Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner (Online)
Earn your MSN FNP online at Samuel Merritt University.
Earn your MSN FNP online at Samuel Merritt University.
Family nurse practitioner positions are on the rise. These skilled and diverse specialists are trained to deliver a wide variety of patient services, and also often serve as a primary care provider in under served communities. The Samuel Merritt online MSN FNP program focuses on working as a Primary Care provider in outpatient settings.
Admission to online MSN FNP program is competitive. Applicants are considered for admission based upon the following criteria:
You can apply to SMU through the Central Application Service for Nursing Schools (NursingCAS). With your application you will also need to submit:
Official transcripts from other educational institutions
Two letters of reference
We offer three start dates per year for the online MSN FNP. Application deadlines for each term are as follows:
Where You Can Study With Us
Our online program is approved for nurses licensed and residing in:
*Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is not regulated in Texas under Chapter 178 of the Texas Education Code; the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) approves and regulates SMU’s programs in California where the University is physically located and where it has legal authorization to operate; SMU’s student grievance policy, process, and procedures can be found on page 146 of the Student Handbook.
Due to clinical and state compliance requirements, authorization for offering this online program is being sought on a state by state basis. If the state you reside in is not on the previous list, it means authorization is not yet in place. Check back periodically for state approvals.
To apply to our MSN FNP program, you must be a registered nurse with an unencumbered license. You must be licensed in and a resident of one of the following states:
You must also hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university (or foreign equivalent). In addition, you must provide:
You must also have access to a personal computer and basic computer skills in order to access and navigate the university’s course management system, Canvas.
In addition to the admissions requirements above, all applicants to the MSN FNP must have passed at least one undergraduate-level course in statistics. The passing grade is whatever was determined to be passing by the institution in which the applicant took the course. It is preferred the course is taken within two years of application. If it is older than two years, the applicant should consider taking a refresher course.
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.
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.
Curriculum, Courses, and Clinicals
The MSN FNP with online coursework and clinicals in your community consists of 49 units, available in a full-time format that takes as little as 20 months of study to complete.
The program combines interdisciplinary core courses, specialty courses, and hands-on experience. Course content aligns with the highest national standards, including those established by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Total: 9 semester units
Total: 9 semester units
Total: 8 semester units
Total: 11 semester units
Total: 12 semester units
Total Units: 49
In addition to online coursework, you will complete three semesters of precepted clinical practicum hours. You are also required to attend two on-campus intensives at the Sacramento campus.
You will work with our clinical coordinator to secure appropriate practicum and internship sites in your community. You’ll also have access to our network of master’s-prepared and qualified clinical preceptors.
After completion of the MSN FNP, you will be conferred a Masters degree in Nursing and eligible to sit for state and national certification.
Graduation, Retention, and Employment Rates
2016-2017 Cohort 77%
2015-2016 Cohort 82%
2014-2015 Cohort 84%
*% of Entering Cohort that Graduated Within 150% of Expected Time
First-Year Retention Rates**
2017-2018 Cohort 90%
2016-2017 Cohort 86%
2015-2016 Cohort 92%
**% of Cohort Retained First to Second Academic Year in Program
Employment Rate in the Profession (within one year of graduation)**
2016-2017 graduating class 76%
2015-2016 graduating class 100%
2014-2015 graduating class 100%
**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)
2017-2018 graduating classes 72%
January, May, and September MSN Online
These frequently asked questions are general to the degree options to become an FNP, not specific to Samuel Merritt University.
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. 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.
Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; (510) 748-9001. WSCUC is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation.
The Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner Online 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.
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
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.
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 assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient physiologic data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses.
Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving of patients, including the ability to communicate effectively 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 in English and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communication.
Patient Care Skills
Candidates must perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to perform or direct basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, wet mount, etc), diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (venipuncture, placement of catheters and tubes, lumbar puncture, suturing, etc), and interpret electrocardiograms and imaging studies. A candidate must be able to provide or direct general care and emergency treatment for patients, and respond to emergency situations in a timely manner; examples of emergency treatments reasonably required of a family nurse practitioner include, but are not limited to, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medications, application of pressure to arrest bleeding, opening obstructed airways, and performance of obstetrical maneuvers. Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal 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; 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 FNP curriculum including, but not limited to, the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures; 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 diagnosis and 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 practice of medicine, 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.
Our nursing faculty prepare more nurses in Northern California than anyone. Their expertise in best practices, outcomes-based health care, and inter-professional simulation is unrivaled. They prepare nurses for careers in all levels of the field, from entry-level clinical positions to advanced careers in primary care and nursing leadership.