Doctoral Degree

Nursing Science (PhD)

Become a leader in the field as a nurse scientist that is prepared to advance the profession through scholarship, education, and research.

nursing graduate student sim lab

Program Overview

In our nursing science doctoral degree program, you’ll join a tradition of academic excellence that will prepare you to be a nurse scientist. For more than three decades, our powerhouse program has guided nurses to become scholars and leaders in nursing education and to go on to inform the nursing profession.

Here, you’ll be engaged in nursing science and develop the skills to conduct research that advances theory and generates the evidence for nursing education and practice.

Led by our expert, full-time faculty, our program offers you the flexibility to meet the course requirements on a timeframe that complements your demanding career and family responsibilities.

Program Options for Doctorate in Nursing Science

View the Loading... for information on coursework and curriculum requirements. 

The PhD program offers full- and part-time options. Classes are offered in an evening format to meet the scheduling demands of working educators and practitioners.

Part-time students can progress at their own pace within the established seven-year time limit for degree completion for doctoral students.

The PhD program in nursing science includes both in-person and synchronous online learning opportunities for Chester, Main Campus students.

An accelerated MSN-to-PhD option is available. Visit the Loading... to view program requirements and admissions information. 


Graduates of accredited BSN, MSN, or DNP programs are invited to apply for admission by submitting evidence of:

  • A completed online application.
  • Transcripts from previously attended higher education institutions.
  • A minimum of 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in the highest degree obtained.
  • A graduate statistics course with a grade of at least B (3.0) is recommended.
  • A graduate course in nursing theories and conceptual models with a grade of at least B (3.0) is recommended.
  • Two references—one from an educator and one from an employer with a graduate degree. One of these must have a research doctoral degree.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Statement explaining goals for doctoral work in nursing with emphasis on proposed area of specialization.
  • Interview with a School of Nursing faculty member (this is arranged after a preliminary review of application materials).

View the Loading... for full admissions information.

International students need satisfactory Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. They should contact the International Student Services Office at 610-499-4499 for immigration requirements. More information can be found by visiting International Students Admissions

  • August 15—for matriculation in the fall semester
  • December 15—for matriculation in the spring semester
  • April 15—for matriculation in summer sessions

Program Highlights

Step into nursing leadership with a doctor of philosophy.

2020 National League for Nursing Center of Excellence

For enhancing student learning and professional development

Nursing students in clinicals

Renowned in the Region

Our School of Nursing was ranked 16th in the Mid-Atlantic region and 8th in Pennsylvania among private colleges.

1 of 6

schools nationwide designated as a Center of Excellence for Advancing the Science of Nursing Education.

Founders Hall, home to Widener's School of Nursing, at dusk

Top 50 in Nation

Our School of Nursing is proud to rank #46 out of more than 1,100 private institutions evaluated across the nation.  

Source: Nursing Schools Almanac


Leadership Development

Our program emphasizes personal leadership development. Your student experience will be enriched with a specialized leadership course focused on the behaviors required as a leader and the necessary skills to overcome the challenges facing higher education and health care settings.

Nursing doctoral student and faculty member

Faculty Mentorship

Thrive in a learning community that provides close mentorship and one-on-one support. Our full-time faculty members bring active clinical and academic research experience to the classroom. Widener provides the opportunity for you to build a professional network that supports you long after graduation.

Research Opportunities

You will have opportunities to collaborate with Widener's Leadership Center for Nursing Education Research whose mission is to advance the science of nursing education through rigorous educational and educational-clinical research. Expert research consulting services for constituents within the nursing and nursing education community and professional development are available.


Partner with expert faculty who aren’t just teaching the courses but are creating the science of nursing education.

Barbara J. Patterson

"As an educator, researcher, and student advisor, I am passionate about preparing the next generation of nurse leaders, educators, and scholars. I believe advancing the science of nursing education is dependent upon preparing doctoral students who question and explore how they teach while generating the best evidence for their teaching practices."

Shirlee Drayton Brooks

I ascribe to a pragmatic philosophy of teaching and learning. I believe that nursing education must be practical and logically aligned to the diverse needs of the population we serve.

Kim A. Noble

I believe that an education with a foundation in science is essential for entry into nursing or advanced practice nursing. Nursing clinical reasoning skills grow as students apply an understanding of disease as the loss of normal function.

Students have great variation in their manner in which they acquire, process, manipulate, store, and retrieve learned information. It is a faculty priority to assist students with the development of metacognitive strategies to assist learning success and retention.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

Join a network of graduates who have gone on to leadership roles in local and international health care and research institutions.

Recent Employers & Industry Connections

  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • National League of Nursing
  • Tower Health
  • Oman College of Health Science
  • NYU
  • Ohio State University

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Academic/clinical faculty member
  • Nurse researcher
  • Academic administrator
  • Nurse leader
  • Nurse educator

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

Visit Us

To visit Widener is, more often than not, to fall in love with the place. To fit your timeline and schedule, we offer a variety of ways to get to know us.

View Tuition and Fees

Explore program costs and payment options.

Financial Aid

At Widener, opportunities for financial aid extend to graduate students. Discover how Widener can help make obtaining your degree possible.

Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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