PhD Nursing Program Admission Process and Deadlines

We are pleased that you are considering UCSF for your doctoral studies. On this page, you will find detailed information on application deadlines and how to apply to our program.

For more general information about our Nursing PhD program, please visit the PhD Application Overview pages on this site.

Application Deadlines

Applications for the Nursing PhD program open each year in early July for Fall Quarter admission in the following calendar year. Visit the web site to create and monitor the progress of your application. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications completed by the regular December deadline will have preference for admission and for scholarship funding. Screening of completed applications begins immediately after the regular deadline.

Applications will be accepted until the final deadline in January. At this final deadline, all existing applications will be locked and further submissions/uploads to your application will be impossible. New applications cannot be started after the final deadline; all applications should be initiated well before the published deadline dates. Only those applications completed, locked, and paid by the deadline may be further finalized with any missing documentation from third parties (i.e. letters of recommendation, test scores, and transcript) and received at the Nursing Student Affairs Office.

Please be reminded that incomplete applications will not be reviewed; no exceptions can be made.

The School of Nursing reserves the right to process and admit applicants after the published deadlines.

Doctoral (PhD - Nursing) Admissions Annual Schedule
Action or Activity2018 Cycle
Web Application Opens - https://gradapplication.ucsf.eduJuly 2017
Regular DeadlineDec 1, 2017
Screening BeginsDec 2017
Final Deadline Jan 2, 2018
Classes BeginSeptember 2018

Getting Started

It is highly recommended for interested persons and applicants to contact School of Nursing faculty to discuss their questions or interests in doctoral study in person, by email, or by telephone/Skype. It is important that the research interests of the applicant match the expertise of faculty in the School of Nursing. You need to identify at least one faculty member who shares a similar research focus in your application. The Student Affairs Office can supply names of faculty with academic interests in specific areas.

Ordering Official Transcript/Non-U.S. Transcript Evaluation

In your application, identify each post-secondary (after high school) institution you have attended. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded to your application for screening purposes, but an official transcript is preferred for review. Should you be accepted into the program, UCSF must receive an official (sealed) transcript before enrollment. One official original transcript from each college, university, and nursing school attended must be sent directly to Nursing Student Affairs:

Nursing Student Affairs, PhD-N 2016
2 Koret Way #N-319X
UCSF Box 0602
San Francisco CA 94143-0602      USA


A preliminary transcript should show coursework in progress. If necessary and/or appropriate, a transcript may be individually downloaded (as a PDF) from a password-protected web site, should this be the policy of your institution.

Non-U.S. Transcript Evaluation

The School of Nursing requires all applicants who have completed degrees and/or coursework outside of the United States to submit their transcripts for validation and evaluation before they may be considered for admission. Start this process as soon as possible. The evaluation process can take several weeks up to several months. Non-English transcripts must be translated into English by a certified translator, and then evaluated.

Applicants may send their transcripts and credentials to any evaluation agency which requires submission of original transcripts and/or certificates directly from the education institution to the evaluation agency. The purpose of the evaluation is to verify that your degree/coursework is the equivalent to that of a U.S. Bachelor or Master's degree.

Evaluation agencies provide a variety of services. Be sure to request an evaluation that provides the following:

  • Lists all subjects/courses completed at the post-secondary level
  • Provides a U.S. semester credit and grade equivalent for each course
  • Provides a U.S. grade point average (GPA) for the Bachelor's, Master's, or their equivalents on a 4.0 scale, and
  • Designates the level (upper or lower) of each undergraduate course

In our experience, World Education Services (415-677-9378; 212-966-6311; [email protected]) provides the information we need in a format that is useful for the admissions decision. However, applicants may choose to use any agency which meets our criteria and can perform an evaluation meeting the four points as mentioned above.

Application Components and Documentation

Please remember that you can sign in and out of your UCSF application as many times as you may need to as you continue the process of completing each part of your application. We recognize that identifying and summarizing your work and academic achievements can take time and effort.

You can check your progress on the application overview page. Green check-mark symbols indicate completed sections. We advise you to plan ahead and ensure all sections have the indicative green check-mark at least two days before the regular/final deadline.

We suggest you keep a copy of each draft as you are developing your CV/Resume, and your goal statement. We recommend that you ask another person to proofread your statement. A well-written statement of purpose is an essential component of a successful application.

All required documents need to be uploaded in PDF format.

Goal Statement

A comprehensive well-written goal statement essay is an essential component of a successful doctoral application. The goal statement should:

  • clearly identify your particular area of research interest and include related clinical, teaching, and/or research experience;
  • show congruence of applicant's goals with the program's goals and the resources of the School and University;
  • identify at least one faculty member who shares a similar research focus in the School of Nursing; and
  • address future career goals after doctoral education.

Your goal statement should be no more than five double-spaced typewritten pages and shows your full legal name and page number at the top of each page. Elsewhere, your application will also include a (one-sentence) summary statement of your proposed area of research interest.

Recommendations / Letters of Reference

A minimum of four recommendations are required (a maximum of five is permitted) from:

  • two recommendations provided by the most recent employer(s), preferably nurses;
  • one from a college professor / instructor (if you have graduated in the past five years) who can assess your performance and judgment in the area in which you wish to study; and
  • one or two from individuals (not relatives) who are well acquainted with your professional preparation and experience.

Each recommendation should address the following areas, as appropriate: [1] research, [2] leadership, [3] creativity, [4] self-direction in learning, [5] writing, [6] teaching, [7] relationship to applicant, and [8] clinical practice. An overall numeric rating is also requested.

The applicant will initiate the referral process through the online application by entering contact information for each recommender. Each identified recommender will receive an email with individualized instructions to access the application site. The recommender will have the option of uploading a reference letter or answering a short survey.

Within the system, applicants can verify when each of their recommenders has submitted their reference/recommendation. Applicants may send reminders to unsubmitted recommenders through the application system. Recommenders will have access to submit their reference for applicants even after the applicant 'locks,' or submits their application, however the admissions committee will only review complete applications with the minimum four recommendations received.

Finalizing/"Locking" Your Application

Do not wait until the very last day to finish your application or you will not have enough time to check over and proofread your submission. Unlocking to revise or repair a submitted application is not permitted after the deadline has passed.

When you are confident your materials are complete, final, and ready to be reviewed, you should "lock" your application which marks it as being ready for review by our faculty. There is no advantage to locking early, so plan ahead. Be sure to allow time to correct any information you intend to submit before you apply the lock.

Note: fee payment is also required before your application will be reviewed.

Application Fee Payment

When your application is complete and finalized (i.e., "locked"), a fee will be collected; the web site accepts secured payments using credit cards. Alternate payment methods are available and are explained on the application site. In cases of dire financial hardship, some applicants may apply for and receive application fee relief in the form of a waiver.  Waivers can only be approved up to one working day before the due date.

Application Status and Admissions Notification

We invite you to review your application status on the application web site (both before and after) the final submission deadline.

An interview is not required, but may be initiated by the screening committee. Applicants will be contacted individually if an interview is necessary.

When admissions decisions have been made, you will be emailed by the application system that there has been a change in your admission status. Admitted Nursing PhD students will have until April 15 to accept or decline our offer of admission and financial support--per the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants.

Important Notice to Undocumented Individuals & Potential Applicants

The UCSF School of Nursing welcomes applications for admission from undocumented individuals, such as those who qualify under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and/or AB540. Please visit the UCSF and UCOP websites for more information as well as the UC Principles of Support of Undocumented Members of the UC Community.

Nondiscrimination Policy Statement

The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy,1 physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer related or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services.2

The University also prohibits sexual harassment.

This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities.

1 Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

2 Service in the uniformed services includes membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.

Source: Office of the Registrar, University of California, San Francisco