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Online Master's Programs Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cohort size?

A web-based learning environment enables a student to proceed through the degree track at his or her chosen pace – generally about 18 months for a full-time student or a little over two years for part-time students. As a result, the number of students contributing to each course at a given time may vary. The School of Nursing aims to keep class sizes small enough to promote student-focused study that facilitates personal and professional development.

What is the tuition?

The fees and tuition for online degree programs are the same as for traditional MSN offerings. The staff of the Office of Student Financial Services is available to assist you in obtaining financing for your nursing studies. Additionally, the School participates in several financial aid programs that can help defray education expenses through grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work study.

What is the class format?

The online courses are instructor facilitated within a primarily asynchronous collaborative learning environment, learning that is not constrained by time and place. The curriculum supports multiple methods of learning, including but not limited to the following: discussion boards, wikis, live conferencing, virtual media, video presentations, reflective activities, and weekly clinical logs.

Can online courses be completed with on-site courses?

At this time, students who wish to take any online courses need to apply to the online program to ensure a space within these courses. As space allows, on-site students may be allowed to enroll for online courses. Those who are accepted and enrolled in the online MSN will have priority for the online courses. Online students may also enroll in on-site courses if desired during their course of study. Students who are sponsored for F-1 or J-1 student status are only permitted to count one online/distance course towards their required full-time enrollment in any term.

How do CNS clinical experiences work?

The CNS clinical experiences are planned collaboratively between the track coordinator and the student. The goal is to maximize skills and knowledge in clinical areas that allow you to enhance your skills.

The School of Nursing values its relationship with its preceptors and carefully evaluates each site and preceptor to maintain high quality clinical experiences for all students. Clinical placements for all graduate students are always formally negotiated by JHUSON faculty. We are always looking for new clinical sites and preceptors and welcome student suggestions and assistance. Student input regarding preferences for clinical placements is encouraged; however, particular criteria must be met to provide a quality learning experience. Relevant criteria include: course requirements, national accrediting organization requirements, student learning and/or skill needs, preceptor expertise, and site-specific resources.

National accrediting organizations clearly state their expectations that faculty both select and evaluate potential clinical sites and match students' learning needs with available resources. Faculty is responsible for assigning the student to the clinical preceptor and site. Students may not contact a new, current, or previous preceptor without first speaking with and receiving permission from the course coordinator or clinical placement coordinator. Students who work with a preceptor without the permission of the course coordinator are not covered by the University's malpractice plan. Furthermore, any clinical hours accumulated under such circumstances will not be counted toward clinical hours required for the course.

The School of Nursing establishes a formal contract with each clinical agency for all precepted experiences. Part of this process includes verification of liability insurance coverage and an explicit statement of the conditions of the student's clinical experience. A signed contract between JHUSON and the clinical site and preceptor must be on file for every placement experience. Because this process may take up to three months, it may not be possible to honor last-minute requests for new clinical sites.

International Students

The CNS option is available to international students who plan to complete the program onsite in Maryland.  In order to meet regulations for an F – 1 Visa,  international students must enroll in face to face courses at the School of Nursing in Baltimore. In addition, CNS clinical experiences must be completed within the state of Maryland.  The School does not offer the CNS online option to international students who wish to study or complete clinical experiences outside of the United States

Do I need a Maryland RN license?

If you are a permanent resident of another state, have an active RN license in that state and plan to do your clinical practicum experiences in that state, you will not have to obtain a Maryland RN license. You will, however, need to show proof of a valid and active RN license.

How can I become a nurse educator within the CNS or HSM program?

The Nurse Educator Certificate Option is a 12-credit graduate certificate program that prepares its graduates to be nurse educators with the skills necessary to practice in varied academic and/or healthcare settings. This certificate can be earned concurrently with either the CNS or HSM track. The CNS program of study requires one education course; therefore only three additional education courses (9 credits) are needed to complete the Nurse Educator Certificate Option.

What is the breadth of CNS practice?

Although the CNS role developed in the hospital setting, clinical nurse specialists now work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, from clinics and the emergency department to hospitals and long-term care facilities. In any setting, clinical nurse specialists have a multi-faceted role that addresses three different "spheres of influence":

  • Patients/families – Assisting patients with the prevention or resolution of illness through advanced assessment, treatment, and education
  • Nursing personnel – Providing expert coaching, building multidisciplinary teams, collaborating with diverse health care professionals to improve patient care and maximize health outcomes
  • System/network organization – Evaluating outcomes, conducting research, reviewing alternative approaches, making ethical decisions and implementing changes

Research about clinical nurse specialists demonstrates that they have a direct impact on improving patient satisfaction, reducing medical complications, reducing frequency of emergency room visits, and other health outcomes.

How do I find out more about CNS job prospects?

As with all nursing careers, the demand for clinical nurse specialists is growing much faster than the average for all occupations.  As advanced practice nurses, clinical nurse specialists are in particularly high demand in the 21st century.  Job demand positively affects salaries, schedules, job openings and the availability of training institutions and government grants for education.

Visit the following sites to discover the current trends in the Clinical Nurse Specialist field, including median wages, projected growth and core competencies:

State-Specific Information for Online Programs

Students currently cannot conduct clinical activities in Massachusetts. For more information, please contact an admissions representative. Students should be aware of additional state-specific information for online programs.