Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

For more than three decades, the University of Maryland School of Nursing's PhD program has prepared scholars and researchers to tackle the greatest challenges facing health care.

As a PhD student at UMSON, you'll conduct important research that not only builds a foundation for your career, but also contributes to the advancement of nursing science. You'll study under accomplished faculty members from UMSON's organized research centers while taking full advantage of our state-of-the-art health sciences campus. The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is the state's public health, law, and human services university devoted to excellence in professional education, research, patient care, and public service.

Katie McElroy, PhD student

"I chose to return [to UMSON] to pursue my PhD because I'd had such great experiences. I already knew how committed the administration, faculty, and staff are to the success of the students."


You're an ideal candidate for the PhD program if you are a bachelor's or master's prepared nurse who wants a research career focused on some of the most important disciplines, topics, and trends, including:

  • Aging Populations
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Health Systems Outcomes
  • Implementation Science
  • Occupational Health
  • Pain and Symptom Science
  • Palliative and End-of-Life Care

The UMSON PhD program was initiated in 1979 as the 16th doctoral nursing program in the nation. Every student is carefully chosen and matched to the faculty member who can offer the greatest opportunity to succeed in developing his or her research program. As a graduate, you will join a thriving group of alumni—many of whom hold key leadership positions in academia, research, and administration across the country. 

Program Details

UMSON offers three PhD entry options:

Post-BSN to PhD (without a master’s)

If you’re interested in a research career, the PhD can provide you with the skills needed to become a nurse scientist. This entry option allows you to complete one year of core graduate courses and research rotations. Then you take the post-master's PhD courses and complete a minimum of 78 credits and dissertation requirements. No Master of Science degree is awarded. 

Post-BSN with a Master's to PhD

If you are a current UMSON student in the Community/Public Health, Health Services Leadership and Management, or Nursing Informatics master’s specialties, or a student in the Clinical Nurse Leader option, this entry option allows you to complete graduate courses and earn a Master of Science degree while beginning PhD classes. You can complete the program in four to five years of full-time study taking fewer classes than if you pursued a master's degree and PhD degree separately. Credits from your MS coursework may substitute for elective credits in the PhD program. All elective courses must be at the 600 level or higher and be approved by your advisor and the associate dean for the PhD Program.  Post-BSN with a Master's to PhD students follow the plan of study for Post-Master’s to PhD entry students and complete the same coursework and dissertation requirements. You can apply to the PhD program at the end of the first year of full-time master's study.

Post-Master's to PhD

If you are a master’s prepared student, in this entry option you complete PhD core courses that build upon your existing clinical and research foundation. You will choose a research area based on your interests and career goals. It may be possible to transfer credits from your master’s coursework to substitute elective credits in the PhD program. All elective courses must be approved by your advisor and the associate dean for the PhD program. 

Admissions Requirements

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy in nursing program should possess a bachelor's or master's degree with a major in nursing from an ACEN- (formerly known as NLNAC) or CCNE- accredited college or university, or an equivalent degree from a comparable foreign university. A Master's in Public Health from an accredited university may also be considered.

All applicants must submit the following materials to be considered for admission:

  • One official transcript in English and one native language transcript or mark sheets (if applicable) from your undergraduate and graduate schools listing subjects studied or marks received and rank in class or division. Transcripts should delineate a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all previous course work (baccalaureate, master's, and any subsequent coursework).

All transcripts should be mailed to the Graduate School at:

Graduate School
University of Maryland, Baltimore
620 West Lexington Street, 5th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, mailed to the Graduate School. Please use code 5848 for the Graduate School. Test must have been taken within five years of application date. 
  • Three letters of recommendation, submitted to the Graduate School using the online form. Letters should provide evidence of personal and professional qualifications from three doctoral-prepared professionals familiar with the applicant's ability, work experience, contributions to nursing, and potential for success in the PhD program. 
  • Curriculum vitae, submitted to Please put in the subject line, "CV: [Last Name], [First Name]".
  • Verification of active licensure for the practice of nursing in at least one state in the U.S. or in a foreign country, submitted to
  • Essay describing your academic goals and research interests, submitted electronically to It is important that your research interests match with our faculty expertise. Please review our faculty research interests and mention a faculty member who may be appropriate.
  • International students only: TOEFL or IELTS scores, sent to the Graduate School using code 5848. The minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.
  • Online application for admission. An application fee of $75 must be paid with a credit card during the online application process. Your application will not be processed until payment is received. 

For More Information

All applicants must satisfy the general requirements of the Graduate School before being considered for admission to the PhD program. For more information about the Graduate School admission criteria, visit the Graduate School website.

What You'll Do

What You'll Do

After graduating from the PhD program, you'll be prepared to:

  • Design, conduct, analyze, and disseminate research findings to expand knowledge in nursing and related disciplines
  • Initiate, facilitate, and participate in interdisciplinary research with nurses and scholars from related disciplines
  • Assume leadership roles in academic and health care settings