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Shape the Future of Nursing

Learn from renowned faculty members in a Top-Tier 1 Research Institution, while preparing for a career in research. Surround yourself with passionate peers. Transform the nursing discipline by advancing the theories behind practice and delivery. 

The College of Nursing continuously generates research regarding key areas such as women's health, diabetes, health equity and accessibility, caregiving, cancer, and more.

Preparing Student for Research Careers

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing program prepares students for research careers. The distance PhD nursing program admits students who have earned a bachelor's degree with a major in nursing (BSN, BS) or a master's degree in nursing or related disciplines. The traditional BS-PhD and MS-PhD tracks share a common program of study with the exception of nine (9) additional MS cognate credits required for BS-PhD students. Occasionally the PhD program also admits cohorts of BS- and MS-PhD students with a specialty focus (such as gerontology or oncology).

The Utah Model Emphasizes:

  • Synchronous distance learning
  • Studying with a cohort
  • Conference-based learning/on-campus intensives
  • Mentorship between students and faculty with common research interests
  • Year round study

Nursing Education Xchange (NEXus)

Opportunities are also offered for doctoral/graduate students, through the Nursing Education Xchange (NEXus), enrolled at member colleges and universities to take courses that may not be offered at his/her home institution for a common price.

Synchronous Learning

The PhD program is offered through synchronous distance education technologies for all students, local and non-local. The core courses are offered utilizing live synchronous videoconferencing technology, allowing students living outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, to participate and complete the program without relocating to Utah.


Conference-Based Learning/On-Campus Intensives

All PhD students, regardless of the state or country of residence, are required to attend three (3) week-long campus immersion experiences as a cohort. Week-long immersions are held at the University of Utah campus annually during the coursework phase of the program (the first three years of study).

The initial week-long campus immersion takes place during the first week of classes and serves as an orientation to the University of Utah and PhD program (typically in late August for fall admission). Exact dates for subsequent week-long immersions vary each year. Each of the three visits has distinct objectives that align with program progression.

All PhD students, regardless of the state or country of residence, are required to attend a research conference as a cohort annually during the coursework phase of the program (the first three years of study). The research conference is chosen by PhD program faculty (exact semester, location and dates may vary depending on which conference is chosen). Each of the three conference attendance experiences is typically tied to current coursework and provides rich faculty/student mentoring and networking opportunities.

Year Round Study

The PhD program can generally be split into two parts: the coursework phase and the dissertation phase. The coursework phase of the program is nine (9) semesters year-round, which includes one to two core courses per semester. Students have the option of taking additional electives or area of specialization courses to reach full-time status (9+ credits per semester).

BS-PhD students must attend full-time for the first year of study due to the additional MS cognate work. A student's faculty advisor or dissertation committee may require additional coursework to address identified academic deficiencies and identify inter-departmental and College of Nursing courses in the student's area of specialization.

The program requires successful completion of written and oral qualifying examinations at the conclusion of formal coursework prior to admission to PhD candidacy and initiation of the dissertation. The length of time to complete the dissertation phase is variable. All coursework and the dissertation must be completed within seven (7) years.


Academic Program DNP PhD
FOCUS Nursing Practice Nursing Research
DEGREE OBJECTIVE Prepare the highest level of nursing practice scholars for clinical, administrative, and academic career; terminal degree in practice Prepare scholars for research and academic careers in public or private sectors of healthcare; terminal degree in research
CAREERS High-level advanced leadership/practitioner within health care system, quality improvement management, health care informatics, clinical educator or professor, policymaker Nurse researcher, nurse scientist, policymaker, academic professor,  educator for health care facility, author
CURRICULUM Coursework will focus on a combination of health care policy and advocacy, information systems and technology, health care quality improvement, evidence-based practice, and organizational/systems leadership. Coursework will focus on research and analytical methods, theory, and nursing science. Most programs allow student to specialize in research interests that will directly relate to their careers—this research will culminate in a dissertation.


Paula Meek, PhD, RN ,FAAN, ATSF
Assistant Dean, PhD Programs

Contact Us

Program Manager
Executive Associate Director - Student Services

Carrie Radmall
Phone: (801) 581-8798

To consult faculty on the program of study or your research career, contact:

Assistant Dean, PhD Program
Paula Meek, RN, PhD, FAAN