PhD in Nursing Science Program


  Application for Fall 2021
Open August 1, 2020 through January 1, 2021
Click Here to Begin Your Application

Current Student Requirements and Checklist

As a continuing student in the PhD program, there are multiple requirements expected of all students. We have organized this information below in alphabetical order.

All students (full and part-time) are expected to carefully read this information and met all requirements. 

Academic Plan of Study

Review each semester with your faculty adviser and submit any modifications to the PhD Program Office.

Background Check

Even though you completed a background check prior to starting the PhD program, there are two circumstances that would require further action:

Disclosure of Offenses Post-Background Check Completion

Current PhD students are required to immediately report any arrests, criminal charges or convictions occurring after the initial background check to the PhD program director. Required disclosure also includes but is not limited to allegations, investigations and/or disciplinary action from any licensing board or agency included under the Nationwide Healthcare Fraud and Abuse scan; Office of Inspector General (OIG), General Services Administration (GSA), FDA Debarment Check, Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), Office of Research Integrity (ORI), and Medicare and Medicaid Sanctions.

Leave of Absence or Deferral

Students who completed a background check through Certified Background/Castle Branch but had a break in enrollment, including a deferral or leave of absence, must complete a new background check no more than 30 days prior to return. Enter package code VA14bc in the "Place Order" box on the homepage.

PhD Intensive Schedule

2020 – 2021

  • Fall Semester 2020: August 17 – 21 (Mon – Fri)
  • Spring Semester 2021: January 11 – 14 (Mon – Thurs)
  • Summer Semester 2021: May 17 – 20 (Mon – Thurs)

Attendance at all portions of the Ph.D. block session is mandatory for enrollment (full or part-time)* within that semester unless there is an extenuating circumstance that prohibits attendance. Students must contact the program director immediately (via e-mail or by phone) regarding the nature of the emergency. Students who fail to comply are subject to dismissal. An extenuating circumstance is one that is serious in nature and could not have been foreseen but that interferes with the student’s attendance for all or part of the block session.  Examples include:  sudden serious illness or injury, death in the immediate family, military deployment.  Examples of circumstances that are not considered extenuating are:  foreign vacations, conflicting work schedules, honeymoons.

*Note: Part-time students must attend all block intensives for the first two years in-person. After that, part-time students have the option of either attending required classes’ in-person or at a distance via current VUSN PhD technology options. If you decide to participate at a distance, you must notify the Ph.D. Office at least one month prior to block so the appropriate equipment can be reserved.  

Computer and Technology Requirements

Managing information is a central role for nursing at all levels. The science of finding, organizing, sharing, and adding to information – especially with the assistance of technology – is an essential area at VUSN. Consequently, expectations regarding student computer skills are increasing at VUSN. You will be required to use the Internet when you are away from school buildings to communicate with faculty and other students and to access learning resources. You will use e-mail, on-line discussion boards, and file sharing as an integral part of your classroom, clinical, and research experience. You must have the computer skills to negotiate the World Wide Web; access all Websites and library resources required to successfully complete course and dissertation work; download, move and copy files; and utilize word-processing and spreadsheet software. The most current computer and technology requirements are listed in the Program Technology Requirements table.


Students are expected to check their Vanderbilt email on a daily basis until they graduate from the program. Email is the primary and most frequent form of communication used in the program. Personal email accounts will not be used as a form of communication.

Financial Awards and Your Student Account

If you were awarded a scholarship, fellowship or other financial aid, you receive communication from the PhD Program Office informing you how your award(s) are credited to your student account.

If you receive any employer tuition reimbursement, you must report this to the PhD Program Office immediately in order for us to adjust your VUSN tuition scholarship accordingly.

All students are automatically enrolled for e-bills. Students can access their online invoices from their YES landing page at or by going to: It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that bills are paid on or before the due date. Do not assume a scholarship covers all fees and charges.

Health Insurance

Students are required to be covered by a health insurance plan. See this page for details:

You received an email in April 2016 from the Graduate School regarding important changes to student health insurance for 2016-2017. It is your responsibility to carefully read this information. All students who wish to waive coverage are required to complete an online waiver form at the beginning of each academic year.

IRB Certification Refresher Course

Complete the IRB annual refresher course and submit evidence of completion to the Ph.D. Program Office.  Students may choose from one of the following:

Once you reach the dissertation phase of the program, you are no longer required to submit evidence of completion to the PhD Program Office since the IRB Office automatically requires it for active IRB protocols.  

Medical/Health Information
All PhD students must meet immunization requirements. Students who are non-compliant will not be allowed to register until all required documentation is submitted.  To access the Student Health Center Immunization Requirements Form, go to:

Select the Graduate Immunization Requirements Form NOT the School of Nursing Student Requirements Form.

VU Student Health Center will notify the University Registrar’s Office (URO) of non-compliant students. The URO has been charged with ensuring all students are compliant, per state law (including distance students).


Parking permits are required for motor vehicles parked on campus at any time. However, since the PhD program only requires campus visits for block weeks you do not need to register for a parking permit unless you want to. If you do, please follow the Graduate School's instructions.

Otherwise, PhD students who will only be on campus during the required face-to-face block sessions and need a parking space have the following options:

  • Use the automated pay stations located at Wesley Place Garage (2043 Scarritt Place)
  • Terrace Place Garage (21st & Terrace Avenue)

Daily coin box rate is $10.00/day on weekdays and $5.00/day on Saturday and Sunday. The most convenient garage is Wesley Place Garage which is located across the street from the School of Nursing.

Additional assistance or questions should be directed to Vanderbilt University Parking Services at 615-322-2554. Students who are already Vanderbilt employees may continue to use their valid access card.


Students enrolled in course work must register each fall, spring and summer semester with no breaks in registration to remain in good standing.  Students working on the qualifying examination paper and/or preparing for the oral exam following completion of all required course work should enroll in NRSC 8999: Non-Candidate Research (formerly known as NRSC 379). This course is only for students who are in the qualifying examination phase of the program. Students should register for zero (0) credits in NRSC 8999. This maintains full-time student status in the program. When the student has successfully completed the qualifying examination (written and oral) and is approved to begin dissertation research, registration for dissertation research applies. Students working on their dissertation should register for NRSC 9999: Dissertation Research (formerly known as NRSC 399).  Students must enroll for a total of 6 dissertation credits which can be spread out among several semesters. When the required 72 hours of course work has been completed, registration for dissertation research without hourly credit applies. This reflects full-time effort on research and confers full-time student status. The minimum tuition of $200 is charged.

Any deviation from the plan of study in your handbook must be approved by the PhD program director after consulting with your faculty adviser.

All students must complete the registration process at the appropriate time using Vanderbilt’s online enrollment system referred to as YES (Your Enrollment Services) located at:
You must consult with your faculty adviser/chair prior to registration.

(STARS) Reporting Your Awards and Achievements: Student Achievement Record Survey

Students will be asked to complete a Student Achievement Record Survey (STARS) every semester they are enrolled.  The survey is to be used to record publications, presentations, awards (inside and outside Vanderbilt), appointments and editorships.  Announcements (and follow up reminders) will be sent via email with a link to the STARS survey for that semester beginning a few weeks before the deadline for participation.  If there are no activities to report for that semester, students do not need to log in to the survey and are asked to please disregard the reminders.  STARS offers students a convenient way to register and track their accomplishments and offers program administrators access to important metrics about student activities and achievements.

Student Activity and Recreation Fee Waivers

The Office of Student Accounts bills all graduate students activity and recreation fees. However, you will be granted a waiver if: (1) you are a part-time student enrolled for four or fewer credit hours (including  audit  credit), or (2) you are a student residing outside a circle of  approximately sixty miles from the Vanderbilt campus as determined by zip codes. To complete a waiver request, please go to:

Student Handbook

The PhD Student Handbook contains a wealth of information about every aspect of the program including requirements, policies and procedures. Students are expected to look up information in the handbook before contacting an adviser and/or the PhD Program Office with questions. We are here to help you, but expect that you look up information first. You are held to the requirements reflected in the handbook you received upon entering the program.  

Student Self-Assessment

Students are expected to complete an annual self-assessment (end of summer semester).

Unencumbered Nursing License

PhD students must hold an unencumbered license in a U.S. jurisdiction (R.N. licensure in the State of Tennessee is not a requirement of the program). Institutions and agencies other than the School of Nursing may require licensure for students conducting research in their facilities. Lisa Boyer, VUSN Compliance Officer, will continue to track this requirement.

Contact: Judy Vesterfelt