CU Anschutz provides one of the nation’s top online PhD in Nursing programs, thanks to our innovative programming, exceptional faculty, and unique resources available at the Anschutz Medical Campus. In three to 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 a healthcare policy analyst, among other career options.

CU Online nursing programs are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Program at a Glance

Degree Program:

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Offered By:

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus


Cost Per Credit:


Cost Per Credit:


Credit Hours:




Program Details

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 one-to-two week 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 if you are also working full-time as a nursing professional or administrator.

Our blended program provides each student with three different research 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 CU 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:

Healthcare Systems Research

This track provides you with the foundation you need to research healthcare systems. For example, we have had students research health outcomes related to hospital staffing best practices and how to optimize the 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 healthcare careers 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.

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

CCNE Accreditation 

The baccalaureate degree in nursing, master’s degree in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice and post-graduate APRN certificate at the University of Colorado College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the national accreditation agency that ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing by requiring strict standards of excellence to receive accreditation. When you graduate with a BSN degree from CU Anschutz, you’ll start your nursing career with confidence knowing that you received a high-quality degree from a university with a rich history of over 100 years of nursing education. 

Tuition and Fees

Investing in your future is a big decision. However, becoming a fully online student at the University of Colorado is a high-quality and affordable option for learners of all types. Tuition and fees are based largely on the degree program you enroll in.

The tuition amount assessed is determined based on which University of Colorado campus, school, or college is offering your degree program, as well as if it is at the undergrad or graduate level, and finally your resident status. Visit our tuition and financial aid page for more information.

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.


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 filling out the form above or contacting the CU Online Enrollment Team 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.

Example Courses
NURS 7101 — Metatheory in Nursing
This course examines the nature of nursing as an academic discipline, emphasizing varying perspectives of nursing's phenomena of interest, history of knowledge development, interrelationships between philosophies of science and nursing knowledge, and methods of theory analysis and evaluation.
NURS 7201 — Role of the Scientist I
This seminar course is designed to promote beginning professional role formation as PhD students transition to the role of the scientist and includes content on ethical conduct of research and conducting systematic literature reviews.
NURS 7506 — Diverse Theories of Care: Paradigms of Human Caring
This course explores caring science and unitary views of consciousness in relation to universal human experiences and vicissitudes of existence. Different theories of caring examine the diversity and converging directions of a unitary transformative view of evolved humans.