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BSN-PhD (Hillman Scholars)

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

In 2010, Penn School of Nursing partnered with the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation to develop a new opportunity for scholars. Today, Penn is proud to be one of three schools in the country offering this unique program. Hillman Scholar panel featuring Pamela Cacchione, Matt McHugh and Bridgette BrawnerHillman Scholar panel featuring Pamela Cacchione, Matt McHugh and Bridgette Brawner


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.

How the program works

If selected as a Hillman Scholar, you will be admitted to the PhD program and will be considered a PhD student even while completing your BSN studies. You will become one of up to four scholars selected and join the prior cohorts of Hillman Scholars who will act as peer mentors.

Being a Hillman Scholar means

  • You will receive a loan of up to $75,000 to support the last two years of undergraduate work plus one full year of full-time doctoral studies.  $30,000 can be used towards your undergraduate studies and $45,000 will be reserved for one full year of doctoral studies.  This loan will be forgiven upon successful completion of your PhD in nursing.
  • You will be assigned two faculty mentors who will guide you in your research and nursing studies.
  • You will be embedded in a research center where you collaborate with existing research teams on important and ongoing research projects. You’ll be matched with mentors and a research center related to your initial area of interest. If that focus shifts, we’ll help connect you with new faculty who can best support your development as a scholar.
  • 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. 
  • You will receive funds to travel to a conference each year to further expand your research knowledge and to meet with scholars from across the country.

How to apply

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