Application Information

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The School of Nursing welcomes applications to its Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program. If you have additional questions after reviewing the following instructions please contact the Office of Student Affairs with all application concerns.

The School of Nursing PhD Program admits students for the fall semester each year. There is no spring admission to the PhD Program. Admission consideration is extended to those applicants who complete and submit the online application and all required documents (outlined below) to the appropriate UNC office by the posted deadline. The Doctoral Admissions Committee will only evaluate and review complete applications containing all required materials. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the entire application is received by the posted deadline.

Fall Semester
Priority Application Deadline: December 17, 2013 The School of Nursing recommends you apply by November 1 to be considered for Graduate School Merit Assistantship, University Fellowships and other School of Nursing scholarships. December 17 is the final deadline for University Scholarship consideration. The complete application must be received by the deadline.
Final Application Deadline January 14, 2014 This is the final deadline to submit the complete application to the School of Nursing.

Students in the Doctoral Program in Nursing may be enrolled for full-time or part-time study. Full-time study requires enrolling in nine credits (typically three courses) per semester. Part-time study requires enrolling in three to six credits per semester. Students may work while enrolled in the program to the extent that the student’s academic progression is not compromised. However, in accordance with School of Nursing policy, full-time graduate students employed by the University may work no more than 50 percent (20 hours/week) while actively engaged in coursework.


Students with a variety of nursing backgrounds may apply to the Ph.D. program. Additional prerequisites may be required depending on the previous degrees held.

  1. Applicants with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a CCNE or NLN-accredited School of Nursing who present an exceptional academic record may apply directly to the Ph.D. program without having completed a Master of Science in Nursing degree. 
  2. Applicants holding a BSN and a Master’s degree in a field other than nursing, who have completed courses containing the content noted above, may pursue exemption from repeating this content in the Ph.D. program. A transcript validating completion of the equivalent course(s) and a syllabus for each non-UNC course submitted for exemption consideration are required for review.
  3. Applicants with a Master of Science in Nursing degree from a CCNE or NLN-accredited School of Nursing, and have no additional coursework required if the content listed above was completed as part of the applicant’s MSN program.* Students who have completed an RN to MSN program and are without a bachelor’s degree in any field may need to submit additional documentation about the curriculum of their RN to MSN program. Please contact the Office of Admissions and Student Services for details.
  4. *Exception: Students who have not completed a master’s level statistics course prior to admission must take a course prior to spring semester of the first year. All students who completed a master’s level statistics course must take the Statistics Placement Test. The results of this test will determine statistics course placement.


This document contains instructions for the integrated online application process; the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School and School of Nursing Supplemental Application have been combined for user-ease and processing efficiency. Information regarding Graduate School requirements is available at: Please carefully read and follow the School Nursing application instructions below; each element described is a required facet of the online application.

Submission of the following application materials is required by the published deadline. The Graduate School’s minimum requirements for admission to the Ph.D. program are explained where appropriate.

  1. Transcripts of Undergraduate and Graduate Education: Applicants must scan an official transcript from all post-secondary schools attended since high school into the application. Upon Admission, official transcripts must be submitted from each college/university attended since high school to The Graduate School. Competitive applicants will present a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the major courses of their undergraduate nursing program. Applicants with a master’s degree in nursing are expected to have earned a 3.5 cumulative grade point average in graduate coursework.
    International students must provide a full credit evaluation of all courses completed at a foreign institution. The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services provides a list of organizations that offer this service at the link below. Applicants may also choose to have credit evaluated by faculty members in the various departments on campus. Please submit the credit evaluation report and an official copy of your transcript with your application for admission. These documents may be scanned into the transcript section of the application. Submission of this credit evaluation with degree validation will allow us to view your transcripts in a U.S. transcript format on a 4.0 GPA scale. Related URL:
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE): The GRE must be taken within five years of application. To ensure scores reach the school by the application deadline, applicants should take the GRE no later than six weeks prior to the deadline. Please self- report your GRE scores in the application. Applicants who hold an earned professional doctorate in a field other than nursing may request a waiver of the GRE.
  3. Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of reference by at least three academicians whose class you have taken. Choose faculty familiar with your intellectual ability, academic achievement, research potential, and professional commitment. At least one of these individuals should hold an earned doctorate. Additional references from employers may be submitted. Recommendations may be submitted online or using the traditional method. The application asks the applicant to list the name and email address of all selected recommenders. The application system will then send the recommender a standard message requesting a letter of reference for the applicant. The recommender must upload the letter to the application system as instructed.
  4. Statement of Goals and Research Interests: You are asked to write and upload into the application, a two-part essay as follows. It is most important that you address each bulleted item noted and format the document as requested.
    In part 1, tell the Admissions Committee about your background:
    • How has your education prepared you for doctoral study? (As part of your response, please itemize here which of your courses offered content on theory, research design, and statistics, and which courses included didactic content of clinical work).
    • What personal and/or academic strengths and weaknesses do you have that may affect your doctoral studies?
    • What particular experiences in the professional, clinical, or research realms have prepared you for doctoral study?
    • Describe your leadership experience and potential.
    • What are the issues you expect to face in making the transition to doctoral study, and how do you plan to handle them?
    • How will having a PhD impact your career path?
    In part 2, discuss your research interests. Provide a brief, referenced review of the literature about your research topic that supports the area as one in need of further study. Provide detail concerning your prior work on the topic, if any, and how you plan to build on this earlier effort during doctoral study. The doctoral program at this School of Nursing is a research-oriented program. Selecting a research topic is something you need to do prior to entering the program. You may change, modify or enlarge your topic during your studies, but having a research idea is the first step toward a successful doctoral education. Additionally, please identify who among the School of Nursing faculty seems to you to be a good match for your research interests? Click here for a list of doctoral faculty.
    Each part of the essay should be approximately two double-spaced, typed pages. Please include references on a separate page and upload all documents into the application.
  5. Upload a copy of your current Curriculum Vitae or Resume. This document should detail your career path, explaining any gap in employment greater than one year.
  6. Upload a Manuscript or examples of scholarly work for which you are First Author: Manuscripts may include a published paper, unpublished paper, a completed research project, or a thesis. Submission of one full-length manuscript or report of completed or ongoing research is encouraged. Additionally, a course paper is acceptable. If these are not available, a 2-5 page paper examining a clinical problem or issue critical to the profession may be submitted. Manuscripts will be evaluated on the importance of the topic, the appropriateness of the approach taken, flow, clarity, and correct use.
  7. TOEFL or IELTS: All international applicants must submit acceptable, official (reported directly from ETS) TOEFL or IELTS scores. We recommend that you plan to take any required exams no later than October to allow time for scores to arrive in time for consideration for fall admission. The required minimum total score on the paper-based TOEFL exam is 550 with a minimum of 50 in each section. The required minimum total score on the internet-based TOEFL exam is 79. The minimum IELTS score is 7. UNC-Chapel Hill institution code: #5816. For more information:
  8. Financial Certificate with supporting documents (for international students only). For more information:
  9. Application fee: $85.00 (may be paid by check, money order or online by credit card to the Graduate School; instructions are available on the final screen of the application)


All applicants are interviewed by a doctoral faculty member. The interview is conducted in person or by telephone depending on the applicant’s geographical location. The interview is an opportunity for both parties to clarify information submitted in the application portfolio and further explore applicant fit to the program.


Admission to the doctoral program is necessarily a selective process. Meeting the criteria does not ensure admission. Using an objective review procedure, the Admissions Committee selects candidates to recommend to the Dean of The Graduate School for admission. The Committee considers the quality of performance in previous undergraduate and graduate study, success in previous employment and other pertinent experiences, and personal qualifications including suitability for advanced study and research. The Admissions Committee weighs the applicant’s accomplishments and potential for success in the program. Diversity in student backgrounds and scholarly interests is desired. In its deliberations, the Admissions Committee may make exceptions to some requirements for applicants who are otherwise outstanding and hold great promise.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, religion, sexual preference, or handicap. Members of racial or ethnic minority groups and males are encouraged to apply.


The Admissions Committee only reviews complete applications. Your application portfolio is not deemed complete until all application materials are received. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that application materials have been received by the appropriate office and the application file is complete by the posted deadline. Contact the Office of Admissions & Student Services with all application concerns.

The School of Nursing and Dean of The Graduate School will notify you in writing of your outcome as soon as decisions are rendered. To ensure we utilize the correct address, please notify the Office of Student Services in the School of Nursing, (919) 966-4260, and The Graduate School, (919) 966-2611, of any change in contact information once your application is submitted. Please submit changes to name, mailing address or email address via your home page within the online application system and notify the graduate admissions office in the School of Nursing via email of the change.


Admitted students seeking to establish North Carolina residency for tuition purposes, shall submit an online application this site:
As noted in Program Prerequisite section of these instructions, those applicants offered admission who have completed a master’s level statistics course, will be contacted by the Doctoral Program Office with additional information concerning the Statistics Placement Exam.

Information concerning visa, U.S. Immigration, or financial certificate matters can be obtained from our Office of International Student and Scholar Services.