Frequently Asked Questions

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Does the School of Nursing offer undergraduate degrees?

While the School of Nursing is a graduate school, we do offer a Combined BS/MS (ETP) program. The Combined BS/MS (ETP) Program is open to those who have received an undergraduate degree in a non-nursing field and wish to make a career change. The School does not offer a four-year undergraduate degree in nursing.


What is advanced practice nursing?

Nursing at the advanced practice level requires a basic nursing education, licensure as a registered nurse, a master’s degree, and clinical experience. The advanced practice nurse is knowledgeable in nursing theory, physical and psychosocial assessment, health care management, and prescriptive authority. Advanced practice allows nurses to provide direct nursing care, advanced assessments and management skills, patient education, stress prevention and health promotion, advocacy, accessibility, and collaboration with other health professionals. Advanced practice nursing can occur in an independent practice or in collaboration with physicians.

What is a nurse practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has an advanced education and clinical training in a healthcare specialty area. NP's work with people of all ages and their families, providing information people need to make informed decisions about their healthcare and lifestyle choices. NP's practice under the rules and regulations of the Nurse Practice Act of the state in which they work. Most nurse practitioners are also nationally certified in their specialty area. They are recognized as expert health care providers and may be found in all 50 states. NP is another name for advanced practice nurse, as is CNS, CNM, or CRNA.

Research studies since 1965 have documented that NP's provide high quality, cost-effective care through a unique approach to health care. This approach to care results in a high level of patient satisfaction.

Nurse practitioners serve as the regular healthcare providers for children and adults during health and illness. In order to provide complete healthcare, NP's

  • obtain medical histories, perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat acute health problems, such as infections and injuries
  • diagnose, treat, and monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • order, perform, and interpret diagnostic studies, such as lab work and x-rays
  • prescribe medications and other treatments
  • provide prenatal care and family planning services
  • provide well-child care, including screenings and immunizations
  • provide health maintenance care for adults, including annual physicals, promote positive health behaviors, and self-care skills through education and counseling
  • collaborate with physicians and other health professionals as needed.

NP's do more than direct patient care. Many NP's are also actively involved in education, research, and legislative activities to promote quality health care for all people in the US.
© American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. (portions)


What is the difference between an advanced practice nurse (APN) and a nurse practitioner (NP)?

An APN and an NP are generally the same. State guidelines determine what nurses practicing at the advanced practice level are called in their particular state - in New York State, they are NPs. Once a student has completed School requirements for graduation, they are eligible to file for certification through the state to become an APN or an NP and to sit for national professional certification exams if they have not done so as part of their educational program.

What programs and degrees are offered at the School of Nursing? What are the prerequisites?

The School of Nursing offers six programs in nursing:

  • Combined BS/MS (ETP) Program for non-nursing college graduates
  • Master’s Program (MS, MS/MPH, MS/MBA)
  • University Statutory Certificate Program
  • PhD in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Detailed information for each of these programs, along with prerequisite requirements, is available at http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/nursing/academics/index.html

Does the School of Nursing offer distance learning?

At this time, the School does not offer distance learning, but classes are frequently computer resource enhanced.


Is part-time study available?

The School of Nursing offers part-time study for all of our programs except for the pre-licensure part of the Entry to Practice Program, the Nurse Anesthesia Program, the Doctor of Nursing Science and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.


When do the programs begin and how long do they take to complete?

  • The Combined BS/MS (ETP) Program begins in late May each year. Pre-licensure studies is completed in three semesters (full-time study required). Specialty studies begin the following fall and can take 1-3 years depending on full-time or part-time study.
  • The Master’s Program begins in May or September and takes 1-3 years, depending on the specialty and full-time or part-time study.
  • The University Statutory Certificate Program begins in September and takes 1-2 years to complete, depending on the specialty and full-time or part-time study.
  • The PhD program is a full-time program that takes 3-5 years to complete, depending on the length of time needed to complete the dissertation phase, which follows the first 2 years of full-time coursework.
  • The Doctor of Nursing Practice program begins in September and takes two years to complete (two days of classes the first year, full-time residency the second year).


What is the process for dual degree (MS/MPH, MS/MBA) admissions?

Students must apply separately to, and be admitted by, both the School of Nursing and the School of Business or the School of Public Health for the fall term. In lieu of the required 45 credits from each school, the combined degree requires 30 credits from each school and 15 credits of electives, for a combined total of 75 credits (instead of 90 credits).

What is considered an acceptable standardized test score?

On the GRE, the most widely accepted graduate school admissions test, we prefer applicants to have scored in the top 50th percentile on each of the three sections. A satisfactory score is just one of the admission factors – applicants are neither accepted nor denied solely based on test scores.


Who makes a good reference?

We recommend at least one reference come from your current employer or academic advisor. Your references should be able to attest to your skill level in mastering coursework and/or practical experience. For applicants to the PhD program, at least 2 of the 3 recommender's should hold a doctoral degree.


Is financial aid available?

Absolutely! The School of Nursing strives to provide students with sufficient resources to meet their needs and to distribute funds to eligible students in an equitable manner. Scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities are available. Visit the CUSON Financial Resources web site for more information.


What is the campus like at Columbia University?

Columbia University has two campuses in Manhattan. The Morningside Heights Campus is located at 116th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side and is a true 30-acre campus with 17,000 students and 11 undergraduate and graduate schools. The School of Nursing is part of the Medical Center Campus, which is located at 168th Street and Broadway in Washington Heights. The Medical Center Campus contains the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Dentistry, as well as programs in Human Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. The Medical Center Campus includes the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the largest and most well-respected hospitals in the country. A shuttle service provides School of Nursing students with easy access to both campuses. Visit http://www.columbia.edu for more information about the University.

Does the Medical Center Campus offer on-campus housing?

Over 1,000 students reside at the Medical Center Campus in University accommodations. Both single student and couples housing is available. The goal of the Medical Center Housing Office is to provide on-campus housing for as many incoming students as possible. Although on-campus housing is not guaranteed, every effort is made to provide on-campus housing to students who are coming to the university and live outside the metropolitan area.

Bard Hall is a typical starter place. This is where the medical students are housed. Bard Hall offers dormitory-style living with communal kitchens and bathrooms. Students are also assigned to 154 Haven Avenue, which are studio apartments. Most students who begin in Bard Hall or 154 Haven eventually find off-campus housing, although some stay in student housing and enter the housing lottery. Lottery winners are assigned to the Towers, two large high-rise buildings that offer more spacious accommodations. The Georgian Building, where the School of Nursing is located, offers student housing on the upper floors, but it is less likely to have vacancies. The School of Nursing distributes general information and housing information/application request cards at the time of acceptance. Visit http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/hshousing/ for more information on housing.


Does the University assist in finding off-campus housing?

Yes. Upon acceptance into the School of Nursing, the Medical Center Housing Office can send you rental information, including names and phone numbers, for realty offices in New York City. Local realtors suggest beginning your search 1-2 months prior to your intended moving date. Many students choose to live in apartments in our neighborhood, Washington Heights, and in Inwood, which is just north of Washington Heights and easily accessible by public transportation. Both of these neighborhoods are considered affordable in the New York market. Visit http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/hshousing/ for more information on housing.

Why Columbia?

Columbia University School of Nursing is a designated World Health Organization Collaborating Center for International Nursing Development in Advanced Practice. With urban clinical sites, expert faculty practitioners, cutting edge research, and the strength of the Columbia name and reputation, the School of Nursing produces graduates who possess the skills necessary to bring advanced practice nursing into the new millennium. The School of Nursing has set the standard:

  • the first nursing school to have awarded a master’s degree in a clinical specialty
  • the nation’s oldest, continuous program in nurse midwifery
  • the first nursing school to gain full admitting privileges to a major teaching hospital
  • the only nursing school with a universal faculty practice plan requiring all faculty to practice or conduct research at the highest level of their credentialing.

When should my materials be received by the school?

All materials should be received by the published deadlines. We guarantee to grant a decision to all applicants with a completed application by their deadline. Incomplete applications by the deadline will be reviewed at our discretion. No refunds will be granted for incomplete applications. Please review all requirements for entry carefully.

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