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Nursing, Doctor of Philosophy

The MU Sinclair School of Nursing (MU SSON) is one of a handful of PhD programs in the U.S. open to nurses and non-nurses. The interprofessional aspect of our PhD program is made possible by the wide range of academic backgrounds our MU SSON faculty have and well as our strong, interdisciplinary research connections across the campus including but not limited to biostatistics, education, family and community medicine, health informatics, human development and family science, journalism, public health, social work, and veterinary medicine.

MU SSON offers a challenging and yet enriching PhD program with two options: Online PhD Option and International Residential PhD Option. The PhD curriculum, program requirements, and program outcomes are the same whether you choose the Online PhD option or the International Residential Nursing PhD option. Only the method of course delivery varies.

Career Preparation

Our doctor of philosophy in nursing (PhD) program prepares clinical scholars, educators, and researchers for leadership roles in a variety of academic, healthcare, industry, and governmental settings. Because the knowledge and skills needed to produce excellent health-related research is not discipline specific, the PhD program does not require a prior degree in nursing. Indeed, we have had PhD students with academic preparation in health administration, health education, medical ethics, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, public health and social work.

Application Deadlines

Applications for the PhD Program are due January 1 (International Students), January 15 for early acceptance and March 1 for regular acceptance. All students begin coursework the summer following program acceptance and are required to attend the N7087 Leadership and Technology Institute On-Campus Days.

International Admission for Nursing PhD Program

All international admissions are initially the responsibility of the MU Coordinator of International Student Programs. The PhD Program Committee of the School of Nursing may not act upon any international application for admission until the applicant has been cleared through the office.

Non-native English speaking applicants need documentation of English-language proficiency, demonstrated through a satisfactory Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score within the last two years.

Minimum English Proficiency Requirements

Test TypeTotal ScoreReadingListeningSpeakingWriting
TOEFL Internet -based8017171717
TOEFL Paper-based5505252N/A52
IELTS Academic6.56666

Depending upon English-language proficiency, you may be required to enroll in English Language Support Program courses along with a reduced academic course load. You must pass these courses within the first calendar year of enrollment.

Overview of the PhD Application Process

  • The PhD application is fully online via the MU Graduate Studies website.
  • You will submit a fee to MU Graduate Studies when you apply.
  • You will not send any items to the MU SSON at the time of application.
  • Competitive applicants with a strong research mentor match are invited to participate in an interview.
  • Early acceptance applicants are notified in the later part of February.
  • Regular acceptance applicants are notified no later than mid-April.  All new PhD cohorts start in the summer session.

Application Requirements for the PhD in Nursing

PhD applicants entering with a bachelor’s degree: Bachelor’s  degree in nursing from NLNAC, ACEN, CNEA or CCNE-accredited school OR equivalent for non-nurse applicants; 3.3 minimum GPA (4.0 scale).

  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements OR do not have a cumulative GPA must submit acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and the exam must have been taken within the last five years.

PhD applicants entering with a graduate degree: Master’s or doctoral degree in nursing from NLNAC, ACEN, CNEA or CCNE-accredited school OR equivalent for non-nurse applicants; minimum 3.5 GPA (4.0 scale).

  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements or do not have a cumulative GPA must submit acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and the exam must have been taken within the last five years.

Recommended minimum GRE scores (if required)

When did you take the GRE?VerbalQuantitativeAnalytical
Prior to August 1, 20115005004.0
On or after August 1, 20111531444.0
  • Completed MU Graduate Studies Online Application
  • Current curriculum vitae (CV) or resume
  • Three (3) professional recommendations
  • Personal statement of research goals and interests – Describes what you want to study, who you want to study with, and why you want to study at the Sinclair School of Nursing
  • Writing sample (if available; Post-DNP applicants need to include an artifact of their DNP scholarly project)
  • Registered Nurse (RN) license – Does not apply to non-nurse PhD applicants; international nursing applicants should submit license from their country
  • Satisfactory TOEFL or IELTS scores within last 2 years (non-native English speaking applicants only)

Note: As of April 2016, a graduate level statistics course is no longer required as a prerequisite for the PhD program.

Holistic Review

The MU SSON PhD program uses a comprehensive, holistic review process. In a holistic review process, we consider the applicant as a whole individual, not merely select parts, such as GPA or GRE test scores. In doing so, we evaluate applicants based on who will contribute to the MU SSON’s academic community in meaningful ways.

Holistic review takes into account factors such as a research mentor match, academic and professional goals, student’s strength of undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) coursework, grade trends, special circumstances, and ability to enhance the diversity of the program.  By evaluating the applicant from a holistic perspective, we take the time to get to know applicants as people, not as numbers.