Virginia Board of Nursing Order, Traditional BSN Program

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Statement from Dr. Carol Urban, Director, School of Nursing

George Mason’s School of Nursing has a proud tradition in the National Capital Region. We have been educating nursing students for more than 40 years and are one of the oldest programs at Mason. We play a vital role in the community and the health care system in our area. One in three nurses practicing in the metro Washington, DC area is a Mason graduate, a reflection of our reach.

Recently, the School of Nursing received notice of a change in our approval status because some of our graduates from the traditional (two-year) Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program were not meeting the required score when taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the first time.

The school has been and continues to work with the Virginia Board of Nursing to improve our pass rate over the next year so that we can remain in good standing. At the same time, we are determined to maintain the standard of excellence that so many in the region have come to depend on.

This challenge is not unique to George Mason University. The reasons for the decrease are complex, but also reflect changes to the exam made in 2013 by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Such changes are routine and occur every three years to reflect changing practices in nursing. However, because of the continued decline in pass rates after the last update, we have launched a comprehensive analysis to identify problems and solutions.

We are confident that this matter will be resolved quickly. The school has been working closely with the Board of Nursing staff and colleagues at other schools of nursing to gather best practices to help our students be better prepared to take the NCLEX exam. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to address the basic concerns during the past two years. Our efforts include:

  1. Implementing a national admissions test for incoming students and increasing the standards for admissions.
  2. Analyze the relation of student performance in the program to their NCLEX pass rate and pairing students who need additional assistance with a faculty member who serves as a Student Success Coordinator.
  3. Reviewing our course syllabi to ensure that our courses are aligned with the current NCLEX blueprint and test plan.
  4. Integrating NCLEX preparation and assessment materials into key content courses throughout the program.
  5. Bringing in a test preparation company to help students prepare and improve their scores on the exam.
  6. Providing additional intensive training through a strongly recommended national NCLEX review program that will further strengthen our students’ success on the exam.

Most of these efforts were implemented in fall 2014, so it is the May 2016 graduating class that has experienced two years of these initiatives. We expect to see stronger results in the fall when scores from the third quarter are reported. We are also confident that all of the scores for our students from the past year will be improved because of our efforts and theirs.

The lower scores were limited to our two-year program. We are pleased to report that students in our accelerated, one-year program were not affected by this warning. It also does not affect any student who has already graduated from the traditional BSN program. Our accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) has not changed. We at the school, college, and university are committed to the education of our nursing students and to working diligently to improving our students’ scores in the traditional pathway.

We know many of you may have questions. Please see a copy of the order (pdf) and answers to frequently asked questions, which are published on this web page. If you have further questions, you can attend an upcoming information session.

Information sessions are currently scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, June 22, 4:00 p.m., Johnson Center Meeting Room D (Room 333)
  • Monday, June 27, 7:00 p.m., Merten Hall Room 1202
  • Thursday, June 30, 7:00 p.m., Johnson Center Meeting Room D (Room 333)

We will also be available throughout the summer to answer your questions. You can contact us via email at or via phone at 703-993-1910 (Mon-Fri, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). We can also set up additional information sessions, if necessary.

We look forward to another great year of serving our students and the community.

Virginia Board of Nursing Order

Read the order from the Virginia Board of Nursing regarding the Traditional BSN Program (Program Code US 28508400) (pdf).

Statement From
Dr. Thomas Prohaska, Dean
College of Health and Human Services

The College of Health and Human Services was founded on the stellar reputation of George Mason University’s School of Nursing. This college, and the School of Nursing in particular, is a critical part of the fabric of our community in Northern Virginia and the greater National Capital Region. With our Mason and Partners clinics and partnerships with various health agencies and nonprofits, we play a vital role in ensuring the health of the community.

Recently, the George Mason University’s School of Nursing received notice of a change in our approval status from the Virginia Board of Nursing concerning our traditional (two-year) BSN program. The Board’s order addresses the fact that the first-time NCLEX passing rates are not at the Board’s minimum passing rate of 80 percent.

As the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, I speak for not only the college, but the university, in our commitment to this nursing program. Along with Dr. Carol Urban, director of the School of Nursing, our nursing faculty, and others around the college and university, we are steadfast in remedying the situation and have already taken a number of steps to meet the Virginia Board of Nursing's terms and conditions.

I am confident in our faculty and their commitment to educating students to the highest standards and fully expect that the traditional program will again reach the standards of excellence on which so many people and organizations depend. The School of Nursing is working closely with the Virginia Board of Nursing to analyze the problem, strengthen curricula, and employ best practices from other schools of nursing. I have and will continue to review and monitor the progress of this program.

As Virginia Board of Nursing actions are public, some in the nursing community have already contacted us to offer support and resources. We are heartened by the response of these alumni and community members. We will continue to review how we can incorporate the talents and expertise of these individuals into the college’s effort.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the School of Nursing via phone at 703-993-1910 or via email at

Five-year NCLEX Pass Rates

Year # Candidates   % Passing
2011* 182 89.5%
2012* 164 88%
2013* 149 77%
2014* 137 78.83%
  Two-year (Traditional) BSN Pathway
2015 96 63.54%
  Accelerated Second Degree BSN Pathway
2015 37 91.89%

*2011-2014 pass rates were reported as a combined passing rate from the two-year (traditional) BSN pathway and the accelerated second degree BSN pathway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions may be addressed on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

students in lab

Have Additional Questions?

Current students received an email with additional information via your Mason email address.

If you have additional questions, attend an upcoming information session, email, or call 703-993-1910.

Upcoming Information Sessions:

  • Wednesday, June 22, 4:00 p.m., Johnson Center Meeting Room D (Room 333)
  • Monday, June 27, 7:00 p.m., Merten Hall Room 1202
  • Thursday, June 30, 7:00 p.m., Johnson Center Meeting Room D (Room 333)

Students in Lab

Updated: January 20, 2017