Jim McMahon Classroom

PhD in Nursing and Health Science

Why Choose Our PhD Program?

The UR School of Nursing is the ideal place to be a PhD student. We dedicate unparalleled resources to support original research from initial funding through clinical testing and real-world implementation. 

The PhD in Nursing and Health Science program admits a small number of students to ensure that students receive close mentorship from faculty. From day one, you’ll receive assistance with coursework, grant writing, and every facet of your work — all of which allows you to learn how to make meaningful discoveries and innovations in a changing health care landscape.

Plus, full-time students are 100 percent funded with full tuition waivers and an annual cost-of-living stipend of $25,000.

The University of Rochester School of Nursing has a long history of research innovation and continues to pioneer new breakthroughs in nursing and health care research. We rank in the top 30 nationwide for research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

As part of a large research university and medical center, the School of Nursing engages in groundbreaking interdisciplinary research through collaborative partnerships with scholars and practitioners across the campus, region, and nation.

Likewise, our PhD students have a background in variety of disciplines, including:

  • nursing
  • social work
  • speech language pathology
  • other clinical health professions

Rochester, New York, is also a wonderful place to live as a PhD student. Make the most of our affordable, safe, and family-friendly community as you pursue your academic passions.

Applying to the PhD Program

The UR School of Nursing uses a comprehensive, holistic review process during which each application receives individual consideration. We seek applicants who wish to pursue a program of research consistent with faculty research areas, are highly motivated and prepared to pursue the rigorous program of study, demonstrate strong communication skills and the ability to conceptualize, show leadership potential, and are committed to upholding the values of the school and health care profession.  

To complete your application, you will need to create an account and complete all sections of the application. Once you complete your application, you may receive a follow-up email to schedule an interview with members of our Admissions Review Committee. We look forward to reviewing your application.


  • Master’s degree from an accredited school
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from any undergraduate-level work and a 3.5 from any graduate-level work
  • GRE score within the past five years
  • Clinical licensure in a health profession, such as nursing, social work or similar clinical practice field
  • English language proficiency
  • Official transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation from at least three doctorally-prepared academics
  • GRE scores
  • Current resume or CV
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores: if English is not your first language

For details on how to submit these materials, reference How to Complete an Application and the directions in the online application system.

Start your application

Program Duration

Students begin the PhD in Nursing and Health Science program in the fall semester. The program can be completed in as little as four years of full-time study.

Meet Our Program Director

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Director, PhD Programs
Director, Office of Evaluation
"Now is the perfect time for licensed health professionals with the goal of a research career to consider pursuing a PhD! Our doctoral graduates go on to take important leadership roles in academia, health care institutions, and organizations or agencies that are integral to the growth of their professions."
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I want my work to have global impact and I knew the University of Rochester had the resources and connections to support that. I wanted to give myself a sandbox. I’m starting with what I know with the House Ballroom community but hopefully it will flourish and branch into something greater.
Martez Smith, LMSW PhD Student
Research focus: HIV prevention within the House Ball Community
Brian Smith
The faculty were willing to work with me to match my research interests. I have a great adviser, and the diversity of faculty interests here are a real benefit to building my own research. I’ve also taken some cognates at the School of Medicine because of its public health focus – it’s really the best of both worlds.
Brian Smith, MSW PhD Student
Research focus: Health care delivery models for mental illness
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Only with evidence can we identify the best ways to resolve our most complex and prevalent health issues. I love digging for answers. I chose to pursue my PhD at the URSON for its national reputation for a rigorous program in research methodology. What I didn’t expect was the level of career support I would get, even from faculty outside my area. My dreams have become reality here.
Mitchell J. Wharton, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNS, Graduate of the PhD Program, 2013
Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, University of Rochester School of Nursing
Dissertation: Identifying factors that protect HIV sero-negative status in young black men who have sex with men