PhD in Nursing

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PhD in Nursing Frequently Asked Questions

The School of Nursing provides answers to frequently asked questions about the PhD in Nursing program.

What are some of the benefits of earning a PhD in Nursing?

A Doctor of Philosophy degree, abbreviated PhD, is the highest academic degree anyone can earn. The PhD is the desired degree for roles in nursing research, policy, leadership and education research. This degree gives you the skills necessary to conduct research that extends the body of nursing knowledge, affects health and improves patient outcomes. A PhD is the expected degree for an academic position. Major universities require faculty to hold a PhD and engage in research. Why? To assure faculty have expertise to teach and to remain current in the science and practice of nursing. Because earning a PhD requires comprehensive study and passionate intellectual effort, less than 1 percent of the population achieves this credential.

What is the difference between the DNP and PhD programs?

The PhD in Nursing program is the appropriate degree for curious, mature students who desire to add to the science of nursing. The PhD in Nursing program is designed to develop nurse researchers to generate and translate knowledge toward improving the health of individuals, families, communities and populations through the conduct of clinical research. The emphasis of the DNP program is on health-care delivery and the health-care delivery system as well as the clinical populations served.

What is the class schedule like?

Most classes are scheduled on Thursdays, although some courses do not meet every week. All have hybrid/online components. Students prefer socialization and camaraderie offered through in person classes.

On what campuses may I pursue the program?

The PhD in Nursing program is offered on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus in Jackson, although the online portions may be pursued from your home.

Can I transfer credits from another university?

No more than half of the hours required for graduation will be accepted for credit toward a UMMC degree. Courses are evaluated on a case-by-case basis if the credits are clearly relevant to the student's current program. However, a minimum of enrollment for one continuous academic year is required to meet the residency requirement.

When are students admitted?

Admission to the PhD program occurs in the fall. The application deadline is December 15. Applications are available beginning each July.

How can I apply?

The School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center offers graduate education leading to the PhD in nursing.

Please note: Students wishing to apply to the PhD in Nursing program must apply to the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, and not the School of Nursing. Apply to the PhD in Nursing program.

Learn more about the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences.

Will it involve research?

Yes, the PhD in Nursing program requires a dissertation, which demonstrates original research. With support of a dissertation committee, each student designs, implements, analyzes and evaluates notable scientific research.

What is the average class size?

Class size varies, but is intentionally kept small.

How long does the program take?

On a suggested plan of study, PhD coursework takes two years to complete, in addition to the comprehensive exam and dissertation. The dissertation typically takes two to three years following completion of the comprehensive exam.

What are some of the resources available to PhD students?

Resources that support quantitative research are available to students. Graphic services are available for professional poster printing and other materials.

Do I have what it takes?

Talking with a PhD program adviser is a critical step in making this determination. However, the following questions may be helpful as you consider your gifts, abilities and ambitions.

  • Intelligence: How do you consider the following: Your knowledge and understanding of nursing? Grades in college and graduate courses? Scores on the GRE or other standardized tests?
  • Time: Are you prepared to invest the time to tackle a project larger than any you may have done before?
  • Creativity: Do you enjoy discovering new things? Are you good at solving problems? Do you like to do puzzles and brain teasers?
  • Curiosity: Are you compelled to understand the world around you? Do you like to know how things work? Do you only meet the minimum expectations of a task, or do you explore further independently?
  • Adaptability: Are you able to adapt to new ways of thinking? What do you think about searching for answers when the questions may change?
  • Self-motivation: Can you continue working toward a goal without daily encouragement from others? Are grades the most important motivator for you?
  • Competitiveness: Are you willing to compete with the brightest people in the world?
  • Maturity: How do you respond to setting your own goals, schedule and plans? Are you ready to accept the responsibility of having a PhD?

If you think you have what it takes, then give us a call. We look forward to helping you achieve one of the greatest accomplishments of a lifetime.

For other information, visit the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences handbook.

Additional information

For more information about admissions, visit the School of Graduate Studies admission criteria.

For additional information, please email You may also call (601) 815-0124 or (601) 984-1085.

To reach the education administrator for the PhD in Nursing program, please call (601) 984-6221 or email