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Why consider an MSN?

The nursing profession is changing rapidly. Health care systems are complex and multifaceted. Basic clinical knowledge is not sufficient to meet the demands of the system. Deepening your understanding of the system and how it affects patient safety and health is necessary for continued growth. Pressure is increasing for hospitals seeking or maintaining magnet status to increase the percentage of MSN prepared students.

I want to teach nursing. I thought I needed a master’s in education to teach.

You can teach nursing at some levels with a master’s degree in nursing. If this is a long term goal it will be important to continue on to a DNP or PhD in nursing. There is an education course in our program to help you prepare to teach clients, coworkers or students.

How do I apply to the program?

  • complete the online application which includes a $50 application fee.
  • have all official college transcripts sent to Eastern Mennonite University, Attn: MSN Program, 1200 Park Road, Harrisonburg VA 22802.
  • please notify persons listed as references that EMU will be contacting them
  • complete FAFSA (for financial aid if applicable)

What are the steps to starting at EMU?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. Apply online.

Application questions: Contact Stephanie Jensen, Graduate Admissions Specialist, at steph.jensen@emu.edu.

Program or course questions: Contact Cathy Rittenhouse, Professor of Nursing and Director of the MSN program, at catherine.rittenhouse@emu.edu

Is this program accredited?

Yes. The school nurse certification program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The MSN program is accredited by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Is there a thesis required?

EMU’s online MSN program does not require a traditional thesis. The Capstone Leadership Project in the final year of the program involves planning and implementing an evidence-based quality improvement project. Students are awarded 150 practicum hours during the summer semester while implementing thier project. In addition, students are awarded another 90 practicum hours for planning their project during the previous fall and spring semesters.

Is there a residency requirement?

There are no in-person residency requirements.

How are MSN courses delivered?

The program is delivered via the internet using a learning platform called Moodle. This powerful educational technology allows you to get course assignments, ask questions to faculty and other students, and participate in critical analytical discussion with colleagues around the world. There are also synchronous sessions from time to time throughout the semester.

Is transfer credit accepted?

Yes, the EMU MSN program will accept up to 12 graduate credit hours from other institutions. Transfer credits must have been completed within 10 years of application to the EMU MSN Program. Decisions on accepting transfer credit will be made on a case by case basis. 

Leadership & Management

What can I do with a MSN in the Leadership & Management?

Nursing is rapidly evolving as a profession along with health care in general. Graduates of a master of science in nursing leadership and management program will find jobs in the following areas:

  • Unit managers in hospitals
  • Supervisors or directors in public health, long term care or other agencies
  • Specific roles in institution- such as safety, infection control or patient education
  • College level teaching in nursing at an associate or baccalaureate level. If at the baccalaureate level, you will need to consider a PhD in the future.

How many total credits are required?

The MSN program consists of 37 credit hours, 10 credit hours of core nursing and 27 credit hours of leadership and management courses.

I am an AD RN, but have a bachelor’s degree in another area. Can I apply?

The nursing profession has sanctioned several levels of academic preparation for entry into practice. Consequently, until the governing bodies in nursing create a single pathway to practice, a variety of degrees and means toward a degree will continue to exist.

The goal of the admissions policy for the Master’s in Nursing at EMU is to facilitate the process whereby registered nurses can advance their education. EMU faculty avoid placing undue roadblocks in this path. Our aim is to accept qualified students while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the program by ensuring an appropriate educational preparation of all accepted candidates. 
Applicants must have an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0. All candidates must show evidence of completion of courses or mastery of content in the following content areas:

  • Research Methodology – a non-nursing focus is acceptable
  • Care across populations and settings – a non-nursing focus is acceptable
  • Professional role development – a nursing focus is required. These courses typically include nursing theory or history.

If the applicant lacks these courses they can be taken via bridge courses at EMU or another institution prior to beginning the master’s program. Applicants who believe they have equivalent experience or knowledge may present evidence in a portfolio and interview with EMU faculty.

Leadership & School Nursing

What can I do with a MSN in Leadership and School Nursing?

Graduates find jobs in the following areas:

  • School and camp settings.
  • Supervisors or directors in public health, or other agencies.
  • College level teaching in nursing at an associate or baccalaureate level. If at the baccalaureate level, you will need to consider a PhD or DNP in the future.

How many total credits are required?

The MSN with a Leadership & School Nurse concentration consists of 37-38 credit hours. These credit hours include 10 credit hours of core nursing, 12 credit hours for the school nurse certification Level I, and 16 credit hours of leadership and education classes.

Why do I need a School Nursing Certification Level I?

Many states require certification in school nursing to work as a school nurse. In some cases, as in the state of Pennsylvania, school nurses without certification work as a health aide and not as a registered nurse. Whether or not the state requires certification, it is beneficial to educate yourself about issues pertaining to school nursing, law, ethics and specifically children with special needs.

I already have a Level 1 Pennsylvania School Nurse Certificate. Can I transfer those course credits?

The EMU MSN program will accept up to 12 graduate credit hours of transfer credit into the MSN Leadership in School Nursing Program for students who have a current Pennsylvania Educational Specialist Level I School Nurse K-12 certificate or Pennsylvania Educational Specialist Level II School Nurse K-12 certificate and who are currently practicing as school nurses. Decisions on accepting transfer credit will be made on a case by case basis.

What is the benefit of getting an MSN with a school nurse concentration (certification)?

Some choose to only take the four required courses for certification. In the state of Pennsylvania all school nurses must complete an approved certification program for Level I certification. The service time allotted to educational specialist Level I certificate is six years. The level one certificate must be converted to a Level II certificate to continue employment as a certified school nurse. Continuing in the MSN Leadership/school nurse concentration fulfills these additional requirements and also provides more opportunity for career advancement.

It seems like your program is geared specifically for school nurses in Pennsylvania?

The program certainly takes into account the Pennsylvania school nurse requirements, policies, and laws. It is an online program, making it accessible to nurses from any state. The school nurse coordinator is available to meet in person or through an online meeting with out-of-state applicants. The focus of this conversation is to ascertain the certificate program’s application to your school nurse role in your state. We request that you investigate the prerequisites for school nurses in your state before applying to make sure this program meets the requirements.

If I am an RN and have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, can I still apply for the school nurse program?

Applications will be considered on an individual basis. A bachelor's degree in any field plus an ADN in Nursing is considered ideal. Please see the similar question above in the Leadership and Management Concentration for further details. 

Do I need a BSN to enroll in the school nurse program?

Yes. A bachelor of science in nursing is a Pennsylvania Department of Education requirement. Baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines, even with an RN license, do NOT satisfy this requirement.

School Nursing Certificate

How many classes are in the School Nurse Certificate Program?

There are four classes in the CSN Program. Upon completion of the four classes, students are eligible to apply to the PA Department of Education for a Level I Educational Specialist K-12 School Nurse Certification. The Level I certificate must be converted to a Level II certificate within six service years as a Certified School Nurse.

How long does it take to become school nurse certified?

It takes approximately one year to complete the four required courses.

How many semesters are in the certificate program, and how many classes per semester?

The School Nurse Certificate courses are offered one class per semester, beginning with a summer session. It takes the summer, fall, spring, and following summer semesters to complete the program requirements.

Is the certificate completed online?

There is a required full-day virtual orientation in early May for all program participants. There is a 120 hour clinical practicum required during the Spring Semester. 

For students continuing their education in the MSN – Leadership & School Nursing concentration, there is a virtual orientation in late July.

When do classes start?

The School Nurse Certification Program begins once per year in May with a required full day virtual orientation.  Classes are held during the summer, fall, spring, and the following summer semesters (approximately one calendar year for completion).

Are classes synchronous or asynchronous?

Classes are offered mostly in the asynchronous format. Dates for synchronous sessions are communicated well in advance for students in order to reserve those dates.

Once I obtain the Level I certificate, am I finished?

The Level I certificate must be converted to a Level II certificate within six years as a certified school nurse. This requires a total of three years of full-time CSN employment, completion of a school induction program (provided by hiring school district), and a minimum of 24 post-baccalaureate credits.

How do I convert from a Level I educational specialist certificate to a Level II?

To move to a Level II educational specialist the school nurse must have:

  • a minimum of 3 years experience as a Level I educational specialist (certified school nurse)
  • accrue 12 additional credits for permanent certification. With only 15 more credits (after the required 24), you will have sufficient credits for an MSN which will give you more credibility and career options
  • complete a PA Department of Education approved induction program. This is usually offered by the employing school district.

Must I decide when I apply if I want to pursue an MSN or just the school nurse certification?

No, you may begin with the school nurse certification courses and later decide you would like to pursue a MSN.

Textbooks and resources

Will I have contact with professors?

Yes. Each student will be assigned an advisor whom you may contact at any time. Also, professors in each course will communicate when and how they may be contacted.

What about textbooks?

Most courses will have a textbook but many of the resources will be online articles. Faculty recommend you purchase textbooks online or, in some cases use interlibrary loan for short term access to a text.

How can I access library resources?

The EMU library may be accessed online. They are very responsive to distance learning students via a chat line or email or phone. There are extensive databases available via the webpage, many with full text access.

The virtual classroom community

Our program nurtures a community of learners in a combination of asynchronous, synchronous and face-to-face classes. Working students learn in a supportive environment. Don’t be surprised if you notice more interaction between class members and with faculty than in a traditional classroom!

Clinical hours

Clinical hours will be arranged near the students’ residence by collaboration between student, faculty, agency, and preceptor.

Distance learning model

All courses will be set up in distance learning mode. Students will take a one credit hour course prior to the first semester that includes the logistics of a distance learning model as well as the theoretical framework, procedures, and policies of the program.

This one credit hour course will enable students and faculty to begin to build a community of learners that is a vital part of the program. 

Learn more about technical requirements

Faculty and staff support

An adviser will provide ongoing support for students and assist with logistics, technology issues, community building, and other program-related issues. Students will also have the support of the EMU IS Department, program faculty, graduate writing tutors and online library resources.

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