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MSN Program Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are often raised by prospective and enrolled MSN students at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH).

GENERAL INFORMATION

1. What are the unique characteristics of the master's nursing program?

2. Is the degree program accredited? If so, by whom?

3. What are the instructors' qualifications?

4. If an RN lives in California, can s/he take classes in the national or the state program?

5. Where can I obtain more information? How do I begin? How do I register?

TIME FACTORS

7. How long will it take to earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree?

8. Is full-time study required at any time?

9. Why does it seem that very few class hours are scheduled for a course held in the classroom?

10. How many hours of study are required to earn one semester unit of academic credit through the national nursing program?

11. What happens if a student has to miss several weeks of a class in a term?

12. What about registering late for a course?

13. What is the academic calendar?

14. When does the first class start?

15. If a student needs to take a year off from school, will s/he be dropped from the program?

TRANSFER CREDIT

16. Can units earned at other colleges and universities be applied toward this degree?

17. Are CSUDH nursing courses transferable to other schools of nursing?

18. Is credit awarded for basic nursing education in a diploma or ADN program?

19. What about nurses with foreign nursing school education?

21. Are exams or courses required before admission?

22. What is "general education"? Are any General Education (G. E.) courses offered through the nursing program?

23. How many units are required for graduation?

COURSE MATERIALS

26. How will I know what to study?

27. How does the student obtain required materials for each course?

29. How may fees be paid? Are costs tax deductible?

30. What about refunds?

32. If a student's employer provides liability insurance, does the student still need to carry a personal policy?

33. Are there other requirements for beginning a performance course?

40. How many times can a challenge examination be repeated?

41. What is the CSU Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)?

42. What is a proctored test?

LEARNING RESOURCES/TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS

43. What are the requirements for a computer?

44. What about library resources?

1. What are the unique characteristics of the master's nursing program?

The MSN program is responsible to the needs of RN adult learners whose time, life-styles or work schedules might make it impossible to complete a traditional course of study in residence at a college campus. In California, the program (state program) is offered on the web, or at geographically convenient locations that combines student study outside the classroom with seminar discussion in the classroom. The same curriculum is offered nationally (national program) on the web. In web-based courses, inter-activity between teacher and students and among students is maintained through electronic communications and email rather than classroom meetings.

2. Is the degree program accredited? If so, by whom?

Yes. The MSN program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC), the regional accrediting authority for institutions of higher education.

3. What are the instructors' qualifications?

All instructors qualify for an appointment in the California State University system as full-time or part-time faculty members. Additionally, those who teach nursing courses meet the faculty standards specified by the National League for Nursing and have at least a master's degree in nursing, with 76% doctorally-prepared. Part-time faculty are actively employed in the field of nursing and bring this perspective to the classroom. Some nursing support and elective classes are taught by individuals who are academically prepared in other disciplines, e.g. statistics, biochemistry.

4. If an RN lives in California, can s/he take classes in the national or the state program?

California residents may enroll in the California program and take classes anywhere in the state or on the web; or they may take nursing courses via the national program (registration is at a higher rate through the Department of Extended Education). Courses must be taken in proper sequence; exceptions require prior written approval by the nursing academic advisor.

5. Where can I obtain more information? How do I begin? How do I register?

For Information:

California Students: Call the Student Services Center at (800) 344-5484 for dates of online, telephone or "live" information sessions, and to obtain written material.

National Students: After reading this material call (800) 344-5484 or e-mail nationalnurse@soh.csudh.edu to request additional program information and to speak with a academic advisor. If you decide to apply, you can request an application for admission to the CSUDH nursing program, register for course(s), and begin your classes. Attendance in class is allowed before formal application to the university. When you begin classes, you will be assigned an experienced CSUDH nurse academic advisor.

To Register:

California Students: see Touchtone Registration Procedures below:

Each student eligible to register will receive a Registration Access Mailer or an admission letter from the Admissions and Records Office, which will provide important registration information:

  • Registration appointment date and time
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)
  • Student Identification Number (SID)
  • Major
  • Holds preventing registration, if any

It is very important to review all the information printed and to clear all holds as soon as possible; do not wait until your registration appointment date and time.

Appointment Date and Time

You will not be able to access the Touchtone Registration System (T.O.R.O.S) before the date and time printed on your Registration Access Mailer or admission letter. Appointment dates and times are determined by class level and number of units completed. Note that units in progress at CSUDH are not included and courses taken at another institution may not be included in the calculation of units completed.

It is important to register during the touchtone registration period at, or very soon after, your priority appointment time for the best selection of classes. Mailed requests to register or add will be accepted but not processed until your appointment date; however, registration and schedule adjustment via T.O.R.O.S. is quicker, more convenient and will provide you with the best course selection. If you are not able to register on your priority registration appointment day, you may register at any time after your appointment time through the end of registration period, but you will be competing for classes with students with lower priority access. It is in your best interest to register as early as possible to secure a seat in your preferred classes!

Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Each student is assigned a 6-digit personal identification number. This PIN is used to access any of the touchtone applications (registration, billing, application status, financial aid status and grade reporting). You are urged to change your PIN for security reasons and to keep your PIN in a safe place. You can change your PIN via T.O.R.O.S. by making the appropriate selection at the opening menu; the recorded voice will guide you.

Student Identification Number (SID)

The 9-digit SID on your Registration Access Mailer or admission letter should match your social security number. If the number is incorrect, use the assigned number and then mail a request for a change of SID to the Admissions and Records Office after you have completed your registration. Include a copy of your social security card.

Holds

Holds must be cleared prior to registration. Clear holds immediately upon notification; do not wait until your registration appointment time. Refer to the appropriate department to release holds.

Hold Type: Contact: Telephone Number:

  • Admissions: (310) 243-3645
  • ASAP, EPT/ELM, GWAR, Academic Probation, Disqualification: Student Services Center (800) 344-5484
  • Financial: Cashier (310) 243-3803
  • Measles, Rubella, Hepatitis B: Student Health Center (310) 243-3629

National Students: For national students to register, call toll free 1-877-GOHILLS (1-877-464-4557) or e-mail to eereg@dhvx20.csudh.edu or fax to 310/516-3971.

TIME FACTORS

6. When are classes held?

Web-based classes are held in "cyber time", i.e., there are specific beginning and ending dates with timelines noted within the course materials on the web. Classes held in the classroom meet twice for four hour periods per unit. Preceptor units may vary in length and frequency.

7. How long will it take to earn the Master of Science in Nursing Degree?

The time required for completion varies and is highly dependent on the individual student. Several personal factors are: the amount and categories of transfer credit accepted toward the degree; the courses offered during the semester; options chosen for completion of degree requirements; and the individual student's desired unit load each semester, which is impacted by home and work commitments. Usually, the degree can be completed on a part-time enrollment basis in two and a half to four years. MSN students have 5 years in which to complete the degree program.

8. Is full-time study required at any time?

Yes. The MSN program was specifically designed for working nurses and curriculum delivery is directed toward the part-time student. However, students must register full-time (8-9 units) in the semesters in which they are taking their role performance courses. This allows adequate time to complete the classes and required clinical hours.

9. Why does it seem that very few class hours are scheduled for a course held in the classroom?

The student activity time expectation is the same as for courses in a traditional program. The difference is that in the web-based program there is no in-class "seat time" and more time allocated for structured out-of-class learning activities. This program delivery method, based on adult learning principles, recognizes the ability of registered nurses to pursue specified learning activities and accomplish many of the learning objectives at a time and place convenient for them as individuals.

10. How many hours of study are required to earn one semester unit of academic credit through the national nursing program?

At CSUDH, the term "unit" is used rather than "credit" or "credit hour". A one semester theory unit requires in class and out of class learning activities totaling 45 hours. This value is the recognized academic standard in the USA. Individual learning style affects how much time a particular student may need to meet course requirements.

11. What happens if a student has to miss several weeks of a course in a term?

The student must contact the instructor for each course as soon as possible to negotiate timely completion of requirements. Contact the School of Health Student Services Center (800) 344-5484) office if you cannot reach the instructor electronically. If a course is not completed, the eligible student may negotiate an Incomplete Grade Agreement form with the instructor, and complete the course as agreed.

12. What about registering late for a course?

California students should refer to the published policies and procedures regarding late registration. For the national program, late registration for the course begins the day after the first class of the course, i.e., the start date for the course. Late registration is not generally allowed. California and national students should contact the School of Health Student Services Center (800) 344-5484) if there is a question.

13. What is the academic calendar?

Students may begin their MSN program at the beginning of the Fall or Spring semester or term.. Nursing courses for the program are offered over three terms:

  • FALL: late August - December
  • SPRING: late-January - early May
  • SUMMER: June - mid August

14. When does the first class start?

At the beginning of each term, new students may enter and are usually advised to start their coursework by enrolling in the initial course MSN 501 and other MSN core courses. Ongoing students continue each term according to their individualized Program of Study which they have developed with their assigned Academic Advisor.

15. If a student needs to take a year off from school, will s/he be dropped from the program?

No. To remain in active status (continuous matriculation) MSN students must take courses every semester (Fall and Spring). If a student needs to miss the fall and spring terms of one academic year, a Leave of Absence form must be obtained from the Student Services Office (800) 344-5484, completed and returned so that it is on file with CSUDH prior to the beginning of the leave in order to maintain continuous matriculation status. Upon returning to the Program, a student must reapply (without charge) and any added transcripts must be submitted.

TRANSFER CREDIT

16. Can units earned at other colleges and universities be applied toward this degree?

In general, applicable credits earned at other accredited colleges and universities are transferable. Up to 9 units earned at the graduate level may be transferable. CSUDH Admissions and Records Office evaluates all transferable units from other colleges and universities to determine which are acceptable and may apply to MSN program requirements.

17. Are CSUDH nursing courses transferable to other schools of nursing?

All university coursework is accredited and transferable to another college or university. Whether the nursing course meets the requirements of another nursing program is dependent on that program's curriculum and any other applicable policies. Course substitution is possible with advisor approval. The amount of coursework taken by assessment (test option) which is acceptable varies with the institution. For validation one should confer with the school to which he/she is transferring. Decisions about course acceptability are the responsibility of the university considering an applicants' status.

18. Is credit awarded for basic nursing education in a diploma or ADN program?

Transferable college and university credits earned during a hospital diploma program or an ADN program are counted toward the BSN degree. Nursing course units earned from a hospital diploma program (taught by instructors paid by the hospital) are not recognized by universities and, therefore, are not transferable. However, options exist for diploma RNs who have little or no transferable credit to earn credit for their basic nursing education.*Diploma RNs who may not yet have earned 56 transferable college credits are admissible to the Nursing Undergraduate Preparatory Program which assists in the recognition of hospital-based courses. The nursing academic advisor assists the diploma nurse to proceed.

19. What about nurses with foreign nursing school education?

There are three areas to consider: transcript evaluation, GPA, and the nationally offered Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

A. The initial evaluation of foreign transcripts may need to be handled by an international agency. If you have sent your transcripts directly to a recommended agency, original transcripts must also be sent from your school to CSUDH Admissions and Records. The recommended agencies will provide: evaluation of high school level, post-secondary through graduation level, employment and skill re-certification; reconstruction of education studies; certified translation of documents; career development and counseling; and, authenticity verification. The fee of $50-$150 depending upon the complexity of the evaluation covers subject breakdown, equivalence statements, detailed analysis and a narrative evaluation if needed. This includes one original evaluation sent to the designated agency or institution and one copy to the applicant. CSUDH will provide names of highly recommended agencies. CSUDH Admissions and Records Office will evaluate the transfer units allowed as well as the general education breadth requirements from the original analysis of the international evaluation service. CSUDH Office of Admissions and Records has final authority of approving the transferability of credit.

B. International students are required to have a 2.4 GPA on all units attempted in college; if that education was completed in English, a 2.0 GPA is acceptable.

C. All students, regardless of citizenship, who have not attended school at the secondary level for at least 3 years full-time or beyond where English is the principal language of instruction, are required to earn a minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This is considered an admissions requirement and must be completed within the first semester.

REQUIREMENTS

20. What are the admission and equipment needs?

The admission requirements are:

  • Completion of CSUDH admissions application package with accompanying fee.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Active and clear RN licensure in the United States (or equivalent) or an interim permit.

Note: National students may enroll in courses prior to admission; the application must be submitted before the second registration. California residents in the California program must apply and be admitted prior to enrolling in courses.

The equipment requirements are:

  • A Personal Computer running Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP
  • 56K Modem
  • Unlimited Internet access with e-mail. This modality is increasingly used to facilitate communication between students, instructors and advisors.

21. Are exams required before admission?

No. Entrance examinations are not required for admission to the MSN program.

22. Are any courses required prior to admission to the MSN program?

Yes. The MSN Program requires the following undergraduate upper division level courses prior to taking the MSN course as indicated:

  • Statistics course or equivalent, prerequisite to MSN 530.
  • Nursing research course or equivalent, prerequisite to MSN 530.
  • Health assessment course with clinical lab or equivalent, within the past 5 years.
  • Pathophysiology course or equivalent, for the CNS roles.

23. How many units are required for graduation?

The MSN degree is awarded from the CSU Dominguez Hills upon successful completion of all course work and requirements. The number of units required for graduation varies, depending on the role emphasis as follows:

  • Nurse educator - 36 units
  • CNS Parent-child - 40 units
  • CNS Gerontology - 40 units

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT

24. Can CEUs which are needed for re-licensure be earned by completing courses in the BSN curriculum? If so, how many?

All MSN courses are approved for C.E. credit by the California Board of Registered Nursing at the rate of 15 contact hours per unit of theory (California BRN Provider Number 03594). Inquiries regarding the applicability of California BRN continuing education units for licensure renewal in states other than California should be referred to that state's Board of Nursing. The academic transcript is the certificate of completion.

ADVISEMENT

25. Who provides advisement to students and how does this occur?

Prospective Students: RNs who would like to receive information regarding the program, procedures, registration, and general education/elective courses, can visit the web at www.csudh.edu/soh/don/index.htm, send e-mail to sohadvising@soh.csudh.edu or call (800) 344-5484.

Enrolled But Not Yet Admitted National Students: Students enrolled in MSN 501 or taking core courses prior to admission will be assigned a personal nursing academic advisor for initial advisement purposes.

Admitted Students: Students who have an application on file with CSUDH are assigned a personal academic advisor. Contact Student Services Center (800) 344-5484 for all issues. If you need to speak to a faculty advisor, the Student Services Center will refer you to your assigned faculty advisor.

COURSE MATERIALS

26. How will I know what to study?

Course materials, including required textbooks will guide the student throughout the course, beginning with readings and other activities that must be completed prior to the first class. The web-based courses present the same guidance and additional information and clarification. The student completes other out-of-class learning activities between each lesson and final assignments.

27. How does the student obtain required materials for each course?

At the time of registering for a course, all required course materials are ordered by calling the Textbook Connection 800/844-4473 or by ordering online.

COSTS/REFUNDS

28. What are the costs involved in obtaining my MSN from this program?

Email: sohadvising@soh.csudh.edu or call (800) 344-5484.

29. How may fees be paid? Are costs tax deductible?

Fees may be paid by charge card, personal check or purchase orders. Check with your employer regarding tuition reimbursement. Keep track of all expenditures (from first inquiry to graduation) and consult with your tax advisor regarding a possible deduction for educational expenses.

30. What about refunds?

Refunds are not automatic. When a student withdraws from the term or drops a course he/she must officially request a refund using the Withdrawal Form. Refunds are made according to the following schedule:

California Students:

Email sohadvising@soh.csudh.edu or call (800) 344-5484 to contact an advisor who will provide current information for application, registration, and program fees.

National Students:

Email eereg@dhvx20.csudh.edu for information regarding refunds.

CLINICAL COURSES

31. How are clinical experiences provided, and where do they occur?

Clinical courses are called performance courses. The field experience for a performance course may occur in a variety of health care settings appropriate to the particular course. Since students are RNs and are accountable under their licensure and personal professional liability insurance coverage, an instructor need not be physically present. Instead, the instructor interfaces with a qualified preceptor who facilitates access to learning opportunities which the student needs to complete the performance course objectives.

32. If a student's employer provides liability insurance, does the student still need to carry a personal policy?

Yes. This insurance must be in force prior to enrollment in a performance course. Each time a student enrolls in a performance course, s/he must re-validate current personal coverage of professional liability insurance.

33. Are there other requirements for beginning a performance course?

There are specific requirements related to licensure, CPR certification, universal precautions training, and immunization that must be met prior to beginning clinical experience. Certain health care settings may have additional requirements.

PROGRESSION

34. Does each student need to follow the specified sequence of nursing classes?

Yes, but in true commitment to flexibility, the Program offers many options at each level. In limited situations an exception may be appropriate. Any exception requires advisement and prior written approval by the nursing advisor.

35. How are nursing courses graded?

For nursing courses, students may earn a credit ("CR") or a no credit ("NC") grade for some courses as designated and for all performance (clinical) courses. Other courses in the nursing major are graded A-F. For course requirements met through assessment, a CR/NC is awarded, according to University policy.

36. When are grade reports issued by the University?

Official grade reports are mailed from the CSUDH Records Office about 6-8 weeks following the end of a term. A student will receive an informal grade from each instructor after each course if the Request for Grade/Tuition Reimbursement Form is returned to the instructor with a pre-addressed and stamped envelope.

37. Can a student add a course or drop or withdraw from a course during the term?

Yes. If a course is dropped, a Withdrawal Form must be filed. A drop occurring during the first two weeks after the official start date is not reflected on the transcript. If a course in not officially dropped, a "U" is entered on the transcript. Failure to submit a completed Withdrawal Form within the specified time frame, or failure to complete the course in the agreed time frame, will result in a failing grade entered on the academic record (transcript). For refund information see Question #30.

38. If a student does poorly in a course, can the student repeat the course?

If a student receives a "D", "F" or a "U", the course may be repeated according to the CSUDH policy. The grade subsequently earned is computed in the units attempted and GPA.

ASSESSMENT OPTIONS AND EXAMINATIONS

39. What is the assessment option?

Consistent with the program's adult learning philosophy that, whenever possible, students should have an opportunity to demonstrate previously acquired knowledge and skills by examination rather than coursework. Depending on the nursing course, the method may be a written examination or a performance examination, and it must be successfully passed prior to the first class. The cost of each exam varies. The following exams are available:

Written Exams and Performance Exam through Excelsior College:

  • Health Assessment

Challenge Exams through CSUDH:

  • BSN 345 Pathophysiology
  • BSN 405 Statistics
  • BSN 460 Research utilization

40. How many times can a challenge examination be repeated?

A challenge exam may be repeated twice without academic penalty.

41. What is the CSU Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)?

All students in the California State University System (CSU) must meet the upper division graduation writing assessment requirement within the first year. Successful performance on a CSUDH test, the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR), satisfies this requirement. At the graduate level, students are required to attain a passing score of 8.

FYI: THE GRADUATION WRITING ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENT EXAM

As a student of California State University Dominguez Hills, your competency in written composition may be assessed by a standardized test called the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement. (GWAR) or Graduate Writing Exam (GWE). The GWAR/GWE evaluates writing, usage, and grammar skills. GWAR exams may consist of an objective test and an essay portion.

The essay writing portion is concerned with how well you write, rather than how much you know. You will be expected to develop an assigned topic in an organized, clear, and coherent manner, as well as demonstrated competence in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style.

The GWAR is a requirement for graduation which you should complete during your 1st term in the program. If you do not pass this test on your first attempt, you will have the opportunity to repeat the test once.

Many CSU campuses offer courses which meet the graduate writing requirements. Confer with your advisor if you prefer to enroll in such a course rather than take the exam.

42. What is a proctored test?

Some courses or challenge exams have evaluation measures which must be completed in a supervised environment.

LEARNING RESOURCES/TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS

43. What are the requirements for a computer?

All nursing students are required to have access to a computer which has a modem for the purpose of communicating with teachers and classmates, and an Internet provider with a browser and an e-mail account.

44. What about library resources?

The MSN 501 course assists students in accessing library search engines and document delivery.

Students access and use the resources of their local libraries. Further, students may perform their own on-line literature searching with the following electronic information services. In addition, these are other databases are linked from the CSUDH Cyberlibrary. Follow the links to the Library from http://www.csudh.edu.

CINAHL: The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature is an on-line database, which enrolled nursing students can use to search and retrieve bibliographic information from nursing publications. Information on accessing CINAHL is included in the MSN 501 course.

Document Delivery: On-line data bases and other document delivery services provide, at additional cost, full-text documents. The method of ordering, receiving, and paying for this convenience is described by the various providers of the service.