Alternate Entry Master of Science in Nursing (AE-MSN)

AE-MSN Program Overview

Application Deadline: October 1
Application Available: August 1 
Program Start: Summer once a year only   
Length of Program: 3 years full-time   
Degree Awarded: Master of Science in Nursing   
Part-Time Study Available? After the foundation (first) year
Distance Learning Available? Not at this time   
AE-MSN Information Sessions

If you have a bachelor's degree outside of Nursing, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing and you are a licensed registered nurse please visit the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program.

About the AE-MSN

The Alternate Entry Master of Science in Nursing (AE-MSN) program is designed for people holding baccalaureate or graduate degrees in disciplines other than nursing and who are interested in pursuing both their Registered Nurse (RN) License and Master of Science in Nursing degree. After successfully completing the rigorous academic and clinical training, AE-MSN graduates are expected to assume entry-level positions and to advance rapidly in their nursing careers as they acquire experience in the field.

AE-MSN Concentration Areas (AE-MSN students can choose from one of the following concentration areas on which to focus):

Adult - Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist includes perspectives of both health-restoration and health-promotion, while developing skills in case management. This concentration area focuses on physiological and psychosocial theories, concepts, and research underlying self-care and growth needs of individuals age 15 and up. Other commonly emphasized themes include: holism of clients, family relationships, environmental influences, conceptual thinking, and independent nursing actions.

Faculty assist students in individualizing their education by facilitating work in hospital or non-hospital clinical areas in the specialization courses. Practicum experiences provide opportunities for testing new approaches and developing advanced skills.

Graduates are eligible to take the national certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for recognition as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The curriculum also includes coursework required by the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners (TxBON) to be qualified as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). Additional requirements and experience for APN status are available from the TxBON.

Degree Plans

Clinical Nurse Specialist: Visit NACNS: CNS Institute to learn more about the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Leadership in Diverse Settings

The Leadership in Diverse Settings (LeaDS) program is a Masters level curriculum designed to respond to a national and local call for nurses to assume leadership positions in diverse healthcare settings. This program will facilitate development of a robust set of competencies preparing the graduate to provide leadership in a variety of patient-centered healthcare, community, and educational settings. The graduates of the LeaDS program will be uniquely qualified to lead change in complex, dynamic, and challenging environments. Through courses and guided experiences this program will develop leaders with:

  • Advanced Competencies for Clinical Practice
  • Advocacy Skills to Meet the Needs of Diverse and Underserved Populations
  • Commitment to Stewardship of Resources
  • Communication, Collaboration, and Negotiation Skills
  • Dedication to Developing and Renewing Others
  • Organizational Change Skills
  • Project Management Skills
  • Vision for the Future of Healthcare and Nursing Education

Degree Plans

Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program (PMHNP)

The PMHNP concentration is a 48-credit hour program that prepares graduates to provide primary psychiatric-mental health care at an advanced level to individuals of all ages and their families. Graduates will be prepared to assume responsibilities including differential diagnosis and management of psychiatric and mental health disorders through medication management and psychotherapeutic interventions including individual, group and family therapies. Graduates will also engage in health promotion and illness prevention strategies with their population. Graduates will participate in and utilize research to improve patient care and patient care systems. Graduates are prepared to work in both inpatient and community based psychiatric/mental health settings, and may work in a variety of health care settings providing psychiatric-mental health care and consultation.

Degree Plans

Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PC-PNP)

The Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner concentration focuses on the delivery of primary care to children from newborns to 21 years of age in a variety of settings. Emphases include child development, parenting, health promotion, disease prevention, and the management of common illnesses in children. Nurse practitioner skills are combined with community assessment, intervention, and management skills to broaden the scope of the clinical practice experiences. The graduate is prepared to assume leadership positions in pediatric-based health care agencies.

The Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner concentration at The University of Texas at Austin is the first nursing program in the country to offer Touchpoints training. Touchpoints is an interdisciplinary, relational, and developmental model of providing health care. Anticipatory guidance is tailored to the child's temperament and developmental level and a supportive relationship is nurtured between the practitioner and the parent.

Graduates are eligible to take the Primary Care Pediatric Nursing Certification Board examination and/or the American Nurses Credentialing Center exam for Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. The curriculum also includes coursework required by the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) to be qualified as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). Additional requirements and experiences for APN status and prescriptive authority are available from the BON.

Degree Plans

Advanced Practice Nursing (APN): Visit Advance Practice Nursing to learn about APN programs.

AE-MSN Resources

Course of Study

The Foundation Year: The AE program is designed to satisfy RN licensure requirements and train students in advanced practice and specialty nursing roles. The first year of the program is an intensive, full-time series of foundation courses. The AE-MSN Foundation Year (Pre-Licensure) Courses (PDF) are accelerated, specially designed graduate courses. These courses include content and experiences that are required to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and are required for graduate-level study in nursing. All foundation courses must be completed before students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The sequence of AE-MSN foundation courses begins in the first summer session of the program, and full-time enrollment during the foundation sequence is required.

Master’s Coursework: After passing the NCLEX-RN and obtaining their RN license, students are eligible to work as an RN in Texas only. The second and third years of the program focus on the coursework required for the Master of Science in Nursing degree in the student's chosen concentration area. The MSN degree is typically awarded in the spring of the third year.

AE-MSN Objectives

The graduate of the master's in nursing degree program is expected to have acquired the following objectives:

  1. Accept responsibility and accountability for practicing nursing at an advanced level.
  2. Critically apply theoretical perspectives, teaching/learning principles, and evidence-based knowledge from nursing and related sciences to professional nursing practice in diverse health care environments.
  3. Systematically and comprehensively investigate complex issues encountered in nursing practice to promote optimal health outcomes for diverse patients, families, and communities.
  4. Advocate for patients, families, caregivers and communities to preserve health and to access healthcare services.
  5. Propose and lead courses of action related to social, ethical, legal, economic, environmental, epidemiological, or policy issues that contribute to the delivery of safe quality health care.
  6. Use advanced communications skills to optimize health and healthcare delivery.
  7. Use relevant data and technology to inform advanced nursing practice to improve healthcare outcomes for individuals, families, communities, and systems.
Admission Requirements

All students interested in applying for graduate study in Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin must meet the admission requirements established by the University’s Graduate School and the School of Nursing. Applicants are expected to be graduates of accredited colleges or universities. Below are the minimum requirements for admission.

Below are the minimum requirements for admission:

  • Degree: Bachelor’s degree in an area other than Nursing.
  • GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale) or comparable GPA in completed upper-division work (junior- and senior-level courses) and graduate work.
  • **GRE: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within the last 5 years, is required for applicants to the AG CNS, PNP PC, and AG CNS, there are no exceptions. The GRE is not required for the LeaDs program.
  • Recommendations: 3 required and 1 reference must be from a healthcare professional. Written recommendations are not accepted.
  • Prerequisites: Completion of AE Prerequisite Courses (PDF).  See pdf for completion time requirements and policies.
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Curriculum Vitae/resume

*Applicants to the AE-MSN program are encouraged to have volunteer or work experience in a healthcare related field.

Application Procedures

Any person applying for formal admission to the AEMSN program must submit the following application materials by the October 1 deadline.

Application for Admission

Complete the online application for admissions and pay the application fee at The application is only open between August 1st and October 1st. The online application is data entry only. All supporting application documents are uploaded on the My Status page after the application is paid and submitted.

*Recommendation: Complete online application, at minimum, 2 weeks before the October 1 deadline ensuring all documents are provided by the application deadline.

Supporting Documents

  1. Official transcripts with a print day of one year or less, from all post-secondary colleges or universities attended, including community colleges. (See AE-MSN Application Checklist (PDF) for transcript upload procedures.)
    See AE-MSN Application Checklist (PDF) for transcript upload procedures.
  2. **Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores taken within five years of the intended program start date. University code 6882, no department code required. (Recommendation: Complete the GRE two weeks before the application deadline.) 
  3. Curriculum Vitae: include educational background, professional experience, volunteer experience and other relevant information (e.g., publications, scholarship and awards, professional organizations, and community activities).
  4. Personal Statement: Maximum two (2) pages. Readable font, 12-point, double spaced, 1-inch margins
  5. Recommendation: 3 required / 3 maximum
    1. Using our secure, personalized form, three (3) professional recommendations that attest to the applicant's academic ability, professional competency and personal character must be submitted electronically by each recommender.
    2. One reference must be from a healthcare professional, a nurse, physician, nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.
    3. Written recommendations are not accepted.
  6. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores taken within the past two years (for International Applicants only). 
    1. See the International Students webpage for English language requirements.
  7. Alternate Entry Prerequisite Checklist (PDF) informs the admissions committee details regarding the applicant’s prerequisite courses. The form must be fully completed and signed.

Visit the Graduate Admissions webpage for additional information.

For additional details on how to prepare your graduate application materials and personal statement instructions, please view the AE-MSN Application Checklist (PDF).

All materials must be submitted electronically to the MyStatus page that is available approximately 48 hours after the application submission.

Acceptance to Graduate Programs in Nursing

The School of Nursing Graduate Admissions and Progression Committee (GAPC) begin preliminary admission reviews after the October 1st deadline. All application materials are required to be submitted by the program’s application deadline; files that remain incomplete will not be reviewed or acted upon by GAPC.

If admitted, applicants will be notified of the admission decision by early February. Decisions are communicated in the following ways:

  1. Offers of admission are sent via email by the School of Nursing.
  2. Official e-letters from the Graduate and International Admission Center notifying you of the admission decision of the Office of Graduate Studies are available on the application Status Check page.

Acceptance by both the School of Nursing and the Office of Graduate Studies are necessary before enrollment is permitted. Please be aware, if admitted, completion of all compliance requirements are required at least one month prior to the first day of class.

NOTE: Email is the official means of communication for all university business.

If not admitted, applicants will be notified by the Graduate and International Admission Center only.

Please email Graduate Student Services Office if you have questions about the admission process.


All files are in PDF format.