The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing
Nursing faculty shows patient monitor strip to students 150
G Nursing MSN

MSN Academic Requirements

Admission to a graduate program is more than just the sum total of standardized test scores and grade point average. Each program within the School of Nursing and Health Professions utilizes a comprehensive package of admission materials to determine whether the programs are a good match for student qualifications and goals. Although tests and grades are important, research interests, employment history, and the statement of goals are also essential in the process of deciding admission for the limited spaces available in many of the programs.
The School of Nursing and Health Professions requires a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. A bachelor's degree or equivalent and official transcripts of all previous college work (undergraduate and graduate) are also required.

The Application

Applications to the MSN program may be requested from Office of Graduate Admission. As admission is competitive, candidates should exercise great care when preparing their application to the MSN programs. Applicants are encouraged to complete an application in a timely manner in order to be fully considered for admission to the class they are targeting. Review of applications for the Registered Nurse tracks of the MSN programs are made on a rolling basis. It is best to apply as early as possible before the priority deadlines of June 15 for Fall admission, October 15 for Spring admission, and February 15 for Summer admission. 

Application to the MSN Clinical Nurse Leader degree programs for the non-nurse is designed for those seeking a career or degree change. The non-nurse track of the MSN program begins in the Spring and Summer; the application deadline for October 15 for Spring and February 15 for Summer.  Applications are not reviewed on a rolling basis. You can apply while you have pre-requisite courses in progress but they must be complete by the start of the program.

Statement of Goals and Resume (required for all programs)

Your application to the School of Nursing and Health Professions requires a personal statement of goals and your most current resume. The personal statement of goals should be a 1 to 3 page typewritten document that describes the applicant's reason for pursuing a master's degree in nursing and should reflect a strong sense of career direction.

Letters of Recommendation (required for all programs)

Your application will require submission of two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your competence and ability to do well in graduate school. Ideally, one of the letters should reference the student's academic abilities, while the other should reference the student's potential for professional growth in the field of health care. Applicants with developed career paths may use two professional references.

Pre-requisites to the RN-MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Degree Program Only

The CLEP College Composition exam is required, please submit documentation of testing. GRE writing scores may also be used for this requirement.


Pre-requisites to the Clinical Nurse Leader Degree Programs for the Non-nurse Only

The CNL program for the non-nurse is open to students who have a non-nurse baccalaureate degree (or higher).  The following courses or their equivalent are required before entering the program:

  • Anatomy Lecture and Lab
  • Physiology Lecture and Lab
  • Microbiology Lecture and Lab
  • General or Introduction to Psychology
  • Elementary Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Introduction to Sociology or a Cultural Anthropology
  • College Writing
  • Oral Communication or Public Speaking (Interpersonal Communication is not accepted)
  • Developmental or Lifespan Psychology (Human Growth and Development)

A student must have earned a "C" or better in the above pre-requisites. Science courses must have been taken within the past seven years. There is no age limit on any of the general education requirements. Requests to begin the program without a particular pre-requisite or exceptions to the age policy will be considered on an individual basis.

Copy of RN License

Students applying to any of the graduate programs for the Registered Nurse must also submit a copy of their California RN license. If you currently have an out-of state license, you must apply for the CA RN license within your first semester of study.

International Applicants

In addition to the above application procedures, International applicants will need to submit an official TOEFL examination score. A minimum score of 600 (paper test) or 250 (CBT) is required. In addition to the TOEFL score, a Certification of Finance form and supporting documents, providing evidence of adequate support for the full period of study at the University, must be submitted.  You must also submit a copy of the passport.

Drug Screening and Background Check


All students admitted to the nursing major (graduate or undergraduate) are required to have a background check and a 10 panel drug screening completed before entrance into the first clinical course.  If there is any problem indicated on their background check or if the drug screening results indicates the presence of any of the following drugs, the hospital/agency will be notified and they reserve the right to prevent a student from entering their facility to provide patient care.

The School of Nursing and Health Professions uses Certified Background, an online service to complete background checks and drug screening.

The 10-panel screening will look for the presence of the following drugs:

  • THC (marijuana)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Opiates
  • Methaqualone
  • PCP
  • Propoxyphene
  • Amphetamines
  • Methadone

At the time that student applies for RN licensure in the state of California, a Live Scan will be done by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the results sent to the California Board of Register Nursing (CABRN).  When the results are received by the CABRN they will process them and if violations are found, they may do a secondary review to determine if the graduate may sit for licensure in California.  

Please contact Susana Torres, Recruiter at the School of Nursing and Health Professions for further information (415) 422-2806,