Master's degree at the University of Saskatchewan

A bachelor's degree in nursing was the highest level of nursing education in the province for a number of years. By 1986, the College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan had implemented a Master's degree in Nursing under Dean Una Ridley.

Lucy Willis, in her history of the College of Nursing, explains the first steps towards a master's degree in nursing at the University of Saskatchewan. Under the former Dean of Nursing, Hester Kernen:

some members of the College of Nursing faculty, on the basis of their preparation and research, were able to become members of the faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. For the most part this was educational for them, but it did establish a link. Secondly, one student was admitted to a special case graduate program in nursing. This was possible because faculty members worked on a proposal for a graduate program and presented it to the University College of Graduate Studies and Research. The proposal was turned down as a general program but the door was opened for individual students to apply and be admitted. During the early part of the 1980's several other students were admitted, one by one, to similar programs (Willis, 27).

The first special case student graduated with a Master's of Nursing degree in 1984.

In 1984, Dean Una Ridley received funds from the federal Government to conduct a feasibility study into a master's nursing degree at the University. Under the agreement, links were also to be made with the Regional Psychiatric Centre for those students interested in psychiatric nursing so the degree could be extended to Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs).

The University Senate approved the program in 1986. To be admitted, students were required to specify a clinical area for specialization. Students were to be registered to practise nursing in Canada and must have obtained a Bachelor's degree in nursing or equivalent.