The Master of Science program at UC San Francisco School of Nursing prepares leaders in the advanced practice roles of nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse-midwife, administrator, teacher, and consultant.
Courses from nursing and other disciplines provide advanced theoretical knowledge, assessment skills, role/leadership development, and advanced clinical practice in a selected specialization and opportunity to critique and apply nursing theory and research as a scientific base for nursing practice.
Most applicants applying to this program are experienced registered nurses who have successfully completed a Bachelor's degree.
Upon graduation, all have a base of knowledge in a specific area of nursing; can participate knowledgeably in research activity and application; and are capable of contributing to the formulation of theory and to the application of theory to nursing practice.
The Master of Science program is ordinarily a two year long program, the vast majority of students are on full-time status at the university (although many undertake part-time paid work concurrently with their study schedule).
Each MS student designates a Specialty Area for their program at UCSF, for example, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Health Policy, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, etc. The list of specialty areas is available on this web site. Only applications with a designated specialty area will be reviewed for admission. The specific faculty member who is designated for leadership of each specialty area is shown in the following document.
- Masters Specialty Coordinators List (Revised: Aug. 2013)
Master of Science
Course of Study
The aim of the master's program curriculum is to prepare registered nurses with bachelor's degrees to provide professional leadership in their chosen advanced practice specialty area. Such preparation demands that nurses engage in advanced clinical practice, and understand nursing theory, how to transfer research findings to practice, and how to advocate for important health and health care issues.
The Masters Core Curriculum serves students from all specialties. It provides advanced preparation in research, theory and clinical judgment in nursing practice, health care economics and policy, leadership, and the scientific basis for selected concepts in advanced nursing practice.
In addition, there are two clinical cores, one for clinical nurse specialist (CNS) students and another for primary health care students. For CNS students, the core includes health assessment, program management, case management, and outcomes evaluation. For primary health care students, the core includes health assessment, health maintenance and promotion, and clinical care management.
Each specialty area also has a series of courses that provide substantive content for the specialty. For the convenience of students juggling career and family obligations, many specialties arrange course meeting times to fit a two-day-per-week schedule.
More specifically, the curriculum is structured as follows:
- Engage in advanced clinical practice
- Apply current knowledge in the specialty area to manage or meet client needs within the client environment
- Analyze clinical problems based on theoretical and research literature
- Communicate, cooperate, and/or collaborate with persons from this and other disciplines to provide the best possible care for clients
- Establish lifelong learning patterns that facilitate the incorporation of new theoretical and research findings into advanced practice
- Assume a leadership role within the profession by:
- Participating in professional organizations and activities
- Developing an advocacy stance and position related to the focal client population
- Evaluate and apply theory as it relates to the science base of nursing
- Demonstrate discriminating use of specialty-based content reflective of particular client focus
- Value the diversity of theoretical models relevant to practice
- Critique and evaluate research as to its scientific and clinical value
- Demonstrate ability to critique and synthesize relevant research literature
- Demonstrate ability to use research findings to develop approaches to problems in advanced practice
- Identify researchable problems, demonstrate skills essential to research participation, and assist in the dissemination of findings
- Articulate linkages among theory, research, and practice; and recognize limitations of the current science base for advanced practice
- Interpret relationships between social, cultural, political, and economic issues and health care delivery
- Analyze major health care issues affecting the focal client population
- Evaluate the impact of economics, politics, and demographics on the development of social and health policy and political action
- Identify barriers to the availability of and access to health care
- Identify cultural factors relevant to clinical practice, the conduct and critique of research, and the development of health care policy.
Please note: The curriculum is subject to periodic revision at the discretion of the faculty.
Images and voices of students in selected courses may be video-transmitted to other locations as a part of the distributed learning program. In addition, students may be involved in patient research as well as in research on school programs, aggregate (non-personally-identifiable) student information may be reported as part of this research.
Some master’s students may also elect to choose a minor. These students typically take three or four courses designated for this purpose by the specialty area coordinator. Some recently-offered minors include Genomics, Health Policy, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, and HIV/AIDS. For more details, see the List of Minors page and also the right-hand column of this page.
M.S. Graduation Requirements
General graduation requirements for the Master of Science program are:
- 30-36 units of academic course work
- 8 units of graduate professional work
- a written comprehensive examination ("comp exam") or, in some instances, a thesis. A handbook is available for students preparing for the comprehensive examination.
Students ordinarily begin the Master's program in mid-September (Fall Quarter) and complete the program in two academic years.
In most specialty areas, students attend class on campus two or three days per week. Clinically intensive specialty areas typically require a third or fourth day per week for clinical rotations.
Many master’s students continue some limited part-time or per-diem employment during their program, after adjusting for coursework and preparation time and for assigned clinical obligations. However, for some specialty areas, concurrent employment is strongly discouraged.
Areas of Masters Specialization
The ACPNP program trains students to work in hospital-based pediatric acute care areas, PICU, Pediatric Cardiac ICU, Pediatric Emergency Department, and program-based specialties that manage acutely ill patients from the outpatient setting through inpatient, to discharge. Clinical Experience is required for admission, not open to MEPN applicants.
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AG ACNP) help assess and manage acutely ill patients within the inpatient/hospital setting and across hospital-to-clinic settings, including the emergency department, intensive care unit, specialty labs, acute and sub-acute care wards, specialty clinics, or any combination of the above. Not open for MEPN Applications. Only nurses with specific experience will be considered for Post-Masters.
Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists (AG CNS) care for the complex health-care needs of adults and seniors in clinical practice settings. Limited MEPN and Post-Masters options may be available.
Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist - Critical Care / Trauma (AGCNS-CCT). Because inpatient care focuses increasingly on treating the sickest of the sick, the need for advanced practice nurses to provide and coordinate care in emergency departments, trauma, critical care, and intensive care units has never been greater. Clinical nurse specialists in critical care, emergency and trauma settings fill that role. Limited Post-Masters options available. Not open for MEPN applications.
For adults with cancer, advanced practice clinical nurse specialists play critical roles in prevention and detection, as well as in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of new ways of caring for oncology patients. Post-Masters options are NOT offered. Limited MEPN options may be available.
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNPs) are advanced practice nurses who diagnose and manage common acute and chronic primary health care problems. Students in the AGNP specialty area may designate an area of interest or focus, such as HIV/AIDS or Occupational and Environmental Health. The AGNP specialty area prepares students to provide primary care for a patient population which includes adolescents, emancipated minors, young to middle age adults, and older adults age 65 years and older. AGNPs work in a variety of settings such as community health clinics, health maintenance organizations, specialty clinics, correctional facilities, and private medical practices.
The Advanced Public Health Nursing (APHN) specialty provides a foundation for planning and evaluating community/public health programs; learning about community/public health concepts, health promotion, population-level interventions, grant writing, health care systems, leadership, and health policy; addressing health disparities of vulnerable and diverse populations; and practicing and consulting in diverse and multicultural settings. Former name: Advanced Practice Public Health Nursing (APPHN).
The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) meets the health care needs of the family by providing health assessments, direct care, and guidance, teaching, or counseling as appropriate, particularly around family self-care. The FNP typically works collaboratively with family primary care physicians and other professionals within the health care system. (Post-MS option available.)
The Nurse as Health Policy Specialist. Nurses with policy expertise are assuming leadership roles in advocacy, research, analysis, and policy development, implementation and evaluation.
Nurse-midwives provide primary care to childbearing women in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings including hospitals, homes, and birth centers. They provide care from a core belief that birth is not a medical event, but a very normal physiologic process. (MEPN applicants, see Specialty Area description page.)
Every year nearly 56,000 U.S. workers die due to a workplace injury or work-related illness; more than three million suffer disabling, work-related injuries. Occupational and Environmental Health Nurses help manage and prevent these injuries and illnesses. Two roles are available: an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP-OEH) role, and a four-quarter OEH Specialist role.
The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) program prepares students to become clinical experts and leaders in the care of children and adolescents in ambulatory settings, focusing on underserved populations. Our students work with children across the health continuum, from essentially healthy children to those with chronic and life limiting conditions. Our graduates work as PNPs in primary care and school-based health centers, with a majority working in specialty practice.
The Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty Area is housed in the Department of Community Health Systems. Advanced practice psychiatric nurses provide primary mental health care to patients seeking mental health services in a wide range of settings. This includes the assessment, diagnosis, and management of mental health problems and psychiatric disorders. The program allows for a primary focus on either children or adults. Advanced practice psychiatric nurses work in a variety of settings, including inpatient, emergency and community-based mental health services. They also provide services in settings such as primary care clinics, forensic settings, schools, substance abuse centers and recovery programs.