Graduate Handbook

Decker School of Nursing Graduate Student Handbook

  • The Decker School of Nursing (DSON) reserves the right to amend or alter the content of this handbook at any time. All policies were reviewed by the Master’s Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Admissions and Academic Standards Committee in June 2020.
  • Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences encompasses the Decker School of Nursing.

Table of Contents

Overview and General Information

Decker School of Nursing Student Policies

Student Services

Decker Student Organizations

Graduate Nursing Student Policies and Requirements 

Graduate Nursing Student Financial Aid, Scholarships and Funding

Graduate Nursing Program Curricula

Masters and Post-Graduate Programs

Organization of the Curricula

Doctoral Programs

Overview and General Information 


The Decker School of Nursing Graduate Student Handbook defines program-specific policies and procedures for enrolled graduate nursing students. It was designed as a resource that complements the Graduate School Manual and the University Bulletin. Students are expected to become familiar with University rules and expectations for graduate students found not only in this handbook, but also in the Graduate School Manual and the University Bulletin.

I offer my warmest welcome to you and wish you every success as you pursue an advanced nursing degree.

Nicole Rouhana, PhD, FACNM, FNP-BC
Director of Graduate Nursing Programs and Assistant Professor of Nursing, Decker School of Nursing 

If you have questions about the policies contained in this document, contact the Graduate Nursing Program Office at 607-777-4712 or the clinical site coordinator at 607-777-4845. 

Decker School of Nursing Vision, Mission and Statement of Philosophy

  • Vision

    The Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University will continue its role as a leading institution in nursing education, and over the next five years will emerge as a major contributor to nursing research and healthcare advancement.

  • Mission

    Our mission is to disseminate and advance knowledge about human healthcare, health promotion and the treatment of illness in individuals, families and communities, with an emphasis on rural and other vulnerable populations.

    Students educated in our undergraduate and graduate programs will learn to practice nursing from an evidence base. Consistent with our tradition as a public institution, the school provides educational access and support to culturally and economically diverse students in a culture of diversity, respect and success, with coursework and clinical experiences designed to promote socially just and competent care of all persons.

    The school's ultimate goals are to prepare future leaders in nursing, healthcare and healthcare research, and to promote the research and scholarship of our faculty and students, with a particular focus on solving the most challenging health problems in rural and other vulnerable populations. Finally, using additional strategies, the school will continue to educate the public and other professionals about emerging and established healthcare regimens.

    Our Division of Health and Wellness Studies provides education on the importance of healthy lifestyles. Combined, faculty from nursing and health and wellness studies bring synergy to research into issues of health promotion and disease prevention.

  • Statement of Philosophy

    The philosophy of the Decker School of Nursing (DSON) emphasizes the search for meaning, freedom of choice, integrity, personal responsibility, self-awareness, caring and compassion for self and others. The faculty is in accord with the stated mission of Binghamton University, a premier public institution, that is ". . . dedicated to enriching the lives of people in the region, nation and world through discovery and education and to being enriched by its engagement in those communities."

    The faculty views nursing as an art and a science actuated by humanistic values. Nursing, as a science, is grounded in knowledge, generated through discovery and implemented in evidence-based practice. Nursing, as an art, seeks to synthesize scientific, aesthetic and self-knowledge in providing direct care that promotes health, prevents illness and maximizes the quality of life.

    The focus of nursing is on human systems that consist of individuals, families and communities, each existing interdependently with their environments. These systems experience ever-changing and complex states of health and require nursing care at various times along the life cycle. Nursing promotes self-actualization through health promotion, prevention of disease, restoration of health and a peaceful and dignified death.

    The faculty believes in the essential dignity and worth of every person, family and community as a unique and dynamic system. Human systems have aspects that are physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual in nature, culminating in a greater whole. The faculty views all human systems as evolving, on a purposeful journey through the wide dimensions of human experience.

    The faculty believes that human systems are ultimately responsible for their own growth, values and search for fulfillment, while recognizing that self-actualization takes place in relationship with other human systems and the broader ecosystem. To this extent human systems interact with society at large and become stewards of their environment.

    People should have the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice in determining and attaining their goals without interfering with the freedom and well-being of others. The faculty values the promotion of social justice, whereby the necessary resources for growth, development and actualization are available to all people and communities.

    Health is a complex phenomenon characterized by dynamic interaction between the internal and external environments of every human system. Human systems experience health, illness and death in unique and varying ways. The faculty associates good health with the harmonious balance among all aspects of the human system throughout the continuum of life. Any human system functioning at a high level of health will also be maximizing that system's creative potential. Groups such as families, communities and societies follow a similar pattern of relationships, capacity for growth, respect for diversity and balance needed for optimal health. The health of rural and other vulnerable populations is of special interest to the students and faculty of the DSON, whether caring for a rural client in an urban system or influencing the community or healthcare systems of rural areas.

    The health of human systems is nursing's greatest concern. Nurses respect the principles of social justice; realizing healthcare resources in some environments are limited and need to be distributed fairly. To provide comprehensive healthcare, nursing must be cognizant of health values, beliefs and perceptions of human systems and their effect on well-being in the context of complex environments and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Caring, trust, compassion and mutual respect are fundamental to the nurse-client relationship. The nurse incorporates knowledge and self-awareness in the development of a therapeutic approach. Nursing has its own knowledge built on theory and discovery, and shares a knowledge base with other disciplines to generate and use the best evidence for effective care.

    Within professional nursing there are multiple levels of practice.

    • The nurse generalist, prepared at the baccalaureate level, applies theory and research from the physical, behavioral and nursing sciences to the practice of nursing. The baccalaureate-prepared nurse becomes an intelligent consumer of research, uses research-based evidence to support clinical practice and participates collaboratively to manage comprehensive health services for a diverse and multicultural population. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses demonstrate beginning leadership and management skills in the coordination of resources for client systems within a value system consistent with professional nursing.
    • The nurse specialist prepared at the graduate level solves complex client care problems through a multiplicity of roles using theoretically driven strategies of advanced nursing practice.
    • The master's-prepared nurse participates in research; uses evidence-based practice; assumes a leadership role in the planning, management and improvement of healthcare; influences health policy; and promotes the continuing development of nursing as a profession.
    • The terminal degrees in nursing are at the doctoral level, including the doctor of philosophy (PhD) and doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
      • The PhD graduate from the Decker School is actively engaged in designing original research to generate and test theory.
      • The DNP graduate evaluates and implements research into evidence-based practice.
      • Both degrees make an effort to enhance nursing practice in rural and other vulnerable populations and to evaluate and implement strategies to optimize the health of these populations. Together, the nurse generalist and nurse specialist collaborate to advance the profession of nursing.

    Nursing education is achieved through the active participation in discovery, practice and scholarship. The faculty views education as a continuous lifelong process of becoming, aimed at the development of intellectual, aesthetic and professional interests that advance each learner toward personal and professional goals. The essence of learning and growth for both teacher and learner is the faculty-student relationship. The faculty prepare culturally, ethnically and racially diverse nurses to strengthen the profession's ability to meet the needs all people. The faculty recognizes and supports the need for international collaboration and experiences for both students and faculty, as we seek to generate a global vision in relation to health and nursing.

    Additional units of the DSON, such as Health and Wellness Studies, serve to educate on the importance of healthy lifestyles. Faculty from Health and Wellness Studies and nursing can bring synergy to research into issues of health promotion and disease prevention.

Graduate School Manual and Decker Graduate Student Handbook

The Graduate School Manual is an invaluable resource to be referenced and reviewed by all Binghamton University Graduate School students. It provides comprehensive information on Graduate School programs of study and outlines all University policies and procedures to be followed as an enrolled student of the Graduate School at Binghamton University.

This Decker School of Nursing Graduate Student Handbook is the graduate nursing student's resource for understanding DSON graduate program-specific policies and procedures. The two manuals are designed to complement each other and should be used as such. It is strongly recommended that you become familiar with both documents. 

Admission Requirements for Degree Programs and Post-Graduate Certificate Programs

Decker School of Nursing admission requirements for all applicants to matriculated and nonmatriculated degree programs of study are posted on the Graduate School website (for details go to the specific program you are interested in). Categories of admission for applicants can vary and are defined in the Graduate School Manual.

Beginning full-time BSN prepared students must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam by August 15. Students who do not pass will be blocked or removed from clinical course enrollment.  


Expenses beyond tuition and University fees are variable, and depend on the specific courses in which a student is enrolled. The following is meant to serve as an estimate only; all costs are subject to change.

  • Transportation costs to clinical sites are the responsibility of the student. Cost will vary depending on distance.
  • Malpractice insurance is required; a charge of approximately $12 per course is assessed for each course in which the student encounters a client/patient in conjunction with course requirements (observational experiences are included). This is a SUNY-mandated fee regardless of outside malpractice insurance policies under which a student may have current coverage.
  • Annual health evaluation and immunization costs are the responsibility of the student.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is required annually. 
  • Textbooks required for nursing courses average $500–$1,000 per full-time semester.
  • Uniform and medical equipment costs are the responsibility of the student.
  • A one-time $90 access fee is charged to enroll in Typhon, a clinical experience management system, which is required for all graduate students enrolled in clinical courses.
  • A simulation fee is attached to graduate nursing courses when deemed to be appropriate by Decker College administration in relation to the use of Decker's Innovative Simulation and Practice Center and student simulation activities that are required to meet course objectives. See the University Bulletin for a list of courses that carry the simulation fee (select "Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences-Graduate," then "Additional Requirements"). Additional courses may be assigned the simulation fee if Decker administration determines it is appropriate in relation to course objectives. There is a one-time per semester simulation fee of $300 (regardless of the number of courses students are enrolled in for that semester that carry the simulation fee). 

Decker School of Nursing Student Policies

All clinical policies were reviewed by the Decker School of Nursing Clinical Placement Office in June 2020. 

Human Subjects Review Guidelines

All research and capstone projects involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved prior to initiating any research or project. All research activities involving human subjects must be evaluated by the Human Subjects Research Review Committee using the Preaward and Compliance System (PACS). The level of the review (exempt, expedited or full review) depends on the type of research needed for the particular study or project. 

DSON Standing and Continuing Ad Hoc Committees

Decker School of Nursing committees are composed of students, faculty, staff and administrators. The following describes the purpose, responsibility and membership of the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council and its standing committees. Because DSON values student input and evaluation, graduate students are encouraged to consider student membership on Decker School committees.

DSON Faculty Council

Faculty Council is the major deliberative and legislative body of the DSON.

Faculty Council has 14 standing committees, with additional ad hoc committees established by the council during the academic year for the purposes defined in the resolutions creating them. The following list of seven committees invites representation by graduate students.

Standing and Ad Hoc Committees

Committee on Committees


  • Faculty membership: three faculty, including at least one tenured faculty
  • Student membership: one undergraduate student and one graduate student


  • Prepare secret ballots and conduct elections for the chair of Faculty Council
  • Make appointments to fill vacancies as they arise on standing committee
Evaluation Committee


  • The directors of the graduate and undergraduate programs; three additional faculty representative of the undergraduate and graduate programs, including at least one tenured member; and one student representative


  • Assist in developing a plan for coordination of all evaluation data for the DSON
  • Make recommendations for changes in the plan of evaluation to Faculty Council
  • Review evaluation data and share results with Faculty Council
  • Evaluate programs, program outcomes and make recommendations as appropriate
Simulation Committee


  • Four faculty including the director of the Innovative Simulation and Practice Center and representation from the graduate and undergraduate programs, plus one student representative


  • Assist in developing simulation experiences for DSON students
  • Make recommendations for simulation changes to Faculty Council
  • Explore new opportunities for simulation
  • Update Faculty Council on simulation needs and results
Graduate Admissions and Academic Standards Committee


  • Voting members: three faculty including representation from those teaching in MS and DNP programs, including at least one tenured faculty and one graduate student representative
  • Nonvoting members: The graduate program director and the assistant to the graduate program director


  • Assist in reviewing and making decisions regarding admissions, retention, promotions, graduation and honors of graduate students in the master's and DNP programs
  • Approve action regarding individual graduate student academic status
  • Review admission criteria and procedures for admissions, and forward recommendations to the graduate programs director for action
Masters Committee


  • Voting members: four faculty members, including at least one tenured faculty and the director of graduate programs; plus one MS student
  • Nonvoting members: The assistant to the graduate program director, pertinent program coordinators and liaisons are expected to attend


  • Evaluate MS programs (e.g., philosophy, objectives, curriculum, resources, faculty, students and graduates); make recommendations to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
  • Approve new MS courses, forward actions to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council for approval and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Committee


  • Voting members: four faculty, including at least one tenured faculty and the director of graduate programs; plus one DNP-level student
  • Nonvoting members: The assistant to the graduate program director, pertinent program coordinators and liaisons are expected to attend


  • Evaluate DNP program (e.g., philosophy, objectives, curriculum, resources, faculty, students and graduates); make recommendations to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
  • Approve new DNP courses, forward actions to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council for approval and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
Doctoral Program Committee


  • All faculty holding earned doctorates and the director of graduate programs
  • One doctoral student


  • Evaluate PhD program (e.g., philosophy, objectives, curriculum, resources, faculty, students and graduates); make recommendations to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
  • Establish, maintain and review doctoral program educational policies (e.g., admission, retention, promotion, graduation and honors)
  • Act on admission, retention, promotion and graduation of doctoral students
  • Approve new doctoral courses, forward actions to the Binghamton University Graduate School Council for approval and inform the Decker School of Nursing Faculty Council
  • Appoint ad-hoc committees as necessary 

Inclement Weather Policy

In the event of inclement weather, students are strongly advised to contact:

  • the appropriate faculty member prior to traveling to campus OR
  • the preceptor prior to traveling to a clinical site 

Policy and Procedure Guidelines for Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis


To provide a process for access to evaluation and treatment for any DSON student sustaining an occupational exposure. Prompt evaluation and treatment of healthcare workers following occupational exposure enhances positive outcomes. Evaluation and treatment of the exposure should be made by a healthcare professional as soon as possible, ideally within one hour, and no later than 36 hours post-exposure.


  • Healthcare worker: Any person (e.g., employee, student, contractor, attending clinician or volunteer) whose activities involve contact with patients or with blood or other body fluids from patients in a healthcare or laboratory setting.
  • Exposure: Percutaneous injury (e.g., a needle-stick or cut with a sharp object), contact of mucous membrane or nonintact skin (e.g., when the exposed skin is chapped, abraded or afflicted with dermatitis), or contact with intact skin when the duration of contact is prolonged (i.e., several minutes or more) or involves an extensive area, with blood, tissue or other body fluids.
  • Body fluids: Includes a) semen, vaginal secretions or other body fluids contaminated with visible blood that have been implicated in the transmission of HIV infection; and b) cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and amniotic fluids that have an undetermined risk for transmitting HIV.


  • All DSON students must complete the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and NYSHD Infection Control Mandatory Training annually and demonstrate successful completion of a test on the required content prior to entry into the clinical setting. RN and graduate students who can provide documentation of having received such training from their work site will be excused from the DSON training.
  • If a student sustains an exposure, the student shall immediately notify the supervising faculty member and the nurse or nursing supervisor in charge of the clinical practice setting.
  • Wash exposure site with soap and water.
  • The need for emergent wound care (e.g., laceration) should be determined with prompt follow-up if indicated.
  • The student (under the direction of the faculty member) and the nurse from the agency will complete the appropriate incident reports and/or risk assessment questionnaire. A copy of this/these report(s) will be forwarded to the DSON for inclusion in the student's personal health file.
  • An assessment of exposure risk should be performed; the student and the source patient should be evaluated to determine the need for post-exposure prophylaxis. The exposure should be evaluated for potential to transmit HIV based on the type of body substance involved and the route and severity of exposure. Should there be a question on either the part of the student, faculty member or supervisor regarding need for further evaluation for possible treatment, the employee health officer or infection control department of the involved clinical agency should be consulted. The source patient should be evaluated as per agency policy and procedure.
  • Should the exposure be assessed to be high-risk, employee health or infection control at the clinical agency will be notified.
  • The appropriate agency staff will review the incident with the student and provide counseling specific to HIV and Hepatitis B and C testing, risk assessment and need for post-exposure prophylaxis. A copy of these recommendations should be obtained for inclusion in the student's health file. The faculty member or appointed designee will act as a support and resource person for the student during this process.
  • If the student elects post-exposure prophylaxis, it should be obtained as soon as possible (Employee Health Department at Lourdes Ascension Hospital; United Occupational Medicine Department at UHS). Documentation of the treatment plan should be forwarded to the DSON for inclusion in the student's health file. The student should also include a statement regarding plans for treatment compliance. The student is advised to seek counseling during the treatment period. Resources will be identified for the student as needed.
  • Any accrued costs in evaluation and treatment will be the responsibility of the student. If cost is prohibitive, the student is encouraged to discuss the issue with the DSON's clinical site coordinator.
  • If the student declines recommended treatment, he/she must state in writing that he/she is aware of possible negative consequences of the decision. A copy of this refusal will be included in the student's health file.
  • Documentation of health clearance by a healthcare provider is necessary before the student will be allowed to return to the clinical area.
  • If the exposure is assessed to be a low risk, the student should be informed that follow-up is not recommended at this time. If there is further concern on the student's part, referral to the local health department or a private healthcare provider will be made.
  • The content of this policy should be reviewed annually and evaluated for current standard of care. 

Policy and Procedure Guidelines for Standard Precautions


Medical history and examination cannot reliably identify patients infected with HIV or bloodborne pathogens. Blood and body fluid precautions should be consistently used for all patient contacts when exposure to blood and body fluid is anticipated.


  • Healthcare worker: Any person (e.g., employee, student, contractor, attending clinician or volunteer) whose activities involve contact with patients or with blood or other body fluids from patients in a healthcare or laboratory setting.
  • Exposure: Percutaneous injury (e.g., a needle-stick or cut with a sharp object), contact of mucous membrane or nonintact skin (e.g., when the exposed skin is chapped, abraded or afflicted with dermatitis), or contact with intact skin when the duration of contact is prolonged (i.e., several minutes or more) or involves an extensive area, with blood, tissue or other body fluids.
  • Body fluids: Includes a) semen, vaginal secretions or other body fluids contaminated with visible blood that have been implicated in the transmission of HIV infection; and b) cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and amniotic fluids that have an undetermined risk for transmitting HIV.


The following precautions are taken from the MMWR, August 21, 1987, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • All healthcare workers should routinely use appropriate barrier precautions to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposure when contact with blood or other body fluids of any patient is anticipated. Gloves should be worn for touching blood and body fluids, mucous membranes or nonintact skin of all patients; for handling items of surfaces soiled with blood or body fluids; and for performing venipuncture and other vascular-access procedures. Gloves should be changed after contact with each patient. Masks and protective eyewear or face shields should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate droplets of blood or other body fluids to prevent exposure of mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. Gowns or aprons should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate splashes of blood and/or other body fluids.
  • Hands and other skin surfaces should be washed immediately and thoroughly if contaminated with blood or other body fluids. Hands should be washed immediately after gloves are removed.
  • All healthcare workers should take precautions to prevent injuries caused by needles, scalpels, other sharp instruments or devices during procedures; when cleaning used instruments; during disposal of used needles; and when handling sharp instruments after procedures. To prevent needle-stick injuries needles should not be recapped, purposely bent or broken by hand, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated by hand. After they are used, disposable syringes and needles, scalpel blades and other sharp items should be placed in puncture-resistant containers for disposal; the puncture-resistant containers should be located as close as practical to the use area. Large-bore reusable needles should be placed in puncture-resistant containers for transport to the reprocessing area.
  • Although saliva has not been implicated in HIV transmission, to minimize the potential risk associated with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, mouthpieces, resuscitation bags or other ventilation devices should be available for use in areas in which the need for resuscitation is predictable.
  • Healthcare workers who have exudative lesions or weeping dermatitis should refrain from all direct patient care and from handling patient care equipment until the condition resolves.
  • Pregnant healthcare workers are not known to be at greater risk of contracting HIV infection than healthcare workers who are not pregnant; however, if a healthcare worker develops HIV infection during pregnancy, the infant is at risk of infection resulting from perinatal transmission. Because of this risk, pregnant healthcare workers should be especially familiar with and strictly adhere to precautions to minimize the risk of HIV transmission.
  • The content of this policy should be reviewed annually and evaluated for current standard of care. 

Policies for Student Clinical Practice

Health/Clinical Practice Requirements

All students participating in clinical laboratory experiences must meet standards regarding health status as outlined by the New York State Department of Health Code, Section 405.3. Inclusive in the code is a regulation that states that the health status of all persons involved in direct patient care must be assessed prior to the individual's assumption of patient care duties. The evaluation needs to be "of sufficient scope to ensure that no person shall assume his/her duties unless he/she is free from a health impairment which is of potential risk to the patient or which might interfere with the performance of his/her duties, including the habituation or addiction to depressants, stimulants, narcotics, alcohol or other drugs or substances which may alter the individual's behavior." Student health status should be evaluated at least annually with reassessment as frequently as judged necessary. The information provided must be of sufficient quantity and quality to allow a decision to be made that supports quality patient care and safe practice.

All students are required to establish a CastleBranch medical document management account and pay a one-time fee for the service. Students must upload all health requirements into their medical document manager account for review and approval. If you attended a different university in which you previously established a CastleBranch account, you must pay the one-time fee to create a new medical document management account as a student of Binghamton University. Binghamton University students who have a previous, existing CastleBranch account when they enter the DSON graduate program can notify CastleBranch customer service at 888-723-4263 or the DSON clinical site coordinator to have their account updated to reflect graduate status.

Students participating in clinical courses in the nursing major are required to submit a completed annual Student Health Evaluation form to CastleBranch. DSON manages all health requirements through CastleBranch. The health/clinical practice requirements as outlined below must be fulfilled and be completed prior to beginning clinical coursework.

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

  • A completed physical examination documented on the DSON Health Evaluation form and submitted to CastleBranch and to Decker Student Health Services. University requirements are less stringent than those of the DSON; therefore, students cannot assume that meeting Binghamton University requirements is sufficient. University Health Services will accept the DSON documentation. Download the Student Health Evaluation form.
  • Two intradermal Mantoux tuberculin tests are required for the first semester before entering the clinical setting and then one annually thereafter. Students with a positive Mantoux test will be required to have a chest X-ray and show satisfactory (to the University) evidence of follow-up healthcare. A TB screening form must be completed annually for those with a positive Mantoux history.
  • DSON students must provide proof of immunity to specific communicable diseases as outlined on the Student Health Evaluation form. In addition, the DSON recommends the Hepatitis B immunization series. Hepatitis B infection is a major occupational hazard for healthcare workers because the procedures performed may involve contact with blood or blood-contaminated body fluids. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of acquiring Hepatitis B infection is often highest during professional-education programs and immunization should be completed during study in schools of nursing, medicine, dentistry and other health professions. If for personal reasons, a student elects not to receive Hepatitis B vaccine, a statement of declination needs to be signed by the student and on file with CastleBranch. 
  • The healthcare agencies used by the DSON for clinical experiences require that students are certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Students must assume responsibility for obtaining and maintaining biennial (every two years) CPR certification. The level of certification required is equivalent to that of "professional rescuer." Students will be required to show evidence of CPR certification prior to the beginning of the nursing sequence and every other year in order to participate in nursing courses with a clinical component. Both the front and back of the signed CPR card must be uploaded to the student's CastleBranch account.

NOTE: The DSON does not accept online certification for CPR.

Malpractice insurance is provided by Binghamton University in the amount of $3 million and it is required that all nursing students registered in clinical courses purchase this coverage through the University at a nominal charge. Students may elect to carry private insurance as additional coverage.

Graduate and RN students enrolled in clinical courses must have a copy of their valid unencumbered Registered Nursing license to practice nursing on file in their CastleBranch account. Students completing clinical rotations in the state of New York must possess a New York State RN License. Most states require RN licensure within the state in which clinical requirements/preceptorship are being completed.

Students must provide proof of current personal health insurance coverage. Both the front and back copy of the insurance card must be uploaded into CastleBranch clearly showing the student's name as insured. If the student's name does not appear on the insurance card, the student must obtain a letter from the insurance company stating they are covered by the insurance plan and upload the letter to CastleBranch.

All students will be required to annually sign a confidentiality statement to be kept on file at the DSON.

Students may be asked to comply with additional requirements of selected clinical agencies (e.g., background checks, drug testing, removal of artificial/acrylic nails, more frequent Mantoux testing) to participate in clinical experiences in those agencies. Any cost incurred in fulfilling additional requirements will be the student's responsibility.

Clinical agencies may request copies of selected information from students' health records. Students will be required to sign a release so that this information may be forwarded to the agencies. Delay or failure to sign a release may lead to a delay/denial of clinical placement.

Students experiencing health problems or a change in their health status that may affect their ability to function safely in the clinical laboratory setting must submit an additional statement from their healthcare provider. This statement should address any limitation or restrictions resulting from the health problem. This information should be submitted directly to the DSON clinical site coordinator. This must be done prior to the laboratory experience or upon return if the student has been absent due to the health problem. Binghamton University also may require a student to undergo an appropriate medical evaluation at the University's expense prior to readmission or resumption of clinical placement (classes).

Responsibilities of Patient Care

All students of the DSON are expected to provide care to patients to whom they are assigned. Assignments/placements are to be based on the level of skill and knowledge of the student and the educational objectives of the learning experience. When a clinical instructor is not on-site, responsibility for the provision of patient care must be explicitly defined and mutually agreed upon by the clinical instructor and the clinical agency.

In some clinical courses, student preference of clinical site may be considered. Students will not be placed for an educational clinical experience at their work site or where they have supervisory responsibilities, with his/her own personal care provider or with a relative or significant other. Such a situation often contributes to role confusion and the potential for a conflict of interest. In health organizations with multiple sites, a placement at a site other than the student's actual work site within the employing organization may be considered and will be done at the discretion of DSON faculty. The DSON reserves the right to make final clinical placements based upon student, course, preceptor, agency and DSON needs.

DSON faculty and students are expected to practice nursing in adherence to the ANA Code of Ethics. Student behavior in the clinical area that is identified by faculty, clinical agency or a clinical preceptor as unprofessional may result in removal of the student from the clinical placement and further investigation of the student's fitness to practice. Only when the DSON determines that the student is fit to practice will the student be permitted to resume his/her duties and responsibilities in the clinical area. 

Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disability-Related Needs

The following document has been developed to assist in the recruitment, admission and progression of students in the Decker School of Nursing. This document includes a statement regarding reasonable accommodation for students with disability-related needs and the essential skills required to meet program objectives.

In compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation for students with disability-related needs will be determined on an individual basis taking into consideration the essential skills that must be performed to meet program objectives. Decisions regarding reasonable accommodation will be directed toward maximizing the student's independence while maintaining personal and client dignity and safety.

NOTE: Contact course coordinators promptly with special needs. DSON requires notification and documentation from Binghamton University's Services for Students with Disabilities Office to meet accommodation requests.

Essential Skills

The following activities are representative of essential skills expected of students in the Decker School of Nursing beginning with the first semester.

The student will be expected to:

  • Provide evidence of annual cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification at the "professional rescuer" level or equivalent
  • Elicit health history from clients
  • Position and transfer clients appropriately
  • Use correct body mechanics
  • Use appropriate handwashing techniques
  • Gown, glove and mask appropriately
  • Perform sterile technique
  • Complete a bed bath, including oral care
  • Make an occupied bed
  • Perform range of motion for client. (e.g., perform passive exercises)
  • Assess pertinent body systems. (e.g., cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal)
  • Auscultate heart, bowel and breath sounds
  • Auscultate vital signs (e.g., pulse, blood pressure)
  • Inspect (e.g., skin)
  • Palpate (e.g., pulses)
  • Percuss (e.g., abdomen)
  • Perform procedures ordinarily requiring manual dexterity and precision (e.g., insertion of urinary catheter, manipulation of ophthalmoscope and otoscope)
  • Demonstrate focused observational skills in the assessment of body language, territoriality and speech patterns
  • Interpret emotions and meanings from client's verbal and nonverbal behaviors accurately
  • Communicate empathy through appropriate listening skills
  • Give and receive relevant verbal and nonverbal feedback
  • Demonstrate the interpersonal and analytical skills necessary to participate actively in all phases of group development 

DSON Grievance Procedure

In accordance with our humanistic philosophy, effective interpersonal communication based on mutual trust and respect is an essential part of nursing. The Decker School of Nursing strongly supports a climate in which attempts to understand differences are guided by these principles. We believe that most issues can be mutually resolved at the informal level, and that learning can be enhanced through the use of this process.

The following procedure shall be used to resolve an academic grievance brought by students or faculty at the Decker School of Nursing. A grievance involves a case in which one party believes another party has harmed him or her directly and seeks some redress or resolution of a perceived harm. Possible cases may include, but are not limited to, disagreements over course or program requirements, the process by which a grade was determined, intellectual property, unfair treatment or whether due process was followed.

Interpersonal conflicts that do not affect a student's grades, academic progress, intellectual property and the like cannot be grieved.

The formal grievance procedure is preceded by an informal process for seeking resolution and an informal mediation process. The DSON strongly supports that all efforts to resolve the issue at the informal level are exhausted prior to resorting to the formal process. The informal or mediated process must be completed prior to beginning the formal process.

1. Informal process for seeking resolution

a. The complainant must first attempt to find resolution by discussing the issue with the person against whom the complaint is directed. This action constitutes the beginning of the informal process.

2. Informal mediation process

a. If no mutually agreeable resolution is reached during stage 1a, the complainant must next seek resolution from the course coordinator, if the course has one.

b. If no mutually agreeable resolution is reached during stage 2a, the complainant must then seek resolution from the appropriate program director. If a mutually agreeable resolution is not reached in the informal mediation process, the individual may proceed to the formal process of review by the formal Grievance Committee.

c. If the complainant feels that meeting with any person will involve reprisals or other unpleasant consequences, then he/she should meet directly with the appropriate program director. Following this meeting, the director must inform the person against whom the complaint is made about the complaint and the issues involved.

d. The director shall attempt to mediate the dispute through discussions with each of the persons, together or separately.

Formal grievance procedure

If there is no informal resolution as outlined above, the formal grievance process is the next step for redress.

Any individual who feels that she/he has an unresolved grievance may request the case be heard by the Grievance Committee. The individual must write a chronology of events leading up to the specific grievance. This chronology should describe the informal ways redress was sought, and detail the specific complaint, i.e., what issue, event or circumstance is being grieved. This detailed, signed charge will be submitted to the dean's designee, who will review it and ensure that all means of resolution through the informal process have been exhausted.

If the dean's designee deems that the informal process has not been completed, she/he will direct the grievant to return to the informal process. Upon receipt of this detailed, signed charge, the dean's designee will notify in writing all parties involved including the chairperson of the Voting Faculty Committee. Voting faculty will appoint the members of the Grievance Committee and notify the dean’s designee of the composition of the committee. The Grievance Committee shall convene at the earliest convenient time

Grievance Committee

The dean's designee will initiate the formal process by convening the Grievance Committee. Composition of the committee shall include:

  1. Three faculty members elected by the Voting Faculty Committee. At least one of the faculty members must be tenured.
  2. Two student members appointed by the Voting Faculty Committee.
  3. The membership shall select the chairperson from among the tenured faculty.
  4. Before a hearing begins, if anyone involved in that case accuses a member of being biased, the other members of the committee shall decide, by a secret ballot, whether that member shall be disqualified from the committee.
  5. A committee quorum shall consist of three committee members with the proviso that at least one of those be a student and two be faculty.


The Grievance Committee is not a legal or judicial body, but an advisory one. The committee hears and deliberates cases involving grievances, but renders no binding verdicts, judgments or decisions. After evaluating a case, the committee sends to the dean's designee of the DSON nonbinding findings and recommendation(s) as to the action that might be taken. If the dean's designee is a party to the case, the dean will appoint another designee to decide the case. The parties in the case will also be informed of the committee’s recommendation(s) by the dean's designee. The final disposition of a case is not within the authority of this committee.

Notification of parties involved

The dean's designee shall notify all parties of the charges under consideration not less than seven working days prior to the scheduled hearing. This notification shall be in writing and shall become a part of the grievance record. The notice should be delivered by hand and a signed receipt obtained. If that is not possible, it should be sent by certified mail. If the return receipt is delayed, then the campus or U.S. mail should be used with the most recent address. This notification shall inform all parties, with sufficient particularity and in sufficient time to ensure opportunity to prepare for the hearing. All parties will be informed of the following:

  • The specific charges brought against him/her (allegation, time, place and a brief description of the circumstances of the occurrence and parties involved)
  • The time and place to appear before the committee for a hearing
  • His/her right to review documents before a hearing is available or during the hearing
  • His/her privilege to have one person of one’s own choosing appear with him/her in a support capacity; this support person cannot directly address the committee or parties involved in the grievance
  • His/her right to be present at any portion of the meeting when evidence is heard with respect to the case
  • His/her right to bring questions to the committee or address the committee, but not the other party
  • His/her right to bring witnesses and/or present evidence with respect to the case
  • His/her right to request that any person involved in the case be present at the time he/she appears before the committee
  • His/her right to challenge the impartiality of any member of the committee, in accordance with (Grievance Committee, #4 above)
  • His/her right, after the dean's designee has made a decision, to appeal the decision
  • The procedures and policy of the Grievance Committee as outlined in the present document
  • The fact that proceedings will be taped and tapes will be forwarded to the dean's designee for his/her review only

Hearing of the grievance

The hearing shall consist of at least three parts:

  1. The initial presentation of evidence and all relevant information, and discussion with parties bringing evidence
  2. Discussion of the committee members with the involved parties, the grievant’s advisor(s) and witnesses, if appropriate
  3. The deliberations of the evidence by the committee and the formulation of its recommendation to the dean's designee

All parties and their advisor(s) have the right to attend and participate in the presentation and discussion phases of the committee hearing. If a named party is not present at the hearing, then the hearing is conducted with the party absent. As soon as a named party appears before the committee, the chairperson shall review the named party’s rights and privileges and the chairperson will acquaint the named party with the purpose of the meeting, which is to assess the evidence in light of the full context in which the grievance occurred and to render a fair and equitable recommendation to the dean's designee. During the deliberation phase, no one other than committee members shall be present and no new evidence may be introduced at that time.

Decision of the committee

A record of the hearing, usually a tape recording, shall be made to allow for review by the dean's designee of the DSON only. This recording will not include the deliberation phase of the hearings.

Where to file complaints 

Students wishing to file complaints with accrediting or state agencies can do so by contacting one of the following organizations:

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
3624 Market Street, Suite 2 West
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
655 K Street, NW, Suite 750
Washington, DC 20001

New York State Education Department
State University of New York
Central Administration
State University Plaza
Albany, NY 12246

Criminal Background Screening and Drug Screening Administrative Policy

Clinical agencies are beginning to 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 to DSON results of a criminal background screening by CastleBranch or another approved agency as determined by the DSON (such as federal military clearance) done within the past calendar year. 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. Learn more about this process and its costs at CastleBranch.

Results will be disclosed to the agency/clinical site to determine if the student can attend clinical within the facility. Any student who delays, fails or refuses to provide a criminal background screening to the DSON by its due date will be unable to attend clinical, which may result in a failure for the 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 will be stored in the student's profile on the Medical Document Manager through 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 course.

All documentation from the criminal background screening reports will be destroyed upon graduation or dismissal from the program.

DISCLAIMER: The criminal background screening procedure does not ensure the security of students, patients, faculty or staff. 

Professional Ethics and Academic Honesty Policy

Students are responsible for maintaining the integrity of and hold individual responsibility for their course assignments. Failure to do so is a violation of the academic honesty policies of both Binghamton University and the Decker School of Nursing.

  • Binghamton University's policies on academic integrity and student academic honesty code can be found in the University Bulletin (see "Academic Policies and Procedures-All Students"). This link will also allow students to review violation category definitions per the University's academic honesty policies.
  • Decker-specific procedures regarding academic honesty are presented in the DSON  Academic Honesty Policy.
  • Additional information on academic honesty at the University level, including forms, is presented on the University provost's website

Policy and Procedures for Student Incident Reports

Policy for reporting incidents
All incidents involving a student, specifically a student and patient occurring at a clinical site during an affiliation, must be reported to the instructor of record for that experience. An incident is defined as any unusual occurrence, with or without injury, that interferes with the functioning of the system or the patient, e.g., patient fall, incorrect procedure, medication administration error/occurrence, exposure to blood and/or body fluids, delay in treatment.

Incidents that threaten the safety of the patients, students or staff in an agency are reportable to the New York State Department of Health within 24 hours of occurrence. This reporting is the responsibility of the agency in most situations. Each agency will have a policy for such reporting that defines reportable and nonreportable incidents.

Incidents involving students will be investigated by the instructor of record for the affiliation and the results of the investigation as well as any actions taken will be documented.

Procedure for reporting incidents

  1. Report the incident promptly to the instructor. If the instructor is not immediately available to the student or there is any evidence of immediate danger for the patient or others, report the incident immediately to the appropriate charge nurse or other supervisor of the unit, agency or system where the incident occurred. Proceed to notify the instructor subsequent to the above action.
  2. The student, together with the instructor, will complete an incident report (agency form) as soon as possible following the incident. Both the student and instructor will sign the form and forward to the supervisor within the system. Incidents involving patients where there is real or potential injury or untoward effects must be communicated to the attending physician. The decision as to who will communicate with the physician is usually jointly determined by the supervisor in the agency and the instructor. Most often, it is the student with the guidance and support of the instructor.
  3. Incidents that require additional investigation by the agency must be reported immediately to the instructor of record who in turn reports the incident to the appropriate program coordinator. Should the student be questioned about the incident by the agency staff or any other party after the initial reporting process, the student should decline to respond until the instructor is present.
  4. In most situations, agency incident reports cannot be photocopied; therefore, the student and instructor will need to write a narrative description of the incident. The description should be sufficiently detailed so as to clearly describe what occurred. A copy of this report should be forwarded directly to the appropriate program coordinator. The report is a confidential document and will be kept in a locked file. It will not become a part of the student's permanent file. (Medication errors may be documented on the Decker incident report form, see #5.)
  5. In addition to completing a Decker Incident Report form, a University Accident or Injury Reporting form (CS-13 form) must be filed with the University's Environmental Health and Safety Office within three days of the incident.
  6. In situations where the agency does not view the situation as a reportable incident but faculty/student believe it to be an unusual occurrence, a narrative report must be completed and forwarded as described under #4 above. 

Violation of Nursing Standards Graduate (VNSG) Policy

Reviewed 3/2020

In accordance with the Decker School of Nursing's mission to prepare future providers and managers of care, the Violation of Nursing Standards Graduate Policy (VNSG) requires students to abide by the following rules and regulations while enrolled in the program:

A violation may be issued any time a student is not compliant with the bulleted items above.

Records of violations are tracked and recorded internally. Immediately following a violation, the VNSG report will be completed and submitted by the issuer of the violation. Once a VNSG is reported, the student will receive the following to his/her official Binghamton University email:

  1. Description of the violation
  2. Consequences
  3. Required remediation instructions, if necessary
  4. Instructions for submitting comments (optional)

Course faculty or administration may require remediation to address the VNSG. A student who successfully completes required remediation may be allowed to continue in the program. Despite remediation, three violations in one course will result in course failure. Five cumulative violations will result in dismissal from the Decker School of Nursing. A single incident that is determined to have produced serious actual/potential harm may also result in dismissal.

If remediation is required, failure to complete the assigned remediation(s) will result in more severe consequences (and may include immediate dismissal). Dismissal from the nursing program as a result of a VNSG is final and may be recorded on the student's official Binghamton University transcript.

Violations of federal, state and/or local laws will result in a report to law enforcement officers. A student may initiate the DSON's Grievance Policy as a formal appeal process. Future readmission of students who have been severed for VNS/VNSG will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Questions about this policy should be directed to the graduate program director. 

Code of Ethics for Nurses

The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes or the nature of health problems.

The nurse participates in establishing, maintaining and improving healthcare environments and conditions of employment conducive to the provision of quality healthcare and consistent with the values of the profession through individual and collective action.

The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group or community.

The nurse participates in the advancement of the profession through contributions to practice, education, administration and knowledge development.

The nurse promotes, advocates for and strives to protect the health, safety and rights of the patient.

The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national and international efforts to meet health needs.

The nurse is responsible and accountable for individual nursing practice and determines the appropriate delegation of tasks consistent with the nurse's obligation to provide optimal patient care.

The profession of nursing, as represented by associations and their members, is responsible for articulating nursing values, for maintaining the integrity of the profession and its practice and for shaping social policy.

The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to preserve integrity and safety, to maintain competence, and to continue personal and professional growth.

©2015 American Nurses Association

View the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics with interpretive statements. 

Graduate Uniform Policy

Revised 3/2020, Graduate Admissions and Academic Standards

Decker School of Nursing students are responsible for maintaining professional behavior and appearance. The dress code policy for Decker School of Nursing students is outlined below. Both clinical (direct patient care) and nonclinical (i.e., clinical preparation, community observations) attire is addressed. Student concerns about any component of this dress code should be discussed with the assigned clinical faculty in advance. Faculty have discretion to determine whether or not a student is in compliance with these policies.

Graduate students are required to follow the uniform policy and any additional dress code regulations of the agency where they are participating in clinical experience(s).

If there are conflicting dress codes, the more restrictive policy applies. Failure to follow the Decker School of Nursing Graduate Uniform Policy and any additional requirement from the clinical agency may result in a VNSG and dismissal from the clinical day and thus counted as a clinical absence. The ability to recover that clinical time is not guaranteed and may impact student success in that clinical course.

All graduate nursing students should wear a clean white lab coat (with the Decker logo on the left side) during all clinical experiences except in agencies that do not routinely use lab coats. Contact your clinical preceptor prior to participating in clinical experiences to determine what is most appropriate.

All students must be professionally dressed, which includes no athletic wear such as sweatpants, yoga pants or leggings. All undergarments should not be visible at any time.

Binghamton University ID

  • Must be visibly displayed at all times
  • Must include Binghamton University logo, the student's first and last names and designation "Nursing Student"


  • Heel height must be 1½ inches or less
  • Must be clean and intact
  • No open toes or open-heeled footwear allowed


  • Must be well groomed
  • Must be a natural color
  • Long hair must be contained, pulled back, off neck and not touching collar
  • Facial hair must be trimmed and groomed


  • A wedding band is the only ring allowed 
  • A watch is the only wrist jewelry allowed
  • Piercings
    • Only two piercings per ear lobe allowed
    • Earrings must be small, nondangling
    • No gauges, tongue, nose or other facial jewelry/piercings allowed
      • Skin-colored spacers are allowed for piercings that cannot be removed for long periods of time
      • Jewelry that can't be removed may be covered


  • Short, clean, trimmed
  • Clear nail polish only that is intact, no chipped polish
  • Refer to the clinical agency dress code policy for acrylic or artificial nails, including gels


  • Must be covered with make-up or clothing
  • Meet in person with the program coordinator for any issues with tattoo covering


  • No perfumes, aftershave or scented body products based on agency policy 

Student Services 

Advisement Assistance in Program Planning

All graduate students should become familiar with the University Bulletin, the Graduate School Manual and this Decker School of Nursing Graduate Student Handbook.

Students should seek advisement from their assigned faculty advisor early and as often as necessary.

Students receive a program plan at Orientation before beginning their program of study that identifies part-time or full-time study status. This program plan will remain on file in the Graduate Program Office. All students should follow this program plan to degree completion. Permission to deviate from this program plan is required from the faculty advisor and the director of graduate nursing programs.

Faculty advisors make notations on advisement record forms regarding advisement sessions and the proposed program plan to complete remaining degree requirements. These advisement forms are kept in the student folder. This documentation serves as a record of the student's progress throughout the curriculum for the student, faculty, advisor and program offices, and is used to monitor student completion of program requirements. The student is urged to request a copy of advising notations and of the proposed program plan as developed by the student and assigned faculty advisor.

As a graduate student, petitions for exception to policy may be submitted. (See Petitioning an Academic Regulation in this handbook.) 

Each matriculated graduate student is assigned a faculty advisor who works to advise the student on curricular progression throughout their program(s) of study. Nonmatriculated students are encouraged to seek program planning and academic advisement from the director of graduate programs or a professional academic advisor.

In consultation with a faculty advisor, an appropriate program of study is planned for each student. It is important for the student to complete prerequisites for courses as specified and to be aware that certain courses must be taken in sequence or concurrently. Ongoing regular communication with the faculty advisor is strongly encouraged to ensure all requirements for award of degree are completed as appropriately outlined on the program plan. Failure of students to follow the program plan as prescribed may result in a delay of graduation until all degree requirements are completed. 

Advanced Practice Certifications

(Nurse practitioner certifications, educational [course] completion verifications and hospital certification requests)

For the initial (i.e., upon the student's graduation) nurse practitioner (NP) certification process after completion of an NP program, DSON submits specific Certification of Professional Education forms as required by New York state (and/or other states, as well as national testing agencies) on behalf of any student who completes an NP program. This is done at no charge to the student. Additional (multiple) certification requests placed by alumni for state and/or national certifications and/or hospital privileges may be assessed a $10 charge per verification/certification. A fee of $25 may be assessed for complicated documentation for hospital privileges or certification. Fees for extensive requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the director of graduate nursing. 

Decker Student Organizations 

Graduate Nursing Student Organization

Graduate students have opportunities to participate in the governance of their student life through membership in the Graduate Student Organization (and through service on Decker School of Nursing standing committees).

The Graduate Nursing Student Organization coordinates program-wide activities and is responsible for the administration of its budgeted allotment from the Binghamton University Graduate Organization. The money received funds outside speakers, conferences and educational materials for graduate student enhancement. 

Sigma Theta Tau International

Zeta Iota Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the international honor society of nursing, recognizes superior academic achievement, academic integrity, professional leadership potential and/or marked achievement in the field of nursing.

The purposes of the chapter are to:

  • Recognize superior achievement
  • Recognize the development of leadership qualities
  • Foster high professional standards
  • Encourage creative work
  • Strengthen commitment to the ideals and purposes of the profession

Eligibility for membership in the Zeta Iota Chapter is by invitation (see below for criteria). Inductions are held during the academic year. An invitation to become a member of the nursing honor society is a distinct honor and a privilege.

  • Undergraduate students who have completed at least one-half of the courses in the nursing major and have a grade point average of 3.0 and rank in the highest 35% of the senior class qualify for invitation to membership.
  • Graduate students (master's and doctoral) must have completed one-fourth of the nursing curriculum; achieved academic excellence (at schools where a 4.0 grade point average system is used, this equates to a 3.5 or higher); and meet the expectation of academic integrity.

The Binghamton Nursing Honor Society was founded April 26, 1980. It became a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International April 24, 1982. 

Graduate Nursing Student Policies and Requirements 

Petitioning an Academic Regulation

A student may petition for an exception to a policy or requirement by completing the Petition for Exceptions to Academic Policies form. A committee will decide outcomes of student petitions for exceptions to education policy. Appeals of petitions denied by the committee are made to the dean of Decker College. 

The petition form should include all relevant information regarding the situation, why the student wants to petition for an exception to policy and what outcome the student is seeking. Students may use this petition to request changes in academic load, major or program; late course add/withdrawals; grade changes; leaves of absence and any other policies.

Students should not use this form to petition for the following:

Process for petitioning

  • Students should discuss their situation with their assigned faculty advisor (and instructor/instructors if applicable) or the Decker Division of Advising and Academic Excellence.
  • If the situation indicates the need for a policy exception, the student must complete the Petition for Exceptions to Academic Policies form. Students should read the form carefully and fill it out completely. Describe the request for exception and give reasons for making the request. Send via email to the committee chair the following: appropriate supporting documents such as catalog course descriptions, course outline or syllabus, letters from instructors or department chairpersons, supporting statements from advisors or instructors, or any additional information that will help committee members decide how best to meet the educational interests of the student. Students will be notified if the petition is unclear or has insufficient information. 
  • Students will receive a decision regarding their petition within 15 business days after the committee receives the petition. All voting members of the committee will vote on petitions electronically. The chair of the committee will send notification of the petition to the committee members. Voting members will vote and include rationale for the vote within 10 business days of receiving the petition; there will then be another five business days before the final vote is tallied. The student will be notified of the petition decision via email.
    • If a petition is deemed to require additional discussion, it will be reviewed at the next scheduled committee meeting.
  • Students should consult the Division of Advising and Academic Excellence for information on committee meeting dates, the name of the chair of the committee or if they have questions about the petition process.

Student Request to Change Program Role or Specialization

Students must submit a Decker Petition for Exceptions to Graduate Decker Policies form to request a change in program role or specialization. Students must submit the petition 90 days prior to the first day of the next semester and indicate the reason(s) for requesting a role or specialization change. Petitions will be reviewed by the appropriate program coordinators, the Office of Clinical Placement and the graduate program director within 30 days. Students will be notified of the final decision by the chair of the Graduate Admissions and Academic Standards Committee. No consideration for program change will be granted when the request is made for the semester in which the student is currently enrolled. Submission of a request does not automatically result in approval. (Initiated by GAAS 2/22/21; approved by DNP Committee 3/10/21; approved by MS Committee 3/08/21; Revised 3/12/21)

Academic Load/Progression Level

(full-time versus part-time program enrollment)

Students are admitted as part-time or full-time matriculated students when beginning their program of study at the Decker School of Nursing. See the Full-Time Working Toward Degree Status policy in the University Bulletin. Permission is required to change from part-time to full-time OR from full-time to part-time. Students wishing to change their academic load status should consult with their faculty advisor and then must complete the Petition for Exceptions to Academic Policies form

Registration/Course Add, Drop, Withdraw

The University's Office of Student Records and Registrar Services requires that all University students meet registration-related deadlines. See the current add/drop/withdraw deadlines. Official policies and procedures related to registration are presented in the Graduate School Manual.

Although the Decker School Graduate Program Office assists students when questions arise, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to verify they are registered for the appropriate courses each semester to ensure appropriate progression to award of degree is maintained. 

Continuous Registration and Leave of Absence

Binghamton University's official policy regarding continuous registration and leave of absence is presented in the Graduate School Manual.

Continuous registration

All students who have been admitted into a degree-granting program must maintain continuous registration each major semester (fall and spring) for a minimum of one credit hour.

Students who have begun a semester and then find they cannot finish that semester should officially withdraw from their courses (see the University Registrar's withdrawal webpage). Readmission is not automatic. Students who are readmitted are required to register and pay for one credit for each semester they have not registered, plus one credit for the semester they re-enter, up to a maximum of four credits.

Students who wish to enroll in one credit of continuous registration (NURS 700) should discuss this with their faculty advisor. Students should then contact the Graduate Nursing Program Office for assistance in registering for NURS 700.

Leave of absence

Binghamton University's official policy regarding continuous registration and leave of absence is presented in the Graduate School Manual.

A leave of absence is granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as prolonged illness or other unusual personal hardship, and requires detailed justification. Students on leave are excused from the registration requirement during the period of the leave. Leaves are normally granted for six months; if necessary, an extension of another six months, for a total of up to one year, may be approved. If possible, requests for leaves of absence should be submitted one month prior to the semester for which the leave is requested.

Students requesting a leave of absence should:

  1. Consult with their faculty advisors 
  2. Complete the Application for Graduate Student Leave of Absence: this is submitted by uploading it into the the petition in #3 below
  3. Complete the Petition for Exceptions to Academic Policies form: students will upload the application in #2 above through this petition form; once approved by Decker's Graduate Program Office, the application will be submitted to the Graduate School on the students' behalf

When a leave of absence is granted, the period of leave of absence is not counted against the time limitation for completing a degree. During the period of leave of absence, students are not eligible to participate in the student insurance plan.

Students must be registered during the semester their degree requirements are completed. 

Grade of Incomplete

Binghamton University's official policy regarding Incomplete (I) grades is presented in the Graduate School Manual.

Requests for extensions of Incomplete grades require the approval of the course instructor and the dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee. 

The Decker School requires that an internal DSON Incomplete Contract between student and faculty member be drawn up to identify the remaining course objectives to be completed and a deadline by which the work is to be submitted to the instructor for grading. Incomplete Contract forms are available in the Graduate Nursing Program Office, AB-110.

The Incomplete Contract will help the student and faculty member avoid the student's grade of Incomplete changing to a grade of NC or No Credit — an action that will automatically transpire via Banner when a faculty member does not enter a letter grade in place of the grade of Incomplete within the normal grading period after semester classes are over. Once an Incomplete grade has changed to a grade of NC, the student has no further opportunity to complete the course and the course will appear on the final transcript as No Credit. The Incomplete Contract is also used to monitor student progress in completion of coursework and the degree and/or certificate.

Incomplete and missing grades must be resolved before students can receive a graduate degree. Because students are using University resources and services, students must be registered in the term for which the Incomplete grade is converted to a grade. 


See Binghamton University's official Graduate School policy on withdrawals and the University Registrar's official policy on withdrawal and related information.

Prior to withdrawing from the Decker School of Nursing, the student must obtain approval from his/her program coordinator and the graduate program director.

See Binghamton University's official Graduate School policy on continuous registration for penalties that result from failure to maintain continuous registration. 


See Binghamton University’s official Graduate School policy on readmission.

NOTE: Students applying for readmission must pay a new application, fee as well as additional fees for prior semesters missed between enrollment. 

Preparation of Written Assignments for Nursing Courses

Students in nursing courses are required to type all written assignments unless specifically advised otherwise. It is assumed that students begin the nursing major with strong writing skills. In addition, the school has adopted the use of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, latest edition. All papers must be submitted using APA format.

Policy regarding MS synthesis assignment
If a general examination is required for the student's master's degree, the dean, chair or director of graduate programs appoints an examination committee. The examination committee consists of at least three faculty, one of whom is normally the principal advisor. The examination may be written or oral, or a combination of both. The decision for pass or fail shall be by majority vote of the examiners.

Master's synthesizing assignments will be graded by a committee of DSON faculty that consists of a chairperson and a committee person, both of whom are Decker graduate faculty members. Papers will be independently graded by both faculty using the DSON grading rubric provided to students. Students must achieve a grade of 83 or higher on the paper as determined by both faculty.

Students who are not successful on the first attempt may repeat the paper for a second attempt after receiving feedback from both faculty members. This feedback will be documented and reviewed verbally with the student, chairperson and committee member.

Failure to achieve a score of 83 or higher on the second attempt will be considered a failure of the assignment and will be referred to the graduate program director for confirmation within two weeks. If the graduate program director confirms a grade of less than 83, the graduate program director, chairperson and committee member will meet to identify and verify specific content areas where synthesis of graduate nursing concepts and clinical competency were not demonstrated in the assignment. A plan for remediation may be offered that could include repeating specific graduate courses and/or additional supervised clinical hours to support the student's clinical competency and academic success. Failure to participate in required remediation will result in severance from the program. 

Course Transfer Policy

See Binghamton University's policy regarding transfer of credit in the University Bulletin (select "Academic Policies and Procedures-Graduate," then "Transfer of Graduate Credits from Other Universities"). You should also review Decker College's Transfer of Credit Policy in the University Bulletin (select "Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Nursing-Graduate," then "Transfer of Credit Policy").

Request for course transfer must be submitted using the Transfer of Credit form, which requires the uploading of course syllabi and official transcripts. Once a graduate student is fully matriculated in a DSON graduate program of study, credits will not be considered for transfer. 

Grading System of the Graduate School and the Decker School of Nursing

See Binghamton University's official Graduate School Grading Policy in the Graduate School Manual.

For the purpose of computing semester or cumulative averages, each letter grade is assigned a quality point value as follows:

A = 4.0 B = 3.0 C = 2.0
A- = 3.7 B- = 2.7 C- = 1.7
B+ = 3.3 C+ = 2.3 F = 0

Numerical equivalents of the assigned letter grade that are traditionally used in the graduate program are:

  • A = 93–100
  • A- = 90–92
  • B+ = 87–89
  • B = 83–86
  • B- = 80–82
  • C+ = 77–79
  • C = 73–76
  • C- = 70–72
  • D = 60–69
  • F = Below 60

These letter grade values are combined with course credit hours to produce an average. A cumulative average of 3.0 is required for graduation and to be considered in good standing in the Graduate School.

Students who drop a nursing course after the drop deadline will be assigned a grade of W (withdrawn) that will appear on the official academic transcript.

Students may repeat courses in which they received a grade of B- or lower with approval of the DSON graduate program director and the Graduate School. Students should submit a petition to the DSON Graduate Program Office. See the official Course Repeat Policy in the Graduate School Manual.

The following requirements must also be met by students enrolled in the master's of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and post-graduate certificate programs of the Decker School:

  • The Decker School will require a grade of B (= numerical grade of 83) or better in all courses required by their nursing program of study. See the official Course Repeat Policy in the Graduate School Manual. When a course is repeated, the grade received in the second attempt is substituted for the first in the computation of the student's grade-point average and in the awarding of credit. However, the first grade remains on the student transcript.
  • In every course that has a clinical component, students must pass both didactic and clinical components of the course.

Graduate Exam Review Policy

Examinations, papers and other projects should be graded within a reasonable time. The Decker faculty recognizes that the opportunity to review exams is part of the learning process. Feedback may be provided through group or individual meetings for students who wish to meet. Feedback may also be posted in the course as a document that addresses concepts in need of review. To protect the integrity of exams taken through the ExamSoft program, students may not view their actual exams or exam questions during the exam review. Faculty may provide explanations identifying rationale for correct answers or concepts missed on the exam to enhance learning. For quizzes, exams and projects completed outside of ExamSoft, it is expected that comments and corrections will be explained to students who seek explanations. The method for feedback will be at the discretion of the faculty member. All meetings will be scheduled at a time that meets both faculty and student availability. To allow a means of evaluating the work of students who ask that a grade be reviewed, instructor's grade records, test scores, syllabi and all other records pertaining to the course should be kept for two years, and graded work not returned to students should be kept for one year after course completion, in accordance with SUNY's specific record retention policy. (Initiated by GAAS 2/22/21; approved by DNP Committee 3/10/21; approved by MS Committee 3/08/21)

Requirements for Graduation

In addition to the general policies of the Graduate School, the following are requirements that must be met by students in DSON graduate programs:

  • Students must have a final cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 in those courses required for their program in nursing. However, MS in nursing, DNP and post-graduate certificate students must additionally have earned a grade of B or better in every required course for their degree program per the DSON Grading Policy.
  • Successful completion of a master's synthesis experience is required for completion of the master's program. 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 who do not timely submit the MS capstone synthesis experience paper by the indicated deadline will be assigned a new topic by the grading faculty member. The student will subsequently be required to sit the exam on site with an eight-hour time limit for completion and submission. There will be no retakes. The student's eligibility to graduate will be determined by pass or fail of this exam.
    • MS students may alternatively elect to complete a MS thesis to fulfill the MS synthesis experience requirement. Students register for an independent study course through the DSON Graduate Program Office when electing to complete a MS 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 in the Graduate School Manual. Students selecting the thesis option must seek advisement from their faculty advisor one year prior to graduation.
    • Students enrolled in the master's program are expected to complete degree requirements within five years.
  • Successful completion of a DNP Scholarly Project is required for successful completion of the DNP program. See the DSON's DNP Handbook for details.
  • See applicable graduation policies and procedures in Binghamton University's Graduate School Manual

Probation Policy of the Graduate School

See Binghamton University's official Graduate School policy on probation

Expectations Regarding Computer Literacy

It is expected that all graduate students in the Decker School of Nursing will have a level of computer literacy before they begin graduate study. The expectation for literacy is defined in the following list of expected competencies.

The student will:

  1. Understand Windows or an equivalent operating system so the student can save files and copy files with ease
  2. Use basic computer applications such as word processing software applications (e.g., Microsoft Word), spread sheet applications (e.g., Excel) and email programs
  3. Be fairly competent in keyboard skills

Students will not be asked to document or demonstrate these skills prior to admission; however, in courses where these skills are required, students who do not have them will be at a great disadvantage. Instructors will not assume responsibility for remediation of these skills. If you need to develop these skills, several options are available.

  • Workshops are available on Binghamton's campus and may also be available in your local area. Contact Binghamton University's Information Technology Services for information.
  • Formal computer coursework is not necessary. Some students have found it helpful to seek guidance from friends and family members who have familiarity with word processing and internet searching.
  • The Decker School of Nursing has some software available that will provide self-learning. Contact the Kresge Center for Nursing Research for availability.

If you have questions, contact the Graduate Programs Office for assistance. 

Declaration of Candidacy

(Binghamton University and Decker School of Nursing)

At the beginning of the semester in which a student intends to graduate, the student must complete the Graduate Application for Degree form(s). These forms must be completed by the University deadline to ensure your name will be in the Commencement program and that you receive important Commencement information in a timely manner. A cumulative average of at least 3.0 is required for a graduate degree. See Grading Policy

Independent Study Guidelines

Independent study is a mechanism by which students can study a definitive area in depth under the direction of faculty members. Students engaged in independent study are responsible for their own learning within the guidelines of the learning contract established with the supervising faculty member. Independent study can be counted as elective credit and may, with the approval of the director of the graduate program, be used in place of a regular course. Note that extenuating circumstances must be validated by the director to accommodate a request for the use of an independent study in place of a normal course offering. The grade option (normal letter grade versus pass/fail) for independent study is determined by the faculty member in consultation with the student.

Students who wish to pursue independent study should use the following procedures:

  • Meet with faculty who have expertise in the area to be studied to determine faculty willingness to supervise
  • Obtain an Independent Study form from the Graduate Program Office and request that the faculty supervisor sign it
  • Return the signed form to the Graduate Program Office to complete the registration procedure
  • Establish the learning contract with the faculty supervisor, including objectives, work plan and evaluation procedures

If the independent study involves a clinical component, the following procedures should be followed in addition to those previously stated:

  • Clinical placement must be facilitated through the clinical site coordinator in consideration of the goals and objectives of the independent study
  • Student and faculty supervisor will clearly articulate in writing the learning objectives and evaluation procedure(s) to the clinical preceptor prior to the student's initial clinical experience for the independent study
  • It is required that the student and faculty supervisor confer with the clinical preceptor on a regular basis to discuss the student's clinical performance and progress towards fulfillment of objectives
  • The assistant in the Graduate Program Office must be notified at the time of registration when an independent study to be undertaken has a clinical component so the appropriate malpractice and liability insurance fee is attached to the course, providing required coverage 

Nurse Practitioner NYS Prescribing Requirement

Nurse practitioner students are required to complete the Prescribing Information for Nurse Practitioners and Midwives or Prescriptions and Record Keeping continuing education courses in New York state prior to taking the NP role I course. There is a fee to complete this New York state requirement, resulting in two continuing education contact hours upon successful completion. Students are required to upload a copy of the evidence of completion into Typhon in the field entitled, "NY State Prescription Writing Exam Completion." Nurse educators and administrators are not required to complete this requirement. 

Clinical Placements

Clinical placements must be made through the DSON clinical site coordinator. Requests for specific preceptors can be made, however, may not always be available. Students may identify a specific site to the Clinical Placement Office. The site and preceptor must be evaluated for clinical appropriateness by the clinical site coordinator.

In some clinical courses, student preference of clinical site may be considered. Students will not be placed for an educational clinical experience at their work site or where they have direct supervisory responsibilities, with his/her own personal care provider or with a relative or significant other. Such a situation often contributes to role confusion and the potential for a conflict of interest. In health organizations with multiple sites, a placement at a site other than the student's actual work site within the employing organization may be considered and will be done at the discretion of DSON faculty. The DSON reserves the right to make final clinical placements based upon student, course, preceptor, agency and DSON needs.

Graduate Nursing Student Financial Aid, Scholarships and Funding 

Financial Assistance

The Decker School of Nursing has a limited number of teaching, graduate and research assistantships. Teaching assistantships require full-time enrollment and may provide partial tuition scholarships. Activities involve assisting faculty in teaching and research. See DSON funding and scholarship information online, including the application requirements to be considered.

Some professional nurse traineeships, with monies allocated by the Division of Nursing, Department of Health and Human Services, may also be available. Traineeship awards require full-time enrollment and may include a tuition scholarship. Other fellowships may be available.

Students who request financial assistance are responsible for completing and returning application forms on an annual basis. Decisions are made early in the summer as soon as all necessary information about financial support has been received.

The acceptance of financial assistance, in the form of an assistantship or traineeship, is regarded as a contract between the DSON and the student. Any changes require mutual consent and should be considered only in extreme circumstances. Students who do not maintain appropriate enrollment during the semester will incur a debt to the University in the form of tuition payback. Therefore, the decision to drop all or part of the coursework must be made after careful thought as students may incur a debt equal to the total cost of tuition for the semester

To be eligible for funding, a student cannot have any Incomplete grades. Any Incomplete grades must be replaced by a letter grade before the start of each semester. 

Procedures for Initiating Fellowships, Assistantships and Traineeships

All students awarded financial assistance for a fellowship, assistantship or traineeship:

  1. Must return all necessary forms completed and signed to the DSON Dean's Office, AB-108.
  2. Must report to the University Graduate Office, AD-134, within the first two weeks of every semester to complete all necessary payroll forms.
  3. Must report to the Sponsored Fund Payroll Office, BI-1213, (traineeship and grant funded TA/GA) to complete necessary payroll forms.

Failure to complete these procedures may result in a loss of stipend and/or tuition assistance.

Information regarding other forms of financial assistance is available in the DSON Graduate Program Office and the Office of Financial Aid Services


A limited amount of scholarship funding is available directly through the DSON. These include the Decker Foundation, alumni and other scholarships. Each award has different requirements for eligibility. Applications are available in spring semesters (usually mid- to late-March) and decisions are made during the summer. Students must be matriculated to be eligible for these scholarships. See the Graduate Tuition and Funding webpage for more information. 

Research Funding

There are sources of funding for graduate students in the Decker School of Nursing who wish to complete a research project.  

Sigma Theta Tau

The local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (Zeta Iota) may support the research of its members. Sigma Theta Tau applications are available by contacting one of the officers of the chapter. Applications are accepted twice a year. Applications are reviewed and funds approved by the Zeta Iota Chapter Research Committee.

Other sources of funds to support theses are available through community groups and agencies. For assistance locating possible funding sources, speak with staff in the DSON Graduate Program Office or Kresge Center for Nursing Research or the chairperson of your thesis/dissertation committee. 

Graduate Nursing Program Curricula 

Master's and Post-Graduate Programs

Decker School of Nursing Master's and Post-Graduate Program Outcomes

MS Essential I: Background for Practice from Science and Humanities

Integrates nursing and related sciences including emergent genetic/genomic evidence into the analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation of advanced nursing care to diverse populations while accounting for client values and clinical judgment.

MS Essential II: Organization and Systems Leadership

Enacts leadership skills and behaviors to assure high quality, culturally responsive, cost effective health care within a variety of organizational systems and in collaboration with interprofessional teams and using sound economic principles.

MS Essential III: Quality Improvement and Safety

Initiates quality improvement methods to ensure client safety and improve health care outcomes by monitoring, analyzing evaluating health care data within complex health care systems.

MS Essential IV: Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice

Translates evidence into practice through application of relevant theory, use of clinical practice guidelines, critical appraisal of research, and acquisition/dissemination of knowledge to resolve practice problems, enhance healthcare delivery, and improve health outcomes for aggregates.

MS Essential V: Informatics and Healthcare Technologies

Employs information management systems and emerging technologies to deliver and coordinate care across multiple settings, analyze point of care outcomes, ensure safe and effective quality care, support lifelong learning and health literacy, and communicate health information with individuals and groups.

MS Essential VI: Health Policy and Advocacy

Promotes social justice by advocating, analyzing, interpreting, developing and implementing health care policy at the institutional, local, state and/or federal level for the betterment of nursing practice and healthcare delivery.

MS Essential VII: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Client and Population Health Outcomes

Uses effective verbal and written communication strategies to develop and lead interprofessional teams and partnerships to promote and improve client and population health outcomes.

MS Essential VIII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving Health

Synthesizes principles and determinants of health to advance equitable and proficient services for health promotion and the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of responses to health or illness in individuals, families, communities, and aggregates/clinical populations.

MS Essential IX: Master's Level Nursing Practice

Ensure the delivery of safe, quality, evidence-based care to diverse populations presenting with complex health care problems in a variety of settings at the local, state, national or global level exemplifying the highest standards of the profession.

MS Essential X: Ethics

Demonstrates accountability for personal and professional conduct exemplifying core nursing values and ethical behaviors, and consistent with the legal scope and standards of practice. 

Master's Programs of Study

The Decker School of Nursing offers a program at the graduate level leading to a Master of Science (MS) degree. The major and clinical specialization is in family nursing, family psychiatric mental health nursing, community health nursing or adult-gerontological nursing. Students will select a functional role as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administrator (see the MS program webpage, "Functional role options" for a current list of which functional roles are available in which clinical specialization areas).

Students may pursue a dual functional role — with the exception of nurse educator which can only be the primary functional role or pursued as a post MS certificate or by permission of the director of graduate nursing programs — by completing additional course credits and are strongly advised to meet with a faculty advisor to help develop a curriculum plan to include the appropriate course credits that will result in successful completion.

Interprofessional Education
In 2017 the Decker School of Nursing, in collaboration with the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the College of Community and Public Affairs, initiated interprofessional education to prepare nurse practitioner graduates to be well prepared as integral members of the healthcare team. Collegiate Commission of Nursing Education and the Institute of Medicine strongly encourage that advanced practice nurses receive this content during graduate-level education.

Beginning in fall 2017 all full-time Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner master's in nursing students will complete assignments in healthcare delivery (NURS 532) with pharmacy, social work and master of public health (MPH) students. In the subsequent semester, foundations of interprofessional communications will be included in FNP specialization I (NURS 521) and A/G I (NURS 511) courses. 

Family Nursing

This clinical focus prepares the nurse as an expert in family-centered healthcare family nursing. Graduates are able to assess the health status of client families; provide expert nursing care; coordinate the care given by others; and assume leadership, consultative and teaching roles with clients and other health personnel. Research skills are used in the analysis and evaluation of nursing practice. All students must complete core courses that address nursing theory, health assessment, nursing research, professional issues and the healthcare delivery system. The curriculum is enriched by support courses as well as electives. The clinical focus is family nursing, where the family is viewed as a unit that both affects and is affected by its members.

Students are urged to pursue personal and professional goals through their electives, and some opportunity exists for concentration in a specific phase of the life cycle. Functional role courses prepare students as either nurse practitioners, educators or administrators. Students elect one of these role options (see the MS program webpage for a chart showing current, available role options for this specialization). 

Graduates of the Family NP program will be eligible to apply for New York state licensure as a family nurse practitioner. They will also be eligible for national certification as a family nurse practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP). 

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 as a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Nurses who have a master of science degree in nursing may enroll in the post-graduate family nurse practitioner certificate program. 

Graduates of the Family Psychiatric Mental Health NP program will be eligible to apply for New York state licensure as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. They will also be eligible for national certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (across the lifespan) through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

Community Health Primary Care Nursing (Family with a Community Health emphasis)

Graduates of this program are committed to aiding the community to achieve optimal health. Graduates are able to assess and diagnose actual and potential health problems of the community; work with families, groups and communities; and assume provider, consultative, leadership, facilitative and evaluative roles with the community. In addition, graduates are able to apply sociocultural, public health, epidemiological and advanced nursing theory to the care of families, groups and communities. Research skills are used in the analysis and evaluation of nursing practice. All graduates must complete core courses that address nursing theory, family theory, health assessment, nursing research, professional issues and the healthcare delivery system. Support and elective courses enrich the program.

Functional role courses prepare students as nurse educators, nurse administrators or community health primary care nurse practitioners (see the MS program webpage for a chart showing current, available role options for this specialization). 

Graduates of the Community Health Primary Care NP program will be eligible to apply for New York state licensure as a community health primary care nurse practitioner. They will also be eligible for national certification as a family nurse practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP). 

Adult-Gerontological Nursing (primary care)

The population focus of adult-gerontology encompasses the young adult through the older adult, including the frail elderly. Thus, nurses educated and certified in the adult-gerontology population are educated and certified across both areas of practice — adult and gerontology. Graduates of this program are prepared to provide advanced, primary nursing care to persons in primary, secondary and tertiary care settings. The program in adult-gerontological nursing provides students with an in-depth understanding of health and illness across the lifespan in the adult and older adult populations. They are prepared to provide advanced, primary 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 in one of four functional roles: nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administrator (see the MS program webpage for a chart showing current, available role options for this specialization). Research skills are used to analyze and evaluate nursing practice. All graduates complete core courses as well as elective and support courses. 

Graduates of the Adult Gerontological NP program will be eligible to apply for New York state licensure as an adult gerontological primary care nurse practitioner. They will also be eligible for national certification as an adult gerontological primary care nurse practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP).

Post-Graduate Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Post -graduate nurse practitioner certificate programs exist in all Decker School of Nursing clinical areas. These programs are available to students already holding a master's degree in nursing who desire preparation as a nurse practitioner. Students are expected to be competent in research and knowledgeable about nursing theory and professional issues. 

Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education

Review the program webpage for the Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education.

An online application must be completed and fee paid for enrollment to earn the certificate. This program 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: Information and Educational Technology in Nursing Education.

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: Functional Role I, Nurse Educator, Educational Philosophy and Curriculum Development; NURS 557: Functional Role II, Nurse Educator, Teaching Methods and Strategies; and NURS 590: Functional Role III, Nurse Educator, Educational Issues and Roles). Otherwise, applications for enrollment may be submitted only if applying as a post-MS student. 

The Advanced Certificate notation will appear on the official transcript upon successful completion of the advanced certificate program. 

Advanced Certificate in Disaster Management

Review the program webpage for the Advanced Certificate in Disaster Management.

The Advanced Certificate in Disaster Management 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. An online application must be completed and fee paid for enrollment to earn the certificate. 

Graduates of this certificate program are prepared to develop and implement educational programs for first responders, community-based organizations, voluntary organizations and academic institutions. Because the community health nursing and public health master's program students serve public-health agencies in rural areas and many of the employees of these agencies are unable to attend a three-hour class on a weekly basis, the certificate is offered in an online hybrid format. The on-campus meetings provide time for instruction with tabletop exercises, decontamination and hazardous material training, and for each student to present their disaster projects to each other.

The Advanced Certificate in Disaster Management requires the successful completion of four 3-credit graduate courses in disaster management for a total of 12 credits. These courses are:  

  • NURS 540: Elements of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • NURS 546: Community Response to Emerging Health Threats
  • NURS 547: Community Response to Disaster Preparedness
  • NURS 549: Community Response to Chemical and Radiological Incidents

The Advanced Certificate notation will appear on the official transcript upon successful completion of the advanced certificate program. 

Advanced Certificate in Forensic Health

Review the program webpage for the Advanced Certificate in Forensic Health.

Current Binghamton University graduate students must complete an add-on certificate application. Be sure you apply to have the major code for the certificate added to your official academic record no later than one semester preceding the semester you intend to declare your candidacy (graduate) or you will be ineligible for the award.

The Advanced Certificate in Forensic Health program is open to all individuals who have a baccalaureate degree and who are interested in forensics. Potential applicants need not be students at Binghamton University; however, they do need to matriculate by applying for the certificate. An online application must be completed and fee paid for enrollment to earn the certificate.

The program requires the successful completion of three 3-credit graduate courses in forensic health for a total of 9 credits. Courses may be completed in any order. All students are required to successfully complete NURS 581G, Forensic Health of Victims, plus two additional graduate-level forensics courses to earn the certificate. Students will be expected to choose their other two courses with the advisement of the program coordinator. Students are also invited to take individual courses if they do not wish to complete the certificate. This does not require matriculation.

NOTE: If a student completed an undergraduate forensics course(s) through the Decker School at Binghamton University, he/she cannot repeat coursework of the same title at the graduate level.

The Advanced Certificate notation will appear on the official transcript upon successful completion of the advanced certificate program. 

Organization of the Curriculum

Course-specific program plans vary depending upon the student's choice of clinical and role preparation. To assure that students are on track for completing all program requirements, it is essential that students meet with their assigned faculty advisor at least once per semester. Sample curriculum plans are posted on program webpages: DNP, PhD, MS and certificate


Students should check the current course schedule or check with their faculty advisor each semester to determine what elective offerings will be available. Additional graduate elective courses in related fields are available throughout the University. 

Prerequisites or Corequisites

Many courses in the program have prerequisite or corequisite requirements. For that reason, it is important that you meet with a professional academic advisor every semester to ensure your program plan is appropriate. Course descriptions found in the University Bulletin will assist you in planning, as they list the particular corequisites and/or prerequisites for each course offered in the DSON.

Additionally, clinical and role courses are required to be taken sequentially. (For example, these clinical courses would be taken in this order: NURS 521 Nursing in Family Practice I, before NURS 522 Nursing in Family Practice II, before NURS 596 Nursing in Family Practice III. These role courses would be taken in this order: NURS 553 Functional Role I Nurse Practitioner, before NURS 554 Functional Roe II Nurse Practitioner, before NURS 555 Functional Role III Nurse Practitioner.)  

It is also optimal to take clinical and role courses paired together (for example, NURS 521 Nursing in Family Practice I and NURS 553 Functional Role I Nurse Practitioner). When clinical and role courses cannot be taken together in the same semester, the clinical courses must be taken before the role courses (for example, NURS 521 must be completed before NURS 553).

See a professional academic advisor each semester to avoid delay in your educational program. Students wishing to request permission to take a course without the necessary pre- or co-requisite must complete the Petition for Exceptions to Academic Policies form


Students have the option of writing a thesis as an elective. When the thesis option is chosen, the specific procedure outlined below should be followed.  See the Thesis and Dissertation Preparation and Completion policy in the University Bulletin for details.

  1. The process of thesis begins when the student makes an appointment with the graduate program director to discuss the topic and feasibility of doing a thesis. Since the thesis becomes a part of the student's graduate program, thesis planning needs to begin as the student gathers interest in the activity. Students selecting the thesis option must seek advisement from their faculty advisor one year prior to graduation.
  2. The director of the graduate program will suggest faculty members who might constitute the committee.
  3. The director of the graduate program will appoint the committee after meeting with the student and appropriate faculty.
  4. Faculty sign a thesis committee agreement constituting commitment to serve.
  5. Students should review the Binghamton University Graduate School thesis guidelines

Master's Synthesis Experience Project

See the University Bulletin for details. Note that full details will be provided in the specialization courses. 

Doctoral Programs 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

The PhD program in nursing is designed to prepare nurse scholars with skills and knowledge necessary to conduct research on rural health and vulnerable populations. Graduates of the program are expected to assume leadership roles in nursing related to rural health and vulnerable populations in academic and practice settings.

Review the sample curriculum plan for the PhD program

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

This program is designed to prepare nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to respond more efficiently to challenges in healthcare delivery and emerging healthcare needs for the future — tomorrow's practice. The DNP program will incorporate 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 quality 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.

Review the sample curriculum plan for the DNP program.