Clinical Nurse Leader

Are you contemplating graduate studies and trying to decide on the right specialty track to match your interests? Our Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) track could be right for you. 

Our CNL specialty track will prepare you to:

  • Function as an advanced generalist, providing and managing comprehensive client care across a variety of settings.
  • Oversee the care coordination of a distinct group of patients and lead the direct and indirect patient care in complex situations.
  • Put evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery.
  • Evaluate patient outcomes, assess cohort and system risk, and have decision-making authority to change plans of care and care protocols when necessary.
  • Work collaboratively at the point of care with interdisciplinary care teams on a daily basis and have the ability and primary responsibility for coordination of care.
  • Communicate effectively with other intra- and interdisciplinary team members to ensure positive patient outcomes are achieved.

Graduates of the specialty are eligible for certification as Clinical Nurse Leaders. Our track follows the knowledge and competencies specified by the American Association for Colleges of Nursing. CNL roles have traditionally been in acute care organizations, but this trend is changing with greater emphasis being placed on coordination of care in ambulatory care settings. Learn more about becoming a CNL from our specialty track director, Dr. Janice Wilcox.

Janice Wilcox
Director, Clinical Nurse Leader Specialty Track

Message from the Director

Clinical Nurse Leaders are the answer to the many problems facing healthcare. It is this advanced generalist nurse who has the knowledge and skills to improve the quality of care and care processes by overseeing and coordinating care.


Available Degree Programs

This specialty can be completed at a distance through the following programs:


Upon graduation, you'll enter the workforce with the skills to:

  • Delegate and oversee care delivery by other nursing staff on a daily basis and communicate with interdisciplinary team members to coordinate client care
  • Ensure cost-effective care through the coordination of human, environmental and material resources
  • Achieve all of the actions listed above in a work environment after completion of program

Specialty Curriculum

  • Nursing 7410 Advanced Health Assessment
  • Nursing 7450 Pathophysiology of Altered Health States
  • Nursing 7231 Advanced Pharmacology for the Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Nursing 7238.01 Introduction to CNL Practice
  • Nursing 7238.02 Transition to CNL Practice
Sample Full-Time Traditional MS Curriculum
Year 1
Autumn Credit Hours
N7450 Pathophysiology of Altered Health States 5
N7483 Quality Improvement and Informatics 3
N7500 Health Policy and Advocacy 2
Total credit hours 10
N7230 CNL Roles and Responsibilities 2
N7410 Advanced Health Assessment 3
N7403 Innovation Leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice 3
N7780 Evidence Based Nursing Scholarship 3
Total credit hours 11
N7491 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 3
N7231 Advanced Pharmacology for the CNL 3
Total credit hours 6
Year 2
N7238.01 Introduction Clinical Nurse Leader Practice 7
Total credit hours 7
N7238.02 Transition to Clinical Nurse Leader Practice 8
Total credit hours 8
This is a sample curriculum only. Your specific curriculum plan can be found at Please follow the personalized plan on the portal.


Julie Rogers
Julie Rodgers, graduate

“Being a CNL gives you the unique position to effectively coordinate care between disciplines and provide the patient with a seamless transition throughout their hospitalization.”