Direct Entry for Nurses

Do you have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) and want to pursue advanced practice nursing? The Vanderbilt MSN program offers numerous areas of specialty. Most specialties can be completed in one calendar year, and many offer flexible course delivery formats so you can learn from where you live. You can also choose to progress seamlessly to the DNP program after completing the MSN degree.

For more than a hundred years, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has been providing innovative educational opportunities for its students. The School’s proudest tradition is educating nurses who are impassioned professionals capable of meeting – and exceeding – the demands of a constantly evolving profession.

The School, which opened in 1909, was one of five schools to receive Rockefeller funding to implement the Goldmark Report of 1923 that stressed the need for baccalaureate education. By 1926, the School had grown from its initiation as the Vanderbilt Hospital Training School to a School of Nursing, offering a diploma in nursing combined with studies in arts and sciences, leading to a BS degree. In 1933, VUSN offered the first BSN in Tennessee and became a charter member of the Association in Collegiate Schools of Nursing, which later became the National League for Nursing (NLN), under which the school is currently accredited.

In 1955 Vanderbilt developed a graduate program, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), becoming one of only six master’s degree programs in the southeast. In 1972 the PRIMEX program, the forerunner of the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty, was started. In 1993 the PhD in Nursing Science program began; the first graduates of the program were in 1997. Vanderbilt School of Nursing has a long and proud history of educating advanced practice nurses who bring the expertise of their education to their communities as well as to their profession.

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an NLNAC or CCNE accredited program with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • An undergraduate course in statistics, which includes inferential statistics, with a grade C or better
  • A Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score taken within five years of date of application
  • Completed application including a statement of career goals
  • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
  • Completed interview survey. Some specialties may also require a telephone interview
  • Three letters of academic or professional reference
  • RN license or licensure in compact state. Unencumbered RN license in the state(s) in which you will be completing your clinical training

For further information, please e-mail the admissions office at

Master of Science in Nursing Program

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), the first professional degree in nursing at Vanderbilt, prepares nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, health systems managers, and nurse informatics.

The goals of the MSN program are to prepare:

  • Graduates for advanced practice roles including primary care nurse practitioners, patient-focused, systems-focused and business-focused managers, nurse-midwives, and specialty care nurse practitioners who have expertise and advanced knowledge in a specialty area.
  • Seekers of new knowledge by means of critical thinking, creative reasoning, and scientific investigation in relation to nursing practice and nursing science,
    disseminators of nursing knowledge and research to consumers and professionals.
  • Leaders capable of determining effective strategies that stimulate change within the profession and that lead to a more effective management of the health care delivery system.
  • Decision makers who utilize advanced practice knowledge and consider ethical principles in serving the needs of diverse individuals, populations and society.
  • Students who possess the foundation for doctoral education.

The Master of Science In Nursing (MSN) degree is awarded on a minimum of 39 credits which can be completed in one calendar year (fall, spring, summer semesters) of full time study. (Note: Nurse-midwifery and dual specialties may take 4-5 semesters.) The curriculum has three major components: core courses in research and theory, specialty courses and elective courses.

Core Courses (9 semester hours)

These core courses encompass content that is essential for all master's degree students and allow students across specialties to share experiences. The scientific inquiry nursing course sequence (N399A and N399B) provides a basis for theory integration into advanced practice and critical analysis of theoretical and research literature in the clinical problem-solving process.

The APN role within the US Healthcare Delivery System Course (N395) provides the foundation for understanding the health care environment and the advanced practice nurse's role in health care.

Further application occurs in the specialty offerings subsequent to the foundation coursework.

Specialty Courses (25 semester hours minimum)

This portion of the master's program consists of didactic and practicum courses in a selected specialty.

The didactic courses cover advanced nursing content; the practicum courses place the student in the advanced practice role of nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner or nurse manager.

For detailed information about specialty courses, go to Programs of Study and the appropriate specialty and course descriptions.

Elective Courses (0 to 6 semester hours)

Students select electives of interest, with the approval of their advisor, based on the student's professional goals. Options include courses related to the clinical specialty, teaching or management.

Courses available in Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing, School of Medicine, Owen Graduate School of Management, Peabody College, and the Graduate School allow nursing students to interact with other professional and graduate students.

Elective hours may be designated by selection of subspecialty for certification. Some specialty programs of study may not require electives. Students may choose to take electives above the required 39 credit hours.