Graduate Programs

Since opening the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program in 1970, the College has proven itself a leader in quality graduate education. Its legacy continued with the opening of the first research-focused PhD Program in Kentucky in 1987 and the first practice-focused DNP Program in the world in 2001. There have been approximately 1500 MSN, 100 PhD and 50 DNP graduates from our graduate programs.

In keeping with trends in graduate nursing education and recommendations of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for preparation of advanced practice nurses, in 2009 the College opened a post BSN-DNP option to replace the MSN Program. Both the PhD and DNP programs have post-BSN and post-MSN entry options.

While the PhD and DNP programs have distinct standards for determining quality, some are common across programs, such as accreditation status, characteristics of the faculty and students, programs of study, and resources.


The University of Kentucky has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) since 1915. Accreditation status is an important measure of quality -- it attests to the institution’s integrity and accountability. SACS accreditation means that UK has a suitable mission for higher education, meets the needs of students, and has the resources and services for accomplishing its programs.

SACS accreditation has been a measure of the College’s PhD program since it began. In addition, our other programs are accredited by AACN’s Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The DNP Program was among the first in the U.S. to receive accreditation in 2009.


Twenty-six full-time faculty members, 25 of which hold doctorates, teach in our PhD and DNP programs. Twenty-two of the 26 have graduate faculty status with the UK Graduate School. 

Our graduate faculty is dedicated to ensuring:

  • student success
  • diversity of background and intellectual perspectives
  • productive programs of practice, scholarship and research
  • recognition for their scholarship and leadership nationally and internationally

Accomplishments of faculty are another measure of quality. Collectively, faculty accomplishments include

  • $1.6 million in funding as principal investigators and $10.3 million in projects for which College of Nursing faculty are collaborating
  • Six who are Fellows in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN)
  • 20 who are board certified as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or in advanced administration

As a result of their accomplishments, faculty are prepared to

  • Create an environment for scholarship for graduate students
  • Help students meet their own research, practice and scholarship goals
  • Help students identify internal and external resources for success in meeting their program goals
  • Mentor students in scientific inquiry and research
  • Mentor students in leadership and evidence-based practice
  • Advise and guide students through their program of study and the
    • MSN evidence-based practice project
    • PhD research-focused dissertation
    • DNP practice-focused capstone project

Program Of Study

Common characteristics of our graduate programs include

  • Courses that are consistent with the mission and goals of each program and the college
  • Emphasis on leadership strategies for transformation of nursing and health care
  • Guided experiences by expert faculty in the student’s area of interest
  • Socialization opportunities for scholarly development
  • Recognition of accomplishments through awards and honors during the program of study and post-graduation.