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Washington State University

PhD in Nursing

Washington State University College of Nursing

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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.

Priority Application Deadlines:

We admit students once per year for each track.

PhD – January 10 (summer start)

Bacc-PhD – March 10 (fall start)

If there is capacity to admit additional qualified students, we will extend the application deadline. Contact Tami Kelley, if you have questions.

To apply, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:


  • A master’s degree from an accredited program (a baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited program if you are interested in the bacc-PhD program)
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher in the master’s program (for PhD) and bachelor’s program (for Bacc-PhD). If you have mitigating circumstances that have affected your GPA, please contact us to discuss
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants from countries where English is not the primary language
  • Official transcripts from all previous college work


  • Proof of registered nurse (RN) licensure
    NOTE: We will make special accommodations for international students
  • Curriculum vitae or résumé

Scholarly Work and Research Goal Statement

  • Submission of scholarly work – see Steps to Apply page for more info.
  • Submission of a “Program Intent and Goals Statement” – see Steps to Apply page for more info.


  • 3 letters of reference
  • Successful completion of an admissions phone interview

Additional Admission Requirements

For a complete list of nursing requirements for newly admitted students, visit our Admitted Students section.

Beth Schenk

“If someone were thinking about a PhD in nursing from WSU I would say do it! In this world we need nurses and in nursing we need scientists. For me Washington State was an excellent choice and experience. I looked at many other schools and I’m sure they all have their strengths, but for me Washington State was the best choice for all the reasons I’ve said: quality, commitment, credibility, support and mentorship.”
–Beth Schenk, (PhD ’13)

Funding is available to help pay for your graduate degree.

The Nurse Faculty Loan Program offers a loan-forgiveness program of up to $35,000 per year to students pursuing an MN, DNP, or PhD degree in nursing. In return, students agree to teach nursing at the college or university level for at least four years for 85 percent loan forgiveness.

Learn More

Pay the in-state tuition rate to get your PhD

If you’re a resident of 16 western states or territories, you can pursue your PhD or Master of Nursing-Population Health at WSU and pay the in-state tuition rate – a savings of thousands of dollars per semester.

Learn more

Patrick Muturi

“If you look at most of the students who have graduated from our program and have gone elsewhere to work, either as a professor, researcher, things like that, they have done very well and they continue to contribute so much more, not only to their local communities, but at the national and international level.”
–Patrick Muturi, (PhD ’18)

PhD Program Course Work

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.

Two pathways are available:

PhD in Nursing
Baccalaureate to PhD in Nursing

Frequently Asked Questions about the PhD Program

What is the cost per credit for graduate school?
In-state tuition cost for full time attendance is $8,908 per semester. Part-time cost per credit is $891 for in-state residents. For out-of-state costs, visit the WSU Financial Services website.

If you’re a resident of 16 western states or territories, you can pursue your PhD and pay the in-state tuition rate – a savings of thousands of dollars per semester. Learn more about the Western Regional Graduate Program.

What is the minimum GPA requirement for admission to the PhD program?
A GPA of 3.5 or higher in an accredited master’s program is required.

What are the admission requirements for the PhD program?
Refer to the admission requirements section for admission criteria. PhD students must apply to the WSU Graduate School online. Please contact Tami Kelley at for more information and for academic advising before applying. 

When is the application deadline for the PhD and Bacc-PhD programs?
The PhD program application deadline is January 10. The Bacc-PhD Program application deadline is March 10. We will extend the application deadline if space is available.

Are Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required for graduate nursing programs?
No, the GRE is not required.

Are reference letters required?
Yes. When you apply online, you must provide 3 references. Once you submit your application, your 3 references will be contacted to submit a recommendation form electronically. We recommend you include the following references:

  • A faculty member from a nursing program you attended
  • A professional reference from a work setting
  • A reference of your choosing

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 from your previous institutions to the WSU Graduate School.

Washington State University Graduate School
PO Box 641030
Pullman, WA 99164-1030

Electronic Transcripts
The Graduate School accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via the official electronic transcript process of the registrar’s office of the institution. In such cases, applicants should provide the registrar with the following email address for corresponding with the Graduate School regarding electronic transcripts:

International Transcripts
If you attended a college outside the U.S. or Canada, please see the Graduate School site for more information.

How can I reach the Graduate School if I have questions?

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 many credits will I need to complete?
PhD in Nursing course work.

Bacc-PhD in Nursing course work.

How much time will I need to spend on the Spokane campus?
You will need to attend classes on Spokane campus for the first and last 2 weeks of your first summer semester. Classes will be delivered over a live videoconferencing system called Zoom and are typically held on Thursday and Friday mornings and afternoons. For your remaining semesters, you will be required to come to Spokane 2 scheduled weeks a semester. Classes will be scheduled on Zoom for 4 weeks. The balance of weeks will be over Canvas, our online Learning Management System.

How long do I have to complete the program once I start?
The WSU Graduate School allows 10 years to complete.

What sort of financial assistance is available?

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.

What should I include in my goal statement?
Your goal statement should include your long- and short-term professional goals and discuss how they fit with the faculty expertise at the College of Nursing. Keep the statement to 500 words and ensure it is focused and concise.

What should I include in my scholarly work submission?
Your writing sample should exemplify your research and writing ability. Examples could include published and 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 works 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.


PhD Program Outcomes

  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