Online MSN Programs

Online MSN in
Forensic Nursing

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Every nurse takes vitals.
Some collect evidence.

Imagine that you’re about to treat a sexual assault victim. Your role is to serve as an advocate for the patient. How do you provide trauma-informed care? What would you do to preserve the chain of evidence during your exam? These are the questions forensic nurses are prepared to answer. And now is your time to become one.

Choose Duquesne University’s online MSN in Forensic Nursing and graduate from one of the few programs in the country to offer in-depth study in all areas of forensic practice.

Study 100% online

3 start dates per year

No GRE required

Tuition discounts are available

Why Earn Your MSN in Forensic Nursing Online?

Earning a graduate degree online allows you to continue to work in your current position and to advance your career with a focus in forensics. Your new skills and knowledge can prepare you for greater earning potential and nursing leadership roles.

The smart choice — a 100% online MSN degree.

  • Complete your coursework anywhere on your own time table
  • Learn from faculty and preceptors who are experts in the expanding areas of forensic nursing practice
  • Study at a School of Nursing ranked #45 for Best Online Graduate Nursing School Programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • Complete your clinical requirements where you live and work
  • Come to campus for a one-time three‑day residency

What Can You Do with an MSN in Forensic Nursing?

This new field prepares nurses as clinical experts who can lead teams to provide optimal nursing care for patients when their health care needs intersect with the legal system. As an advanced-practice forensic nurse, you’ll be at the forefront in providing trauma-informed care, collecting evidence and collaborating with legal teams. You’ll also be prepared to serve as both a fact witness and an expert witness in the court system.

What career opportunities are available to a forensic nurse?

Advanced Forensic Nurse Specialist

Forensic nurse specialists provide forensic expertise in clinical and community practices, including hospitals, community-based settings, legal settings and government systems. Prepared with an in-depth understanding of forensic nursing roles, these professionals offer expertise to fellow nurses who provide care for forensic patients.

Forensic Nurse Practitioner

Combining the master’s in forensic nursing with the nurse practitioner role prepares nurses to engage in entrepreneurial and policy-making roles as leaders in caring for the health and well‑being of victims and perpetrators of violence.

Advanced Practice Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

At the advanced practice level the forensic nurse leads teams in the hospital and community clinical setting to advance the practice of sexual assault forensic examiners. Forensic nurses are prepared to manage systems and are at the table when policies are changed.

Forensic Psychiatric Nurse

Forensic psychiatric or mental health nurses deal with mental health issues while working with both victims and offenders. They are psychiatric experts who focus on and understand the complexities of criminal behavior to provide complete and sensitive care to those in the criminal justice system.

Forensic Corrections Nurse

Advanced practice corrections nurses contribute to the health and well-being of those who are imprisoned by sharing their expertise with those who work within the corrections systems to provide a balance between the need for safe custody and control with care and rehabilitation.

Nurse Investigator

The nurse death investigator gathers health and other medical information as a member of the death investigation team. The forensic nurse brings special expertise to the team because of the education that is specific to nursing.

What are the added benefits of earning an MSN in Forensic Nursing?

  • Specialized training in an emerging and growing field
  • Broader and more varied career options with the potential for higher earnings
  • Intersect with law enforcement and legal systems while providing supportive care for the most vulnerable patients

Why Choose Duquesne for Your MSN in Forensic Nursing?

Duquesne University ranks among the top colleges in the country in online graduate degrees in nursing. With nine schools of study, 80 undergraduate degree programs and 85 master’s, doctoral and professional programs, Duquesne is a thriving institution with an honored past and a bright future.

The School of Nursing recently celebrated its 80th anniversary of leadership in nursing education. In 1997, Duquesne launched the nation’s first online nursing doctorate, making a Ph.D. in Nursing possible for nurses everywhere. This program’s online success led Duquesne to launch an online MSN program and to offer an online Doctor of Nursing Practice starting in 2008.

Our program is rooted in forensic science and law.

Duquesne’s online Master of Science in Forensic Nursing is offered in collaboration with the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, located in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

Study with us, and you can expect:

  • Broad-based forensic curriculum
  • Preparation for an advanced practice forensic role
  • Courses that include ethics, criminal law, evidence-based practice and health care policy

“We offer one of the few forensic programs in the country — and we do it well. Our connection with the Cyril Wecht Institute is at such a level that the depth of education received at Duquesne is unparalleled.”

Cherith Simmer, MS, RN, Assistant Dean at Duquesne School of Nursing

Our faculty are pioneers in forensic nursing.

Meet Dr. Kathleen Sekula

Dr. Kathleen Sekula

She is more than a professor of forensic nursing. She’s a pioneer in the field. Not only did she develop one of the first Master of Science programs offering a specialty in forensic nursing, but she also now leads our forensic nursing graduate programs. She’s passionate about educating the next generation of forensic nurses. And she’s ready to teach you.

Director of Forensic Nursing Graduate Programs and Professor of Nursing

  • Certificate, The Cyril H. Wecht Institute for Forensic Science and Law, 2002
  • PhD, Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 1998
  • MSN, Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 1986
  • BSN, Nursing, Duquesne University, 1967
  • RN, Nursing, St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing, 1964

In 1998, Dr. Sekula joined the School of Nursing and served on the undergraduate and graduate faculty as a psychiatric mental health expert. In early 2001, because of her expertise in psychiatry, she was asked to develop a graduate program that would interface with the Wecht Institute certificate program. Forensic nursing was a new area of practice at the time, and the incidences of violence were growing at alarming rates. Through her work with other forensic specialists, she developed a unique forensic master’s program that incorporated courses developed in the law school. Subsequently, she secured two grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) — both of which helped to make the forensic graduate programs among the most popular programs at Duquesne. In the process of developing these programs, Dr. Sekula recognized the need to offer SANE-A (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner — Adult) training programs online for nurses unable to attend the one-week training, so she created one. Now, Duquesne’s online SANE-A training is at the forefront in preparing nurses to serve the needs of victims of sexual assault throughout the country, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

There’s no question: Dr. Sekula stands out as a leader in forensic nursing.

  • Elected to the board of directors for the International Association of Forensic Nurses
  • Honored with the International Association of Forensic Nurses Virginia Lynch Award
  • Served as president and member of the Forensic Nurse Certification Board
  • Served as a member of the International Journal of Forensic Nursing editorial board
  • Inducted as Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing

Duquesne is also consistently recognized for academic excellence:

Best U.S. News Rankings

  • No. 13 among national Catholic universities
  • No. 45 in the nation for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs
  • Top 20 among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Veterans
  • Ranked among “America’s Best Colleges”

NLN - National League for Nursing

  • Recognized for Outstanding Achievements in “Student Learning and Professional Development” by the NLN as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education

The Princeton Review

  • Ranked among the “Best 380 Colleges” — which profiles only 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges


  • Named as one of “America’s Top Colleges” and listed among “Best Value Colleges” and “Best Value Private Colleges”

  • Recognized as a Gold-Level Military Friendly School by Victory Media

Online MSN in Forensic Nursing Curriculum

Forensic nurses don’t only work in hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms. They also work as nurse coroners, expert witnesses and policy makers. Our curriculum reflects the opportunities available — preparing you to become a respected leader who can work collaboratively on a multi‑disciplinary forensic team.

Note: If you have previously earned master’s‑level nursing credits with a grade of “B” or higher, you may be able to transfer up to 9 credit hours and apply them toward your MSN at Duquesne.

Online MSN Core Requirements

Online MSN Core Courses 24 Credit Hours (8 Courses)

GPNG 523 Historical and Contemporary Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice 3 Credits
GPNG 524 Evidence‑Based Nursing Practice and Policy Development 3 Credits
GPNG 525 Organizational and Clinical Leadership in Nursing and Healthcare 3 Credits
GPNG 526 Health Care Ethics in Practice and Policy 3 Credits
GPNG 527 Clinical Prevention and Population‑Based Health Promotion 3 Credits
GPNG 528 Physical Assessment for Advanced Nursing Practice
Required campus clinical lab of 25 hours and 50 precepted hours.
3 Credits
GPNG 529 Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing 3 Credits
GPNG 530 Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing 3 Credits

Online MSN Specialization Requirements

Forensic Nursing Curriculum 15 Credit Hours (5 Courses)

GNFO 517 Forensic Science and the Legal System 3 Credits
GNFO 518 Criminal Law and the Courts 3 Credits
GNFO 519 Advanced Forensic Nursing I — Theory and Practice 3 Credits
GNFO 520 Advanced Forensic Nursing II — Program Development, Leadership & Policy 3 Credits
GNFO 521 Forensic Clinical and Capstone
150 precepted hours.
3 Credits

Expand upon your MSN in Forensic Nursing by adding a concentration.

Nursing Education Concentration 9 Credit Hours (3 Courses)

A nursing education concentration aims to prepare you to teach by focusing on the core competencies of the nurse educator role. You’ll also become eligible to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator exam sponsored by the NLN.

GNED 507 Foundations in Education Theory for Professional Practice 3 Credits
GNED 522 Innovative Curriculum Design and Evaluation 3 Credits
GNED 532 Emerging Trends and Innovations in the Teaching of Nursing 3 Credits


Transcultural Nursing Concentration 9 Credit Hours (3 Courses)

A concentration in transcultural nursing can enhance your practice by providing the skills to care for vulnerable populations, minimize the effects of health disparities and provide culturally competent care.

GPNG 917 Transcultural & Global Health Perspectives 3 Credits
GPNG 908 Advanced Population Health 3 Credits
GPNG 928 Social Justice & Vulnerable Populations 3 Credits


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