Master of Nursing FAQs

What is the Master of Nursing Program?

The Master of Nursing Program is designed for individuals who hold at least a BA/BS in a non-nursing major and whose career and educational goals include nursing practice at the advanced specialty level.

The program has two stages:

  • Pre-Licensure (Students earn their MN and can sit for their RN licensure exams to become advanced generalist registered nurses.)
  • Advanced Specialty (Students earn their MSN and can sit for their board certification exams to become Nurse Practitioners or Midwives.)
  • Students are encouraged to complete both phases of the program. However, they may choose to exit (temporarily or permanently) after each phase.
  • Following completion of the MN program, students may apply for the DNP, PhD or DNP/PhD programs

Phase Length Format Degree Credential/Nature of Practice*
Pre-Licensure 4 semesters or 20 months (includes about 14 cr toward most MSN majors) Full Time MN * 
(Master of Nursing)
Apply to a Board of Nursing for licensure as a Registered Nurse and practice as a beginning staff nurse.
Advanced Specialty ** Varies with specialty & enrollment status. Minimum of 3 semesters.  Full time or part time. Most courses are offered in a distance-friendly format. MSN *
(Master of Science in Nursing)
Apply to a professional organization for certification in the advanced nursing specialty and to a Board of Nursing for credentials to practice in the advanced nursing specialty.

**Certain MSN majors require experience as an RN and/or a separate interview or application process. See the MSN program director or website for more information. An RN license is required to take MSN clinical courses.

I am not a nurse, but my career goal is to become an Advanced Practice Nurse. Can I start directly at the MSN level of the program?

  • No, in order to study advanced practice nursing, the student must be a licensed registered nurse. You can start most MSN program after successfully completing of the Graduate Entry Nursing Program where you earn your MN and qualifies you to sit for your licensure exam (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse.

I am not a nurse, but my career goal is to earn my DNP.  Can I just enroll in the DNP Program? 

  • The DNP degree is a post-MSN degree. Students must hold an MSN in order to earn the DNP degree. To hold an MSN, you must be a licensed registered nurse.

What is the difference between the DNP and PhD degrees?

  • Both the DNP and PhD are terminal degrees in nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a practice doctorate. It is designed for nurses whose educational and career interests include advanced clinical practice, nursing education and/or administration. The PhD in Nursing is a research doctorate. It is designed for nurses whose educational and career interests include nursing research and building the science of nursing. Their practice may also include the role of advanced practice or nursing education.

How many times a year do you start a new class? When is orientation?

  • The Graduate Entry Program enrolls one class of students each year, in the fall semester. A mandatory orientation is held on Thursday and Friday of the week before the start of classes. Classes begin according to the CWRU calendar (typically Monday of last week of August).

Is there a rolling admission process or are all applications reviewed at one time?

  • Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Our goal is to have a decision to the applicant within 4 weeks following the interview. The Deadline for Applications to be completed for Fall enrollment decision is March 1 of that year.

How do you calculate the natural science and behavioral science GPAs?

  • The natural science GPA is made up of all undergrad courses with biology and chemistry prefixes (such as BIOL and CHEM). The behavioral science GPA is made up of all undergrad courses with psychology, sociology and anthropology prefixes (such as PSYCH, SOCI, and ANTH).

Can I be admitted to the program before I have completed all the courses required for admission?

  • Yes, however, prior to review of your application, we require the completion of a minimum of two (2) pre-requisite courses. The offer of admission letter will state the requirements to be met prior to enrollment. Pre-requisite course requirements must be completed with a grade in the course before the student enrolls in the first semester of the program.

Does FPB require the GRE?

  • While a GRE test is not required to apply, the scores may be requested for an admission decision.

What if I have taken the GRE test more than once?

  • If we receive more than one set of scores for the GRE, we will consider the highest score for each test on the GRE (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing).

How do I know if I have a competitive application?

  • Our guidelines for admission are stated on our website. We look at each applicant individually by reviewing all parts of the application file.

What if I have questions about the pre-requisite course requirements?

  • We are willing to review your transcripts to give an unofficial appraisal of which pre-requisite courses you have taken or need to take. The official evaluation is done at the time the application is reviewed for an admission decision. We are also willing to review course descriptions to determine if a course you plan to take meets our pre-requisite course requirements.

How do I transfer credits?

  • Admitted applicants or enrolled students who have taken a course they believe is equivalent to a course required in our curriculum may apply for credit transfer. Instructions may be found on the Registrar's Webpage.

How do I declare an MSN Advanced Specialty Major?

  • We believe students should transition into the nursing role before committing to an advanced specialty. Therefore, we do not require our students commit to a Specific MSN Specialty until they enroll in the MSN clinical courses (or, for certain specialties, submit a separate application for the specialty). 
    • We strongly recommend students learn about MSN specialty areas through activities such as interviewing, shadowing, reading or having received care by an advanced practice nurse. In order to assess whether an applicant’s educational/career goals fit with our program, we do ask applicants about their specialty interest (application form, essay and interview). During the pre-licensure phase students have opportunities to learn more about our MSN majors.
      • We inquire again about the student’s MSN specialty interest during the last semester of the pre-licensure phase of the program. At that time, we assign the student to an academic advisor for that specialty. The student can still change their specialty at a future date.

After graduating in 20 months with an MN generalist degree and taking my RN licensure exam (NCLEX), can I complete my MSN degree while living elsewhere?

  • Depending on your MSN Major and specialty, it may be possible to complete your MSN via distance. You will likely need to occasionally travel to our campus for Intensive Courses (offered in January, May and August) and the didactic portion of clinical courses. Some MSN students may complete their required clinical experiences via distance as well with sufficient planning and notification. For more information, contact the MN Program Director.

What should I expect from nursing clinical's in the Grad Entry Nursing Program?

  • You will be assigned a clinical group with an instructor in an appropriate facility. The instructor will supervise your patient care experiences and you will also work with the RN assigned to the patient.
    • The foundational clinical experience begins with communication, vital sign measurement, activities of daily living for patients as well as basic nursing skills.
  • In your first year, the courses 401 and 407 will have Medical-Surgical clinical experiences corresponding to class lectures and labs.
    • In the second year, you will experience Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Psychiatric, and Critical Care nursing along with corresponding in class lecture and lab.
  • There are also additional support courses in leadership, health care improvement, pharmacology and advanced generalist practice (see Curriculum).
    • You will be required to provide care for a variety of diverse patients in increasingly complex healthcare situations throughout your nursing clinical experiences.