Graduate School - Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing

Contact Information   
Amy Toone, Graduate Director
ACU Box 28035
Abilene, Texas 79699-8183

Offices located at:
2149 Hickory Street
Abilene, Texas 79601

Phone: 325-671-2361
Fax: 325-671-2386

Nina Ouimette, Associate Professor
Amy Toone, Associate Professor
Jeanne Tucker, Instructor

The mission of the School of Nursing graduate program is based on the underlying philosophy and objectives of the consortium universities. The school exists for the purpose of preparing advanced practice nurses equipped with an understanding and conceptual integration of nursing’s role in today’s complex health care environments worldwide.

The purpose of the Master of Science in Nursing program is to prepare nurses to assume leadership roles in advanced family nurse practitioner positions, educators, or managers of patient care services within a variety of institutions or health care agencies. In addition, students are guided to incorporate theory and the research process in a variety of roles and practical settings.

The graduate program of the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing (PHSSN) functions within the structure of an educational consortium consisting of Abilene Christian University and Hardin-Simmons University. It offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) with a focus on education and administration or family nurse practitioner. The program faculty
accepts the underlying philosophy and objectives of the consortium universities that individuals be educationally prepared in a manner that promotes the development of intellectual, cultural, moral and religious values.

Faculty believe that nursing is a profession that is responsive to the changing health care needs of individuals and is supported by an expanding body of knowledge. Graduate students, through study and interdisciplinary collaboration, expand their understanding of health, environment, person and nursing roles.

Building upon a baccalaureate nursing education, the faculty believes that development of critical thinking, communication, clinical skills, creativity and self-direction are essential elements in graduate nursing education. Through the educational process faculty seek to promote awareness of social, cultural and ethnic diversity, believing it enriches professional growth and development. The collaborative educational process between the faculty and students promotes progressive mastery and increased learner maturity. Implicit in advanced practice nursing is the acceptance of accountability for lifelong learning, professional growth, competent practice and effective leadership.

Program Outcomes   

          1. Demonstrate proficiency in a specific practice area;

          2. Develop strategies that incorporate theories and models from nursing and related
              disciplines for advanced practice;

          3. Implement scientific inquiry to replicate, validate and test theories relevant to

          4. Analyze cultural, social, ethical, economic and political perspectives that influence
              the health care delivery system;

          5. Integrate the multi-roles of the nurse for interdisciplinary practice and
              advancement of optimum health care delivery;

          6. Integrate critical thinking skills into oral and written communications.

Additional Outcomes for the Family Nurse Practitioner
The program outcomes of the nurse practitioner clinical concentration are to prepare nurses to provide primary care to clients of all ages in a variety of settings. The nurse practitioner has advanced expertise in the promotion and maintenance of optimal wellness and in the management of acute and chronic common health problems and chronic illnesses. Graduates of the MSN program who complete the nurse practitioner clinical concentration should be able to:

          1. Use the nursing process to deliver advanced, comprehensive primary care to
              individuals and families throughout the life cycle in a variety of settings.

          2. Assess community health education and service needs and resources and
              implement appropriate interventions and programs.

          3. Collaborate with other health care providers to develop and implement
              appropriate treatment plans for individuals and families in primary settings.

          4. Establish and implement protocols for consultation with and referral to physicians.

          5. Prepare to take a national certification exam and petition the Board of Nurse
              Examiners for recognition as an Advanced Practice Nurse.

Applicants for the Master of Science in Nursing degree must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a regionally accredited school or university whose nursing program is NLN or CCNE accredited.

Back To Top

Admission Requirements   
Admission criteria are listed in the Graduate School - Admission Requirements section of the catalog. In addition to the general Graduate School requirements, the following criteria will be required of all applicants to the nursing program. Admission to graduate study in nursing requires meeting the three academic standards as listed below and receiving endorsement of the program director.

Academic Standards
          1. Overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

          2. GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate course work in nursing.

          3. Entrance test score: Graduate Record Exam (GRE) 850 (minimum) verbal
              and quantitative.

Provisional Admission
Provisional admission to graduate study in nursing requires the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and one of the two GPA academic standards as listed above and obtaining departmental endorsement. Students granted provisional admission must maintain a 3.0 GPA during their first 9 hours of graduate work to be eligible to receive full admission and to continue graduate study. The applicant is encouraged to submit the application and all supporting documents by March 1 to receive full consideration for admission to the graduate nursing program.

Departmental Endorsement
Admission to the MS in nursing requires the following to be submitted to or conducted by the School of Nursing:

          1. Unencumbered licensure to practice as an RN in Texas and in good standing
              with the Board of Nurse Examiners.

          2. Minimum of one year of clinical nursing practice.

          3. Three letters of recommendation. Recommendations should be obtained from
              supervisors having knowledge of your clinical skills, work ethic and style, and/or
              professors attesting to your academic achievements and potential success in a
              graduate nursing program.

          4. Completion of an PHSSN application sent by the School of Nursing.

          5. Interview with program director.

          6. For students whose first language is not English, an officially reported Test of
              English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550 (written).

          7. A completed PHSSN Health Form and proof of current immunization status.

          8. ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification) is required for students prior to
              beginning clinical courses.

Back To Top



Major Code: EDAD

PHSSN offers a 38-hour program leading to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a functional major in education and administration.

Students must complete all requirements for their degree program within six years of the initial semester of enrollment.

Requirements for the MSN are:
          1. Nursing core, 9 hours:
              NURS 610 Nursing Theories for Advanced Health Care Delivery
              NURS 620 Nursing Research
              NURS 650 Policies and Strategies for Health Care Delivery

          2. Specialty core, 26 hours:
              NURS 660 Administration I: Health Care Delivery Systems and Organizations
              NURS 661 Administration II: Health Care Economics and Financial Management
              NURS 662 Administration III: Role of the Nurse Administrator
              NURS 663 Administration IV: Practicum
              NURS 670 Education I: Curriculum Design and Development
              NURS 671 Education II: Instructional Methods, Testing and Measurement
              NURS 672 Education III: Roles of the Nurse Educator
              NURS 673 Education IV: Practicum

          3. Elective, 3 hours

Back To Top



Major Code: FNP

The MSN degree with the family nurse practitioner major is a 44-hour program. Students must complete all requirements for their degree program within six years of the initial semester of enrollment. 

Prerequisites for the MSN for family nurse practitioner are proof of a physical assessment course.

Requirements for the MSN for family nurse practitioner are:
          1. Nursing core, 12 hours:
              NURS 610 Nursing Theories for Advanced Health Care Delivery
              NURS 620 Nursing Research
              NURS 630 Role Development for Advanced Practice
              NURS 650 Policies and Strategies for Health Care Delivery

          2. Specialty courses, 29 hours:
              NURS 530, 570 Pathophysiology I, II
              NURS 632, 633 Pharmacotherapeutics for Nurses in Advanced Practice I, II
              NURS 642 Advanced Health Assessment
              NURS 643 Epidemiology in Nursing Practice
              NURS 644 Skills for Advanced Practice Nurses
              NURS 651, 652, 653 Family Nurse Practitioner I, II, III

          3. Electives, 3 hours: consult with advisor.

Exit Requirements

The following criteria must be met to be eligible for graduation from the MSN program:

          1. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale);

          2. Successful completion of all course work required for the chosen degree.



The School of Nursing offers a post-master certification in advanced practice nursing with a family nurse practitioner focus. The applicant must make an appointment with the program director and the dean of the School of Nursing to determine if leveling work for the certificate may be necessary. Applicants must have a Master of Science in Nursing degree from a NLN or CCNE accredited program.

Requirements for the post-master APN certification are:

          NURS 630 Role Development for Advance Practice
          NURS 642 Advanced Physical Assessment
          NURS 644 Skills for Advanced Practice Nurses
          NURS 651 Family Nurse Practitioner I
          NURS 652 Family Nurse Practitioner II
          NURS 653 Family Nurse Practitioner III


Back To Top

Vision in Action

Watch the video above to witness the future of Abilene Christian University taking shape.

Learn more 

Connect with ACU