Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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About the Program

Is this program 100% online?

Yes, 100%.  There is no need to come to campus.  Please consider, however, attending the traditional graduation ceremony.

Is the program accredited?

The baccalaureate degree and the master's degree in nursing at California University of Pennsylvania are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791.

How many students are accepted?

35 students are accepted into each cohort. 

What is a cohort?

A cohort is a group of students that starts and finishes the program at the same time.  The students work together in each course and become a professional cohort of nursing administration and leadership colleagues. 

How often do new cohorts begin?

A new cohort starts in both fall (NEW beginning 2014!) and spring semesters.

May I take courses out of sequence?

No, to maximize the program's goals, classes are offered to cohorts of students.  The expectation is that the student stays with the cohort and keeps the pace indicated in the program description and on the program website.

Will I need to visit campus from time to time?

No.  Our coursework is strategically designed to allow you to complete courses from anywhere you have internet access.     

Are GREs required for admission?

The GRE is not required for admission to the program.

Will the student have any responsibilities in setting up the nurse administrator-led practicum?

Yes, since the student must have the ability to complete a practicum with a nurse administrator preceptor in order to complete the MSN program, each student makes initial contact with a specific, available and eligible nurse administrator preceptor at the practicum site.  The student then notifies the practicum faculty (the earlier,the better),who then makes the final determination of the nurse administrator's eligibility.  The preceptor must be an experienced nurse administrator with practice skills and teaching skills.  The preceptor possesses specialized skills and knowledge in the administration and leadership of healthcare delivery systems and serves as a role model for nursing administration and leadership positions.

Do the courses have global application?

Although most of the course content, theories, and principles can apply to healthcare situations in a variety of settings, the program is based on the United States health care system.

Are comprehensive exams or a thesis required?

No. Although the program does have a research base in all courses, students are not required to complete a research study, and therefore a thesis is not required.  The Nursing Administration Practicum requires students to complete a project that addresses a selected issue, activity, or problem at the practicum site incorporating relevant theories and research.

Have the faculty been trained to teach in an online classroom?

Yes, all faculty teaching in the program have taken an eCertification course preparing them to use the technology and showing them how to teach in a web-based environment. An Instructional Designer assists faculty with course development and faculty continue to improve web-based course pedagogy and curriculum design knowledge and skills by conferring with each other and other professionals.

How can I communicate with my instructor?

Each course in the program includes a “class lounge” threaded discussion component where comments to the instructor are welcome. In this forum, when the instructor responds to your question or comment, the entire class can read the interaction. Also, the instructor’s email address is provided in the event a more personal interaction is desired. It is suggested that students read each instructor’s preferences and suggested means of communication and any applicable dates and times of contact stipulated by the instructor.

Will my degree reflect that I obtained it by online learning?

No.  All degrees awarded by California University of Pennsylvania are the same.  Since the on-campus and online program objectives and standards are the same, no differentiation is required or will reflect that the degree was earned online. 

Following completion of the MSN, am I eligible to obtain certification?

Yes. The MSN degree in Nursing Administration & Leadership qualifies you to take a certification exam in one of the following areas, depending upon other eligibility parameters:  Nurse Executive or Nurse Executive, Advanced  offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC); or Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML), offered through the American Organization of Nurse Executives Credentialing Center (AONE). An examination fee is required.

Is course credit counted towards nursing continuing education credits required for RN licensure and other professional nursing certifications?

This depends on the state in which you have your RN license and on the professional organization’s by-laws for CE’s.

STATE BOARDS OF NURSING CE REQUIREMENTS - This information is accurate as of June 19, 2013. Direct questions to your state board of nursing which may found

In Pennsylvania, Act 58 requirements, one course is considered one source of continuing education credits and one source can provide no more than 10 CEU’s, regardless of the number of academic credits. Therefore, one 3-credit course will count provide 10 hours toward the required 30 hours of continuing education. Credit for continuing education hours is given based upon the date of the course completion if it falls within the two year biennial renewal period. (Pennsylvania State Nursing Association, update 1/6/09.)

How many courses am I able to transfer into the MSN Program at Cal U?

Up to 9 credits may be considered for transfer for courses taken at another graduate nursing program which meet requirements for the MSN in Administration & Leadership program. Applicants must specify the course(s) for which they are requesting transfer credit by completing the Transfer Credit Review Form, provide the official college/university transcript, a detailed course description from the course catalog page (photocopied/printed off web site) of the college/university where the course was taken, and have received a grade of B or higher for courses under consideration for transfer credit. NOTE: Credits earned more than six years before the initial matriculation into the MSN program at California University of PA may not be transferable (pending program coordinator and graduate school approval. 

About the Courses

What can I expect academically in an online course?

You can expect the same rigor present in our traditional courses: student accountability, responsibility, participation, and drive; instructor integrity, knowledge, conscientiousness, and attentiveness. Our philosophy at California University of Pennsylvania focuses on “constant and never ending improvement” within the context of high student expectations and a forum that validates real-life experiences in an online context.

Are the courses self-paced?

Although students are expected to complete work for the course each week, the pacing of the course is left to the discretion of the individual instructor. Pacing can vary from tightly structured to loosely structured, based on the style and expectations of the instructor. In the online programs at California University of Pennsylvania, we value the busy lives of educators and bear these obligations in mind when designing and instructing online.

Do I have to login at a certain time on specific days?

No. The program is fully asynchronous allowing you the flexibility to login each week at your convenience. Some students complete their work during their lunch hour. Others complete weekly requirements on a Saturday morning, and some students complete the work late at night after the kids have gone to bed. One key to success is to stay on track and communicate regularly with faculty and other students via threaded discussion and e-mail.

If accepted, how many hours a week would I need to commit to the program?

Typical hour requirements for a course average the same time commitment as a typical three credit graduate course that would be taken as an on-campus course. This may vary depending on course requirements. All courses require weekly readings and weekly assignments based on these readings in the form of Discussion Board and/or short quizzes. In addition, courses have main course assignments.

How will I be assessed?

Assessments are derived from papers, projects, and participation in required class activities. Tests can take the any of the following online formats: true/false, completion, short answer, and essay. All assessments at California University of Pennsylvania are aligned with standards and representative of the goals of each course.

About Technical Issues

As a student, is there technical support available if I have a technical problem?

Yes, there is a Help Desk provided by D2L (our online learning platform) which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typical response time from the Help Desk is less than five minutes.  Additionally, for University related technologies, University Technology Services is available to assist.  You can reach them at 724-938-5911 or via email at

What are the computer hardware and software requirements to access the courses?

The requirements are found by clicking here. You can even run a Browser Test to see if your software is compatible.

About Admissions

How do I apply?

Review our admissions requirements and application process at this link . Click here to learn how to apply online.

I haven’t graduated with my BSN yet, but can I apply now for the MSN program?

If you are currently in an RN to BSN Program and expect to graduate before the next cohort begins, you can apply for admission to Cal U's MSN program with your partial transcripts.  You may be granted "tentative" admission, and then have to provide your final official documents when they are available following your graduation. 

Do I need to send in my transcripts from California University of Pennsylvania?

Applicants who are graduates of Cal U’s BSN program do not need to submit transcripts from California University of Pennsylvania or already submitted transcripts from other colleges/universities when they enrolled and were accepted into Cal U’s BSN program. Applicants are responsible, however, for submitting transcripts from other colleges/universities reflecting degree(s) obtained or courses taken since graduating from Cal U.

About Cost

How much does the program cost?

The approximate cost of the entire program, including tuition and fees, can be calculated using our Tuition Calculator by clicking here. This amount is always subject to change due to University wide tuition and/or fee increases.

How much are books and materials?

Books and other materials average $100-$200 per semester. Often, these expenses can be covered by the financial aid loan.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Financial aid is available through the California University Financial Aid Office.  Many students receive a National Stafford loan which usually covers the cost of the entire program.  Several students submit for partial or complete reimbursement through their employers.  Credit cards are also accepted, as well as a variety of payment options available through our Bursar's Office.

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