Skip to main content

Graduate Nursing Program Requirements

Individual program policies may supersede this policy due to national accreditation regulations. Check with your Program Director to determine any additional requirements.

Overview

Each program of graduate degree study is a distinct and sequential course plan leading to theoretical and clinical expertise within the specialty. A minimum of 12 course units are required for the majority of programs; for several others such as Nurse Midwifery, Nursing and Healthcare Administration, and Nurse Anesthesia DNP program, more course units are required. The Nurse Anesthesia DNP program can only be completed on a full-time basis. Depending on the program, full-time students will take between one and three full calendar years to complete their course of study.

Certification Requirements

While program curricula offered by the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing prepare students to sit for national certification within their specialty area, Nurse Practitioner program graduates may be required to complete additional state specific requirements before being permitted to practice. 

Time Limitations

MSN Programs

A maximum of five (5) calendar years, beginning with the initial graduate course following matriculation, is allowed for completion of the work for the MSN degree.

DNP - Anesthesia Program

A maximum of six (6) calendar years, beginning with the initial graduate course following matriculation, is allowed for completion of the work for the DNP - Anesthesia degree.

Special Academic Options

Second Master’s Degree / Second Major

Students in the MSN programs have the option of taking additional course work in fulfillment of a second major. Examples of such arrangements include the coupling of one of the clinical majors with nursing administration, or combining similar majors, for example, primary care of adults and children. Almost any combination is possible. In general, a student completes the required course work for one major, and then finishes remaining courses (generally six to eight, based on the advice of the Program Director) for the second major. The graduate with two majors adds flexibility, depth, and scope to positions that might be available now or in the future. Often, a graduate with two majors is eligible for certification in both specialties.

 In developing the plan of study, the following criteria will apply for Second Master’s Degree.

  • A second Masters of Science in Nursing degree can be awarded to students who have completed master’s study in an area different from their original masters in nursing.
  • Within the Plan of Study 50% of the course work will be taken at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing.
  • All clinical hours within the plan of study must be completed in the role area and with the population specific to the degree sought.
  • Work hours may not be substituted for, or counted towards, the completion of required clinical hours.
  • The number of clinical hours taken at the UPenn School of Nursing will be consistent with the requirements of certification in the specialty area specific to the degree or certificate sought.

Once the Plan of Study has been developed, it will be reviewed with the applicant and guide the completion of the selected program.

Post-Masters Certificate

In developing the plan of study, the following criteria will apply for Post Master’s Certificate:

  • The Plan of Study will consist of at least three courses taken at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
  • All clinical hours within the plan of study must be completed in the role area and with the population specific to the degree or certificate sought.
  • Work hours may not be substituted for, or counted towards, the completion of required clinical hours.
  • The number of clinical hours taken at the UPenn School of Nursing will be consistent with the requirements of certification in the specialty area specific to the degree or certificate sought.
Once the Plan of Study has been developed, it will be reviewed with the applicant and guide the completion of the selected program
Minors

Students in the graduate programs have the option of taking additional course work in fulfillment of a graduate-level minor (or minors).

The Graduate Minor Director or the Office of Student Services is available to help the student plan the courses for the minor to fit into the plan of study. Minor courses, whenever possible, should be taken earlier in the plan of study to avoid scheduling conflicts with the clinical courses. Courses that fulfill the requirements of a minor must be taken for a grade.

A student needs to formally declare a minor by completing the MSN Minor form. The student must obtain signatures of the Minor Director and MSN/DNP Program Director, then submit the form to the Office of Student Services for approval. The minor is recorded on the student’s transcript.

In order for the minor to be awarded, all coursework for the minor must be completed by the completion of the degree.

Electives

A Graduate Nursing Elective is a NURS 500+ level course.  

A student must provide a written petition to the Program Director for a non-NURS course to be fulfilled as the elective.  If approved, the student must forward the petition and Program Director approval to the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs for final approval. 

Masters Program Objectives

  • Formulate plans for population-specific diagnoses, and educational and therapeutic interventions using advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology and genetics.*
  • Integrate nursing science with knowledge from ethics, the biophysical, psychosocial, analytical and organizational sciences into advanced nursing practice.
  • Design effective and culturally sensitive health care plans that incorporate knowledge of health, healthy systems and specific populations. 
  • Describe the use of systems theory in the design, delivery and evaluation of health care.**
  • Illustrate effective strategies for managing ethical dilemmas inherent in patient care and the health care organization. 
  • Recognize how to affect safety and quality to improve patient outcomes and reduce fragmentation of care through the use of the Translational Care Model and Care Coordination.  
  • Demonstrate the ability to collaborate and consult with other health care team members in the design, coordination and evaluation of patient care outcomes. 
  • Explain the methods, tools, performance measures, culture of safety principles, and standards related to quality in a continuous quality improvement plan.
  • Distinguish between appropriate quality improvements models for various populations.
  • Integrate evidence, clinical judgment and inter-professional perspectives in planning, implementing and evaluating achieved outcomes of populations.
  • Analyze current and emerging technologies and information systems to optimize patient safety, cost effectiveness and outcomes of care.
  • Analyze outcome data, using technologies and information systems to make recommendations and develop strategies to reduce risks and improve patient care outcomes for a cohort of patients.**
  • Examine how policies affect the structure and financing of health care practice and health outcomes.
  • Advocate for policies that improve the health of the public and profession of nursing.
  • Develop collaborative relationships within  the inter-professional health care team to insure patient centered care and improved systems of care
  • Integrate principles and strategies to design and deliver culturally relevant, effective health promotion and prevention education for individuals, families, communities and health professionals.
  • Design healthy work environments and healthy communities using collaborative, collegial approaches to communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, advocacy and innovation.**

* Objective not applicable to the Nursing Health Care Administration and Health Leadership programs

** Only addressed to a minimal degree by the clinically-based programs