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Masters of Science in Nursing, Online MSN

Online MSN, Time to Shine: Your career as a nurse can take you many places, including into management, leadership, and even higher education. Saint Francis University has designed this MSN to make the most of your experience, to prepare you for your next set of professional achievements, and to help you shine, as a nurse, as a manager, nurse educator, and as a leader in the profession.

  • An Online MSN, While You Work

    Being there counts. As a nurse you show up to bedsides, in clinics, and to meetings; you talk, observe, and listen. We want you to keep showing up there, even while you earn your master’s, so most of your MSN classes will meet online. Twice during the 26 month program, we’ll ask you to meet us on campus. You’ll spend one to two days each time in Loretto, Pennsylvania, collaborating with your cohort and meeting face-to-face with your professors.

  • This program is being offered through the highly respected Department of Nursing at Saint Francis University. The Department prides itself for graduating caring, ethical nurses who consistently excel in their chosen profession

    • About the MSN Leadership/Education Program
    • Overall Degree Plan
    • Admissions
    • Costs & Financial Aid
    • Career Path
    • Goals and Obectives
    About the MSN Leadership/Education Program

    The MSN program prepares registered nurses for advanced roles that require increased accountability, expertise, and leadership, allowing you to assume advanced roles in administration, clinical practice, or nursing education. Our small cohort, dedicated professors, and carefully planned sequence of courses give you the tools to: 

    • Plan and initiate a stronger, evidence-based practice
    • Effect change in the healthcare delivery system
    • Assess and evaluate those changes
    • Ensure quality patient/customer care
    • Enhance the profession of nursing  

    Nursing education at Saint Francis is well-known for the care our faculty bring; at every turn, we want you to succeed. Everything we do is informed by the framework of the mission, values, and goals of Franciscan higher education.


    Overall Degree Plan

    The Leadership/Education track of the MSN program can be completed in 26 months. Courses vary in length from 7 to 15 weeks and are offered online. Most MSN students will complete two courses each semester, and one over the summer.

    Two residencies are required. Each residency is approximately one to two days in length and will take place on the Saint Francis University campus in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Each residency has a specific purpose, including networking, project presentations, student learning assessment, and collaborative learning. Residencies take place at the beginning and during a designated course later in the program. 

    Three major clusters of courses comprise the MSN curriculum:

    Core Courses (16 credits)

    • Advanced Nursing Practice: Emergence, Theory, and Leadership, MSN 500, 3 credits
    • Evidence-Based Practice, MSN 501, 3 credits
    • Leadership for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, MSN 502, 2 credits
    • Ethical Issues in Practice, MSN/MHS 505, 2 credits
    • Inter-professional Communication & Collaboration, MSN 510, 3 credits
    • Strategies in Health Policy, MSN/MHS 518, 3 credits

    Leadership & Education Specialization (14 credits)

    • Advanced Core Concepts in Health & Illness for Leadership/Education, MLE 509, 3 credits
    • Leadership in Measurement & Outcomes Evaluation, MLE 619, 3 credits
    • Economics & Fiscal Management for Nurse Leaders, MLE 520, 2 credits
    • Leadership for Excellence in Professional Development: Adult Development & Learning in Theory and Practice, MLE 626, 2 credits
    • Leading Quality Initiatives in Service & Education (2S/2C), MLE 630, 4 credits

    Practicum for Nurse Leaders & Educators (3 credits)

    • Immersive Practicum (over 14 weeks max), MLE 640, 3 credits

    View Course Catalog Major Requirements


    MSN Program Admission Criteria

    1. Unencumbered current license as a Registered Nurse in the United States within the home state of residency 
    2. Official transcripts verifying the conferral of a baccalaureate (bachelor's) degree in nursing from an NLNAC (now ACEN) or CCNE-accredited program
    3. A BSN GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
    4. Evidence of qualification and capacity for graduate study as reflected in the following:
      a) Application essay
      b) Two professional references 
      c) Minimum grade-point average (GPA) 3.0
      d) Professional activity (e.g., community, organizational, and volunteer service, and creative professional accomplishments
    5. A minimum of one year of full-time work experience as a registered nurse is required prior to registration in clinical or specialty courses
    6. Interview with program faculty (in person, online, or by phone)
    7. Willingness to attend the on-campus residencies
    8. Students must meet the Technical Standards for Admission
    9. Proficiency in English 
      a) All applicants whose first language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL, 
      b) The minimum overall TOEFL score is 84 (Internet-based test); 24 is the minimum score in the speaking section, and 24 is the writing section minimum score
    10.  Applicants must meet the following prerequisites: 
      • Completion within the past five years of an introductory college-level course in statistics
      • Completion of an undergraduate physical assessment course 
      • Demonstrated computer literacy (including the ability to send and download attachments) or completed courses in word processing, spreadsheet, database management, and presentation graphics

    Required Orientation

    Before beginning course work, new MSN students are required to attend a one-day on-campus orientation. (Dates TBA)

    Advanced Standing

    A maximum of nine (9) graduate-level credits from a regionally accredited university and approved program may be transferred toward completion of the requirements for the Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree. Transfer credit will only be accepted for courses in which a grade of “B” (GPA = 3.0 on 4.0 scale) or its equivalent has been received. These credits cannot have been applied to a previous degree. Courses taken over five years prior to admission will not be accepted. Official transcripts certifying graduate-level courses completed at another institution prior to admission to St. Francis University should be submitted at the time of application and should be evaluated for acceptability as advance standing credit in the MSN Program.

    Procedure for Requesting Transfer Credits

    In order to have your request evaluated by the Graduate Admissions Committee, you must do the following:

    1. Complete the Request for Advanced Standing Form
    2. Request official transcript(s) for all courses being considered for transfer
    3. Submit the Request for Advanced Standing form, the official transcript(s), and the course syllabus with other application materials 

    Readmission Policy

    After voluntary withdrawal, students may request readmission by submitting a letter to the MSN Program Director stating the reason for the request and the anticipated date for readmission. Previous program enrollment and a request for readmission do not guarantee acceptance for re-admission to the program. If readmission is granted, current MSN Program policies will apply (not those of the first admission to the program).

    Costs & Financial Aid


    • 33 credits of MSN course work @ $600.00/credit (subject to change)
    • Graduation fee: $190.00 (one-time)

    Total tuition and fees for MSN program: $19,800.00 credits + $190.00 graduation fee = $19,990.00 (2016–2017 academic year) Currently there are no other fees associated with admission as a student in the MSN program, although students will be required to purchase their own malpractice insurance for courses with a clinical component (MLE 630 & 640).

    Financial Aid

    Students may be eligible for financial aid packages based upon their credit load. It is recommended that students contact the SFU financial aid office at or (814) 472-3010.

    Career Path

    The Saint Francis MSN in leadership and education was specifically designed to prepare graduates to use their leadership and educational skills in nursing education in higher education or clinical settings, and to offer inspirational leadership in the design, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs that promote lifelong learning.

    Such advanced preparation qualifies graduates for mid-level management positions in most healthcare settings and some educational settings; in some settings, graduates may fill upper-level positions. Once a graduate of an MSN program has 2080 hours (one full-time employment year) of experience in a nurse manager role, s/he is eligible to sit for the certification exam for Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML), offered by the American Organization of Nurse Executives Credentialing Center (AONE-CC) an activity of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Outlook Handbook 2015, reported the median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $94,500 in May 2015. The top 10 percent of earners earned an average of $144,880. The BLS also noted that employment for medical and health services managers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2014 to 2024—faster than the average for all other occupations ( 

    Goals and Obectives

    The Master of Science in Nursing Program of Saint Francis University is designed to meet the current and future need for nurses prepared to plan, initiate, effect, and evaluate change in the health care delivery care system, insure quality patient/customer care, and enhance the profession of nursing within the framework of the Mission, Values, and Goals of Franciscan Higher Education. The MSN program prepares registered nurses for advanced roles that require increased accountability, expertise, and leadership. 

    Program Goals

    1. The Master of Science program in nursing is designed to achieve the following goals:
    2. Tap the potential of bachelor’s prepared professional nurses to strengthen and improve health care by providing graduate level educational advanced practice, education, and leadership.
    3. Elevate the educational levels of nurses in the healthcare workforce by offering preparation for advanced practice roles in nursing.
    4. Prepare nurses for doctoral level study.

    MSN Program Objectives

    Graduates of the MSN Program will be prepared to

    1. Exercise a selected advanced practice nursing role to ensure the delivery of high quality direct patient care and/or to foster an organizational climate in health care and nursing educational settings that serve to promote high quality patient care.
    2. Exercise leadership in interdisciplinary collaboration to develop and/or refine organizational structures and processes through which high quality, evidence-based, and cost-effective care, and the improvement of patient outcomes are assured. 
    3. Participate in political processes at a variety of levels to influence health care policy that benefits patients, the profession, and the interdisciplinary community of health care providers.
    4. Make critical, constructive, and effective use of scientific evidence in the implementation, evaluation, and revision of health care services to better serve the health needs of individuals in the context of their families and communities.
    5. Exercise leadership to cultivate a highly ethical, culturally competent, and caring health care culture through the promotion of self-awareness, effective communication, effective group dynamics, values-based realism, courage, and principled action.
    6. Employ administrative and clinical information technology to access and leverage knowledge effectively, ethically, and legally in the interest of safe, effective, patient care in a variety of settings.