Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELM)

APU’s Entry-Level Master’s in Nursing (ELM) program is designed for students who hold baccalaureate or higher degrees in other disciplines but want to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

The Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing is an accelerated graduate nursing program designed for students who desire to enter the nursing profession and hold a baccalaureate or higher degree in other disciplines. During their first four semesters, admitted students complete all prelicensure courses (theoretical and clinical) in an accelerated format, as well as selected graduate nursing courses, followed by a clinical residency, in preparation for the RN licensure examination. Students then continue with courses and preparation leading to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

This program meets the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) requirements for licensure and is available at APU’s regional locations in Monrovia, San Diego, and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino).

The ELM program prepares nurses to enter professional nursing and, subsequently, advanced practice roles. Students are prepared to take the NCLEX for RN licensure, to apply for a California PHN certificate, and to be eligible to apply for state certification, and may also apply for national certification by examination in advanced practice specialties upon successful completion of the required postlicensure courses.

Additional Requirements

At the beginning of clinical coursework, graduate students are required to provide documentation concerning certifications, results of background checks, screening tests, and immunizations. Refer to the Student Handbook and specific program manuals or course syllabi for details.

Program Requirements

The four-semesters-plus-clinical-residency prelicensure portion of this program is offered in an intensive cohort model format and must be taken in full-time study. Courses are offered primarily in a face-to-face format, on a fixed schedule, with required clinical experiences that may be scheduled Monday through Sunday on any shift.

Semester 1
GNRS 500Conceptual Foundations of Professional Nursing3
GNRS 517Fundamentals in Nursing Practice2
GNRS 554Medical-Surgical Care of the Adult and Geriatric Patient 15 (3/2)
GNRS 578Health Assessment3 (2/1)
GNRS 582APathophysiology2
Semester 2
GNRS 558Intermediate Medical-Surgical Care of the Adult6 (3/3)
GNRS 564Nutrition and Therapeutics (may be taken in semester 1 if spring program start)2
GNRS 576Pharmacology (may be taken in semester 1 if spring program start)2
GNRS 582BPathophysiology2
GNRS 584Mental Health Nursing4 (2/2)
Semester 3
GNRS 504Bioethics and Healthcare Policy3
GNRS 505Christian Formation for Holistic Care3
GNRS 507Scientific Writing3
GNRS 575Nursing Care in Maternal, Newborn, and Women's Health4 (2/2)
GNRS 583Nursing Care of Children and Young Adults4 (2/2)
Semester 4
GNRS 508AResearch and Theory in Advanced Practice Nursing4
GNRS 586Leadership and Management in Professional Practice2
GNRS 587Community Health Nursing5 (2/3)
GNRS 588Advanced Nursing Care of Adults - Leadership6 (3/3)
Clinical Residency/Internship 2
GNRS 573Clinical Residency 24
Total Units69

Numbers in parentheses are classroom/clinical units.


This intensive period of clinical education and continuing preparation for practice takes place in a healthcare agency under the direct supervision of a clinical preceptor and supported by clinical faculty in the graduate program. At the same time, students review prelicensure subject matter in preparation for NCLEX examination (RN licensing exam). Successful completion of the clinical residency is required to complete the prelicensure portion of the program. The BSN is awarded at the completion of the prelicensure portion of the program.

NOTE: Before taking advanced practice clinical courses for completion of the MSN degree, the student must achieve the passing score required by the California BRN on the NCLEX exam.


In addition to coursework and clinical practicums, postlicensure students are expected to have outside clinical work experience. 

To ensure that credit will be given, students should request approval prior to taking coursework at outside institutions. A maximum of 6 units may be transferred in with prior approval.

Students must take 7 units of electives during this component of the program. Students’ programs are planned individually according to course sequencing for their clinical specialty. As an alternative to full-time study, students may elect to complete master’s degree requirements in a part-time format while taking courses each semester. Courses are offered in several modalities and will vary depending on the postlicensure specialty track. These include face-to-face, online asynchronous, and online synchronous options. 

Students may elect to write a thesis or take a comprehensive exam to complete the degree. Any student who elects to write a thesis must take GNRS 514.


University graduate admission and program-specific requirements must be met before an application is complete (see Admission to the University). Program-specific application requirements are available online.

International students should contact Graduate and Professional Admissions for application procedures.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program shall be able to:
  1. Articulate a Christian worldview, demonstrating respect for the dignity and uniqueness of others, valuing diversity, and applying spiritual concepts.
  2. Engage in scholarly inquiry and critical thinking, including evaluation and application of evidence-based research.
  3. Appraise and apply knowledge to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions that promote health and prevent disease.
  4. Demonstrate thoughtful analysis of the legal, political, ethical, and/or financial factors impacting healthcare.
  5. Use information systems and technology to communicate, manage knowledge, promote quality, mitigate error and support decision-making.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to coordinate and collaborate with other health care team professionals.
  7. Engage in clinical reasoning, effective communication, and act as change agents to develop professional identity and practice skill.