MS and PhD Dual-Degree Accelerated Programs

 

Overview

Curriculumapply

Options within the MS-PhD Program

Careers

Admission Criteria

What to Expect

Overview

The MS-PhD accelerated and combined programs are for RNs with Bachelor’s degrees in nursing who want to become researchers and wish to acquire Nurse Practitioner training at the same time. The program includes the full MS and PhD programs, with courses taken simultaneously in a very rigorous 3 years of full-time enrollment, after which the MS degree is awarded and the student continues to complete the PhD dissertation proposal and research. The program can be completed in 5 years of full-time effort.

Part-time admission for the MS-PhD is not an option because the program is already 5 years in length and is carefully designed to build knowledge in a planned sequence. Students who wish to study part-time are encouraged to enroll in the MS program of their choice and apply to the PhD program as they near the end of the MS program.

Some accelerated programs provide only part of the typical Masters degree and are designed to move students directly to the researcher role. The University of Rochester School of Nursing program provides a complete clinical MS degree, including clinical preceptorships that enable the student to meet requirements for national certification and licensing as a nurse practitioner.

Students meet the objectives and course requirements of both the MS and PhD programs but take 3 fewer courses than if the programs were taken separately. Two MS research courses are replaced by the PhD research courses, and one PhD cognate is replaced by a MS specialty course.


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Curriculum

The MS-PhD program curricula are structured differently for each of the 5 currently available MS specialty areas (see “Options within the MS-PhD Program” below), although the PhD coursework is the same in all programs. As in the PhD program, students begin with an intensive coursework phase. Over the 3 years of coursework, the MS portion of the program becomes increasingly clinical, including full-day precepted clinical experiences with expert nurse practitioner mentors. Meanwhile, the PhD portion becomes increasingly specialized as students seek out Research Assistantship experiences and cognate courses to support their individual research interests.

These three years are very intensive, with enrollment above the full-time minimum in every semester and at least 5 days per week of classes, clinical hours, Research Assistantship work, and study time required to meet the program goals. Students are strongly discouraged from taking on employment more than 1 day per week. Financial support is available for full-time study.

Coursework phase. The programs begin with 3 years of intensive full-time course work, which becomes increasingly specialized based on individual clinical and research directions. The plan of study is mapped out with the advisor before starting coursework. All students also complete a total of 360 hours of Research Assistantship (RA) and Teaching Assistantship (TA) work, which requires about 6 hours per week if completed during 4 academic semesters.

The Qualifying Exams take place in August after completion of the 2nd year for MS-PhD students. These are a sit-down, time-limited written exam, followed by a 1-hour oral defense of the written exam. More information can be found in the PhD Handbook.

Dissertation research phase. This phase can be completed in 6-18 months depending on the nature of the planned research. Once the proposal has been successfully defended and research review board approval has been secured, the student conducts the dissertation research project independently under guidance of the committee. The final dissertation is then written, revised with critique from the committee, and defended publicly with a private critique to follow.


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Options within the MS-PhD Program

Applicants may select from among 5 MS-PhD nurse practitioner programs:

 

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Careers

Nurses with both PhDs and Nurse Practitioner preparation are in very high demand. Like all graduates with PhDs, MS-PhD graduates will be sought out for employment as faculty in academic nursing schools and will be especially attractive to schools with Nurse Practitioner programs. They will be prepared to maintain a faculty practice in a clinical setting and/or to pursue research from within a clinical role. With cutting-edge skills as an advanced practice nurse and a nurse researcher, the possibilities are very far-reaching.


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Admission Criteria

  • Completed MS-PhD application (Part I and Part II)

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from an accredited program

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.5 preferred for undergraduate work

  • Statistics with a grade of B or above

  • RN licensure within the U. S. or a U.S. territory

  • Curriculum vitae

  • Professional goal statement indicating reasons for selection of MS specialty and planned topic areas for future research

  • A sample of scholarly writing (paper, publication, or other written work) for which you are the first or sole author

  • Competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past 5 years

  • For international students, TOEFL with a minimum score of 560 (paper-based), 230 (computer-based) or 88 (“i-based”)

  • Three positive letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant’s professional and intellectual abilities and achievements, potential as an advanced practice nurse, research potential and professional commitment.  One reference should be from a clinical nurse/manager supervisor with a graduate degree. Others should be from doctorally-prepared academics.

  • Masters degree specialty area identified as part of admission process

  • Clinical experience in appropriate specialty area prior to matriculation as indicated below.

    • For Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – medical/surgical experience is required

    • For Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Neonatal Nurse Practitioner option – two years of neonatal critical care staff nurse experience is required

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    • For Adult, Gerontological or Family Nurse Practitioner – nursing experience is preferred

When all of above is received, favorable interviews with two School of Nursing faculty members delineating goals and interests for combining a clinical masters with a PhD degree.

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What to Expect

The MS-PhD programs are extremely challenging and selective, with only a few highly motivated students accepted each year. You may be the only MS-PhD student in some of your classes. It can be difficult to envision the life of a researcher and choose a clinical topic for your research when you may be fairly new to nursing. As in the PhD in Health Practice Research program, your time will be completely taken up with school activities, and excellent organizational skills are essential. You may need to let go of some social and recreational pursuits for a few years.

Yet the rewards are great! You will progress at a fast pace toward the highest academic degree in your field and be prepared to make a real difference, both with your patients as a nurse practitioner and by conducting research to improve the way health care is delivered.


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