School of Natural Science and Mathematics
The nursing advisor, Dr. Dana Ward, has compiled a list of FAQs regarding the dual degree nursing program at the Mount, offered in conjunction with either University of Maryland School of Nursing or Shenandoah University. Please click on a question to view its answer. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email Dana Ward.
Does Mount St. Mary's offer a major in nursing?
No, we would need a hospital to do that. But we do offer an option that is even more attractive for many students, a dual degree program in biology and nursing offered in conjunction with either University of Maryland School of Nursing or Shenandoah University.
What is a dual degree program?
It is a program in which a student spends 3 years at one college, then 2 to 2 1/2 years at another college, and earns two bachelor's degrees, one from each school. These programs are more common when the first degree is at a liberal arts institution (as is the case here) and the second is in a professional program.
That's great, but there are a lot of colleges where I can get a B.S. degree in nursing in four years. The dual degree option takes 5 to 5 1/2 years. Why would I want to do that?
Think of a college education as having several dimensions. The liberal arts dimension gives you skills you can use in any career – writing, reasoning, critical thinking, ethics – as well as in life beyond your job. The pre-professional dimension gives you the skills more specifically targeted toward your intended career. A dual degree program gives both dimensions the full attention that they deserve, and it more explicitly separates them. Mount St. Mary's is very different from University of Maryland and Shenandoah University, but they all do a very good job at what they do best, and that's what you will experience in this program.
But doesn't it cost me more to go to college for 5 to 5 1/2 years than for 4 years?
Yes, but you are likely to derive financial benefit down the road by listing two bachelor's degrees on your resume. Most nurses will change jobs several times over the course of a career, and you will be able to claim real educational advantages over job candidates who have only a B.S. in nursing.
Why is a dual degree program better than simply attending two different colleges and getting two bachelor's degrees?
Because in most cases, that would take 6 years instead of 5. This specially designed cooperative program has real economies built in. The fourth year of the program (i.e., the first year at Shenandoah University or the University of Maryland) effectively counts double. One year of your time and one year of your tuition count toward both degrees.
How does the Mount's dual degree program work?
You spend the first three years at the Mount. You take our full Veritas Program and the pre-nursing courses that both the University of Maryland and Shenandoah University require. We count certain of your courses at either University of Maryland or Shenandoah as the remaining science courses, and you get your Mount degree after successfully completing your first year at either University of Maryland or Shenandoah University. You can even participate in graduation ceremonies with your classmates. After successfully completing the remaining BSN curriculum at either University of Maryland or Shenandoah University, they award you the B.S.N. degree.
Should I take some of these courses in summer school?
For the most part, that's not necessary, and in fact, there are a lot of restrictions on what you can take at other schools. Many core courses are unique to the Mount, so they must be taken here — these are often available here in summer school if a student decides that they wish to spend a summer at Mount St. Mary's University. We want you to take all of your science courses here, and they are not offered in the summer.
I finished my freshman year before deciding that I want to do the dual degree nursing program. Am I way behind?
If you have taken core courses, you are probably not behind at all. You can change the ordering in the suggested curriculum, as long as you do not take any courses before taking their prerequisites. You can get prerequisite information from the college catalog.
I have been invited to join the Mount's Honors Program. Since that's a four-year program and I will be at the Mount for only three years, would participation in the Honors Program be impossible?
No, you can do it. The Honors Program's senior year activity is a research project with a faculty member in your academic discipline. Faculty members are willing to work with Mount students on such projects, but you will have to do your Honors project during your third year at Mount St. Mary's University. Depending on your situation, some summer coursework may be required.
What would be good elective courses for nursing students to take?
The schedule does not have much room for electives unless you have advanced placement credit, take overloads, or take summer school. Some students choose to make room for electives, and we offer some very good electives for future nurses. Examples are Genetics, Immunology, Abnormal Psychology, and Pathophysiology.
If I am accepted to Mount St. Mary's, am I automatically accepted into UMD or Shenandoah University?
No. You must apply for admission in the fall of your junior year. As part of our articulation agreement with both universities, students from the Mount have priority for admissions if they have high enough grades and the recommendation of the pre-nursing advisor.
What constitutes 'high enough grades'?
Imagine writing down all of your Mount courses and drawing concentric circles around them. The biggest circle encompasses all of your courses. You must have at least a 3.0 average for these courses for Shenandoah University or a 3.25 average for University of Maryland. A smaller circle encompasses just the pre-nursing courses. You must have at least a 3.0 average here as well. A smaller circle encompasses just the science courses. You must have at least a 3.0 average here also. Finally, you must have at least a B in each of the three most important courses: Anatomy and Physiology I, Anatomy and Physiology II, and Microbiology.
Should I repeat courses in which I got poor grades so I can meet these standards?
It can’t hurt, but it probably won’t help. Both University of Maryland and Shenandoah University look at all of your grades and expect you to do well in courses the first time.
Do most Mount students who apply to either University of Maryland or Shenandoah University get accepted?
Every student in the dual degree program who has applied to Shenandoah University or the University of Maryland who met the standards described above has been accepted. But students who come up short in one or two categories are not likely to be accepted.
Will my financial aid from the Mount transfer to either University of Maryland or Shenandoah University?
No. The dual degree program is simply a cooperative agreement between two independent institutions. Most students will not receive financial aid at the partnering nursing school, so plan your finances carefully. You will be in demand due to the nationwide shortage of nurses, so you may be able to find creative ways to pay for your education.
I am completing my freshman year at another college. Can I transfer to the dual degree program at the Mount?
You can certainly transfer to the Mount, but you are not admitted into a particular program. Transfer students will find it more difficult to be accepted by University of Maryland or Shenandoah University if their courses elsewhere are deemed to be less rigorous than Mount courses. Also, they will have less time at the Mount to impress people and get strong recommendations. So we discourage transfer students from being in the program.
I am a sophomore in the dual degree program, but my grade point average is only 2.4. What should I do?
Develop a back-up plan. This is good advice for all pre-professional students, no matter how strong their grades, because you are never guaranteed admission to a professional school, but it is especially important for this student. Students under the minimum GPA requirements for this program are extremely unlikely to be accepted.
What is a good back-up plan if I cannot get accepted into either the University of Maryland or Shenandoah University (or do not choose to go there)?
A good option is to switch to a four year major at Mount St. Mary's University. Some students transition to the Health Sciences major and complete the remaining degree requirements in their senior year. Many of our pre-nursing students who opt for the four year Mount St. Mary's University degree, to onto accelerated 2nd degree BSN programs at nursing schools.
I am in the dual degree program, but I have become very attached to the Mount and to my classmates, and I don't want to miss my senior year. What should I do?
Most students in this situation go on to finish a four year Mount St. Mary's University degree and then apply to 2nd degree BSN nursing programs.
Does the Mount have a pre-nursing advisor?
Yes. Dr. Dana Ward advises students in the dual degree program after their freshman year. Feel free to contact her with any additional questions. Be sure to mention that you have already seen this web page.
I would like a career as a midwife. Can you give me information about that?
A specialization in midwifery or any other nursing sub-specialty is available not as part of the dual program, but rather after you obtain your nursing degree. But in general, for questions like this one which are more specific to the nursing degree, contact Shenandoah University or the University of Maryland directly.