PhD Program

The PhD program is accepting applications for the Fall 2017 semester start. Please contact us for more information:

Admission to the Program

Every application is given a complete and holistic review. Applicants submit academic records from their undergraduate and/or graduate degree in nursing, GRE scores, scholarly writing examples, a CV, and an application essay. International applicants must also complete a TOEFL exam if their undergraduate instruction was not in English. Priority consideration is given for applications started by December 1, 2016 for the upcoming 2017 fall admission.  Application materials must be completed by April 1, 2017 to be considered for admission.

An important part of the admission process involves identifying the major professor for the applicant and the discipline for secondary concentration. The careful match of faculty and students research interests is important since the major professor will supervise the student's program and provide the research training experience. Students can review faculty profiles on our website.

Applicant interviews with potential faculty advisors are scheduled as part of the application process.  Telephone interviews are scheduled for international applicants. Limited funding is available to cover travel costs for the interview process.

Students may be accepted either post-baccalaureate or post-master's into the doctoral program. Students are encouraged to enroll full-time. If part-time study is necessary, a minimum of six credits per semester is required. We will continue to review those who submit eligible and completed applications.  The admissions committee will evaluate a candidate and consider an interview when all required application materials have been received.

Admission Requirements for the PhD Program

  • a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited (CCNE or NLN) program with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the last 60 credits of the most recent baccalaureate degree
  • satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • satisfactory academic references
  • copies of two original papers or other scholarly work
  • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. The required minimum scores are: TOEFL = 550 (paper)/80 (internet-based), MELAB = 77 or IELTS = 6
    Applicants are exempt if:
    • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution; or
    • they have earned a degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university not more than five years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment; or
    • they have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than five years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment.

For more information contact: Carol Aspinwall, Academic Student Services–PhD Program at or (608) 263-9109.

Application Materials Required by the UW–Madison School of Nursing

TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL (via the online application):

  • Complete and submit the UW-Madison graduate electronic application:
  • Official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) completed within the last five years.  ( The UW-Madison code is: 1846.
  • Official TOEFL ( or MELAB ( score (international students only).
  • Three or four references to provide letters of recommendation. The references are completed electronically in your online application for admission. As part of the online application you will provide contact information for individuals who can speak to your scholarly activities, research capabilities and potential for success in the doctoral program.  Be sure to include the correct email address and check the box "Email First Request to Recommender." A recommendation request will be sent by the Graduate School via email to each of your references.
  • Reasons for Graduate Study: Please prepare a short essay describing your reasons for PhD study. The document should be no more than 3 typewritten, double-spaced pages (11-point font or larger). The essay will be used to evaluate your potential for success in the PhD program at UW-Madison. Please address each of the following:
    • Your Reasons for PhD Education – Describe the factors that led you to pursue a PhD in Nursing and how it will advance your career. For example, why do you want a PhD? What are your career goals? What kind of position or work will you seek after completing the PhD degree? How will having a PhD prepare you for your career path?
    • Your Research Interests – Describe the areas in which you would like to conduct research. If possible, identify specific populations, problems, or phenomena that you would like to study. Describe any specific research questions you would like to answer. In your response, indicate if you’ve had any previous research experiences and how they have prepared you for PhD study.
    • Your Reasons for Seeking Admission to UW-Madison – Discuss how your personal goals fit with the purpose and objectives of the PhD program at UW-Madison. Identify any faculty members at UW-Madison who appear to have shared interests (patient population, setting, health problem or research methods) and that you would like to have as a faculty mentor. Describe what you hope to learn from her / him. Comment on the discipline(s) you are interested in exploring as a minor area of study.

    In your essay please include any information about your background, training, and professional or personal experiences which you believe is relevant to your qualifications for doctoral study. (More information on the School of Nursing Faculty:
  • One copy of a current curriculum vitae or resume.
  • At least two samples of completed scholarly work. These may include publications, thesis or major papers.

After you have submitted your application, you can track the receipt of the materials through your MyUW online status system.


One complete set of official transcripts or academic records from all institutions attended. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature. If you are currently completing a degree you will need to provide a final transcript indicating your degree was awarded.

Submit the transcripts via postal mail to:

Carol A. Aspinwall, Academic Student Services – PhD Program
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing
Academic Programs Student Services Offices
1100 Cooper Hall
701 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705

Tracking Your Application

Once you have submitted your application, you will be able to track the Graduate School and School of Nursing’s receipt of your materials through the online status system.

Application Deadline

For priority consideration, applications should be received by December 1. We will continuously review those who submit eligible and completed applications.  The admissions committee will evaluate a candidate and consider an interview when all required applicaton materials have been received.