Graduate Nursing Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to reach out to the Graduate Nursing Department at with any questions you may have. 

Find FAQs for: 

View the program calendar and class schedule (PDF) for details about current start dates.

View the program calendar and class schedule (PDF) for details about current course delivery methods.

Yes, you will need a laptop or computer with access to the internet. View the minimum technology requirements.

Graduate students can opt into the eWarrior program, which provides a laptop, essential software, and tech support services for a fee.

Before you decide whether you want to enroll as a full-time or part-time graduate student, you’ll want to consider several factors first.
These factors may include:

  • What other roles am I committed to?
  • Are there roles that can be suspended during graduate education?
  • Are other commitments flexible or fixed in day and time?
  • How much time do I require for studying?
  • Can studying occur uninterrupted in blocks of time outside work or family or personal time?

Conversations between the student and the student’s employer and personal support system can also be beneficial in this decision-making. It may be possible to project what the weekly schedule will look like in addition to what the calendar year will look like given the student’s typical academic, work, and family schedules.

Full-time students commit to a full schedule of classes of between 8-12 credits per semester. Six credits of enrollment per semester are required for full-time status for students receiving financial aid. Outside work during full-time study is not recommended.

Funding to support full-time enrollment is available in the form of state- and federal government-sponsored grants and loans.

Some employers will also fund education through tuition reimbursement programs or direct pay options. These programs have unique participation and application requirements that the student should investigate prior to enrollment.

Once students begin the clinical year in any Advanced Practice Nursing program, they must be enrolled on a full-time basis.

Typically, students spend at least 4-5 hours per week per credit in addition to class.

Thus, full-time students spend 36–60 hours studying in addition to the 8-12 hours dedicated to class time.

Part-time students commit to a schedule of 5-10 credits per semester and, thus, have a study time of 20–50 hours in addition to the 5-10 hours of designated class time. Part-time students are typically employed part-time as well.

All components of the application are important and contribute to the total cumulative points achieved.

A greater number of points are allocated for:

  • A higher GPA
  • Leadership activities in your professional role
  • More involvement in professional organizations or memberships
  • Community service
  • Recognition, awards, or certifications
  • Research- and evidence-based practice project involvement, publications, and presentations
  • Higher references scores
  • The ability to articulate goals
  • Professional experiences, strengths, challenges, and perceptions regarding the chosen role, along with reasons for selecting the role

Addressing each component of the application directly on the form is essential.

Yes, both current CPR certification and HIPAA training is necessary. Proof of certification and training are required after admission to program.

Malpractice insurance is mandatory for all students who are enrolled in clinical courses.

A Minnesota and national criminal background check is required through WSU each year (clinical requirement after admission), regardless of whether the student is in a clinical course or not.

National background checks are reassessed annually. Students who have clinical in another state, may need to provide a background check for that state.

Background check fees apply.

You can find the forms in the MN Board of Nursing Advanced Practice hub.

Email your requests for Board of Nursing Clinical Verification/Forms to the Graduate Nursing Department at or fax to 507.535.2531.

You can modify your student academic records –including a name change or address change— via Student eServices.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Program FAQs

Students who elect the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or post-graduate certificate program are prepared for the multi-faceted role of clinical nurse specialist with the adult-gerontology population.

AGCNS students will demonstrate:

  • direct care (including prescriptive authority)
  • consultation
  • systems leadership
  • collaboration
  • coaching
  • research competencies

AGCNS students will influence direct patient/client care, the practice of other nurses and nursing personnel, and healthcare systems/organization outcomes. The curriculum also integrates prescriptive authority clinical hours into students’ clinical role courses.

This program prepares students to practice in 3 spheres of impact:

  • the patient/client sphere (direct care)
  • the nursing sphere (staff development and affecting patient outcomes indirectly by influencing/improving nursing practice)
  • the system/organizational sphere (changing/improving health care processes and outcomes)

Graduates are eligible to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certification exam or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Exam.

AGCNS and nurse practitioner roles share many similarities including direct patient care.

Both roles are prepared with the “3 Ps” – advanced pharmacology, advanced physical/health assessment, and advanced pathophysiology.

In addition, both roles require preparation in advanced health promotion. Curriculum for both roles include prescriptive authority.

Clinical Nurse Specialist
WSU’s AGCNS DNP or AGCNS post-graduate certificate program prepares a clinical nurse specialist to provide direct and indirect care and impact organization outcomes across the adult gerontology population.

In addition to the patient/direct care sphere of impact, clinical nurse specialists are educationally prepared to impact nursing and organizational processes and outcomes.

Clinical nurse specialists:

  • provide direct care assessments and interventions to improve patient outcomes
  • provide consultation and coaching to nurses caring for patients at the bedside
  • help lead practice changes throughout the organization

ensure the use of best practices and evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient, nursing, and organizational outcomes.

Nurse Practitioner

WSU’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) DNP or FNP post-graduate certificate program prepares nurse practitioners in primary care.

In this role, there is a focus on day-to-day healthcare needs and being the initial contact point of those seeking care. Nurse practitioners tend to focus less on administration and organizational aspects than clinical nursing specialists.

WSU also has Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs.

Whether or not a student needs to reduce their work schedule to complete the require clinical hours will vary based on the student’s work environment, study habits, preceptor availability, and other factors.

Students will complete 240 clinical hours during NURS 625 and 240 clinical hours during NURS 631 and will negotiate their clinical schedule with their preceptor(s).

Students can expect to have 2-3 days for clinicals during NURS 625 and 2-3 days for clinicals during NURS 631.

Most preceptors work Mondays – Fridays.


All AGCNS DNP students will complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours.

Students completing a AGCNS BSN-DNP will complete 1,140 clinical hours.

Students in the AGCNS Post-Master’s DNP program will complete at least 1,000 clinical hours from a combination of their master’s program clinical hours (460 hours) and Post-Master’s DNP clinical hours (540 hours).

Post-Graduate Certificate

Students completing an AGCNS post-graduate certificate will complete 480 clinical hours in the AGCNS role courses.


The number of credits varies based on the AGCNS DNP program being completed.

Students completing a AGCNS BSN-DNP will take 72 credits.

Students in the AGCNS Post-Master’s DNP program will complete 32 credits.

Post-Graduate Certificate

Post-graduate certificate AGCNS plans of study are determined individually and depend on what type of master’s program the applicant has and what courses they completed during their master’s program.

The applicant’s master’s transcript and course descriptions are compared with the AGCNS program requirements to determine the individual’s plan of study.

AGCNS post-graduate certificate program students who provide evidence of completion of advanced pathophysiology, advanced health assessment (i.e. 60 hours faculty-supervised and diagnostic reasoning), advanced health promotion, and advanced pharmacology will complete 16 credits in the AGCNS post-graduate certificate program.

Nurse Educator Program FAQs 

Students who elect the Nurse Educator (NE) program are prepared to teach in an academic or healthcare setting.

In the academic setting, Nes might be part-time adjunct or clinical faculty—teaching a small group of students, mainly in the clinical setting—or teaching full-time in a nursing school.

In the clinical setting, Nes most often teach professional staff development, although patient education is another sub-specialty.

Regardless of which setting you want to teach in, all NE courses fulfill the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities teaching and learning requirements.

Generally, certification is not required for NE employment.

WSU’s NE program course content and practicum provides the needed background for each certification examination if desired.

There are a few choices for NE certification:

Students completing an NE master’s degree program are required to fulfill 420 clinical hours.

Students in the NE post-graduate certificate program are required to complete 180 clinical hours.

Learning to teach in the NE role occurs in:

  • the program’s core and direct care courses (NURS 616, NURS 617, NURS 618, NURS 619)
  • the role-specific courses (NURS 669, NURS 670, NURS 671)
  • the Nurse Educator Practicum (NURS 672)

Learning to teach while working with a preceptor occurs in clinical and academic settings.

Students write their own learning objectives for the practicum experiences based on the NURS 672 course learning outcomes.

Yes, it may be possible to complete your teaching practicum in your home area if:

  1. a preceptor who meets the criteria (minimum of a Master of Science in Nursing) is available
  2. the institution fits your learning needs

The core and direct care courses are online with weekly or monthly scheduled Zoom meetings.

All NE role courses are offered as hybrid classes, meaning there are some in-class time, which may be done with a virtual connection, as well as and some online work.

Nurse Practitioner Programs FAQs 

Students who elect any of our Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs are prepared to perform advanced practice nursing care.

Students can apply for the following Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and post-graduate certificate program focuses:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

For summer:

  • AGACNP – NURS 673 requires 60 hours, 1-2 days per week
  • FNP – NURS 639 requires 60 hours, 1-2 days per week
  • PMHNP – Health assessment skill review Summer 3 and NURS 687 Summer 4 requires 120 hours, 1-2 days per week

For fall:

  • AGACNP – NURS 675 requires 240 hours, 2-3 days per week
  • FNP – NURS 641 requires 300 hours, 3 days per week
  • PMHNP – NURS 681 requires 240 hours, 2 days per week

For spring:

  • AGACNP – NURS 677 requires 300 hours, 3 days per week
  • FNP – NURS 644 requires 300 hours, 3 days per week
  • PMHNP – NURS 683 requires 240 hours, 2 days per week

Yes, you should plan that travel will be necessary to get to clinical sites in all NP programs. We try to place students within a two-hour drive in typical traffic from their home.

Nursing faculty complete site visits during each semester with each NP student.

There are 96 hours of clinical coursework dedicated to pediatric care for FNP’s in fall or spring semester as part of the total required clinical hours required.

PMHNP students will also care for children and adolescents as part of required clinical hours.

The numbers of admitted students vary based on availability of clinical sites.

During the typical admissions cycle, about 12 – 24 students are admitted to each NP program each year.

Yes, depending on your program and plan of study. Summer courses are likely during the role/specialty clinical year.

All NP students have summer didactic, lab, and clinical coursework in the last 12 months of the program. DNP project work also may require summer work. Additionally, students may choose to take electives or other courses during the summer.

Consult with your academic advisor to plan for this.

Nursing Leadership Programs FAQs 

Students who elect the Nursing Leadership (NL) program are prepared for formal and informal leadership in a healthcare setting.

NL graduates are prepared to lead innovations and practice transformations.

Many NL graduates are employed as a nurse manager, supervisor, or administrator, or they work in quality improvement, project management, nursing education. They might also lead innovations, initiatives, advocacy, policy groups, non-profits, or own a business.

We offer all theory courses in the NL programs in hybrid format – meaning primarily online with some scheduled Zoom meetings.

Practicum courses occur at a variety of clinical sites. Clinical seminars are offered online.

Practicum experiences can be arranged in a variety of settings.

A preceptor with a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing is preferred. There are times when a preceptor without a master’s degree in a related field or specialty experience in the desired role will be considered. This decision is made by the course faculty.

Practicum experiences may or may not be completed in your current employment agency.

Decisions are made on an individual basis and are usually based on the type of experience offered by the organization and the availability of a qualified preceptor.

Some sites that have been used for practicum are:

  • Bridges Health Winona
  • Winona Health
  • Winona Public Health
  • Gundersen Health System
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare – La Crosse
  • Mayo Clinic Health System – Austin
  • Many hospitals and community settings in Minnesota

A meeting is held between the practicum students and the course faculty to discuss site options and student preferences.

Practicum experiences are then arranged by the Clinical Placement Coordinator and/or the course faculty member.

Refer to the graduate course catalog for details about prerequisite and corequisite courses.

Alumni FAQs 

You can find the forms in the MN Board of Nursing Advanced Practice hub.

Fax your requests for Board of Nursing Clinical Verification/Forms to the Gradute Nursing Department at 507.292.5127.

You can modify your student academic records –including a name change or address change— via Student eServices.

Contact the Graduate Nursing Department
Graduate Nursing Department
WSU Rochester on Broadway

400 South Broadway, Suite 204

Rochester, MN 55904


Email the Graduate Nursing Department