Since 1889, UMSON has shaped the profession of nursing and the health care environment by developing leaders in education, research, and practice.

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The University of Maryland School of Nursing was founded in 1889, led by first superintendent Louisa Parsons, a graduate of the Nightingale Fund School at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. UMSON was originally associated with University Hospital, and early students spent a majority of their time working in the wards in addition to studying in the classroom. The School grew during the early decades of the 20th century, and school officials, faculty members, and alumni constantly sought to improve standards and advocate for the nursing profession to state and federal officials.

By the 1940s and 1950s, the School of Nursing — guided by its first dean, Florence Gipe — began to transition away from a training school associated with a hospital to an independent academic institution. The curriculum steadily changed during this period to meet the new, higher standards as well as keep up with the changes in the medical profession. Master’s degrees were first offered in 1955, while the first doctoral programs were launched in 1979.

In the 1970s, the School began to emphasize nursing research in addition to its education and practical roles. In 1998, the School opened a new, state-of-the-art building to accommodate its ever expanding numbers of faculty members, staff, and students. Today, the School is one of the premier nursing schools in the country.