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 
  • Master of Science (MS) in Nursing degree, cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above (MS-PhD program option)

Admissions Requirements

  • Three recommendations attesting to the applicant’s potential to succeed in doctoral study. Recommendations will be submitted electronically through the University of Arizona Graduate College online application.
  • Current nursing license
  • Completion of the online University of Arizona Graduate College Application.
  • Transcripts: Download the Transcript Factsheet for complete instructions on submission of 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 the Transcript Factsheet for more information.

The UA Graduate College application requires all applicants to upload unofficial transcripts within the Educational History section. Applicants will submit official transcripts to the College of Nursing after receiving an offer of admission. For additional information, please see our Transcript Submission Instructions.


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.

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.