CU Anschutz provides one of the nation’s top PhD in Nursing programs, thanks to our innovative programming, exceptional faculty, and unique resources available at the Anschutz Medical Campus. In three-four years, you can complete a PhD in Nursing as a culmination of your nursing education. This is a degree that opens the doors of academia and research to you so that you can become a teaching professor, a clinical researcher, or health care policy analyst, among other career options.

Students who come to our program are highly motivated and eager to work with our excellent faculty mentors. Our professors are invested in student success and research excellence. Combined, our student/faculty dynamic is community-focused and results-driven.

Unlike fully online programs, the PhD in Nursing is offered as a blended program. Most of your coursework is completed via asynchronous online classes, but we also require students to attend short intensives throughout the academic year that foster community and relationships while also helping to develop your research skills.  

These on-campus experiences are at the heart of our program, because they take the online coursework to the next level while maintaining the flexibility you need to complete your PhD while also working full-time as a nursing professional or administrator.


Program Details

Our blended program provides each student with three different tracks. You may choose the research track that matches your professional and research goals. As a newly admitted student, you will be paired with a faculty advisor from your chosen area who will help you acclimate to the PhD environment, accomplish each requirement of the degree, and develop the research question that will be the foundation of your dissertation.

Once per semester (fall, spring, and summer), you will come to the Anschutz Medical Campus for a week-long intensive. This will provide you with rich opportunities to get to know your colleagues and faculty and benefit from the collective knowledge you all bring to in-person conversations.

Our three tracks include:

Health Care Systems Research

This track provides you with the foundation you need to research health care systems. For example, we have had students research health outcomes related to hospital staffing best practices and how to optimize management skills of head nurses. This track is particularly unique to CU Anschutz. We are the only university in the West providing this kind of focus, and one of only four programs like this in the entire nation.

Caring Science

In the Caring Science track, you will research how the complexities of health care career impact nurses and health professionals. The principles of caring science are founded on the idea that being a professional caregiver requires paying attention to the self, not just the patient. A holistic approach to nursing can improve patient outcomes and provider mental health.

Biobehavioral Sciences


When studying biobehavioral sciences, you seek to understand the connections between patients’ physical health and things like lifestyle, behavior, environment, and genetics. Biobehavioral scientists seek to improve patient care by understanding these connections and effectively educating patients on the ways their actions and decisions can impact their health.

Tuition and Fees

Investing in your future is a big decision. However, becoming a fully online student at CU Denver is an affordable option with discounted tuition rates for non resident, fully online students. And of course, you will save money not having to drive to campus! 

Tuition and fees are based largely on the class that you enroll in. Tuition amount assessed is determined based on which school/college is offering your class, as well as if it is an undergrad or graduate level, and finally your resident status. For more information or to view exact rates, please visit the Bursar's website.

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

graduation cap with money


Typically, PhD students can complete their degree in four years. We do occasionally have highly motivated students who can complete in three years, but we expect that most will take the average four-year path from enrollment to graduation.

The first two to three years are spent completing didactic coursework and developing an appropriate research question, which then becomes the focus of the final year. The graduate school limits enrollment to a maximum of eight years in order to get these nursing professionals into their field of study while the information is still current and fresh.


We accept applications once a year, during the fall. The cycle is open only once, the year prior to starting.  Feel free to contact us directly with questions about transferring credits from other accredited universities to join the online Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program. 

Learn more about the admissions process by visiting the CU Anschutz admissions website and start your application today!

Career Outlook

Nursing PhD holders are eligible for some of the most prestigious and desirable careers in nursing. PhDs are able to move away from providing bedside care to patients without pursuing a career in administration. Instead, they work as researchers, scientists, professors, health care analysts, and scholars with the goal of understanding the science and art of nursing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks nursing instructors and identifies a median annual salary of about $77,000 per year.

Here are some of the career opportunities that you could expect after graduation with a PhD in Nursing, according to Payscale.com:

  • Nursing Professor
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Educator
  • Health Policy Analyst



As a student in the Nursing PhD program, you will complete most of your coursework via asynchronous classes, meaning you will complete the lectures, assignments, and tasks when your schedule allows instead of at a shared time with all the other students in the class. Each semester, you will come to Anschutz Medical Campus for about a week for an in-person intensives with your PhD colleagues and faculty. You will develop a research question, conduct original research, and write a dissertation to earn your doctorate.

One of the things that makes our program special is that our students aren’t obligated to research only what their faculty mentors are interested in and researching. Rather, our students are able to identify a research project that meets their interests, passions, and curiosity.

Here is a small sampling of the courses we offer:


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