Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader (M.S.)

Students graduate as an advanced generalist as a clinical nurse leader (CNL) with a master of science degree. Graduates are eligible to sit for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Clinical Nurse Leader national certification examination. The CNL is a role in the field of nursing designed to provide master's­-prepared, point-of-care nurse leaders with the ability to manage and solve complex patient problems within a systems framework.

Admission Requirements

Registered nurses (RNs) who have successfully passed the NCLEX­-RN, currently hold an unencumbered, active RN license in the United States, and who hold a baccalaureate degree in either nursing or another field can be considered for admission. Applicants are required to have a good academic record and completion of coursework in statistics and research.  The following is required:

  1. Unencumbered, active RN license in the United States
  2. Baccalaureate degree in nursing or another field
  3. Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in associate and baccalaureate programs
  4. Nursing experience is preferred but not required for Clinical Nurse Leader and Evidence-Based Nursing tracks
  5. 3 letters of recommendation

    Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted. References should be substantial with one academic, if available, and two current nursing professionals with graduate education background.

  6.  Personal Statement. Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:
    1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
    2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

RNs whose baccalaureate degree is in a field other than nursing may apply to the master of science degree in nursing (MS) program and will be considered for the track that is commensurate with their clinical experience based on faculty discretion.

Degree Requirements

Clinical Hours: 500*

Required Courses
NURS 901Health Policy3
NURS 902Advanced Physical Assessment2
NURS 908Advanced Physiology & Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan3
NURS 925Leadership, Role & Collaboration3
NURS 952Clinical Nursing Leadership2
NURS 952CClinical Nursing Leadership Clinical6
NURS 953Promoting Quality Management3
NURS 958Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone6
NURS 963Biostats and Epidemiology3
NURS 968Foundations of Evidence Based Practice3
Total Credits34

Clinical hours are completed through the following required courses: NURS 952C, NURS 958.

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

The Masters of Science Clinical Nurse Leader program builds upon the skills of the baccalaureate prepared nurse.

Students entering the CNL Program are expected to:

  • Synthesize core knowledge from the liberal arts, sciences, and nursing as the foundation of professional practice.
  • Integrate knowledge and skills to assess, design, implement, and evaluate nursing care in a safe, compassionate, culturally sensitive, evidence-based manner.
  • Engage clients, families, and communities in collaborative decision-making incorporating evidence-based knowledge and anticipatory guidance.
  • Employ team leadership and collaborative skills with other health professionals to optimize client and system outcomes.
  • Recognize the influence of complex health systems on health care practice and advocate for policies that promote a socially just, patient centered healthcare system.
  • Engage in scholarly inquiry to identify, evaluate and integrate the best current practice.
  • Integrates health promotion, clinical prevention strategies when providing care at the individual or population level.
  • Incorporates principles of patient safety and risk mitigation when using healthcare technology and therapeutics in the provision of care.
  • Uses effective written, verbal, and nonverbal communication strategies when engaged in professional practice.
  • Embrace professional values embodied in the ANA code of ethics.

At the completion of the Master's nursing program, the graduate student is prepared to:

  • Serve in a healthcare leadership and change agent role as part of a diverse, complex,and patient-centered health care system.
  • Act as a practice scholar to design, direct and evaluate system changes to promote safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-centered care.
  • Use data analytic methods, information systems and technology to evaluate,integrate and apply knowledge that will improve programs of care, outcomes of care and care systems.
  • Use translational science and analytic methods to develop, identify, implement, and evaluate best practices to improve health care and health care systems.
  • Design and implement health promotion and clinical prevention strategies across the health/illness continuum to optimize health and disease management.
  • Systematically use improvement methods to monitor and evaluate care processes and outcomes and applies data for continuous improvement and safety
  • Advocate for social justice through policy, professional and political engagement.
  • Applies leadership principles that support inter-professional practice.

In addition the Clinical Nurse Leader graduate will:

  • Act as lateral integrator to design, direct, and evaluate system changes to promote safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient centered care.