Colby-Sawyer’s First Graduate Program: Masters in Nursing

Partnering with Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Press release

Colby-Sawyer College will expand its exceptional nursing education options this fall and offer its first graduate program, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). In collaboration with Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), the college’s longtime partner in the health professions, Colby-Sawyer developed the 37-credit program to meet the demand for higher education of the advanced generalist nurse. Program graduates will be eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification exam.

A CNL is a highly skilled clinician who focuses on outcomes-based practice and quality improvement. CNLs oversee the care coordination of a distinct group of patients using evidence-based practice and provide care to patients in complex situations. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) plans to deploy CNLs in their inpatient medical-surgical and critical care settings in order to augment the health system’s focus on high-quality care delivery, according to Dr. Susan Reeves ‘88, dean of the Colby-Sawyer College School of Nursing and Health Professions and Gladys A. Burrows Distinguished Professor of Nursing. Developed in 2007, the deployment of CNLs in similar clinical care environments in other areas of the country has yielded improvement in patient outcomes and costs.

Colby-Sawyer’s MSN program, co-designed by nursing leaders from Colby-Sawyer and D-H, will initially enroll a cohort of 12 part-time students from a segment of DHMC employees to fill the demand for the new role of Clinical Nurse Leader. Applications from the D-H system and other health care organizations are now being accepted for the fall semester.


Colby-Sawyer’s MSN degree may be completed in 21 months. It combines classroom work with hybrid/online didactic and clinical practice at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and is structured around the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education’s (CCNE) Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing.

The graduate program will be housed in Colby-Sawyer’s School of Nursing and Health Professions and supported by the institution’s existing qualified nursing faculty as well as nurse leaders from DHMC. With new dedicated nursing lab and administrative spaces, Colby-Sawyer has a well-developed infrastructure to support graduate-level work, including student support services and access to digital library resources.

Colby-Sawyer is already home to one of the state’s top-performing undergraduate nursing programs, and D-H considers Colby-Sawyer its own undergraduate nursing program. Colby-Sawyer’s undergraduate nurses have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN ) on the first attempt with a five-year average of 96.03 percent as compared with 89.47 percent for the state and 84 percent for the nation.

This spring, Colby-Sawyer graduated its first cohort in its RN to BS degree program. The college also offers related majors in health care management and public health.