Nursing, MSN

College of Nursing

Program Description:

      Graduate programs offer baccalaureate RN students the opportunity to continue their education. The CoN offers a graduate program in nursing leading to the MSN. Advanced practice concentrations prepare graduates to assume roles in health care as an acute care nurse practitioner, a family nurse practitioner, a pediatric nurse practitioner, or a nurse midwife. The CoN also offers a concentration in nursing education; the nursing administration and community health concentrations are not accepting new students at this time.  

A Post-Master's Professional Certificate program is available to nurses holding an MSN who wish to complete additional graduate work in an area of nursing not included in their initial master’s program. A minor in nursing is also available to nurses pursuing their degree in another field. The graduate program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. For further information on the MSN program, contact the Student Advisement Office at 272-4223. 

Note: Preference for admission is given to New Mexico residents. Requirements may change without notice.

General Objectives for the Master’s Program include:

  1. Analyze theoretical formulations as a basis for nursing practice, education, and administration.
  2. Apply and/or participate in research about the nature of health/illness and the practice of nursing.
  3. Utilize advanced clinical knowledge and skill to promote, maintain, and/or restore optimum wellness to client systems.
  4. Assume leadership roles in nursing practice, education, or administration.
  5. Assume responsibility for developing health care policy relative to social, ethical, legal, economic, and political issues that impact on nursing.
  6. Organize and develop collaborative relationships for the improvement of health care on an agency, organizational, or legislative level.
  7. Synthesize knowledge from the biophysical, social, and nursing sciences which affects health/illness behavior or client systems as a basis for nursing practice, education, and administration.

All graduates of the M.S.N program, regardless of their chosen concentration, must complete 12 credits of general core courses. These courses include:

  • N501 Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing 3 Credits
  • N503 Research in Nursing 3 Credits
  • N505 Health Care Policy, Systems and Financing for Advanced Practice Roles 3 Credits
  • N504 Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and Health Care 3 Credits

  Required clinical core courses for all students in advanced practice concentrations (ACNP, FNP, PNP, NM)

  •   NURS 526  Pathophysiology in Advanced Practice Nursing
  •   NURS 539  Advanced Pediatric Health and Development Assessment (PNP)
                                              (or)
  •   NURS 540  Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning (ACNP, FNP, NM)
  •   NURS 543  Pharmacological Principles of Clinical Therapeutics

Required courses for each concentration are listed in the specific concentration information page.

Graduate Course Work Without a License to Practice Nursing

Students may take graduate courses without a clinical component even if they are not licensed to practice nursing in the state of New Mexico. This may apply to non-degree students prior to application for admission to the program, individuals awaiting licensure by examination or reciprocity, individuals taking Web courses or individuals from other disciplines taking graduate nursing courses as electives. For any course having a required clinical component, the student must be licensed in the state in which they are completing the clinical experience.

Academic Regulations

Graduate students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 to stay in good academic standing. No more than 6 credit hours of course work graded C, C+, or CR may be credited toward the graduate degree. Individual graduate nursing concentrations may impose more rigorous academic standards for their clinical courses. Graduate students who do not earn a passing grade or better (as defined by the concentration) in any graduate nursing course on a second attempt are not allowed to progress. Graduate nursing students receiving less than a passing grade in any two nursing courses are also not allowed to progress in the College of Nursing. Students must wait one year before reapplying to the College of Nursing. Courses taken during the year cannot be counted in the program of studies. Prior to repeating a nursing course, the graduate student’s record is reviewed by an academic advisor. Progress will be monitored by an academic advisor.


Admission Requirements:

      Because applicants are seeking admission to graduate studies at the University level, they must complete the UNM application for graduate studies and meet the minimum entry requirements set forth by the University. They must hold a bachelor’s degree, and in general must present a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) in their last two undergraduate years and in their major field (UNM Catalog, 2007-2008). Graduate units may establish additional requirements for applicants to their programs.

Applicants to the master’s degree program in nursing with less than a 3.0 GPA for both the bachelor’s cumulative and nursing major must specifically petition the College of Nursing Admissions Committee to review their materials for admission. The petition must accompany the application. It should address the reasons for the low grade point average and provide evidence of potential for academic success, which the Admissions Committee will consider when making admission decisions. Such applicants may be required to complete coursework in non-degree status prior to consideration for admission to the graduate program.
Applicants to the master’s degree program in nursing are evaluated for their potential to meet program goals as well as for success in their desired concentration within the College of Nursing. Their applications are therefore reviewed within the context of both degree (i.e., MSN) and concentration (e.g., Nursing Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, etc.) goals.

There are different application deadlines for the concentrations within the MSN degree program. All required application materials must be received by the application deadline. These include (but are not limited to) the application, registration form, transcripts, petition (if GPA less than 3.0), three letters of reference, letter of intent (must specify the concentration and should address the “Other Factors” included under the admission criteria), and evidence of passing the Community Health test (non-BSN applicants).

The Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner admit a limited number of new students each year. They utilize screening criteria specific to each of their concentrations when making admission decisions.

The Nursing Administration and Nursing Education concentrations utilize screening criteria specific to each concentration.

Admission decisions for the MSN degree program are made by the College of Nursing Admissions Committee, after applications have been reviewed by a screening committee. The screening committee consists of at least one member from the concentration to which the applicant is requesting admission, plus at least one additional member. The screening committee forwards their admission recommendations to the Graduate Committee for review and consideration, with final College approval given by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.


Career Opportunities:

Nursing combines science and technology with the desire to help people. Nurses assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. Nurses may advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required. Includes advance practice nurses such as: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nursing is practiced by RNs who have specialized formal, post-basic education and who function in highly autonomous and varied roles. 

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S territories, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination, known as the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license. Nurses may be licensed in more than one State, either by examination or by the endorsement of a licensed issued by another State. Nursing programs range from associate degrees to graduate level programs; higher degrees typically involve a broader and more complex scope of patient care. UNM offers a variety of degree options at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. 


Contact Information:

Andrew Russell: Senior Academic Advisor
(505) 272-4223
anrussell@salud.unm.edu