School of Nursing

Graduate Nursing Policies

Masters in Nursing Policies

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.

Admission Credit

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 higher was earned in each individual course. No graduate courses that are older than five years will be accepted for admission credit. Graduate courses in Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Psychopharmacology, or Advanced Health Assessment will not be accepted for admission credit if older than three years at projected time of first clinical course. Applicants in current Advanced Practice may discuss waivers of this policy with the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing. A maximum of six graduate credits  may be approved for admission. Exceptions to the maximum credits allowed at time of admission must be approved by the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee.

Transfer Credit

This credit, which has been earned at an institution other than USM, must be approved at the time of admission and a request for approval included as part of the admissions application. No graduate courses that are older than five years will be accepted for transfer credit. Graduate courses in Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Psychopharmacology, or Advanced Health Assessment will not be accepted for transfer credit if older than three years at projected time of first clinical course. Applicants currently working as Advanced Practice nurses may discuss waivers of this policy with the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing. A maximum of of nine graduate credits may be approved for transfer credit provided that a grade of B or higher was earned in each individual course. Additional transfer credit may be approved in unusual circumstances.

General Enrollment Policies

When students have accepted admission to the Graduate Nursing Program they must matriculate in the semester for which they were accepted or they will be withdrawn from the program.

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.

Clinical Requirements

Students must comply with School of Nursing clinical health and criminal background check requirements and any additional requirements of those health care agencies to which they are assigned for clinical residency. Students must pay for and complete a  comprehensive background check prior to starting graduate clinical seminar courses. In addition, students must sign a disclosure agreement allowing the school to provide access to this background information to clinical affiliates. Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background. Denial of clinical placements will stop progression in the Graduate Nursing Program.

Professional Licensure

Prior to starting advanced practice clinical specialty courses, a copy of unencumbered RN licensure must be on file in the School of Nursing. Students are required to maintain current registered professional nursing licensure. Students are required to notify the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing of any change in status of their RN license.

Program Grade Policies for all Graduate Nursing Students

In the graduate portion of their program, students must achieve a minimum grade of B- in all required graduate courses. The first time a student earns below a B-, the course must be retaken successfully (B- or higher) to continue with program progression. A graduate course can only be retaken one time. Unsuccessful completion of the course when 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 practicum, progression in the theory/clinical practicum course sequence stops. A grade of B- or higher must be achieved in the course that is repeated before the theory/clinical practicum sequence resumes.

Because of the interrelatedness of clinical practicum and theory courses, the following policies apply:

  • If a student fails a clinical practicum but passes the concurrent theory course (B- or higher), the student must repeat the clinical practicum within one calendar year. If more than one calendar year elapses between failing and repeating the required clinical practicum, the student will be required to retake the concurrent theory course.
  • If a student fails a theory course (C+ or lower) but passes the concurrent clinical practicum, and the student retakes the theory course within one calendar year, the student will be required to perform eight hours of clinical per week and attend the weekly clinical seminar. If more than one calendar year elapses between failing a required theory course and retaking it, the clinical course must be repeated in its entirety.
  • Students who fail any of the concurrent clinical practicum or theory courses cannot proceed to the next clinical practicum and theory course sequence until the failed course has been successfully retaken.

A student will be placed on probation in any semester in which the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (B average). 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 practicum 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 only count 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 Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee and program faculty reserve the right to review a student's record to make recommendations regarding progression.

Continuous Enrollment

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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Continuous enrollment requires that every graduate student 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 Graduate Nursing.

Leave of Absence

Students may request a leave of absence. The leave of absence waives the continuous enrollment policy for a period of up to one calendar year. 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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Once a decision has been made regarding the leave of absence, a letter will be sent from the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing to the student, the advisor, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.

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 Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee with a copy to the advisor.
  • Complete and submit the Leave of Absence form that can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
  • Confer with Coordinator of Graduate Nursing prior to the end of the leave of absence to ensure that he/she can register.

Inactivation Policy

Student admission, matriculation, or progression will be inactivated under the following conditions:

  • Failure to maintain continuous enrollment
  • Absence of written communication with the advisor and Coordinator of Graduate Nursing regarding matriculation or progression plans (e.g., no request for leave of absence)
  • Failure to correct probationary status

The School of Nursing will advise the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services 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 of Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee to determine what requirements must be met to activate registration.

Time Limit

All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the date of first matriculation.

Professional Conduct

The School of Nursing reserves the right to accept and retain only those students who satisfy the requirements of scholarship and health necessary for nursing. A student who admits to or is found guilty of a violation of the American Nurses' Association guidelines for ethical practice (see the USM School of Nursing Masters Student Handbook) is subject to suspension or dismissal from the University. 

Student Appeals and Complaints

The School of Nursing follows the appeals and complaints policies in the USM Graduate Catalog.

The Graduate Nursing Programs of the School of Nursing are subject to change at any time without advance notice.

RN to Masters in Nursing Policies

Admission Credit

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 higher was earned in each individual course. A maximum of six graduate credits may be approved for admission. Exceptions to the maximum credits allowed at time of admission must be approved by the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee.

Transfer Credit

This credit, which has been earned at an institution other than USM, must be approved at the time of admission and request for approval included as part of the admissions application. A maximum of nine graduate credits may be approved as transfer credit provided a grade of B or higher was earned in each individual course. Additional transfer credit may be approved in unusual circumstances.

General Enrollment Policies

When students have accepted admission to the Graduate Nursing Program they must matriculate in the semester for which 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 complete the RN to BS 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.

Clinical Requirements

Prior to enrolling in NUR 419, students must comply with School of Nursing clinical health and criminal background check requirements and any additional requirements of those health care agencies to which they are assigned for clinical residency. Students must pay for and complete a comprehensive background check prior to starting graduate clinical seminar courses. In addition, students must sign a disclosure agreement allowing the school to provide access to this background information to clinical affiliates. Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background. Denial of clinical placements will stop progression in the Graduate Nursing Program.

Professional Licensure

Prior to starting NUR 419, a copy of unencumbered RN licensure must be on file in the School of Nursing. Students are required to maintain current registered professional nursing licensure. Students are required to notify the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing of any change in status of their RN license.

Program Grade Policies

In the undergraduate portion of their program, students in the RN-MS Program must achieve a minimum grade of B- in all NUR, CON, statistics, and pathophysiology designated undergraduate courses. If 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, students must achieve a minimum grade of B- for all required graduate courses. The first time a student earns below a B-, the course must be retaken successfully (B- or higher) to continue with program progression. A graduate course can only be retaken one time. Unsuccessful completion 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 practicum, progression in the theory/clinical practicum sequence stops. A grade of B- or better must be achieved in the course that is repeated before the theory/practice course sequence resumes.

Because of the interrelatedness of clinical practicum and theory courses, the following policies apply:

  • If a student fails a clinical practicum but passes the concurrent theory course (B- or higher), the student must repeat the clinical practicum within one calendar year. If more than one calendar year elapses between failing and repeating the required clinical practicum, the student will be required to retake the concurrent theory course.
  • If a student fails a theory course (C+ or lower) but passes the concurrent clinical practicum, and the student retakes the theory course within one calendar year, the student will be required to perform eight hours of clinical a week and attend the weekly clinical seminar. If more than one calendar year elapses between failing a required theory course and retaking it, the clinical course must be repeated in its entirety.
  • Students who fail any of the concurrent clinical practicum or theory courses cannot proceed to the next clinical practicum and theory course sequence until the failed course has been successfully retaken.

The student will be placed on probation in any semester in which the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (B average). 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 practicum 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 only count 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 Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee and program faculty reserve the right to review a student's record to make recommendations regarding progression.

Continuous Enrollment

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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Continuous enrollment requires that every graduate student 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 Graduate Nursing.

Leave of Absence

Students in the graduate program may request a leave of absence. The leave of absence waives the continuous enrollment policy for a period of up to one calendar year. 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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Once a decision has been made regarding the leave of absence, a letter will be sent from the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing to the student, the advisor, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.

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 of Graduate Nursing or Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee with a copy to the advisor.
  • Complete and submit the Leave of Absence form that can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
  • Confer with the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing prior to the end of the leave of absence to ensure that he/she can register.

Inactivation Policy

Student admission, matriculation, or progression will be inactivated under the following conditions:

  • Failure to maintain continuous enrollment
  • Absence of written communication with the advisor and Coordinator of Graduate Nursing regarding matriculation/progression plans (e.g., no request for leave of absence)
  • Failure to correct probationary status

The School of Nursing will advise the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services 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 of Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee to determine what requirements must be met to activate registration.

Time Limit

All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the date of first matriculation.

Professional Conduct

The School of Nursing reserves the right to accept and retain only those students who satisfy the requirements of scholarship and health necessary for nursing. A student who admits to or is found guilty of a violation of the American Nurses' Association guidelines for ethical practice (see the USM School of Nursing Masters Student Handbook) is subject to suspension or dismissal from the University. 

Student Appeals and Complaints

The School of Nursing follows the academic appeals and complaints policies in the USM Graduate Catalog.

The Graduate Nursing Programs of the School of Nursing are subject to change at any time without advance notice.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Policies

In addition to the general policies described in the University of Southern Maine Graduate Catalog, Academic Policies chapter, specific policies for the DNP Program are as follows.

Admission Credit

This credit, which has been earned at USM prior to matriculation, must be approved by graduate faculty prior to admission and is subject to the condition that a grade of B or higher was earned in each individual course. No graduate courses that are older than five years will be accepted for admission credit. The prerequisite graduate course in statistics will not be accepted for admission credit if older than five years at time of admission. A maximum of six graduate credits may be approved for admission. Exceptions to the maximum credits allowed at time of admission must be approved by the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee.

Transfer Credit

This credit, which has been earned at an institution other than USM, must be approved at the time of admission and request for approval included as part of the admission application. No graduate courses that are older than five years will be accepted for transfer credit. The prerequisite graduate course in statistics will not be accepted for transfer credit if older than five years at time of admission. A maximum of nine credits may be approved as transfer credit provided a grade of B or higher was earned in each individual course. Transfer credits will be noted on the student's USM transcript and counted toward the student's degree.

For each graduate course the student wishes to be considered for transfer credit, the student must:

  • Have completed the course no more than five years prior to beginning doctoral study in nursing at USM.
  • Have submitted, as part of the application file, a transcript that indicates completion of the course under consideration for transfer, with a minimum grade of B.
  • Have submitted a complete syllabus (course name and number, course description and objectives, reading lists, etc.) and supporting documentation (evaluation information, papers/reports, etc.), and indicated the USM course name and number to be considered as equivalent.

The request will be reviewed by the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee and referred to the faculty designee who has expertise in the area of instruction. The faculty designee may ask for additional information from the student, including an official transcript, or consult with the previous instructor or other sources.

The faculty designee will then make a recommendation to the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee, and the committee members will vote to determine whether the course(s) is/are considered equivalent.

The student will be informed of the decision by the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee.

The result of the request will be documented in the student's School of Nursing academic file, and the appropriate information will be filed in the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.

General Enrollment Policies

When students have accepted admission to the DNP Program, they must matriculate in the semester for which they were accepted or they will be withdrawn from the program.

Clinical Requirements

Students must comply with School of Nursing clinical health and criminal background check requirements and any additional requirements of those health care agencies to which they are assigned for clinical residency. Students must pay for and complete a comprehensive background check prior to starting graduate clinical seminar courses. In addition, students must sign a disclosure agreement allowing the school to provide access to this background information to clinical affiliates. Affiliates have the right to deny clinical placement based on criminal background. Denial of clinical placements will stop progression in the Graduate Nursing Program.

Professional Licensure

Prior to starting advanced practice clinical specialty courses, a copy of unencumbered RN licensure and National/State Certification in Advanced Practice Specialty (if applicable) must be on file in the School of Nursing. Once a student is matriculated into the DNP program they are required to notify the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing of any change in status of their RN license or state/national certification.

Program Grade Policies

In the doctoral program, all students must achieve a grade of B or higher in all required courses. The first time a student earns below a B, the course must be retaken successfully (B or higher) to continue with program progression. A course can only be retaken one time. Unsuccessful completion of the course retaken or of a second course will result in dismissal from the DNP Program and academic withdrawal from the University.

The student will be placed on probation in any semester in which the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (B average). Failure to correct probationary status after one semester will result in dismissal from the DNP Program and academic withdrawal from the University. An incomplete grade in a prerequisite 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 3.25 GPA is necessary for graduation. Students may only count three credits of B- in an elective toward graduation. A cumulative GPA below 2.67 (B-) in any one semester will result in dismissal from the DNP program and academic withdrawal from the University.

The Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee and program faculty reserve the right to review a student's record to make recommendations regarding progression.

Continuous Enrollment

Once matriculated into the DNP 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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Continuous enrollment requires that every doctoral student 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 doctoral 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 Graduate Nursing.

Leave of Absence

Doctoral students may request a leave of absence. The leave of absence waives the continuous enrollment policy for a period of up to one calendar year. 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 Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee. Once a decision has been made regarding the leave of absence, a letter will be sent from the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing to the student, the advisor, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.

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 of Graduate Nursing or Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee with a copy to the advisor.
  • Complete and submit the Leave of Absence form that can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
  • Confer with the Coordinator of Graduate Nursing prior to the end of the leave of absence to ensure that he/she can register.

Inactivation Policy

Student admission, matriculation, or progression will be inactivated under the following conditions:

  • Failure to maintain continuous enrollment.
  • Absence of written communication with the advisor and Coordinator of Graduate Nursing regarding matriculation and progression plans (e.g., no request for leave of absence).
  • Failure to correct probationary status.

The School of Nursing will advise the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services 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 of Graduate Nursing or the Chairperson of the Nursing Graduate Curriculum, Admissions, and Advancement Committee to determine what requirements must be met to activate registration.

Time Limit

All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the date of first matriculation.

Professional Conduct

The School of Nursing reserves the right to accept and retain only those students who satisfy the requirements of scholarship and health necessary for nursing. A student who admits to or is found guilty of a violation of the American Nurses' Association guidelines for ethical practice (see the USM School of Nursing Masters Student Handbook) is subject to suspension or dismissal from the University. 

Student Appeals and Complaints

The School of Nursing follows the appeals and complaints policies in the USM Graduate Catalog.

The DNP Program of the School of Nursing is 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 (http://usm.maine.edu/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 that 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.