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College of Nursing


Student Services Staff

Certificate of Graduate Studies

Frequently Asked Questions - Certificate of Graduate Studies (CGS) Programs

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Nursing Administration - Organizational Leadership (NA)

Prospective students should apply online through the USC Graduate School.  See the Apply section of the College of Nursing site for detailed admission requirements.

When applying for College of Nursing graduate programs through the Graduate School application, please make sure you select the correct program name. Program names through the Graduate School and corresponding CON programs:

  • Advanced Practice Nursing - Certificate (These include the concentrations of):
      • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) - Spring semester admission only
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) - Spring semester admission only
      • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) - Spring semester admission only
      • Nursing Administration - CGS (This corresponds with the Nursing Administration - Organizational Leadership (NA) Program) - Fall, Spring and Summer semester admission

Please note all applicants for the FNP. PMHNP and AGACNP should apply for spring admission. If after application review, the candidate qualifies for the 18 hour program the student will matriculate in the summer not the spring. All candidates qualifying for the 27 hours program will matriculate in the spring. The CGS Nursing administration track accepts applicants every semester.

  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from a nationally accredited program and evidence of credentialing within the applicant's specialty.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for graduate coursework (official transcripts for all graduate coursework are required).  Applicants who attend a graduate program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate coursework (official transcripts for all nursing coursework are required).  Applicants who attended a BSN or MSN program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Submit a personal statement:  Describe the advanced practice role (FNP, AGACNP, PMHNP) and scope for which you are seeking certification. Describe how this program will advance your professional goals.
  • Current CV or Resume (In addition to your education and professional experiences, include any certifications, leadership experiences, experiences with diverse or underserved population, paid or volunteer healthcare experiences.)
  • You are required to provide evidence of completion of graduate level courses in Health/Physical Assessment (across the lifespan), Physiology/Pathophysiology(across the lifespan) and pharmacology (broad categories of drugs).  These must be three separate courses that meet current criteria for content based on the Consensus Model for APRN regulation (AACN, 2008).
  • Three (3) recommendations that attest to the applicant's academic ability, professional competency and personal character.  These letters must be from a master’s or doctoral prepared health care professional.
  • Current  BLS and ACLS is required for students seeking admission to the AGACNP Certificate of Graduate Studies.
  • Current BLS is required for FNP and PMHNP Certificate of Graduate Studies
  • A copy of current APRN specialty certification must be submitted (does not apply to Nurse Administrators).
  • Unencumbered, active advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license in state where clinical experiences will be occur.
  • GRE not required.
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from a nationally accredited program.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for graduate coursework (official transcripts for all graduate coursework are required).  Applicants who attend a graduate program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate coursework (official transcripts for all post-secondary school coursework are required).  Applicants who attended a BSN or MSN program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Submit a personal statement based on the program that you are applying.  Clinical Students:  Describe the advanced practice role (FNP, AGACNP, PMHNP) and scope for which you are seeking certification. Describe how this program will advance your professional goals.
  • Current CV or Resume (In addition to your education and professional experiences, include any certifications, leadership experiences, experiences with diverse or underserved population, paid or volunteer healthcare experiences.)
  • Three (3) recommendations that attest to the applicant's academic ability, professional competency and personal character.  These letters must be from a master’s or doctoral prepared health care professional.
  • BLS and ACLS is required for students seeking admission to the AGACNP Certificate of Graduate Studies.
  • BLS is required for FNP and PMHNP Certificate of Graduate Studies.
  • Unencumbered, active registered nurse license in state where clinical experiences will occur. This includes telehealth visits (South Carolina) for PMHNP Certificate of Graduate Studies.
  • GRE not required.
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from a nationally accredited program and evidence of credentialing within the applicant's specialty.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for graduate coursework (official transcripts for all graduate coursework are required).  Applicants who attend a graduate program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate coursework (official transcripts for all nursing coursework are required).  Applicants who attended a BSN or MSN program that issued pass or fail grades for all classes will not be considered competitive applicants.
  • Submit personal statement:  Describe your plan for obtaining a preceptor and/or project site. In addition, describe your plan for your project.
  • Current CV or Resume (In addition to your education and professional experiences, include any certifications, leadership experiences, experiences with diverse or underserved population, paid or volunteer healthcare experiences.
  • Three (3) recommendations that attest to the applicant's academic ability, professional competency and personal character.  These letters must be from a master’s or doctoral prepared health care professional.
  • Unencumbered, active registered nurse (RN) license in state where clinical experiences will be occur.
  • GRE not required.
  • The NA program admits students during the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.  Applications may be submitted November 1 – March 1, April 1 – August 1, and August 1 – November 1.
  • The FNP, AGACNP and PMHNP programs only admit students to start during the Spring semester.  Applications may be submitted April 1 – August 1.

Yes, the program admission is competitive. Our Graduate Program is nationally ranked by US News and World Report; therefore, we seek highly qualified candidates who share our vision of excellence in education, practice, and scholarship.

The length of time to complete the program depends on a number of factors but are generally completed with in 4 to 6 semesters.

  • For the FNP:  18-27 credit hours
  • For the AGACNP:  18-27 credit hours
  • For the PMHNP:  18-27 credit hours
  • NA-OL: 18 credit hours

The USC College of Nursing defines full time is at least 6 credit hours per semester, part time is up to 6 credit hours per semester. Plans of study vary per degree and follow a predetermined plan for enhanced learning and success.  Please consult the Office of Financial Aid for eligibility guidelines.

A program adviser will help students understand the program of study for each program. This program of study will outline which courses the student will take in the various semesters.

The College of Nursing maintains a list of contracts/agreements on Blackboard to support Nurse Practitioner students with clinical placements.  The College encourages students to seek preceptors six months prior to beginning of course.  Also, the College of Nursing employs a Director of Clinical Partnerships to assist graduate students in making clinical connections and increasing the number of agreements for which students can use for clinical practicum requirements. Students’ professional relationships with health care providers are important when identifying potential new preceptors. Please share new, approved preceptors or settings with the Director of Clinical Partnerships in order that new agreements can be reached with the College of Nursing. The Director of Clinical Partnerships is Jeanne Cavanaugh, MN, RN, NEA-BC. She may be reached at Jeanne.Cavanaugh@sc.edu or by phone at 803-777-7128. 

Clinical placement setting requirements vary by course.

For the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program: Mental Health Centers, Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities, Private Psychiatric Practices, Counseling Centers, and other appropriate settings with faculty permission.

For the Family Nurse Practitioner program: Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Primary Care Practice, Pediatric Practices, Urgent Care or Minute Clinic settings, Women’s Health practices, and Emergency Departments.

For the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program: Internal Medicine, Hospitalists, Specialty Care (Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology, Trauma, Critical Care, Pulmonary, Infectious Disease) in both ambulatory and acute care hospital settings.

For the Nursing Administration program: Sites for preceptorship experiences may include any organization, hospital, insurance company, or vendor with a Nurse or Health care leader.

The preceptors are approved by the course faculty in each course and include physicians and experienced nurse practitioners.

For the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, licensed counselors, psychologists, and clinical mental health social workers are appropriate for the therapy portions of their curriculum.

The College of Nursing Office of Student Services supports the College of Nursing in establishing new agreements or contracts with approved clinical settings. Establishing a new agreement with a setting or person can require 6 months or longer to finalize - beginning the process early is recommended.

Advanced Practice students may be required to travel to USC a minimum of one time per clinical course.

All didactic course content is online. Courses are taught using the Blackboard CMS and Adobe Connect.

The cost of the program depends on a several factors.  Students can find an estimated cost for the program by visiting the USC Financial Aid site and the USC Bursar's Office site.  

Financial aid is available. To determine eligibility, a student should visit this website and fill out the FAFSA form. The financial aid website also has information about loans and scholarships.  Students can also visit the College of Nursing scholarship and endowments site for information on scholarships in the College of Nursing.

All newly admitted students will have mandatory advisement prior to matriculation. Once a students plan of study is established no other advising is required unless the students needs to change the plan of study, take a term away or has other circumstances requiring a change in the established progression outlined. Advisement is conducted by phone or in person.

The College of Nursing requires a mandatory new student orientation prior to all start dates. Orientation is done on line and must be completed by the prescribed deadline in order to be cleared for the first semester of courses.

Only a limited number or type of courses can be transferred into the program. For APRN seeking additional certification, credit may be given for advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology and advanced pharmacology. Official transcripts and course syllabi of applicable courses will need to be provided for credit to be determined. Syllabi may be supplied directly to the CON advisor.  We do not accept any transfer courses that are below a "B".

Students can generally work part time or on the weekends. Clinical courses are very labor intensive and meet during the work week. Students will have to make adjustments in their work schedule to meet the academic and clinical demands.

Please contact us at 803-777-7412, use our contact form to send us a message, or stop by our office:

Williams-Brice Building
Room 208
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208