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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Special Studies

Master's Specialties

Special studies

The Special Studies option creates a pathway for students who may already have certification in an advanced practice area to obtain a master of science degree. The option is 30 credits. The program plan is flexible to accommodate existing competencies and student interests. Students may select course work from their existing advanced practice specialty, or supplement their existing specialty with courses from other options. Students must have a minimum of 8 credits in one area of specialization. Students will work closely with a faculty advisor regarding academic preparation for particular career goals.


Program Plan

Master of Science in Nursing Core Courses
Advanced Practice Core Courses Required for Specialty Option
Total Credits for Special Studies


Upon completion of the nursing program, students will be prepared to incorporate pertinent knowledge, values and abilities for direct and indirect provider roles to

  • Implement caring and competent nursing practice with individuals, families and communities based on understanding the human experiences of health, illness and healing.
  • Integrate the ethical use of technology and information systems to augment the human capacity for health, facilitate decision-making, support collaboration and foster communication.
  • Promote health of local to global communities through promoting safe environments and safe and effective health care addressing the interaction among individuals, communities and their environmental contexts.
  • Manage care to achieve quality, cost-effective and ethical outcomes in the delivery of health care for individuals, families and populations.
  • Engage in leadership to promote social justice related to access, quality and socio-cultural acceptability of health care through relationship-centered caring, advocacy and empowerment.
  • Negotiate and adapt the delivery and management of health care and health care systems for diverse populations and environments.
  • Practice relationship-centered caring through self-awareness, by developing and maintaining respectful relationships, communicating effectively, and integrating the influence of the human experience of health, illness and healing.
  • Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence and integrating creative and critical thinking.
  • Participate in generating and testing knowledge regarding nursing, health care and reflective caring practice.
  • Actively engage in self-directed learning to maintain state-of-the-art nursing practice and to facilitate the education of future practitioners, paraprofessionals and healthy communities.

Competency Evaluation

Students can demonstrate masters level competencies in one or more of the following ways:

  • Previous course work at the graduate level with a minimum grade of "B" (12 credits may transfer into the student's program of study). Courses available for transfer can be no more than 5 years old.
  • Competency performance evaluation (CPE): competency performance assessments (CPAs) are paper and pencil examinations that test the competencies within didactic courses. CPAs must be passed with the grade of "B". CPEs involves clinical testing of competencies in advanced practice within a laboratory or clinical setting. Students may test out of a maximum of 9 credits. Students who take the competency examinations will register for the course associated with the examination. The competency examination for a particular course may be attempted only once.


Portfolio Evaluation

The student's portfolio is reviewed to determine achievement of existing MS level competencies. If the student demonstrates competency in a required course through portfolio evaluation, then he or she may substitute an elective course for the requirement. Students will not receive academic credit for the competencies demonstrated in the portfolio.