1000


SchoolContact Information
Bryan College of Health Sciences
5035 Everett Street
Lincoln, NE 68506
(402) 481-3801
University of Nebraska Medical Center
PhD Programs
42nd and Emile
Omaha, NE 68198
(402) 559-4000


SchoolContact Information
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Las Vegas, NV 89154
(702) 895-3011

New Jersey

SchoolContact Information
Rutgers School of Nursing
PhD Programs
180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307
Seton Hall University
PhD Programs
400 South Orange Ave.
South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 761-9000

New Mexico

SchoolContact Information
The University of New Mexico
PhD Programs
2502 Marble Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 272-0858

New York

SchoolContact Information
Adelphi University
PhD Programs
One South Ave, P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530
(800) 233-5744
Binghamton University
PhD Programs
4400 Vestal Parkway East
Binghamton, NY 13902
(607) 777-2000
Columbia University
PhD Programs
617 W 168th St
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5756
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
PhD Programs
433 First Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-5300
Pace University - Pleasantville Campus
861 Bedford Rd
Pleasantville, NY 10570
(914) 773-3200
Stony Brook University
101 Nicolls Road
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 689-8333
University at Buffalo
3435 Main St. Wende Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 645-2000

North Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Duke University
PhD Programs
307 Trent Drive
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786
East Carolina University
East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 328-6131
The University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Carrington Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 962-2211
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
1400 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC 27412
(336) 334-5000

North Dakota

SchoolContact Information
University of North Dakota
PhD Programs
430 Oxford St Stop 9025
Grand Forks, ND 58202
(701) 777-4174


SchoolContact Information
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000
Kent State University
PhD Programs
1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930
The Ohio State University
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-4041
University of Cincinnati
PhD Programs
2600 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(151) 355-8550 x0


SchoolContact Information
Oklahoma City University
PhD Programs
2501 N Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 208-5000
The University of Oklahoma
PhD Programs
1100 N Stonewall Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73117
(405) 325-0311


SchoolContact Information
Oregon Health & Sciences University
PhD Programs
3147 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239
(503) 494-8311


SchoolContact Information
Drexel University
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281
University of Pittsburgh
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

Rhode Island

SchoolContact Information
University of Rhode Island
PhD Programs
45 Upper College Rd
Kingston, RI 02881
(401) 874-1000

South Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Medical University of South Carolina
PhD Programs
171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425
(843) 792-8515
University of South Carolina
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7412


SchoolContact Information
East Tennessee State University
365 Stout Drive
Johnson City, TN 37614
(423) 439-4578
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center- Memphis
910 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
1200 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-4151
University of Memphis
101 Wilder Tower
Memphis, TN 38152
(190) 167-8200 x3


SchoolContact Information
Texas Woman's University
304 Administration Dr.
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-2000
The University of Texas at Arlington
PhD Programs
701 S Nedderman Dr
Arlington, TX 76019
(817) 272-2011
The University of Texas at Austin
110 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-3434
The University of Texas at Tyler
PhD Programs
3900 University Blvd
Tyler, TX 75799
(903) 566-7000
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555
(409) 772-1011
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio - UT Health San Antonio
7703 Floyd Curl Dr
San Antonio, TX 78229
(210) 567-7000
University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston
6901 Bertner
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-2000


SchoolContact Information
University of Utah
PhD Programs
10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 581-3414


SchoolContact Information
George Mason University
PhD Programs
4400 University Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 993-1000
Hampton University
PhD Programs
100 E Queen St
Hampton, VA 23668
(757) 727-5000
University of Virginia
225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903-3388
(434) 924-0141
Virginia Commonwealth University
PhD Programs
1100 East Leigh Street
Richmond, VA 23298
(804) 828-0724


SchoolContact Information
University of Washington
1410 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2100
Washington State University Vancouver
PhD Programs
14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave
Vancouver, WA 98686
(360) 546-9788

West Virginia

SchoolContact Information
West Virginia University
PhD Programs
64 Medical Center Drive
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-4831


SchoolContact Information
Marquette University
PhD Programs
1250 W Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(800) 222-6544
University of Wisconsin-Madison
PhD Programs
702 West Johnson Street. Suite 1101
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 263-2400
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PhD Programs
2442 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
(414) 229-1122

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.