Decker School of Nursing - Graduate

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Graduate Programs

The Decker School of Nursing offers graduate-level advanced practice nursing programs of study culminating in the professional degrees of Master of Science (MS) and Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) with majors in family, community health, family psychiatric mental health or adult-gerontological nursing. The Decker School also offers the terminal research degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing with emphases in rural health and vulnerable populations.

In the Master of Science degree programs, students select one of four functional roles to pursue that include the nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administrator role. Dual roles are also available for additional credit, with the exception of nurse educator, which is reserved for post-graduate certificate enrollment only.

Students holding a Bachelor of Science (BS) in nursing and meeting admission criteria may enroll in the BS-to-PhD program. Program plans for BS-to-PhD students may be individualized based on an applicant's clinical experience and educational goals. The post-MS DNP program is available for enrollment to those who hold a master's degree in nursing and are nationally certified as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist in an area of clinical practice offered by the Decker School.

For those students already holding a master's degree in nursing, the Decker School offers programs leading to advanced certificates as a family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontological nurse practitioner, family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner or a community health primary care nurse practitioner. Also offered are an advanced certificate in nursing education, a certificate in forensic health and a certificate in disaster management. Students with a baccalaureate degree in nursing and certification as a nurse midwife may complete requirements for a master's degree in family nursing.

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Master of Science Degree Programs

The Master of Science programs in nursing require successful completion of 46-48 credits for award of degree. Full- and part-time program options of study are available. The curriculum has five components: core, clinical specialization, role development, supporting courses and electives. Core courses taken by all students in the program address nursing theory, advanced physical health assessment, advanced pathophysiology across the lifespan, advanced pharmacology for clinical practice, nursing research, professional issues and the healthcare delivery system. The clinical courses prepare nurses for family nursing, community health nursing, family psychiatric mental health nursing or adult-gerontological nursing. The role courses address socialization and implementation of the role of nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administrator. Supporting courses are tailored to degree requirements per MS specialization of study (e.g., psycho-pharmacology is required only for those students enrolled in the family psychiatric mental health specialization). The courses in the first semester of study for all MS curricula provide the foundation for courses in subsequent semesters.

Elective course(s) may be taken either in nursing or related areas of study. Courses may be taken in other units of the University, i.e., the departments of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, such as Psychology, Anthropology, Political Science and Sociology; College of Community and Public Affairs; and School of Management. Students are encouraged to select electives that will enhance their special interests and career goals. Independent study is an option.

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Admission

All students entering the Master of Science programs in nursing must satisfy the general conditions and procedures for admission to the Graduate School as stated in the Admission section of this publication.

Admissions Criteria for Master’s Degree in Nursing Programs

Although each applicant is considered on an individual basis, the general admissions criteria are:

  • A baccalaureate degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • A descriptive statistics course with a grade of C or better
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better
  • A current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in the United States
    • Students must take and pass the NCLEX-RN examination prior to the start of clinical courses and/or by a specified date as stipulated by the director of graduate nursing programs
    • Prior to beginning clinical experiences in a New York clinical facility, students must submit a copy of their current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in New York; this is required by the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions
  • Two satisfactory academic or professional references
  • Submission of a 500-word personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • GRE scores are not routinely required, but may be requested based on evaluation of transcripts
  • For international students: 
    • Proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic Scores); International Student Financial Statement Form; and supporting financial documentation (such as official bank statements or official scholarship or sponsorship letters) are required
    • International students are additionally required to provide proof of a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in their home country

Students who have a felony or child abuse conviction are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of the Decker School of Nursing and/or to meet licensure requirements for nursing or advanced-practice licensure. Students who have concerns about this are advised to contact Decker Academic Advising, the undergraduate or graduate program director or the Dean's Office. Students are required to report felony convictions while enrolled in the Decker School of Nursing as it may change their progression and ability to be placed in a clinical agency. To learn if felony/child abuse convictions will negatively impact their ability for licensure, students should check with the State Board of Nursing in the state in which they plan to practice.

Notes regarding admissions criteria above:

  • A student may consider applying for non-degree/non-matriculated status in lieu of matriculation in order to complete up to a maximum of 12 graduate nursing credits as a non-degree student; after this time, the student may apply to be considered for regular matriculated admission. The director of graduate nursing programs provides advisement regarding appropriate courses for enrollment by non-degree students attempting to prove their ability to be successful at the graduate nursing level and in anticipation of students applying for future matriculated status.
  • Required letters of recommendation from professional referents may not be personal friends or family members of the applicant. It is expected that a professional referent is a current or former supervisor to the applicant.
  • Any U.S. student applicant may be admitted "regular admit-additional advising" (formerly known as "conditional admission") by the Decker School. By definition, this category of admission means the applicant lacks required application criteria. 
    • U.S. students who do not advance from a regular admit-additional advising ("conditional") to regular admission status in a timely manner (i.e., failure to meet the department's conditional admission requirements) will find their registration blocked and possibly risk program dismissal.
  • International student applicants cannot be admitted "conditionally" based on changes to federal regulations implemented in 2016 by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
    • International student applicants who have not met minimum TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic score requirements may be recommended for an offer of admission from the Decker School of Nursing, but will be granted only provisional admission by the Graduate School.
    • A provisional admission status related to these test scores requires the applicant provide sufficient proof of English proficiency.
    • Once sufficient proof has been provided by the applicant, the Graduate School will default the admissions decision back to that assigned by the department and the student will receive a regular letter of admission and an I-20.
    • In such an admissions case, the student will be required to take an English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment exam. Exam results assist the department in determining which ESL courses will be completed by the student preliminary to or concurrently with core graduate nursing course requirements in the first and/or subsequent semesters, and at the discretion of the graduate nursing program director.
  • U.S. students enrolling immediately after graduation from a Bachelor of Science program in nursing must pass the national licensing examination (NCLEX-RN) before beginning any clinical coursework. Students who are granted full-time admission in a fall semester are scheduled to take NURS 502: Advanced Physical Health Assessment in the first semester of study. NURS 502 has a clinical component requiring those students to pass the NCLEX-RN examination and provide proof of passing the exam by August 15 of the first fall semester of admission.
  • Students who have already completed a master's degree in nursing from an accredited program but wish to pursue a different clinical specialty and/or advanced-practice role may be admitted to the post-master's program. (GREs are not required for the post-master's program.)
  • Graduates of nursing schools outside the U.S. must hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing or its equivalent. World Education Services (WES) transcripts must be submitted as proof of a baccalaureate degree. Licensure (or eligibility) to practice in the U.S. is required.
  • One year of full-time employment as a professional registered nurse is strongly recommended prior to application for admission to a graduate nursing program of study, but it is not required. At the discretion of the director of graduate nursing programs, students may be admitted to begin the master's degree program on a part-time basis to allow them time to gain confidence in their nursing skills while working in a hospital setting as an RN.
  • Students admitted to a graduate nursing program must be computer literate before beginning their studies. They must possess the ability to use various software applications, use email, conduct web searches, download and upload files and communicate through instant messaging and chatting.

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Transfer Credit

For students in the MS program, a maximum of 12 graduate credits completed with a grade of B or better within the previous five years may be transferred from an accredited college or university. Courses are approved for transfer on an individual basis. This does not apply to courses used to satisfy requirements for another degree. Students requesting transfer credits must provide course syllabi for each course they wish to transfer and an official transcript showing successful completion of coursework (minimum grade of B). For more information, consult an advisor or the Graduate School Manual located on the web. All decisions regarding transfer credits are at the discretion of the director of graduate nursing programs and the approval of the Graduate School.

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Part-Time Study

Part-time study options are available. Students seeking part-time study are encouraged to contact the director of graduate nursing programs for assistance in developing specific plans of study. Per Graduate School policy, a master's degree curriculum must be completed within five years from date of matriculation to remain eligible for award of degree.

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Clinical Practice Requirements

At least three semesters include clinical experiences, which range from a minimum of 12 hours per week to a maximum of 16 hours per week. Some elective courses also have clinical practice requirements that may increase the clinical practice time. All clinical practice assignments must be coordinated through the DSON Office of Clinical Placements.

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Additional Requirements

Graduate students in the Decker School of Nursing must adhere to the following policies related to professional practice. Some policies will require students to pay additional fees and as such, are detailed in the following: 

Nursing Simulation Lab Fee: A simulation fee of $300 will be incurred by students enrolled in graduate nursing courses that regularly require clinical simulation activities be completed in the Innovative Simulation and Practice Center (ISPC) to meet course objectives. The simulation fee is assessed once per semester regardless of the number of courses in which a student is enrolled that carry the simulation fee. Only courses that actually use simulation have the associated fee. Courses currently carrying the simulation fee are listed below, but as new simulation activities are developed, additional courses may be added to the list:

  • NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice
  • NURS 511. Adult-Gerontological Nursing I
  • NURS 512. Adult-Gerontological Nursing II
  • NURS 513. Adult-Gerontological Nursing III
  • NURS 514. Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role I
  • NURS 515. Functional Role I: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • NURS 516. Functional Role II: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • NURS 517. Functional Role III: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • NURS 521. Nursing in Family Practice I
  • NURS 522. Nursing in Family Practice II
  • NURS 596. Nursing in Family Practice III
  • NURS 553. Family Nurse Practitioner Role I
  • NURS 554. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role II
  • NURS 555. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role III

Typhon: A one-time system access fee of $80 is charged to enroll in Typhon, a clinical experience management system; this is required for all graduate nursing students enrolled in clinical courses. This fee may be subject to change.

Malpractice and Liability Insurance: All students in clinical courses are billed for malpractice and liability insurance each semester. The cost of this insurance is currently $35 per semester, but is subject to change each semester. Students who may have their own malpractice and liability insurance policy are required to purchase malpractice and liability insurance through the University as it provides coverage for their practice as a student in clinical nursing courses. Individual policies purchased by the student do not satisfy this requirement.

Health Insurance: All students enrolled in clinical nursing courses are required to submit proof of personal health insurance. This documentation must be submitted prior to beginning any clinical experience. Failure to demonstrate evidence of health insurance will prevent the student from beginning clinical experiences in any semester. Health insurance is available for purchase through the University for those students who do not have coverage.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: Prior to beginning clinical nursing courses, all students are required to submit evidence of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification (including AED training) at the professional rescuer level. DSON does not accept online CPR certification. CPR certification must be completed every other year.

Health Evaluations: Healthcare agencies must comply with the New York State (NYS) Department of Health Code 405.3, which includes health requirements necessary for all persons engaged in patient contact. Agencies may have additional health requirements over and above those mandated by NYS (i.e., substance abuse screening, removal of artificial/acrylic nails). The school must comply with NYS and agency requirements prior to student placement in the clinical agency.

All DSON graduate student health requirements must be uploaded and approved by the DSON Office of Clinical Placements no later than October 15 in the semester preceding clinical courses requiring student placement in a clinical site. Failure to meet the deadline for health requirement submission will result in denial of clinical placement.

Prior to enrollment in clinical nursing courses, all students are required to submit an annual health evaluation to CastleBranch on behalf of the Decker School of Nursing. The annual health evaluation must include:

  • a physical examination documented on the Decker School of Nursing Student Annual Health Evaluation form;
  • a two-step Mantoux Tuberculin Test or QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test prior to enrollment in clinical nursing courses and one annually thereafter; students with a positive reaction are required to have a chest x-ray or QuantiFERON-TB Gold and provide evidence of follow-up healthcare. Some agencies require a Mantoux Test, chest x-ray or QuantiFERON-TB Gold (if indicated) within six months of a student's clinical placement and students would be expected to comply with this requirement;
  • documented evidence of current immunization to tetanus-diphtheria;
  • documented evidence of immunization or serologic evidence of immunity to MMR (measles, mumps and rubella);
  • proof of varicella (chicken pox) immunity as documented by varicella immunizations, diagnosis of history of varicella diseases or a varicella titer report, prepared by a healthcare provider;
  • documented evidence of immunization to Hepatitis B, prepared by a healthcare provider. Those electing not to receive the Hepatitis B series must sign a Statement of Declination;
  • documentation of the seasonal flu vaccine in the current semester in which clinical is taking place. Those students who choose not to receive the seasonal flu vaccine must wear a mask in all patient areas.

Agencies have the right to request this information from the DSON and students are required to sign a waiver authorizing the release of this information by the DSON. Failure to sign a release may lead to a delay/denial of clinical placement.

Professional Licensure: Evidence of an unencumbered, active license to practice professional nursing in the United States must be kept on file on CastleBranch. Agencies have the right to request this information and students are asked to release this information as requested. Prior to beginning clinical experiences in a New York clinical facility, students are required to provide a copy of their current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in New York. This is a requirement of the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions.

Training in Infection Control and Bloodborne Pathogens; HIPAA: Clinical agencies require that students have annual training in infection control, bloodborne pathogens and HIPAA. Graduate students who are employed in healthcare agencies and who have received the above training through their places of employment and can provide documentation of such may satisfy this requirement. Some agencies have very specific training that they require the student to participate in prior to the beginning of a clinical experience and students are expected to comply with such requests. Students who are not currently employed may receive this training through the DSON. The Decker School of Nursing's HIPPA policy may be reviewed online.

Professional Ethics and Academic Honesty: Students are expected to comply with the University’s Rules for Student Conduct and the policies related to professional ethics, professional practice and academic honesty as stated in the Decker School of Nursing Graduate Programs Student Handbook.

Release of Personal Information: Some agencies, in order to protect clients, require information related to students’ past employment and documentation as to whether or not they have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, including misdemeanors and felonies. Students may be asked to respond to such questions.

Criminal Background Checks: Students who have a felony or child abuse conviction are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of the Decker School of Nursing and/or to meet licensure requirements for nursing or advanced-practice licensure. Students who have concerns about this are advised to contact Decker Academic Advising, the undergraduate or graduate program director or the Dean's Office. Students are required to report felony convictions while enrolled in the Decker School of Nursing as it may change their progression and ability to be placed in a clinical agency. To learn if felony/child abuse convictions will negatively impact their ability for licensure, students should check with the State Board of Nursing in the state in which they plan to practice.

Some clinical agencies require criminal background checks for everyone working in the facility, including students. All DSON students participating in a clinical experience are required by clinical agencies used by the DSON to undergo a criminal background screening and/or drug screening. In addition, some agencies may require more stringent screening than indicated below, including fingerprinting. The student will be required to submit a criminal background screening to CastleBranch. This documentation will be due prior to the start of the semester in accordance with the due dates for all other clinical requirements (health forms, proof of CPR, etc.). The student is responsible for all costs associated with these requirements. The criminal background screening will be required annually while attending DSON. For more information about this process and its costs, see CastleBranch.

Results will be disclosed to the agency/clinical site to determine if the student is eligible to attend clinical within the facility. Any student who delays, fails or refuses to provide a criminal background screening to CastleBranch by its due date will be unable to attend clinical, which may result in a failure for the clinical course. Positive criminal background screening results may hinder a student's opportunity for state licensure. DSON recommends a student contact his/her state board of licensure to clarify any concerns regarding licensure. Should a student be convicted of a criminal offense between the first and second background screening, he/she must immediately disclose this to the DSON for review with the clinical site. The clinical site will determine whether the student will be permitted to continue to participate in clinical. Any such incident may jeopardize the student's enrollment at the University and licensure.

Reports from the criminal background screening are stored online at a password-protected site sponsored by CastleBranch. After the student signs a release each year, the DSON will assume responsibility for releasing written verification of a clear criminal background check to the clinical agency. Again, failure, delay or refusal to sign the release, allowing the DSON to provide the results to the agencies, will prevent the student from attending clinical, which may result in a failure for the clinical course.

Disclaimer: The Criminal Background Screening procedure does not ensure the security of students, patients, faculty or staff.

Medical Document Manager: All DSON health requirements are housed on CastleBranch. Instructions for this process can be found online.

The DSON will not provide opportunities for clinical experiences for students who fail to meet the requirements/responsibilities outlined above.

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Programs of Study

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FAMILY NURSING

The program in family nursing prepares nurses for advanced practice with families by addressing individual and family health problems, family functioning and complex families. Students may select functional role preparation as a family nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse administrator. Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is not an available functional role in the family nursing MS program. Nurses who have an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-master's family nurse practitioner certificate program. Certified nurse midwives with a baccalaureate degree in nursing may enroll in the master's completion program.

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MS IN FAMILY NURSING

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

NURS 532. Nursing and Community Health Care Delivery Systems

3

 

NURS 600. Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analyses

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 503. Scientific Inquiry: Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing

2

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 521. Nursing in Family Practice I

3

 

Functional Role I* (ADM, EDUC or NP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

TOTAL

12

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 522. Nursing in Family Practice II

3

 

Functional Role II* (ADM, EDUC or NP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 535. Scientific Inquiry: Application of Research Methods

2

 

Elective or thesis

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 596. Nursing in Family Practice III

3

 

Functional Role III* (ADM, EDUC or NP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 570. Proseminar

2

 

Elective or thesis

3

 

TOTAL

12

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

48

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COMMUNITY HEALTH NURSING

Graduates of the program in community health nursing are committed to helping community members achieve optimal health as a means of improving life. Graduates are able to assess and diagnose actual and potential health problems of the community and work with individuals, families, groups and communities to improve and maintain health. Students may select functional role preparation as a primary care nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse administrator. Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is not an available functional role in the community health nursing MS program. Nurses who have an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate community health primary care nurse practitioner certificate program.

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MS IN COMMUNITY HEALTH NURSING

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

NURS 540. Elements of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

3

 

NURS 600. Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analyses

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 503. Scientific Inquiry: Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing

2

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 541. Community Health Nursing Practice I

3

 

Functional Role I* (ADM, EDUC or PCNP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

TOTAL

12

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 542. Community Health Nursing Practice II

3

 

Functional Role II* (ADM, EDUC or PCNP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 532. Nursing and Community Health Care Delivery Systems

3

 

NURS 535. Scientific Inquiry: Application of Research Methods

2

 

TOTAL

12

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 543. Community Health Nursing Practice III

3

 

Functional Role III* (ADM, EDUC or PCNP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 570. Proseminar

2

 

Elective or thesis

3

 

TOTAL

12

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

48

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ADULT-GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING

Adult-gerontological nursing provides students with an in-depth understanding of health and illness in the adult and older-adult populations. Students are prepared to provide advanced nursing care to well adults/elders, acutely and chronically ill adults/elders and frail older persons in community or institutional settings. Students choose functional preparation as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administrator. Nurses who have an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate adult-gerontological nurse practitioner certification program.

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MS IN ADULT-GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

NURS 532. Nursing and Community Health Care Delivery Systems

3

 

NURS 600. Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analyses

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 503. Scientific Inquiry: Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing

2

 

NURS 511. Adult-Gerontological Nursing I

3

 

Functional Role I* (ADM, CNS, EDUC or NP)
(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 512. Adult-Gerontological Nursing II

3

 

Functional Role II* (ADM, CNS, EDUC or NP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 535. Scientific Inquiry: Application of Research Methods

2

 

Elective or thesis

3

 

TOTAL

12

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 513. Adult-Gerontological Nursing III

3

 

Functional Role III* (ADM, CNS, EDUC or NP)

(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

 

NURS 570. Proseminar

2

 

Elective or thesis

3

 

TOTAL

12

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

48

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FAMILY PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

Graduates of the program in family psychiatric mental health nursing are prepared to provide comprehensive, client-centered mental health care to individuals, families and groups across the lifespan. Students acquire in-depth knowledge in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness, as well as the promotion of mental health. Students may select a functional role preparation as a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse administrator. Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is not an available functional role in the family psychiatric mental health nursing MS program. Nurses who have an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-master's family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certificate program.

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MS IN FAMILY PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

Semester I (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 502. Concepts on Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

NURS 532. Nursing and Community Health Care Delivery Systems

3

NURS 600. Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analyses

3

TOTAL

12

Semester II (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 503. Scientific Inquiry: Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing

2

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

Elective (NURS XXX or other discipline)

3

Functional Role I* (ADM, EDUC or NP)
(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

TOTAL

12

Semester III (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 535. Scientific Inquiry: Application of Research Methods

2

NURS 562. Psychopharmacology

2

NURS 563. Family Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization I: Acute Illnesses

4

Functional Role II* (ADM, EDUC or NP)
(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

TOTAL

12

Semester IV (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 564. Family Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization II: Chronic Illnesses

4

Functional Role III* (ADM, EDUC or NP)
(*Course numbers differ depending on role selected)

4

NURS 570. Proseminar

2

OPTIONAL - Second Elective

3

TOTAL

10-13

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

46-49

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Certificates

Students enrolled in family, community health, family psychiatric mental health or adult-gerontological health nursing graduate degree programs may choose to complete an additional certificate. Students choosing this option will be required to complete additional credits. Students interested in these options should see the director of graduate nursing programs or a faculty academic advisor prior to beginning coursework so that the plan of study may be developed. Students must complete an Add-On Certificate Application form through the Graduate School to add the certificate code to the academic record, and students must submit the Certificate Processing Fees form and pay a certificate processing fee in the semester in which they plan to graduate. 

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Admissions Criteria for Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Stand-Alone Certificates

Students who are not currently enrolled in a graduate degree program must complete a Stand-Alone Certificate Program Application through the Graduate School and pay an application fee. 

Although each applicant is considered on an individual basis, the general admissions criteria are:

  • A master's degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • A bachelor's degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • A current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in the United States
    • Prior to beginning clinical experiences in a New York clinical facility, students must submit a copy of their current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in New York; this is required by the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions
  • Two satisfactory academic or professional references are required; letters of recommendation from professional referents may not be personal friends and/or family members of the applicant. It is expected that a professional referent is a current or former supervisor to the applicant.
  • Submission of a 500-word personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Copies of course syllabi and official academic transcript(s) reflective of successful course completion with a grade of B or better are required of any applicant who seeks a waiver of previously completed non-clinical graduate nursing coursework such as the "3 Ps" (i.e., Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice; Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan; Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice).

Students who have a felony or child abuse conviction are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of the Decker School of Nursing and/or to meet licensure requirements for nursing or advanced-practice licensure. Students who have concerns about this are advised to contact Decker Academic Advising, the undergraduate or graduate program director or the Dean's Office. Students are required to report felony convictions while enrolled in the Decker School of Nursing as it may change their progression and ability to be placed in a clinical agency. To learn if felony/child abuse convictions will negatively impact their ability for licensure, students should check with the State Board of Nursing in the state in which they plan to practice.

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POST-GRADUATE FAMILY NURSE PRACTITIONER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Students who already hold an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate family nurse practitioner certificate program. Depending on prior educational preparation, select non-clinical course requirements may be eligible for waiver by the graduate nursing program director with the submission of official transcripts reflecting successful completion of previous coursework (grade of B or better) and related supporting course syllabi. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to this program.

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

TOTAL

6

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 521. Nursing in Family Practice I

3

 

NURS 553. Family Nurse Practitioner Role I

4

 

TOTAL

10

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 522. Nursing in Family Practice II

3

 

NURS 554. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role II

4

 

TOTAL

7

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 596. Nursing in Family Practice III

3

 

NURS 555. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role III

4

 

TOTAL

7

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

30

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POST-GRADUATE COMMUNITY HEALTH PRIMARY CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Students holding an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate community health primary care nurse practitioner program. Depending on prior educational preparation, several course requirements may be eligible for waiver by the graduate nursing program director with the submission of official transcripts reflecting successful completion of previous coursework (grade of B or better) and related supporting course syllabi. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to this program.

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

NURS 540. Elements of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

3

 

TOTAL

9

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 541. Community Health Nursing Practice I

3

 

NURS 515. Functional Role I: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

4

 

TOTAL

10

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 542. Community Health Nursing Practice II

3

 

NURS 516. Functional Role II: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

4

 

TOTAL

7

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

credits

 

NURS 543. Community Health Nursing Practice III

3

 

NURS 517. Functional Role III: Community Health Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

4

 

TOTAL

7

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

33

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POST-GRADUATE ADULT-GERONTOLOGICAL NURSE PRACTITIONER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Students holding an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate adult-gerontological nurse practitioner program. Depending on prior educational preparation, several course requirements may be eligible for waiver by the graduate nursing program director with the submission of official transcripts reflecting successful completion of previous coursework (grade of B or better) and related supporting course syllabi. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to this program.

Semester I (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 502. Concepts in Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

 

TOTAL

6

Semester II (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

 

NURS 511. Adult-Gerontological Nursing I

3

 

NURS 514. Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role I

4

 

TOTAL

10

Semester III (Fall)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 512. Adult-Gerontological Nursing Practice II

3

 

NURS 554. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role II

4

 

TOTAL

7

Semester IV (Spring)

 

 

Credits

 

NURS 513. Adult-Gerontological Nursing III

3

 

NURS 555. Family/Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Role III

4

 

TOTAL

7

 

 

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

30

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POST-GRADUATE FAMILY PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSE PRACTITIONER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Students holding an MS degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Depending on prior educational preparation, several course requirements may be eligible for waiver by the graduate nursing program director with the submission of official transcripts reflecting successful completion of previous coursework (grade of B or better) and related supporting course syllabi. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to this program.

Semester I (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 502. Concepts on Health Assessment for Nurses in Advanced Clinical Practice

3

NURS 518. Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan

3

TOTAL

6

Semester II (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 519. Advanced Pharmacology for Clinical Practice

3

NURS 565. Family Psychiatric Mental Health NP Role I: Assessment & Diagnosis

4

TOTAL

7

Semester III (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 562. Psychopharmacology

2

NURS 563. Family Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization I: Acute Illnesses

4

NURS 566. Family Psychiatric Mental Health NP Role II: Individual Psychotherapies

4

TOTAL

10

Semester IV (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 564. Family Psychiatric Mental Health Specialization II: Chronic Illnesses

4

NURS 567. Family Psychiatric Mental Health NP Role III: Family & Group Psychotherapies

4

TOTAL

8

 

 

TOTAL CREDITS

31

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ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN NURSING EDUCATION

The Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education encompasses current technological trends while preparing students for the role of nurse educator to teach at both the undergraduate and graduate nursing degree levels. Nurse educator role courses must be taken in sequence, with the exception of NURS 558. Currently enrolled master's in nursing students completing the nurse educator functional role may choose to complete the Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education by completing one additional 4-credit course (NURS 558) in addition to the three required role courses (NURS 556, NURS 557 and NURS 590). Otherwise, applications may be submitted for enrollment only if applying as a post-master's student.

Students who are currently enrolled must complete an Add-On Certificate Application form through the Graduate School to add the certificate code to the academic record, and students must submit the Certificate Processing Fees form and pay a certificate processing fee in the semester in which they plan to graduate.

Students who are not currently enrolled in a degree program must complete a Stand-Alone Certificate Program Application through the Graduate School and pay an application fee.

The following four courses are required to earn the certificate:

Courses Required for Certificate Award

Credits

NURS 556. Functional Role I: Nurse Educator, Educational Philosophy and Curriculum Development

4

NURS 557. Functional Role II: Nurse Educator, Teaching Methods and Strategies

4

NURS 590. Functional Role III: Nurse Educator, Educational Issues and Roles

4

NURS 558. Information and Educational Technology in Nursing Education

4

TOTAL CREDITS

16

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ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Graduates of the Disaster Management Certificate program are prepared to develop and implement educational programs for first responders, community-based organizations, voluntary organizations and academic institutions. This program is open to both matriculated graduate and post-master's graduate students in the Decker School of Nursing who are interested in disaster management. Because public health agencies are often located in rural areas and many of the employees of these agencies are unable to attend a three-hour on-campus class on a weekly basis, the Disaster Management Certificate program is offered in an online hybrid format. Each course meets several times per semester on campus. This allows students and faculty to meet in person; provides time for instruction on use of "myCourses" (formerly Blackboard); allows for hazmat demonstrations, drills and tabletops; and allows students to present their projects. The certificate in disaster management requires the successful completion of four graduate courses for a total of 12 credits.

Students who are currently enrolled must complete an Add-On Certificate Application form through the Graduate School to add the certificate code to the academic record, and students must submit the Certificate Processing Fees form and pay a certificate processing fee in the semester in which they plan to graduate.

Students who are not currently enrolled in a degree program must complete a Stand-Alone Certificate Program Application through the Graduate School and pay an application fee.

Courses Required for Certificate Award

Credits

NURS 540. Elements of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

3

NURS 546. Community Response to Emerging Health Threats

3

NURS 547. Community Response to Disaster Preparedness

3

NURS 549. Community Response to Chemical and Radiological Incidents

3

TOTAL CREDITS

12

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ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN FORENSIC HEALTH

The Forensic Health Certificate program is open to all students who have a baccalaureate degree and who are interested in forensics. Interested students need not be nursing majors but are required to apply to matriculate into the forensics certificate program. The graduate certificate in forensic health requires the successful completion of three graduate forensics courses for a total of 9 credits; each course is 3 credits. There are five forensic health courses available for enrollment at the graduate level. Students are required to complete NURS 581G, Forensic Health of Victims, as one of the three courses completed to be eligible for award of certificate. Course titles previously completed at the undergraduate level may not be repeated at the graduate level. Note that not all courses are offered in every semester.

Students who are currently enrolled must complete an Add-On Certificate Application form through the Graduate School to add the certificate code to the academic record, and students must submit the Certificate Processing Fees form and pay a certificate processing fee in the semester in which they plan to graduate.

Students who are not currently enrolled in a degree program must complete a Stand-Alone Certificate Program application through the Graduate School and pay an application fee.

Courses Available for Certificate Award**

Credits

NURS 581B. Forensic Health Essentials

3

NURS 581E. Medicolegal Death Investigation

3

NURS 581F. Forensic Health of Offenders

3

NURS 581G. Forensic Health of Victims

3

NURS 581J. Forensic Pediatrics

3

TOTAL CREDITS REQUIRED FOR AWARD OF CERTIFICATE

**Three courses required for award of certificate; one of three courses completed must be: NURS 581G, Forensic Health of Victims

9

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ELECTIVES

In addition to electives in other disciplines, students may choose electives in nursing to meet degree requirements in accordance with professional goals and academic needs. A variety of elective courses are offered each semester. Students should consult with their assigned faculty advisor to ensure that elective course choices support academic goals.

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GRADING AND REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADUATION

In addition to the grading policies of the Graduate School at Binghamton University, the following requirements must be met by students enrolled in the Master of Science programs of the Decker School:

  • The Decker School will require a grade of B (= numerical grade of 83) or better in all courses required for the MS in Nursing program.
  • In every course that has a clinical component, students must pass both didactic and clinical components of the course, effective fall 2013.

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MS SYNTHESIS EXPERIENCE (PAPER OR PROJECT OR THESIS)

All master's degree students complete a paper or a project as a final, synthesizing experience and as part of course requirements. Students are encouraged to examine and make decisions regarding these options early in their programs.

Students may alternatively elect to complete an MS thesis to fulfill the MS synthesis experience requirement. Students register for an independent study course through Decker Academic Advising when electing to complete a thesis. Credits earned by completing a thesis may be used to satisfy elective credit requirements. Students planning to pursue a PhD in nursing are encouraged to consider the MS thesis option. Thesis guidelines are found online in the Graduate School Manual. Students selecting the thesis option must seek advisement from their faculty advisor one year prior to graduation.

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Doctoral-Level Programs

Doctoral students in Decker School of Nursing adhere to all policies of the school pertinent to professional practice, grading policies, professional ethics and academic honesty. Doctoral students are also required to adhere to all policies and procedures found online in the Graduate School Manual.

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DNP Program Admission Criteria

For students who intend to pursue the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) program, the following are required and will be evaluated for admission. International students are ineligible to enroll in a DNP program due to U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations. 

For students who intend to pursue the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) program, the following are required and will be evaluated for admission:

  • A master's degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • A bachelor's degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • Graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • A current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in the United States
    • Prior to beginning clinical experiences in a New York clinical facility, students must submit a copy of their current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in New York; this is required by the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions
  • A current, unencumbered license to practice as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist in the United States
    • Proof of current national certification as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Graduate-level statistics course taken within the past five years
  • Submission of a 500-word personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vitae

Students who have a felony or child abuse conviction are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of the Decker School of Nursing and/or to meet licensure requirements for nursing or advanced-practice licensure. Students who have concerns about this are advised to contact Decker Academic Advising, the undergraduate or graduate program director or the Dean's Office. Students are required to report felony convictions while enrolled in the Decker School of Nursing as it may change their progression and ability to be placed in a clinical agency. To learn if felony/child abuse convictions will negatively impact their ability for licensure, students should check with the State Board of Nursing in the state in which they plan to practice.

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PhD Admission Criteria

For students who intend to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, the following are required and will be evaluated for admission:

  • A baccalaureate degree in nursing from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited school of nursing program
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • One paper that demonstrates the student's ability to analyze and/or synthesize nursing phenomena
  • Two recommendations for doctoral study
  • A statement of research interests and professional goals including possible current tenured Decker School of Nursing PhD faculty member(s) whose current research may coincide with the applicant’s background and interests
  • A current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in the United States
    • Prior to beginning clinical experiences in a New York clinical facility, students must submit a copy of their current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in New York; this is required by the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions
  • Completion of a statistics course (within five years)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae including employment and education history
  • A progressive record of continued development in nursing practice and scholarship
  • For international students:
    • Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic Scores); International Student Financial Statement Form; and supporting financial documentation (such as official bank statements or official scholarship or sponsorship letters) are required
    • International students are additionally required to provide proof of a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered professional nurse in their home country and the U.S.

Students who have a felony or child abuse conviction are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of the Decker School of Nursing and/or to meet licensure requirements for nursing or advanced-practice licensure. Students who have concerns about this are advised to contact Decker Academic Advising, the undergraduate or graduate program director or the Dean's Office. Students are required to report felony convictions while enrolled in the Decker School of Nursing as it may change their progression and ability to be placed in a clinical agency. To learn if felony/child abuse convictions will negatively impact their ability for licensure, students should check with the State Board of Nursing in the state in which they plan to practice.


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Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP)

The Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) program is designed to prepare nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to respond more efficiently to changes in healthcare delivery and emerging healthcare needs for the future. The DNP program incorporates and builds on the advanced practice content and competencies currently taught in the master's program. The DNP focuses on providing graduates with knowledge and competence in health systems leadership, policy development and interdisciplinary collaboration to improve healthcare outcomes and increase healthcare access for all populations. Transforming healthcare delivery recognizes the critical need for clinicians to design, evaluate and continuously improve the context within which care is delivered. 

Advanced practice nurses prepared at the doctoral level with a blend of clinical, organizational, economic and leadership skills will make a significant impact on healthcare outcomes. The DNP focuses on providing leadership for innovative and evidence-based nursing practice. This requires competence in translating research into practice, evaluating evidence, applying research in decision-making and implementing viable clinical innovations to change practice. 

Students holding a master’s degree in nursing who wish to earn the DNP degree may apply provided they hold national certification as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist in an area of clinical practice offered by the Decker School to include family, community health, adult-gerontological or family psychiatric mental health nursing. Students may currently choose to be admitted to a master's degree in nursing program as a post-baccalaureate in nursing graduate so that they may complete nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist certification requirements and subsequently apply for admission to the post-master's DNP program. A total of 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practicum hours are required to complete the DNP curriculum and meet DNP degree requirements.

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DNP Program Offerings

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Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist*

  • Family Nursing
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Adult-Gerontological Nursing
  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

*NOTE: The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) functional role is only available in the Adult-Gerontological DNP program.

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Post-Graduate Full-Time DNP Program Plan

Semester I (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 601. Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations of Nursing

3

NURS 610. Evidence-Based Practice

3

NURS 540. Elements of Epidemiology and Biostatistics 
OR 
NURS XXX. Graduate-level elective required for students who completed a master's-level epidemiology and biostatistics course prior to admission

1 or 4

3

TOTAL

7-10

Semester II (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 579. Advanced Diagnostics and Clinical Reasoning

3

NURS 634. Health Policy Formulation

3

NURS 651. DNP Scholarly Project I (120*)

3

TOTAL

9

Semester III (Fall)

 

Credits

NURS 548. DNP Organizational Behavior

4

NURS 652. DNP Scholarly Project II (120*)

3

Elective

3

TOTAL

10

Semester IV (Spring)

 

Credits

NURS 650 or 655. DNP Practicum Experience (180*)

3

NURS 615. Information Systems and Technology in Health Care

3

NURS 653. DNP Scholarly Project III (120*)

3

TOTAL

9

 

 

TOTAL PROGRAM CREDITS

35-38

*Clinical hours required for DNP practicum courses

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Grading and Graduation Requirements for DNP Students

In addition to the grading policies of the Graduate School at Binghamton University, the following requirements must be met by students in DNP programs of the Decker School:

  • The Decker School will require a grade of B (= numerical grade of 83) or better in all courses required for the DNP program.
  • In every course that has a clinical component, students must pass both didactic and clinical components of the course, effective fall 2013.
  • DNP Scholarly Project requirements are made available via an in-depth, on-campus orientation to the DNP Scholarly Project course series and are outlined in the DSON DNP Student Handbook. Students may access the DSON DNP Handbook online.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

The PhD program in nursing is designed to prepare graduates for research and active scholarship in nursing that will extend the knowledge base of nursing and improve the delivery of healthcare for rural and other vulnerable populations. Graduates will be prepared to conduct research and develop theory related to these populations. Graduates of the program will also be able to design future practice models, direct the development of policy initiatives and effect meaningful change within healthcare delivery systems. The program includes:

  • Research and Conceptualization:
    • Study in advanced research methods, theory development and analysis, advanced statistics for health research, conceptual analysis, instrumentation and measurement, and involvement in active research programs
  • Nursing and Health Policy:
    • Study in the healthcare needs of rural or vulnerable populations, and the issues, strategies and policy development interventions for healthcare delivery for these populations
  • Cognate Courses:
    • Selected courses advancing student's knowledge in their specific area of interest
  • Dissertation:
    • An independent, original research project

Students are admitted to candidacy upon satisfactory completion of the following:

  • required coursework;
  • University Graduate School residency requirement;
  • a comprehensive examination;
  • successful defense of the dissertation proposal; a teaching requirement.

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Financial Assistance

Prospective students are encouraged to visit the Decker School of Nursing website to review financial aid and scholarship information. Links to apply for consideration by application for funding and/or scholarships are available via the website.

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PhD Post-Graduate Program Plan:

Year 1

Fall

Credits

NURS 600

Advanced Research Methods and Quantitative Analyses

3

NURS 601

Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations in Nursing

3

NURS 640

Rural People and Communities in a Metropolitan Society

4

NURS 690

Research Seminar I

3

 

Semester Total

13

Spring

 

NURS 602

Conceptual Analysis for the Investigation of Nursing Phenomena

3

NURS 691

Research Seminar II

3

NURS 660

Leadership in Nursing Education

3

NURS 621

OR

NURS 622

The Rural Imperative: Theoretical Frameworks for Rural Nursing

OR

Vulnerable Populations: Theoretical Framework

3

 

Semester Total

12

Year 2

Fall

 

NURS 604

Qualitative Methods in Nursing Research

3

NURS 623

OR

NURS 624

Theoretical Frameworks: Health Promotion

OR

Theoretical Frameworks: Chronic Illness

3

NURS 633

Advanced Health Systems and Public Policy

3

NURS 692

Research Seminar III

3

 

Semester Total

12

Spring

 

NURS 607

PhD Dissertation Seminar

3

NURS 693

Research Seminar IV

3

NURS 634

Health Policy Formulation

3

NURS 603

Advanced Statistics: Multivariate

3

NURS 661

Teaching Practicum (required if student has no teaching experience)

2

 

Semester Total

12-14

 

 

 

Cognate

Cognate course may be taken in any of the above semesters or while writing the dissertation

3

 

 

 

 

Total Course Credits

52-54

 

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REMAINING SEMESTERS . . . .

Exam

Comprehensive/Qualifying Examination

1

NURS 699

Dissertation

1

 

Students will register for 1 credit per semester until the dissertation is completed and defended