Master of Science in Nursing

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

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 Entry Level MSN program. Students in this program complete the pre-licensure curriculum along with graduate level coursework to earn their MSN 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 is also available. Accelerated students enroll through the SF State College of Extended Learning. All students must have successfully completed all prelicensure courses and attain status as a Registered Nurse in California prior to enrolling in NURS 802.

Registered nurses who already hold nursing master’s degrees may apply to the post master’s family nurse practitioner (FNP) certificate program (graduate level coursework).

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. Upon completion students are eligible to sit for national nurse practitioner certification board exams and FNP certification in California.

Please note that students taking post master’s FNP certificate courses will enroll for courses through the College of Extended Learning.

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

For all applicants:

  • Visit the School of Nursing web site 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 primary language is not English must earn a minimum score of 550 on the paper Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or 80 overall on the internet based (iBT) TOEFL.
  • All graduate students are required to establish written English proficiency (see information below) by submitting results of the analytical writing section of the GRE at the time of application. A score of 4.0 or above is required.
  • 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 MSN program without a nursing bachelor’s degree must complete undergraduate nursing research and a community/public health courses prior to enrollment or concurrent with semester one MSN 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 R.N. 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)

A score of 4.0 or above on the analytical writing section of the GRE.

Level Two

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

Entry Level Nursing Master of Science Degree

Qualified applicants are accepted into the Entry Level or Accelerated Entry Level MSN program conditionally.

Prerequisites — 27 - 28 units

The courses listed below or those which are comparable as listed on are required for acceptance into the program.

BIOL 210
BIOL 211
General Microbiology and Public Health
and General Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory
BIOL 220Principles of Human Anatomy 14
or BIOL 328 Human Anatomy
BIOL 212
BIOL 213
Principles of Human Physiology
and Principles of Human Physiology Laboratory
CHEM 101
CHEM 102
Survey of Chemistry
and Survey of Chemistry Laboratory 2
COMM 150Fundamentals of Oral Communication3
ENG 114First Year Composition (Written Communication I)3
MATH 124Elementary Statistics (Quantitative Reasoning)3
PHIL 110Introduction to Critical Thinking I3

 Either anatomy course must include a laboratory component if taken elsewhere


This is an integrated course in which students are introduced to topics in general, organic, and biochemistry. Stand alone general, inorganic, or organic chemistry courses will also fulfill the chemistry requirement.

Courses Required for RN Licensure in California

Prior to applying for RN licensure, the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) requires students to have completed a minimum of 16 semester units comprising natural sciences, behavioral, and social sciences. To complement the anatomy, physiology, and microbiology prerequisites, it is highly recommended that students complete a general psychology course prior to taking NURS 328 and any additional behavioral or social science course as needed to fulfill the BRN's requirement. Anthropology or Sociology is strongly suggested.

Entry Level Masters Nursing Courses — 97 units

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterUnits
NURS 311 Human Development and Health Assessment Theory and Lab 5
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 794 Research and Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing 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 716 Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning I 3
Second Semester
Pre-licensure Courses  
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 3
NURS 703 Education, Informatics, and eTechnology in Advanced Nursing Practice 3
NURS 716 Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning I 3
Third Year
First Semester
Graduate Core Courses  
NURS 702 Health Systems Management 3
NURS 715 Pharmacological Principles Across the Life Span 3
NURS 717 Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning II 3
NURS 721 Program Planning and Financial Management in Nursing Practice 3
NURS 801 Graduate Nursing Practicum I 4
Second Semester
NURS 732 Ethics in Advanced Nursing Practice 3
NURS 802 Graduate Nursing Practicum II 4
NURS 895
Applied Research in Nursing
or Master's Thesis
 Total Units91

Students completing the Entry Level Master’s program will achieve the School of Nursing’s MSN Expected Student Learning Outcomes as outlined below:

  • Applies and integrates broad organizational, client-centered, and culturally appropriate concepts in the planning, delivery, management, and evaluation of evidence-based clinical prevention and population care and services.
  • Demonstrates nursing and inter-professional collaboration that facilitates open communication, mutual respect, and shared decision-making to achieve quality patient care.
  • Creates collaborative programs and educational approaches that address health promotion and disease prevention needs of culturally-ethnically diverse individuals and populations.
  • Demonstrates a professional leadership role to promote quality and safe clinical patient care that incorporates ethical and critical decision-making approaches, fiscal accountability, effective working relationships, and systems perspectives.
  • Assimilates nursing knowledge and expertise through research utilization, informatics literacy, and generates educational, leadership, or clinical approaches to advance professional nursing practice.
  • Utilizes information technology to communicate effectively, manage knowledge, mitigate error, and to support decision-making.
  • Designs evaluation strategies for nursing care outcomes to assess, manage, and determine resource allocation for evaluation of nursing care outcomes.
  • Evaluate methods, tools, performance measures, and standards related to quality improvement within a healthcare organization.
  • Applies research outcomes within the practice setting to resolve identified practice problems.
  • Organizes interventions at the health care system level utilizing policy development processes, economic principles, and employing advocacy strategies to influence health and health care services for individuals, families, aggregates/identified diverse populations and communities.

Master of Science in Nursing for Registered Nurses

Nursing for Registered Nurses (M.S.) — 44 - 52 units

Required Core Courses (44 units)

NURS 702Health Systems Management3
NURS 703Education, Informatics, and eTechnology in Advanced Nursing Practice3
NURS 706Health Care Policy and Nursing Leadership3
NURS 711Advanced Physical Assessment Across the Life Span3
NURS 715Pharmacological Principles Across the Life Span3
NURS 716Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning I3
NURS 717Advanced Pathophysiology and Diagnostic Reasoning II3
NURS 720Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Advanced Practice Nursing3
NURS 721Program Planning and Financial Management in Nursing Practice3
NURS 732Ethics in Advanced Nursing Practice3
NURS 794Research and Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing3
NURS 801Graduate Nursing Practicum I4
NURS 802Graduate Nursing Practicum II4
NURS 895Applied Research in Nursing3
or NURS 898 Master's Thesis

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 with 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 801 and NURS 802.

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 801 and NURS 802.

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.