Nurses have been educated by Villanova since 1932 in response to the needs of hospital administrators for a program that would give registered nurses advanced education at the college level. In the fall of 1950, the University established, on campus, a Division of Nursing within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for part-time registered nursing students who wished to complete study for a bachelor’s degree.
In 1953, consistent with national trends in nursing and health care, the Catholic hospitals in the Greater Philadelphia Area approached Villanova and requested that a basic nursing program leading to a bachelor’s degree, which would admit high school students, be established. The curriculum was grounded in the liberal arts and sciences and designed to provide a sound theoretical foundation in nursing and clinical practice which would enhance the psycho-social, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of patient care. Graduates would be prepared to sit for licensure as registered nurses and to advance their education at the graduate level. The new program, established during the tenure of Rev. Francis X. N. McGuire, O.S.A. began as an autonomous academic unit within the University. Students admitted to the program in the fall of that year, became the first full-time women undergraduates at Villanova. Two religious sisters, Sister Alma Lawler, R.S.M. and Sister Margarella O’Neill, O.S.F. were the first co-directors of the program which was the first of its kind under Catholic auspices in Pennsylvania.
The College expanded its offerings in 1979 by establishing a Program in Continuing Education for practicing nurses and opened a Graduate Program leading to the master’s degree in nursing in 1981. The graduate tracks include: Nursing Education (1981), Health Care Administration (1981, formerly Nursing Administration), Nurse Practitioner preparation in Adult Health (1996), Pediatrics (1998) and Geriatrics (1999), and Nurse Anesthesia (1997). A doctoral program to prepare teacher-scholars for careers in academic settings was added in 2004. The College integrates multicultural and international study opportunities into all programs to enhance the global perspective of its students. Programs are fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Accreditation. The College is approved by Pennsylvania’s State Board of Nursing and is a longstanding member of the National League for Nursing which has designated the College a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education.
The College of Nursing is located in Driscoll Hall, its state-of-the-art facility which was dedicated October 6, 2008. The College is a tangible expression of the University’s mission, traditions, and commitment to human service and regards itself as responsible for the education of nurses within the framework of Christian beliefs and values and the heritage of the Order of Saint Augustine. Through its varied programs, the College seeks to serve the health needs of society through the education of competent nurses prepared at the undergraduate and graduate levels and through the provision of continuing education for practicing nurses.