Nursing, M.S.

Program Overview

You sense within you a deep call for compassion and care. It’s a call to comfort. A call to serve. A call to lead. It’s a call that expands the whole of the human experience – from birth to death, and everywhere in between. The call of a nurse is sacred.

At Point Loma Nazarene University, we understand the inherent sacredness of your work. That’s why we provide you with the best knowledge and practices while also focusing on the spiritual and emotional side of caring for patients.   

A Faithful Balance

The program focuses on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of nursing, providing a balanced approach to learning that integrates education, service, and faith.

Close-knit Collaboration

Move through the program together with a close-knit diverse cohort of peers for continued encouragement and supportive friendships. Smaller classes allow for in-depth discussion and quality interactions with professors.

A Healthy Future

The hands-on, evidence-based instruction, clinical nurse specialist programs, mentoring and networking opportunities through an extensive alumni group, and PLNU’s strong nursing reputation in San Diego set the stage for your continued career success after graduation.

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Sacred Work

Interview with Janet Johnson

As a registered nurse, Janet wanted a rigorous program that would equip her with the skills to teach other RNs. PLNU's master's in nursing program both challenged and encouraged her in the next step of her career.

Watch Video:
Master's in Nursing Program

The graduate nursing program at PLNU is accredited by the CCNE and approved by the California BRN. The program is designed for working professionals. Most classes are held one night a week and select Saturdays at our Liberty Station Conference Center.

PLNU’s cohort model keeps you with a core group of MSN peers as you progress through the courses together. The model provides friendship, support, and encouragement. In addition, the students benefit from the diversity of experience and expertise of the other cohort members. The smaller class size allows for deeper discussion and more faculty interaction/ The inclusion of faith and service allows for opportunities to discuss issues of spirituality.

Students have the ability to have hands-on experience in multicultural settings. Through core courses and nursing clinical specialty, students gain a solid foundation in advanced practice nursing. PLNU students benefit from the broad range of clinical preceptors and clinical agencies that are available.

We offer tracks for ADN to MSN, RN to MSN and BSN to MSN.

ADN to MSN

If you’re an ADN or diploma-prepared registered nurse, you can complete three transition courses in the spring and summer semesters to become part of the MSN cohort in the fall. You will then continue in the MSN course progression for the rest of the program. The program can be completed in two-and-a-half years. Please note that a BSN degree is not granted, and you must have at least one year of full-time nursing experience in a United States healthcare facility to apply.

BSN to MSN

If you are a BSN-prepared registered nurse, you can earn your MSN in two years if you begin in the fall semester. If you prefer to take the program at a slower pace, you may start in spring or summer and spread out your classes. You must have at least one year of full-time nursing experience in a United States healthcare facility to apply.

Post-MSN Certification

If you are a registered nurse with your MSN, the Post-MSN certification program is designed to prepare you to assume the role of a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Student Profile

A vibrant orange and purple sunset in San Diego is framed by the iconic Greek Amphitheater on PLNU's campus

Christina M. Kelley

Christina M. Kelley (15) started her journey into the nursing vocation in high school as a student in a medical assistant regional occupational program that gave her hands-on experience in the industry. Read more

MSN Tracks and Concentrations

Option 1

MSN with either Business or Education Concentration: The MSN program is designed to prepare the Registered Nurse for roles in leadership and management or in education. Each student is required to take eight units of specialized coursework in their chosen concentration.

Option 2

MSN without Specialization: Alternatively, you may elect not to pursue an area of concentration. 

Option 3

MSN with Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Track: The role of a CNS is defined in terms of your patient care expertise, which you can continue to cultivate while obtaining an advanced education and the opportunity for specialization. As a prerequisite, you must have at least one year of full-time nursing experience in a U.S. healthcare facility.   

You can choose from the following CNS specializations:

  • Adult/Gerontology
  • Family/Individual Health
  • Pediatrics

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I earn my MSN degree?

An MSN degree from PLNU can help you:

  •  Achieve greater personal satisfaction

  •  Become equipped for advanced leadership roles

  •  Positively affect patient outcomes

  •  Assist other nurses in improving their skills

  •  Help prepare others for a career in nursing

  •  Improve patient education

  •  Have more professional autonomy

  •  Become fully prepared for doctoral studies

Is there a need for nurse educators?

While there is a critical shortage of nurses in the United States, there is an even more urgent shortfall of qualified nurse educators to prepare the next generation of nurses. You can help meet this need with an MSN degree from PLNU. With an MSN degree, you will be eligible to become a faculty member in any nursing program around the country. In fact, we have graduates of our program teaching in every nursing program in San Diego County.

What is a clinical nurse specialist?

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is a Master's prepared nurse who has completed a course of specialized study and 500 clinical hours in an area of nursing practice, or following a patient population, or facilitating a particular outcome utilizing the five roles of the CNS and the three spheres of influence. Clinical nurse specialists often advance the standard of nursing care in a specific area.

What CNS options are available?

  • Adult/Gerontology - This specialty is appropriate for nurses working in the acute care hospital inclusive of telemetry units, progressive care, critical care, operating room, postanesthesia recovery units, acute care clinics, urgent care, emergency department where the young adult to the older adult, including the frail elderly populations are the most prominent.  Nurses educated in the adult-gerontology population are educated across both areas of practice.
  • Family/Individual Health - This specialty focus is appropriate for nurses working across the family continuum, including women's health and community.  Education is congruent in terms of role and population foci.
  • Pediatrics - This specialty focus is appropriate for nurses working with neonatal, pediatric, adolescent, and young adult health populations.  Education is congruent in terms of role and population foci.

Do you offer certifications for me if I already have my MSN?

I have an ADN degree, but not a BSN. Can I still apply?

Yes! PLNU offers both ADN and BSN entry points. If you are an associate degree in nursing or diploma-prepared RN, you will begin the program with our specially designed ADN to MSN transition courses and then progress into the MSN courses upon completion.  You must meet the requirement of having one year of full-time RN experience before starting the program.

I think I may want to earn a Ph.D. in nursing. Will an MSN from PLNU help prepare me for this?

Yes! Upon completion of your MSN at PLNU, you will be eligible to apply for a Ph.D. program in nursing.

Will the program fit in with my busy lifestyle?

PLNU's MSN program was designed with working nurses like you in mind! MSN courses are held one night a week and select Saturdays. Courses are held at our Liberty Station Conference Center. The majority of our current students maintain their full-time jobs and are very successful in the program.

Course List

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Department Faculty

Start Application

Program Start Dates:

Fall 2017 – August 28, 2017

Priority Application Date(s):

Fall 2017 – June 27, 2017

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on availability of space.

**Some of the specialties within our CNS track are currently full. Please contact your enrollment counselor if you are interested in applying to one of our CNS tracks.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values and actions. While acknowledging diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand that your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it’s a reflection of you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0 or higher you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's Master of Science in Nursing program, you must have an associate's degree in nursing or a bachelor's degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution that indicates the completion of your degree.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

  1. Submit online application for admissions (includes $50 non-refundable application fee). Fee waived if applicant is one of the following: PLNU alum, current or former military and their dependents, PLNU employee.

  2. Submit official transcripts showing completion of an associate's or bachelor's nursing, and if applicable, a higher-level degree from a regionally accredited college or university. If you have not completed a degree, please request official transcripts from each school you have attended.

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:
    gradprocessing@pointloma.edu

  3. Submit a resume.

  4. Submit a personal essay.

    • General concentration Essay Prompt:

      Please describe in an essay of approximately 250 words why you are interested in pursuing your MSN at PLNU and what this program means to you personally and professionally.
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist Concentration Essay Prompt:

      Please submit an essay of approximately 250 words that demonstrates graduate level writing skills. Using the following websites: NACNS.org and ACNPweb.org, compare and contrast the role of a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner. Discuss why you have chosen the CNS role.
  5. Submit two professional recommendations.
  6. Work Experience:
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist Concentrations must have at least one year of experience in an acute care facility.

    • MSN applicants must have at least 6 months of experience in an RN role.

  7. After all application materials are submitted an interview with the Nursing Department is scheduled.

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Special Instructions

PLEASE NOTE:  Per agreement with the San Diego Nursing Service Education  Consortium and affiliated hospitals, a background check and urine drug screening will be required. Please view our Background Check - Urine Drug Screen Policy.

Urine Drug Screen Policy

For the past several years there has been at least one student who has been dismissed from the program because of a dilute urine sample. This can happen easily if you are accustomed to drinking a lot of water. Drinking excess fluid is normal when you are preparing to participate in an athletic event, or working outside; but this also may cause a dilute urine sample. It can also happen because of drinking too much coffee or tea (caffeine) in the morning prior to going in for a drug screen. This is a serious matter and is not taken lightly by the School of Nursing. Because we abide by the hospital standards and there are hospitals that will not accept an American Data Bank report flag caused by a dilute we must dismiss the student. In some cases we are able to readmit a year later (5 year student), and in other cases this will be a non-negotiable final dismiss from the Bachelor of Science Nursing program.

A flag is something that has been identified as needing attention. The flag can occur with the background check or with the urine for drug screening.

Per agreement with the San Diego Nursing Service Education Consortium and affiliated hospitals, a background check and drug screening will be required prior to your first clinical experience, and within one year of your clinical rotation at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. If a flag occurs from either your background check or drug screening, this will result in immediate dismissal from the Point Loma Nazarene University Bachelor of Science Nursing clinical courses. (Per the Board of Registered Nursing Code CCR 1426 (d) Didactic and Clinical courses must be completed simultaneously for successful completion of any course).

Dilute urine means there is too much water in the urine causing the test to be inconclusive. If you drink too much water before going for your drug screening, the result may be a dilute reading. If you receive a dilute, it will flag your American Data Bank Drug Screen Report.

We recommend no liquids after midnight until you have submitted your a.m. urine specimen. If you are concerned that your urine may be diluted flush that specimen and reschedule your drug screen appointment. (Note that urine is normally yellow in color. If the color is not obviously yellow it may be diluted.)

If you have questions please contact Program Coordinator and Selection Committee Chair, Marsha Reece, at (619) 849-7055, marshareece@pointloma.edu.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Career Opportunities

The versatile set of skills you’ll develop by pursuing a degree in nursing from PLNU prepares you for nursing in a variety of settings. PLNU nursing alumni have held various positions in hospitals, K-12 schools, clinics, medical missions, as well as public health institutions. PLNU cultivates passion, professionalism and a values-driven approach to work in a context that intersects your intellect and faith and equips you to become a purposeful and trustworthy leader in your workplace.

A master's degree in nursing can lead to a career in the following:

  • Nursing Education

  • Case Manager 

  • Clinical Educator

  • Healthcare Leadership

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Missions