Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the program links below to get answers to frequently answered questions for each. If you have additional questions, please contact health@usfca.edu.

MSN Program Questions - General

What does a Masters prepared nurse do?

Master's education prepares nurses for flexible leadership and critical actions within complex, changing systems, including health, educational, and organizational systems. Master's education equips nurses with valuable knowledge and skills to lead change, promote health, and elevate care in various roles and settings. The dynamic nature of the healthcare delivery system underscores the needs for the nursing profession for graduate nurses to anticipate the healthcare needs for individuals, populations, and systems.

Fundamental aspects of the master's-prepared nurse practice include:

  • Clinical leadership for patient-care practices and delivery, including the design, coordination, and evaluation of care for individuals, families, groups, and populations;
  • Participation in identification and collection of care outcomes;
  • Accountability for evaluation and improvement of point-of-care outcomes, including the synthesis of data and other evidence to evaluate and achieve optimal outcomes;
  • Risk anticipation for individuals and cohorts of patients; Lateral integration of care for individuals and cohorts of patients;
  • Design and implementation of evidence-based practice(s);
  • Team leadership, management, and collaboration with other health professional team members;
  • Information management or the use of information systems and technologies to improve healthcare outcomes;
  • Stewardship and leveraging of human, environmental, and material resources; and,
  • Advocacy for patients, communities, and the health professional team.

What are the prerequisites to be qualified to apply for the MSN program?

The School of Nursing and Health Professions provides two (2) entry points toward a master of science degree in nursing - the first entry point is for individuals who have a nursing background (registered nurses or RNs), and the second is for individuals with a baccalaureate degree in a field outside of nursing. Choose a track that is appropriate for your background to learn more about admission requirements, deadlines, curriculum patterns and more.

Learn more about prerequisites:

How long is the Masters Degree program?

The program takes two (2) years, or six (6) semesters. Courses are held year-round, in the fall, spring, and summer.

How much does the program cost?

The current estimated tuition costs are based on the 2018-19 academic year rate of $1,430 per credit. For the Master's Entry MSN option, the overall cost is $97,240 for the 68 required credits*, and $50,050 - $65,780 for the 35-46 required credits for the RN-MSN option.

In addition to tuition, there are fees for graduate students including (but not limited to): mandatory health insurance, Associate Graduate Students of USF (AGSUSF) per semester (Spring/Fall semesters only), applicable fees for clinical/practicum courses. You can also expect to pay about $3,000 in textbooks and any additional fees.

Learn more about graduate student fees

Does USF offer financial aid or scholarships?

USF offer institutional financial aid in the form of loans. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for up to $20,500 per year in unsubsidized federal loans. You can also apply for Graduate PLUS loans to make up the remainder of the cost.

USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions may offer limited scholarships to help offset program-related fees, upon availability. Many candidates look online for appropriate outside (non-USF) scholarships or grants.

Learn more about financing your education

MSN Application Questions - General

Can I submit unofficial transcripts?

You may upload official or unofficial copies of your transcripts at the point of application, as long as they are readable and include your name, grades, GPA, and name of the school. Transcripts must also reflect any degree earned at the institution. If you are accepted and decide to attend, we will then require you to mail official transcripts from all schools attended.

How can I find the semester timelines?

Please refer to the USF's five-year Academic Calendar for semester start and end dates and holiday breaks.

Visit USF's Academic Calendar here

Do you conduct interviews for the program?

No, we do not conduct interviews. The admissions committee carefully reviews each applicant’s personal statement instead.

Who should I have write the letters of recommendation? Can I have them sent directly to the school?

Letters of recommendation should be from individuals who can speak to either your academic or intellectual readiness for graduate level work, or your professional capacities or experiences. These letters of recommendation should be on letterhead. Our online application allows you to supply the names and email addresses of your recommenders. Upon receiving those, USF will contact your recommenders by email with instructions to complete their information and upload their letter. Please note all recommendations must be received via the online system, directly from the recommender. We will not accept paper letters of recommendation, or any other paper application materials.

Can I defer enrollment?

The ME-MSN option does not allow applicants to defer enrollment. Should you be admitted to the program but find yourself unable to attend, you will need to re-apply.

The RN-MSN option may allow applicants to defer enrollment, however this may result in an extended delay of program start.

How do I re-apply?

In order to re­‐apply, simply go to the online application and fill out a new application. We are not able to provide individual feedback on your application, however we recommend that you submit an updated resume, statement and different letters of recommendation to strengthen your application.

Please note that you will need to resubmit all application materials, as we are unable to keep any previous application materials on file.

When do I find out if I have been accepted?

Admission decisions are communicated to applicants approximately ten weeks after the deadline.

Where do I get the application for the program? Do I have to apply online?

Our application is 100% online. Once you fill out the application, you will also upload all supplemental documents (transcripts, resume, personal statement) to your application and supply the names and email addresses of your recommenders. USF will contact your recommenders by email with instructions to complete their information and upload their letter.

Please note all recommendations must be received via the online system, directly from the recommender. We will not accept paper letters of recommendation, or any other paper application materials.

Transcripts can be unofficial as long as they are readable and include your name, grades, GPA, and name of the school. Transcripts must also reflect any degree earned at the institution. If you are accepted and decide to attend, we will then require you to mail official transcripts from all schools attended.

ME-MSN Prerequisites & Application

What is the minimum recommended GPA? Do I still have a chance of being accepted if my GPA is under the requirement?

The preferred cumulative undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or above. Applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or lower will not be considered for admission except for applicants with an undergraduate GPA lower than 2.75 and an earned graduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Such applicants must include a personal statement with a) a succinct explanation regarding course grades that contributed to a GPA lower than 3.0 but higher than 2.75 and b) why they believe they will be successful in the Master of Science in Nursing program.

The USF School of Nursing and Health Professions takes a holistic approach to admissions. We do not base acceptance solely on grades or any other single factor. We consider the entire application as put forth by the applicant.

ME-MSN applicants can enhance their application by earning a 'B' or better in prerequisite courses, along with relevant work and volunteer experience and strong letters of recommendations.

What types of volunteering experience do you recommend?

Though not required, performing volunteer work in a health care setting can help to bolster your application. Examples of volunteer work include but not limited to: hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and supervised homes for developmentally disabled people. Even volunteering at organizations that aren't directly linked to health care can be of great value such as Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, soup kitchens and similar organizations that help disadvantaged people.

Do you look at the entire undergraduate transcript or just the last 60 credits of the undergraduate GPA?

We look at the cumulative GPA from your previously earned degrees, as well as GPAs from all institutions attended. We look at the prerequisite grades separately.

Do you require a CNA license?

No, USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions does not require a CNA license.

Do you require GRE, TEAS, or any other tests?

No, USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions does not require the GRE or TEAS test.

How often do you accept applications? What are the deadlines? Do you accept applications on a rolling basis?

San Francisco location: We accept applications two (2) times a year. The deadlines are September 1 for spring (January start), and January 15 for summer (May start). Please note these deadlines have recently changed.

Orange County location: We accept applications two (2) times a year. The deadlines are September 15 for spring (January start), and April 15 for fall (August start).

We do not accept applications on a rolling basis, so please apply within the appropriate deadline window. These are strict deadlines and all of your materials must be in by the designated time. We will begin review on the deadline day. You may only apply for one semester and one campus at a time.

Who should I have write the letters of recommendation? Can I have them sent directly to the school?

Letters of recommendation should be from individuals who can speak to either your academic or intellectual readiness for graduate level work, or your professional capacities or experiences. These letters of recommendation should be on letterhead. Our online application allows you to supply the names and email addresses of your recommenders. Upon receiving those, USF will contact your recommenders by email with instructions to complete their information and upload their letter. Please note all recommendations must be received via the online system, directly from the recommender. We will not accept paper letters of recommendation, or any other paper application materials.

What should be included in the personal statement?

Your Master's Entry MSN personal statement is your chance to tell us about:

  1. Your personal and professional background and why you want to pursue a Master of Science degree in Nursing.
  2. Explain any discrepancies between your grades or any circumstances that may have affected your GPA.
  3. Please make sure your personal statement font-size is between 10-12.

Approximately how many people apply to the Master's Entry MSN program option? How many do you accept? Do you have a waitlist?

We typically receive between 250-­400 applications per semester, and we admit approximately 36 for San Francisco and 26 for Orange County. We keep a waitlist for the relevant application cycle but this waitlist does not roll over to the following semester.

Where are clinicals held?

Clinical practice sites for the ME-MSN option can be located within a 60-mile radius of the student's primary campus (San Francisco or Orange County). These include, but are not limited to, UCSF, SFGH, Laguna Honda, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, La Clinica, John Muir Walnut Creek, Kaiser Permanente, Clinical sites include: St. Joseph Hospital, Orange; St. Francis Medical Center, Lynwood; St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; UCI, Irvine; Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Long Beachand more.

Who is responsible for picking and/or finding the clinical sites? Do students have to find their own or is it through the school?

USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions has established partnerships with a variety of healthcare institutions throughout the state and nationally.

The School provides clinical placements for students in the ME-MSN option which may change semester by semester and are focused on specific skill competencies and nursing experiences.

Do the prerequisites have a time limit?

Microbiology with lab, Anatomy with lab, and Human Physiology with lab must be completed within seven years to the semester you are applying. If the course(s) exceed the seven-year time limit, they will not be accepted. These are the only 3 courses that have a set time limit.

Is there any way I can waive a prerequisite?

No, you must complete all of the prerequisites. We also cannot accept any substitutions.

If I retake a prerequisite, will you take the higher grade?

Yes, we will.

Can prerequisites be in progress as I apply? Is there a limit to the number of classes I can have in progress?

Yes, you may have up to three prerequisites in-progress. You must provide proof of registration in your application. Please note that a student cannot matriculate into our program unless all of the prerequisites are completed prior to the start of the program. Please be sure to check the USF academic calendar and the calendar of the institution where you are taking your prerequisites to make sure they do not overlap.

Can I take Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology online?

You can take the lectures to these sciences online, but you may not take the labs online. Labs must be taken in person.

Do you accept a passing AP score that shows up as credit on your college transcript?

Yes, we accept AP credit. Please provide a transcript that shows the course taken along with the number of college credits you received.

RN-MSN Prerequisites & Application

What is the minimum GPA? Do I still have a chance of being accepted if my GPA is under the requirement?

We take a holistic approach when reviewing applications. We do not base acceptance solely on grades or any other single factor. We look at the whole application packet to make a decision.

Any applicant applying with less than a 3.0 GPA should include in their personal statement an explanation of their past grades and why they have the ability to be successful in the program.

RN-MSN applicants accepted with less than a 3.0 GPA or accepted conditionally due to writing deficiencies are required to take a two (2) credit graduate-level course in the first semester (NURS 500 and NURS 501).

Who is responsible for picking and/or finding the clinical sites? Do students have to find their own or is it through the school?

USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions has established partnerships with a variety of healthcare institutions throughout the state and nationally.

Students in the RN-MSN option are responsible for identifying a practicum site and preceptor for their practica with the support of the Graduate Placement Team.

Where are clinicals/practica held?

Students in the RN-MSN option are responsible for identifying a practicum site and preceptor for their practica with the support of the Graduate Placement Team.

What programs do you offer for the Registered Nurse?

USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions offers the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs for Registered Nurses. At the master’s level, we have curriculum plans for associate to master's (ADN/ASN-MSN) and bachelor's to master's degrees (BA/BS/BSN-MSN). At the doctoral level, we have post-bachelor's to doctorate and post-master's to doctorate curriculum options. The DNP specialties include Executive Leadership*, Family Nurse Practitioner, Population Health Leadership, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

 

Learn more about our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program options

How long are the programs? What is the schedule?

RN-MSN students can complete the program in six (6) semesters or two (2) years. There are three (3) semesters per year – fall, spring, and summer. Students select their campus location at the time of application. Depending on the location, students complete the program via hybrid or online modalities. HYBRID: The classes meet one (1) night a week for three-four hours plus online components*. ONLINE: Classes meet asynchronously with pre-schedule web-conferencing session to engage directly with the course instructor. For all RN-MSN students complete 180 practicum hours that are associated with the role courses and a 220-hour Internship course in their last semester (NURS 653) - for a total of 400 practica hours (required).

*Associate-prepared students complete Graduate Writing & Research, Transitions to Graduate Nursing, theory and practicum courses for Community Health Nursing (90 practice hours in a community health setting required), all online. NURS 500, NURS 501, NURS 505, and NURS 506 respectively.

The BSN-to-DNP program varies from four to four and a half years. The first two years generally follow the MSN schedule of one night a week with possible weekend classes. For last two to two and a half years, the schedule changes to every other weekend on Friday evenings and all day Saturday. You will be required to do 1000 clinical hours in the BSN-to-DNP program that includes 135 DNP residency hours.

Where is the RN-MSN program offered?

We currently offer the RN-MSN program in Pleasanton - hybrid option (Fall 2020) and Online - 100% online option (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020). Start dates and class days vary from campus location to campus location.

Visit the admissions page to learn more about locations, application steps and deadlines.

How many practicum hours are required to sit for the CNL certificate examination? What is the final project?

There are 400 practicum hours required to complete and be eligible to sit for the CNL certification exam . A part of the 400 hours include 220 hours which are completed in the internship in the last semester (NURS 653). Please plan to take paid time off during the semester to complete these hours. You will need your preceptor and site approval before these hours may be completed at your place of work.

During the final project the student will design, implement and evaluate a quality improvement project which reflects the skills , essential to the application and design of an outcome based practice model. The student will develop a solution to such a problem and present it in poster-style presentation as well as a paper. You are not required to write a thesis. The remaining 180 practicum hours are completed through two (2) Practicum courses: NURS 654 (80 hours) and NURS 655 (100 hours).

Where do I get the application for the program?

Our application is 100% online. Once you fill out the application, you will also upload all supplemental documents (transcripts, resume, personal statement) to your application and supply the names and email addresses of your recommenders. USF will contact your recommenders by email with instructions to complete their information and upload their letter.

Please note all recommendations must be received via the online system, directly from the recommender. We will not accept paper letters of recommendation, or any other paper application materials.

Transcripts can be unofficial as long as they are readable and include your name, grades, GPA, and name of the school. Transcripts must also reflect any degree earned at the institution. If you are accepted and decide to attend, we will then require you to mail official transcripts from all schools attended.

What are the requirements for an international applicants?

International nurses are required to have a valid California RN license in order to be eligible to apply. You are also required to submit transcripts evaluated by WES, IERF, or similar transcript evaluation agency in the US. Upon evaluation completion, you may apply to the program through the online application. Please upload 2 letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, copy of your RN license, a Certificate of Finance, and an official TOEFL or IELTS score.

Please refer to our International Graduate Students webpage for application instructions and score requirements.

Do you require GRE, TEAS or any other tests?

No, USF's School of Nursing and Health Professions does not require the GRE or TEAS test.