Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

a faculty member discusses a research project with a nursing PhD student in the lab

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
  • 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.


You're an ideal candidate for the PhD program if you are a bachelor's- or master's-prepared nurse or other health-related professional 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
  • Women's Health and Birth Outcomes
  • 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)

As part of a national effort to promote nurses to attain a PhD earlier in their career, this option allows you to enroll in our PhD program with your bachelor's degree. After completion of core graduate courses and electives, you'll 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 both programs 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 master's 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. 

PhD Admission Deadlines and Requirements

In this section:


  • fall enrollment: Nov. 1, 2017


Applicants should possess a bachelor's or master's degree from an institution recognized by either the U.S. Department of Education for domestic institutions or the equivalent ministry of education for institutions outside of the United States.

Application Materials: 

All applicants must satisfy the general requirements of the University of Maryland Graduate School and submit the following materials:

Material/Qualifications Submission Guidelines
Online Application and non-refundable $75 application fee Start your application now.

Official Transcript(s) in English or 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).

Returning students are required to submit UMSON transcripts via the Office of the Registrar.

Send by mail to:
Graduate School

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

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores; you must have taken the test within five years of application date.

Use code 5848 for the Graduate School.
Three letters of recommendation providing 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. Use this online form.
Curriculum vitae Submit via email to:
Please put "CV: [Last Name], [First Name]" in the subject line.
Essay describing your academic goals and research interests. 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.
Submit via email to:
If you're a registered nurse:
Verification of active, unrestricted licensure
for the practice of nursing in at least one state in the U.S. or in a foreign country.
Submit via email to:
If your native language or home language is not English:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam scores; the minimum acceptable TOEFL score for admission is 550 for paper-based tests, 80 for the internet-based tests. IELTS test takers must score no less than Band 7 (total).
Use code 5848 for the Graduate School.

If you have questions regarding the admissions requirements or process, contact to avoid errors that could delay the processing of your application.

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
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