Nursing (PhD)

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Degree Offered: PhD
Program Leadership:
Sandra Weiss, RN, PhD, Interim Director
Admissions Inquiries:
Debbie Acoba, PhD Program Coordinator

Program Description

Through the Nursing PhD program, students begin a career and life of inquiry. Graduates of the program become scientists who conduct research in nursing and continually grow the knowledge base of the discipline. They answer the “why” and “how” questions and pursue careers as academic faculty or clinical researchers.

The UCSF School of Nursing takes pride in its graduate programs, which represent a century of pioneering leadership that has produced many of the country’s – and the world’s – nursing leaders. Among schools of nursing nationwide, the UCSF School of Nursing is one of the top recipients of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School’s graduate students have many opportunities to capitalize on the symbiotic relationship between the Nursing PhD, DNP, MS, and MEPN programs and the basic, clinical, and social and population science programs offered by the Graduate Division.


There are over 100 faculty members in the four School of Nursing departments. See a list of Nursing faculty research areas.

Research Focus Areas

The Nursing PhD program offers four research focus areas: family health care nursing, community health systems, physiological nursing, and health policy. The School of Nursing also administers the Sociology program, which constitutes a separate, so-named PhD degree. See the Nursing PhD program website for full descriptions.

The Nursing PhD program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division. The program is administered by the UCSF School of Nursing and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF School of Nursing.

Admission Requirements

  • Engagement with faculty
  • Prior degree in Nursing with a 3.5 minimum GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Official transcripts from all educational institutions
  • Statistics course prerequisite within three years prior to matriculation
  • Research course prerequisite within five years prior to matriculation
  • English proficiency exam: TOEFL or IELTS
  • RN licensure in California or home state of residency
  • RN experience of minimum of one year is preferred
  • Goal statement
  • Four to five letters of recommendation
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae

Find more details on our website.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the PhD program will have achieved the following:

  1. Demonstrate a command of the literature pertinent to a selected field of nursing science;
  2. Formulate research questions that evolve from a theoretical perspective and contribute to nursing science;
  3. Demonstrate breadth of knowledge regarding a variety of research methods and expertise in at least one method;
  4. Address major research issues pertinent to a selected area of inquiry, such as scientific integrity and diversity;
  5. Defend a historical, theoretical, and philosophical perspective for nursing science in general and for a selected field of investigation in particular;
  6. Demonstrate commitment to a program of research as manifested by the selection of an area of inquiry that has potential for continuity and cumulative generation of knowledge;
  7. Demonstrate the ability to write and defend research proposals as preparation for subsequent intramural and extramural support;
  8. Complete an independent and original research investigation in the form of a dissertation;
  9. Show increased appreciation of professional involvement as evidenced by scholarly presentations, community service, and organizational participation.

Additional Information

Program Faculty

  • There are over 100 faculty members in the four School of Nursing departments. See a list of Nursing faculty research areas.

Career Outcomes