nurse at computer

Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing — Case Management

Nurse Case Management has a broad scope of practice and will allow you to experience nursing in a variety of settings and facilities.

Campus Location


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • 27 Months (Seven Semesters)


Become a Nurse Case Manager

The Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELMSN) program is designed for those who have already earned a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field and seek to shift careers or pursue a new academic goal. Currently, there are two career paths for ELMSN students: Case Management (CM) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

The Case Management option prepares professional nurses to practice in a variety of health care settings. Graduates will build on their varied academic and experiential backgrounds to provide nursing care with an interdisciplinary case management focus. Strong advocacy, decision making, and planning skills are necessary for graduates to function in increasingly complex roles within the rapidly changing health care system.

The program requires two calendar years plus one semester (seven semesters, including two summer semesters) to complete, for a total of 90-semester units. Students must enroll in the first four semesters full-time. It is possible to reduce the course load to part-time after the fourth semester.

This program is offered in Oakland in the fall and Sacramento in the spring.

What We Look For

  • Admission to the ELMSN program is competitive. Applicants are considered based upon the criteria outlined in the Admission requirements.

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Requirements & Program Info

  • Baccalaureate from a regionally accredited institution AND all prerequisites completed before beginning the program. See below for a list of prerequisites, which must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 semester/90 quarter units of coursework.
  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the four science prerequisite courses.
  • Acceptable scores on HESI A2. 
  • Two letters of reference. One letter should be from an academic source addressing your academic preparedness for graduate study. The second should be from a healthcare professional addressing your clinical expertise.
  • Conversational skill in a second language is highly desirable.
  • Students who have attended a nursing program at another college/university will need to submit a statement supported by a letter from the Dean of the nursing program explaining the reason(s) for transfer. Students must be in good standing and eligible for continued enrollment in the prior/current program.
  • Writing sample.
  • An in-person or telephone interview. 

Learn more about international applications.

All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better by the start of the program. Although it is acceptable to have courses planned or in progress, it is in your best interest to have as many courses completed as possible at the time of application. It is not possible to complete any prerequisites concurrently with the ELMSN program.

Prerequisite Course Articulation Tool

Wondering if you took the right courses as a local CSU, UC or community college student? Use our new Prerequisite Course Articulation Tool to see which courses meet the prerequisite requirements for ABSN, BSN and ELMSN programs. 

Required Courses, Semester Units

English Composition, 3.0
English Literature/Critical Thinking (courses in philosophy are not acceptable), 3.0
Interpersonal Communication (courses in public speaking are not acceptable), 3.0
Introduction to Sociology or Cultural Anthropology (biological anthropology is not acceptable), 3.0
Social Science Elective (anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, ethnic studies, political science, history, etc.), 3.0 
Lifespan Developmental Psychology (content must cover birth to death), 3.0
Nutrition, 3.0
Statistics (research methods courses are not acceptable), 3.0
Human Anatomy with Lab, 4.0
Human Physiology with Lab, 4.0
Chemistry with Lab, 4.0
Microbiology with Lab, 4.0

Anatomy & Physiology Courses

SMU offers prerequisite coursework in Human Anatomy & Human Physiology. The courses are taught in the fall, spring, and summer terms and are designed for prospective students. More information can be found on the Undergraduate Prerequisite Courses website.

AP and IB Credit

AP exam scores of 3, 4 or 5 and IB exam scores of 5, 6 or 7 may be used to meet prerequisite requirements, but are only acceptable if the exams scores are clearly noted on NursingCAS and/or university transcript. Please send an AP or IB test score report to Samuel Merritt University. 

HESI A2 Test Scores

HESI A2 scores must be available at the time you submit your application for admission. You will be asked to self-report your HESI A2 scores and upload a copy of the score report in the application.

Priority consideration is given to applicants with scores above 80 percent on each of the following exams: Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary and General Knowledge, Grammar, Math, and Anatomy & Physiology. Additionally, applicants must take the Learning Style and Personality Profile assessments.

More information about taking the HESI A2


You will be selected for an interview based upon the content of the application you submit to NursingCAS. Not all candidates who meet minimum qualifications will be granted an interview. An in-person or phone interview is required.

If you need accommodations for a disability, please request them by emailing Disability Resource Center Director Elisa Laird-Metke at Please give as much notice as possible.

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

Samuel Merritt University is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SMU offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for Nurses include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email. or 510-879-9200

Semester I

N500 Transition to Professional Role of Nursing, 2.0
N520 Integration of Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, 5.0
N524 Health Assessment, 3.0
N534/534L Mental Health Nursing, Theory and Clinical, 5.0
N542L Nursing Skills I, 1.0
Total units 16.0

Semester II

N546/546L Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults, Theory and Clinical, 10.0
N543L Nursing Skills II, 1.0
N562 Professional, Legal and Ethical Issues, 3.0
N550 Consumer of Research, 2.0
Total units 16.0

Semester III

N566/N566L Nursing Care of Critically Ill Adults, Theory and Clinical, 5.0
N556/N556L Nursing Care of Pediatric & Youth Populations, Theory and Clinical, 5.0
N540/N540L Reproductive Health Care, Theory and Clinical 5.0
Total units 15.0

Semester IV

N594L Clinical Internship, 5.0
N560 Leadership, Management, and Organizational Behavior in Health Care Delivery Systems, 3.0
N570/570L Community Health Nursing, Theory and Clinical, 5.0
Total units 13.0

Upon completion of the first four semesters, you will be eligible to take the Registered Nurse licensure examination (NCLEX).

Semester V

N601 Research Methods, 3.0
N602 Analysis of Health Policy Issues, 3.0
N624 Advanced Pathophysiology for Nurse Case Managers, 2.0
N625 Advanced Pharmacological Management for Nurse Case Managers, 2.0
Total units 10.0

Semester VI

N603 Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 3.0
N607 Program Evaluation and Quality Assurance, 3.0
N612 Healthcare Finance, 3.0
N623/N623L Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Case Managers, Advanced Health Assessment Lab, 3.0
Total units 12.0

Semester VII

N605/606 Synthesis Requirement, 3.0
N620/N620L Case Management, Theory and Clinical, 8.0
Total units 11.0

Total post-licensure units 33
Overall total units 93

Licensure Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

Licensure Pass Rates (First-Time Takers Only)
2018 Pass Rate (NCLEX)      93%
2017 Pass Rate (NCLEX)      86%
2016 Pass Rate (NCLEX)      93%

Graduation Rate*        
2016-2017 Cohort      86%
2015-2016 Cohort      82%
2014-2015 Cohort      93%

*% of Entering Cohort Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time           

Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation)**
2016-2017 graduating class     100%
2015-2016 graduating class      72%
2014-2015 graduating class      92%

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni Survey; employment rate not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni Survey.

The Entry-level Master in Nursing – Case Management program at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001.  Direct contact information for CCNE staff is accessed via the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Staff Directory.

Master's Accreditation

Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: October 11, 2010
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2021
Last On-Site Evaluation: October 2010
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2020

Entry-level Master of Science in Nursing– Case Management Program Technical Standards

The mission of Samuel Merritt University is to produce highly skilled and compassionate nurse case managers (CM). Students are expected to develop a robust healthcare knowledge base and requisite clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply knowledge and skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of clinical situations in all settings. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to the CM Program as well as current CM students who are candidates for retention, promotion, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue CM education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse health care workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from the CM Program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Observational Skills
A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. In addition, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information. Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient physiologic data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses.

Communication Skills
Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective care and collaboration for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively in English with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients and their families in person and in writing. Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately record information and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communication.

Patient Care Skills
Candidates must perform bio-psycho-social patient assessments. A candidate must be able to perform patient education related to the care coordination/discharge plan to enable a safe, effective, and patient centered transition. A candidate must be able to provide general care and emergency treatment required of a case manager. Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow standard precaution procedures.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Cognitive Skills
Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to, classroom instruction; laboratory, including small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology. A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the CM Program curriculum including, but not limited to, the ability to comprehend and effectively participate in individual, small group, and lecture learning modalities in the classroom, clinical and community settings; learn, participate, collaborate and contribute as a part of a team; synthesize information both in person and via remote technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and acquire the knowledge through various modalities, and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral Attributes, Social Skills and Professional Expectations
A candidate must be able to exercise good judgment, promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. The skills required to do so include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. Candidates are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and to respect boundaries and care for all individuals in a respectful and effective manner regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status. Candidates should understand, and function within, the legal and ethical aspects of the CM practice, including patient advocacy, and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate with the role of a nurse case manager in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students and the public. Interest and motivation throughout the educational processes are expected of all candidates.