The Hunt School of Nursing (HSON) is an integral part of Gardner-Webb University (GWU).  The HSON mission, philosophy, and outcomes are congruent with and support the value statements of GWU.  The HSON and GWU are committed to providing superior education grounded in the Liberal Arts to prepare graduates to make significant contributions for God and Humanity.  GWU respects the value and individuality of every student and provides an environment that promotes a strong work ethic, Christian heritage and values, teamwork, and personal accountability. 


Nursing Education at GWU began in 1965 with the establishment of the Associate Degree Nursing program under the direction of Mrs. Grace C. Lee (1913-2000), who became the first program director. Dr. Shirley Toney and Mrs. Glennie Beam were the first faculty members. In 1982, the RN to BSN Completion program was established. The program was named the Davis Nursing Program in 1995 after becoming affiliated with the Davis Hospital Foundation. The GWU Nursing Department became the School of Nursing in 1995 with Dr. Shirley Toney serving as the first Dean. A Master’s in Nursing in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration was established in 2000 with the addition of the Family Nurse Practitioner program in 2013. In 2010, the Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and post-master’s entry Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs were added. In 2014, Dr. Jack and Mrs. Ruby Hunt, noted public servants and community supporters, established the Hunt School of Nursing. In 2017, the North Carolina Board of Nursing approved for the HSON to establish an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.  In 2019, two post-baccalaureate entry Doctor of Nursing Practice program options for Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner were established. 


The person, made in the image of God, is unique and whole, deserving of love and respect. Person is viewed as an individual, family, or population seeking or entitled to optimal health and well-being.

Nursing education is a lifelong process based on a foundation of science and liberal arts, enhanced by a faith-based environment. The nurse, as an independent provider of health care and part of the healing environment, uses science and the caring arts to nurture and promote human wholeness.

Nursing practice reflects a spirit of inquiry that utilizes the knowledge and science emerging from research to translate scholarship to improve healthcare delivery and health outcomes in a variety of clinical settings.

Working collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team, the nurse continually evaluates the quality of care, serves as a leader in the healthcare community, and persistently strives for personal and professional growth.

Overall Goals

  1. Establish a liberal arts educational environment based on Christian values fostering academic excellence, integrity, and a commitment to lifelong learning. 
  2. Provide student-centered programs of study based on current national competencies of nursing practice to meet the global healthcare needs through holistic nursing practice, Christian caring, critical thinking, and professionalism. 
  3. Engage in partnerships with community healthcare facilities in the provision of service- learning opportunities for students that includes patient-centered care, evidence-based practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration. 
  4. Graduate a diverse population of students who are highly educated and competent to practice patient-centered nursing care within the context of a global environment in a manner that influences and contributes to the nursing discipline and healthcare policy. 


Today, the HSON consists of five programs of study: the Associate of Science in Nursing program (ASN), the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BSN) with traditional and accelerated options, the Davis Nursing Program (RN to BSN), the Master of Science in Nursing program (MSN), and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program (DNP).

The ASN and BSN programs prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) as both programs are fully approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing.  The ASN program can be completed in two years, the traditional BSN program can be completed in four years, and the accelerated BSN program can be completed in 15 months on the main campus in Boiling Springs.  The Davis RN to BSN program can be completed in one to two years through distance learning delivery.  The MSN program prepares graduate nurses in the specialty areas of Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner.  Post-Master’s certificate programs in Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner are also available for the MSN prepared registered nurse.  The DNP program prepares nurses at the doctoral level in the specialty areas of Leadership, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The DNP programs may be completed in two years for Leadership, three years for Family Nurse Practitioner, and  years for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner through a combination of online and on campus intensives. 

Program Accreditation

All programs within the HSON are nationally accredited.  Accreditation has been maintained by the nursing programs at GWU beginning with the provisional accreditation of the ASN program in 1968 and full accreditation in 1970.  Since that time, the ASN program has maintained continuous accreditation.  The RN to BSN program received initial accreditation in 1985 and has since maintained continuous accreditation.  The MSN program received initial accreditation in 2002 with continued accreditation since that time.  Initial accreditation was obtained for the Traditional BSN program in 2011.  Initial accreditation was obtained for the DNP program in 2012. 

Accreditation is maintained through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) located at 3390 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA, 30326, phone:  404-975-5000; additional information may be found on the ACEN website:

Professional Standards

The curricular content for the programs within the HSON are guided by the following professional standards: 

  1. North Carolina Administrative Code Title 21.
  2. South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 40-Professions and Occupations, Chapter 33 Nurses, Article 1 Nurse Practice Act.
  3. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice.
  4. The AACN Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing.
  5. The AACN Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing.
  6. The AACN Essentials for Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice.
  7. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Core Competencies for Health Professionals from Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality.
  8. The Quality and Safety Education for Nursing (QSEN) Quality and Safety in Nursing: A Competency Approach to Improving Outcomes.
  9. The National League for Nursing (NLN) Outcomes and Competencies for Graduates of Practical/Vocational, Diploma, Associate Degree, Baccalaureate, Master’s, Practice Doctorate, and Research Doctorate Programs in Nursing.
  10. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies.

HSON Contact Information

Hunt School of Nursing                    
Gardner-Webb University
110 South Main Street           
Campus Box 7309                  
Boiling Springs, NC 28017      
Phone: (704) 406-3887 Fax: (704) 406-3919

College of Health Sciences                    
315 West College Avenue
Shelby, NC 28152