University of Virginia
The Rotunda at U.Va.
School of Graduate Nursing
General Information  |  Master of Science in Nursing  |  Masters Program Description  |  Post Master's Program  |  Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing  |  Course Descriptions  |  Faculty
Philosophy  |  Characteristics of Graduates  |  Admission  |  Academic Regulations

Master of Science in Nursing


The central purpose of the University of Virginia is to enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining the spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the nature of the universe and human existence. The philosophy of the School of Nursing is consistent with that of the University as it prepares leaders in health care.

Nursing is both a profession and a discipline that is responsive to changing health needs. It is concerned with human experiences and responses to birth, health, illness, and death within the context of individuals, families, groups, and communities (ANA, 1995). Nurses, often in collaboration with other health care professionals, promote the optimal health care and comfort of individuals and groups through the systematic application of nursing knowledge.

The faculty believes that education is based on humanistic approaches that foster critical thinking and promote awareness of social and cultural diversity among individuals. The faculty views each student as a unique person with special talents, abilities, needs, and goals. Cultural diversity, varying life experiences, and changing socioeconomic factors effect each student differently. To this end, faculty endeavor to provide an environment to assist students in realizing their full potential. The acquisition of professional knowledge and the development of clinical competence occur through active involvement of the student in the learning process. Students assume primary responsibility for learning, while faculty provide educational opportunities for knowledge acquisition and professional role development. We believe that an atmosphere of shared growth and inquiry offers the maximum potential for development.

Baccalaureate education in nursing is the basic preparation necessary for the practice of professional nursing. This education provides the foundation for the development of professional knowledge, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, leadership skills, and the independent and interdisciplinary pursuit of high standards of health care. Master's education prepares the nurse for advanced practice with an emphasis on health promotion, disease prevention, primary care, and the management of acutely and chronically ill persons, or for specialty practice in the areas of management and public health leadership. Doctoral education prepares the nurse scholar to influence health care through leadership in education, policy, practice, research and knowledge development.

Implicit in the practice of professional nursing is accountability for professional growth and practice, demonstration of leadership, and commitment to the development and application of nursing theory and research. Life-long learning leads to the optimal development of both the individual practitioner and the discipline of nursing.

Characteristics of Graduates


The disciplinary and professional domains of nursing give direction to current and evolving nursing practice. Advanced practice nurses demonstrate in-depth knowledge and skills in nursing and health care systems with diverse populations. Components of their roles are expert clinical practice, assessment of outcomes, research, teaching, collaboration, and consultation within health care systems. Nurses prepared through graduate nursing programs with advanced practice knowledge, critical thinking, and decision-making skills can function in a variety of nursing roles. Examples of such roles include clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. Nurses implementing these roles demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills. For example, nurses engaged in advanced clinical practice conduct in-depth assessments and demonstrate expertise in judgment and decision-making for purposes of health promotion/disease prevention, intervention, and follow-up in specified populations. Implementation of a particular role may emphasize some role attributes more than others and reflect the advanced practice nurse's area of expertise.

Graduates of the M.S.N. program are expected to:

  1. integrate theoretical and research based knowledge in an advanced nursing practice specialty;
  2. provide care and comfort to individuals, families and groups experiencing complex health care needs;
  3. provide care that reflects sensitivity to differences among culturally and ethnically diverse populations;
  4. assume a leadership role in establishing and monitoring standards of practice to improve patient care in collaboration with other nursing experts;
  5. use ethical principles to guide decision-making in nursing practice;
  6. evaluate clinical practice in relation to professional practice standards and relevant statutes and regulations;
  7. apply the research process to improve clinical practice and contribute to knowledge development;
  8. engage in self-directed and purposeful activities in seeking necessary knowledge and skills to enhance career goals;
  9. examine economic, political, and social forces affecting nursing care delivery in complex health care systems;
  10. promote multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure quality, cost effective care;
  11. contribute to the development of peers, colleagues, and others to improve patient care and foster the growth of professional nursing;
  12. act as change agents to create environments that promote effective nursing practice and patient outcomes.

These core characteristics are in accordance with professional standards of advanced practice nursing specialties.



Applicants are offered admission to the Master of Science in Nursing Program on the basis of intellectual capacity, clinical and academic performance, maturity, clarity of goals, and other qualities appropriate to graduate study in nursing. Not all of these qualities are measured in absolute terms, and the decision to make an offer of admission is based on a balanced appraisal of the total application record. Applicants with limited relevant clinical experience may be admitted and gain that experience while enrolled in Core/preclinical courses.

Admission Requirements The applicant must:

  1. have completed a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school;
  2. have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate study;
  3. provide validation of health assessment skills;
  4. be licensed as a registered nurse;
  5. demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination;
  6. submit three satisfactory academic and professional recommendations;
  7. submit a clear statement of educational and professional goals;
  8. be available for a personal interview with a member of the faculty if requested;
  9. have completed an undergraduate statistics course;

Note: Relevant experience (determined by the track to which the applicant is applying) is a prerequisite to enrolling in GNUR 550 and 551. Otherwise qualified applicants who have not passed the NCLEX may be considered as special students pending licensure.

Admission Procedures Applications for admission are obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Services, Master's Program, School of Nursing. In addition to submitting the completed application, the applicant must:

  1. request that official transcripts of all academic work and validation of health assessment skills be forwarded by the institutions to the Office of Admissions and Student Services, Master's Program, School of Nursing;
  2. obtain three statements of recommendation from persons who can speak directly to the applicant's ability to pursue graduate study. The statements of recommendation are to be sent by their authors to the Office of Admissions and Student Services, Master's Program, School of Nursing. Forms to be used are in the application packet;
  3. take the Graduate Record Examination. Applicants are urged to take this examination as early as possible. Address inquiries to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, N.J. 08540, or to Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, Box 1502, Berkeley, CA 94701.

Application Deadlines The School utilizes a rolling admissions process. The completed application and the $40 application fee must be received by April 1 for the summer and fall admission or November 15 for spring admission. Applications received after the deadlines will be considered if space is available.

All correspondence concerning admission should be addressed to the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Services, Office of Admissions and Student Services, School of Nursing, McLeod Hall, PO Box 800782, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0782.

Matriculation Once a student has been admitted into the Master of Science in Nursing Program he or she has one calendar year in which to matriculate. A student who fails to begin classes within one year must re-apply for admission.

Special Student Status Under special circumstances, students with baccalaureate degrees in nursing may complete a maximum of two graduate nursing courses without formally seeking admission to the degree program. Special student status is granted only when there are vacancies available in the courses requested. An application for special student status, obtained from the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Services, must be submitted two weeks prior to the registration period for the semester in which the student desires to enroll. Admitted students receive enrollment priority. Completion of coursework as a special student does not guarantee admission to the program.

Students wishing to take University of Virginia off-Grounds courses at a University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies may take a maximum of six credits; these are accepted towards the master's degree if the courses meet program requirements. This is in lieu of taking two on-grounds courses as a special student in the School of Nursing. Decisions about the acceptability of a course are determined by the faculty advisor or course professor, depending on whether the course is a required course or an elective.

Academic Regulations


Degree Requirements

  1. Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 55 credits of approved graduate courses for students in the clinical specialist tracks; 58 credits for students in the primary care nurse practitioner tracks; 55 credits for course work for students in the acute care nurse practitioner track; and up to 68 credits of course work for students in the combined nurse practitioner/clinical nurse specialist tracks. The Health Systems Management track requires a minimum of 39 credits. The Community/Public Health Leadership track requires a minimum of 38 credits. Course requirements are specified under the Program Description section.
  2. Satisfactory completion of all course work as specified in the policy on grades, with a final cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B).
  3. Completion of all requirements for the degree within five calendar years after matriculation into the program.
  4. Enrollment and payment of tuition and fees for no fewer than two regular semesters or the equivalent.

Grades The standing of a master's student in each course is indicated by one of the following symbols: A (very distinguished), A- (distinguished), B+ (very good), B (satisfactory), B- (acceptable), C (unsatisfactory), F (failure). A minimum grade of B- is required in all courses offered for any graduate degree. If a student receives a C grade in any School of Nursing course, the course must be repeated. A grade of C in any other course requires repeating the course and earning a satisfactory grade or earning a minimum grade of B- in an alternate course. Students who receive more than one C grade are automatically dropped from the program. Any F grade results in the student being dropped from the program. Students in the School of Graduate Nursing are not permitted to take courses on a CR/NC basis.

Incomplete Grades A grade of incomplete is a non-grade designation given for a course. Incompletes in graduate nursing courses must be removed by the end of the following semester of enrollment or within one calendar year, whichever comes first. Graduate students with two or more outstanding incomplete designations (in the same semester or cumulatively) may not enroll in courses in subsequent terms. An incomplete designation which is not removed by the above deadline or prior to graduation is converted to a F.

Transfer of Credit Students may receive a maximum of four graduate-level courses (up to 12 hours) completed at other accredited institutions for transfer credit. In order to be considered for transfer, the courses must have been completed with a minimum grade of B.

Credit for transfer courses is determined following an evaluation of each student's course work and overall plan of study. Evaluation of credits for transfer does not occur until after the student is admitted to the program. Information on the procedure for transfer of credit is available from the Office of the Associate Dean.

Application for Degrees Applications for degrees may be obtained from the Office of the Admissions and Student Services. Students must submit a formal application for conferral of the master's degree to the Office of Admissions and Student Services no later than October 1 for fall, February 1 for spring, and June 1 for summer. A student who has been listed as a degree candidate and then fails to complete degree requirements must reapply. A student who has been registered for a degree and then fails to meet the requirements for the degree must pay a fee of $50 for the preparation of a new diploma.

Acceptance of Degrees Formal commencement exercises are held only once a year, in May. All those who have completed the program in August or December are invited to attend the exercises the following May.

Voluntary Withdrawal An official application to withdraw must be approved by the dean of the School of Nursing or the dean's designate. Withdrawal applications may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Services. The application must then be endorsed by the associate dean. Student identification cards are collected at the time of withdrawal.

A student is not permitted to withdraw later than two weeks before the beginning of the examination period in any semester except for providential reasons.

A student who withdraws from the University for reasons of ill health must obtain permission from the Department of Student Health. Subsequent medical clearance from the Department of Student Health is required for readmission.

Readmission After Voluntary Withdrawal Readmission to the School of Nursing master's program is not automatic. After absence of a semester or longer, a former student must apply for readmission to the School of Nursing associate dean by December 1 for the spring semester or by April 1 for the fall semester. Readmission following a withdrawal or leave of absence is granted only if space is available.

Leaves of Absence The associate dean may grant leaves of absence to students for either a semester or a session, upon written application stating the reason for temporarily leaving the University.

Graduate Record Home  |  School of Graduate Nursing Home