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 knowledge from nursing and
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 affect each student
differently. To this end, faculty endeavor to provide an environment that assists
students to realize 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. Masters education prepares the
nurse with strong critical thinking and decision-making skills for advanced
practice in acute and primary care or for specialty practice in the areas of
management and public health leadership. A primary aim of masters nursing
education is to ensure that every student acquires the ability to analyze, synthesize,
and utilize knowledge in a specialty area. 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 nurses area of expertise.
Graduates of the M.S.N. program are expected to:
1. integrate theoretical and research based knowledge in an advanced nursing
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
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:
- have completed a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited
- have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in
- provide validation of health assessment skills;
- be licensed as a registered nurse;
- demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination;
- submit three satisfactory academic and professional recommendations;
- submit a clear statement of educational and professional goals;
- be available for a personal interview with a member of the faculty
- 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
Admission Procedures Applications for admission are
obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Services, Masters Program,
School of Nursing. In addition to submitting the completed application, the
- 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, Masters Program, School of Nursing;
- obtain three statements of recommendation from persons who can speak directly
to the applicants ability to pursue graduate study. The statements
of recommendation are to be sent by their authors to the Office of Admissions
and Student Services, Masters Program, School of Nursing. Forms to
be used are in the application packet;
- 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
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, P.O. 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 masters
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
- Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 52 credits of approved graduate
courses for students in the clinical specialist tracks; 58 credits for students
in the primary care nurse practitioner tracks; 52 credits for course work
for students in the acute care nurse practitioner track; and up to 70 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
- 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).
- Completion of all requirements for the degree within five calendar
years after matriculation into the program.
- Enrollment and payment of tuition and fees for no fewer than two regular
semesters or the equivalent.
Grades The standing of a masters student in each
course is indicated by one of the following symbols: A+ (exceptionally distinguished),
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 credits) completed at other 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. The School of Nursing grants transfer credit based on an analysis of the content, level, and comparability of the courses taken, the applicability of the courses to the student's intended major and degree program, the quality of the student's performance in the courses, and the accreditation of the institution at which the work was completed. 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 for Academic Programs.
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 masters 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 deans 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
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 masters 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 for Academic Programs 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.