Preparing Your PhD Application

Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2015

The admissions decision is heavily influenced by a careful review of each of the components of your application. Because of the importance of a scholarly fit between our students and faculty, we strongly recommend you explore the research focus of our faculty.


You are welcome to make personal contact with our faculty in order to help determine common scholarly interests. You may contact our faculty via email (email addresses can be found at or in writing.


Your Personal Statement

Include the following key points

  • your general research interest areas and how these interests have evolved
  • previous research experience
  • identify VUSN faculty whose research interests may align with yours
  • discuss how research factors into your career plans

Curriculum Vitae

  • A curriculum vitae is a listing of achievements, unlike a resume, which describes activities associated with entries.
  • Prepare a curriculum vitae to highlight
    - professional achievements
    - work accomplishments
    - educational background
  • Include information about
    - academic background
    - work history
    - honors or awards
    - any research conducted
    - grants received
    - publications or presentations

Letters of Reference

Three letters of reference are required from PhD prepared individuals that can describe your aptitude for doctoral study.


Recommenders should submit their letter of reference online. On your application, you will be asked to provide the e-mail addresses of your recommenders. Vanderbilt will contact your recommenders by e-mail and provide them with a link to a Web site, a password, and instructions on how to submit the recommendation online. Online recommendations are instantly attached to your application. If you are unable to provide e-mail addresses for your recommenders, it is your responsibility to contact them and provide them with the recommendation form, located on page two of the application. Paper letters of recommendation should be sent in duplicate to:

   PhD Program Office
   Attention: Irene McKirgan
   Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
   604 Godchaux Hall
   461 21st Avenue South
   Nashville, TN 37240


  • Allow recommenders at least one month to prepare the letter.
  • Follow up to ensure that forms and letters have been completed and submitted.


To begin your online application, go to: