Admission and Degree Requirements

Master of Science in Nursing

The entering student normally holds a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and holds a registered nurse license that allows the student to practice as a registered nurse in Texas. Registered nurses with non-nursing baccalaureate degrees may also apply to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Applicants who wish to pursue the family or pediatric nurse practitioner tracks must have at least one to two years of clinical practice experience as a registered nurse within the last five years at the time of application deadline to be considered for admission. Please visit the Advanced Practice Nursing website for more information.

Factors considered in the admission decision include satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, with attention given to the relative balance between verbal and quantitative scores; a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; information derived from academic and professional references; professional background and goals; and proficiency in the English language. An interview may also be required. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision. All students are expected to complete an approved upper-division statistics course prior to the first semester of enrollment.

The advanced practice registered nurse tracks, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner require a minimum of forty-eight semester hours of coursework. The Leadership in Diverse Settings track requires a minimum of thirty-nine hours.

Preparation of a thesis is optional; when this option is chosen, an additional three to six semester hours are required.

Program components are: (1) core courses that provide advanced theoretical and research knowledge and a deeper understanding of professional issues; (2) courses in the student’s track/concentration; (3) advanced practice core courses (required for students in the adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner tracks); and (4) supporting/elective courses, which may include courses from outside nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing: Alternate Entry

The alternate entry program is designed for the student who has no previous degrees in nursing, who desires a career in nursing practice, and who holds at least a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing. The program is fully approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and is nationally accredited. Program options for alternate entry students include Leadership in Diverse Settings, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.    

Admission requirements include at minimum a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing; satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, with attention given to the relative balance between verbal and quantitative scores; a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; satisfactory academic and/or professional references; personal and professional goals compatible with the purpose of the program; and proficiency in the English language. An interview may also be required. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision.

Prerequisite courses in upper-division statistics and the natural and behavioral sciences must be completed prior to enrollment. Of the required prerequisites, the courses in anatomy and microbiology must be completed by December 31 of the application year. All students must be fully compliant with program requirements, including clearance of a background check from the Texas Board of Nursing prior to beginning the alternate entry pre-licensure summer courses. All pre-licensure courses must be completed with a grade of at least C to progress to the post-licensure alternate entry curriculum.

Practicing nurses and nursing students are held to a high standard of competencies in order to perform responsible and safe care. Successful completion of the nursing program requires that students demonstrate ability to effectively and safely perform several essential skills. Additionally students must demonstrate a proficiency in interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as ethical comportment. Students considering this major must meet the required standards. For more information, please see Professional and Technical Standards for Nursing Practice (PDF).

The alternate-entry student is eligible to take the licensure examination to become a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN) in the state of Texas after completing thirty-eight semester hours of foundation courses. The student must pass Nursing 290S and have an unencumbered nursing license in order to enroll in graduate nursing courses beyond the foundation year. Depending on the chosen concentration, students must complete a minimum of seventy-four to eighty-three semester hours of coursework.

Preparation of a thesis is optional; when this option is chosen, an additional three to six semester hours are required.

Program components are: (1) accelerated foundation courses in all major clinical areas of nursing; (2) core courses that provide advanced theoretical and research knowledge and a deeper understanding of professional issues; (3) courses in one of the nursing tracks available to the alternate-entry student; (4) advanced practice core courses (required for students in the adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner); and (5) supporting/elective courses, which may include courses from outside nursing.

Doctorate of Nursing Practice

The entering student must be a registered nurse who holds either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or a recognized degree from a foreign academic institution. Factors considered in the admission decision include satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, with attention given to the relative balance between verbal and quantitative scores; a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; eighteen months of professional work experience; current Texas RN licensure or Texas Board of Nursing eligible; information derived from academic and professional references; professional background; a satisfactory interview; and proficiency in the English language. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision.

Students will complete nine hours of core courses before enrolling in supporting or clinical courses. Following completion of the core courses, twenty-four hours of supporting courses can be taken in any order. Additionally, twelve hours of clinical specialization courses will be taken in sequential order after the core courses are completed. Within these clinical specialization seminars, students will select and develop an area of focus that will culminate in the DNP scholarly project.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree is designed for the student who desires a career as a nurse scientist. The entering student must be a registered nurse who holds either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or a recognized degree from a foreign academic institution. The occasional student who holds no master’s degree or a master’s degree in another discipline will be required to complete prescribed graduate bridge courses in nursing as a condition of admission. Bridge courses are not counted toward degree requirements. These students may also choose to complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree enroute to the PhD.

Factors considered in the admission decision include satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, with attention given to the relative balance between verbal and quantitative scores; a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; information derived from academic and professional references; professional background; congruence of the student’s research goals with the expertise of the nursing faculty; a satisfactory interview; and proficiency in the English language. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision.

All students are expected to complete an approved upper-division statistics course prior to the first semester of enrollment. In addition, all students must pass a doctoral qualifying examination before entering candidacy for the degree. Students must complete at least fifty-seven semester hours of coursework. Established milestones must be completed in order for students to progress and complete the Doctor of Philosophy program in nursing.

The degree program requires completion of the following coursework: (1) core courses focused on advanced theoretical, analytical, and research method skills; (2) seminars and related supporting courses in a focused area of study; (3) research practicum courses; and (4) dissertation courses.

Doctor of Philosophy: Alternate Entry

The alternate entry program is designed for the student who has no previous degrees in nursing, who desires a career as a nurse scientist, and who holds at least a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing. The program is fully approved by the Texas Board of Nursing. Alternate-entry PhD students may choose to complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree enroute to the PhD if desired.

Factors considered in the admission decision include at least a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing; satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, with attention given to the relative balance between verbal and quantitative scores; a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; information derived from academic and professional references; professional background; congruence of the student’s research goals with the expertise of the nursing faculty; a satisfactory interview; and proficiency in the English language. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision.

Prerequisite courses in upper-division statistics and the natural and behavioral sciences must also be completed prior to enrollment. Of the required prerequisites, the courses in anatomy and microbiology must be completed by December 31 of the application year. All students must be fully compliant with program requirements, including clearance of a background check from the Board of Nursing prior to beginning the alternate entry pre-licensure summer courses. All pre-licensure courses must be completed with a grade of at least C to progress in the alternate entry curriculum.

Practicing nurses and nursing students are held to a high standard of competencies in order to perform responsible and safe care. Successful completion of the nursing program requires that students demonstrate ability to effectively and safely perform several essential skills. Additionally students must demonstrate a proficiency in interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as ethical comportment. Students considering this major must meet the required standards. For more information please view Professional and Technical Standards for Nursing Practice (PDF).

The alternate-entry PhD student is eligible to take the licensure examination to become a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN) in the state of Texas after completing thirty-eight semester hours of foundation courses. The student must pass Nursing 290S and have an unencumbered nursing license in order to enroll in graduate nursing course beyond the first semester of courses following the foundation courses. The student must pass a doctoral qualifying examination before entering candidacy for the doctoral degree. Students must complete at least 106 semester hours of coursework. Established milestones must be completed in order for students to progress and complete the Doctor of Philosophy program in nursing.

Program components are: (1) accelerated foundation courses in all major clinical areas of nursing; (2) master’s level bridge courses, which provide advanced theoretical and research knowledge and a deeper understanding of professional issues; (3) doctoral core courses focused on advanced theoretical, analytical, and research method skills; (4) seminars and related supporting courses in a focused area of study; (5) research practicum courses; and (6) dissertation courses.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification

The post-master’s Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification (APRN) certificate programs are designed for those nurses who have a master’s in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or a recognized degree from a foreign academic institution and wish to complete the course work necessary to sit for national certification as an APRN. Students choose a certificate track as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. Upon completion of the advanced practice coursework, one of the following will appear on the student's transcript: family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist.

Factors considered in the admission decision include a grade point average of at least 3.00 in upper-division and graduate coursework; information derived from academic and professional references; professional background and goals; and proficiency in the English language. An interview may also be required. The composite picture presented by these factors is an important part of the admission review and decision. 

Legal Requirements

In the interest of public safety, there are legal restrictions on enrollment in some nursing courses and on eligibility for RN licensure. Factors that may make an individual ineligible for licensure in Texas include prior denial of a license by a licensing authority; disciplinary action by a licensing/certifying authority; conviction for a crime other than a minor traffic violation; diagnosis/treatment/hospitalization in the past five years for schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, paranoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or borderline personality disorder; addiction or treatment for addiction to alcohol or any other drug during the previous five years; and having been issued a declaratory order concerning eligibility for NCLEX examination or licensure or having received a proposal of ineligibility by the Texas Board of Nursing.

To avoid delay in course enrollment, delay or denial of licensure, or possible disciplinary action and criminal prosecution for later discovery of falsified records, those with a history of any of the factors listed above are strongly urged to apply for a determination of eligibility for licensure. Request for a determination should be made as early as possible, prior to or upon enrolling in the nursing program. Such a determination, called a Declaratory Order, is issued by the Texas Board of Nursing. Issuance of a Declaratory Order takes a minimum of three to six months. More information is available on the Texas Board of Nursing website.

Compliance

Students must provide documentation confirming completion of compliance requirements prior to commencement of degree program. Log in to the School of Nursing intranet site for more information.

  • Medical clearance requirements—immunizations.
  • Criminal background check—required of alternate entry students and registered nurses who received initial licensure prior to 2003. Students with concerns about eligibility are urged to seek official determination from the Texas Board of Nursing six months in advance of beginning clinical courses to allow sufficient time for Texas Board of Nursing approval.
  • Drug screen—a clear drug screen to be completed one month prior to the first day of class in the first semester of a student's program.
  • CPR certification (Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers, offered by the American Heart Association).
  • Basic first aid certification for alternate entry students only.
  • Professional liability insurance (purchased each year through the School of Nursing).
  • Completion of School of Nursing orientation training modules.
  • Completion of School of Nursing scholastic dishonesty and professional integrity and honor code forms.
  • Licensure as a registered nurse in Texas or holds a license that allows the student to practice as a registered nurse in Texas (except for alternate-entry students in foundation courses).
  • Employment background check.