The undergraduate and graduate nursing programs at Bellarmine University have developed, expanded, and matured in an effort to meet the needs of the communities of interest. Nursing education has been part of BU since 1977, originally housed in the Department of Science and Mathematics. Today, the nursing department offers the Doctorate in Nursing Practice, a master's degree program with specialties in nursing administration, nursing education, and advanced nursing practice (family) and a baccalaureate degree program with two tracks, 4-year traditional and accelerated second degree.
The baccalaureate nursing program was established in August 1977 and initially designed to meet the needs of registered nurses with diploma and associate degree backgrounds, most notably the local Kentucky Baptist Hospital School of Nursing and Jefferson Community College. From 1982-1985, following the announcement that Kentucky’s last hospital-based school of nursing would close, BU responded to the local demand for registered nurses by offering an associate degree program in nursing. This program graduated its last class in 1987 and had a total of 285 graduates. In its place, a four-year baccalaureate prelicensure program began.
In 1984, in an effort to provide a continuum of education for Bellarmine’s nursing graduates and to provide the only Kentucky alternative to the state university-based master's programs, the university started a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Again, responding to community need for nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level, the nursing department opened an innovative 12-month 2nd degree accelerated BSN track in 1997 and the Family Nurse Practitioner track was added to the MSN program in 2008.
Faculty began planning the DNP program at Bellarmine in 2007 in response to the AACN Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing (2004). The program received the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACS) approval and the first cohort of post-master’s students began coursework in January, 2010. In response to stakeholders’ requests the BSN-DNP track admitted its first student in 2015. Beginning fall of 2019 all graduate nursing programs will be delivered online.