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Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Program FAQ
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Admission Information 

When is the next application deadline? 
The adult gerontology acute care clinical nurse specialist (AGACCNS) program admits once a year, please see the program home page for more detailed information.
Do I need to take the GRE? Is there a time limit on the scores?   
The GRE is waived if any one of the following conditions is met:
1. Cumulative GPA of 3.25 or greater 
2. Pre-licensure nursing GPA of 3.0 or greater.
3. Graduate GPA (of a completed degree) of 3.5 or greater. 
Rush will receive verified GPA calculations from NursingCAS only after they have received all of your official transcripts. If you believe you will need to submit GRE scores, we suggest you prepare for the exam and take it sooner rather than later as we cannot review your application until official GRE scores have been received. These scores must be received by Rush University before the application deadline. Your scores will be sent to the institutions you designate within 10 to 15 days after your test date. The Rush University College of Nursing GRE code is 3262.  
If you have taken the GRE within the last five years Educational Testing Service (ETS) will send a copy of your scores directly to Rush. If you have taken the GRE more than five years ago and have the original score report, you may submit a copy directly to Rush. The College of Nursing will also accept GRE scores from any point in time, as long as an official report of the score can be obtained. The College of Nursing will also accept an official school document that contains GRE scores. 

How much experience do I need to apply? 
You need to have at least six months of acute care experience before you are eligible to apply to the program. In addition, you will need two years of acute care full-time experience before the start of the clinical/management course rotations which are the last year of the program. 

Who should I ask to provide recommendations? 
Three professional letters of recommendation are required from faculty and/or work managers with at least one letter from a current or recent employer. Relationship of recommenders to you must be in a supervisory capacity who can evaluate your ability to be successful in graduate school and as an APRN. Co-workers, colleagues, subordinates or friends are not acceptable recommenders. 

How will I hear from the Office of Admissions about my application? 
Your application will be submitted through a centralized application system called N-CAS. All application materials (e.g., essay, CV, recommendations, etc.) will be submitted through N-CAS. Once your application is complete and submitted to Rush, it will be evaluated in a pooled review process. Qualified applicants will be invited to submit a brief Rush supplemental application and interview with a faculty member. We strongly encourage candidates to interview in person with faculty. Plan to be on campus for about one hour. However, if you live more than 50 miles away, you may choose to interview by phone. We will use the email address you provide for all contact regarding your application status. 

What happens to my application after I complete my interview? 
After all qualified applicants have been interviewed your application will be reviewed in a “pool” with the other applicants for that cohort. Admission recommendations are then forwarded to the Admissions and Progressions Committee of the College of Nursing. It is their charge to offer admission to qualified candidates. 

What are tuition costs and is financial aid available? 
Please visit the Rush University website at  or call the financial aid office (312) 942-6256 for the most current information. 

Is the tuition rate the same for out of state students? 
Yes. You may get updates on current tuition from our website.

How do I get started with my application? 
You may apply online at our website. Be sure to order official transcripts from every school at which you have taken courses since high school (even if you did not receive a degree from that school). Transcripts and all other official documents should be sent to our admissions office.  View the website for more information.
Information session and campus visits
How can I arrange a campus visit to get more information? 
The college holds an information session on the first Wednesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. on the 9th floor of the Armour Academic Center, 600 S. Paulina. Please register here to attend.  

Where do students stay during campus visits? 
Students make their own arrangements. We can advise you of nearby hotels. The Rush campus is accessible from both airports and train. 

Program/Course Information
What is an acute care clinical nurse specialist (AGACCNS)? 
Adult-gerontology acute care clinical nurse specialists care for critically ill patients throughout the continuum of care. The AGACCNS ensures a comprehensive focus on quality nursing care and facilitates and leads initiatives that ensure quality patient outcomes. The AGACCNS integrates care across the continuum and through three spheres of influence: direct patient/client care, nurses and nursing practice, and systems and organizations. CNSs create environments through mentoring and system changes that empower nurses to develop caring, evidence-based practices. 

What types of jobs are available for AGACCNSs? 
AGACCNSs work in many settings, which include, but are not limited to: acute care units, inpatient units, specialty practices such as neurosurgery, cardiology, hematology, trauma, orthopedics and many others. AGCCCNSs are practicing in academic medical centers, community hospital settings, subacute settings and inpatient settings. In our current climate of quality and safety, the AGACCNS's role is highly recognized for its contributions to improving patient outcomes. 
What are my degree options? 
The AGACCNS program will result in a DNP exit degree. 

How long does the program take to complete? 
The BSN-DNP degree AGACCNS program is approximately 3.5 years which is 11-12 terms. The MSN-DNP, for applicants who are already APNs, will vary depending on the course work taken in the master’s program. 

How much clinical time will I do? 
The total hours in the AGACCNS DNP program is 1008 hours. There are 756 direct care hours and 252 doctoral project hours. Students do a 336 hour residency the last term of the program.

Can I concentrate in one area of acute care or can I stay broad with my experiences? 
You can do either. All of the course work prepares you to provide care to the full spectrum of acute and critical care illness. When you get to the clinical rotations, some students prefer to concentrate in a particular area such as cardiology, neurosurgery or trauma, while others want a more broad clinical experience. We will work with you to create clinical experiences that provide you the best preparation for your professional goals. 

Where do I do my clinical hours? 
We have many well established clinical sites and preceptors in the Chicago area. We utilize CNSs, other APNs, and physicians as preceptors. You will work closely with your Rush University College of Nursing advisor to establish your individual professional goals and objectives for the clinical experience. 

How are clinical sites assigned? 
Students work collaboratively with faculty to arrange their clinical experiences. The Rush College of Nursing has agreements with many sites in the Chicago metropolitan area. Students desiring clinical experiences outside the Chicago metropolitan area must find their own sites. However, faculty will provide direction and assistance with arrangements once the site is identified. 

If I have a master’s degree, can I do the post-master’s program? 
If you are already an advanced practice nurse (APN) and want to become an AGACCNS, you can complete the MSN-DNP with the AGACCNS specialty focus. You should contact the specialty program director to discuss the specifics of your background. Be prepared to submit a current resume and a transcript (may be an unofficial copy) of your master’s program. If you are interested in the MSN-DNP option see program/course information section.
If you are NOT an APN, you can complete the MSN-DNP non-APRN degree.

Can I work while I complete this program? 
Most students can continue to work full-time until they start the second year with the development of the doctoral project. You will need to plan time for school and to study. When you start your clinical practica and management courses, in the last year of the program, you need to plan at least three days committed to school. Every student must evaluate their own time management skills, personal commitments, and family responsibilities before deciding if the time is right to pursue a graduate education. 

Is the program offered online? 
There are several courses that will be taken in an online format, however the key population courses in the program are only in an on-campus format. This is not an online program. A variety of student clinical experiences are available throughout the Chicago metro region.
Can I take one class at a time? 
No, we do not allow students to take one class at a time. You must commit to finish the program in three to four years. 

Can I start taking classes before I am accepted or matriculated? 
Yes, you can take classes as a student-at-large. There are some restrictions and some employers will not provide tuition reimbursement. Taking classes as a student-at-large does not guarantee you admission. Please contact the registrar for more information (312) 942-5681. 
Will graduate-level classes taken at other universities transfer in for credit? 
We consider classes for transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. After you are accepted into the program, you will be assigned an advisor who can help you with the transfer credit request process. Please save course descriptions and course syllabi for all courses you want considered for transfer. 
Application to Transfer Between Programs Policy
1. The application for transfer procedure must be completed when an enrolled student wishes to change their program concentration and/or degree. The transfer must be approved; there is no guarantee of movement from one program to another.
2. The Program Director in the proposed concentration/degree determines the necessary requirements for the review process.
3. The Registrar processes changes at the end of each term.
4. The change is official as of the start of the new term if student accepted into the proposed major/concentration.
5. If permission is granted and as space permits, students will only be allowed to transfer to an already matriculating cohort of students.
You may apply for:
1) any advanced practice specialty MSN-DNP program that is different from your first specialty area or
2) one of the DNP leadership tracks, either Systems Leadership or Leadership to Enhance Population Health Outcomes. 

International Students
I am an international student - how can I get information about testing, transcripts and licensure? 
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required for applicants who are non-native speakers of English. This requirement may be waived if the applicant has completed a minimum of three years of higher education AND received their baccalaureate degree in the United States.
As many courses are taught in an online format in our DNP programs, we regret we are unable to accommodate international students in the US on a student visa.  Applicants who intend to complete a program in their country of origin will be reviewed on an individual basis, please contact Rush University College of Nursing at before applying. 
Office of Admissions:
More Questions

I still have questions. How can I get them answered? 
If your questions are about the admissions process (file management, transcripts, letters of recommendation, committee review, etc.) please Jennifer Thorndyke at
If your questions relate to the adult-gerontology acute care clinical nurse specialist program email Marcia Murphy at

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