Frequently Asked Questions

General Information Questions

Admissions Questions


How do I contact the School of Nursing?

  • Admissions Office
    Hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Central Time (Monday – Friday)
    Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
    461 21st Avenue South
    Nashville, TN 37240-0008
    Admissions: 615-322-3800
    Web site:

     Note: Due to COVID-19, the admissions staff is working remotely but will respond to your email or voicemail messages left on 615-322-3800.


Can I visit the School of Nursing?

In light of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 phased approach to re-opening on-campus operations and activities, staff members in the Admissions Office will be working remotely and our office in the School of Nursing Building will remain closed for the summer with the exception of weekly in person admissions information sessions and tours. Please contact the admissions office to schedule a visit.

How can I get information about applying to the MSN or the post-master's certificate program?

All potential applicants are encouraged to participate in an on-campus or a virtual information session. Virtual and on-campus information sessions are held on a regular basis.

Please view current availability and register register nowif you are interested in participating in an information session.

What are the academic programs offered by the School of Nursing?

The School of Nursing recognizes that individuals come to us with different backgrounds and different career aspirations. Choose the academic degree and the advanced practice specialty that suits your interest .See specialties offered at Advanced Practice Specialties.


Why does Vanderbilt offer a master of science degree for nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife education?

Due to the national need to increase the workforce of nurse practitioners (NPs) and nurse-midwives (NMs) in practice, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) continues to offer the master of science in nursing (MSN) degree.

There are several advantages to completing a master’s degree for advanced practice.

  • Generally, the overall program cost burden is less than obtaining a doctoral degree.
  • Graduates can enter the advanced practice workforce in a shorter period of time.
  • NP or NM graduates can begin obtaining advanced practice experience and earning an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) salary.
  • NP or NM graduates can decide whether to proceed with their education, and if so, decide on a practice doctorate (DNP) or a research doctorate (PhD).
  • Graduates can continue to the doctoral degree while working as APRNs. 

Evidence has found equivalent quality of care by graduates from MSN and DNP programs. The NP and NM certification exams do not require DNP degrees to take the examination. Most states require a master’s degree (such as the MSN) to obtain licensure and do not specify a DNP requirement for NPs or NMs.

Currently, there is no regulatory requirement that NPs and NMs have doctoral degrees. Nurse anesthetists are the only APRNs that are mandated to have doctoral degrees by 2025. [Note: VUSN does not offer a nurse anesthesia program.] The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) recommended (not required) that APRNs (clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives) hold doctoral degrees by the year 2015. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) made the commitment to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the doctor of nursing practice degree by 2025. VUSN continues to watch national trends and will respond accordingly.

VUSN DNP Program

The DNP builds on the MSN foundation, and Vanderbilt wholeheartedly supports continuation of nursing education to a doctoral degree. To demonstrate this support, VUSN guarantees admission to our DNP program after our students complete MSN requirements. Prospective students should consider how much time it will take to become an NP or NM while earning a DNP degree. VUSN has an efficient pathway/timeline to obtain the DNP degree and VUSN’s BSN-MSN-DNP sequence may be faster than some BSN to DNP programs.

VUSN Nurse Practitioner* programs: MSN (3 semesters) + DNP (5 or 6 semesters) = 8 or 9 semesters [2.5–3 calendar years]                                                                                                                                                                                          VUSN Nurse-Midwifery program: MSN (4 semesters) + DNP (5 or 6 semesters) = 9 or 10 semesters [3–3.5 calendar years]

VUSN BSN to DNP** option in AGACNP and FNP/ENP specialties = 8 semesters [2.5 calendar years]

*Nurse-Midwifery and dual MSN programs take 1 or 2 semesters longer

**BSN-DNP students may be eligible to take the certification exam before completion of DNP requirements but they cannot obtain APRN licensure until the DNP is completed.


Do I have to select my advanced practice specialty when I apply?

Yes, you need to apply to an advanced practice specialty and your statement of purpose needs to explain your interest in a particular patient population. If you are undecided about your specialty, you should explore our website for details about the various specialties. Vanderbilt admits students to a specific specialty based on holistic review of the application; a student that accepts the offer of admission is making a commitment to enroll in that specialty.


Can I apply to more than one specialty?

No. While the online application system allows applicants to submit more than one application, the School of Nursing can only consider one application per student per term. Applicants should apply to the specialty that is their first choice.


Do you offer distance learning courses? 

The School of Nursing offers many of the MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate nurse practitioner and nursing informatics specialties in a modified learning (block) format.

The content is delivered in a modified learning (block) format via the following:

  1. Courses offered in concentrated blocks of time on campus (approximately 3-5 days an average of four times in fall, three times in spring and two times in summer semester).
  2. Between on campus sessions, there is additional course content, conferencing and testing online.
  3. Digital video and distributed course delivery methods that allow for continued faculty contact between sessions. See Distance Learning

In addition, clinical placement can usually be arranged in the student's home area provided a suitable agency and preceptor are available. On your application you are required to indicate whether you are requesting clinical placement in the middle Tennessee area (MTA or local) or outside of a 150-mile radius of middle Tennessee (OMTA or distance). As a rule, more places are available for students requesting clinical placement outside of the middle Tennessee area (OMTA). See Clinical Placement


What is the cost to attend?

Tuition is charged by the credit hour and the credit hour cost is the same for MSN, PMC and DNP students. School of Nursing scholarships are available for all full time MSN students and all DNP students.  All applicants are emailed a packet of financial aid information in February of the year in which they apply. Detailed information including tuition and fees is available at Financial Aid .


What academic background do I need to apply to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or the Post-Master's Certificate (PMC) program?

VUSN is unique in that it offers "multiple entry options." You can enter our program with:

  • A Bachelor of Arts/Science or higher degree in a field other than nursing (referred to as PreSpecialty or non-nurse entry). Program details found at Non-nurse entry
  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (referred to as Direct Entry Student). See Specialties offered at Advanced Practice specialties
  • A Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with the intention of obtaining specialization as an Advanced Practice Nurse(referred to as Post Master's Student) See Post-master's certificate


Does VUSN require any prerequisite courses?

Yes. Prerequisite requirements are based on the applicant’s academic background. All prerequisite courses must be completed at an accredited college or university with a grade of C or better. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools converted to a pass/fail grade basis for spring 2020 courses. Therefore, we will accept a grade of “pass” on a prerequisite taken in spring 2020.  Prerequisites do not have to be completed at the time of application but must be completed by the time classes start in August.

 If you have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, we require that you have:

  • Three (3) semester hours of Statistics (no time limit on course)

If you are entering with a BA/BS or higher degree in a non-nursing field, we require you have:

  • Eight (8) semester hours of Human Anatomy and Physiology. Must be taken within 5 years of application. Courses with lab component preferred but not required.
  • Three (3) semester hours of Microbiology. Must be taken within 5 years of application. Course with lab component preferred but not required.
  • Three (3) semester hours of Lifespan Development, Human Growth and Development or Developmental Psychology (must cover lifespan from birth to death)
  • Three (3) semester hours of Statistics (must include inferential statistics)
  • Two to Three (2-3) semester hours of Nutrition


Must I have completed the prerequisite courses prior to applying to VUSN?

No. If you are applying to our program as non-nurse BA/BS or higher degree entry (prespecialty) student, you must be in the final year of your program before applying. It is desirable that you have completed some if not all the prerequisite courses. Acceptance into our program, as well as your ability to enroll, will be contingent upon receipt of documentation acknowledging your completion of the prerequisites and final transcript documenting degree completion prior to the enrollment date..


Can I take prerequisites at a community college or online?

Yes, you may take the prerequisites at any regionally accredited college/university or community college. Prerequisites may also be taken online.


Is there expiration on prerequisites?

Yes. Human anatomy, human physiology & microbiology must be taken within 5 years of application for non-nurse BA/BS or higher degree entry (prespecialty) applicants.


Is there an application deadline?

There is no fixed application deadline at the School of Nursing. We begin to evaluate applications to our program for the fall semester on October 15th of the previous year. We will continue to accept applications for a specific semester until the specialty into which you are applying reaches its capacity or up to approximately one month prior to the commencement of classes. Note that the nurse practitioner and nurse midwifery specialties receive a high number of applications so applicants to those programs should apply no later than October 15th


Where should I have my official transcripts sent?

Applicants should not request transcripts to be sent to Vanderbilt until they have completed the academic history section of the application. If Vanderbilt receives a transcript that does not correspond to the application, the transcript is placed in an orphan file which delays processing the application.

Applicants must monitor their application checklist to be sure that official transcripts have posted to their application. If an applicant uploads a transcript to their application, Vanderbilt does not consider that to be an official transcript. Only transcripts sent by the Registrar directly to Vanderbilt’s Center for Data Management (CDM) are considered official.

Applicants must request that their school Registrar send electronic transcript to Vanderbilt’s Center for Data Management at

If you have used more than one name, be sure to include your current and all former names on your application. If a transcript arrives that does not match the name on the application, that transcript also becomes an orphan in the system and will not attach to your application.

You should only have the Registrar send a paper transcript if the school does not have electronic transcripts. Do not send transcripts by express mail because there is no one in the CDM to sign for the delivery. The mailing address for the Center for Data Management is:

Center for Data Management
Vanderbilt University
PMB 407833
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833


What criteria are used to judge my application when it is sent for faculty review?

All applicants are holistically reviewed based on the criteria listed at Admission Criteria Faculty review all portions of the application, including letters of reference, official transcripts, statement of purpose and application essay responses. All application materials must be received before your file can be reviewed by faculty.


Should I contact the admissions office to set up a personal interview?

No, the MSN and Post-master’s certificate programs do not require or offer personal admission interviews.


If admitted, can I defer my acceptance?

You may request a deferral of one year. Written requests for deferral explaining the reason for the request should be addressed to the Student Admissions and Academic Affairs (SAAA) Committee and sent to Deferrals are generally granted for unanticipated circumstances such as illness. Deferrals are usually not granted for financial reasons, inability to complete prerequisite courses and the like.


Can I apply to enter in the spring semester?

All programs start in the fall semester.


Is part-time study available?

All non-nurse BA/BS or higher degree entry must attend full-time in the PreSpecialty year. BSNs and post master’s certificate students may attend part-time. The Nursing & Health Care Leadership and Nursing Informatics specialties are only offered part-time.