Master of Science in Nursing

Laurel Halloran, PhD, APRN, Graduate Coordinator Phone:  (203) 837-8566
Kathy Barber, Dept. Secretary Phone: (203) 837-8556
  Fax: (203) 837-8550


Program Overview

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Nursing program prepares nurses for leadership positions in the nursing practice. The program requires completion of 36 credits of specialized professional course work, with courses organized into three components:

  • a foundational core (theory, issues, research, foundations of practice);
  • a role component specific to the selected role; and,
  • a role support component that provides a concentrated practicum experience in the selected role.

Students may prepare for either the adult nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist role. All students complete a sequence of clinical and role component courses, including a minimum of 500 hours of clinical practicum experiences under the guidance of a preceptor, and a thesis or research-based thesis project. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to take the certification examination for their chosen role.

The program is designed for part-time study, with courses offered in the evening. Part-time study requires approximately four years for completion of the degree, although students are granted up to six years to complete all degree requirements.

The program is accredited by the Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle NW, Washington, DC, 20036. Phone: (202) 887-6791; fax: (202) 887-8476.

Program Mission, Goals and Objectives

Conceptual Framework and Organizational Structure

The program of study leading to the M.S. in Nursing degree prepares nurses for roles as advanced practice nurses, with an option to prepare for certification as an Adult Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist. Each role requires completion of a foundational core, representing content common to the advanced study of nursing practice; a role component, representing content specific to the selected role; and a role support component, providing practicum experiences for transition into the selected role. 

The curricular design assumes that education for the advanced practice of nursing requires substantial clinical experiences in aspects of the selected role, supervised by professional health care providers who have education and experience in the role, and occurring in a variety of settings. Clinical practicum experiences in the program enable students to develop clinical experiences that meet course objectives as well as their own specific learning needs and interests. The approach to clinical practica allows for flexibility in the time and places in which clinical experiences occur. 

Foundational Core

Preparation for the advanced practice of nursing rests on a foundation of generalized knowledge and practice common to all roles. The M.S. in Nursing program addresses the following content areas as foundational to the advanced study of nursing: the theoretical bases of nursing practice; the contemporary issues encountered by the masters-prepared practitioner within the nursing profession and the broad health care field; critical thinking in the application of knowledge and skills to the identification and analysis of patient problems and their resolution through the development of clinical expertise and diagnostic reasoning ability; and the utilization of research and the appropriate application of the research process to the identification, analysis, and resolution of practice problems. All students are required to complete a clinical research thesis or project. 

The approach to these areas of study is eclectic, offering students alternative conceptualizations of the field as a basis for the analysis and critique of extant practice, theory, and research; the generation of creative alternatives to present approaches to practice; and the formulation of personal conceptual interpretations of nursing as a guide to practice, all within the context of a rapidly changing health care environment. 

Advanced Practice Roles

The advanced practice of nursing may proceed through direct care, or blended roles. Direct care roles involve management of the health care of a caseload of clients, for example, as an Adult Nurse Practitioner. Blended roles combine elements of the direct care and a mediated role approach, as with the Clinical Nurse Specialist. 

Role Support

As students move toward completing the M.S. in Nursing program, they are helped to synthesize and apply curricular content to fulfilling their selected role. All students complete a substantial clinical practicum in which they enact all aspects of the selected role under the guidance of a qualified clinical preceptor. Seminar sessions address common places in each of the roles and promote sharing the experience and perspective of students engaged in these different roles. 

Program Outcomes

Working with individuals and groups the graduate of the masters in nursing program will:

  1. Use evidence-based nursing interventions to generate research for the purpose of expanding nursing science.
  2. Demonstrate expertise in the provision of care to individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds across the health spectrum.
  3. Function in a variety of roles collaborating with other disciplines in the attainment of improved patient care and outcomes.
  4. Continuously evaluate their nursing practice in relation to professional standards and assume accountability for practice.
  5. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of policy formulation and how it impacts nursing practice and health care delivery.
  6. Analyze ethical issues as they affect communities, society, the health professions, and their own practice.

Admission Requirements

Applications for admission to the M.S. in Nursing program are made through the Division of Graduate Studies. Applicants must submit official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work with the graduate application fee. Admission to the M.S. in Nursing program is selective. Candidates must have earned a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree from a recognized accrediting agency, achieve a satisfactory score on the Miller Analogies Test (required for those applicants with an undergraduate QPA of less than 3.00); and hold a current RN license. At the time of application, candidates must provide a resume and one letter of recommendation. As part of the admission process, the candidate must meet with the MS program coordinator to develop a plan of study.

Prior to enrollment in NUR 575, Advanced Health Assessment, students will be required to present evidence that they have either completed a basic physical assessment course within the past five years, or demonstrate successful performance on an examination designed to evaluate baseline assessment knowledge and skills.

Bridge Option: Registered Nurses who have an earned non-nursing baccalaureate degree and are interested in pursuing a Masters of Science in Nursing without completing a second bachelor’s degree may consider “bridging” into the MS program. The bridge is designed to fill the gaps in the nursing educational experiences that would ordinarily be addressed in a BS in Nursing program. The bridge involves completion of the following Undergraduate Courses: Physical Assessment, Undergraduate Nursing Research; Undergraduate Statistics; Principles of Community Health; and Transition to Professional Nursing Practice. Interested applicants must make a formal application to the MS program and meet requirements for the MS program as detailed above. Upon receipt of a completed application, applicants will be contacted by the Graduate Coordinator. Admission to the Bridge courses is competitive, by approval of the graduate coordinator, and on a space available basis.

Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete the requisite coursework, the clinical component and a thesis within six years in order to be eligible for graduation.

Master of Science in Nursing

Curriculum Structure Foundational Core Components

These courses are required of all M.S. in Nursing students and are intended to serve as prerequisites for remaining program requirements.

NUR 501 Theoretical Basis of Nursing Practice 3 SH
NUR 502 Contemporary Issues in Health Care Delivery 2 SH
NUR 504 Nursing Research (Prereq: NUR 501) 3 SH
NUR 511 Foundations of Clinical Nursing Practice 3 SH


Advanced Practice: Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner:

NUR 515 Advanced Pathophysiology  3 SH
NUR 570 Advanced Clinical Pharmacology 3 SH
NUR 575 Advanced Health Assessment 3 SH
NUR 580 Nursing Management of the Acutely Ill Adult 2 SH
NUR 585 Nursing Management of the Chronically Ill Adult 2 SH


Clinical Practice: Nurse Practitioner

NUR 582 The Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Acutely Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH
NUR 588 The Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Chronically Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH


Clinical Practice: Clinical Nurse Specialist

NUR 583 The Clinical Nurse Specialist and the Acutely Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH
NUR 587 The Clinical Nurse Specialist and the Chronically Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH


Capstone course for all students

NUR 590 Professional Role Enactment 4 SH

Total Semester Hours:  36 SH

Required of all students

All M.S. in Nursing students must complete a thesis or research project. Thesis work begins in NUR 504, then continues under the direction of a thesis adviser. Students should register for GRA 799 in order to receive continued thesis advisement after completing NUR 504. 

Post-Master’s Study: Adult Nurse Practitioner

The department of nursing also offers post-master’s course work that prepares adult nurse practitioners to be eligible to take the adult nurse practitioner certificate exam. Admission to the program requires the following:

  • M.S. in Nursing with a significant clinical component
  • NUR 570, Advanced Clinical Pharmacology, or equivalent; or licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse in either Connecticut or New York
  • Basic skills in health assessment, as evidenced by completion of a formal or continuing education program in the past five years or via paper-and-pencil testing prior to entry into the program.

Students are required to take the following courses:

NUR 575 Advanced Health Assessment 3 SH
NUR 580 Nursing Management of the Acutely Ill Adult 2 SH
NUR 582 The Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Acutely Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH
NUR 585 Nursing Management of the Chronically Ill Adult 2 SH
NUR 588 The Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Chronically Ill Adult Practicum 4 SH
NUR 590 Professional Role Enactment    4 SH

Grading criteria:

Graduate nursing students must maintain a “B” average in order to graduate from the program. Should a student achieve a grade below a “B-” in a course, that course must be repeated and the student must achieve a grade of  “B-” or above to progress in the program.  

Department of nursing grades are assigned as follows:

A  =  92 – 100 B-  =  80-82 D+  =  68-70
A- =  89  -  91 C+ =  77-79 D    =  64-67
B+= 86-    88 C   =  74-76 D-  =   63-60
B  =  83-    85 C-  =  71-73 F    =   Below 60

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