Master of Science in Nursing

The School of Nursing provides master’s level educational opportunities for registered nurses and individuals with a bachelor’s degree in other fields who wish to enter the profession or pursue an advanced practice nursing degree.

Registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees in Nursing can enter the master’s program by demonstrating they have met nursing content comparable to that in the SF State baccalaureate program.

Individuals who are not nurses but have a bachelor’s degree may apply to the Entry-Level M.S.N. program. Students in this program complete the pre-licensure curriculum along with graduate-level coursework to earn their M.S.N. in six semesters. Upon completion of pre-licensure courses, the students take a national licensing exam (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse.  A two-year accelerated program is also available. Accelerated students enroll through the SF State College of Extended Learning. All students must have successfully completed all prelicensure courses and take the national licensing exam (NCLEX-RN) in California before enrolling in NURS 821.

The master’s level curriculum includes both core courses and specialty courses. The core courses, the portion of the program for all students, include nursing theory, advanced practice nursing roles, pathophysiology, research, leadership, health policy, and ethics for advanced practice nurses. Units taken in addition to the core program are selected with graduate nursing faculty advisement.

Admission/Application Information and Requirements for the Master’s Degree

For all applicants:

  • Visit the School of Nursing website for specific application dates.
  • Meet general requirements for admission to graduate study at SF State and submit a separate application to the Division of Graduate Studies.
  • Complete the School of Nursing supplemental application process.
  • Include a written goal statement.
  • Students whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must demonstrate competence in English. For more information visit Graduate Admissions.
  • Three references from work colleagues, supervisors, or educators.
  • Provide a resume or curriculum vitae.

For RN applicants:

  • Courses in inferential statistics and an undergraduate nursing research course are recommended.
  • RNs who enter the M.S.N. program without a Nursing bachelor’s degree must complete undergraduate nursing research and a community/public health courses before enrollment or concurrent with semester one M.S.N. coursework.
  • Some of the prerequisite courses may be challenged or waived for students who have extensive professional experience and have participated in mandatory continuing education programs for RN licensure.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner applicants must have a minimum of one year or 2,000 clinical hours of RN experience.

For Non-RN applicants:

  • Entry-level master’s applicants must have completed all prerequisites at the time of application to the program.
  • One of the three required references must provide evidence of health-related work or volunteer experience.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

The University has a requirement for graduate written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different points (Levels) in the student’s program.

Level One (prior to admission)

Personal Statement

Level Two

Demonstration of English proficiency on the final paper for NURS 794.

Entry Level Masters Nursing Courses — 97 units 

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterUnits
NURS 311 Human Development and Health Assessment Lab 2
NURS 314 Health Promotion in Nursing 3
NURS 315 Health Promotions in Nursing - Practicum 2
NURS 706 Health Care Policy and Nursing Leadership 3
NURS 720 Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Advanced Practice Nursing 3
Second Semester
NURS 326 Reproductive Health Theory 3
NURS 327 Reproductive Health Practicum 3
NURS 328 Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Theory 3
NURS 329 Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Practicum 3
NURS 350 Nursing Interventions Practicum I 2
NURS 703 Education, Informatics, and eTechnology in Advanced Nursing Practice 3
Second Year
First Semester
NURS 410 Nursing Care of Children Theory 3
NURS 411 Nursing Care of Children Practicum 3
NURS 420 Nursing Care of Adults Theory 3
NURS 421 Nursing Care of Adults Practicum 3
NURS 450 Nursing Interventions Lab II 2
NURS 721 Program Planning and Financial Management in Nursing Practice 3
Second Semester
Pre-licensure Courses  
NURS 520 Advanced Medical Surgical and Critical Care Nursing 3
NURS 521
Advanced Medical Surgical and Critical Care Nursing Capstone Practicum
or Advanced Medical Surgical and Critical Care Nursing Capstone Practicum
NURS 522 Chronic Care and End of Life Care Theory 3
NURS 530 Community Health and Global Perspectives Theory 3
NURS 531 Community Health and Global Perspectives Practicum 2
NURS 794 Research and Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing 3
Third Year
First Semester
Graduate Core Courses  
NURS 702 Health Systems Management 3
NURS 711 Advanced Physical Assessment Across the Life Span 3
NURS 715 Pharmacological Principles Across the Life Span 3
NURS 716 Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning I 3
NURS 819 Graduate Nursing Practicum I: Adult/Gerontology 4
Second Semester
NURS 717 Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning II 3
NURS 732 Ethics in Advanced Nursing Practice 3
NURS 820 Graduate Nursing Practicum II: Adult/Gerontology 4
NURS 895
Applied Research in Nursing
or Master's Thesis
 Total Units92

Emphasis or Electives (8–12 units)

Units on advisement


Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

This emphasis offers the graduate student the opportunity to take additional courses for certification by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and to take a national certification exam through the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC). The CNS is an advanced practice nurse holding a master’s degree in a specific area of clinical nursing specialization such as adult and critical care, women’s health, and pediatrics. The role of the CNS is defined by the needs of a select client population and clinical expertise of the nurse. Specialized role content is included in NURS 819 and NURS 820.

Community Public Health

Students completing this emphasis are prepared to assume nursing roles in a variety of care settings including public health, home health, and schools and may be eligible for CNS certification by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Specialized role content is included in NURS 819 and NURS 820.

Nursing Administration

This emphasis enables students to combine the nursing perspective and principles of business to become effective and successful managers and administrators. Courses may also be taken in the College of Business with the advice and approval of the advisor.

Students in this emphasis are not required to take NURS 711, NURS 715, NURS 716 or NURS 717 in the nursing core.