Master of Science in Nursing
Frequently Asked Questions
- What Specialty concentrations are offered in the FSU MSN program?
We offer three advanced leadership specialty concentrations: Nursing Education, Nursing
Administration and Nursing Informatics.
- Can I take more than 1 specialty concentration?
Yes. You can take any of the additional specialty concentrations in addition to the
one you have chosen as your focus for your MSN degree. If you haven't chosen the nursing
education specialty concentration as your primary focus, you can also earn a graduate
certificate in nursing education after the additional completion of the 4 nursing
education specialty courses. Additionally, you can also earn a graduate certificate
from the College of Business in Business Intelligence and Informatics Advanced Studies
if you take the informatics specialty concentration. The College of Business is not
currently offering a graduate certificate related to the nursing administration concentration.
- What is the most common pace that students take to complete this program? What is
considered full-time or part-time?
Our MSN program is very flexible. Most of our students are working full-time so the
most common pace is to take 1-2 courses a semester. However, students are not locked
into taking a certain amount of courses every semester. They can choose to increase
or decrease the amount of courses they are taking a semester without these choices
affecting their progression in the program. To qualify for financial aid, graduate
students need to be taking at least 6 credits a semester, which usually consists of
2 courses. If graduate students take 9 credits a semester, they are considered full-time
- What if a specialty concentration course is not offered in the semester I need to
A student's progression has never been withheld because a suggested specialty concentration
course was not offered in the semester the student needed to take it. A different
specialty concentration course was found that met the student's learning needs as
long as it was mutually agreed upon by the advisor and student.
- What if I find I cannot take any courses for a semester or two?
If conditions arise where students cannot take courses for a semester, they should
communicate with their advisor so a plan is in place for continuation. If students
cannot take courses for more than one semester, it is a university requirement that
they will need to reapply for admission to the university. This can easily be done
online by filling out another application and if it is a short period of time away,
there usually are minimal application materials that need to be re-submitted. Sometimes,
only an updated copy of the RN license is needed. Although the university does have
a 5 year time limit for graduate degree completion, if a student is working towards
completion on a gradual but consistent basis, an extension can be awarded in extenuating
- Will I ever have to come to the Ferris State University campus in Big Rapids or meet
There is a 4 hour mandatory orientation prior to starting the program which is delivered
on both the east and west sides of the state and may be offered virtually for those
who are out-of-state or have scheduling conflicts. This orientation provides students
with the skills to be able to access our FLITE library services from their computer;
ability to meet other graduate students & the MSN Program Advisor; opportunity to
learn how to access and navigate FerrisConnect, the online learning platform; and
ability to receive additional information that will help them to be successful in
the program. If a student decides to take the specialty concentration of nursing informatics
there are a few face-to-face meetings for a couple of the courses on campus that are
required to learn the databases. Otherwise, all of the MSN program work is online
with the exception of some of the informatics courses offered by the College of Business.
We do encourage students to attend the graduation ceremony on campus upon completion,
but it is not required.
- Is online learning easier than in a face-to-face class?
Online learning is time-intensive for both faculty and students. Although there is
more flexibility in the online learning environment, it is not easier than a face-to-face
class. Instead, learning is different where students are more accountable for and
directive of their learning and faculty are facilitators to guide students in meeting
their learning needs. It is important for students to learn effective time-management
strategies to guide them in this new, flexible environment.
- How many hours can I expect to have to commit each week to each course? Can I manage
taking 2 courses at a time?
In online learning, students need to think differently about the total amount of time
they spend completing a course. Where success in a traditional classroom-based course
often requires 3 hours of classroom time each week, travel time, and perhaps 7 to
10 additional hours for reading, research, and projects, the total time may remain
the same in online courses but be distributed differently. In online learning, there
are usually increased student-student and student-faculty electronic communication
as well as an individualized time schedule for the student to complete the online
learning assignments. Whether students can take 1 or more courses concurrently really
is an individual decision. This decision is dependent upon the amount of hours the
person is committed to work a week and time outside of work that is dedicated to professional
and personal activities. Additionally, other responsibilities such as caring for an
ill-parent or child, will determine how much coursework a person can manage at one
time. Finally, there is personal perception. What one person may feel is manageable,
may not feel manageable to another person.
- Please explain more about the comprehensive exam process.
The comprehensive exam offers the MSN students the opportunity to integrate knowledge
from their core and specialty courses as they transition into the capstone level where
they complete a scholarly project and practicum. Gathering resources from the core
and specialty courses, students write an essay that is evaluated by the graduate nursing
faculty where they address a global question related to advanced specialty practice.
The exam question is delivered via the student's university email and the students
have a 48 hour time-frame to write and submit their essays. In NURS 710 where students
are writing a proposal for their scholarly project, they also write an essay to a
sample comprehensive exam question where they receive feedback from faculty and their
peers as preparation for the exam. The exam is offered twice a year in the fall and
spring semesters. Students take the comprehensive exam in the semester they are taking
NURS 710. Thus, if students are taking NURS 710 in the fall, they take the exam in
the fall. If they are taking NURS 710 in the spring, they take the exam in the spring.
Finally, if they take NURS 710 in the summer, they take the exam in the fall semester
because an exam is not offered in the summer semester. Students must earn a grade
of 85% as a passing requirement.
- What happens if I do not pass the comprehensive exam when I take it?
If students do not earn a passing grade of 85% on their first attempt, they have the
opportunity to receive faculty feedback related to their areas of deficiencies and
re-write their essay. If students do not earn a passing grade on their second attempt,
they retake the exam the next time it is offered. Passing the exam is an MSN program
requirement and not connected to any course. Thus, because the student needs to pass
the exam as a graduation requirement, he or she can keep taking the exam until successful.
- What does the scholarly project entail?
At the capstone level, students complete an evidence-based scholarly project related
to their specialty role while being mentored by an MSN-prepared nurse. There are some
examples of scholarly projects located in the graduate nursing student handbook. Students
write a proposal for their scholarly project in NURS 710 and in NURS 720 the scholarly
project is completed. The expectation is that approximately 120 hours are needed to
complete the project.
- What does the practicum entail?
Also at the capstone level, students practice in their chosen specialty role while
being mentored by an MSN-prepared nurse who is in this role. Students write a proposal
for their practicum in NURS 730 and in NURS 740 the practicum is completed. There
are 300 hours of practice required in the practicum experience.
- Can I complete my scholarly project and practicum at my current place of work?
Yes. However, the hours related to the scholarly project or practicum must occur outside
of the student's regular work hours and work responsibilities. The intent is for the
student to take on the role of graduate student and active learner. If the student
is in a work role with the responsibilities and accountability related to that role,
he or she does not have the freedom to be in the learner role.
- Do all of the required hours for the scholarly project and practicum have to take
place face-to-face with my preceptor/mentor?
No. It is expected that there will be regular meetings with the preceptor/mentor but
that additional activities will take place away from these face-to-face meetings.
For example, if a student is teaching at a college during their practicum, he or she
would probably create learning materials away from the preceptor and then meet with
the preceptor for feedback.
- I work full-time. What if I am not able to complete all of the required hours related
to my scholarly project or practicum in one semester?
The majority of our MSN students are employed full-time and often in leadership positions.
If students are not able to complete all of the required hours in one semester, they
can earn an incomplete and continue to complete the hours and final coursework in
the following semester. Students will work with the same course instructor until the
course requirements are met. No additional tuition fees need to be paid.
- Can I transfer other graduate courses that I took elsewhere into the MSN program?
When admitted, students can submit syllabi from previous graduate coursework to be
reviewed and considered for transfer credit allocation. These courses must be able
to be substituted for courses within the MSN program curriculum. A minimum of 70%
of the MSN program credits must be from FSU.
- What does the portfolio requirement entail?
As part of the MSN program graduation requirements, students must submit a professional
portfolio related to their specialty role for review by the MSN program coordinator
as they prepare for graduation. The framework for this portfolio is developed in one
of the early core courses. Then, the student continues to build his/her portfolio
throughout the program that is reflective of the student's academic and experiential
preparation for the role. The intent is for the MSN student to leave the MSN program
with a professional portfolio that will be useful when applying for a job in their
- What about scholarships? Does Ferris offer scholarships to graduate students?
We offer scholarship opportunities as they are presented to our university. Over the
last several years, we have been able to offer scholarships on an annual basis to
students who are majoring in nursing education. These scholarships, provided by the
State of Michigan, were based on the nurse educator shortage. Students are also encouraged
to contact their professional organizations because there are many additional scholarship
opportunities available through state and national nursing organizations, such as
the Michigan Organization for Nurse Executives, Sigma Theta Tau International, or
the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, to name a few.