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PhD Admission Requirements


The PhD in Nursing Program is housed within the College of Graduate Health Sciences. The PhD in Nursing curriculum is taught using traditional face-to-face seminars and Web-enhanced learning opportunities that include synchronous and asynchronous learning. In addition to courses taught by nursing faculty, students also enroll in courses with students admitted to other PhD programs administered by the College of Graduate Health Sciences.

Fall 2020 Admission:
February 1, 2020

Please Note: Applicants who meet the minimum program requirements are not guaranteed interview or admission.

Application Guidelines

The Application Process

Complete the NursingCAS application.

International applicants only:

  • A complete and accurate chronological outline of all previous education
  • Authorized college or university records, with certified translations if the records are in a language other than English
  • Evidence of financial resources sufficient to provide the student with adequate support during the period of registration as a student
  • Evidence of proficiency in English
  • Documentation that the student can provide transportation from his/her country to The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and return.

    Any applicant to the graduate program whose first language is not English must have achieved a minimum TOEFL Score earned within two (2) years prior to application to College of Nursing.

  • Official scores must be submitted from TOEFL.
  • Three versions of TOEFL: Paper-based Test (minimum score 550), Computer-based (minimum score 213), and Internet/web-based (minimum score 79).
Minimum Requirements for PhD Admission
  • Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited college or university
  • Unencumbered RN license
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Current CPR card
  • A score of at least 213/79 on the computer-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or evidence of proficiency in English for students whose native language is not English.
  • Application documents from any non-U.S. institution must be sent to and verified by a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) accredited agency
  • Official test scores and three letters of recommendation must be sent directly from the contributing source and not by the student.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required but may be provided by applicants.

Computer Requirement - Essential Computer Skills
  • Must own a web-connected device capable of running modern software and streaming media including web-conferencing applications such as ZOOM
  • Computer/web-based literacy skills expected

Submit official copies of transcripts for all college and university work to NursingCAS.

Letters of Recommendation

Submit three recommendation letters by adding your recommenders’ contact information into NursingCAS. For applicants to the Nursing Science PhD Program, recommenders should have a doctoral degree (research doctoral degree such as a PhD or a professional doctoral degree such as DNP, MD, PharmD, EdD, DPT). Please ask these individuals to speak to your strong knowledge base for furthering research and/or your ability to succeed in a research-based program of study. Letters of recommendation must be on the letterhead of the institution/employer.

  •  Write an essay on your research and clinical interests, courses, or projects that have prepared you for this PhD program.
    • Describe prior research experiences, courses, or projects that have prepared you for this PhD program.
    • Explain the research area you would like to contribute to. That is, specify at least one area or method you would like to learn in-depth.
  • Give an example of a research project you are excited about. This can be a project you have conducted, you would like to conduct, or you have read about.
  • Address issues that could potentially impact your admission status such as poor grades one term/course, switching schools, gaps in employment.
Test Scores and Licenses

If you are submitting GRE scores, photocopy your GRE results AND request that your official results are sent to UTHSC (code 1850) and College of Nursing (code 1850).

Photocopy your nursing license and any pertinent certifications.

Applications Documents
Application documents from any non-U.S. institution must be sent to and verified by a NACES accredited agency. All agencies charge a fee, but some agencies have programs that charge a flat fee and will send the verified transcript to specific institutions upon request (for example, the ICAP program provided by World Education Services).


Apply Early!

Please do not wait until the night before a program deadline to submit your application. You should apply before the earliest deadline of the program(s) that you are applying to. This will allow the necessary time to verify and process your application.

Last Published: Oct 29, 2019