About the Program

Program Details

The Entry-level Master’s (ELM) program combines learning in basic nursing sufficient to prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN licensure examination and to study for an advanced practice role in a clinical nursing specialty. For the first four semesters, students take theory and clinical courses, followed by an internship, to prepare them to take the licensure exam.

Students select a nursing specialty they wish to pursue. Upon successful completion of all graduate coursework, the Master of Science in Nursing is awarded.

Students may also fulfill the specialty requirement through one of the School of Nursing’s unique combined programs.

Master of Science in Nursing students may elect to also earn a Nursing Education Certificate in addition to the primary specialties offered. This secondary specialty is not offered in conjunction with the MSN alone; students must earn a primary specialty as part of the MSN program and then may continue on to complete the coursework for the Nursing Education Certificate as a post-master’s student.


Consistent with the mission and purpose of the university, the School of Nursing is a Christian community of disciples, scholars, and practitioners. Its purpose is to advance the work of God in the world through nursing education, research, professional practice, community, and church service.

Health is defined and understood by the faculty as totality or completeness, whether for an individual, family, or community. That totality or completeness, within this conceptual definition, cannot be seen apart from the constitutive element of spirituality. Our conceptual approach to health highlights our distinctive role as a Christian university and provides the discipline of nursing with a distinctive domain for research and advanced nursing practice.

Program Benefits

  • This entry level nursing program is offered full time during the first four semesters, followed by either full or part time during the later portion of the program.
  • Students receive personalized attention in a supportive Christian environment from experienced faculty, many of whom are clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners.
  • Clinical placement is carefully and thoughtfully arranged for a variety of settings by APU nursing faculty.
  • Students may receive traineeships (partial tuition reimbursement) when available through a federal grant after passing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.
  • Financial aid is available through scholarships and loans.

Program Outcome Objectives

A graduate of the ELM Program:

  • Synthesizes knowledge from theory and research to evaluate its applicability to professional nursing practice and health policy.
  • Evaluates delivery of health care to individuals, families, and communities based on a theoretical frame of reference.
  • Demonstrates clinical competence in an advanced nursing role incorporating consultation, leadership, management, and teaching in a specialized area of nursing practice.
  • Utilizes the research process to improve health care and contribute to the body of nursing knowledge.
  • Applies bioethical and spiritual concepts in nursing practice and health policy.
  • Articulates how the basic tenets of the Christian faith inform nursing practice.
  • Provides spiritual care with an understanding of the influential elements of one’s own spiritual formation and beliefs.

Description of Clinical Residency

This intensive period of clinical education and continuing preparation for practice takes place in a health care agency under the direct supervision of a clinical preceptor and supported by clinical faculty in the graduate program. Upon completion of this seven-week internship, students will have completed 252 hours in an acute-care setting. This usually consists of three 12-hour shifts per week for seven weeks. At the same time, students review prelicensure subject matter in preparation for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Successful completion of the clinical residency is required to complete the prelicensure portion of the program.

Note: Before taking advanced practice clinical courses for completion of the MSN degree, the student must successfully complete the clinical residency and achieve the passing score required by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) on the NCLEX exam.

Advanced Practice Specialty Course Requirements

For detailed information on coursework, refer to the MSN Clinical Specialty tracks. Students must take 7 units of electives during this component of the program. Students’ programs are planned individually according to course sequencing for their clinical specialty. As an alternative to full-time study, students may elect to complete master's degree requirements through studying in a part-time format while taking courses each semester. Whether they choose to study full or part time, all students may:

  • Elect to write a thesis or take a comprehensive exam to complete the degree.
  • Elect 9-12 units of additional courses to earn a certificate in nursing education.

Any student who elects to write a thesis must take GNRS 514.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which of my courses will count as ELM program prerequisites?

The prerequisites will generally fit the following guidelines:

  1. Human Anatomy and lab (4 semester units): May also be titled “Intro to Anatomy”
  2. Human Physiology and lab (4 semester units): May also be titled “Intro to Physiology.” You can also take “Human Anatomy and Physiology” but it must be both parts for a total of 8 semester units. Both parts must come from the same university/college. Human Physiology is the only science course that must have been taken within the last five years.
  3. Organic Chemistry and lab (3 semester units): The course description should explicity state that organic chemistry is covered, so many “General Chemistry” classes will not fulfill this requirement (and in fact are often prerequisites for organic and biochemistry classes).
  4. Biochemistry (1 semester unit): You can take a full biochemistry class (generally worth 3 to 5 units), or you may combine this prerequisite course with the Organic Chemistry class. If combined, the Organic Chemistry class must be worth 4 semester units, and the course description needs to explicitly state that biochemistry is covered.
  5. Microbiology and lab (4 semester units): Acceptable courses are usually titled “Microbiology,” “General Microbiology,” or “Intro to Microbiology.”
  6. Verbal Communication Skills (3 semester units): Acceptable courses are usually titled “Public Communication,” “Speech 101,” or “Intro to Public Speaking.” The course description must explicitly state that students regularly practice public speaking in front of the class. Online courses will not cover this requirement, and many communication courses that do not involve frequent public speaking, such as “Interpersonal Communication” or “History of Mass Communication,” will not fulfill this requirement.
  7. Written Communication Skills (3 semester units): Acceptable courses are usually titled “Freshman Writing Seminar” or “Intro to Composition.” A literature class will not fulfill this requirement. AP English scores from high school that were used as transfer units for your bachelor's degree may complete this requirement.
  8. General Psychology (3 semester units): May also be titled “Intro to Psychology.” We are looking for a broad foundation in psychology, so specific courses like “Abnormal Psych” or “Psychology of Sexuality” will not fulfill this requirement. AP Psychology scores from high school that were used as transfer units for your bachelor's degree may complete this requirement.
  9. Human Growth and Development (3 semester units): If your college does not offer a class titled “Human Growth and Development,” it is probably called “Lifespan.” “Developmental Psychology” may fulfill the requirement if the course description explicitly states that the entire lifespan is covered. Classes that focus on one piece of the lifespan, such as “Child Psychology” or “The Psychology of Aging” will not fulfill this requirement. “Sociology of Life” classes will not fulfill this requirement.
  10. Statistics (3 semester units): We can accept a field-specific statistics class. AP Statistic scores from high school that were used as transfer units for your bachelor's degree may complete this requirement.
  11. Research Methods (3 semester units): This class will usually be found in the behavioral science department, such as “Research Methods in Psychology” or “Research Methods in Sociology.” The course description must explicitly state that the ethics of research are discussed and that the research methodologies are covered. Experimental methods or bench research courses do not fulfill this requirement.

If you have any questions about one or two prerequisite courses after studying this list, you may contact Anthony S. Persad at apersad@apu.edu with the following specific information: the college, the course title, the number of units (quarter or semester), and the official course description from the catalog of the school where the course was taken. We cannot search for this information for you or look over your transcripts for you. All colleges used to fulfill prerequisite courses must be regionally accredited.

Remember, you cannot apply for the ELM program until you have fully completed 12 units from the science prerequisites and 12 units from the non-sciences prerequisites. The remainder of the courses are due before you begin the program.

How long is a semester?

Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks. Summer semesters are 12 weeks.

How many evenings per week do I attend classes?

Lecture classes and clinicals vary and may be offered Monday through Saturday, days and evenings.

Are scholarships available?

Several types of financial aid are available to students, including scholarships. However, most nursing students fund their education through federal loans.

How often is this program offered?

Students may start the program three times a year (September, January, and May) at the main campus in Azusa, and the Inland Empire or San Diego Regional Campuses.

Whom do I contact if I have more questions?

For general graduate admissions questions, contact the Graduate and Professional Center comprised of Graduate Admissions, the Graduate Registrar, and Graduate Student Financial Services. The main phone number is (626) 815-4750.

If you are interested in ELM at the Azusa campus, contact Anthony S. Persad at apersad@apu.edu.

If you are interested in ELM at the San Diego Regional Campus, contact Renee Dierking at rdierking@apu.edu.

If you are interested in ELM at the Inland Empire Regional Campus, contact Judith Vasquez-Perez at jperez@apu.edu.

Note: This information is current for the 2016-17 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.