• Nursing

The Direct-Entry Master of Science - Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program offers an alternate path to nursing for those with a bachelor's degree or higher in a non-nursing discipline.

Clinical Nurse Leaders combine innovations in health care delivery with evidence-based practice to manage coordination of care. Whether providing acute care or assisting with decision-making in the transition to community or home care settings, clinical nurse leaders provide vital support to patients, their families, and providers.

The Direct-Entry Master of Science - CNL program fulfills the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) requirements to sit for the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification examination.

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Custom curriculum tracks combine hands-on clinical experience with courses in advanced evidence-based practice, health care management and delivery of care. After completion of the pre-licensure (RN) year, students are encouraged to seek part-time nursing employment to provide the work experience  to be active CNL change agents upon graduation.

Students complete their practicum hours at hospitals, clinics and other affiliate sites and agencies that provide experience in the variety of roles fulfilled by a clinical nurse leader, and implement a culminating, evidence-based capstone project.

A feature of the Master of Science – Clinical Nurse Leader program is UVM’s relationship with academic practice partners that include Appletree Bay Primary Care, the University of Vermont Medical Center, and other clinical agencies. Learn what faculty, staff, and students have to say about Nursing at UVM >>

Pre-licensure Course Sequence for the Direct-Entry Master of Science - Clinical Nurse Leader

Semester 1

  • GRNS 300: Professional Nursing Issues
  • PRNU 228: Pharmacology
  • GRNS 302: The Science of Nursing: Adults and Elders I
  • GRNS 303: Practicum: Adults and Elders
  • NURS 220: Pathophysiology

Winter Intersession

  • GRNS 304: Practicum: Adults and Elders II

Semester 2

  • GRNS 305: Practicum: Complex Nursing Care of Adults and Elders
  • GRNS 306: The Science of Nursing: Mental Health
  • GRNS 308: The Science of Nursing: Women and Newborns
  • GRNS 309: Practicum: Women and Newborns
  • PRNU 232: The Science of Nursing: Children
  • GRNS 312: The Science of Nursing: Adults and Elders II

Semester 3

  • GRNS 307: Practicum: Mental Health
  • GRNS 311: Practicum: Children
  • GRNS 314: The Science of Nursing: Community/Public Health
  • GRNS 315: Practicum: Community/Public Health

Year 1: Pre-licensure credit hours 36.5 and clinical hours 810

Post-licensure Course Sequence

Semester 1

  • GRNS 327: Advanced Topics in Healthcare Informatics
  • GRNS 335: Advanced Pathophysiology
  • STAT 200: Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Semester 2

  • NH 399: Fundamentals of Critical Inquiry
  • GRNS 328: Quality in Health Care
  • GRNS 339: CNL Seminar I

Semester 3

  • GRNS 326: Health Care Ethics, Policy, and Politics
  • GRNS 396: Advanced Pharmacology for the CNL
  • GRNS 340: CNL Practicum I

Semester 4

  • GRNS 406: Advanced Health Assessment
  • GRNS 321: Professional Role Development
  • GRNS 322: Organization, Delivery, and Financing of Health Care
  • GRNS 341: CNL Seminar II
  • GRNS 342: CNL Practicum II

Semester 5

  • GRNS 343: CNL Seminar III
  • GRNS 344: Immersion Practicum

Year 2-3: Post-licensure credit hours 36.0 and clinical hours 420

NOTES: The direct-entry program prepares students to progress into the M.S. - CNL track. It is not a stand-alone accelerated RN program. Completion of the direct-entry program allows students to take the NCLEX in the State of Vermont; this is not necessarily transferable to other states. Students who complete the M.S. degree and successfully complete the NCLEX are eligible to practice in any state with completion of the individual state Board of Nursing requirements. The UVM Course Catalogue details specific requirements as designated by catalogue year. Academic standards are outlined in the CNHS Nursing Graduate Student Handbook.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree or higher in non-nursing discipline
  • College grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Prerequisite courses
    • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
    • Microbiology
    • Nutrition
    • Statistics

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required, but may be included to complement your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will courses be online, hybrid, or on campus?

Some courses are offered live on campus at scheduled times; others are offered in hybrid format with remote synchronous delivery or asynchronous delivery online. A car is needed for travel to rural sites.

Where do clinical nurse leaders work?

The CNL is prepared for nursing leadership in a variety of roles, including post-acute clinical navigator/coordinator, outcomes manager, patient advocate, educator, information manager, systems analyst/risk anticipator, and clinical nurse manager.

What about financial aid and tuition costs for the program?

For current information about financial aid, tuition, and fees, refer to the Student Financial Services website. If you have questions about whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident, refer to the Registrar's Residency Policy.

How can I find out if UVM has received my transcripts (or any other materials)?

UVM will notify you when application materials have been received.

When will I learn if I have been accepted to the program?

Applications will be reviewed in December and decisions will be sent by the end of January.



Accreditation: The Master's degree in Nursing program at the University of Vermont is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

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Application Deadline: December 1

Term Start Date: August

Credits: 76

Duration: 3 1/2 years

Learning Format: On campus

For tuition information, please contact UVM Student Financial Services.

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