2017-18 Catalogs

MS in Nursing - RN to Master of Science Degree Program for Registered Nurses

The RN to Master of Science degree program 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 12-18 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)
  • Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Psychiatric-Mental health Nurse Practitioner (across the lifespan)

The RN to Master's program is built upon prerequisites to the nursing major: Microbiology with lab, Pathophysiology, General Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Multicultural Human 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
CON 321 Health-Related Research 3
CON 356 Concepts in Community Health 3
NUR 308 Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice* 3
NUR 309/310 Health Assessment for RNs and Lab 4
NUR 314 RN Credit Option 30
NUR 419 Community Nursing Partnerships for RNs Clinical** 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 select non-nursing courses. These include College Writing, General Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Multicultural Human 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 that 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 NUR 308 Professional Communication and Technology Utilization in Nursing.

RNs graduating from a diploma program will be awarded the basic nursing credits (30) for a fee, upon successful completion of NUR 308 Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice. Additional information may be obtained through the Office of Prior Learning Assessment.

The graduate portion of the RN to MS program in nursing is 4-6 academic semesters for full time study with students taking an average of 9-15 credits per semester. A part-time study option is also available. Students must complete the program, including both undergraduate and graduate courses, within six years.

Graduate Nursing Policies

Application Deadlines

Spring semester admission–October 1
Fall semester admission–April 1

Admission Information

Because the master of science in nursing program includes supervised clinical experiences and our desire to maintain a high quality program, the nursing faculty reserves the right to limit enrollments. The number of students accepted varies by program (Family Nurse, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner) and is based on clinical cohorts. Admission to the program is highly selective. 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
  • An undergraduate course in introductory statistics which includes descriptive and inferential statistics completed within the past five years
  • Test Scores: MAT or GRE taken within 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.

Application material

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
  • A 500 word essay that addresses the following topics:

    1. Your understanding of the nurse practitioner role, and your reasons for becoming a nurse practitioner.
    2. Your professional goals that will be supported by the Master of Science degree.
    3. The experiences, capacity and abilities you bring to a master’s program.
    4. Why you have chosen USM for this program.

For forms and additional application information, please visit the Graduate Admissions web page