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MSN Forensic Nursing

Be connected to something bigger than yourself.

With a graduate degree in forensic nursing from Duquesne’s renowned online program, you’ll feel connected in so many ways. To your patients. To a dynamic team of law enforcement and other legal professionals. And to a strong university community of inspiring faculty and other students who share your passion for making a real impact in the world.

Duquesne University, with its long tradition of academic excellence and community service, is a widely recognized pioneer in online graduate nursing education. Our students and our faculty are passionate about advancing the nursing profession and serious about making a difference in the world.

That's why we designed a program that can help you create the future of forensic nursing.

Our master's in forensic nursing program teaches skills for healing wounds, as well as skills for helping law enforcement and legal professionals do their jobs effectively. In addition, if you are interested in obtaining a doctorate in nursing, our PhD and DNP programs are among the few programs anywhere to offer a forensic focus.

Best of all, our graduate nursing programs let you study on your terms. ..on your time…online.

View VIDEO TESTIMONIALS from our alumni

Program Overview

Our MSN and post-master's forensic nursing programs prepare you for an advanced practice forensic role. The forensic specialty focuses on addressing violence and its consequences in our communities, creating opportunities for the unique contributions of nurses.

This broad-based forensic curriculum allows students to apply advanced practice knowledge, in order to have an impact on care in a wide variety of settings. Our graduates function not only as practitioners in forensic nursing but also as leaders in this emerging specialty area. They are creating hospital-based programs, designing educational curricula and helping to enact new policy initiative at the local, state and national levels.

The program is offered in collaboration with the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law in the School of Law at Duquesne University.

Degree requirements may be completed on a full-time (six credits per semester) or part-time basis. After being accepted for admission to the MSN program, each student is assigned a faculty mentor who will assist the student in completion of a Program Plan. Students have up to five years to complete the program.

The Duquesne faculty is committed to nurturing a flexible and creative scholarly environment that encourages students to participate actively in scientific inquiry and research.


Forensic Nursing Curriculum

MSN Core Courses 24 or 21 credits
GPNG 523 Historical and Contemporary Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice 3 credit
GPNG 524 Evidence Based Nursing Practice and Policy Development 3 credits
GPNG 525 Organizational and Clinical Leadership in Nursing and Health Care 3 credits
GPNG 526 Health Care Ethics in Practice and Policy 3 credits
GPNG 527 Clinical Prevention and Population-Based Health Promotion 3 credits
GPNG 528* Physical Assessment for Advanced Practice Nursing 3 credits
GPNG 510

GPNG 513
Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing

Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing
Pathophysiology/Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing
3 credits

3 credits

3 credits
Specialty Courses 15 credits
GNFO 517 Forensic Science and the Legal System 3 credits
GNFO 518 Criminal Law and the Courts 3 credits
GNFO 519 Advanced Forensic Nursing I - Theory and Practice 3 credits
GNFO 520 Advanced Forensic Nursing II - Program Development, Leadership & Policy 3 credits
GNFO 521 Forensic Clinical and Capstone 3 credits

TOTAL = 36 or 39 credits

* Students enrolled in GPNG 528 are required to come to campus in the fall semester for 40 hours of clinical laboratory course work.

Revisions to courses and curricula are ongoing.

Program Outcomes

MSN Program Outcomes

The advanced practice nurse will synchronize the nurse competencies with patient characteristics in facilitating health care delivery as follows:

  1. Demonstrates clinical judgment within the context of the advanced practice role.

  2. Assumes a leadership role in creating a compassionate and caring environment to promote comfort and prevent suffering.

  3. Advocates collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to the design of comprehensive care to individuals/families, communities, and populations.

  4. Integrates theory, clinical inquiry, and evidence-based nursing practice into the advanced practice role.

  5. Participates in the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care systems to foster safe passage and excellence in health care delivery.

  6. Creates a culturally competent practice environment to enhance health care outcomes.

  7. Champions ethical decision making in all aspects of practice with self, patient/family, community, and health care delivery systems.

  8. Commits to life long learning for self and consumers.

AACN Synergy Model

The Synergy Model for Patient Care, developed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, has been adopted by the faculty and integrated into the undergraduate and graduate nursing curriculums.  The core concept of the Synergy Model: the needs or characteristics of patients and families influence the characteristics or competencies of the nurse.  Synergy results when the needs and characteristics of a patient, clinical unit or system match those of the nurse.

The Synergy Model describes eight patient characteristics (needs) and eight nurse characteristics (competencies); patient needs drive nurse competencies.  Each individual characteristic is further delineated by levels of complexity or intensity.  The core competencies of the nurse include clinical judgment, advocacy, clinical practices, collaboration, systems thinking, response to diversity, clinical inquiry and facilitation of learning.  These eight competencies provide the basis for program and level outcomes in the undergraduate program.  An additional ninth program/level outcome focuses on the synergy between the nurse’s competencies and patient characteristics as it relates to patient outcomes.  Similarly, the graduate program outcomes are based on these same nurse characteristics but at a higher level. Underlying all competencies is the unique contribution of nurses to provide safe passage for patients and their families through the health care environment.

The table below illustrates the relationship between nurse competencies of the Synergy Model and the MSN program outcomes.

Nurse Competencies

Program Outcomes

Clinical Judgment Integrate clinical judgment skills when implementing care for individuals, families, groups, and community.
Advocacy Justify one’s practice through the implementation of the role of being a moral agent.
Caring Practices Display a caring attitude in all aspects of one’s practice.
Collaboration Initiate collaborative efforts for the improvement of care to individuals and for improvement in the health care delivery.
Systems Thinking Demonstrate the ability to utilize integrated systems analysis for the personal and professional navigation of the health care delivery systems.
Response to Diversity Integrate cultural sensitivity in caring for individuals/families of diverse populations.
Clinical Inquiry Engage in evidenced-based practice.
Facilitation of Learning Incorporate teaching into all aspects of one’s practice.
Impact of “synergy” nurse/patient characteristics and patient outcomes Evaluate the interrelationship of nurse competencies and the patient characteristics to patient outcomes.