Nursing: Direct Entry (M.S.)

Nursing: Direct Entry (M.S.)

Nursing student working in clinical setting


Whether you’re looking for a change or to advance your career, our direct entry Master of Nursing program will help you pursue advanced-practice nursing qualifications without a prior bachelor’s or graduate degree in the field. This program offers the clinical nurse leader (CNL) track, which will prepare you for clinical leadership roles, giving you the ability to manage and solve complex patient problems in a range of healthcare settings. You’ll work directly with clinicians to help manage the delivery of patient care, including the development and implementation of treatment plans and the evaluation of their success.


The direct entry Master of Nursing is completed in just five semesters, including two summer sessions. You’ll complete the NCLEX-RN exam during the course of the program, achieving your license to practice as a registered nurse. In your final semester, you’ll sit for the national clinical nurse leader exam, allowing you to graduate with both a master’s degree and your CNL certification. You’ll complete an immersion experience of approximately 300 clinical hours, gaining valuable hands-on experience in the field. Full-time undergraduate students enrolled at UNH also may apply for accelerated admission to this graduate program.


  • Clinical nurse leader (CNL)
  • Community and public health facilities
  • Education
  • Healthcare administration
  • Home healthcare services
  • Outpatient care
  • Research


Department of Nursing
Hewitt Hall, 4 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824
Phone: (603) 862-2271

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Curriculum & Requirements

The Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing Program is a full-time, five-semester, 63-credit course of study designed for non­-RN students who hold a B.S. or B.A. or higher degree in a field other than nursing. The curriculum begins in January and includes two summer sessions. This program offers the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) track.  The CNL is a role in the field of nursing designed to provide master's-­prepared, point-of-care nurse leaders with the ability to manage and solve complex patient problems within a systems framework.

Students graduate as an advanced generalist with a master of science (MS) degree in nursing and upon passing certification examination, as a clinical nurse leader (CNL). Students take the CNL certification examination in their final semester.  Students complete a clinical immersion experience in NURS 952C Clinical Nursing Leadership Clinical, which includes 300 clinical hours.  Students are admitted with the stipulation that they must pass NCLEX-RN prior to completion of the program. The stipulation is met once the RN license is received. Students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN after completing a total of 57 credits of accelerated study. Students conclude their CNL master's preparation in a clinical nurse leader capstone course, NURS 958 Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone , which includes a project and 200 clinical hours. Students take the CNL certification examination in their final semester.

Direct Entry Master's in Nursing

Plan of Study

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
NURS 801 Health Policy and Nursing Practice 3
NURS 807 Pathophysiology and Pharmacology 4
NURS 813 Health Assessment and Clinical Nursing Theory ((plus lab)) 4
NURS 813C Health Assessment and Clinical Nursing 2
NURS 968 Foundations of Evidence Based Practice 3
NURS 822 Chronic Disease Management 3
NURS 826 Caring for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness 2
NURS 826C Caring for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness Clinical 2
NURS 831 Childbearing and Childrearing Families 2
NURS 831C Childbearing and Childrearing Families Clinical 2
NURS 902 Advanced Physical Assessment 2
NURS 908 Advanced Physiology & Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan 3
NURS 811 Clinical Reasoning Through Simulation 2
NURS 827 Managing Acute and Complex Care of Individuals 4
NURS 827C Managing Acute and Complex Care of Individuals Clinical 2
NURS 835 Leadership in Healthcare 3
NURS 844 Population Health 3
Second Year
NURS 952 Clinical Nursing Leadership 2
NURS 952C Clinical Nursing Leadership Clinical 6
NURS 953 Promoting Quality Management 3
Eligible for NCLEX-RN  
NURS 958 Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone 6
 Total Credits63

Direct Entry Master's in Nursing

Degree Requirements

NURS 801Health Policy and Nursing Practice3
NURS 807Pathophysiology and Pharmacology4
NURS 811Clinical Reasoning Through Simulation2
NURS 813Health Assessment and Clinical Nursing Theory4
NURS 813CHealth Assessment and Clinical Nursing (90 clinical hours)2
NURS 822Chronic Disease Management3
NURS 826Caring for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness2
NURS 826CCaring for People with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness Clinical (90 clinical hours)2
NURS 827Managing Acute and Complex Care of Individuals4
NURS 827CManaging Acute and Complex Care of Individuals Clinical (90 clinical hours)2
NURS 831Childbearing and Childrearing Families2
NURS 831CChildbearing and Childrearing Families Clinical (90 clinical hours)2
NURS 835Leadership in Healthcare3
NURS 844Population Health3
NURS 902Advanced Physical Assessment2
NURS 908Advanced Physiology & Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan3
NURS 952Clinical Nursing Leadership2
NURS 952CClinical Nursing Leadership Clinical (300 clinical hours)6
NURS 953Promoting Quality Management3
NURS 958Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone (project plus 200 clinical hours)6
NURS 968Foundations of Evidence Based Practice3
Total Credits63

UNH Nursing Student Learning Outcomes

The goal of the BSN program is to prepare baccalaureate generalist nurses. At the completion of the program, graduates are expected to:

  • Synthesize core knowledge from the liberal arts, sciences, and nursing as the foundation of professional practice.
  • Integrate knowledge and skills to assess, design, implement, and evaluate nursing care in a safe, compassionate, culturally sensitive, evidence-based manner.
  • Engage clients, families, and communities in collaborative decision-making incorporating evidence-based knowledge and anticipatory guidance.
  • Employ team leadership and collaborative skills with other health professionals to optimize client and system outcomes.
  • Recognize the influence of complex health systems on health care practice and advocate for policies that promote a socially just, patient centered healthcare system.
  • Engage in scholarly inquiry to identify, evaluate and integrate the best current practice.
  • Integrates health promotion, clinical prevention strategies when providing care at the individual or population level.
  • Incorporates principles of patient safety and risk mitigation when using healthcare technology and therapeutics in the provision of care.
  • Uses effective written, verbal, and nonverbal communication strategies when engaged in professional practice.
  • Embrace professional values embodied in the ANA code of ethics.

In addition to the BSN outcomes above, at the completion of the Master's nursing program, the graduate student is prepared to:

  • Serve in a healthcare leadership and change agent role as part of a diverse, complex,and patient-centered health care system.
  • Act as a practice scholar to design, direct and evaluate system changes to promote safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-centered care.
  • Use data analytic methods, information systems and technology to evaluate,integrate and apply knowledge that will improve programs of care, outcomes of care and care systems.
  • Use translational science and analytic methods to develop, identify, implement, and evaluate best practices to improve health care and health care systems.
  • Design and implement health promotion and clinical prevention strategies across the health/illness continuum to optimize health and disease management.
  • Systematically use improvement methods to monitor and evaluate care processes and outcomes and applies data for continuous improvement and safety
  • Advocate for social justice through policy, professional and political engagement.
  • Applies leadership principles that support inter-professional practice.

In addition to the Master's Outcomes:
The CNL Graduate Will:

  • Act as lateral integrator to design, direct, and evaluate system changes to promote safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient centered care.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: N/A
  • Spring: The recommended completed application deadline is April 1st with staggered admissions. Application review will continue until September 15 if seats become available.
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: CT VT RI MA

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts are required for any school you earned a degree from, attended for at least one year, or attended for 2 or more semesters. Exceptions to this rule may be approved at the discretion of the program you are applying to and the UNH Graduate School Admission’s office.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Letters of recommendation should be substantial with at least one academic reference.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Additional Department Requirements

Prerequisite Course Verification Form (required): You may use the fillable DEMN Course Verification Form to complete this requirement electronically. All prerequisites must be completed prior to Spring entry into the DEMN Program. Applications will not be considered when grades are unavailable for 2 or more prerequisite courses. Please email the form to the UNH Graduate School. If you have questions about using the form, please contact the DEMN program.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

An interview may be requested. Accepted students are required to show immunity by titer for Hepatitis B, Varicella (chicken pox), and MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) before classes begin as part of clinical requirements. This is a requirement for most nursing programs and should be considered when applying.

International Applicants

Some academic departments recommend that international applicants, living outside of the United States, and planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. If your desired program is not on the form, departments prefer a full application be submitted. Preapplication requests will be carefully reviewed and a decision usually provided within 3 weeks. If your preapplication is approved then it is recommended you then submit a full application. If you are currently living in the United States (on a H1B visa, etc.), or you plan on pursuing a professional master’s degree, then you do not need to submit a preapplication.

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing program provides an opportunity for accelerated admission to the graduate program for full time undergraduate UNH students who meet admission criteria.  To be considered, current UNH undergraduate students must have completed all major requirements by the fall of their senior year.  A grade point average of 3.4 or better is suggested.  Previous coursework is taken into consideration.  Prerequisite courses must be complete at the time the application is reviewed.  These include human anatomy & physiology I and II with labs, microbiology at the cellular level, and statistics with a grade of B or better.

The curriculum begins in January and includes two summer sessions. Students graduate as an advanced generalist with a Master of Science (MS) degree in nursing and upon passing certification examination, as a Clinical Nurse LeaderSM (CNL).   Direct entry courses taken during the spring of the senior year of undergraduate program will fulfill elective credits to complete BA/BS degree requirements at UNH.  This accelerated, full-time program is a five-semester, 63-credit course of study.

Students are admitted with the stipulation that they must submit final transcript with degree conferred prior to enrolling in fall semester courses and pass NCLEX-RN prior to completing the program. The stipulation is met once the final transcript and RN license are received. Students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN after completing a total of 62 credits of accelerated study (including summer).  Students take the CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) certification examination in their final semester.

The CNL is a role in the field of nursing designed to provide master's-prepared, point-of-care nurse leaders with the ability to manage and solve complex patient problems within a systems framework.  As part of the CNL curriculum, students study master's level research in health promotion and illness management.  Students complete a clinical immersion experience of approximately 300 clinical hours.  Students conclude their CNL master's preparation in a clinical nurse leader capstone experience.

Current UNH students may apply during the second semester of their junior year in major by April 1 with staggered admissions until the class is filled.  Applications are reviewed through May then review resumes in September for any remaining seats.  Application is completed online on the Graduate School website.

What is the application deadline?

The completed application deadline is April 1st with staggered admissions.  Application review resumes after September 1st for any available seats.  Please note the application is generic for all graduate programs. Application status is posted on the Graduate School website

I notice that the prerequisites are Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Statistics. Are there any others?

Prerequisite courses must be complete at the time the application is reviewed.  These include Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II, Microbiology at the cellular level and with lab, and Statistics with a grade of B or better. 

Knowledge of the basic processes and methods of research is necessary for students entering the DEMN program. While many undergraduate programs include a research methods course, not all programs do so. If you have no background in research, we suggest you enroll in an introductory research course or self-study this content prior to matriculation in the DEMN program. The following introductory nursing research textbooks may be used for self-study:

  • Boswell, C. & Cannon, S. (2009). Introduction to Nursing Research: Incorporating Evidence Based Practice 2nd ed.  Jones & Bartlett Publishers;
  • Fain, J. (2008). Reading, Understanding, and Applying Nursing Research 3rd ed. F. A. Davis Company; and
  • Polit, D. & Tatano, B. (2009). Essentials of Nursing Research: Appraising Evidence for Nursing Practice 7th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Where can I take the prerequisite courses?

Prerequisite courses can be taken at any accredited college or university for a letter grade.

Do the prerequisites have to be completed by the time I apply?

Prerequisite courses must be complete at the time the application is reviewed.  If you are in the process of completing the last prerequisite, your application will be reviewed but completed applications are considered first.

When are decisions made?

Complete applications are reviewd in early May with staggard admissions through July; application review resumes in September with decisions made in October.

Is financial aid available?

Graduate students who are enrolled in a degree program at least half time (5 or more credits per semester) and are a U.S citizen or eligible non-citizen may be considered for Federal Financial Aid.  Graduate students are reviewed for loans and work study. There are no Federal or University grants or scholarships awarded to graduate students by the UNH Financial Aid Office.

To apply for Federal Financial Aid you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).   You can complete the application on-line. The UNH priority deadline for applying for financial aid is March 1. This is the date by which the FAFSA Application must be received by the Federal processor. However, students applying after March 1 will still be considered for the Federal Direct Loan, which is not subject to the priority deadline.

Be aware that the Financial Aid Office will make their offer of aid based on your actual tuition charges. If you will be enrolled for less than 9 credits or paying reduced tuition in either semester, your aid package may be adjusted. If you change your status (e.g., from full to part time), receive a scholarship, tuition waiver or other resource, or correct and/or change the information on the FAFSA, an aid adjustment may result. 

If I move to New Hampshire, how long do I have to live there before I am eligible for in-state tuition?

Each graduate student is classified as a resident or nonresident for tuition purposes at the time of admission to the university. The decision, made by the Graduate School, is based upon information furnished by the student's application and any other relevant information. Nonresident undergraduates continuing directly to the Graduate School will be classified as nonresidents.

All applicants claiming New Hampshire residency are required to have been legally domiciled in New Hampshire continuously for at least twelve months immediately prior to registering for the term for which in-state status is claimed.

Students admitted from states other than New Hampshire or from foreign countries are considered nonresident throughout their entire attendance at the university unless they shall have acquired bona fide domicile in New Hampshire. Changes in residency for enrolled students as well as appeals are reviewed by the Registrar's Office and will only occur if the student can clearly establish that his or her residence in New Hampshire is for some purpose other than the temporary one of obtaining an education at the university.

The burden of proof in all cases is upon the applicant. In all cases, the University reserves the right to make the final decision as to resident status for tuition purposes. The university rules governing tuition rates are fully set forth in the application for admission package; all students are bound by them.

How is the Clinical Nurse Leader different from a Nurse Practitioner?

CNL:  Students graduate as an advanced generalist as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) with a Master’s of Science degree. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader national certification examination. The CNL is a role in the field of nursing designed to provide master’s prepared, point-of-care nurse leaders with the ability to manage and solve complex patient problems within a systems framework.

As part of the CNL curriculum, students study master’s level research in health promotion and illness management. Students complete a clinical immersion experience of approximately 300 clinical hours. Students conclude their CNL master’s preparation with a capstone project.

FNP:  The program prepares family nurse practitioners (FNPs) with specialized knowledge and clinical competency to practice as licensed independent practitioners across the lifespan. FNPs practice in ambulatory, acute, and long-term care as primary and/or specialty providers to individuals, families, and groups. The UNH program prepares these advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to diagnose and manage acute episodic and chronic illnesses across the life span and simple to complex continuum. Health promotion, disease prevention, teaching, counseling, and coaching are emphasized. The capstone course, NURS 939, is the final integrated clinical practicum.  At the completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for national certification as a family nurse practitioner. Students are also prepared to enter doctoral study. Upon licensure, FNPs may practice autonomously as well as in collaboration with other health professionals.

I have been out of school for a long time.  How long are my credits transferable?

There is no time limit for course credits.  Prerequisite courses are not transferable; they are taken prior to entering program at the undergraduate level.

Who is eligible to submit a letter of reference?

References should be substantial with at least one academic and two current professionals with graduate education background, no family or friends.  If an academic reference is not available, three current professionals with graduate education background may submit a letter of reference.

If my GPA is not 3.2 should I still apply or is my application automatically declined?

A grade point average of 3.0 or better is suggested. Previous course work and professional experience is taken into consideration.

Do I need to take GREs?

The GRE and MAT are not required. 

Is the TOEFL required?

All applicants who are not native English speakers are required to demonstrate a sufficient level of proficiency in the English language to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School.  Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university in another country where English is the primary language of instruction.  All other non-native English speakers must achieve a minimum score of 550 (paper-based test) or 213 (computer-based test) or 80 (Internet based) on the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Test of English as Foreign Language

Can I meet with someone to discuss the CNL role?

Appointments are available with the Coordinator of the Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing Program, Dr. Pamela Kallmerten,

Do I need to submit all of my transcripts?

Yes, transcripts are required from all institutions where academic credit was received.

How many applications do you expect and how many seats are available?

The number of applications vary year to year - between 60 and 80.  Each cohort has 32 students who complete the program full time.

Can I complete the program part time?

The program begins each January and is completed in 5 semesters, full time only, including 2 summers.

Can you tell me what a typical semester looks like?

Students are usually in class 2-3 days/week plus 1-2 days/week of clinical, depending on semester.  Classes are held during the day; clinical hours may be days or evenings, including some Saturdays, depending on agency and faculty availability.

Where are students placed for clinical experiences?

Clinical sites are typically within a 60 minute drive from the UNH campus in Durham.  Students may need to plan for a longer drive, depending on residence.  Placements are based on agency and faculty availability.

Can I work during the program?

Students are expected to spend 3 hours per credit outside the classroom/clinical with assignments.  This means a 4 credit course should include 12 hours of study per week outside the classroom.

Do I need a car?

Students must have a driver’s license and reliable form of transportation.  Neither public nor university transportation are available for students attending clinical.

Do I need healthcare experience?


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