The School of Nursing at UMSL was established in 1981. The original program was designed to provide an innovative upper division program leading to the baccalaureate degree, specifically designed for registered nurses that had graduated from hospital diploma or community college associate degree nursing programs.
In 1987, the first students were admitted to the Cooperative Master's in Nursing Program. This program was a cooperative endeavor between the St. Louis and Kansas City Schools of Nursing within the University of Missouri System. The program offered advanced study in Nursing Care of the Adult, Nursing of Children, and Women's Health. The program also prepared nurses to function as administrators, educators, or clinical specialists and practitioners in family, pediatrics, neonatal, and women's health.
A Cooperative PhD in Nursing was added in 1994 with inter-campus activities offered between the St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City Schools of Nursing. The emphasis areas include Health Promotion and Protection, Health Restoration and Support, and Health Care Systems.
The School of Nursing was formally designated a College in 1994 with the addition of a well-established basic undergraduate nursing program to the University. The basic undergraduate program leads to the baccalaureate degree in nursing. In 2000, an Accelerated Option was added to the basic baccalaureate nursing program; and in 2011, a Part-Time Evening/Weekend Option was added. Along with the University of Missouri–St. Louis accreditation of the Higher Learning Commission, the College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The pre-licensure options of the baccalaureate program are fully approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing.