Post-MSN Certificate Program Required Prior Coursework

Prior coursework is required for eligibility to take the certification exam after graduation.

Certifying organizations thoroughly evaluate exam applications for all educational requirements and will reject any application not in compliance. UC College of Nursing makes every effort to fully review prior coursework with the information that students provide. You are encouraged to submit all primary source documents for your 3 P's at the time of application to assist with early identification of missing educational requirements.

Failure to do so could result in unforeseen educational expenses (at your cost) and delays in graduation or certification.

Required Coursework

Three separate, comprehensive graduate-level courses, informally referred to as the 3 P's courses, must be completed in the following areas:  

  • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the lifespan
  • Advanced physical/health assessment, which includes assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques, concepts and approaches that apply across the lifespan*
  • Advanced pharmacology, which includes pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents that apply across the lifespan

You can be admitted if you have not previously completed the required courses that align with the criteria outlined above. These credits will be added to your program schema.

*Neonatal Nurse Practitioner students complete a separate advanced newborn/infant health assessment course and are not required to complete an advanced physical/health assessment course across the lifespan.

Expected Components of Required Coursework

The 3 P's courses must be completed:

  • At the graduate level, APRN-specific, and match the role/population of the certificate program.
    • Courses completed that are generalist or prelicensure/undergraduate, that are non-APRN specific (e.g. Patho for Nurse Educators) do not meet eligibility criteria for the certification exam
    • Courses that are population-specific must be carefully reviewed for congruence to the certification program and may not meet eligibility criteria.
  • With a final grade of “B” or better;
  • With content spanning across the lifespan for the Advanced Practice Nurse (e.g. Adult Health Assessment will not be approved to be eligible for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification exam)*
  • As independent courses. The courses cannot be integrated (e.g., combined course that includes both advanced pharmacology/pathophysiology) and do not meet eligibility criteria for the certification exam.

Other factors to highlight related to the required 3 P's courses:

  • Work experience cannot be used in place of faculty-supervised clinical hours for certification eligibility.
  • Prior acceptance of required 3 P's courses for a previous certification exam does not guarantee acceptance of coursework for a future certification exam.
  • A certifying organization will not complete a review of previous coursework prior to a student’s graduation and the subsequent submission of the gap analysis form.

*Neonatal Nurse Practitioner students complete a separate Advanced Newborn/Infant Health Assessment course and are not required to complete an Advanced Health Assessment course across the lifespan.

Graduates of Prelicensure Programs or Programs without an Advanced Practice Specialty

Courses completed as part of a second-degree or entry level prelicensure program (a program thatis specifically designed for students who do not currently hold a state nursing license and have no prior nursing experience or education) do not meet the requirement for advanced practice nursing programs.  Students who have graduated from second-degree accelerated or entry-level nursing prelicensure programs (regardless of whether it was a bachelor’s level or master’s level program) must complete the 3 P’s courses (Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and Advanced Health Assessment) at UC College of Nursing.  

In addition, graduates from programs other than advanced practice specialties (such as Nurse Education, Nurse Leader, Informatics, etc.) typically do not have the pre-requisite coursework required of the 3P’s and should therefore plan to complete these at UC.

Review Process of Required Courses

If the 3 P's courses were previously completed at the University of Cincinnati, the submission of primary source documents at the time of application is not necessary.

While completing the application for your post-master's certificate program, you will be provided with the opportunity to submit primary source documents (syllabi and course descriptions) from time of student completion of the 3 P's courses. The submission of primary source documents for the previously completed 3 P's courses (if applicable) is optional and not required to make an admission decision. With that said, the submission of primary source documents for the previous 3 P's courses will provide the program faculty with a thorough understanding of prior course content to make a well-informed determination regarding the acceptance of required courses. If primary source documents are not provided and the program faculty are unable to make a determination regarding the appropriateness of your coursework based on the academic transcript(s) submitted, students could be required to take one or more of the 3 P's courses at the University of Cincinnati (if admitted). It is expected that the applicant actively engages in the review process, being mindful of the expected components of the 3 P's courses and assuming shared responsibility to successfully complete the 3 P's coursework that adheres to the expected course components.

Admitted students will be provided with an individualized plan of study approved by your program faculty based upon your prior graduate coursework and clinical hours. This individualized plan of study will serve as the basis for the future completion of a gap analysis in consideration of certification exam eligibility criteria. Note: the certifying organization makes the ultimate decision regarding the acceptance of prior coursework and adherence to eligibility criteria for the certification exam.

Required Coursework Resources

Here are helpful links to learn more about the required 3 P's courses:

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN)

National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

Respective State Board of Nursing Requirements

To learn about the specific laws and regulatory codes for prescriptive practice in your area, contact your state's Board of Nursing.