The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing

Dean's Message

What an exciting time for the nursing profession and what terrific time for the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions.

The demands that have emerged in health care for an increased number of nurses and nurses with advance educational preparation has created an unprecedented opportunity for the school of contribute to advances in patient care outcomes.  The school has a vibrant baccalaureate program that is one of the few programs on the West Coast to admit students as freshmen.  As a result the undergraduate students in the nursing major are among the very best in the university. Graduates earn their bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) and are eligible to sit for licensure (NCLEX) as a registered nurse (RN).  Graduates of the program enjoy an extremely high NCLEX pass rate and secure employment in a variety of health care settings.

The school has expanded graduate offerings. We offer a master’s of science degree in nursing (MSN)  with a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) focus. The CNL is a master's prepared direct care provider with a focus on quality improvement, patient safety, interprofessional practice, and care coordination. The MSN program at USF is accessible to nurses with a BSN, RNs with a baccalaureate degree in other disciplines, and RNs with an associate’s degree or diploma. In addition, there is a master’s entry (ME-CNL) option for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to become a nurse and develop the skills as a clinical nurse leader.

In 2007 we started our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program. The DNP was the first to open in California and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing education (CCNE). The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the professional organization for higher education in nursing, has recommended that by 2015 all nursing specialty preparation should occur at the doctoral level. The DNP is a practice-focused doctorate. Graduates are prepared as nurse practitioners (direct advanced practice) and healthcare system leaders (indirect advanced practice). Nurses with either the BSN or those who have already earned the MSN can  pursue the degree. The program of study is designed to be responsive to the educational and practice preparation of the student.

The challenges in health care continue to grow and the need for leaders in the profession is greater than ever. In our unsettled and evolving health care system, nurses provide critical leadership and must be among the architects of change, with greater emphasis on prevention and universal access to cost-effective, culturally competent, high quality care.

The School of Nursing has responded to the call by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in advancing this preparation and working in collaborating modules to enhance patient outcomes. In the School of Nursing and Health Professions it is educating minds and hearts to care for the world. I am delighted that you are considering joining us on our journey forward.


Judith F. Karshmer, Ph.D., APRN, BC
Dean and Professor