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 General Information & Policies

  • Mission and Values
  • Disability Statement
  • Disruptive Conduct and Workplace Violence Prevention
  • Essential Standards for Admission, Progression, and Graduation
  • Inclement Weather
  • Professional Attire
  • Social Media Policy
  • Student Review Policy for Unsafe of Unprofessional Practice
  • Student Safety
  • Travel Regulations

 Program-Specific Handbook Information

 Graduate Programs: Academic Policies

  • Academic Advising
  • Academic Eligibility Regulations
  • Application for Graduation
  • Assistive Devices
  • Degree Time Limits
  • Faculty Responsiveness
  • Grade Appeal
  • Graduate Programs Grading
  • Graduate Independent Study or Doctoral-Level Research Practicum Learning Contract
  • Leave of Absence
  • North Carolina Residency
  • Addressing Course- and Faculty-related Issues
  • Program Evaluation
  • Readmission
  • Research and Teaching Assistant Positions
  • Student Data Storage
  • Student Employment
  • Student Participation in Extra-curricular Professional Meetings
  • Registration and Course Credits
    • Registration
    • Course-load Requirements
    • Inter-institutional Registration
    • Transfer of Course Credit
    • Special Registration Regulations

 Compliance Policies and Clinical Regulations

  • Student Code of Conduct
  • Student Criminal Background Check Policy
  • Infectious/Communicable Disease Policy
  • Health, Safety and Legal Compliance Program
    • Overview
    • The Student’s Responsibilities
    • The School of Nursing’s Responsibilities
    • Requirements
    • CPR Certification Requirements
    • Compliance Program Requirements by Academic Program

 Research Regulations and Policies

  • Accessing School of Nursing Students for Participation in Research Projects
  • Human Subjects Approval
  • Institutional Approval
  • Scientific Integrity

 University Policies

Our Mission

Distinctly empowered to advance health for all

Our Vision


The world’s leading School of Nursing for the public

Share Our Values


Integrity: Respect and advocate for all in every interaction
Leadership: Inspire, empower and influence
Excellence: Unlock potential to transcend expectations
Agility: Innovate for the changing demands in education and healthcare
Diversity: Broaden perspectives, embrace open attitudes and enhance inclusivity

Policy Statement on Non-Discrimination

Consistent with its mission and philosophy, and those of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC-CH”), the School of Nursing at UNC-CH is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for its prospective and enrolled students, faculty and staff, and to ensuring that educational and employment decisions are based on individuals’ abilities and qualifications.  Consistent with this principle and applicable laws, it is therefore the School of Nursing’s policy not to discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and activities or with respect to employment terms and conditions on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Disability Accommodations for Students

The School of Nursing provides reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified students with disabilities, so long as such disabilities, as determined on a case-by-case basis, do not preclude the student from meeting the qualifications considered essential by the faculty of the School of Nursing for successful completion of the educational objectives of its curriculum. These qualifications are described in the UNC-CH School of Nursing Essential Standards for Admission, Progression and Graduation.

Students who seek disability accommodations should contact the UNC-CH Office of Accessibility Resources and Service at (919) 962-8300. They will determine a student’s eligibility for accommodations and will recommend appropriate resources, accommodations and services.

Approved May 2002, revised August 2011; October 2013


 Reporting Procedure

 Training Program


The School of Nursing is a community of staff, faculty and students that is committed to a respectful, safe and protected environment, founded in civility and free from violence, in which all can work and learn. Acknowledging that workplace violence falls on a continuum from civility through physical violence, the School of Nursing requires that all members of our community value and respect each other. As a community, the School will make every effort to discourage incivility and protect its individual members from all forms of unacceptable interpersonal aggression including, but not limited to, verbal, written, physical, or any other forms. All members of the School of Nursing will strive to maintain an environment that is free from violence, threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior. Additionally, as part of a larger university campus, the open nature of the building presents many challenges to maintaining a safe environment. Furthermore, the School of Nursing often has faculty, staff, and students who are working and studying beyond the normal operating hours. Members of the School of Nursing community will not tolerate inappropriate interactions from each other or from outside persons. All incidents will be taken seriously and will be dealt with promptly and appropriately. The School of Nursing will provide support and resources to all to ensure that this safe and protected environment happens.

All who participate in or engage with this community will abide by these guiding principles:

    1. We value differences among individuals and, in that spirit, require that all treat each other with respect. Interactions in the School of Nursing are expected to be courteous, respectful, and professional.
    2. Individuals are responsible for their own behavior and will be held accountable for that behavior.
    3. Inappropriate and unacceptable behavior may be a warning sign of impending hostility or violence and will be reported and dealt with in accordance with the policies outlined below.
    4. When inappropriate behavior occurs, members of the School of Nursing community are empowered and expected to deal with the situation according to established guidelines.
    5. Individuals are expected to keep their own personal safety foremost in their plans and actions and to support others in doing the same.
    6. Unacceptable behavior will be dealt with so that the message of zero tolerance is consistent and clear.
    7. The School of Nursing will inform and train all members of the School on the University policy and how to carry out their role in maintaining a safe environment.

When inappropriate behavior occurs, the School of Nursing will:

  • Respond promptly to immediate interpersonal dangers to staff, faculty and students in the school in accordance with established procedures.
  • Facilitate the investigation of threats and other reported incidents, and file necessary reports per University policy with the Employee Services Office of the Human Resources Department.
  • Respond to each report objectively, seriously address any allegations, even those that may appear frivolous, thus taking threats and threatening behavior seriously and ensuring that SON members feel safe in sharing their concerns.
  • Take disciplinary actions under the University’s disciplinary policy when warranted.
  • Support victims and affected workers after an incident.


Definitions of key terms used in this policy are as follows:

Inappropriate and prohibited behavior is behavior that can serve as a warning sign of potential hostility or violence. Examples of these kinds of behaviors of interpersonal aggression include but are not limited to:

  1. unwelcome name-calling
  2. rude* or uncivil (e.g, slamming doors in angry response, making disparaging comments about another worker, purposefully blocking someone’s view or path, harshly criticizing a subordinate in public, vulgar or obscene words or actions, either written or verbal, including email, voice messages, and graffiti.
  3. acts of abuse (e.g. verbal statements, including tone of voice, or physical act which may be construed as a derogatory, intimidating, bullying or psychologically or emotionally disturbing (from Canadian teachers assoc)
  4. intimidation through direct or veiled verbal threats
  5. throwing objects regardless of size or type or whether a person is the target of a thrown object
  6. physically touching another employee in an intimidating, malicious or sexually harassing manner
  7. physically intimidating others including such acts as obscene gestures, fist-shaking, or “getting in your face” types of gestures
  8. stalking, either in Carrington Hall or off campus.

Threat: the expression of intent to cause physical or mental harm. A threat is conveyed regardless of whether the individual communicating the threat has the present ability to carry it out and without regard to whether the expression of threat is contingent, conditional, or placed in the future.

Physical attack: unwanted or hostile contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, shoving, or throwing objects.

Property damage: intentional damage to property owned by the state, employees, students, or visitors.

Each member of the School of Nursing community is responsible for upholding the values and actions embodied in this policy. The School of Nursing Dean’s office is responsible for oversight of these principles and key aspects of the policy.

All School of Nursing students, staff and faculty members are responsible for:

  • Completing required training sessions,

Maintaining basic competency in general knowledge and skills related to workplace safety practices and violence prevention principles and strategies

The experience of interpersonal hostility and violence can be extremely upsetting. Such incidents should not be experienced in isolation. Persons with these experiences are encouraged to seek support from individuals within the School of Nursing such as a direct supervisor or Human Resource Manager, who will provide active listening, advice, coaching as the situation dictates.

Reporting Procedure

Any situation that exemplifies inappropriate and prohibited behavior must be reported on a formal basis by the individual speaking with their direct supervisor or the Assistant Dean of Student Faculty Services and/or the Employee Services Department in the Office of Human Resources (962-1483).

All reports shall be made in good faith, and detail the incident thoroughly and accurately. In turn, the person making the report shall be assured of a confidential process, with information released only on a “need-to-know” basis, and that no act of retaliation or discrimination shall result from reporting an occurrence

The University’s Workplace Violence Reporting Form must be completed and forwarded to appropriate parties as specified. Information related to the investigation and actions taken are promptly forwarded per University policy. All members of the School of Nursing community are expected to report all threatening situations, physical attacks, and property damage to University Police.

The Workplace Violence Prevention Committee chaired by the Director of Administrative Services, or designee will be appointed by the Dean’s Cabinet to review and trend data on workplace concerns reported on a quarterly basis. Each reported allegation shall be thoroughly investigated by the direct supervisor in conjunction with the Assistant Dean, Student and Faculty Services, and involve all appropriate parties in the process. This review includes, but is not be limited to, an evaluation of all aspects of the alleged incident to ascertain how such occurrences may be prevented, how well faculty/staff/students managed the occurrence, effectiveness of the interventions utilized, and whether modifications to the School policy, security system, training program, or intervention plan are warranted.

Training Program

Under the tutelage of the Workplace Violence Prevention Committee (WPVPC), a workplace safety training program specific to the School of Nursing will be developed. This program will be presented by a combination of local law enforcement specialists, WPVPC members, and additional content experts from the local community. The training program will be differentiated into levels and provided at the time of policy implementation, and at least annually thereafter. All current faculty and staff shall complete the basic course, and all those subsequently hired will complete as part of orientation; incoming students shall do so at the time of academic program matriculation. A suggested outline for the training program is presented as an addendum to this document.

A “reference library” of booklets, audio and videotapes, and supportive journal articles will be compiled and placed in key offices throughout the School for access by faculty, staff and students.


Under the auspices of the Office of Student and Faculty Services, the efficacy of the School of Nursing’s Workplace Safety Program will be assessed at the conclusion of each training session and in an ongoing manner throughout the academic year. Periodic assessments will be conducted to ascertain whether the School community considers the SON a safe environment in which to work and learn, which is the ultimate goal of the training program and awareness education.


The curricula leading to degrees in Nursing from UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing require students to engage in diverse and complex experiences directed at the acquisition and practice of essential nursing knowledge, skills, and function to attain and/or maintain appropriate professional licensure. Coursework, learning experiences, and assessments within each program are intentionally designed to simulate expectations of the professional nursing role. This includes preparation for licensure and certification examinations.

Combinations of cognitive, affective, psychomotor, physical and social abilities are required to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to perform the varied roles of nurses. In addition to being essential to the successful completion of the requirements of a nursing degree, these skills and functions are necessary to ensure the health and safety of patients, fellow students, faculty and other health care providers.

The following standards comprise the five core professional nursing competencies. In addition to academic qualifications, the School of Nursing considers these personal and professional qualifications essential for entrance to, continuation in, and graduation from its nursing degree programs.

Students who seek disability accommodations should contact the University’s Office of Accessibility Resources & Service (ARS) at 919-962-8300. ARS will determine a student’s eligibility for accommodations and will recommend appropriate accommodations and services. The use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable in most clinical situations in that it implies that a student’s judgement must be mediated by someone else’s power of observations, selection, and assessment.


A. Visual, Auditory and Tactile

  • Ability to gather data from written reference materials (including, without limitation, illustrations), oral presentations, demonstrations, observations of a patient and his/her environment and observations of procedures performed by others.
  • Ability to perform health assessments and interventions; observe diagnostic specimens; and obtain information from digital, analog and waveform representations of physiologic phenomena to determine a patient’s condition.
  • Examples of relevant activities:
    1. Visual acuity – to draw up the correct quantity of medication in a syringe or detect changes in skin color or condition.
    2. Auditory ability – to detect sounds related to bodily functions using a stethoscope or to detect audible alarms generated by mechanical systems used to monitor patient physiological status.
    3. Tactile abilities – to detect unsafe temperature levels in heat-producing devices used in patient care or detect anatomical abnormalities, such as edema or small nodules.

B. Communication

  • Ability to communicate, including ability to ask questions and receive answers, with accuracy, clarity, efficiency and effectiveness with patients, their families and other members of the health care team. This includes: expressive and receptive oral and non-verbal communications, such as interpretation of facial expressions, affect and body language.
  • Communications (expressive and receptive) include: oral, hearing, reading, writing, and computer literacy.
  • Mastery of both written and spoken English, although applications from students with hearing or speech disabilities will be given full consideration. In such cases, use of a trained intermediary or other communication aides may be appropriate if this intermediary functions only as an information conduit and does not serve integrative or interpretive functions.
  • Examples of relevant activities:
    1. Ability to give verbal directions to or follow verbal directions from other members of the health care team and to participate in health care team discussions of patient care.
    2. Ability to elicit and record information about health history, current health state or responses to treatment from patients or family members.
    3. Ability to convey information to patients and others as necessary to teach, direct and counsel individuals.

C. Motor

  • Motor and psychomotor function to execute movements required to provide general care and treatment to patients in all health care settings.
  • Motor functions include: gross and fine motor skills, physical endurance, strength, stamina and mobility to carry out nursing procedures; perform basic laboratory tests and provide routine and emergency care and treatment to patients.
  • Examples of relevant activities:
    1. Fine motor skills to obtain assessment information by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers.
    2. Physical endurance to complete assigned periods of clinical practice.
    3. Mobility sufficient to carry out patient care procedures, such as tracheostomy care or performing emergency airway suctioning.
    4. Strength to carry out patient care procedures, such as assisting in the turning and lifting/transferring of patients.

D. Behavioral, Interpersonal and Emotional

  • Ability to relate to colleagues, staff and patients with honesty, integrity and non-discrimination.
  • Capacity for the development of a mature, compassionate, respectful, sensitive and effective therapeutic relationship with patients and their families, including sufficient emotional and intellectual capacity to exercise good judgment and complete patient care responsibilities promptly and professionally.
  • Ability to work constructively in stressful and changing environments with the ability to modify behavior in response to constructive criticism and to maintain a high level of functioning in the face of taxing workloads and stressful situations.
  • Ability to participate collaboratively and flexibly as a member of a health care team.
  • Capacity to demonstrate ethical behavior, including adherence to the professional nursing and student honor codes, as well as applicable laws and regulations governing the nursing profession.
  • Openness to examining personal attitudes, perceptions and stereotypes which may negatively affect patient care and professional relationships.
  • Examples of relevant activities:
    1. Emotional skills to remain calm in an emergency situation.
    2. Interpersonal skills to communicate effectively with patients and families of diverse religious, cultural or social backgrounds.
    3. Behavioral skills to demonstrate the exercise of good judgment and prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of clients.

E. Cognitive, Conceptual and Quantitative

  • Ability to exhibit behavior and intellectual functioning which does not differ from acceptable professional standards.
  • Ability to read and understand written documents in English and solve problems involving measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis.
  • Ability to gather data, develop a plan of action, establish priorities and monitor treatment plans and modalities.
  • Ability to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships.
  • Ability to learn effectively through a variety of modalities, including, but not limited to, classroom instruction, small group discussion, individual study of materials, preparation and presentation of written and oral reports, and use of computer-based technology.
  • Examples of relevant activities:
    1. Cognitive skills to calculate appropriate medication dosage given specific patient parameters.
    2. Conceptual ability to analyze and synthesize data and develop an appropriate plan of care.
    3. Quantitative ability to collect data, prioritize needs and anticipate reactions.
    4. Ability to comprehend spatial relationships adequate to properly administer intramuscular injections or assess wounds of varying depths.

Download and sign PDF of the Essential Standards for Admission, Progression and Graduation policy here.

Created 5/02; Revised 8/11; Rev 02/18; Rev 10/19

In the event of adverse weather conditions, the policies and procedures of the University are the main guide for the School of Nursing. Unless closed by the Chancellor or his designee, the University is always open. Information about the University’s operating status may be obtained by:

If the University is open, class, lab and clinical schedules will be followed to the extent possible. Individual faculty and students are in the best position to determine whether they can travel safely to campus or a clinical site. Individual judgments about personal circumstances must be made so that no one jeopardizes their safety and health.

If the University is officially open, but a faculty member is not able to travel due to adverse weather and must cancel a scheduled class or clinical, the faculty member should notify the School of Nursing and students. If Sakai is used in the course, and the faculty member has access to Sakai from home, a notice should be placed there as soon as possible. If the faculty member has access to email at home, a notice should be posted to the appropriate student listserv. In addition, the Office of Admissions and Student Services (919 966-4260) and the Office of Academic Affairs (919 966-7511) should be notified of the cancellation. Finally, faculty are encouraged to place a message on their office voice mail about cancellations.

If class or clinical is canceled, essential learning experiences still need to be met. Faculty may do this in a variety of ways such as adding small blocks of time to future classes or developing alternate guided student learning activities. Make-up sessions should not be planned for weekends, holidays or in conflict with other classes and clinical assignments. Students should check course syllabi for any specific requirements related to adverse weather.

If class or clinical is held on an adverse weather day and all students are not able to attend, faculty will provide make-up opportunities for any activities including exams that might jeopardize students’ progression in the course. If assignments are due, extensions will be given until either the University is open or all students are able to make it to campus.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing believes that professionalism begins with appearance and attire. The SON Uniform Policy is formulated to ensure high standards of dress and appearance that represent our university to area hospitals and community settings. The values of asepsis, client safety, and client sensitivity are also incorporated into the policy. Faculty reserve the right to ask a student to leave the clinical area if appearance is not in keeping with the SON Uniform Policy.



The official uniform for the School of Nursing may be purchased at UNC-Chapel Hill Student Stores:

  • Pewter gray scrub pants
  • Pewter gray scrub top with UNC SON logo*
  • Ceil blue scrub jacket with UNC SON logo*
    • Note: When ordering from UNC-Chapel Hill Student Stores, scrub jackets are not pre-embroidered. Please allow 2-3 weeks for scrub jacket embroidery.
  • A white lab coat should not be purchased as it will be provided to each new student at the annual White Coat Ceremony.
  • White or black leather (or comparable material) professional shoes and white or black socks will be worn with the uniform. No open back/open toe clogs. Shoes should be clean and in good repair.
  • Nametags. All undergraduate students must purchase two (2) nametags (standard size is approximately 1″ x 3″). Nametags should have black lettering on a white background and include the following information:



Students must wear a nametag as identification in clinical/research settings. Nametags may be purchased at most uniform or trophy/plaque stores (e.g., Signs Now/Occasions Engraving at Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill). Name tags and any agency specific ID badges must be visible at all times

Clinical Settings

The uniform must be worn on days in which you are in the clinical area unless faculty specifies otherwise. The uniform regulations stated above apply to many clinical settings. However, clinical practice dress codes may vary among clinical facilities/sites. Students are expected to adhere to any requirements specific to a particular clinical site. Uniforms are only to be worn in clinical areas, simulation labs or designated community events, such as health fairs.

Professional Attire

For certain clinical areas, or for picking up patient assignment information, attending classes in the clinical setting (e-charting, CPR etc), or attending special sessions such as orientation in preparation for the clinical assignment, students are required to wear business attire.

  • Scrub jacket or lab coat is required.
  • UNC SON nametag is required.
  • Pants or slacks to the ankle/shoe.
  • Dresses and or skirts must be covering the abdomen and to the knee.

The following are not permitted:

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Halters
  • Sleeveless shirts or camisoles worn alone
  • Items with logos other than the UNC SON
  • Flip-flops, slippers or excessively high-heeled shoes
  • Jewelry restricted to one wedding ring and no more than one pair of small earrings in the ear lobe. No large or dangling earrings should be worn in the clinical area or lab settings.
  • Necklaces should not be visible.
  • One watch with second hand is required.
  • No other visible body jewelry.
  • No tattoos should be visible.
  • Avoid all heavily scented products, e.g. soaps, perfumes, after shaves, deodorants, hair grooming items, laundry products, etc.
Hair and Nails
  • Hair is to be worn off the face, and should be neat as well as comfortable. If your hair is longer than shoulder length, it should be tied back.
  • Nails should be clean and neatly trimmed. Only clear nail polish is permitted.
  • Artificial nails are not permitted in the clinical setting.
  • Male students should be clean shaven or have neatly trimmed beards or moustache.
  • A white or light blue colored shirt may be worn under the uniform.
  • In addition to the requirements listed above, students must comply with any dress code policies for nurses set by the clinical agency in which students are participating in a clinical experience.
  • Gum chewing is not permitted. It detracts from your professional demeanor.
  • Cleanliness is an essential part of providing professional care to clients. Attention to personal hygiene and a clean, unwrinkled appearance are required. It is the right of patients to be cared for by staff who maintain high standards of personal hygiene and a related right of colleagues to expect a non-offensive and hypo-allergenic work environment. Students should report at the beginning of each clinical shift with, and maintain throughout their shift, clean clothing, being free of body odor or excessive perfume, cologne, after shave, fragrance or tobacco odor, and with a clean face, hands and fingernails. Visible tattoos and body piercings other than earrings are strongly discouraged and may be deemed inappropriate.

Revised-March 2011; Implementation: Spring 2011, revised February 2012



All graduate students in the clinical arena for the academic purposes of fulfilling clinical precepting assignments or conducting research must be identified as a School of Nursing student by displaying a proper nametag. During these activities, students are considered individual representatives of the School; therefore the students’ dress and behavior should reflect that professional level of responsibility.

The School of Nursing nametag will be attached to the left front (shoulder). The clinical preceptor or policies of the clinical agency in which the academic activity is being conducted shall designate specific attire.


Graduate students engaged in clinical practice or research activities must purchase two nametags (standard size is approximately 1″ x 3″). Nametags should have black lettering on a white background and include the following information:


Students must wear a nametag as identification in all clinical/research settings. Nametags may be purchased at most uniform or trophy/plaque stores (e.g., Signs Now/Occasions Engraving at Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill).

Revised-Sept 2015

Use of Social Media by School of Nursing Students and Employees

While social media allows the University to reach many audiences including faculty, staff and students, use of social media by School of Nursing faculty, staff and students presents special concerns for privacy and confidentiality. The general use of social media by SON faculty, staff and students is not affected by the following policy;* its use related to confidential information about the School (including the faculty, staff and students), patients or SON-clinical affiliates (agencies with which the SON has entered a contractual relationship to provide clinical experience opportunities for students) is notably restricted.

Social media are defined as, but not limited, to web-based or mobile technologies used for interactive communication. Examples of social media include but are not limited to collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g., Second Life). Regardless of how these forms of media are used, employees and students are responsible for the content they post or promote. Content contributed on these platforms is immediately searchable and shareable, regardless of whether that is the intention of the contributor. Once posted online, the content leaves the contributing individual’s control forever and may be traced back to the individual in perpetuity.


Official SON electronic communication regarding academic classes or academic schedules will occur through School-sanctioned channels, e.g., UNC- Chapel Hill email, listservs, Blackboard, Sakai, and UNC-CH websites. Electronic communications for academic courses are NOT permitted outside these channels.

Social Media

SON students and employees are prohibited from disclosing the following through social media:

  • Protected Health Information, as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – For example, individuals may not disclose patient names or otherwise refer to patients in any way that identifies them individually, including by their initials or by their location (e.g., hospital name or unit).
  • Education Record Information, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – Employees may not disclose FERPA- protected information regarding students.
  • Confidential Personnel Information, as defined by the State Personnel Act – Employees may not disclose confidential personnel information regarding other employees.
  • Confidential, non-public or proprietary information about
    • families, clinical facility staff or clinicalinstitutions;
    • the School, its employees and students;
  • Copyrighted or intellectual property belonging to the University.
  • Comments that express or imply sponsorship or endorsement by the School or the University, unless you are officially authorized to act in this capacity on behalf of the University or the School.

Accordingly, the use of social media for clinical discussions that include any identifiable information related to patients or SON-affiliated clinical facilities is prohibited.

If a faculty member or student identifies themselves as such online (e.g., list affiliation with the School in their Facebook profile), a disclaimer should be added that any opinions or views expressed do not represent the opinions of the School of Nursing or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Students in violation of this policy may be considered as having violated the UNC-CH Honor Code., Further, like faculty and staff who violate this policy, students may face disciplinary action up to and including termination, and may be subject to personal, civil and /or criminal liability and legal penalties. Violations include, but are not limited to, unprofessional and/or unethical conduct, mismanagement of patient records, breach of confidentiality, revealing privileged communication, among others.

Related references

Download and sign PDF of Social Media policy here.

* Other than any issues related to HIPAA, FERPA and other sensitive information as noted at, all of which remain prohibited disclosures, even in personal (social media or otherwise) communications.

Approved by SON Faculty: 04/09/12; 11/19

The School of Nursing has a legal and ethical responsibility to protect members of the public and the health care community from unsafe or unprofessional nursing practices. Students engaged in the study of nursing who demonstrate practices that endanger the public and/or violate the North Carolina Nurse Practice Act and related Administrative Code Rules or are unable to comply with the School of Nursing’s Essential Standards for Admission, Progression and Graduation may be referred to and reviewed by the Office of the Dean of Students.

This may include, but is not limited to, Emergency Evaluation and Action Committee consideration and/or referral to other entities as deemed necessary by applicable law or policy. Grounds for this referral include, but are not limited to, students that “(1) present physical or emotional problems which conflict with safety essential to nursing practice and do not respond to treatment or counseling within a timeframe that enables meeting program objectives; (2) demonstrate behavior which conflicts with safety essential to nursing practice” (21 NCAC 36.0320 (d) (1)(2). Additional information regarding the Emergency Evaluation and Action Committee and its policies and procedures is available online at

Approved by the Academic Affairs Council, August 28, 2014; Revised by Academic Affairs Policy Committee, July 10, 2019.

The School of Nursing seeks to provide a safe environment for students whether on the campus, within the school or in assigned clinical practice settings. At the campus level, the Department of Public Safety publishes a variety of campus and community security measures.

Students are encouraged to download the Rave Guardian Safety App to enhance personal safety both on and off campus.

School of Nursing and classroom safety is outlined in Disruptive Conduct and Workplace Violence Prevention and in the document describing SON Emergency procedures.

Agency specific safety guidelines, including parking and safe transit to and from the physical facility or client’s home, are reviewed with students prior to entering the clinical setting for students at all program levels. A required web-based orientation for clinical placement at the undergraduate level outlines safety precautions within any acute care clinical setting in “Student and Faculty Core Orientation.”

Approved by the Academic Affairs Council, September 22, 2014


Because of the broad scope of clinical facilities and locations, undergraduate nursing students must have access to a car. For information about the North Carolina requirements for automobile liability insurance, vehicle registration and operators license, write to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, Raleigh, NC 27602. Students and/or parents are responsible for maintaining appropriate insurance coverage. Some insurance companies may consider such travel as “business driving.”

Expenses for travel are the responsibility of the student.


Graduate students must have access to a car due to the broad scope of clinical facilities and locations.

Expenses for travel are the responsibility of the student.

Students can anticipate travel up to 1.5 hours one-way to a clinical site placement location. Situations may arise when travel one-way may be up to 2 hours. Students are responsible for their own transportation to clinical sites and should consider this factor when calculating and planning for their education expenses and scheduling demands.

The process of academic advisement is one of information exchange, communication, teaching and guidance. The advisor should be the advisee’s most accurate source of information about the system at the Program, School and University levels. The advisor makes sure that the advisee receives relevant notices, is available on a regular basis for questions or consultation and helps the student manage problems that interfere with the student’s educational progress.

As a guide or consultant, the advisor has the opportunity to help the student articulate and realize some segment of her or his life goals. Advisors are responsible for and instrumental in guiding the student to plan and pursue a program of study that meets all requirements for graduation as well as focusing on the student’s goals. The advisor is more than a source of information about registration; s/he is a coordinator of a student’s entire educational experience.

Assignment of an Advisor

Each student admitted to the Graduate Program is assigned to an academic advisor. Advisors for Master of Science (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice students (BSN-DNP) are assigned by the coordinator in each student’s advanced practice area. Advisors for MSN-DNP students are assigned by the Director of Graduate Practice Programs in collaboration with the assigned coordinator. Advisors for PhD students are assigned by the PhD Program Director. After a student is assigned an advisor, the student should check to see if her or his advisor has scheduled office hours. If there are no scheduled hours, leave a voicemail message or send an e-mail message to the advisor. If the faculty advisor is away, the coordinator of the student’s advanced practice area or the respective Program is the back-up advisor.

Requesting a Change in Advisor

Graduate students may request a change in advisor by completing the Graduate Advisor Change Form. MSN and DNP students must meet with the coordinator in their advanced practice areas before making this change. Ph.D. students may meet with the PhD Program Director if they desire. The form is available in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Developing a Plan of Study

At the time of the student’s first pre-registration period, a meeting will be held between the academic advisor and student to develop and complete a Plan of Study. The entire program should be over-viewed so that the student has a context for her or his course of study. The investment of time needed for the program should be addressed so the student can make necessary adjustments to work or personal schedules to accommodate any unanticipated demands.

To assist in planning the course of study, the advisor will explore with the student both long- and short-term goals as well as any aids the student perceives s/he will need to complete the program. Knowledge of the student’s goals will help the advisor make recommendations of electives or courses to support the student’s goals. The advisor can link the student with campus resources that might be of assistance. The advisor will inform the student about how s/he handles advisement appointments and provide the student information about the advisor’s availability and ways s/he can be contacted.

The Plan of Study for first-semester graduate practice students (MSN and DNP) is submitted by the student to the Office of Academic Affairs at the time of the first pre-registration. The student and academic advisor will receive copies of the plan from the Office of Academic Affairs. Thereafter, an updated Plan of Study is submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs. Current plans of study provide essential information for planning course offerings in future academic years. Ph.D. students should have the advisory committees review their plans of study each semester. Their plans of study must be approved by either their advisory committee or their dissertation committee prior to taking the written comprehensive examination.

Signing Up for Classes

Each semester the Office of Student Affairs will notify students of the registration period(s). The Office of Student Affairs will assist students who encounter problems with registration.

Class lists, course schedules, and the course map are posted on the SON Website. Each student will schedule an appointment with her or his advisor during the advisement period to plan the next semester’s course(s) and update the Plan of Study (dated and signed by student and advisor). These forms should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Updated June 2016

Graduate Students

If, in the judgment of the academic program and the Administrative Board of The Graduate School, a student fails to make satisfactory progress towards the completion of the degree or to demonstrate sufficient promise in the discipline, the student will not be allowed to continue in The Graduate School.

Please see the University Graduate Handbook for specific details.

Post-Master’s Students

A postmaster’s student will be unable to proceed in their program of study if he or she receives a grade of F, or if he or she receives a grade of L in more than 20% of the total credits in the student’s plan of study.

MSN students see Academic Performance and Progressions Policy 

See PhD Handbook for PhD Student Progression and Reinstatement Policies

DNP Students see Academic Performance and Progression Policy

Updated July 2014

Each student applies for a degree for a specific commencement, depending on degree. Students must submit an electronic application for graduation no later than the deadline for the semester in which they expect to graduate (See Registrar’s calendar). The Graduate School will make no exceptions for applications submitted after the deadline. If a student does not graduate in the semester requested, then the student must reapply for graduation in a subsequent semester.

Use of Assistive Devices in Examinations

Assistive devices, such as PDAs, calculators, translators, or other electronic devices, are not allowed into an examination session for use by students unless faculty have approved use of these devices for all students prior to the examination. One exception to this is the use of assistive devices that have been approved by Disability Services. In instances where an assistive device has been approved by Disability Services, the student should inform the course faculty prior to the examination session.

English as a second language is not classified as a disability by the University. Use of translation devices is not permitted in the undergraduate program during course exams or program performance testing. At the graduate level, use of translation devices is the prerogative of the supervising faculty. Permission to use translation devices at the graduate level must be obtained by students in advance of the planned use.

New technologies will need to be monitored and evaluated as they become available. Questions about assistive devices can be directed to course faculty or the appropriate Assistant Dean.

A graduate student working toward a master’s degree has five calendar years from the date of the first registration to complete all requirements for the degree. (See Unversity Graduate Handbook.)

A graduate student working for a doctoral degree has eight calendar years from the date of the first registration to complete all requirements for the degree. (See Unversity Graduate Handbook.)

Extension of the Time Limit

When special circumstances warrant, an extension of time to complete the degree may be granted upon petition by the student to the Dean of the Graduate School. The appropriate Assistant Dean in the School can request on the student’s behalf such an extension upon meeting with the student and advisor. For more information, contact the Office of Academic Affairs.

Responsiveness to SON Students related to written work

Faculty and students need to have a “working timetable” for the return of written work, whether the work is submitted for a regularly scheduled course, independent work of the student, and/or professional dissemination. The expectation is that faculty will return students written work within 10 business days of submission, unless otherwise negotiated or specified. The turnaround time depends, of course, on the volume of work to be reviewed and the nearness of deadlines (e.g., revisions of journal manuscript galleys may require a 24 hour turn-around). Faculty should publish their planned turnaround time in course syllabi and discuss the same with students enrolled in independent studies or research project/thesis/dissertation courses.

Email and voice mail

Despite the instantaneous nature of email and the ability of voice mail messages to be left for faculty almost around the clock, immediate response to such messages is not expected or even feasible. Nonetheless, in most circumstances most email and voice mail messages should be able to be responded to within 2 business days. When additional work is needed to fully respond to an email or voice mail message, a preliminary reply should occur during which it should be noted when a more complete response will occur.

Faculty availability between semesters and non-contract times

The majority of the faculty have contracts that run mid-August to mid-May. Students should not expect that independent work (e.g., any work related to projects, theses, papers, dissertations, comprehensive exams or incomplete course work) will proceed with faculty input during the times that faculty are unpaid, unless otherwise negotiated with the involved faculty. In addition, faculty will generally not be available for the above when academic semesters are not in session.

Approved by the SON faculty at October and November 2009 Faculty Meetings.

Grade Appeals

Course grades of H, P, L, F, and F* are permanent grades. Students have the option of formally appealing a permanent grade. Before filing an appeal for a grade, the student must address her or his concerns to the instructor who assigned the grade.

For an appeal to be considered, the student must follow the process outlined in the Graduate School Handbook.

Please NOTE: Graduate students must submit a written grade appeal and statement to the respective Assistant Dean (MSN/DNP or PhD) no later than the end of the 3rd week of the next regularly scheduled enrollment period.

Grade Changes

If an arithmetic or clerical error is detected, the instructor shall initiate a change of grade form for approval of the appropriate Assistant Dean (MSN/DNP or PhD) and approval of the Dean of the Graduate School. For more details, please see the Graduate School Handbook.

Faculty members have the responsibility for grading in accordance with UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate grading policy. The method used for determining all course grades will be at the discretion of the individual faculty.

A uniform grading scale is used across the graduate courses in the School of Nursing. If faculty are using a number range to assign course grades, the uniform numerical grading scale may be found below:

H     High Pass              94-100
P     Pass                       80-93
L     Low Pass               70-79
F     Fail                         <70

For a detailed description of graduate grading, see the University Graduate Handbook, Grading.

IN (Incomplete) Grade

Please refer to the Graduate School policy regarding a temporary grade of IN (incomplete).

In order to receive a grade of IN, the student must negotiate a timeline with the course instructor specifying the:

  • Date the remaining coursework will be completed (as in the case of clinical hours), and
  • Method the student will use to complete the course requirements (as in the case of didactic material).

It is the sole responsibility of the student to complete the course and initiate the grade change prior to the one year deadline. The faculty giving the IN is responsible for notifying the Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.

The instructor may set the period of time for removing the IN or AB grade in a non-prerequisite course for progressing in the clinical management courses; the time of the extension may not exceed one year. If the time allowed is less than one year, this information should be transmitted in writing to the student and copied to the Graduate School (see policy). A temporary grade converts to F* unless the grade is replaced with a permanent grade by the last day of classes for the same term one year later.

NOTE: Temporary grades are not available as a graduate grade in thesis and dissertation research courses (992/993/994). Faculty advisors and instructors should use the permanent HPLF graduate grading scale for reflecting academic progress on research in a given term.

When extenuating circumstances warrant, The Graduate School may grant a student a time extension to complete a course and replace a temporary grade.

In the MSN and DNP programs:

An IN grade in any sequential nursing course in any semester must be removed by the end of the second week of the next semester in order for the student to continue enrollment in the next nursing course in the sequence according to prerequisites as stated in the University Record.

Updated August 2018

Within the five (master’s) – or eight-year (PhD and DNP) limit, a graduate student in good academic standing may request a leave of absence (LOA) from graduate study for a definite, stated period of time (up to one year) during which the student does not plan to make academic progress. To be eligible for a leave of absence, a student must not have received an extension of time limit for the degree, and must not have temporary grades IN or AB on coursework taken.

In advance of the leave period, the graduate student shall complete and submit to the Graduate School a Request for Leave of Absence form. This form requires approval by the advisor, Lead Faculty, and Assistant Dean-MSN/DNP. If the Graduate School approves the leave of absence, the time of that leave shall not count against the total time allowed for the degree. The student must formally apply for readmission to the Graduate School after an approved leave of absence. This is generally a formality. Ordinarily, a leave of absence may not be renewed. Required forms may be found at the Graduate School Form Finder Web site.

All students who are classified as out-of-state residents are strongly encouraged to review the Registrar’s Manual on claiming North Carolina Residency.

This information and application forms may be obtained from the Graduate School located in Room 200 Bynum Hall or via the links above. In addition, the Graduate School offers workshops on claiming North Carolina residency.

Students may have concerns during their educational experience about a particular course, clinical experience, and/or faculty teaching style. Any student enrolled in the School of Nursing who believes s/he is facing a situation involving unfair treatment or an injustice of substantial proportions involving a course has a right to address the situation. It is also important to recognize that faculty and administrators have rights in these situations as well. Dealing with issues and concerns is an important part of students’ professional development and will serve students in a variety of ways as they enter their professional career.

Generally there are two types of concerns or issues: those dealing with a specific course and those dealing with a faculty member or administrator in the School of Nursing. It is recognized, however, that in practice these issues can rarely be clearly separated. In general, dealing with the issues at the level closest to the problem is the most effective approach. The primary point of contact for addressing issues related to a course is the faculty member who teaches in the course or who is designated as course coordinator. The primary point of contact for addressing issues related to a faculty member is the faculty member.

On occasion students may enter the system where they are most comfortable. When students seek assistance from someone outside the process as outlined, either administration or faculty, the individual contacted should listen to the student(s) concerns, inform them of the appropriate mechanism for dealing with the concern, and identify with the student the appropriate person(s) to contact and process to follow.

Guiding principles

  • Issues should be addressed and resolved at the lowest level possible.
  • Concerns and issues need to be presented in a constructive manner and with objective data.
  • Faculty have a right to be informed by a student about issues that involve them.
  • Attempts will be made to help the student gain the support needed to handle the situation.
  • Course coordinators will be included in course-related issues.
  • Students may bring a support person with them as they discuss issues although the support person may not participate in the discussions and may not be a legal counsel.
  • While there are multiple potential entry points in the School of Nursing that a student may use to address a situation, the general flow chart which outlines the process for addressing course-related issues will be followed.
  • In situations where the student is unwilling to follow the required process, the faculty or staff member who is initially contacted will work with the student to identify the most appropriate person and level in the process to address the situation.

Process for Resolving Issues

When addressing course or faculty related issues, students should follow the recommended steps as depicted in Figure 1: Process for Addressing Course and Faculty-related Issues.

  1. Student issues or concerns related to a faculty member should first be discussed directly with the faculty member. If, following the discussion, the problem remains unresolved, the student should bring the issue to the appropriate Assistant Dean (UG, MSN/DNP, or PhD) who will involve any other relevant parties.
  2. Student issues or concerns related to a course or clinical practice should first be discussed with the course or clinical faculty member and Lead Faculty. If, following the discussion, the problem remains unresolved, the respective Assistant Dean. Preferably this would be accomplished in a meeting that includes the faculty member and other relevant parties.
  3. Unresolved faculty related issues should be directed to the respective Assistant Dean who will contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Dean, or other school administrators as deemed appropriate.
  4. Unresolved course related issues should be directed to the respective Assistant Dean who will contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Dean , or other school administrators as deemed appropriate.

The School of Nursing values opportunities to compare the quality of our program to others and to receive systematic advice from faculty, students, alumni and other external constituents. While periodic reviews by our professional accrediting agencies and the Graduate School provide particular motivation for evaluation, the School also depends on organized evaluations annually from the:

  • Teacher and Course Evaluation for all teachers and all courses.
  • Occasional surveys or focus groups, such as those conducted jointly by the Graduate Student Action Body, faculty and administration.

All data collected by the School are treated confidentially without identification of individuals. Only group data are reported. If you have suggestions about ways to improve the evaluation process, the Assistant Deans (MSN/DNP and PhD) welcome your comments.

Updated July 2014

Graduate students who have not maintained continuous registration (e.g., authorized or unauthorized leave of absence) during each academic year are considered a withdrawn student; they must re-apply and be readmitted to the University. Applications for readmission are available from the Graduate School and must be completed prior to the term in which the student plans to re-enroll (see University Graduate School Handbook.)

The Graduate School deadlines for applying for readmission are July 1 for fall, Dec. 1 for spring, April 1 for the first summer session and June 1 for the second summer session. The School of Nursing deadlines are one month prior to the above dates to allow time for processing and getting the paperwork to the Graduate School.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Academic Affairs for further information regarding the readmissions process, including internal School of Nursing deadlines for submission of applications.

See related handbook material for Master’s Students:
  • Reinstatement Process
  • Formal Leave of Absence (above)
  • Formal Withdrawal Or Medical Leave Of Absence

Research assistants (RA) help professors with various research-related tasks, such as bibliographic investigation, construction of measuring instruments, data collection and processing. Depending on program requirements, teaching assistants (TA) and research assistants (RAs) may combine more than one position but are not allowed to work more than a total of 20 hours a week without special approval of the Assistant Dean (MSN/DNP or PhD). TAs and RAs are eligible for tuition remission and health insurance. Many RA and TA positions require clinical activities or contact with human subjects. Students in those positions will have to present a North Carolina license to practice nursing, evidence of meeting health and safety requirements and evidence of personal malpractice insurance prior to hiring. RA positions also require meeting human subjects training requirements.

The University of North Carolina is the legal owner of all student and post-doctoral fellow research data obtained to meet degree requirements or as part of a grant to the University. University Policy requires that faculty maintain custodianship of student research data and that students be able to have copies of their data. This allows the University to respond to possible future inquiries from sponsors or other regulatory bodies with regard to the data as the University may have continuing obligations under the terms of a sponsored agreement.

  1. This policy applies to all School of Nursing students and post-doctoral fellows who obtain data through grants to the university or using data from faculty grants. In addition, faculty and students must adhere to data-sharing requirements from the sponsor/funding agency.
  2. Faculty are expected to maintain custodianship of the raw data (e.g., questionnaires, videotape scoring, transcripts of audiotapes, field notes, etc.) and any final analysis runs for the specified retention period identified by the funding agency.  For NIH-funded grants, the retention period is three years from the date the final financial report is submitted.  Files originally in electronic form, such as analysis runs or audiotape transcripts, may be kept in either electronic format or as hard copies. Data originally in hard copies (e.g., questionnaires, field notes) must be maintained in the original hard copy format. If the IRB application states that tape recordings will be erased or destroyed once transcribed/coded, they should not be retained.  Otherwise, they are subject to the same secure protection and retention requirements as are any other research data. Data obtained through funding through sources other than NIH should be retained in accordance with the requirements of the funding agency. Data obtained through non-funded research should be retained for 3 years after the study is closed with the IRB.
  3. Custodianship means the faculty member has possession of the data and can produce it for auditors or others who might have questions about it. Custodianship does not automatically grant publication rights. Publication rights are determined by standard scientific principles. The researcher must recognize that the institution has the right of access to the data collected and generated under sponsored projects.
  4. To guarantee that faculty are given these data, the final copies of dissertations or research projects are not to be signed until the faculty member is in possession of the data.
  5. Students have the right to make copies of these data at their own expense and take these copies with them when they leave the University. They also have the right to access the data at the University. They have the right to publish the data consistent with standard scientific principles and any agreements they made with the faculty or collaborators at the time that the data was collected.
  6. Student data may be stored in locked storage in faculty offices, faculty research rooms, or RSC-approved archives.
  7. Should a researcher leave the institution, the institution and researcher should come to agreement over whether the researcher may take the original data or an identical copy of the data. If the researcher takes the original data, a copy must be left at the institution. In addition, the researcher must agree to retain the original data for the required retention period and to provide access to the original data to the institution as well as other individuals or entities having a legitimate need for access. The latter would primarily be related to lawsuits, intellectual property disputes, and cases of research misconduct in which access to the original data is not just preferred, but required.

Approved by Academic Affairs Council, 9/27/2016; to be reviewed 8/2019.

Introduction and Principles

Many students who are enrolled in the School of Nursing, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, find that they need to work; however, it is often difficult to accommodate the demands of academic and work schedules concurrently. It also is acknowledged that work in a clinical or educational setting may enhance the student’s academic and professional development. Where possible, it is the intent of both the faculty and the Office of Academic Affairs to encourage students to balance the demands of school and work in a way that promotes optimal learning and healthy lifestyles.

The School has established guidelines for how much and to what degree it employs students within the School of Nursing. To this end, students should not be employed at a level that will compromise their academic progress. While the School of Nursing cannot control how much students work outside of their student role, the faculty do get involved when outside employment interferes with academic responsibilities and performance.

Recommendations on Employment Outside the School of Nursing

Full-time students are encouraged to limit their work activities outside of school as much as possible to insure they can meet their academic responsibilities. In the past, experience has shown that full-time undergraduate students who attempt to work at greater than 30 percent time (15 hours per week) are highly likely to jeopardize academic performance.

The same principles, in general, apply to graduate students. Students are likely to successfully manage 3-4 credits of academic work and full-time employment, but experience has shown that success becomes questionable when the academic workload increases. Full-time graduate students are encouraged to work no more than 50 percent (20 hours per week) while engaged actively in coursework.

All students for whom a reduction in employed hours may create a hardship are encouraged to seek public and private funds to support their educational program. The University’s Office of Scholarship and Student Aid (962-8396) is available to assist with the pursuit of public scholarship funds as well as federal grants and loans. The Office of Student Affairs (1200 Carrington, 966-4260) will assist with identifying potential sources of private funds for which a student may be eligible to apply.

Funding support from the School of Nursing is limited; an annual call for applications is made each spring for fall disbursement. All eligible students receive printed and electronic notification of the process and are encouraged to apply. Funds have been secured from a variety of sources and represent both merit- and need-based opportunities.

Employment Within the School of Nursing as GA, TA, RA or Teaching Fellow

In general, graduate students will not be appointed at greater than 50 percent (20 hours per week) to work as a Graduate Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow or Research Assistant. Levels greater than 50 percent likely will affect student academic progression. Exceptions to employment at a level greater than 50 percent within the School require the approval of the appropriate Assistant Dean and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and are more likely for part-time students.

Related material in UNC Graduate Student Handbook:

The School values and encourages the participation of students in extra-curricular professional activities, believing that this participation can expand the perspective offered by classroom learning, promote leadership and professional development and enhance the visibility of the School. These events may at times, however, conflict with essential course or clinical activities. When these conflicts occur, the student should schedule a meeting with the appropriate course coordinator(s) to discuss possible solutions.

Consideration in the decision-making process should be given to those students with a significant history with the organization and those in leadership roles; an assessment of the relationship of the activity to the student’s career goals and a determination of the degree to which the potential learning at the meeting will enhance the regular curriculum. Consideration must also be given to the current academic and clinical performance of the student making the request and the possible academic or clinical consequences of missing essential experiences.

If class, exams, course presentations or clinical practice is missed, essential learning experiences still need to be met. Faculty may do this in a variety of ways such as developing guided independent student learning activities, scheduling a make-up opportunity, extending clinical time for the remaining clinical days or incorporating learning from the professional activity into course activities through an oral or written report. The final decision regarding participation in these activities resides with the course coordinator.

Update July 2014

Registration and Course Credits

All graduate students must be registered during any semester or summer session in which University resources are being used (e.g., during the semester(s) in which they take their comprehensive examinations and during the semester in which the thesis, project or dissertation is defended to the Graduate School). Students who defend their thesis, project, or dissertation in one semester and plan to submit these documents to the Graduate School in the next semester do not need to register or pay tuition in the submission semester as long as the appropriate documents indicating a successful defense have been submitted to the Graduate School in the semester in which the defense occurred. Registration during either summer session will cover the use of university resources for the entire summer. Students do not need to be registered during the summer months in order to retain their status from one academic year to the next.

Students should register for no more than 16 hours in any semester. A student enrolled in the summer may not register for, and will not receive graduate credit for, more than eight hours a session. Overload requests are considered on an exceptional basis and should be initiated by the student’s academic program and forwarded to The Graduate School for approval. Please see the Graduate School Handbook for further details.

Dissertation, thesis or master’s paper hours must be taken for a minimum of three credits in a semester and are considered a full-time load with or without other courses. Please see the Graduate School Handbook for further details.

Students may take a maximum of two graduate-level courses through inter-institutional registration during a fall or spring term or a maximum of one graduate-level course during a summer term, provided that the student is also registered for the balance of his/her normal load (at least three credit hours) at UNC-Chapel Hill. Students may take these courses at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina Central University, or Duke University.

Please see a more detailed description of how to make this request and necessary forms in the Graduate School Handbook’s section on Inter-Institutional Registration.

The University requirements related to transfer of course credit are as follows:

  • All transfer work must have an earned grade of B or better (B- is not equivalent to B).
  • The Graduate School must have an official transcript of the transfer credit showing satisfactory completion of the course.
  • Correspondence or extension courses are not eligible for transfer credit, nor are courses taken on a Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis.

See the University Graduate Handbook for specific details that govern the transfer process.

See sections below for requirements specific to MSN, DNP, and PhD students.

The over-riding consideration in all decisions about course transfer and exemption is that students are provided with sufficient opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to successfully complete their degree program.

BSN to MSN Students

Upon recommendation of the academic program and approval by The Graduate School:

  • Up to 20 percent of the total hours required for the MSN degree may be graduate-level courses transferred from another approved institution or from this institution for courses completed before admission to an academic program in The Graduate School.
  • Credit received for graduate-level courses taken as an undergraduate may be transferred into an academic program with the program’s approval, provided the course did not count toward the requirements of the undergraduate degree.
  • Transferred credits will not be included in the program residency credit calculation
  • Graduate courses in Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Pathophysiology will not be accepted for transfer credit if the completed course is more than three years old at projected time of enrollment in the first clinical management course.
  • All other coursework approved for transfer or exemption must have been completed within five years of the projected date of matriculation. Courses completed more than five years prior to the student’s entry cannot be transferred or used to demonstrate equivalent knowledge (exemption).
  • Course transfer or exemption will not be granted for advanced health assessment or clinical management courses, including practica.
Process for Requesting Course Transfer or Exemption

MSN students may request course transfer or exemption upon submission of a written request (see Course Transfer/Exemption Form) to the School of Nursing registrar in the Office of Student Affairs. Graduate coursework for which transfer or exemption is requested must have been taken within a 5-year time limit. The registrar will initiate the review process by completing the transfer credit recommendation form and submitting it to the Assistant Dean of the MSN Program.

(Approved MEC, DNP-EC, January 2017)

BSN to DNP Students

Upon recommendation of the academic program and approval by The Graduate School:

  • A doctoral student may transfer into his or her degree program relevant graduate courses from approved institutions or from other graduate programs within this institution.
  • A doctoral student may be examined on all transferred courses at the time of the doctoral oral examination.
  • Transferred credits will not be included in the program residency credit calculation
  • A maximum of 12 credit hours may be transferred in from an accredited graduate program.
    • Completed graduate courses in Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Pathophysiology will not be accepted for transfer credit if more than three years old at projected time of enrollment in the first clinical management course.
    • All other coursework approved for transfer or exemption must have been completed within five years of the projected date of matriculation. Courses completed more than five years prior to the student’s entry cannot be transferred or used to demonstrate equivalent knowledge (exemption).
    • Course transfer or exemption will not be granted for advanced health assessment or clinical management courses, including practica.
    • All 900-level courses that support the DNP Project (920, 922, 923, 941, 942, 943, 994) must be completed at UNC-CH School of Nursing.
Process for Requesting Course Transfer or Exemption

DNP students may request course transfer or exemption by submitting a written request (see Course Transfer/Exemption Form) with a copy of the course syllabus to the School of Nursing registrar in the Office of Student Affairs. Graduate coursework for which transfer or exemption is requested must have been taken within a 5-year time limit. The registrar will initiate the review process by completing the transfer credit recommendation form and submitting it to the Assistant Dean of the DNP Program.

(Approved MEC, DNP-EC, January 2017)

Updated May 2020


MSN to DNP Students

Upon recommendation of the academic program and approval by The Graduate School:

  • A doctoral student may transfer into his or her degree program relevant graduate courses from approved institutions or from other graduate programs within this institution.
  • A doctoral student may be examined on all transferred courses at the time of the doctoral oral examination.
  • Transferred credits will not be included in the program residency credit calculation.
  • Coursework approved for transfer or exemption must have been completed within five years of the projected date of matriculation. Courses completed more than five years prior to the student’s entry into the program cannot be transferred or used to demonstrate equivalent knowledge (exemption).
  • Course transfer or exemption will not be granted for clinical management courses or practica.
  • All 900-level courses that support the DNP Project (920, 921, 922, 941, 942, 943, 994) must be taken at UNC-CH School of Nursing.
Process for Requesting Course Transfer or Exemption

DNP students may request course transfer or exemption by submitting a written request (see Course Transfer/Exemption Form) with a copy of the course syllabus to the School of Nursing registrar in the Office of Student Affairs. Graduate coursework for which transfer or exemption is requested must have been taken within a 5-year time limit. The registrar will initiate the review process by completing the transfer credit recommendation form and submitting it to the Assistant Dean of the DNP Program.

(Approved MEC, DNP-EC, January 2017)

Updated May 2020


PhD Students

PhD students who wish to transfer courses are referred to the Graduate School policy.

PhD: Updated March 2017

Adding Courses

Courses may be added only during the official add period.

Dropping Courses

Forms to drop a course are available in the Office of Admissions and Student Services for use after the telephonic system closes (See the Registrar’s Calendar page for deadlines). Students must maintain at least one course during the fall and spring semesters in order to maintain enrollment.

Registration For Three Hours Of Master’s Paper/Thesis/Dissertation

Students are required (see University Graduate Handbook) to be registered whenever University resources (including faculty time) are being consumed to appropriately reflect work being done. In addition, the following specific registration requirements apply.

Master’s students must be registered for three hours of master’s paper or thesis at a minimum during the semester that they defend their research activity.  Graduate students may register for three or more credits; however, additional credits will not be added to the minimum needed for graduation beyond the three to six hours (master’s paper, three credits; thesis, three to six credits) appropriate for a MSN student or six hours required for a DNP and Ph.D. students.

Teaching and Research Assistant Recipients

Each student holding a service or non-service appointment must be registered to hold that position during the fall and spring semesters.

Withdrawal from the University

(See University Graduate Handbook section on Withdrawal)

Students wishing to withdraw from the University must meet with their advisor and the appropriate program Assistant Dean. Upon notification from the Office of Academic Affairs, the registrar in the Office Student Affairs will give a withdrawal form to the student for processing with appropriate University offices. Questions about the process for changing student status should be directed to the appropriate program Assistant Dean or the School of Nursing Registrar in Carrington Hall, Suite 1200.


The School of Nursing is committed to the conduct of research as a core component of its mission.  As part of this commitment, the School will facilitate, within identified parameters, the potential participation of School of Nursing students as subjects in research projects of faculty and students in academic units at UNC-CH as well as entities beyond this campus.  Participation by students as subjects in a research project is always voluntary. A student’s choice whether to participate or decline will not jeopardize their academic standing in any course or program.  Approval to approach nursing students in any School of Nursing program or course must be obtained by the researcher from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. This includes recruitment for any type of research activity, ranging from participation in a clinical study to an educational research project.  IRB approval is also required and informed consent procedures designated by the IRB must be followed.

Procedure for Student Participation

The following steps must be followed for the recruitment of students and collection of data from students in approved research projects:

  1. The researcher must submit a request to access students as subjects and a copy of the IRB approval[1] to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before any recruitment activities take place.  The request should include the plan for recruiting students and provide sufficient detail on the time commitment that would be required if classroom time is being proposed for recruitment or data collection. The IRB approval must have been obtained from an IRB at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  If approval has been obtained by a non-university researcher at another federally designated IRB (FWA), the external IRB approval is sufficient unless the study requires UNC-Chapel Hill to be engaged in conducting research (i.e., a UNC-Chapel Hill employee or student obtains data about subjects through intervention or interaction, possesses private information about the subjects, or is involved in the informed consent process of subjects).  If UNC-Chapel Hill is engaged in research, review by the UNC-Chapel Hill IRB is required.
  2. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or designee will contact the appropriate Assistant Dean, who will review the study as appropriate.  Final approval to approach students will be made by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in consultation with the relevant Assistant Dean(s) and will notify the researcher of the decision.
    1. The preferred approach to student recruitment is outside the context of an individual class. The Office of Academic Affairs will facilitate recruitment of students in approved projects by posting informational flyers from the investigator in the School of Nursing, distributing approved recruitment announcements prepared by the investigator to student listservs, or other similar broadcasting activities.  Under no circumstances will student names be provided to investigators for contacting students directly.
    2. If the researcher provides sufficient reasons for wanting to recruit students in a convened course, permission from the course coordinator must be granted to the researcher for use of class time. This permission is required to either describe or promote the project in a class session or to gather data. Recruitment of students during a convened class session in any program can take place only if there is demonstrated educational value in the research topic proportional to the time needed for recruiting students in the class.

[1] The IRB approval may not always be “in hand” at the time access is requested, but must be available before permission can be granted.

Y:common/sharedoc/Guidelines-Policies-Procedures/Policies and Procedures/Access of SON Students for Research

Approved General Faculty, March 1, 2004; Reviewed and approved by Academic Affairs Council 3/28/2017.

All projects, master’s theses and doctoral dissertations research involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved by a UNC Chapel Hill Institutional Review Board (IRB, also called Human Subjects Committee) or by an IRB with which the UNC-Chapel Hill IRB can negotiate an IRB Authorization Agreement. The UNC-Chapel Hill IRB has negotiated these agreements with many institutions including Duke University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine and Wake Medical Center. Research involving human subjects and submitted for external or internal funding, including NRSAs and minority supplements, also typically needs IRB approval, although whether that approval must be received before submission or after funding varies among funding agencies. Research is generally considered to involve human subjects if the investigator has direct or indirect contact with individuals or identifiable data or pathological specimens about living persons. Research using only data from publicly available and deidentified databases or from published sources may not be considered human subjects research if no one on the study team has a way to link to the identity of the original subjects; this determination is best made by the IRB. It is important to note that databases without name or social security number are not necessarily deidentified, as there are many other demographics considered as “identifiers.” Determination of whether or not data is sufficiently deidentified is best made by the IRB.

A number of studies submitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill IRB are deemed “not human subjects” research which means, once reviewed and so designated, no further involvement with the IRB is needed unless a change in the study might alter that decision. This designation can be given to studies that involve human beings but are not considered to be research in the federal regulations (e.g., not systematic, as in single subject case studies and/or are not designed to contribute to generalizeable knowledge, as in program evaluation or quality improvement projects) or when information is collected from humans but is not about them (e.g, a survey of public health department directors about the content of programs offered).  When a student has a study that might qualify for a “not human subjects research” designation from the IRB, the online IRB application will be shortened considerably.  Once submitted, the IRB will review the application and let the student know if it agrees with the “not human subjects research” determination. If it does not agree, then a longer IRB application will be necessary.

IRB applications are submitted online and students can be “PI” (Principal Investigator) for the IRB submission. However, the faculty member guiding the research, typically the research advisory committee chair, must be listed as the faculty advisor on the IRB submission. While the student is responsible for the conduct of the research, including adhering to laws, regulations and University policies pertaining to human subjects research, the faculty advisor has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the student’s compliance.

The IRB application is a “smart application” in that it builds the latter parts of the application based on answers to earlier questions. Two students submitting IRB applications may answer quite different questions, depending on the nature of their respective proposed studies; the greater the complexity of the study or the potential for risks to subjects, the longer the application will be. However, most student research does not trigger an extensive number of questions, so that application is straight forward.

Rarely does an application get approved when initially submitted, although it does happen. Feedback from the IRB can be expected within a week for most studies. If you pay close attention to the issues raised by the IRB, a resubmission should be approved within a few days after being returned to the IRB. While applications can be submitted at any time, studies that require review by the entire IRB committee (referred to as a “full board review”) must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to a scheduled meeting. Meeting dates for the Non-Biomedical IRB, the Committee most commonly involved in reviewing applications from the School of Nursing, can be found on the IRB website. Rarely do School of Nursing faculty- or student-led studies necessitate full committee review, so these deadlines should not be a concern for most students.

It is School of Nursing policy that thesis, research project or dissertation studies may not be submitted to an IRB until the research advisory committee has approved the proposal for the study. In rare instances (for example, studies that require pilot work prior to the final development of the proposal), exceptions may be made to this policy with the consent of the committee chair.  However, exceptions will not be made purely to decrease the time spent in the research process.

Graduate students who are working on their dissertation, research project or thesis with a faculty member’s data from a study with current IRB approval may not need to have their own IRB approval if the proposed study is wholly subsumed under the existing IRB approval. Guidance for this can be found on the IRB Website in the FAQ section (download the document under the FAQ question “What about student research or other class projects?”).  If the student’s intended research activity is not addressed in the faculty member’s current IRB approval, there are two options — either the student will need to submit an independent IRB application for their research activity or the faculty advisor can submit an addendum to their original IRB protocol including the student’s research activities.

Secondary analysis of completely deidentified data is often not considered to be human subjects research. One exception to this, as noted earlier, is when someone on the research advisory committee has access to the “link” between the subject codes and the identity of the subject. In these cases the IRB cannot determine the research to be “not human subjects research.” As noted earlier this is best decided by the IRB after submitting an IRB application.

After passing the thesis, research project or dissertation proposal defense, the student submits the Research Proposal IRB Tracking Form to the Office of Academic Affairs. On this form, the student and committee chair indicate which IRB the study will be submitted to and the approximate date of this submission. The Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) Secretary will stamp and copy the IRB tracking form and return the stamped form to the student. OAA will retain a copy of the form. Note that a copy of the project, thesis or dissertation proposal is to be submitted along with the IRB application. As noted earlier, the IRB used must be a UNC-Chapel Hill IRB or an IRB with which the UNC-Chapel Hill is willing to enter into an IRB Authorization Agreement.

Students who intend to include patients (or their families) or nurses at University of North Carolina Hospitals in their research activities must have their studies reviewed by the Nursing Research Council (NRC) at UNCH. It is important to check with that committee chair to determine if that review occurs before, after or simultaneously with the IRB submission. Once a study is approved by the NRC and the IRB, additional permission may be needed for access to the patients and nurses. Check with the direct administrator (such as nurse manager on a clinical unit) to obtain more details on how to proceed with research. Similar permission is generally needed at other institutions, although there may or may be a review committee.  Remember: IRB approval does not guarantee access to potential subjects

All SON students and faculty conducting or participating in research must have recent education specific to human subjects in research. Before any IRB application is approved, the student and faculty advisor must have completed this education and be included in the UNC-Chapel Hill Ethics Training database. This database typically is updated two or three times a week. Additionally, anyone on the study tram or advisory committee with access to identifiable data is also required to complete the same human subjects ethics education. Completion of the required education is automatically checked when the IRB application is received. Also, students working on faculty research involving human subjects, whether as an RA, volunteer or as part of a course assignment, are required to complete human subjects education training. Doctoral students are informed about the need for human subjects ethics training during orientation and Master’s students should hear about it during their research course. To check whether the education has been completed and recorded, go to the OHRE website.

The Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may be an issue for studies involving Protected Health Information (PHI). HIPAA reviews are conducted along with the IRB protocol review if the study has HIPAA implications. For more information about HIPAA, see the University’s HIPAA website. Because a study involves what HIPAA defines as PHI does not necessarily mean that there must be specific review for HIPAA when the IRB application is reviewed; PHI is only PHI if a health care provider, plan or clearinghouse is involved.

Submission of IRB applications

IRB applications are submitted online.  Once the application is complete and the “submit” button selected, the student and faculty advisor must certify the application in an electronic routing process. The faculty advisors division chair will also have to certify it before it actually reaches the IRB. Until these and any additional certifications occur, the application will not be released to the IRB for review.  When incomplete or incorrectly developed applications are submitted to the IRB, the time needed for approval lengthens since no review will occur if the application is missing essential components.

All of the IRBs noted earlier have the same three levels of review: exempt, expedited and full board. The exact type of review that a study requires can be determined by referring to the OHRE website and consultation with the research advisory committee, an IRB Coordinator or an IRB committee chair. All studies involving human subjects must be reviewed by an IRB even if they are thought to be exempt. Exempt status is a determination made by the IRB after it has been initially reviewed to assure the level of risk is no more than minimal and other criteria are met. Expedited and full board review studies are monitored by the IRB, and renewals must be filed at least annually. The actual renewal date will be established by the IRB at the time of approval/subsequent renewals. Studies that have expedited or full board approvals must be closed when the study is completed and before the student graduates. Closing an IRB approved study involves completing the closure component of the online application.

UNC-Chapel Hill requires that any signed consent forms and a copy of the original data (paper-based or digital) must be retained for at least three years after the end of the project. It is often best to entrust these to the faculty advisor as they need to be retained on campus.

All research in which data are to be collected through the cooperation of a hospital or other institution/agency must have the approval of that institution. IRB approval does not connote institutional access. The policies and procedures of any research performance site should be discussed with the advisory committee chair prior to approaching anyone at the institution. Many institutions have their own human subjects committees that must approve the study before institutional approval for access to subjects is granted. These committees cannot be utilized in place of a UNC-Chapel Hill IRB, but as noted in the previous section, the UNC-Chapel Hill IRB may facilitate an agreement with other IRBs so only an approval from one of the IRBs is needed. At times an external IRB will not be willing to review a study until it has approval from a UNC-Chapel Hill IRB.

It is the responsibility of faculty and students to utilize the same high ethical standards when conducting research as during their professional practice. Deliberate falsification of data, plagiarism or misinterpretation of findings are violations of the University’s Honor Code as well as violations of the rights of human subjects who took part in the study believing that it would contribute to scientific knowledge.

Many of the standard procedures associated with research, including management of data, protection of confidentiality and collaboration policies, differ from those of clinical practice. For example, it is recognized that raw data and all analyses are retained for a minimum of five years after publication and theses and dissertations are published by the University. Therefore, students should expect to receive instruction about these standards during research classes and informal discussions with the advisory committee chair. Also, research dilemmas, such as a conflict between the clinical needs of a research subject and the role of the researcher or a disagreement about the relative contributions of two students to a research project, may occur during the conduct of the study. A major role of the committee chair is to help students work through these dilemmas. If at any time students find that the committee chair is unable to help, they should feel free to discuss the problem with other members of the Research Advisory Committee, the Public Health/Nursing IRB chair, or the appropriate Assistant Dean.