Master of Science in Nursing FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the admission process in the MSN program?
We accept 20 students (plus 3 alternates) in the fall and spring semesters. Only completed
applications are reviewed after April 30 and October 31. We review applications in
the order of the application date. If there are more than 20 applicants your application
may go into the pool for the next semester. We will make our final decisions by June
1 (for fall and December 1 (for spring semesters).
- 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 nursing education
specialty courses and NURS 551 Clinical Prevention and Population Health. 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 number of courses every semester. They can choose to increase
or decrease the number 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 5 credits a semester, which usually
consists of 2 courses. If graduate students take 9 credits a semester, they are considered
- 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 and 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.
- What does the practicum entail?
There are two practicums at the capstone level. Students will have one practicum focusing
on their core courses (500 level) and one practicum in their chosen specialty role
while being mentored by an MSN-prepared nurse. Students write a proposal for their
practicums in NURS 711 and NURS 712. The practicums are completed in NURS 791 and
NURS 792. Each practicum is 120 hours of practice.
- Can I complete my practicums at my current place of work?
Yes. However, the hours related to the practicums 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 practicums have to take place face-to-face with
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 practicums 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 capstone courses, students must submit a professional portfolio
related to their specialty role for review. 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.
Updated June 10, 2013