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College of Nursing

East Tennessee State University

The mission of the PhD in Nursing program is to prepare nurse scientists who will conduct research in nursing and engage in scholarship that will improve health care and health care delivery systems.

nurse admin

Program Quick Facts

  • Outstanding and relevant curriculum
  • Talented faculty who mentor and supports our student
  • Nationally known for nurse managed centers
  • Inter-professional learning experiences
  • Research aimed at improving and promoting health services and systems

Program Details

Program Curriculum

Part-Time Program of Study

Full-Time Program of Study

Sample Course Sequence

Fall Semester I

  • Philosophy of Nursing Science
  • Interprofessional Approaches to Bioethical Issues
  • Statistical Methods for Nursing Research I

Spring Semester II

  • Qualitative Methods in Nursing Research
  • Concept Development in Nursing Science
  • Statistical Methods for Nursing Research II

Summer Semester III

  • Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis in Nursing Research
  • Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Science
  • Measurement in Nursing Science

Fall Semester IV

  • Grant Writing in Nursing Research
  • Quantitative Methods in Nursing Research
  • Health Policy Leadership

Spring Semester V

  • Advanced Quantitative Design and Data Analysis in Nursing Research
  • Cognate I
  • Cognate II

Summer Semester VI

  • Dissertation Seminar
  • Cognate III
  • Readings and Research

Fall Semester VII

  • Doctoral Dissertation (hours vary per semester)


Program Outcomes

The PhD of Nursing degree program is designed to produce leaders in nursing and healthcare education and research. Specific objectives for the program are to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values to:

  1. Evaluate specialized knowledge, theories, and research from nursing science and related disciplines for application to nursing practice;

  2. Collaborate with communities and other disciplines in research, practice, and service;

  3. Assume leadership roles as nurse researchers, advanced clinicians, nurse educators, and/or administrators;

  4. Use applied research to evaluate outcomes of health promotion strategies among diverse cultures to improve the health of a community;

  5. Contribute to nursing science and nursing practice through the research process; and

  6. Initiate change in health care delivery systems, health policy, and the nursing profession.
Admission Criteria and Process

Admissions Criteria

Applicants to the PhD in Nursing program must fulfill all requirements for admission to both the School of Graduate Studies and the College of Nursing. All application materials are submitted to ETSU’s School of Graduate Studies. When your application is complete, it is forwarded to the College of Nursing for review by the PhD Admissions Committee.

The School of Graduate Studies requires:

  • Completed ETSU application form with payment of non-refundable application fee
  • Official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework
  • Written essay.

The College of Nursing additionally requires:

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a nationally-accredited nursing program and a non-nursing master's degree (longer program of study may be required).


    Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from a nationally-accredited nursing program or master's degree in a related discipline.


    Exceptional candidates with a BSN may be considered for admission but will have a longer program of study and will earn the MSN en route to the PhD.

  2. Cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale.

  3. Submission of official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores.

  4. Unencumbered licensure in the United States as a registered nurse and eligibility for licensure in Tennessee or compact state.

  5. At least two (2)-years of full-time work experience (or equivalent) in nursing as a registered nurse.

  6. Three (3) letters of recommendation, one (1) from the applicant’s current (or most recent) supervisor, one (1) from a faculty member who worked directly with the applicant during previous graduate study, and one (1) from an individual selected by the applicant.

  7. Completion of an interview with the Admissions Committee.

  8. Completion of a writing sample on a selected topic at the time of interview.

  9. Cover letter expressing the applicant’s personal goals for doctoral study (unless clearly articulated in the written essay requested by the university).

  10. Resume or curriculum vitae, as appropriate.

The College of Nursing addtionally requires:

The completed application form and fee, official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, essay, documentation of nursing licensure in the United States, letters of recommendation and resume or vita must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. International students must also forward the additionally required documentation to the School.

The personal interview and time for completing the writing sample will be scheduled by the College of Nursing’s DNP Admissions Committee.   Factors given consideration in the admission decision include: previous grade point average (GPA), clarity of the applicant’s selected problem as stated in the writing sample and during the interview, writing ability, professional work experience and achievements, professional honors and awards, interest in rural and underserved population groups, and quality of references/recommendations. The DNP Admissions Committee may recommend admission of a promising applicant who has not met all the admission standards on a conditional basis.  

PhD in Nursing Admissions Process

Once your application is received in the College of Nursing, it will be reviewed by the PhD program’s Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee is comprised of PhD program faculty. The members review each application carefully and thoughtfully. Each applicant who meets the admissions criteria will have an individual interview with a group of three committee members. Following the interview, the Admissions Committee meets to make final decisions. Students may be admitted fully or conditionally. All applicants will be notified of the decision of the committee by the PhD program coordinator.

Factors considered by the Admissions Committee in the review and selection process:

  • Previous grade point average.

  • Level of GRE performance.
  • Clarity of goals for doctoral study as stated in writing and during the interview.    
  • Writing ability.
  • Professional work experience and achievements including honors and awards.
  • Interest in rural and underserved population groups.
  • Quality of recommendations.
Application Deadlines

Upcoming Deadlines:

  • This program admits for fall only. Target date for applications and all materials to be received by the School of Graduate Studies is June 30.

To receive full consideration, students must be admitted to East Tennessee State University by the nursing application deadline dates. Since admission to the university can take several weeks, students are encouraged to apply well in advance of the nursing deadlines. Consideration for the nursing major cannot be guaranteed if full admission to the university has not been obtained.

Click here to apply for ETSU admission

Scholarships and Fellowships


American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Scholarship and loan opportunities for Graduate and Post-Graduate nursing students. Eligibility requirements vary. Please visit for more information.

Nurses Educational Funds (NEF)

Nurses Education Funds, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization which seeks and distributes funds to baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses who are in need of scholarship assistance for graduate study. Eligibility requirements vary. Please visit for more information.

 College of Nursing

Advanced Nurse Education (ANE) Traineeships

Traineeships provide full or partial reimbursement for the costs of tuition, books, programs fees and reasonable living expenses. Their purpose is to support advanced nurse education for future nurse educators, administrators, and other clinical specialties. Applications for our ANE Traineeships will be made available to PhD and other graduate students at the beginning of each academic year by the Director of Graduate Programs.

Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) Grants

These grants increase the number of qualified nurse faculty by creating a student loan program within individual schools of nursing and supporting individual students. Recipients must agree to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85% of their educational loans, plus interest, over a four-year period. Applications for our NFLP funds can be obtained from Ms. Regina Rose, College of Nursing Graduate Programs.

Graduate Assistantship

Full-time PhD students can apply through the School of Graduate Studies for a 10 or 20 hour a week position assisting a faculty member with research, teaching or other projects. Positions are available each year in the College of Nursing and other departments on campus. Some assistantships require regular presence on campus; others, depending upon the duties, may be possible to accomplish from a distance. In addition to a modest salary and the waiver of out-of-state tuition (when applicable), full maintenance fee is waived for a 20 hour position, and half maintenance fee is waived for a 10 hour position.

Tuition Scholarship

Full-time PhD students can apply through the School of Graduate Studies for a Tuition Scholarship which requires a time commitment of eight hours each week. Similar to an Assistantship, the student assists a faculty member with research or other projects. Tuition Scholarships are available in the College of Nursing and other departments on campus. There is no salary provided, but full maintenance fee and out-of-state tuition (when applicable) is waived.

Dorothy K. Parker Nursing Scholarship Endowment; Mayme Frazier Scholarship; Betsy Brogan Scholarship Endowment; Dr. Paul Dishner Scholarship

Various scholarships offered by the College of Nursing to graduate nursing students. Eligibility requirements vary. For specific information, please visi

 School of Graduate Studies

PhD students can apply for specific scholarships and awards through the School of Graduate Studies. For a complete listing, please visit


PhD Student Dissertations
Intensive Week Schedules

2019-2020 Doctoral Intensive Week Schedules (for DNP and PhD Students) dates are:

Regular Deadline

Summer 2019

May 6-10

Fall 2019

August 19-23

Spring 2020

January 13-17

Summer 2020

May 11-15


Program Contact

Matt Johnson


Ken Phillips

Program Director, Professor and Interim Associate Dean Research
423-439-4082 /
Nicks Hall, Room 106


Natalie Honeycutt


Linda Raines

CON Student Services
423-439-4066 /
Nicks Hall, Room 230


Natalie Honeycutt


Jessimine Strauss

School of Graduate Studies, Program Specialist
423-439-6158 /  
Burgin-Dossett Hall Room 309-G

2019-2020 Doctoral Intensive Week Schedules
(for DNP and PhD students)

Regular Deadline

Summer 2019

May 6-10

Fall 2019

August 19-23

Spring 2020

January 13-17

Summer 2020

May 11-15

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