PhD Prerequisites & Admissions

We are committed to creating an academically challenging and supportive educational community of students with diverse talents, experiences, viewpoints and cultural backgrounds. Applications are particularly encouraged from students who intend to focus their research in one of the research focal areas.

Learn About Our Areas of Research Excellence

Selection is based on an evaluation of academic background, research interests and availability of suitable faculty expertise for mentorship.

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • BSN - PhD Pathway: Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. Find out if your institution is regionally accredited here.
  • Master of Science (MS) in Nursing degree, cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above (MS-PhD program option)
  • MS - PhD Pathway: Applicants must hold a Master’s Degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above. Find out if your institution is regionally accredited here.

Admissions Requirements

  • Three recommendations attesting to the applicant’s potential to succeed in doctoral study. References will be submitted electronically through the NursingCAS application. References will then receive an email with an online form to complete that serves as their recommendation. Letters are not required.
  • Current nursing license
  • Completion of the NuringCAS online application and University of Arizona Graduate College Application.
  • Transcripts
  • Resume/CV: Please use this CV template to help identify key areas our faculty look for during the admissions process.
  • Applicant-Faculty mentoring match (see FAQs below for additional clarification)
  • Additional documentation will be required if offered admission into the program.

A brief telephone interview is required of top applicants.

The PhD program coursework is completed fully-online. Students are required to attend a mandatory, on-campus, one-week orientation known as the Resident Intensive Summer Experience (RISE) in Tucson, AZ each year. Because of the requirements of the PhD program, international applicants must verify all appropriate documentation and review all regulations and procedures with both the University of Arizona Office of International Student Services and the Graduate College regarding program admission, enrollment in an online program and requirements for on-ground attendance at RISE each year.  

In addition to completing the online UA Graduate College application, international applicants must:

  • Submit a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 paper based (PB), 79 internet based (iBT) or an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 7 (no subject area below a 6).
  • Submit CGFNS documentation for nursing/medical degrees earned outside of the United States. Please see Transcript Requirements for more information.

After applying via NursingCAS, you are required to send all official transcripts directly to NursingCAS by the issuing institution’s registrar’s office. Once received, NursingCAS will validate all received transcripts. Transcripts should be mailed to the address below:

P.O. Box 9201
Watertown, MA 02471

Please note: NursingCAS also accepts official transcripts sent electronically from Credentials Solutions, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse.

When completing the second step and filling out the Graduate College application you will be asked to upload unofficial transcripts.

International Transcripts – Nursing/Medical Related

All international nursing or medical-related transcripts must be evaluated through World Education Services or CFGNS International. The evaluation service report must then be submitted to NursingCAS by following the same instructions above.

*If you studied abroad through a program from a previous U.S. Institution you attended and the courses are listed on your U.S. transcript as receiving US Institutional credit, you do not need to submit an evaluation report. Otherwise, an evaluation report will be required. For example, an international course listed on one of your U.S. Institution transcripts as a transfer credit will require a separate evaluation report.  Please contact us at with questions.

International Transcripts – Non-Nursing/Medical Related

Non-nursing/medical international transcripts must be translated and evaluated if they: are not in English, do not use a grading scale we recognize, or do not account for course units like US institutions. Translation and evaluation must be completed by a service such as World Education Services. The evaluation report must be officially sealed and submitted to NursingCAS by following the same instructions above.


The program is an average of four years, full-time. For example, the BSN-PhD program is set up so that the student completes three years of coursework before comprehensive exams, followed the by the dissertation. The MS-PhD program has two years of full-time coursework prior to comprehensive exams. The length of time spent in dissertation will ultimately determine the total time to degree. You should refer to the specific course grids available on our website for each specialty.

We do now offer a part-time option in our PhD program. We require part-time students to be enrolled in at least 6 units per semester as opposed to at least 9 units for full-time study.

The PhD program is considered an online program although there are times students must travel to Tucson. One requirement is for RISE (the Resident Intensive Summer Experience). RISE generally occurs for a week in August and students are required to attend for at least the first year of the program. In addition to RISE, students may be required to come to campus to participate in research or meet with a faculty advisor.

We receive more than 20 applicants per admissions cycle for the PhD program. There is no set amount for number of students admitted. That decision will be made by the administrative team later in the spring based on faculty workload, total candidates recommended admission by the faculty, etc.

No. The College of Nursing does not require any standardized entrance test for any of programs.

The applicant should identify potential mentor matches prior to applying. A formal arrangement is not necessary for application purposes. However, please be mindful that a good mentor match is an integral part of doctoral-level education, and the applicant should seek admission to a program where his or her interests are best suited. An applicant who does not have a strong research connection to the College may not be admitted.

For more information regarding tuition and fees, please visit the Bursar's Office.

Students living in WRGP (WICHE) states may be eligible for the tuition exchange program. If the applicant lists a WRGP-eligible state on their application, the application will be flagged and processed accordingly upon admission.

The College of Nursing does have a scholarship fund, and students in the PhD program can apply to those scholarships as well as university funds. Private funding sources, such as grants, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program and other sources can be researched online.

We encourage all students to complete the FAFSA form so that they may be considered for various funding sources. Students have received funding in the past from the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, University Fellow Program, UArizona Graduate College Scholarships, Doctoral Awards, and other CON funds.

State Authorizations

Recent changes to the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 include a series of regulations on individual state authorizations concerning distance education programs. The State Authorization Regulations require The University of Arizona and the College of Nursing to comply with individual state higher education authorizations of our programs and thus we may not be able to offer programs in certain locations. 

The College of Nursing also complies with state Board of Nursing and/or Nurse Practice Act requirements, which may limit the availability of our programs in certain states where teaching is considered an integral part of nurse practice.

At present, The University of Arizona College of Nursing is NOT authorized to offer or award the PhD degree as a distance education program in:

  • Alabama
  • Washington DC
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Massachusetts
  • American Samoa
  • Puerto Rico
  • Tennessee
  • Guam
  • US Virgin Islands

If you have any questions or concerns about the State Authorizations and the impact on PhD program admission, please contact the College of Nursing at or (520) 626-3808.

For additional information concerning The University of Arizona’s compliance with these regulations please contact the Outreach College or visit the State Authorization webpage.