Master of Science in Nursing-Direct Entry

Degree Type
Area of Interest
Health and Human Services
Degree Level
College of Nursing and Health

This Master of Science in Nursing (Direct Entry - DE MSN) degree at Viterbo University received approval from The Higher Learning Commission to launch in fall 2021.  

The DE MSN program is a 63-credit-hour program that blends online coursework with residential clinical experiences.  Designed in an accelerated full-time format the program is a lock-step sequence cohort model. 


  • 46-credits of Nursing and Scholarly Research Project coursework online
  • 17 -credits of Clinicals and Skills Labs in-person in the La Crosse region throughout each semester

Nursing (Direct Entry Master’s Degree [DEMSN]) Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. In addition, prior to enrolling in NURS 501 students must complete a Developmental Psychology course and 3 credits of Statistics. And, within seven years of acceptance into the DEMSN, students must have completed, 4 credits of Chemistry, 8 credits of Anatomy and Physiology with labs, and 3 credits of Microbiology with a lab, all with C’s or better. 


Additional requirements to enroll in Clinical Graduate NURS Courses, which are in the second semester:

  • Current CPR for health professionals (must be American Heart Association)
  • Caregiver Criminal Background Check  
  • Current Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification, from any state
    • Licensed Practical Nurses, who are currently practicing in this role, will qualify to request a waiver for the CNA certification. Prospective international students, who practiced in a foreign country as a certified health professional, may also qualify for a waiver and request that the DEMSN committee review their qualifications.
  • Physical exam report
  • Health insurance
  • Record of up-to-date immunizations including:  
    • Tetanus and Diphtheria within last 10 years
    • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella - 2 vaccinations or positive titers
    • Varicella zoster or positive titer
    • Two-step Tuberculosis
    • Hepatitis B vaccination series - three shot series or blood tests to show immunity
    • Flu Shot (completed annually)
    • COVID-19 vaccination (complete series)

It is required that the student’s health file and CPR certification remain current throughout the course of the program. Failure to comply will mean the student will not be allowed to continue in practicum experiences.  

Federal and state statutes require that criminal background checks be completed for all persons who provide nursing care for others or who 

have access to people who receive care. 

Clinical agencies prohibit the placement of students with criminal histories of specific crimes and offenses that have been identified as bars to employment or licensure (such as abuse, assault, or neglect). The School of Nursing requires that all students complete a background information disclosure statement and a criminal history search prior to acceptance into the DEMSN program. Students also are required to complete background information disclosure statements at the beginning of each year of the program to ensure that requirements continue to be met. In addition, clinical agencies may have other specific requirements that students must meet prior to placement. Individuals whose background check identifies bars to the provision of care in contracted agencies or places restrictions on client contact will not be allowed to progress in the program. 

Viterbo University School of Nursing utilizes a wide variety of community agencies to assist students in meeting the nursing curriculum objectives. Each student is responsible for his/her own transportation to and from these clinical agencies. 

Students will be required to purchase their own liability insurance for any clinical experiences occurring outside of the university semester dates. 

Additional requirements related to the professional program can be found in the current DEMSN student handbook. 

Progression in the DEMSN Nursing Sequence

Students must establish then maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or higher throughout the program. Per the university financial aid policy, graduate students whose cumulative GPA drops below 3.0 may not qualify for federal financial aid. For all financial aid questions, we direct you to the financial aid office. Furthermore, to remain in the program your cumulative GPA must increase each subsequent semester until it is above 2.75, which is where it must remain until the completion of the program.


Clinical/Practicum Progression 

Prescribed numbers of clinical hours have been incorporated into the plan of study. Courses with a clinical component must be taken in sequence. Students must maintain this rigorous plan or may face dismissal.  A ratio of four clock hours to one didactic hour per week is used; therefore, one credit of practicum credit is 30 hours of clinical/practicum. Therefore, it is important to consider working only part-time or not at all during the nursing program.  


Readmission to the School of Nursing 

An individual previously dismissed from the School of Nursing seeking readmission shall be required to complete a readmission packet. The guidelines shall be obtained from the DEMSN Program Director. The completed readmission packet will be evaluated on an individual basis by a readmission board. 


Policy and Guidelines Applying to Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disabilities 

The School of Nursing supports the Viterbo University policy and guidelines relating to the non-exclusion of qualified students from university programs solely by reason of disability. To meet the requirements of and to successfully participate in the graduate nursing program at Viterbo University, a student must be able to perform skills which are essential to entry-level nursing roles. While Viterbo University will provide reasonable accommodations in certain course requirements to assist a special needs student to meet certain course outcomes, there are some essential skills for which there are no known substitutes. The applicant to the graduate nursing program and the student throughout the program must be able to meet these requirements. Accordingly, these specific requirements may vary somewhat. 


Transfer Credits

Up to six credits may be transferred to the DEMSN program, if equivalent. In order to be considered for transfer, the grade earned must be at least a B. Transfer credits must be graduate credit taken from an accredited institution of higher education completed within the last five years and equivalent to the course it is replacing in the requirements at Viterbo. Courses older than five years may be given credit based on individual review. Students who wish to transfer credits must have an official transcript sent to the director of the DEMSN program. Courses will be evaluated for equivalency and written notification of acceptance of transcript credit will be provided to the student by the director. 


Students who have completed any graduate-level courses may be eligible to transfer up to six credits to satisfy various curriculum requirements and will be assessed on an individual basis.  


Transfer Credits after Admission

The DEMSN program has been carefully planned and developed to meet the needs of the graduates. In view of the connection of the curriculum to the desired outcomes and the quality of the graduate, once a student has begun classes as a degree-seeking student in the Viterbo University DEMSN program, all classes must be taken at Viterbo University. 


Time for Completion

Six credits per semester is considered full-time study; however, some semesters contain more credits in the 18-month plan of study. It is expected that students will complete the program in five semesters. Time spent as a non-degree student does not count toward the completion period, but students will be subject to the catalog/curriculum requirements in effect at the time they become degree-seeking. All full-time degree-seeking students who have not been granted a leave of absence must register each semester until all degree requirements are completed. 

Learning Outcomes
  • Provide holistic relationship-based care that is congruent with the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion for all persons, families, communities, and society.
  • Partner effectively with clients, health team members, and community stakeholders to achieve health equity for all persons.
  • Synthesize knowledge from the liberal arts, the sciences, health information technologies, and the discipline of nursing to provide professional holistic nursing care.
  • Demonstrate safe, evidence-informed clinical reasoning in designing and providing professional holistic nursing care to achieve quality health outcomes for all persons.
  • Provide respectful and compassionate care through incorporating the values, standards, and ethical principles of the nursing discipline.
  • Construct a professional holistic nursing identity through reflective practice, self-care, and scholarly inquiry.