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College of Nursing

  • PhD Program

    USC Nursing Research

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (Ph.D.)

The Ph.D. program at USC prepares you for a nursing research career in academic, clinical or health system settings. Generous tuition support and executive-style weekend course delivery create flexibility for you to earn your doctoral degree.

Our Ph.D. graduates are productive nurse scientists, scholars and educators who are involved with transforming the health of patients, families and communities across the globe.

Ph.D. core curriculum

Curriculum includes courses in nursing research roles, theories and methods. Beyond the core curriculum, you will develop an individual course of study, including mentored research experiences and elective courses that lead to the preparation and defense of your dissertation.

Entry tracks

Available for BSN, MSN, DNP or master’s-prepared students from another field. All students receive financial support for tuition during the first 36 credit hours of pre-dissertation coursework in the program.

An executive-style program integrating face-to-face monthly campus sessions with interactive on-line learning activities offers you a flexible, yet rigorous, Ph.D. education.

South Carolina’s Ph.D. program is designed to be financially and logistically accessible for you. As a Ph.D. student, you will receive full funding of tuition for the first 36 credit hours of pre-dissertation coursework, and the executive-style program format offers you flexibility to work while you advance your studies.

South Carolina’s small class sizes create opportunities for you to form deep relationships with faculty mentors and program peers, accelerating your growth as a nursing researcher. Working closely with advisers and faculty who are actively engaged in funded research, you’ll develop an individualized program of study that allows you to pursue your passion, generate your own grant-funded projects and make an impact in health care.

By pursuing your Ph.D. at South Carolina, a comprehensive R1 institution, you’ll have access to collaborate with the College of Nursing’s clinical and research faculty as well experts across campus, including faculty at the College of Engineering, Arnold School of Public Health and more.

In addition, you may also earn a Certificate of Graduate Study during your Ph.D. studies, further advancing your career and marketability.

  • Successful completion of a BSN degree.
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from all previous institutions attended.
  • A personal goal statement that indicates how the program will advance your professional goals. Include the area of nursing science that you are interested in pursuing and faculty at the USC College of Nursing who may be appropriate mentors for your area of interest.
  • Three letters of reference from doctorally prepared registered nurse or physician .
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume.
  • Current unencumbered RN or APRN licensure in the state of residence.
  • Interview with nursing graduate faculty.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) not required.
All application materials (except official transcripts) will be submitted via the College of Nursing's graduate application portal

Official transcripts must be sent to The Graduate School. Review the degree requirements before you apply.


The Ph.D.  program accepts students for fall entry. 

Admission cycle for fall entry:

  • Application opens - October 1
  • Early decision deadline - January 1
  • Final decision deadline - March 1

You will receive full funding of tuition for the first 36 credit hours of pre-dissertation coursework. The College of Nursing also offers scholarships, assistantships and other financial aid options for Ph.D. students.

Ph.D. program costs depend on several factors. For estimated costs, view:

Graduate Programs Cost Estimates 2023-2024

The Office of Financial Aid provides the full breakdown of the estimated cost to attend. For additional tuition and fee information, visit the Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees website.

  • Complete required coursework within 10 years.
  • Complete a minimum of one research internship with a faculty member.
  • Earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in all required courses and earn a B or higher in each course.
  • Successfully defend written and oral defense of doctoral dissertation.
  • Successfully complete doctoral degree requirements of The Graduate School .
Attend our Ask The Expert video sessions with Graduate Program faculty and staff!

 Ph.D. student success

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#1 in Research

Jingxi Sheng's long-term research focuses are healthy behaviors and health outcomes among Asian Americans. She is particularly interested in understanding and investigating physical activity determinants with her faculty mentors, Dr. Sue Heiney and Dr. Demerius Abshire.“I chose USC Nursing because it has an excellent reputation and is number one in South Carolina for faculty research productivity. There are several renowned nurse scientists researching my fields of interest.” 

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Interprofessional Collaboration 

Ubong James collaborates with his faculty mentor, Dr. Michael Wirth, as well as Dr. James Hebert and Dr. Christine Blake, both from the USC Arnold School of Public Health. His research intends to provide an understanding of potential associations between food-related consumer behaviors and dietary inflammation. James enjoys the numerous interdisciplinary research opportunities in and around USC and the college’s Ph.D. mentorship program.

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Ph.D. Mentorship

Ph.D. student Kayla Everhart worked with her Ph.D. mentor, Dr. Robin Dail on Dail’s five-year $2.7M National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study as a research coordinator. The study included five NICU sites, enrolling 440 infants to examine body temperature and heart rate over the first 30 days of life as a predictor of infection.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.