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University of Southern California Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online

Earn your online MSN from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing, and prepare to provide comprehensive care to patients across the lifespan as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

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About the program

  • Social work perspective: Learn holistic social work frameworks, gain an in-depth understanding of social determinants of health, and develop skills that set you apart in the nursing profession.
  • Respected nurse practitioners: Gain wisdom from USC nursing faculty who are active practitioners in their communities and who will schedule office hours or coffee chats to get to know you on a personal level.
  • Robust network: Join a close-knit, exclusive network of more than 375,000 Trojan alumni from around the globe and across industries.

About USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work was founded in 1920 with a devotion to social justice values in social work practice. The school’s Department of Nursing aligns with its founding principles through a commitment to promoting the science of nursing and advancing clinical scholarship through a social-work lens. The Nursing@USC program builds on this commitment, as it prompts aspiring FNPs across the country to consider social determinants as important factors in patient care. 

The Nursing@USC program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

Tuition and fees

Tuition and fees are subject to change and may increase each academic year. Tuition does not include student fees, technology platform licensing, or support services. Learners are also responsible for travel and accommodation costs related to any in-person immersions or residentials.

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The 49-credit online MSN to FNP curriculum teaches learners to identify the root causes of health issues. As a learner in the program, you will explore the biomedical, psychological, social, cultural, environmental, and economic influences on health care through an understanding of clinical research and evidence-based practice. Your live, online classes, on-campus intensives (OCIs), and clinical rotations will help you graduate ready to offer integrative care across the life span in your community. Featured courses include:

  • Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice: Learn about alterations in biological processes that affect the body’s dynamic equilibrium or homeostasis, and identify abnormal physiologic functions that result in illness.
  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Examine biopsychosocial dimensions of human behavior through four intellectual domains considered essential in 21st century social work practice.
  • Clinical Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing: Study the psychosocial, economic, cultural, ethical, and legal factors that affect drug therapy, patient responses, and nursing practice.
  • Professional Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing: Explore common challenges experienced by nurse practitioners in the health practice arena.
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Applicants must be registered nurses (RNs) who hold a bachelor’s degree, and who have at least one year of clinical experience as RNs. To complete an application, you will need to submit: 

  • Online application 

  • Résumé 

  • Transcripts 

  • Personal statement 

  • Three letters of recommendation

Clinical Experience


Experiential learning is integral to any nursing curriculum, and USC prioritizes real-world practice as it provides learners with the confidence and skills they need to succeed as family nurse practitioners (FNPs).

Clinical rotations: Learners complete four placement rotations in settings such as pediatric offices, urgent care sites, and family practices. Each rotation lasts 14 weeks. USC’s clinical placement team will work with you to secure placement sites in or near your community.

On-campus intensives: Learners attend two on-campus intensives in Los Angeles. During these experiences, learners connect with classmates and USC faculty in person; test classroom knowledge with skill assessment exercises and exams; and participate in activities such as motivational interviewing and lab sign-offs.

Upon completing these hands-on experiences, learners graduate socially aware and clinically competent health care leaders.

Frequently asked questions

“FNP-BC” stands for “family nurse practitioner board-certified” by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). You may also see “FNP-C” which stands for “family nurse practitioner-certified” by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. This means that the family nurse practitioner is accredited by the well-recognized, trusted national organizations.

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced-practice nurse who specializes in primary care services for patients of all ages, genders, and health conditions. FNPs seek to understand and care for their patients within the context of family and community, promoting preventative care, and general wellness.

Nurse practitioners — including family nurse practitioners (FNPs) — must earn at least a Master of Science in Nursing. Nursing@USC is an FNP program designed for registered nurses with at least one year of RN clinical experience. In as few as 21 months, learners graduate ready to offer care to infants, children, adolescents, and adults throughout their lives.

FNPs work to prevent and manage diseases and health conditions for patients across the life span, as well as provide health education and counseling. Given their advanced education, FNPs are uniquely qualified to manage acute and chronic conditions, treat minor injuries, and care for infants and children, among others. All nurse practitioners, including FNPs, are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and lab tests, diagnose disease, and formulate and prescribe treatment plans. 

Nurse practitioners (NPs) can specialize in many areas, including in pediatrics, women’s health, or geriatric care. FNPs, on the other hand, are nurse practitioners who specialize specifically in family medicine and provide care throughout a patient’s lifetime. To be an NP or an FNP, one must earn a specific NP or FNP master’s degree, which in turn requires entry with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and leading to a similar level of skill.

Both specialties are part of the nurse practitioner (NP) profession and require a master’s degree in nursing as well as extensive clinical experience. The essential difference between a family nurse practitioner (FNP) and a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is their served populations: FNPs serve a patient throughout their life span, while PNPs provide care to infants through adolescents.

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