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Grad Program FAQ

  • If I don't have a thesis from my Master's degree is this a disadvantage when I apply to the PhD program?

    Our Admissions Committee considers your entire application package (e.g. your letter, references and your transcripts). Because you do not have a thesis, we look at what you have done since your master’s to demonstrate readiness to undertake doctoral work. For example, scholarship endeavors undertaken such as peer-reviewed publications (with a major part such as first author), co-investigator or research assistant on research projects (funded), or professional presentations. By including these activities in your letter and CV, you provide the Committee with relevant information as to how you have applied the knowledge gained in your Master’s and your readiness to commence PhD study.
  • Could you direct me to an appropriate resource person to ask about identification of a supervisor for thesis-based Master's or PhD?

    Please visit our faculty page on this website. There you will see the names and research interests of our Faculty who can supervise MSc and PhD students — it is best to e-mail or call those who match your research interests and send them a brief overview of your clinical and research interests. The earlier you invite them to meet with you and discuss your application, the better.

    If you are having difficulty selecting a potential supervisor, contact our Nursing Program Coordinator and she will suggest possible faculty for you to contact. For the course-based MSc option, you do not need to find a supervisor as the Nursing Program Coordinator will assign a faculty advisor once you have been accepted into the program.

  • What can I do after graduating with a Course-based Master's, as opposed to completing the research-based thesis Master's program?

    Both options lead to an MSc degree — the difference is that the course-based option emphasizes application of research and theory to practice. Students who enroll in this option are more interested in careers that focus on advanced practice roles in nursing. Students in both of the MSc options undertake a quantitative and qualitative research course and theory/clinical course, while course-based students take one extra clinical course, extra electives, no statistics, and complete a scholarly paper rather than a thesis.
  • If I am a recent graduate of a BScN program, who could provide an appropriate academic and clinical reference letter?

    A PBL or theory course instructor would be appropriate for your academic reference, while a clinical tutor or preceptor would be appropriate for your clinical reference. The reference you do obtain should reflect the goals within the relevant program or field to which you apply.
  • For those of us who have been out in practice for a while, are there particular referees the admissions committee would like to see for the clinical and academic reference letters?

    The clinical reference should be written by someone in authority who knows your practice well, such as your unit manager, or supervisor. If you have been out of school for some time, it may be more difficult to obtain a reference letter. You might like to consider taking a course now and use that professor to supply a reference. In some cases, applicants have submitted references from researchers for whom they have worked, who can assess the quality of writing and knowledge; however, they should not be at the level of a peer.
  • Can referee letters be sent as a complete application package or should they be sent directly to the school?

    They don’t have to be in a complete package. Clinical Reference must be in a sealed envelope sent to the Graduate Officer, or may be submited by e-mail or fax directly from the Clinical Referee to the Graduate Officer. All Academic Referees submit on line in the MOSAIC system.
  • What is the difference between the MSc Course-Based PHCNP program and the PHCNP Certificate program?

    The MSc Course-Based Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PHCNP) program is a two-year program for students meeting admission requirements who want a Master’s of Science (MSc) and PHCNP certificate. This can be completed in two years full time. At the end of the program, students write Nurse Practitioner licensing exams .

    The PHCNP Certificate program is for nurses who already have a Master’s degree and want to be a PHCNP. This program can be completed in one year, full time.

  • What is the difference between the Course-Based and Thesis-Based Master’s of Science in Nursing (MScN) programs?

    Quick answer:

    Students in both the course-based and thesis-based programs receive a Master’s of Science (MSc). Both programs include courses in nursing theory, research methods, advanced practice and electives of the student’s choice. For nurses interested in doing research, the Master’s thesis-based program includes working with a supervisor to carry out independent research. Students in the course based program are required to take more courses and complete a final scholarly paper, but do not do research.

    More comprehensive answer:

    A Master’s program in nursing is a bridge between basic and doctoral education.  While offering a foundation for academic doctoral work, nurses who attain a Master’s degree in this program also develop advanced, discipline-specific skills that serve to support careers in evidence-informed clinical practice specialties, education, administration and multi-sectoral health care delivery systems.

    Thesis-based MSc: Those who complete the thesis-based MScMS option will be able to function as novice, associate or co-investigators in their selected area of interest, where they will apply knowledge of appropriate clinical research methods, including the identification of clinical measures and the determination of clinical and program effectiveness. With their increased knowledge of the theoretical basis of nursing practice, they will be able to play a leading role in the evaluation of evolving health care systems.

    These outcomes are supported through advancing scientific theory to their professional practice. With knowledge of research methods and application of research to practice, along with their specialized knowledge and expertise, they will be prepared for leadership positions in nursing education, practice, administration and policy.

    Thesis-Based MSc–degree students are required to achieve the following objectives:

    1. Demonstrate the ability to apply advanced scientific theory to their professional practice
    2. Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate clinical research methods, including the development of clinical measures and the determination of clinical and program efficacy
    3. Complete four required half-courses and at least one additional approved half-course
    4. Complete and defend a thesis arising from a health care issue   


    Course-based MSc: Graduates who complete the course-based option share similarities in knowledge expectations, however their terminal requirements differ. The Course-Based MSc graduate is expected to apply advanced knowledge and critical discourse, synthesize theoretical and conceptual paradigms, and defend cogent recommendations in their production of a scholarly paper on a selected health care topic or issue.

    Course-Based MSc degree–students are required to achieve the following objectives:

    1. Demonstrate the ability to apply advanced scientific theory to their professional practice
    2. Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate clinical research methods, including the development of clinical measures and the determination of clinical and program efficacy
    3. Complete four required and three additional approved half courses usually centred around a theme
    4. Complete a 15- to 20-page scholarly paper on a health care topic























    Program Requirements











    7 half-courses

    Graduate seminars (10 seminars over 2 terms)





    5 half-courses

    Graduate seminars (10 seminars over 2 terms)




    Required course-based MSc courses plus 6 NP courses

    Graduate seminars (10 seminars over 2 terms)




    1 core course