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BSN-PhD (Hillman Scholars)

The University of Pennsylvania Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation is a dynamic BSN-to-PhD program, aimed at fostering the next generation of nurse scientists who will lead healthcare innovation worldwide.

“Many nurses are drawn to direct care and think that the only way they can make a difference is by taking care of patients one by one. We are focused on the power of nurses to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of patients through research and innovation that influence practice and policy.”

Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FCRN
Hillman National Program Director

Hillman Scholars during the Annual Meeting at the University of Pennsylvania, 2015Hillman Scholars during the Annual Meeting at the University of Pennsylvania, 2015

In 2010, Penn Nursing partnered with the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation to develop a new opportunity for scholars. Today, the school is proud to be one of only three in the country offering this unique program.


Open to incoming accelerated BSN students and current traditional BSN students in their sophomore or junior year, this unique program incorporates interdisciplinary education with research career development and close mentoring. The program focuses on innovation, integration, and impact.

Being a Hillman Scholar means…

Fully funded PhD education and a loan of up to $30,000 to support the Undergraduate portion of the program. The Undergraduate loan is forgiven upon successful completion of your PhD in nursing. Also available exclusively to Hillman Scholars is travel funding to attend the Hillman Annual Meeting, educational fellowship, and research awards through the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. 

You will be matched with two faculty mentors who will guide you in your nursing studies and research.  At least one of your mentors will be in your initial area of research, but if that focus shifts as you delve deeper into your studies we will help connect you with faculty who can best support your scholarly development.

You will participate in a Hillman Scholars Seminar which is held every other week during the academic year from the time of selection until completion of PhD coursework. These seminars focus on innovation and feature lively discussions, scholar-led dialogues, visits from innovative leaders and scientists, and ongoing engagement with peers and faculty.

You will be both a BSN and PhD student at the same time and thus, can take graduate courses while still completing your BSN. Scholars seamlessly continue in graduate coursework leading to the PhD. 

How to apply

To be eligible for the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, you must be either a current Penn Nursing BSN student in your sophomore or junior year, or admitted through our Accelerated BSN program.

For details on our application process, see the Admissions section.