Cassie Hummel at 2023 WIN Conference

PhD Program Overview

Design, conduct, and disseminate research that will generate new knowledge. Your work can help change nursing science, healthcare, and nursing practice.

You will join a small cohort of nurse scholars, developing supportive relationships with these fellow students and faculty. Faculty and staff are accessible and committed to your success, and you will have regular research and academic mentoring through the establishment of your career as a nurse scientist. Approximately two-thirds of our students are funded through research/teaching assistantship, scholarships, or Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program awards.

Application Deadlines

Fall Start

(Spokane Campus only)

Application Opens: August 15
Priority Deadline: January 15
Deadline: March 15

back to top

Admission Requirements

Education

  • Official transcripts from ALL colleges and/or universities attended.
    • Please note that if you wish to transfer in any coursework from another institution, your coursework will not be evaluated prior to admission.
  • Bacc-PhD:
    • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited program if you are interested in the Bacc-PhD program. Minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher from that degree. If you have mitigating circumstances that affected your GPA, please contact us at nursing.grad.apps@wsu.edu to discuss.
  • PhD:
    • A master’s degree from a regionally accredited program. Minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher from that degree. If you have mitigating circumstances that affected your GPA, please contact us at nursing.grad.apps@wsu.edu to discuss.
  • Applicants from a country where English is not the primary language: Additional Graduate School requirement of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Practice & Professional

  • Proof of registered nurse (RN) licensure
    • NOTE: We will make special accommodations for international students. Please contact us at nursing.grad.apps@wsu.edu if you will be an international student.
  • Curriculum vitae or résumé

Scholarly Work and Research Goal Statement

  • 3 professional references
  • Successful completion of an admissions interview via zoom

Step 1 – Gather Application Materials and Documents

  • Update your professional curriculum vitae or resume.
  • Determine three references willing to provide a recommendation for you.
    • You will need to provide names and emails of your references on your application. We recommend (but do not require) your references include:
      • A current or past faculty member from a nursing program you attended.
      • Two professional references from a work setting (head nurse, provider, NP/PA, etc.)
    • The reference will be asked to discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.
    • Your references will be contacted directly by NursingCAS via email after you have saved their information to your application. Each reference will receive instructions for submitting their recommendation online. NursingCAS requires you to add a Due Date for the reference – set that date as 7 days after the day you are submitting your application (i.e. If you submit August 20, set the due date as August 27).
  • Prepare to complete the following “Program Intent and Goals” questions that you will submit within your application. They are:
    • What is the reason you want a PhD, and how do you envision it will advance your professional development and career?
      • Answers must be limited to 9999 characters including spaces, which equates to around 1,500 to 2,500 words.
    • Please describe your potential research idea for your dissertation. What gap in knowledge do you want to investigate?
      • Provide at least five references using APA 6th format to support the gap you have identified.
      • Answers must be limited to 9999 characters including spaces, which equates to around 1,500 to 2,500 words.
    • Please identify potential faculty in the College of Nursing you believe will be a good mentor for your dissertation topic.
      • Browse the College of Nursing Faculty/Staff Directory for details on each faculty member. Click “Bio/CV” for information on each faculty member’s areas of expertise and research.
    • Why do you feel each faculty member you selected may be a good fit for your topic?
      • Answers must be limited to 9999 characters including spaces, which equates to around 1,500 to 2,500 words.
    • What are four specific goals for your PhD program that are organized, clear, concise, and in-depth with demonstrated lucidity and well-developed thinking?
      • Goals may include rationale for progression through the program, courses from other disciplines in which you would want to enroll, writing a grant to fund your PhD study, and working with faculty to develop presentations and publications.
      • Answers must be limited to 9999 characters including spaces, which equates to around 1,500 to 2,500 words.
  • Scholarly work submission – All PhD applicants will be asked to provide an example of their scholarly work. Your scholarly work/writing sample should exemplify your research and writing ability. Your example could include published or unpublished work. Unpublished work examples could include work-related papers or reports, your master’s thesis or project, or a scholarly work from a graduate course. Published work examples could include journal articles or book chapters. If your work is written with multiple authors, a writing sample for which you carried the primary responsibility should be selected, and you should credit all authors and indicate, with an attached memo, your role in the authorship. Select one of the following options to upload to your application:
    • Option 1: Conduct a literature search on your proposed topic for the dissertation research. Write a review of at least five articles. At the end of the review, summarize the gaps in knowledge followed by a description of how your proposed dissertation research will address at least one gap. Provide a rationale for the importance of your topic for nursing practice, research, education, or policy. References/citations are required both in the body of the paper and in a reference list at the end using APA 6th edition. The scholarly work should be no longer than 5 double-spaced pages. Quality is valued over quantity.
    • Option 2: Submit a published paper (preferably a research report) for which you are the first author.
    • Option 3: Submit a literature-based paper written in your master’s or baccalaureate program for which you were the first author.
    • Option 4: Bacc-PhD applicants only – If you do not have experience in scientific writing and cannot provide a sample from one of the above options, you may take the Scientific Writing Course from Coursera. There is a $79 fee for the certificate of completion. The course is 6 weeks long and you must provide the completion certificate to the PhD Academic Coordinator prior to the first day of class.

Step 2 – Complete the NursingCAS Application

Starting Your Nursing CAS Application

  • Review the application support documentation below.
    • Additionally, we have tutorial videos that were made for our prelicensure program. There are some exceptions to the PhD process, but it may prove helpful to see how NursingCAS works.  
  • Select the ‘Apply Now!’ button at the bottom of this section and select the term that you are applying for (Fall 2024). Click apply to set up your account. Check your junk mail and spam folder for the initial account confirmation to ensure that NursingCAS emails are safely going to your inbox. NursingCAS application is open from 8/15 through 3/15, with a priority decision deadline of 1/15.
  • Use the following link to view all available WSU College of Nursing Applications.
    • There are two PhD application options, standard PhD and Post-Baccalaureate PhD, so be sure to review the names of each to ensure you’re selecting the correct one.
  • Select the My Application tab to begin filling out your application.
  • The application fee is $80 and non-refundable. The NursingCAS application is open from 8/15 through 3/15, with a priority decision deadline of 1/15. Note that the deadline time is 11:59 pm EST (which is 8:59 pm PST) of that date.

Personal Information

  • Fill out all 7 sections. Make sure you click “save and continue” at the bottom of each section.
  • Ensure that your contact info is accurate – your email is what we use to contact you for issues and info.
  • This section is run by NursingCAS – anything that is optional you are welcome to skip without it affecting your application.

Academic History

  • Fill out all sections other than standardized test.
  • For Colleges Attended, click “add a college” and input every institution of higher education you have ever attended. Complete the questions asked for each institution you added. This section will likely take you the most time, though our tutorial videos have an overview to assist.
    • PLEASE NOTE: You must input every institution of higher education in which you have been enrolled AND provide a transcript for each. NursingCAS will reject your application if coursework from an unreported institution shows on a submitted transcript, or if a transcript for an attended institution is not submitted. Note that this includes coursework taken as part of a study abroad program.
  • You will need to order official transcripts for every college/university you have attended, including for your undergraduate degree. We recommend ordering an electronic transcript if possible. If your school does not offer electronic transcripts through one of the 3 companies that NursingCAS uses, please follow the instructions for “Option 2: Order a Mailed Paper Transcript.”
  • For Transcript Entry, input every course exactly as it appears on that institution’s transcript. NursingCAS will reject an application if the transcript entry does not match the transcript.
  • We recommend pulling up an unofficial transcript so you can copy over the classes accurately.
    • Note: If you use the Professional Transcript Entry (PTE) function, please allow a large amount of time for CAS to finish that process. If you are late on a deadline or miss something due to PTE, the responsibility is still with you. After you receive notification from NursingCAS that the PTE is complete, you must log back into your application and approve the coursework entry before your application will be submitted.
    • Note: do your best with the course subject drop-down. It will not cover every option possible, and as long as it is close enough, we will know what you are going for. It is the other components that are blank fields (grades/credits) that are the most important to us.
  • Once you have completed the transcript entry, choose to review and finalize your transcripts.
  • Ensure that you accurately indicate repeated classes. Type out exactly what is on your transcript.

Supporting Information

  • You can opt out of all these sections, as you instead upload a resume/CV later on.

Application Questions

  • Respond to all questions to the best of your ability following the directions provided for each question section.
  • When you are completing the “Program Goals and Intent” questions, most answers must be limited to 9999 characters including spaces which equates to around 1,500 to 2,500 words.

Program Materials

  • Review the home tab first, then fill out the remaining 3 tabs (Documents, Questions, Prerequisites).
  • For Questions, thoroughly read through each and answer appropriately – if you answer yes to a question, and later it turns out you should have answered no, you risk ineligibility.
  • For Documents, upload your CV/Resume, Scholarly Work option, License, as well as any of the optional documents that apply.

Submitting Your Application

  • Navigate to “Submit Application” on the top of the page and pay application fee. Note that the deadline time is 11:59 pm EST on that date.
  • Wait – we will send updates via email.

Tips for submitting your application

  • Email us early on if you anticipate any issues! We are happy to help clarify anything on the application process.
  • Use Nursing CAS with an email address you check regularly. Most contact during the admissions process will be done via email. Failure to respond may jeopardize your chances for admission.
  • Make sure your official transcripts are received by NursingCAS by the deadline. Please note that a copy of a transcript from every college and/or university you have attended will be required.

Step 3 – Interview

PhD Applicants are be asked to participate in an interview via Zoom. Scheduling details for that comes after the application is submitted.

What does it cost to attend the program?

Visit the WSU Student Financial Services website for information on tuition and expenses.

Scholarships & Loan programs

College of Nursing Scholarships

Financial Aid

Nurse Faculty Loan Program

Western Regional Graduate Program

WSU Scholarships

Application Review Process

  • You will receive email notification upon submitting your application.
  • We begin reviewing completed applications upon submission.
  • You will be notified via email if you are accepted, wait-listed, or denied.
  • Admission questions? Email nursing.admissions@wsu.edu.

What is the selection process and how soon will I know if I am accepted?

Our PhD Advisory Committee reviews and scores all applications. Applicants receiving an acceptable score are invited for a phone interview with 2 members of the committee. Those members will make a recommendation back to the full committee for a vote. If approved, the applicant will be recommended to the graduate school for acceptance. You will receive an email from the College of Nursing notifying you of the admission decision.

Are Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required for graduate nursing programs?

No, the GRE is not required.

Are reference letters required?

Yes, you will need to provide names and emails of your references on your application. We recommend (but do not require) your references include:

  • A current or past faculty member from a nursing program you attended.
  • Two professional references from a work setting (head nurse, provider, NP/PA, etc.)

The reference will be asked to discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.

Your references will be contacted directly by NursingCAS via email after you have saved their information to your application. Each reference will receive instructions for submitting their recommendation online. NursingCAS requires you to add a Due Date for the reference – set that date as 7 days after the day you are submitting your application (i.e. If you submit August 20, set the due date as August 27).

You do not need to provide a paper recommendation. Please contact references prior to applying to ensure they are willing to respond to your recommendation request; ask them to discuss your leadership, academic standards, and skills as they pertain to your primary interest area.

Where do I have my transcripts sent?

Have your transcripts sent directly to CAS from your application portal.  For more information on ordering transcripts through NursingCAS visit the NursingCAS Applicant Help Center webpage on transcripts.

Program Requirements

Course work focuses on core areas of nursing science, research, education, and methodology. All course work contributes to the development and completion of dissertation work. A flexible, individualized program is available. If you are a Nurse Faculty Loan Program recipient, the nursing education certificate will be required.

Summer 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 524Foundations of Methodological Applications for Health Sciences2
NURS 535Philosophy of Nursing Science3
NURS 536Theory and Science of Nursing I3
Total8

Fall 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 526Analytical Foundations for Health Sciences3
NURS 588Research Inquiry: Quantitative Methods3
NURS 596Theory and Science of Nursing II3
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Spring 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 527Association, Group Difference, and Regression for Health Sciences (A)3
NURS 587Inquiry: Qualitative Methods3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted)3
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Summer 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 589Psychometrics in Health Care Research2
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 591 Mixed Methods for Program Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (3 cr)
– NURS 598 Independent Study (graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 599* Independent Study (non-graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 799* Dissertation Seminar (1 cr)
3
or
6
Minimum Total8

Fall 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 528Multivariate Statistical Techniques for Health Sciences3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 592 Research Inquiry: Qualitative Methods II (2 cr)
– NURS 565 Information Mgmt for Clinical Practice (3 cr)
– NURS 521 Learning, Teaching, and Evaluating in Nursing (3 cr)
– NURS 598 Independent Study (graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 599* Independent Study (non-graded) (1-3 cr)
– NURS 799* Dissertation Seminar (1 cr)
3
or
6
NURS 800Dissertation2 (or more)
Minimum Total11

Spring 2

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 585Faculty Role Seminar/Practicum (taught even years only)0
or
3
NURS 534Seminar: Grant Development and Critique3
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) choose from the following:
– NURS 593* Preliminary Exam Seminar (1 cr)
– NURS 523 Educational Issues and Curriculum Analysis (3 cr)
– NURS 584 Healthcare Law, Policy, and Analysis (3 cr)
– NURS 529 Analytical Seminar for Health Sciences (3 cr)
3
or
6
NURS 800Dissertation4
Minimum Total10

Summer 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 800Dissertation (optional)0
or
2
Minimum Total0

Fall 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 800Dissertation4
Minimum Total4

Spring 3

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 585Faculty Role Seminar/Practicum (taught even years only)0
or
3
NURS 800Dissertation4
ElectiveElective (chair/advisor must be consulted) (optional)0
or
3
Minimum Total4

* These are S/F (non-graded) elective courses and are not counted towards the required credit total of 72 credits.

Course work focuses on core areas of nursing science, research, education, and methodology. All course work contributes to the development and completion of dissertation work. A flexible, individualized program is available. If you are a Nurse Faculty Loan Program recipient, the nursing education certificate will be required.

Fall 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 503Scientific Inquiry in Nursing (R)2
NURS 504Evidenced-Based Practice3
NURS 564
or
NURS 565
Health Promotion in Nursing Practice
or
Information Management for Clinical Practice (A)
3
Total8

Spring 1

CourseTitleCredits
NURS 554Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Health Professionals (N)3
NURS 584Healthcare Law, Policy, and Analysis3
NURS 523
or
Elective
Educational Issues and Curriculum Analysis
or
Elective (chair/advisor must be consulted)
3
Total9

Bacc-PhD Students must also have at least 14 credits of master’s-level coursework completed.

  1. Advances nursing science through clinical research and dissemination of dissertation study and other research projects
  2. Demonstrates ability to analyze, construct, or test theoretical frameworks that guide nursing research design, methodology, data analysis, and the transfer of new knowledge into practice
  3. Collaborates with interdisciplinary scholars in research and transfers evidence-based knowledge into best clinical practices through dissemination processes
  4. Synthesizes knowledge from a variety of disciplines to create research designs and methods for nursing science and to address ethical, social, cultural, political, and professional issues
  5. Implements proven and emerging technologies to enhance nursing research and education
  6. Implements innovative research designs, methodologies, leadership skills, health education, and/or lifestyle modifications techniques to address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations and disparities in the access to or delivery of healthcare

Students must meet all PhD requirements and submit all training, licensure, and certification information as separate documents to the PhD Academic Coordinator before you can register for classes. Please send materials to Stacy Ritter at slritter@wsu.edu.

Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing requires proof of COVID vaccination for students with limited exemptions for medical reasons. Religious exemptions will not be accepted. Please view the Vaccination Admissions Policy. Even with an approved medical exemption/accommodation from WSU, students may still need to obtain approval from a clinical training site to engage in a clinical experience. Clinical training sites may deny an unvaccinated student’s request for an exemption, which may impact their progression in the program. Clinical training sites exemptions previously may discontinue exemptions or add specific booster requirements in the future at their own will anytime. Please contact Laura East-Pease (laura.east@wsu.edu), Director for Clinical Placements and Affiliations, for the process to obtain a medical exemption.

Licensure

Students with an RN license and collect data in a healthcare agency, will be required to show documentation of your licensure. Documentation requirements may vary by agency. 

Required Forms

Student Media Release

  • Requirement: Sign and date the[EPL2]  Student Media Consent Form. Students are not required to give permission but are required to complete the form indicating their preference. 
  • Documentation: Email completed copy to your academic coordinator.

Student Authorization to Release Records Form

Training

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)

  • Requirement: The College of Nursing requires all graduate students to complete two[EPL3] CITI training courses. For information regarding these trainings, please access the HPP/IRB Washington State University CITI training site.
  • Please access instructions to register for a CITI account (PDF) through Washington State University. If you already have a CITI account through the university, these instructions will also direct you on how to enroll in the below four courses.
    • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training course.
      • Required by the Washington State University Graduate School upon admission.
    • Human Subjects Research (HSR) training course.
      • Required by the Washington State University Institutional Review Board
    • For both the HSR and RCR trainings, students will select between “Social/Behavioral Research” course or the “Biomedical” course depending on their area of research. Typically, MN and DNP students choose Social/Behavioral, while PhD students choose Biomedical. Please contact your advisor if you need assistance determining which course to take.
  • Documentation: Email the certificate of completion to your academic coordinator.

Technology Requirements

Upcoming Events

FAQs

What is the difference between a PhD and DNP Degree?

The DNP degree is a practice-oriented doctoral-level degree that prepares nurses for leadership positions or as advanced practice nurses in a variety of settings. The PhD in nursing prepares nursing scientists to conduct research aimed at enhancing effectiveness of nursing in specific populations and within various healthcare settings.

How are classes delivered?

Most course work is delivered online. Some on-campus time is required the first week of the first semester.

How long will it take me to earn my PhD?

The PhD program curriculum is designed to be delivered over 7 semesters, with additional time for dissertation, which is variable for each student.

The Bacc-PhD program curriculum is designed to be delivered over 9 semesters, with additional time for dissertation, which is variable for each student.

How much time will I need to spend on the Spokane campus?

Currently, all courses will be delivered via Zoom.

How long do I have to complete the program once I start?

The WSU Graduate School allows 10 years for completion. However, the preliminary examination must be completed by Year 7 in order to have the required maximum of 3 years post-preliminary exam for completion of the study and defense.

Program Contacts