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School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health

MSc in Specialist Nursing

Course Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level
9 - Please see for further information
Delivery Modes
2 Years
call programme contact
+353 (0) 1
700 5947

Are you a qualified nurse or midwife keen to expand your expertise and advance your nursing career? This part-time, blended-learning programme enables you to choose one of these specialist pathways: Chronic Disease Management, Population Health Practice or Women’s Health. 

Designed by the School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health in partnership with leading nurses and midwives, the pathways address contemporary Irish healthcare issues and prepare students to work in specialist areas. 

Throughout your study, you’ll learn how to develop a person-centred approach to care, design a structured treatment plan, work as part of a multidisciplinary team, and understand how to prevent illness and manage patients.

A two-year, part-time, blended programme that combine theoretical and clinical components offered to all nurses and midwives on the NMBI register*. The programme offers specialist pathways aligned with, and responsive to, national health policies/strategies such as Sláintecare (2018), the National Maternity Strategy (2016), Shaping the Future of the RNID (2018), Sharing the Vision (2020) and the Children's Nursing Strategy (2021) amongst others.

*NMBI Registrants - This programme is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

Blending theory with practice

Theory is mostly taught online, while you’ll gain supervised practical experience on clinical sites. The course has three exit points: an MSc in Specialist Nursing (on completion of 90 credits), a Graduate Diploma in Specialist Nursing (once you complete 60 credits) or a Graduate Certificate in Specialist Nursing (30 credits). 

Once you graduate, you’ll be well qualified to work in interdisciplinary health and social care practice, welfare rights and advocacy, community development, health and social activism, health promotion and inclusion, research and academia, and government and policymaking.


The MSc in Specialist Nursing is a new blended delivery national programme which will prepare nurses / midwives for specialist clinical and managerial roles. Theoretical modules will be delivered primarily online, and the programme also has a significant practice based component which will be delivered through a supervised clinical practicum combined with tutorials.  

It is unique in that it offers new dedicated specialist pathways in response to contemporary issues arising in Irish healthcare. It will prepare students from public and private settings, in specialist areas of practice in line with national and international policy direction.

The School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health has co-designed the new programme with input from the Centre for e-Integrated Care and Schools of Business, Law & Government and Communications at DCU. Leading nurses and midwives working in health operations, practice, education and policy have also informed the programme. In line with NMBI proposed policy direction, the specialist pathway will provide a clinical practicum that includes 500 hours of theory and practice supported in clinical sites by nursing manager and clinical supervisors. DCU will support this practicum with innovative technology and simulation. 

The MSc in Specialist Nursing offers 3 specialist pathways in the first year of this new postgraduate programme. Students must choose one of of the following pathways:

  • Chronic Disease Management
  • Population Health Practice
  • Women's Health

This MSc programme has three exit points as follows:

MSc in Specialist Nursing (on successful completion of 90 credits)

Graduate Certificate in Specialist Nursing (on successful completion of 30 credits, comprising 2 pathway-specific modules and one other 10 credit module)

Graduate Diploma in Specialist Nursing (on successful completion of 60 credits, comprising 2 pathway-specific modules plus Nursing Leadership and Change Management, Health Communications and Digital Solutions, Research and Evaluation Methods and one other 10 credit optional module)

Improve health service delivery and leadership through the integration of shared interfaculty core modules on offer.

  • The specialist pathways on offer are currently not available in HEIs in Ireland.
  • The programme is unique in that it ensures graduates from the programme are eligible for clinical specialist or management posts within services. This removes existing barriers in practice for nurses and midwives moving from one pathway to another.
  • The programme greatly enhances the selection of modules on offer to nurses and midwives in Ireland at this time.
  • The HSE National Clinical Care Programmes require many Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) posts to implement new models of care. This course will enable nurses to apply for the many integrated specialist positions becoming available in the HSE’s enhanced clinical care programme.
  • The programme aligns with the health policy direction of national government, health services, World Health Organisation (WHO) and International evidence.
  • The programme enables working nurses and midwives nationally to study flexibly using virtual and digital approaches. T
  • This programme provides enhanced transversal skills to link with other disciplines such as business, governance, health intelligence and digital solutions raising the quality of nursing knowledge within the profession.


Applicants will typically hold a (NFQ) Level 8 Honours Degree with a H2.2 or equivalent. Candidates will generally hold a primary degree in a relevant discipline.

In addition, candidates must: 

  • be currently registered in one of the following divisions of the Register of Nurses maintained by NMBI: General Nursing; Psychiatric Nursing; Intellectual Disability Nursing; Children’s Nursing, Midwifery.
  • have a minimum of 12 months post registration experience, which should be 12 months full-time experience OR 24 months at minimum of 19.5 FTE.
  • be currently employed in the specialist area/setting and provide written evidence, using this template, from their line manager that they will be supported in completing the minimum required hours of practice, including the clinical practicum.
  • applicants must be employed for a minimum of 19.5 hours per week or 0.5 FTE.


Year One part-time: €7,200

Year Two part-time: €2,200

Next Steps

All Applicants must apply through DCU's Student Application Portal which is available here

The closing dates for receipt of completed applications are as follows:

Closing date for non EU applicants is 1st July 2023

Closing date for EU applicants is 31st July 2023

Here's a quick step by step guide if you need help with your application.

Alongside the application form candidates must also provide the following as part of their application on the Student Application Portal: 

  • Academic transcripts for each and every year of study with English translation if applicable, this must be a primary degree of nursing/midwifery.
  • CV - Please indicate that evidence of employment in the Irish Health System is required.
  • A personal statement detailing experience and interest in the course, (400-500 words) the personal statement may be used as part of the selection process to determine candidate suitability.
  • Letter from employer, template provided
  • If relevant, evidence of competence in English Language (see below).
  • Proof of current NMBI registration.


If relevant, applicants will be asked for evidence of competence in English Language. In line with DCU’s (2019) Recognition of Prior Learning Policy, candidates who do not have the appropriate level of academic attainment for direct entry may apply for access via the Recognition of Prior Learning process (RPL) (the policy is available at: Prior learning may be formal accredited learning or experiential/uncertified learning which includes the knowledge, skills and personal qualities acquired through life, work experience and study which are not formally attested. Prospective students may apply through the RPL route if they meet one or more of the following entry 5 requirements: Relevant learning, qualifications and experience within their RPL application 

  • Holding a position or role related to health or social care, health and social inclusion promotion, or a related area 
  • Holding an appointment or professional position in the domain 
  • Professional qualifications in the domain, with clear articulation of intention to progress to work in the domain.