Nursing, PhD

College of Nursing

Program Description:

The PhD program at The University of New Mexico College of Nursing develops and mentors exceptional nurse researchers, equipping them with the skills to address the wide-ranging health- related challenges facing policymakers and healthcare providers. Graduates from our PhD program will educate the next generation of nursing professionals and advance the science of nursing.

Online PhD Program Improves Access

We have the capacity to serve a broad student population – including international students and students living in rural areas of the United States – because the program is primarily administered online. Many of these students would not otherwise have access to a doctoral program in nursing.

Areas of Research in Nursing

Areas of research emphasis among the faculty at the UNM College of Nursing include:

  • Symptom science and self-management
  • Women's and children's health
  • Health policy and public health

Cutting across these areas of emphasis is an overall focus on rural health and health equity.

Nursing PhD Program Tracks

The two program tracks are:

  • Individualized Track: The faculty advisor will guide each student in selecting coursework tailored to meet personal, professional and scholarship goals and needs.
  • Health Policy Concentration: The UNM College of Nursing is one of the few programs in the U.S. that offers this concentration at the PhD level. The academic program is a rigorous course of study, grounded in real-world clinical experience and relevant research. It is designed to create a deep understanding of the factors that shape and influence health-related policy decisions.

Program Information & Requirements for Both Tracks

  • Students are required to be on campus for one week of face-to-face class time during Residency Week (typically the first week of the summer semester) for the first three years of the program.
  • All PhD courses are online.
  • Students are required to attend the Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) Research Conference in April within the first two years of their program. After that, students are required to attend a research conference yearly (with committee approval) until completion of the degree.
  • BSN to PhD and MSN to PhD programs of study are offered.

The UNM College of Nursing's PhD program is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) that offers tuition-reciprocity arrangements.

Nursing PhD Program Competencies

Graduates of the PhD program will demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Conduct independent research pertaining to the generation and synthesis of new knowledge and theory that contributes to the health of individuals and communities.
  • Conduct independent formal inquiry pertaining to health care, reflective caring practice, critical synthesis of existing knowledge and the generation of new knowledge and theory.
  • Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence and integrating creative and critical thinking.
  • Cultivate research expertise relative to a particular population, setting or human response to health or illness.
  • Evaluate and critique social policy relevant to the organization and delivery of health care.

Admission Requirements:

      Doctoral applicants must meet the UNM criteria for admission to graduate studies (i.e., bachelor’s degree and 3.0 minimum GPA). The College of Nursing also requires doctoral applicants to have a master’s degree in nursing or a related field (must be BSN if master’s degree is not in nursing), and submit a writing sample as part of the application packet. Applicants are evaluated for their potential to meet program goals.

Applicants to the doctoral program are considered for summer admission only. All required application materials must be received by the application deadline. These include (but are not limited to) the application, registration form, transcripts, three letters of reference, letter of intent, and writing sample.

Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA at the master’s level (with a 3.5+ GPA preferred) in order to be considered for admission to the doctoral program. A screening committee, comprised of at least two members of the PhD Subcommittee, reviews the application materials and interviews each applicant. Specific screening criteria are used in their evaluation. The screening committee forwards their admission recommendations to the PhD Subcommittee for consideration. The Subcommittee’s recommendation is then forwarded to the Graduate Committee for consideration, with final College approval given by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.


Career Opportunities:

Nursing combines science and technology with the desire to help people. Nurses assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. Nurses may advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required. Includes advance practice nurses such as: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nursing is practiced by RNs who have specialized formal, post-basic education and who function in highly autonomous and varied roles. 

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S territories, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination, known as the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license. Nurses may be licensed in more than one State, either by examination or by the endorsement of a licensed issued by another State. Nursing programs range from associate degrees to graduate level programs; higher degrees typically involve a broader and more complex scope of patient care. UNM offers a variety of degree options at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. 


Contact Information:

Jeri Belsher: Academic Advisement Specialist
(505) 272-4223
jbelsher@salud.unm.edu