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Bachelor of Science in Nursing Modified Currciulum Information


Modified Curriculum Final Exam Schedule:  

Modified Curriculum Final Exam Schedule - Summer 2018

Modified Curriculum Clinical Dates: 2018-2019

Winter 2018

Summer 2018

Fall 2018

Winter 2019

Modified Curriculum 2018-2019 Academic Year Start and End Dates

Winter - January 8 - April 6, 2018

Summer - May 7 - July 27, 2018


More Information

Background Information

Dalhousie School of Nursing

Dalhousie is changing the delivery of its baccalaureate degree from a 4-year 8 semester BScN program to a 3 calendar year 8 semester program for direct entry students, which include those students with no previous university credits. A 6 semester program over 2-years for advanced standing students will also be offered. The SON is implementing the modified BScN curriculum in the fall of 2016.


In 2012, the government of Nova Scotia initiated a review of undergraduate nursing education in the province. This review was a collaborative effort between the Nova Scotia departments of Health and Wellness, Labour and Advanced Education, and the three universities with undergraduate nursing programs – Dalhousie, CBU and St. FX. Concurrently, the School of Nursing was undergoing a curriculum review and revision. Program changes are in response to these collaborative reviews.

Program Changes

The modified BScN program will have:

  • A shorter time frame from admission to graduation: options include 8 semesters over three calendar years or 6 semesters over two calendar years.
  • An advanced standing option (6 semesters over two calendar years) for applicants who have completed 10 university level pre-requisite courses.
  • Broader recognition of applicants’ prior learning and more flexibility with transfer credits
  • All students will be admitted in September of each year allowing for two graduation dates (May and October) and enhanced integration into the health care system.
  • Smaller class sizes and more flexible course scheduling, as a result of the two cohort model
  • Teaching and learning strategies that include more distance education, active learning and clinical simulation.
  • Concentrated clinical practice learning opportunities and a final 13 week clinical consolidation experience.
  • Increased access to specialized practice learning opportunities.
  • Greater alignment with the undergraduate nursing programs at CBU and St. FX.
  • A slight increase in the number of students admitted per year (from 210 to 217) at full implementation.

Frequently-Asked Questions

What will happen to students who want to start the BScN in 2016?

Nova Scotia high school students can apply to the BScN Program for entry in September 2016, to complete 8-semesters over a 3-calendar year period. Students with some university credits and the required pre-requisite courses can apply to the modified program as advanced standing students and complete 6-semesters over a 2-calendar year period.

Any potential students or parents who have questions about this may affect them can get in touch with us at (902) 494-2535 or nursing@dal.ca (specific contact at nursing to be confirmed).

Will this be similar to the old 2-year nursing diploma program?

No. Dalhousie will continue to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing. By compressing the schedule and layout of the curriculum, students will be able to finish their BScN in less than four years. Instead of completing 8 semesters over 4 years, students will complete 8 semesters over 3 calendar years. Direct entry and advanced standing students will have 3 months per calendar year that they are not engaged in studies (April, August and December).

What will the admission requirements be?

For direct entry students satisfactory completion of grade 12 or equivalent with at least five academic university preparatory courses including English, biology, chemistry, academic math. A minimum overall average of 70% in the five university preparatory courses used to meet admission requirements is required.

For advanced standing students, a minimum grade average of B- in the required subjects at the Post-Secondary level (Including university 1000 level anatomy, physiology and/or biological sciences, microbiology, statistics, English and completion of electives) and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 based on overall Post-Secondary career or most recent year of studies (30 credit hours).

Why are you making this change?

As part of the provincially-led review of nursing education, employers, universities and other stakeholders outlined the challenges facing the nursing education system (e.g. global nursing shortage, two graduation times to avoid 400+ graduate nurses entering the health care system at the same time, nursing foci options). These changes are intended to address those challenges.

For example, in the current system, 210 nursing students graduate each May and it is a struggle for the health system to integrate all the new hires at one time. Under the new system, 96 students will graduate in May and an additional 121 will graduate in the fall (for a total of 217 graduates each year).

Is Dalhousie the only university in NS changing to a 3 year program?

No, Cape Breton University School of Nursing is developing a 3-year program for direct entry students and a 2-year program for accelerated students while St FX will continue to offer a 4-year program for direct entry students and a 2-year accelerated program for those students with previous university education.

Will there be any changes for students related to student financial assistance or residence accommodations?

Students will be able to secure residence accommodation during the summer semester. Students may be eligible for government assistance to assist with their nursing program costs. For more information on assistance available, please visit the Nova Scotia Student Assistance web site at http://novascotia.ca/studentassistance/ or contact them at 902-424-8420.  

Will students be doing the same number of clinical hours?

The structure of the modified BScN will put a greater emphasis on preparing students for the transition to the workforce during their final two semesters. The modified BScN program will require nursing students to spend 1320 clinical application hours in a combination of simulation learning and clinical practice, in line with other Canadian nursing programs. Clinical placements will be more seamlessly integrated into the curriculum with students completing concentrated clinical placements after their theoretical learning rather than the current model of one or two clinical days per week during fall and winter terms, spread over 4-6 weeks. The change in clinical practicum scheduling will enable a higher level of integration between theory and clinical practice with immersion into the clinical setting.  A final, consolidated 13-week clinical experience will better prepare the new graduate for practice.

In the modified BScN program, students will spend 1320 hours actively engaged in knowledge use in simulation learning and clinical practice settings. This number is slightly less than in the current BScN program but organized in block time frames to achieve desired learning outcomes.

Will you be accepting fewer nursing students during the transition period?

Yes we will. In order to ensure adequate resources to teach both the current and the modified curriculum at the same time we will be admitting fewer students. For the 2016-2017 school year, the School will be accepting 81 direct entry students (56 at the Halifax site and 25 at the Yarmouth site) and 48 advanced standing students (Halifax site) into the modified program; for the 2017-2018 school year, the School will be accepting 121 direct entry students (96 at the Halifax site and 25 at the Yarmouth site) and 48 advanced standing students (Halifax site). 

Full admission will be implemented in 2018-2019 with 121 direct entry students and 96 advanced standing students. However, the slight reduction in enrolment during transition does not impact graduation rates because of the shorter time frame for the modified program and the switch to two graduation times per year, May for Direct Entry Students and October for Advanced Standing Students. At full implementation we will be admitting slightly more students annually than we currently admit (217 in total).

Only residents of Nova Scotia will be considered for direct entry admission for the initial two intake years. Students will also have the option to apply as an advanced standing student with prior completion of 30 credit hour pre-requisites.

Will this affect current nursing students?

No. Students currently enrolled in the BScN will complete their degrees as expected and will not be affected by these changes. The current curriculum is fully accredited and approved.