School of Nursing
MS in Nursing - RN to Master of Science Degree Program for Registered Nurses
The RN to Master of Science degree program at the University of Southern Maine School of Nursing has been created specifically for registered nurses whose career goals will be enhanced through graduate study. The program facilitates and supports educational mobility and strengthens the leadership abilities of nurses who already have a foundation of professional experience. When required undergraduate courses have been completed, students in this program proceed directly into the master's program, bypassing the baccalaureate degree.
Full time students may complete the required junior and senior undergraduate nursing courses in twelve to eighteen months. Part-time study is also possible. The RN completes courses in new areas of content and credit may be given for previously attained knowledge and skills.
The RN to Master's program is built upon prerequisites to the nursing major that include courses in the natural and behavioral sciences, and core courses required of all undergraduate students at USM.
The following areas of specialization are offered in the graduate program for RN to MS applicants:
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GPCNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Family Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (FPMH/NP)
Admission to the following areas of specialization are on hold while under revision:
- Clinical Nurse Leader
- Nursing Management
- Nursing Education
In addition to the general policies described in the University of Southern Maine Graduate Catalog Academic Policies chapter, specific policies for the graduate program in nursing are as follows.
This credit, which has been earned at USM, must be approved by the graduate faculty prior to admission and is subject to the condition that a grade of B or better was received for the coursework. A maximum of six graduate credit hours may be approved for admission credit. Exceptions to the maximum credits allowed at time of admission must be approved by the Graduate Curriculum, Admission, and Advancement Committee (GCAAC).
This credit must be approved at the time of admission and request for approval included as part of the admissions application. Up to a total of nine graduate credit hours may be approved as transfer credit provided a grade of at least a B was earned in each individual course. Additional transfer credit may be approved in unusual circumstances.
Background Check Requirement
Students must pay for and complete a comprehensive background check prior to enrolling in NUR 419. In addition, students must sign a disclosure agreement allowing the school to provide access to this background information to our clinical affiliates. Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background reports. Denial of clinical placements will stop progression in the graduate nursing program.
Students must comply with School of Nursing clinical health requirements and have a copy of an unencumbered RN license prior to enrolling in NUR 419. Some health care agencieis may also have additional requirements.
Program Grade Policies
In the undergraduate portion of their program, students in the RN-MS Program must achieve a minimum of a B- in all NUR, CON, statistics, and pathophysiology designated undergraduate courses. If such students earn below a B-, they may retake the course one time; however, they will be placed on probation and may not progress to graduate courses. Failure to correct probationary status after one semester will result in dismissal from the Graduate Nursing Program and academic withdrawal from the University.
In the graduate portion of their program, all students must achieve a minimum of a B- grade for all required graduate courses. The first time a student earns below a B-, the course must be retaken successfully (B- or above) in order to continue with program progression. A graduate course can only be retaken one time. Failure of the course retaken or of a second course will result in dismissal from the Graduate Nursing Program and academic withdrawal from the University. If the course in which a grade below a B- has been earned has a concurrent clinical course, progression in the theory/practice course sequence stops. A grade of B- or better must be achieved in the course which is repeated before the theory/practice course sequence resumes.
Because of the interrelatedness of concurrent clinical and theory courses, the following policies apply. If a student fails a clinical course (C+ or below) but passes the concurrent theory course (B- or above), the student must repeat the clinical course within one calendar year. If more than one calendar year elapses between failing and repeating the required clinical course, the student will be required to retake the concurrent theory course.
If the student fails a theory course (C+ or below) but passes the concurrent clinical course (B-or above), and the student retakes the theory course within one calendar year, the student will be required to perform eight hours of clinical, including attendance at clinical seminar every week. If more than one year elapses between failing a required theory course and retaking it, the clinical course must be repeated in its entirety.
Students who fail (C+ or below) any of the concurrent clinical or theory courses cannot proceed to the next clinical-theory sequence course until the failed course has been successfully retaken.
In any semester in which the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (B average) the student will be placed on probation. Failure to correct probationary status after one semester will result in dismissal from the Graduate Nursing Program and academic withdrawal from the University. An incomplete grade in a clinical and/or concurrent theory course must be satisfied prior to progression to the next sequential course unless an arrangement involving the student and the faculty of both courses has been agreed to in writing. A 3.0 GPA is necessary for graduation. Students may count only three credits of C in an elective toward graduation. A cumulative GPA below 2.0 in any one semester will result in dismissal from the Graduate Nursing Program and academic withdrawal from the University.
The GCAAC and program faculty reserve the right to review a student's record to make recommendations regarding progression.
Student Appeals & Complaints
The School of Nursing follows the academic appeals and complaints policies in the USM graduate catalog.
To provide graduate students with assistance in resolving disagreements or complaints of a non-academic nature, the University has designated the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) to respond to student inquiries. The mission of (OGS) is to provide impartial guidance to students in identifying the nature of their disagreement or complaint. OGS staff will guide students to the appropriate University policy or procedure to utilize in seeking resolution. The academic policies described below are not applicable to student complaints about unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment; however, an OGS representative can advise the student about the University policies and procedures to follow when student complaints of this nature arise. Please contact the assistant dean of graduate studies at (207) 780-4812 for more information on this process.
Academic Grade Appeal Policy
The purpose of the academic grade appeal policy is to provide a fair and speedy review of all student appeals of academic grades in graduate/professional programs at the University of Southern Maine; this policy will permit such appeals to be determined in a manner that reflects the interests of both the student and the instructor. The only matters reviewable under this policy are claims of prejudice on the part of an instructor in an academic exercise or activity for which a grade leading to academic credit is awarded, and/or evident and prejudicial error in the administration or grading method used for any paper, examination, performance, or other exercise or activity for which a grade leading to academic credit is awarded, provided that the academic judgment used in determining the merits of the grade to be awarded to such exercise or activity shall not be reviewable.
An appeal under this policy shall be carried out according to the following procedures:
The student should present his or her claim, in writing, to the instructor involved and shall seek to have the matter resolved by the instructor. In no event shall there be a right of appeal hereunder for a claim presented to the instructor more than thirty days after a final grade is posted to the student's record. The instructor must respond within fourteen days of receiving the appeal.
If the student remains aggrieved by the decision of the instructor under step one, he or she may, within fourteen days after formal receipt of the instructor's final decision, appeal, in writing, to the director of the program in which the course or other exercise or activity is offered. The program director must respond within fourteen days of receiving the appeal.
If the student remains aggrieved by the decision of the program director of the department under step two, he or she may, within fourteen days after formal receipt of the program director's final decision, appeal, in writing, to the dean of the college in which the course or other exercise or activity is offered.
The dean, after discussion with the student and instructor, may resolve the grievance by agreement or render a decision within twenty-one days of receipt of the written appeal. The decision may be (a) that the appeal be dismissed, (b) that a grade be changed or the student be allowed an opportunity to retake an examination or other exercise, or (c) that another appropriate remedy be administered.
The student or the instructor may, within fourteen days of the receipt of the decision of the dean, appeal to the associate provost for Graduate Studies in writing, stating the reason for the appeal and delivering a copy of the writing to the opposing party and the dean. The opposing party may, within ten days of receipt of the reasons for appeal, reply in writing to the associate provost for Graduate Studies. The associate provost for Graduate Studies shall review the original claim, the written decision of the chairperson or program director and dean, and the written reasons for the appeal and reply. The associate provost for Graduate Studies shall, within twenty-eight days of receipt of the appeal and after reviewing the matter, prepare a written decision which shall uphold the decision of the chairperson, program director, or dean, or prescribe any other appropriate remedy. The associate provost for Graduate Studies' decision shall be final and not subject to further review. Copies of the decision of the associate provost for Graduate Studies shall be delivered to the student, the instructor, and the chairperson or program director and dean. The total time for resolution from the first appeal to the final decision shall be less than 120 days. If a faculty member/administrator fails to address the appeal within the specified time frame, the student may take the appeal to the next level.
Appeals of Dismissal or Withdrawal
All appeals of dismissal or withdrawal must follow the appeals process defined by the School of Nursing (refer to above Academic Grade Appeal Policy). The dean of the college must be included in this process. Within fourteen days following the student's receipt, in writing, of the decision by the School of Nursing Director, the student may appeal in writing to the associate provost for Graduate Studies. The decision of the associate provost for Graduate Studies shall be rendered within three weeks and shall be final. Please contact the assistant dean of Graduate Studies at (207) 780-4812 for more information on this process.
If a student withdraws or is withdrawn from the University during the first two weeks of the semester, there will be no courses or grades recorded. A student withdrawing or being withdrawn after the second week through the eighth week will receive a W grade for each course in which the student was enrolled. A student withdrawing or being withdrawn after the eighth week will receive regular grade designations as determined by the instructor(s). Under unusual circumstances, grades of W can be assigned after the eighth week if approved by the instructor and the director of the program, and with final approval of the associate provost for Graduate Studies.
General Enrollment Policies
When students have accepted admission to the Graduate Nursing Program they must matriculate in the semester they were accepted or they will be withdrawn from the program.
Students enrolled in the RN to Master of Science Degree Program must successfully complete all of the undergraduate requirements before starting their graduate course of study. If students in this program choose to drop back into the traditional undergraduate nursing program they will be withdrawn from the Graduate Nursing Program. Students may then reapply to the graduate nursing program once they have successfully completed the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in nursing.
Matriculated students in the early phase of their graduate studies may choose to change their area of specialization prior to starting the specialty core. Transfer of major into a specialty other than identified at the time of matriculation is dependent on availability. Once graduate students have started in the theory/clinical sequence of their specialty concentration no changes will be permitted.
Once matriculated into the graduate program, students must be continuously enrolled in the program unless a written, formal request for a leave of absence has been submitted to and approved by the coordinator of the graduate nursing programs or the chairperson of the GCAAC. Continuous enrollment requires that every graduate student must earn at least six credits toward his or her degree every calendar year from the time of the first registration until completion of all requirements for the graduate degree. If the continuous enrollment policy is not maintained, a letter will be sent to the student, the advisor, and the Office of Graduate Studies from the coordinator of the graduate nursing programs.
Leave of Absence
Eligible students in the Graduate Nursing Programs may request a leave of absence. The leave of absence waives the continuous enrollment policy for a period of one calendar year. Note that when a request for a leave of absence is made at midterm, USM's current grading policies apply. Approval of the leave of absence is the responsibility of the coordinator of the graduate nursing programs or the chairperson of the GCAAC. Once a decision has been made regarding the leave of absence, a letter will be sent from the coordinator to the student, the advisor, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the registrar.
To request a leave of absence, the student must:
- Meet with his or her advisor to discuss the potential impact of the leave of absence on progression
- Collaborate with the advisor and describe the terms of the request
- Submit a written request to the coordinator or chairperson of the GCAAC with a copy to the advisor
- Confer with the coordinator prior to the end of the leave of absence to ensure that the student can register
Background Check Policy
Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background. Denial of clinical placements will stop progression in the graduate nursing program.
Student admission, matriculation, and/or progression will be inactivated under the following conditions:
- Failure to maintain continuous enrollment as outlined above
- Absence of written communication with the advisor and/or coordinator regarding matriculation/progression plans (e.g., no request for leave of absence)
The School of Nursing will advise the registrar of the student's inactive status. A student whose file has been inactive for greater than or equal to one calendar year may be required to repeat courses or reapply for admission. Students who have been placed on inactive status must meet with the coordinator or the GCAAC chairperson to determine what requirements must be met to activate registration.
All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the date of first matriculation.
Students are required to maintain current registered professional nursing licensure. Students are required to notify the graduate program coordinator of any change in status of their RN license.
New England Regional Student Program
The University of Southern Maine master's degree program in nursing is a participant in the New England Regional Student Program. For further information contact the Office of Graduate Admissions, University of Southern Maine, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04103, (207) 780-4386.
The School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. For additional information contact: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C., 20036; (202) 887-6791.
The graduate nursing programs of the School of Nursing are subject to change at any time without advance notice.
Commitment to Civility
The concepts of community and social justice are central to the mission and philosophy of the USM School of Nursing. Faculty, students, and staff are committed to promoting a healthy and just environment that supports transformative learning, academic integrity, open communication, and personal and professional growth among the diverse members of our academic community. We believe that these commitments are grounded in intellectual openness, in personal and professional accountability, and in the democratic values of inclusivity and mutual respect which are guided by rational discourse and by a relational ethic of care.
We are grateful for the opportunities to learn and work with peoples of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, cultural, political, social, and economic backgrounds as well as with people who are disabled and people of different gender, sexual orientation, and age. Acknowledging the ethics and values that underlie the health professions, it is our belief that these ethics and values should be recognized, practiced, and cultivated in our learning and work environments. Our goal is to increase the awareness of students, staff, and faculty to the importance of civility, its implications, and the behaviors that are acceptable and not acceptable in our learning community.
Civility is the art of treating others, as well as ourselves, with respect, dignity, and care. Civility is apparent when we are sensitive to the impact that our communications, practices, and behaviors have on others, and when we acknowledge each person's self-worth and unique contributions to the community as a whole.
As members of the School, we are committed to learning and practicing in ways that support a caring and socially just community. The following are examples of how we create and sustain civility.
- Support the autonomy and just treatment of self and others by facilitating an open, respectful, and caring environment.
- Accept responsibility and accountability for one's own behavior when interacting with students, faculty, and staff.
- Respect and protect the rights and property of others.
- Speak or behave in a manner that does not disrupt or interfere with the learning or work of others.
- Practice personal and academic integrity and expect it from others.
- Demonstrate respect for others by actively discouraging discriminatory conduct, violence, coercion, or intimidation against any member of the academic community.
- Demonstrate a willingness to listen and be open to hearing the perspectives of others. This includes actively seeking to hear from and making a safe space for voices of dissent.
- Explore controversial issues through open dialogue and respectful deliberation.
- Respect freedom of expression while recognizing that such tolerance does not require agreement with expressed ideas.
- Engage institutional resources and persons to resolve conflict when necessary.
We will not tolerate harassing or discriminatory conduct of any kind. Everyone has the responsibility to foster a safe and supportive learning and work environment. This can include any individual asking others to stop disrespectful or abusive speech and/or disruptive behavior. Collectively, faculty, staff, and students in the School of Nursing are responsible for ensuring a safe and supportive learning and work environment. Approved by SON faculty 01/26/12
Spring semester admission–October 1
Fall semester admission–April 1
Admission to the Master of Science degree program in nursing is on a competitive basis. The graduate program in nursing seeks candidates whose associate degree/diploma preparation, scholastic achievement, professional experience, interest, motivation, and references are predictive of successful graduate study.
Each student's application for admission will be evaluated based on a composite of the following recommended standards.
- An associate degree or diploma in nursing from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing.
- A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or a B average.
- Test Scores: MAT or GRE taken with five years of application submission
- Miller Analogy Test (MAT): A score that ranks in the 45th percentile or higher for intended major.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE):
- Taken prior to August 1, 2011 - combined aptitude scores of 1,000 (V.Q.) or higher.
- Taken after August 1, 2011 - a verbal reasoning score of 153 or higher; a quantitative reasoning score of 147 or higher; and, a minimum of 4.0 on the analytic writing sample.
- Submission of official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS scores in addition to GRE scores (if English is not first language).
- Applicants whose native language is not English must have earned a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 on the computer-based test, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher.
- Current resume.
- A personal interview with graduate faculty of the School of Nursing may be requested following a preliminary review of all required admission materials.
In addition to the materials described on the USM Graduate Admissions General Application Instructions page, applicants for this program must submit:
- Completion of a program selection form.
- Two letters of reference reflecting professional practice and academic achievement.
- Evidence (photocopy) of unencumbered current licensure as a registered professional nurse in Maine.
Please develop a 500 word essay which addresses the following topics and is reflective of the USM School of Nursing philosophy (below).
- Your understanding of the nurse practitioner role, and your reasons for becoming a nurse practitioner.
- Your professional development goals that will be supported by the Master of Science degree.
- The experiences, capacity and abilities you bring to the role of scholar in a master’s program.
The philosophy of the USM School of Nursing is built on the concept of community, supporting a value-based caring nursing practice that includes ethics, social justice, and personal and community empowerment within a holistic, nurturing, and health promotion framework.
Our educational model emphasizes critical thinking, articulate communication, and understanding interdisciplinary care strategies within changing economic and health care systems. Our philosophy supports multiple ways of knowing, emphasizes reflective evidence-based nursing practice and promotes lifelong learning.
For forms and additional application information, please visit the Graduate Admissions web page
The RN to Master's program is built upon prerequisites to the nursing major: Microbiology with lab, Pathophysiology, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Human Growth and Development, and Statistics. In addition, the student must complete the USM Core curriculum, unless they have completed a prior baccalaureate degree.
|Required Undergraduate Nursing Courses||Credits|
|NUR 308 Professional Communications and Technology Utilization in Nursing *||3|
|NUR 309/310 Health Assessment I Practicum Lab||4|
|NUR 314 RN Credit Options||30|
|CON 321 Health-Related Research||3|
|CON 356 Concepts in Community Health||3|
|NUR 419 Community Nursing Partnerships for RNs**||2|
*Not required if RN has completed a baccalaureate degree in another field.
**NUR 419 may not be taken unless RN credit options have been completed and posted.
Credits-by-examination may be earned in selected non-nursing courses. These include English Composition, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Human Growth and Development, Statistics, and Microbiology. Contact the Office of Prior Learning Assessment, (207) 780-4663, for an appointment or information.
Sequencing of Courses
Some courses and credits-by-examination have prerequisites which must be completed prior to enrollment. Some prerequisites may transfer into USM from another accredited institution; others may be taken at USM.
Upon completion of all undergraduate courses, the RN to Master of Science student enrolls in graduate courses. All graduate courses are required and concentrations total 38 to 55 credits. Please refer to the MS degree pages for sample plans of study for each concentration.
Basic Nursing Credits
The School of Nursing recognizes 30 credits (NUR 314) for basic nursing courses transferred from an associate degree (ADN) program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing at the time the degree was awarded. These credits are applied toward fulfillment of the undergraduate requirements for RN students who have successfully completed CON 308 Professional Communication and Technology Utilization in Nursing and Health Sciences.
RNs graduating from a diploma program will be awarded the basic nursing credits (30) for a fee, upon successful completion of NUR 308 Professional Communication and Technology Utilization in Nursing. Additional information may be obtained through the Office of Prior Learning Assessment.
The graduate portion of the RN to MS program in nursing is four academic semesters in length, depending on speciality concentration, for students taking an average of ten to twelve (10-12) credits per semester. Both full-time and part-time study options are available. Students must complete the program, including both undergraduate and graduate courses, within six years.
Deadline: April 1 for fall admission, October 1 for spring admission
Admission Information and Links:
- Online Application
- Application Instructions
- Program Selection Form
- How to submit recommendation letters (video)
- Request Information (Online Form)