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College of Nursing

Master's Programs

Frequently Asked Questions - MSN Program

What types of MSN programs are offered at USC College of Nursing?
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) - Summer semester and Fall semester admissions
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) - Summer semester and Fall semester admissions
  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) - Summer semester admission
  • Nursing Administration (NA) - Fall, Spring and Summer semester admissions
How do prospective students apply?

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:

  • MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP)
  • MSN Adult Gerontology - Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (MSN-AGACNP)
  • MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN-PMHNP)
  • Nursing Administration (MSN-NA)
What are the criteria for admission?
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from all previous institutions, science grades strongly considered.  
  • Three letters of reference from a Masters or Doctorally prepared registered nurse or physician who can speak to the applicant’s ability to successfully complete the Masters of Science in Nursing program outcomes.
  • A personal Goal statement that reflects MSN program outcomes for the program you applied for.
  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Current unencumbered RN license in the state you practice. Upload a copy from the Board of Nursing with your application.
When is the application due date?
  • The PMHNP program only admits students to start during the Summer semester.  Applications may be submitted August 1 – November 1.
  • The FNP and AGACNP programs admit students for the Summer and Fall semesters.  Applications may be submitted August 1 – November 1 or November 1 – March 1.
  • The NA program admits students to begin during the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.  Applications may be submitted November 1 – March 1, April 1 – August 1, and August 1 – November 1.
Is the program competitive for admission?

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. Not all candidates that meet admission criteria will be accepted.

How long is the program?

The length of time to complete the program depends on a number of factors including part time or full time student status.

  • For the FNP:  45-48 credit hours
  • For the AGACNP:  40-43 credit hours
  • For the PMHNP: 45-48 credit hours
  • For the NA: 30 credit hours
Can a I go part time or full time?

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.

How does a student know what courses to take for their program of study?

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

How do I find a preceptor?

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 or by phone at 803-777-7128. 

What types of practice sites does a student need for clinical?

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.

What types of preceptors are acceptable?

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.

How does a student generate a contract for a new clinical rotation placement?

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.

Will students be required to travel to USC?

Advanced Practice students are required to travel to USC a minimum of one time per clinical course. There may be selective intensive days for Nurse Administrative students. 

Is the course content online or does the student have to come to the Columbia campus for

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

What is the cost of the program?

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.  

Are scholarships, loans, and financial aid available?

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.

How does the advisement process work?

All newly admitted students will have mandatory advisement prior to matriculation. Once a students plan of study is estabilished 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.

Is there a new student orientation?

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.

Can I transfer courses into the program?

Only a limited number or type of courses can be transferred into the program. We do not accept NP foundation (advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, diagnostics) courses or clinical courses as transfers. We do not accept any transfer courses that are below a "B". There is a process for transferring courses into the University. It generally takes 6 months to obtain approval or disapproval for a course transfer.

Can I work and complete the MSN Program?

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.

Is the program nationally accredited?

Yes. The Master's Degree in Nursing at The University of South Carolina are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( through 2021.  We also meet the standards for American Nurses Association Credentialing Center, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, and the AACN Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing. 

What if I have additional questions about the program?

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