PhD in Nursing

The demand for Ph.D. nurses has never been greater. Less than 1 percent of nurses are Ph.D.-prepared researchers and faculty educated to ask and answer critical questions about human health. 

Work closely with our research faculty who conduct clinical, educational, and health services research, underpinned by our commitment to health equity. Take part in an executive-format program with carefully developed on-campus, learning-intensive weekends with weekly online experiences.

Assistant Dean, Ph.D. Program: Kathleen Griffith, Ph.D., MPH, CRNP




Our Ph.D. graduates will be prepared to:

  • Implement theoretical and methodological approaches required to implement discovery science
  • Assume tenure-track research or teaching faculty position at a university
  • Apply for post-doctoral research fellowships at research-intensive universities or government agencies
  • Influence nursing-related policy, education, and scientific discovery

Who Should Apply

This degree prepares nurses for a career in academic nursing and research. Ph.D.-prepared nurses conduct research and teach in university, government and other settings. Before applying, we strongly encourage you to contact the Ph.D. program office at [email protected] for information on funding and research opportunities.

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Fall 2022 Applications
Priority: 12/01/2021
Final: 05/01/2022


The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program consists of 57 credit hours. Program specific questions can be directed to [email protected].

Program of Study

For full listing of courses and descriptions, please visit the University Bulletin.

On-Campus Requirements

  • Orientation on GW campus the summer before year 1
  • 2 weekends on GW campus per semester in years 1 and 2

Technology Requirements
Each student admitted to the Ph.D. program is expected to own and have ready access to a laptop or tablet with basic productivity software and a webcam. View Policy.

Complete applications that are submitted by the priority deadline will be reviewed first. Applications do not have to be verified by the priority deadline, only completed and submitted. Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at [email protected]

A completed application includes the following components:

  • Application
  • GRE scores (within five years of application)
  • Current RN License
  • Master's degree in nursing or related field
  • Resume/CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose (addressing research and potential GW research mentors)
  • Writing sample (published article or graded academic paper)
  • Score > 100 TOEFL (international applicants)

Other Considerations

  • 3.0 (on 4.0 scale) preferred GPA
  • Interview if selected as a top candidate

At the conclusion of this PhD program, you will be able to:

  1. Evaluate, critique, and synthesize knowledge from nursing and other academic disciplines to generate new ideas.

  2. Examine diverse modes of inquiry to select the appropriate design to conduct research that builds on nursing science and theory.

  3. Integrate team science principles in the conduct of research with interdisciplinary teams.

  4. Demonstrate scientific integrity and the protection of human subjects in the design, conduct and analysis of research studies.

  5. Apply theory-base approaches and philosophic perspectives from nursing and healthcare research.

  6. Disseminate knowledge through publications and presentations.

  7. Employ strategic leadership skills to advance the profession, influence policy, and the conduct of research.

  • Palliative/end of life care in chronic disease
  • Symptom management in cancer
  • Maternal health/post-partum outcomes
  • Clinical trials performance
  • Health care workforce
  • HIV and health disparities
  • Transgender care
  • Educational interventions
  • Alzheimer's disease/measurement of cognition
  • Autism/neurocognitive development in children
  • Geriatric feeding interventions
  • HPV prevention/cancer screening and minority health
  • Health services research/vaccine policy/drug safety
  • Sleep, fatigue and occupational safety

3 Great Reasons to Choose GW Nursing

Online Learning
Synchronous online sessions are delivered during the semester to maximize student engagement with faculty, classmates, and the program.
Flexible Format
The curriculum is delivered in a flexible, low residency, executive style format, which includes on-campus residencies twice a semester during didactic courses.
Exceptional Faculty
Our faculty are nationally recognized leaders with focus areas in clinical, educational and health services research. Student research interests will be matched with faculty with expertise in the field.

Hear from our Faculty & Students

David Keepnews PhD Program Video


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Angie McNelis PhD Program Video


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Velasquez PhD Program Video


Frequently Asked Questions

The Ph.D. program requires three letters of recommendation. We highly encourage at least one recommendation from an academic source, such as a current or former professor. A recommendation from a current or former supervisor who can comment on your professional background is also a good option.

Ph.D. program applications receive a holistic review, which means all parts of the application are considered to determine likelihood of program success.  Scores from the GRE taken within five years are required of all applicants to the GW Nursing Ph.D. Program.

GRE scores within 5 years of your application are required.  However, if GRE results are pending you may submit your application if everything else is complete. GRE scores should be forwarded when available, so that a final decision can be made about your application.

Students who apply before the priority deadline will receive preferential scholarship consideration and will be notified about funding status 2-4 weeks after acceptance into the Ph.D. program. 

Students wishing to apply for a student visa in the United States will need to seek sponsorship from George Washington University. At this time, the only program available to students seeking an F-1 or J-1 visa is our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program taught in person in Ashburn, Virginia. For further questions about eligibility, please contact [email protected].


"Our proximity to federal agencies, legislators and policymakers offers nurses a unique learning experience to hone their research skills in the nation's capital."
Dean Pamela Jeffries
Dean and Professor