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PhD Program in Nursing


A top-ranked public university with a highly rated DNP and PhD degree programs

The University of Connecticut in Storrs, near Hartford, offers two doctoral degree programs in nursing, the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing and the Doctorate of Nursing Practice. UConn's Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree program is recognized as one of the country's best by US News & World Report, which also ranks UConn among the Top 20 Public Colleges. Forbes cites the university among America's Best Public Colleges and Best Research Universities, as well.

The university operates a number of programs that combine research opportunities and community outreach in such areas as correctional health for prison inmates, pain management improvements, neonatal and pediatric wellness, self-management interventions, biobehavioral symptom science research, interprofessional education, and geriatric care. Among the resources available to doctoral candidates at UConn are nurse researchers with well-developed programs of research, federally funded projects and clinical expertise; and the biobehavioral research labs at the School of Nursing and UConn Health, including shared lab space and resources across the university to integrate genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and microbiomics in your program of study. In addition, our clinical partners across the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington and healthcare systems across the state provide students access to practical clinical experience and instruction, as well as offer ample opportunities for conducting research and implementing quality improvement projects. The nurse scholar archives in the Thomas Dodd Research Center and the nursing and sciences collections in the Homer Babbidge Library are among the best in the nation in terms of use for historical nursing research purposes.

Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree program options for BS/BSN and MS/MSN holders

DNP graduates are prepared to take on leadership roles in specialized practice or as clinical nurse leaders.  The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program at the UConn School of Nursing is open to applicants with a Master’s degree and any nursing specialty, including:

-Clinical nurse leader
-Clinical nurse specialist
-Nurse anesthetist
-Nurse midwife
-Nurse practitioner, or
-Nurse executive

The post-master's DNP plan of study is available for full- and part-time students. It includes 32 total hours of didactic and practice credits plus any post-BS clinical hours needed to reach 1,000. Students research and implement a project for evaluation during the residency portion of the program.

BS in Nursing or BSN degree holders who want to earn the Master of Science degree in Nursing, an advanced practice certificate and their doctoral degree in the same program can do so through UConn's BS-DNP program. Students in this program may choose among four tracks of specialized study:

-Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: Acute Care
-Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: Primary Care
-Family Nurse Practitioner
-Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Total credit requirements for these BS-DNP tracks range from 72 to 75 hours.

UConn's Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree program

The university's PhD degree program in nursing is geared toward students who want to further their careers in basic or clinical research and health policy development. The School of Nursing offers full- and part-time BS to PhD programs as well as part- and full-time PhD programs for students with MS or MSN degrees. Topics covered in the program are research methods and statistics, nursing theory and science, and specialized clinical study. Some courses in the program are:

-Philosophy of Science in Nursing
-Responsible Conduct in Research
-Introduction to Grantsmanship
-Advanced Nursing Knowledge Development

Additional specialty courses in a concentrated area will provide you with a focused program of research. The PhD in Nursing program for students who already have an MS/MSN degree requires 52 credit hours, including the dissertation. The BS-PhD program requires 72 credit hours, dissertation included.

Interprofessional health education experiences

The School of Nursing prides itself on providing interprofessional learning opportunities for its nursing students at every level. The interprofessional approach is widely accepted as a way to help students in a variety of health-related fields to understand various professional roles, learn to work collaboratively, and gain insights from other disciplines such as pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, and social work. UConn's CAMP (Center for Advancement in Managing Pain) is a nationally recognized center for collaborative, interdisciplinary research on pain research and treatment.

Resources and connections for academic research

The School of Nursing's Center for Nursing Scholarship provides support from faculty members for students who are undertaking research projects. Some of the school's other opportunities for research and collaboration are available through:

-UConn AIMS (Analytics and Information Management Solutions), which uses patient data to improve care
-The annual ATHENA Research Conference on the Storrs campus, with presentations on a variety of nursing topics
-GOT Care! Geriatric Outreach and Training with Care, which provides interprofessional collaborative practice experiences in senior care as a partnership with Middlesex Hospital
-Center for Correctional Health Networks, which researches inmate healthcare issues and works to bring evidence-based care to prison populations
-Center for Advancement in Managing Pain, providing regular meeting and workshops for clinicians, researchers and educators across disciplines who work together on identifying better ways to manage pain and addiction  

Each program includes input from researchers, practitioners, students, and patients.

Accomplished doctoral program leaders in the School of Nursing

The DNP program at the University of Connecticut is directed by associate professor Joy Elwell, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN. She is Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing whose experience includes private practice, parish practice, school district medical leadership, and academia. The PhD in Nursing program's interim director is professor E. Carol Polifroni, EdD, NEA-BC, CNE RN, ANEF. Her research has focused on medication errors, interdisciplinary education, and health policy.

Many career paths for School of Nursing doctoral degree holders

Graduates of UConn's nursing doctoral programs include Dr. Millicent Malcolm, DNP, a gerontological nurse practitioner who practices at Middlesex Hospital, serves on the School of Nursing faculty, and was instrumental in acquiring federal funds for the interprofessional GOT Care! Program for senior health. Desiree Diaz, PhD, earned her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral nursing degrees from UConn and now directs the simulation center in the School of Nursing. Other graduates of the PhD in Nursing program have published research in areas including breastfeeding and supplemental feeding tubes, pathogen identification tools for intestinal illnesses, adolescent healthcare outreach in schools, and neonatal health.

Scholarship and financial aid options for doctoral degree program students

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds two scholarships for UConn nursing PhD program students, and there are more than a dozen other University of Connecticut scholarship programs open to graduate nursing students. Research and teaching assistantships and federal nurse traineeships may be available to full-time students. Interested students should ask the School of Nursing's Admission and Enrollment Services office for a current list of financial aid options.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Location & Contact

Address Storrs, CT  06269
United States
Contact Dr. Carol Polifroni
Phone: 860-486-2000