Nurse with family

Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner

Broaden your career opportunities with a family nurse practitioner specialty. 

Campus Location

Format

  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • 20 Months (Five Semesters)

Deadlines

Expand Your Practice

Family nurse practitioner is one of the fastest-growing roles in health care. Much of the demand is being driven by the growth of “Express Care” clinics in retail outlets as well as a burgeoning need for providers to care for the uninsured and indigent population.

Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have advanced clinical training and educational preparation to manage health care interventions at an advanced practice level. Nurse practitioners work in a variety of clinical settings including outpatient clinics, ambulatory care settings, emergency departments, inpatient units, community health agencies, and private practice settings as co-owners and operators with other nurse practitioners, physicians, and other health care providers.

SMU’s program is especially focused on equipping nurse practitioners to serve the needs of underserved populations.

Featured Events

Requirements & Info

 

Admission to the MSN - case management program is competitive. Applicants are considered for admission based upon the following criteria:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution AND all prerequisites completed with a grade of “C” or better before beginning the program

  • 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

  • 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 your current nursing program explaining the reasons for transfer. Students must be in good standing and eligible for continued enrollment in the current program

  • Writing sample as described in the application

  • Good results from an in-person or a telephone interview

The Family Nurse Practitioner program is designed for nurses who already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Applicants are considered for admission based upon the following:

  • Baccalaureate in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university (RNs with degrees in other fields will be evaluated individually)
  • Current unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license in state of residence.
  • Clinical practice experience. 12 months is preferred, but not required. Experience in your BSN program will be considered.
  • Two letters of reference addressing your clinical expertise and academic preparation for the program.
  • Successful completion of a statistics course with no expiration.

Interviews

Students are selected for an interview based upon the content of the application they submit to NursingCAS. An in-person or phone interview is required to be selected for admission.

Students who need disability accommodations may request them by emailing email Elisa Laird-Metke at drc@samuelmerritt.edu. Please give as much notice as you can to allow time to set them up. Further information about the Disability Resource Center can be found here

Students Educated Outside of the United States

TOEFL

The need for the TOEFL will be assessed based on information provided by the applicant on the application for admission. If the TOEFL is required, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test). Scores must be submitted during the application process.

International Transcript Evaluation Agencies

Students who have completed their degrees outside of the United States will have to have their degrees evaluated for United States baccalaureate equivalency, also known as a course-by-course/comprehensive evaluation. Please click here for a list of international transcript evaluation agencies.

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.

https://www.samuelmerritt.edu/admissions/affording-smu/financial-aid-and-scholarships

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.

finaid@samuelmerritt.edu or 510-879-9200

The Family Nurse Practitioner track consists of 49-semester units, including interdisciplinary core courses and FNP specialty courses with 630 clinical hours. Placements are available throughout Northern California. Both the curriculum and clinical practicums reflect the program's emphasis on serving multicultural and underserved populations

For complete course descriptions, please use our current course catalog.

MSN Hybrid—Full Time

49 Semester hours: (includes 630 clinical hours)

Semester I

N601 Research Methods 3.0 units
N626 Theoretical Foundations for APNs 3.0
N601 Research Methods 3.0
N670 Family-Centered Advanced Practice Nsng 3.0
N672 Professional Role Development for APNs 1.0
Total units 9.0

Semester II

N671 Advanced Physical Assessment 2.0
N671L Advanced Physical Assessment Lab 1.0
N619 Advanced Pathophysiology 3.0
Total units 6.0

Semester III

N602 Analysis of Health Policy Issues ** (note: this course is taken in Semester I in Sacramento) 3.0
N674 Health Protection, Promotion & Screening 3.0
N677 Advanced Pharmacology 3.0
N678L Clinical Practicum (90 hours) 2.0
Total units 11.0

Semester IV

N675 Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions 3.0
N675L Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions Lab 1.0
N679L Clinical Practicum (270 hours) 6.0
Total units 10.0

Semester V

N606 Synthesis Project 3.0
N673 Professional Advocacy for Entry to Adv Pract Role 1.0
N676 Care of Chronic & Complex Conditions 3.0
N680L Internship (270 hrs) 6.0
Total units 13.0


MSN Hybrid—Part-Time

49 Semester hours: (includes 630 clinical hours)

Semester I
N626 Theoretical Foundations for APNs 3.0
N672 Professional Role Development for APNs 1.0
Total units 4.0

Semester II

N619 Advanced Pathophysiology 3.0
Total units 3.0

Semester III

N602 Analysis of Health Policy Issues ** (note: this course is taken in Semester IV in Sacramento) 3.0
N677 Advanced Pharmacology 3.0
Total units 6.0

Semester IV

N601 Research Methods ** (note: this course is taken in Semester I in Sacramento) 3.0
N670 Family-Centered Advanced Practice Nsng 2.0
Total units 5.0

Semester V

N671 Advanced Physical Assessment 2.0
N671L Advanced Physical Assessment Lab 1.0
Total units 3.0

Semester VI

N674 Health Protection, Promotion & Screening 3.0
N678L Clinical Practicum (90 hrs) 2.0
Total units 5.0

Semester VII

N675 Care of Acute and Episodic Conditions 3.0
N675L Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions Lab 1.0
N679L Clinical Practicum (270 hrs) 6.0
Total units 10.0

Semester VIII

N606 Synthesis Project 3.0
N673 Professional Advocacy for Entry to AP Role 1.0
N676 Care of Chronic & Complex Conditions 3.0
N680L Internship (270 hrs) 6.0 
Total units 6.0


MSN Online—Full Time

49 Semester units: (includes 630 clinical hours)

Semester I

N601 ONL Research Methods 3.0
N626 ONL Theoretical Foundations for APNs 3.0
N670 ONL Family-Centered Advanced Practice Nsng 2.0 
N672 ONL Professional Role Development for APNs 1.0
Total units 9.0

Semester II

N619 ONL Advanced Pathophysiology 3.0
N671 ONL Advanced Physical Assessment 2.0
N671L ONL Advanced Physical Assessment Lab 1.0
N674 ONL Health Protection, Promotion & Screening 3.0
Total units 9.0

Semester IV

N673 ONL Professional Advocacy for Entry to Adv Pract Role 1.0
N675 ONL Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions 3.0
N675L ONL Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions Lab 1.0
N679L ONL Clinical Practicum (270 hours) 6.0
Total units 11.0

Semester III

N602 ONL Analysis of Health Policy Issues 3.0
N677 ONL Advanced Pharmacology 3. 0
N678L ONL Clinical Practicum (90 hours) 2.0
Total units 8.0

Semester V

N606 ONL Synthesis Project 3.0
N676 ONL Care of Chronic & Complex Conditions 3.0
N680L ONL Internship (270 hrs) 6.0
Total units 12.0
 

MSN Online—Part Time

49 Semester units: (includes 630 clinical hours)

Semester I

N601 ONL Research Methods 3.0
N670 ONL Family-Centered Advanced Practice Nsng 2.0
N672 ONL Professional Role Development for APRNs 1.0
Total units 6.0

Semester II

N619 ONL Advanced Pathophysiology 3.0
N626 ONL Theoretical Foundations for APRNs 3.0
Total units 6.0

Semester III

N671 ONL Advanced Physical Assessment 2.0
N671L ONL Advanced Physical Assessment Lab 1.0
N674 ONL Health Protection, Promotion & Screening 30
Total 6.0

Semester IV

N602 ONL Analysis of Health Policy Issues 3.0
N677 ONL Advanced Pharmacology 3.0
N678L ONL Clinical Practicum (90 hours) 2.0
Total units 8.0

Semester V

N675 ONL Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions 3.0
N675L ONL Care of Acute & Episodic Conditions Lab 1.0
N679L ONL Clinical Practicum (270 hours) 6.0
Total units 10.0

Semester VI

N676 ONL Care of Chronic & Complex Conditions 3.0
N680L ONL Internship (270 hrs) 6.0
Total units 9.0

Semester VII

N606 ONL Synthesis Project 3.0
N673 ONL Professional Advocacy for Entry to Adv Pract Role 1.0
Total units 4.0

Graduation and Employment Rates

Graduation Rates*        
2016-2017 Cohort      80%
2015-2016 Cohort      69%
2014-2015 Cohort      86%   

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

First-Year Retention Rates**
2016-2017 Cohort      100%
2015-2016 Cohort       96%
2014-2015 Cohort       95%

**% of Cohort Still Enrolled Following First Academic Year

Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation)**
2016-2017 graduating class        65%
2015-2016 graduating class     100%
2014-2015 graduating class       85%

**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.

National Certification Pass Rates (First-Time Takers Only)
Data pending

FNP Degree Comparison

  • Semesters 
    • MSN Online
    • DNP
  • Months
    • 20 MSN Online
    • 36 DNP
  • Total Units
    • 49 MSN Online
    • 65 DNP
  • Tuition Per Unit
    • $1,353 MSN Online
    • $1,082.40 with 20% SMU Alumni Discount MSN Online
    • $1,238 DNP
    • $990.40 with 20% SMU Alumni Discount DNP
  • Total Tuition (without health insurance and fees)
    • $66,297 MSN Online
    • $53,037.60 with 20% SMU Alumni Discount MSN Online
    • $80,470 DNP
    • $64,376 with 20% SMU Alumni Discount DNP
  • Financial Aid
    • Eligible for Federal graduate loan programs MSN Online
    • Eligible for Federal graduate loan programs DNP
  • Start Dates
    • January, May, and September MSN Online

    • January, and September DNP
  • Location of Clinical Experiences
    • At clinics and hospitals near where you live. SMU offers contract assistance and management of clinical placements MSN Online
    • At clinics and hospitals near where you live. DNP practice hours are separate from FNP clinical hours. SMU offers contract assistance and management of clinical placements DNP
  • Instructional Delivery
    • Online with two face-to-face, on-campus learning experiences of three days each (6 total days) MSN Online
    • Online with 3 face-to-face on-campus learning experiences of three days each time (9 total days) DNP
  • Can One Work While in School
    • It is possible to work during semesters 1 & 2, but not while on clinical placements in semester 3, 4, & 5 MSN Online
    • It is possible to work during semesters 1 -6, but not while on clinical placements in semester 7 - 9 DNP

Why is the profession changing to the DNP for Nurse Practitioners?
Nearly all health care professions that diagnose, manage and care for patients have clinical doctor degrees, for example physicians, dentists, physical therapists, and optometrists. The increasing complexity of the types of patients being cared for and the complexity of the health care system are demanding increased education and training for nurse practitioners. The profession is committed to ensuring that future nurse practitioners are well-prepared to excel and provide the care that people need and the profession has concluded that the doctoral degree is the best way to accomplish that. Currently within the accreditation bodies for FNP programs in the United States, there is 100% agreement about the DNP as the entering degree for all APRNs.  ((https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/White-Papers/DNP-Implementation-TF-Report-8-15.pdf)

How does the DNP curriculum differ from the MSN curriculum to prepare me for practice as an FNP? 
While the FNP coursework is the same for both degrees, the generalist classes are not.  The DNP Essentials (https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/Publications/DNPEssentials.pdf) and MSN Essentials (https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/Publications/MastersEssentials11.pdf) differ in the following way: The focus in the DNP is towards utilizing evidence based practice to improve healthcare in practice sites as well as the nation overall.  The focus is on not only the patient but the population as a whole. 

Is a DNP required to become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Not currently. While various professional associations are advocating and planning for a transition to the DNP as the preferred degree to become an FNP or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) states do not require a DNP to become licensed and the DNP is not required to qualify for certification exams. The terminal degree for APRN’s is not usually determined at the state BRN level but by the bodies that certify the new graduate and accreditation of school curriculum. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) has identified a goal of 2025 to make the transition to the DNP degree for nurse practitioners. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) have supported transition to the DNP as well.  In February of 2019, the consensus model for APRNs was presented at the NONPF conference in Atlanta GA.  There was 100% agreement at that time among all the accreditation bodies for APRNs that the APRN would have as the terminal degree a DNP by 2025 (https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/DNP/DNP-Study.pdf)

If I receive an MSN degree will I have to go back to school if the DNP becomes required?
While one cannot predict what states may require in the future, based on the experience of other professions that changed to the doctor degree, it is not likely states will require currently licensed FNPs with an MSN degree to return to school to obtain the DNP degree given the cost to the nurse practitioner and societal needs for access to care. That said, typically states do not provide the final determination of the professional degree.  It is the certification boards for APRNs and accreditation boards for SoN that drive this change. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners has stated that in the shift to DNP, “It is important, however, that the transition to clinical doctoral preparation for NPs continues to be conducted so that master’s-prepared NPs will not be disenfranchised in any way.”

What are my options to become an FNP if I already have my MSN?
Currently, an RN with an MSN degree can choose a DNP program to become an FNP, enter an MSN program as a certificate (non-degree) student, or obtain a second MSN degree in an FNP program. In contrast to the MSN degree to become an RN, the MSN FNP degree curriculum builds on the professional role, health policy role, and research role of the FNP in contrast to the MSN degree to become an RN.  Therefore, the MSN FNP has a broader foundation in how an FNP can be relevant in FNP practice.    

What are my options to become an FNP if I am an RN with a BSN degree?
As an RN with a BSN degree, you can choose an MSN or a DNP degree path to become an FNP.

What are my options to become an FNP if I am an RN with an Associate degree?
You can complete an RN-to-BSN program (SMU RN to BSN Program) and then enter either an MSN or DNP program to become an FNP.  If you are an ADN with a non-nursing undergraduate degree and many years of practice you may be able to provide evidence of how you meet the AACN BSN Essentials through your work, scholarship, community service, and approach to care of the patient in all settings.  This approval is based on specific requirements of each university’s School of Nursing.

Are there any differences in practice opportunities or scope of practice for an MSN-prepared FNP compared with a DNP-prepared FNP? Are there changes known or under consideration in the future?

The AANP identified eight issues that need to be addressed for a smooth transition to the DNP for nurse practitioners. Included was, “Issues related to parity must be addressed to include providing reasonable methods for currently prepared NPs to obtain the DNP, if desired, and to prevent discrimination in reimbursement.”  (From: AANP Position Statement, 2013; https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/advocacy-resource/position-statements/discussion-paper-doctor-of-nursing-practice

Are salaries different for FNPs based on the degree?
This depends on the employer.  For example, if you are an RN seeking advancement in your position to expand your professional capabilities, your employer will recognize your advanced degree as preferential thus an increase in income.  If a DNP FNP and a MSN FNP are new graduates from programs they most likely will be paid the same.

Does payment from Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, or private insurers differ based on the degree?
Not at this time. 

The Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner 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– Family Nurse Practitioner Program Technical Standards

The mission of Samuel Merritt University is to produce highly skilled and compassionate family nurse practitioners (FNP). 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 FNP Program as well as current FNP 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 FNP 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 FNP 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 FNP practice, including patient advocacy, and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate with the role of a family nurse practitioner in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students and the public. Interest and motivation throughout the educational processes are expected of all candidates.

SMU Perspectives