Future of Nursing Scholars

2018 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: July 12, 2017 | Application Deadline: September 14, 2017, 3:00 p.m. ET


The goal of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars program is to develop the next generation of PhD-prepared nurse leaders who are committed to long-term careers that advance science and discovery, strengthen nursing education, and bring transformational change to nursing and health care. 

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is part of the Foundation’s Leadership for Better Health theme, which aims to ensure that the nation has a diverse, well-trained leadership and workforce to build a Culture of Health across this country. This is a culture in which good health flourishes across all demographics; where being as healthy as possible and staying that way are esteemed social values; and where everyone has access to affordable, quality health care. Building a well-prepared cadre of researchers, innovators, policymakers, nurse leaders, and faculty is key to meeting these goals. The program advances the recommendation in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, to double the number of nurses in the United States with doctoral degrees. This is the final cohort of the program.

Schools with research-focused PhD programs in nursing are eligible to apply for the program. Program funds are used to increase the number of PhD students in nursing that are admitted to the selected schools. As described by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the U.S. Council of Graduate Schools, “the purposes of the research-focused doctoral degree are to prepare for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry, creative scholarship, and research; provide preparation that leads to careers in government, business, and industry as well as academia; and result in extension of knowledge.”

Selected schools will choose the PhD students to be designated as Future of Nursing Scholars. 

  • The school must be committed to facilitating the student’s completion of the PhD in three years.
  • The scholars selected by the school must also be committed to completing their PhD program in three years. 
  • Program alumni who plan to enter faculty roles after graduation will be eligible to apply for a post-doctoral award selected on a competitive basis. 


The Future of Nursing Scholars will form long-lasting relationships and networks with other scholars in the program and with scholars and fellows in other RWJF programs; these relationships and networks will situate them as a formidable group of health care leaders. 

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  • Schools with research-focused PhD programs in nursing are eligible to apply for the program. After receiving the award, selected schools will then choose the PhD students to be designated as Future of Nursing Scholars.
  • Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories and be either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or nonfunctionally integrated Type III supporting organizations. The Foundation may require additional documentation.
  • Scholars selected for receipt of award funds must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents,* or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of award. 
  • Additionally, selected scholars cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer** or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.


*Applicants who are permanent residents and not green card holders should contact the national program office before applying to determine whether they can satisfy the program’s eligibility and documentation requirements.

** The Officers are the Chairman of the Board of Trustees; President and CEO; Executive Vice President; Chief of Staff; General Counsel; Secretary; Assistant Secretary; Treasurer; and Assistant Treasurer of the Foundation.

Key Dates

September 14, 2017 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of applications.*

November 2017
The national advisory committee selects finalist schools.

December 2017
Schools receive notification of awards.

April 2018
Awards begin. Scholars selected by schools by early summer but scholars do not begin the PhD program until fall 2018.

July 2018
Grant funds distributed to schools.

July 31 – August 2, 2018
Scholar Boot Camp in Princeton, NJ.

* All applicants should log in to the system and familiarize themselves with the online application requirements well before the final submission deadline. Staff may not be able to assist all applicants in the final 24 hours before the submission deadline. In fairness to all applicants, late submissions will not be accepted.

Total Awards

For the 2018 cohort, the program will support up to 75 Scholars across the selected schools. Each Scholar will receive $75,000 to be used over the three years of the program. This award must be matched by $50,000 in support from the school (which may be in-kind).

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
September 14, 2017, 3:00 p.m. ET

Key Contacts

Heather J. Kelley-Thompson, deputy director

Phone: (215) 898-9836

Email: hkelley@nursing.upenn.edu

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