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College of Nursing

Post-Master's Certificates in Advanced Practice Nursing

Frequently Asked Questions - Post Master's Programs

What types of NP programs are offered at USC College of Nursing?

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Nursing Administration

How do prospective students apply?

Prospective students should apply online through the USC Graduate School. See the Apply section of the College of Nursing site for detailed admission requirements.

When applying for College of Nursing graduate programs through the Graduate School application, please make sure you select the correct program name (Advanced Practice Nursing-CGS).

What are the criteria for admission?

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 from all previous institutions attended for Undergraduate/Graduate degree 
  • Three letters of reference from Masters prepared registered nurse or physician who can speak to the applicant’s ability to successfully complete the certificate program outcomes
  • A personal Goal statement that reflects certificate program outcomes
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Current unencumbered RN licensure in the state of residence

When is the application due date?

October 1 (Spring Start), March 1 (Summer Start), April 1 (Fall Start)
*Applications are not renewed on a rolling basis but by each deadline.  No late applications accepted.

Is the program competitive for admission?

Yes, the program admission is competitive. Our Graduate Program is ranked #1 by US News and World Report; therefore, we seek highly qualified candidates who share our vision of excellence in education, practice, and scholarship.

How long is the program?

The length of time to complete the program depends on a number of factors including part time or full time student status.

  • For the FNP:  18-27 credit hours
  • For the Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP:  18-27 credit hours
  • For the Psych NP:  18-27 credit hours

Can a I go part time or full time?

Students can go part time or full time. Full time is 6 credit hours per semester, part time is 1-6 credit hours per semester (except summer).

How does a student know what courses to take for their program of study?

A program adviser will help students create an individualized program of study to meet the student's needs. This program of study will outline which courses the student will take in the various semesters.

How do I find a preceptor?

The College of Nursing maintains a list of contracts/agreements on Blackboard to support Nurse Practitioner students with clinical placements.  The College encourages students to seek preceptors six months prior to beginning of course.  Also, the College of Nursing employs a Director of Clinical Partnerships to assist graduate students in making clinical connections and increasing the number of agreements for which students can use for clinical practicum requirements. Students’ professional relationships with health care providers are important when identifying potential new preceptors. Please share new, approved preceptors or settings with the Director of Clinical Partnerships in order that new agreements can be reached with the College of Nursing. The Director of Clinical Partnerships is Jeanne Cavanaugh, MN, RN, NEA-BC. She may be reached at or by phone at 803-777-7128. 

What types of practice sites does a student need for clinical?

Clinical placement setting requirements vary by course.

For the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program: Mental Health Centers, Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities, Private Psychiatric Practices, Counseling Centers, and other appropriate settings with faculty permission.

For the Family Nurse Practitioner program: Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Primary Care Practice, Pediatric Practices, Urgent Care or Minute Clinic settings, Women’s Health practices, and Emergency Departments.

For the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program: Internal Medicine, Hospitalists, Specialty Care (Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology, Trauma, Critical Care, Pulmonary, Infectious Disease) in both ambulatory and acute care hospital settings.

What types of preceptors are acceptable?

The preceptors are approved by the course faculty in each course and include physicians and experienced nurse practitioners.

For the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, licensed counselors, psychologists, and clinical mental health social workers are appropriate for the therapy portions of their curriculum.

How does a student generate a contract for a new clinical rotation placement?

Meagan English is employed by the College of Nursing Office of Graduate Studies to support the College of Nursing in establishing new agreements or contracts with approved clinical settings. Meagan English may be reached at 803-777-9505 if you identify an approved provider who does not have a current agreement/contract with the College of Nursing and is interested in establishing one. Establishing a new agreement with a setting or person can require 3 to 6 months to finalize, at a minimum.

Will students be required to travel to USC or Columbia area for check offs?

FNP and AGACNP students are required to travel to USC for check offs at least two times per clinical course with course NP faculty. Depending on the competency and mastery level demonstrated by the student, more check offs may be required. Check offs for competency is a requirement for accreditation standards. For the Psych NP students, clinical check offs are mandatory and will be arranged with course faculty.
There will be selective intensive days of Nurse Executive Leadership training TBA.

Is the course content online or does the student have to come to the Columbia campus for

All didactic course content is online. Courses are taught using the Blackboard CMS and Adobe Connect.

What is the cost of the program?

The cost of the program depends on a several factors.  Students can find an estimated cost for the program by visiting the USC Financial Aid site and the USC Busar's Office site.  

Are scholarships, loans, and financial aid available?

Financial aid is available. To determine eligibility, a student should visit this website and fill out the FAFSA form. The financial aid website also has information about loans and scholarships. . Students can also visit the College of Nursing scholarship and endowments site for information on scholarships in the College of Nursing.

How does the advisement process work?

Once admitted, the college conducts mandatory advisement two times per year for all graduate students. Students sign up for advisement is done online through the DNP Virtual Community in Blackboard. Advisement is conducted by phone or in person. Students must attend advisement to be cleared for registration in courses.

Is there a new student orientation?

The College of Nursing holds a mandatory new student orientation prior to summer, fall and spring start dates.  

Can I transfer courses into the program?

Only a limited number or type of courses can be transferred into the program. We do not accept NP foundation (advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, diagnostics) courses or clinical courses as transfers. We do not accept any transfer courses that are below a "B". There is a process for transferring courses into the University. It generally takes 6 months to obtain approval or disapproval for a course transfer.

Can I work and complete the Post-Masters Certificate  Program?

Students can generally work part time or on the weekends. Clinical courses are very labor intensive and meet during the work week. Students will have to make adjustments in their work schedule to meet the academic and clinical demands.

Is the program nationally accredited?

Yes  The master's degree in nursing and post-graduate APRN certificate at The University of South Carolina are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( through 2021.  We also meet the standards for American Nurses Association Credentialing Center, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, and the AACN Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing. 

What if I have additional questions about the program?

Please contact us at 803-777-7412, use our contact form to send us a message, or stop by our office:

Williams-Brice Building
Room 208
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208