PhD Nursing Program Admissions Requirements

Requirements for Admission, All Applicants

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 interest of the applicant match the expertise of faculty in the School of Nursing, and 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.

Requirements for admission to the doctoral program are:

  1. A prior degree in Nursing – Graduate of an accredited Bachelor's or Master's in Nursing Program. Please see additional information for BSN to PhD applicants below.
  2. Completion of a baccalaureate (undergraduate/bachelor's) degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA, on a 4.0 scale) of 3.2, as verified by official transcripts. If a graduate degree (i.e., a Master's) has been earned, a GPA of 3.5 is expected, verified by official transcripts.
    All non-English transcripts must be translated into English by a certified translator, and, Non-US transcripts must be submitted for evaluation.
    Please refer to our PhD Admissions Process page for more details.
    Note:  for screening purposes, Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded to your application but official transcripts are preferred for review. Caution:  should you be accepted into the program, UCSF will require official, sealed, and directly mailed (from the institution) transcripts for verification before first registration as a UCSF student.
  3. Proficiency in English is mandatory. All applicants whose first language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL, The minimum overall TOEFL score is 84 (internet-based test); 24 is the minimum score in the speaking section, and 24 is the writing section minimum score. For reporting scores, the TOEFL/ETS institution code for UCSF is 4840, and the department code is 43.For some applicants, a qualifying IELTS score (minimum score of 7) may be submitted directly to Nursing Student Affairs in lieu of the TOEFL. Consult with Nursing Student Affairs for any questions on examinations and scoring.
    Note:  test scores can take up to six weeks to reach the university.
  4. Completion of a statistics course within three years of UCSF entry; a recent course is desirable. For example, for Fall 2017 entry, a statistics course taken and completed prior to Fall 2014 does not meet this requirement. A college-level statistics course taken at an accredited college or university that results in credit on the college's transcript meets this requirement. Online courses that earn credit on an accredited college or university transcript meet this requirement. Applicants must provide evidence of completing this requirement for admission by providing the college transcript that displays the statistics course grade and credits earned. See FAQ for more information.
  5. Completion of a research course within five years of UCSF entry equivalent to the N262A Research Methods course at UCSF. For example, for Fall 2017 entry, a research course taken and completed prior to Fall 2012 does not meet this requirement.
  6. A Goal Statement (essay) must be included with the application, documenting evidence of capacity for original scholarship and research in nursing, and evidence of the ability to communicate in a scholarly manner, both orally and in writing.
    Please refer to our PhD Admissions Process page for more details.
  7. Four recommendations/letters of reference addressing your performance and judgment in the area in which you wish to study and/or your professional preparation and experience.
    Please refer to our PhD Admissions Process page for more details.
  8. Evidence of licensure. as a registered nurse (RN). While studying in California, international students must be licensed as registered nurses in their country of origin, if RN licensure is available. Non-California RNs from other US states must obtain a license "by Endorsement" from the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN, before any patient care activities.
  9. A résumé or curriculum vitae is required.
  10. The application fee (subject to change) is $90 for US citizens and permanent residents and $110 for international applicants. The application web site processes the fee payments (typically via credit card) as appropriate. US citizens and permanent residents who demonstrate financial need, or who would have significant difficulty in paying application fees, may be eligible for a fee waiver. For more information, please visit the web page.
  11. Experience. A minimum of one year of professional nursing experience is preferred.
  12. Computer literacy is assumed, especially competence in internet/web researching and word processing skills.

Additional Information for International Applicants

International applicants to the UCSF doctoral program are encouraged to write to the Nursing Student Affairs Office asking for an informal evaluation before filing a formal application. A statement of goals of study, past educational experience, and professional work experience should accompany the request for informal 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. To be successful, international applicants must begin translation and/or evaluation of their transcripts as soon as possible.
Please refer to our PhD Admissions Process page for more details.

International students need to be licensed as registered nurses in their country of origin, if licensure is available. Caution: if students will be involved in any direct patient care activities while in the U.S., they must obtain California Board of Registered Nurse licensure prior to December of their first year of study. California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) regulations 2729 and 2732 require licenses for all practicing nurses in the State of California. Information regarding recognition of licensure in other states, or other matters related to licensure may be obtained from the BRN at the following address:

Ca. Board of Registered Nursing
P.O. Box 944210
Sacramento, CA 94244-2100

Prospective international doctoral students should also review the following resources:

Entry with Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The criteria for admission to the doctoral program for persons with BSNs will be the same as for applicants with MSNs. The usually shorter career trajectory and lack of previous graduate training will be taken into account in evaluating past accomplishments. A personal interview may be required to assess (1) vision for and commitment to nursing, (2) attitudes toward learning, knowledge, and science, and (3) clarity of focus of study. The applicant must have been in professional practice a minimum of one year at the time of enrollment.

Should the student enrolled in the doctoral program wish to earn a master's degree, it will be awarded after the student has successfully completed 36 units of academic work, 8 units of postgraduate professional work, and the master's comprehensive examination. The completed academic units must meet the faculty requirement for specialization in the student's area.