Dec 05, 2022  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [FINAL EDITION]

Nursing, Accelerated MSN/PhD

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The primary goal of the accelerated master of science in nursing/doctor of philosophy (MSN/PhD) program is to prepare nurses for advanced practice and leadership roles in nursing education at a quicker pace than the separate degree programs. Graduates will provide leadership as practitioners, teachers, scientists, and scholars in support of evidence-based practice for nursing, health care, and education.

This program of study, which builds on baccalaureate nursing education, is designed to prepare nurse faculty leaders and scientists to facilitate learning, engage in professional and community service, conduct research, and advance nursing education within higher education. Graduates will be awarded an MSN degree at the end of the master’s component and are eligible to take national certification examinations. The doctoral component of the accelerated program has a special focus on the creation and dissemination of new knowledge gained from disciplined inquiry that advances the profession of nursing education and its practice. The PhD degree will be awarded upon successful completion of all doctoral requirements, including the dissertation.


Graduates must meet the published outcomes for both the MSN program and the PhD program.


A matriculated student is one who has been accepted officially into both the master’s and the doctoral degree programs. Two master’s level courses may be taken before matriculation. Students may be required to complete supplemental course work either prior to admission or as part of the course of studies. A nonmatriculated student is one who is taking a course for credit but has not yet been officially accepted into the accelerated doctoral program.


Graduates of accredited baccalaureate in nursing programs are invited to apply by submitting evidence that they meet the requirements for admission to both the MSN and PhD programs. There is no waiver for the MSN component of the program.

Requirements for admission include:

  • Completed online application.
  • Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited BSN program.
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education.
  • Completion of an undergraduate statistics and research course with a grade of C or better.
  • Two recommendations from professional nurses, one from a doctorally prepared nurse educator who can speak to ability for master’s and doctoral study.
  • For U.S. citizens, valid Pennsylvania (PA) license as a registered nurse. Information is available from the State Board of Nursing in Pennsylvania.
  • Satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for all applicants from non-English speaking countries.*
  • Two pre-admission interviews: one with the appropriate master’s program advisor and one with the director of the PhD program.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Goal statement.

* Additional admission requirements for international applicants can be found under the MSN program in this catalog.

Applicants must apply online by visiting the Widener web page at All admission requirements, including an interview, must be received and completed before:

  • July 15—for matriculation in the fall semester.
  • November 15—for matriculation in the spring semester.
  • April 1—for matriculation in summer sessions.

Transfer Students

Matriculated students in another nursing graduate program who wish to transfer will be considered on an individual basis.


See information pertaining to registration under the Master of Science in Nursing  program.

Academic Progress

Time Limit

A maximum of nine calendar years from the date of matriculation into the accelerated program is allowed for completion.

Continuous Enrollment

The accelerated MSN/PhD program is designed for continuous enrollment in fall, spring, and summer semesters. To maintain matriculated status, students must be enrolled fall and spring semesters or obtain an approved leave of absence.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence will extend the time limit for completion of the accelerated MSN/PhD program by the length of the leave. Students desiring a leave must submit a written request, including the rationale, to the appropriate academic program director for the semester in which they are not enrolled. The total cumulative leave time applied to the extension shall not exceed two years. Exceptions to this policy will be referred to the graduate nursing office.

Reinstatement to the Program

Students who have withdrawn from the program may petition for readmission by filing a new application. Such requests must be sent to the appropriate academic program director no later than 90 days prior to the start of the semester in which the student expects to enroll.

Special Academic Policies

General policies are stipulated in the Widener University Graduate Student Handbook. Other academic requirements and policies specific to the School of Nursing are found in the School of Nursing Master’s and Doctoral Student Handbooks.

Grading and Dismissal from the Program

Students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of the MSN and doctoral degrees. A student’s accelerated MSN/PhD studies record begins with the first course credited to the MSN degree and includes all subsequent courses through the MSN and PhD courses. Note: Should a student choose to terminate at the MSN degree level, only the published academic progress and degree requirements for the MSN degree would apply. (See information under the master of science in nursing  program.) At the PhD course of studies level, the published academic progress and degree requirements for the doctoral program would apply. (See information under the doctor of philosophy program .)

Course Overload

Nine credits in the fall/spring semester and six credits in one summer session are recognized as a full-time load for the MSN and doctoral components. Students enrolling for more than nine credits in fall/spring semester or six credits in one summer session must have approval from their academic program director.

Transfer Credit

See information under the doctoral program .

Course Waiver

See information as pertinent in the School of Nursing .

Comprehensive Examinations and Dissertation Procedures

See information under doctoral program .

Course of Study

See information under both master’s and doctoral programs. The first two years of study consist of master’s level core, support, and advanced practice (AP) clinical courses, as well as selected doctoral courses. A master’s in nursing degree is awarded at the end of year two. Year three consists of 18 credits of doctoral level courses. (See information under doctoral program course of study for content areas). In year four, students develop and implement a dissertation proposal.

Degree Requirements

The student must complete at least 46 course credits within the master’s level to earn the MSN degree for the FNP role and 41 credits for the CNS role. An additional 26 credits of approved doctoral course credit are required beyond the master’s degree level. The student must also successfully pass a comprehensive examination, dissertation advisement (NURS 950 ), submission of a manuscript, and a dissertation for graduation. Please note that a waiver of any requirement must be approved in writing by the appropriate academic program director.

Submission of a Manuscript

Prior to program completion, all PhD students are required to submit a manuscript for publication to a peer-reviewed journal. The manuscript may be the product of a course or course requirement. The student must be the first author on the manuscript. A copy of the manuscript, documentation of submission, and cover letter is to be submitted to the program director for the student’s file.  

Accelerated Course Sequencing for MSN/PhD Program

Full time including fall, spring and summer semesters

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