Nursing How to apply

University of Missouri-Columbia
Doctor of philosophy
Nurse leading a class.
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How to apply

Fulfill the admission requirements:

  • PhD applicants entering with a bachelor's degree: Bachelor's degree in nursing from NLNAC, ACEN, CNEA or CCNE-accredited school OR equivalent for non-nurse applicants; 3.3 minimum GPA (4.0 scale).
  • PhD applicants entering with a graduate degree: Master's or doctoral degree in nursing from NLNAC, ACEN, CNEA or CCNE-accredited school OR equivalent for non-nurse applicants; minimum 3.5 GPA (4.0 scale).
  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements or do not have a cumulative GPA must submit acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and the exam must have been taken within the last five years.
  • If English is not your native language, please submit a TOEFL total score of at least 80 (internet-based test) with all sub-scores of at least 17, an IELTS (Academic) total score of at least 6.5 with all sub-scores of at least 6, a Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of at least 59 or a Cambridge C1 Advanced score of at least 180 or Duolingo English Test score of at least 115.

Note: Because the knowledge and skills needed to produce excellent health-related research are not discipline-specific, the Ph.D. program does not require a prior degree in nursing. Indeed, we have had Ph.D. students with academic preparation in health administration, health education, medical ethics, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, public health and social work.

Holistic Review

The MU SSON Ph.D. program uses a comprehensive, holistic review process. In a holistic review process, we consider the applicant as a whole individual, not merely select parts, such as GPA or GRE test scores. In doing so, we evaluate applicants based on who will contribute to the MU SSON’s academic community in meaningful ways.

Holistic review takes into account factors such as a research mentor match, academic and professional goals, the student’s strength of undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) course work, grade trends and special circumstances. By evaluating the applicant from a holistic perspective, we take the time to get to know applicants as people, not as numbers.

Application dates

Submit your application in time. Late applications will not be accepted.

To start classes in Apply by Classes begin
Summer (Early acceptance) Jan. 1 June
Summer (Regular acceptance) March 1 June

Gather your papers

Applying will be easier and faster if you gather these required documents beforehand:

  • Three professional recommendations. In the online application, you will need to supply names and contact details of three master's or doctorally prepared health related professionals or faculty members who can address your potential to be successful in a doctoral program with a research emphasis.

    If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program, submit at least one recommendation from a current faculty member in that program. Do not include recommendations from friends, fellow clinical colleagues or ministers.

  • Curriculum vitae all formal educational preparation, licensure/certifications, work experience (including committee work and research experiences), honors/awards, publications, presentations and professional activities.
  • Personal statement of research goals and interests. The statement should be well written, clear and concise, not more than four pages and address the following:
    • Reasons for applying to the PhD program.
    • Career goals and how completing this program will help you achieve them.
    • Strengths you bring to doctoral study.
    • Statement of personal research interests related to one of our three research focus areas: Innovations to Improve Health and Health Systems, Population health and health disparities, and Symptom and Health Behavior Science. Include the rationale for your intended research focus.
    • Identification of one or more potential PhD prepared nursing research faculty mentor(s) to supervise your doctoral training.
  • GRE scores from a test taken within the last five years (if required).
  • Transcripts of all previous college or university education. Upload unofficial transcripts in your online application. If you are accepted, you will be asked to provide official transcripts.
  • Writing sample, such as a recent presentation abstract, professional publication or scholarly paper you have written. Post-DNP applicants need to include an artifact of their DNP scholarly project.
  • Copy of your current RN license (does not apply to interdisciplinary (non-nurse) Ph.D. applicants); international nursing applicants should submit license from their country.
  • TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or C1 Advanced score reports for applicants whose native language is not English. For information on sending test scores, visit the Grad School website.

Complete the online application

Carefully follow the instructions on the application site.

  • Upload the above documents in the online application
  • Degree/delivery: Doctorate- Distance (Online/Remote Site/etc.)
  • Academic program: Nursing/Distance Mediated Option (PhD)
  • Domestic application fee: $75.00
  • International application fee: $100.00

Application fee waiver questions: Contact MU Graduate Admissions with questions via 573-882-6311 or 1-800-877-6312 or via email at

Apply here

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Sinclair School of Nursing

Program contact