Eligibility and Application

Thank you for your interest in the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation!

The Hillman Scholars Program application deadline for 2022 has passed. If you are interested in the Hillman Scholars Program, please contact the Office of Student Affairs at hillman@unc.edu.

To be eligible, you must be either a current UNC student in the August 2021 BSN cohort or be admitted to our Accelerated BSN program and beginning classes in May 2022.

Applicants to the Program must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and knowingly commit to a professional nursing career that includes research, innovation and leadership.

Ways to Study

  • On-Campus

Hillman Scholars Program Application

Academic Transcripts +

The information below pertains only to the summer 2022 application cycle.


Transcripts will be extracted from your BSN or ABSN application portfolio. Hillman applicants do not need to resubmit any transcripts. Of interest is the applicant’s academic history since high school, and performance in science courses.

  • Students must have earned a 3.3 cumulative GPA.
  • Students must also have earned a GPA of 3.4 in all required upper division nursing courses. The nursing GPA of 3.4 must then be maintained until completion of the second Honors course.

Letters of Recommendation +

Three letters of recommendation are required for each applicant. Ensure that your recommender includes the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation Recommendation Form with their letter. At least two letters of recommendation are needed from faculty members whose classes you have taken. Choose faculty who are familiar with your intellectual ability, academic achievement, research potential, and professional commitment, and ask them to speak to these qualities. The third reference can be submitted by another faculty member or an individual who knows you sufficiently that he/she can speak to your character and ability to persevere through an intense doctoral program of study. At least one of these three individuals should hold an earned doctorate. Recommendations should be submitted with the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation Recommendation Form* via email to hillman@unc.edu or via USPS to the Office of Student Affairs.

Statement of Goals and Research Interests +

The PhD program at the UNC-CH School of Nursing is a research-oriented program. Each Scholar is matched with a faculty mentor from the School and/or the broader University in the first semester after admission to the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation. Throughout the undergraduate curriculum you will be guided by your mentor to select a research topic. This process will be further influenced by work in individual courses and the Honors project.

You are asked to write and submit an integrated essay as follows. It is most important that you address each bulleted item noted and format the document accordingly. This document will serve as the foundation for your interview.

  • Highlight your background, prior research experiences and professional, practical, and/or research activities that have prepared you for doctoral study.
  • Describe your professional goals and how a PhD in Nursing will help you achieve them.
  • Identify specific issues that you expect to face in making the transition from undergraduate to doctoral student, and how do you plan to handle them.
  • Describe your personal and/or academic strengths and challenges that may impact your success in a PhD program.
  • Provide a brief, referenced review of the literature about a research and/or clinical topic of interest to you that is in need of further study. Provide details about your prior work on the topic, if any, and how you might build on this earlier effort during doctoral study.
  • Identify one or two School of Nursing Faculty who share common interests, and with whom you might like to work closely. Faculty may be identified by following this link and perusing faculty interests.

The essay should be approximately five double-spaced, typed pages, using no less than size 11 font with one-inch margins. Referenced works may be listed on a separate page.

Curriculum Vitae +

This document should be current and detail your education and career path, explaining any gaps in employment or study greater than one year. Please review the CV template provided and make sure that your CV includes all relevant information outlined in the template.

Scholarly Work +

Choose the best sample of your written work for submission. Documents may include a course paper, a completed research project, a published or unpublished paper, or other published work.

Interview +

Any applicant who submits all application documents by the deadline, meets the minimum GPA requirements, and is a current or newly admitted student in the undergraduate nursing program will be interviewed by the Hillman Admissions Committee in person or virtually depending on the applicant’s geographical location. The interview is an opportunity for both parties to clarify information submitted in the application and further explore applicants’ fit to the program. A panel of committee members conduct the interview.

Needed Forms

Basis for Decisions

Admission to the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation is a selective process. Meeting the criteria does not ensure admission. Using an objective review procedure, the Hillman Admissions Committee and the Doctoral Admissions Committee carefully evaluate all aspects of the application in selecting candidates. The Committees consider the quality of performance in previous academic study, success in previous employment and other pertinent experiences, and personal qualifications including suitability for advanced study and research. The Committees also consider each applicant’s accomplishments and potential for success to progress through the pre-licensure BSN program and directly into the PhD Program. Diversity in student backgrounds and scholarly interests is desired.

The School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The School welcomes individuals from diverse cultural, economic, geographic, and academic backgrounds to apply.

Notification of Decision

The Admissions Committees only review complete applications. Your application portfolio is not complete until all application materials are received. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that
application materials have been submitted to and received by the Office of Student Affairs by the posted deadline. Submit all application materials and questions by email to the Office of Student Affairs athillman@unc.edu.

The School of Nursing will notify you in writing of the outcome of your application’s review as soon as decisions are rendered. Be sure to notify the School of Nursing (hillman@unc.edu) should you have any changes to your contact information after submitting your application.

Applicants offered admission are expected to respond in writing within ten business days of being notified of admission. Following admission acceptance, additional information will be shared regarding research mentor, plan of study, funding, and resources specific to program transition. In the semester prior to the culmination of the BSN portion of the program, a modified Dual Bachelors to Doctoral Program Application will be completed for submission to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is eligible to apply for the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation? +

A: Applicants eligible to apply to the current application cycle include students admitted to the School of Nursing in the August 2021 BSN cohort or the May 2022 ABSN cohort.

Q: Is the GRE required? +

A: No. Applicants to UNC School of Nursing graduate programs are not required to submit GRE scores.

Q: Do Hillman Scholars applicants have to apply to the UNC Graduate School? +

A: Hillman Scholars will complete a short paper application for the Graduate School in the semester prior to moving to the PhD portion of the Program.

Q: What is the admission process? +

A: All eligible applicants will have their Hillman application reviewed by faculty committees. Select applicants will move forward for an interview