We provide an investigation of in situ doping of GaN with the RE element Nd by plasma assisted-molecular beam epitaxy (PA-MBE). GaN epilayers are grown on c-plane sapphire and free standing GaN substrates and the Nd doping is controlled by an effusion cell. The ideal growth conditions for Nd incorporation maintaining crystal quality in GaN were investigated. The optical absorption characteristics indicate that the GaN:Nd epilayer remains transparent at the Nd emission wavelength of interest. For the highest Nd effusion cell temperatures, Rutherford backscattering and secondary ion mass spectrometry data indicate ˜5 at. % in epilayers grown on c-plane sapphire. X-ray diffraction found no evidence of phase segregation up to ˜1 at. % Nd. The highest luminescence intensities correspond to a doping range 0.05-1 at. %, with the strongest emission occurring at 1.12 eV (1107 nm). We also present the Stark energy sublevels of Nd3+ ions in GaN as determined by luminescence spectra. Photoluminescence excitation spectra reveal an optimal excitation energy of 1.48 eV (836 nm). We correlate the photoluminescence spectra with transitions from the 4
3/2 excited state to the 4
11/2, and 4
13/2 multiplets of the Nd3+ ion for above (325nm) and below (836nm) bandgap excitation. Spectral correlation of the Nd emission multiplets in addition to site-selective spectroscopy studies using combined excitation-emission spectroscopy with confocal microscopy indicate enhanced substantial doping at the Ga site compared to other techniques (ion implantation and co-sputtering).