Skip to Content

College of Nursing

Graduate Programs

Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

Program flexibility

The College of Nursing defines a full-time course load as at least six credit hours per semester, while a part-time course load is up to six credit hours per semester. The program of study will vary per degree and follow a predetermined plan for enhanced learning and success. Consult the Office of Financial Aid for eligibility guidelines.

You can generally work part-time or on the weekends while completing the MSN program. However, clinical courses are very labor intensive and meet during the work week. Depending on your program, you may have clinical experiences on the weekend and holidays. You will have to make adjustments to your work schedule to meet the program’s academic and project demands.

We are currently admitting students from Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC into all our graduate nursing programs.

In addition to the states mentioned above, we are also admitting students from California, Mississippi, and Oklahoma into our Healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education, Nursing Informatics, and Executive Healthcare Leadership programs. 

 Advisement and courses

A program adviser will review your program of study, which outlines which courses you will take in the various semesters.

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. To be eligible, you must have earned a “B” or better in the proposed transfer credit class. The university evaluates prior coursework for transfer, a process that generally takes six months to determine approval.

As a newly admitted student, you will participate in a mandatory advising session prior to starting the program. Once your program of study is established, no other advising is required unless you need to change the program of study, take a term away, or have other circumstances requiring a change in the established progression outlined. Advisement can be conducted by phone or in person.

Clinical placements

Students should begin considering their clinical requirements at least six months in advance. Students may locate preceptors for the clinical experience. We also have resources to assist with clinical placement. The College of Nursing maintains a list of contracts/agreements on Blackboard to support Nurse Practitioner students with clinical placements. In addition, you may reach out to the College of Nursing's Director of Clinical Partnerships or the Clinical Placement Coordinator for assistance in making clinical connections. Moreover, your professional relationships with health care providers are important when identifying potential new preceptors. Please share new, approved preceptors or settings with Jeanne Cavanaugh,  Director of Clinical Partnerships, so that new agreements can be reached with the College of Nursing.

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 the curriculum.

Clinical placement setting requirements vary by degree program.

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program clinical placement settings: internal medicine, hospitalists, specialty care (cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, trauma, critical care, pulmonary, infectious disease) in both ambulatory and acute care hospital settings.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner program clinical placement settings: internal medicine, family practice, primary care practice, pediatric practices, urgent care or minute clinic settings, women’s health practices and emergency departments.
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program clinical placement settings: mental health centers, inpatient psychiatric facilities, private psychiatric practices, counseling centers and other appropriate settings with faculty permission.
  • Healthcare Leadership program clinical placement settings: Sites for preceptorship experiences may include any healthcare organizations including health systems, hospitals, community-based settings, or others where nursing leadership is practiced.
  • Nursing Informatics program clinical placement settings: Informaticist within a health care system.
  • Nursing Education program clinical placement settings: Sites for preceptorship experiences may include a nursing class, precepting with clinical staff or a specialty agency.

The College of Nursing Office of Academic Affairs 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 take six months or longer to finalize. We recommend starting the process early.

Columbia campus travel requirements

Students may be required to come to campus depending on the program. The courses are identified under Projected Curriculum for each respective program. MEPN students are required to come to Columbia campus for face-to-face instruction and clinicals in the SC Midlands area.

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

Depending on the program, students may be required to come to campus for orientation. MEPN students will have an on-campus orientation. Students enrolled in other MSN programs will be required to complete the mandatory student orientation online. You must complete the orientation session by the designated deadline to be cleared for your first semester of courses.



Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.