Clinical nurse leader

Humans for humankind

The clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a master's-prepared generalist advanced practice nurse whose role is to coordinate patient-centered care in a complex health care system. Clinical nurse leaders serve as advocates, prepared to anticipate and provide integrative, evidence-based solutions to patients' needs. 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 as experts at the point of care.

UVM's Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader degree program prepares registered nurses for leadership roles in nursing. A track for individuals with a non-nursing degree is currently undergoing the approval process and anticipated to start in fall 2019. An accelerated master's-entry option is also available to select undergraduate UVM Nursing students. Get more information >>

About the Program

Custom curriculum tracks combine hands-on clinical experience with courses in advanced evidence-based practice, health care management and delivery of care. The program affords flexibility to work part-time while gaining valuable clinical experience. The clinical nurse leader is prepared for a variety of roles in the health care setting, including:

  • Post-acute clinical navigator/coordinator
  • Outcomes manager
  • Patient advocate
  • Educator
  • Information manager
  • Systems analyst/risk anticipator
  • Clinical nurse manager

Clinical and Research Opportunities

Students will 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. Students will also develop and implement a culminating, evidence-based capstone project.

  • Preparing professionals for team-based patient care

    The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is affiliated with the University of Vermont Health Network, a six-hospital system that includes a Level 1 Trauma Center, the Vermont Cancer Center and the UVM Children's Hospital and hosts the nurse-practitioner led Appletree Bay Primary Care clinic.

Admission Requirements

Track One: For individuals already licensed in nursing

  • B.S. in Nursing OR associate's degree in nursing with B.S./B.A. in another field*
  • RN license and Vermont RN license eligibility
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Prerequisite courses
    • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
    • Microbiology
    • Nutrition
    • Statistics
  • GRE scores
  • UVM Graduate College and NursingCAS application forms

*Students admitted with an associate's degree in nursing and a B.S./B.A. in another field must undergo a gap analysis to determine if their education demonstrates attainment of the baccalaureate essentials. If it does not, the student will be guided to obtain these essentials. In addition to the listed prerequisite courses, the student must have successfully completed an undergraduate course in health assessment.

Track Two: For individuals who are not licensed in nursing**

  • B.S. or B.A. in one of the life sciences (or related field) from accredited college or university
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Prerequisite courses
    • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
    • Microbiology
    • Nutrition
    • Statistics
  • GRE scores
  • UVM Graduate College and NursingCAS application forms

** Note this is not an accelerated B.S. in nursing program. No degree is awarded at the completion of the pre-RN licensure year. Upon completion of the pre-RN licensure year, students will take the NCLEX-RN examination to obtain their RN licensure and transition to the completion of the CNL courses. For more information, contact

Track Three: For current UVM Nursing students

  • Enrollment, junior status and good standing in the UVM undergraduate Nursing program
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one from a UVM clinical instructor
  • Resume
  • UVM Graduate College application form

Minimum Degree Requirements

Track One: 39.5 credits of graduate nursing courses, including 420 practicum hours. Track One curriculum (by year of program entry):

Track Two (Pending Approval): The direct-entry CNL program begins with 36.5 credits and includes 820 hours of full-time, year-round coursework to prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam and gain registered nurse licensure in the State of Vermont. Students then complete 39.5 credits of graduate nursing courses, including 420 practicum hours.***

***Students in Track Two must pass the NCLEX-RN exam following completion of their pre-licensure coursework to continue in the program. Please note this is not an accelerated B.S. in Nursing program.

Track Three: The accelerated master's degree program offers select UVM undergraduate nursing students the opportunity to obtain both their bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing in a total of six years of study.

The UVM Course Catalogue details specific requirements as designated by catalogue year. Academic standards are outlined in the CNHS Nursing Graduate Student Handbook.

Application Instructions

Application Deadline: APRIL 3

(Please note applications to the accelerated master's program from current students are due June 10.)

Application Process

1. Complete the Nursing Common Application through the Centralized Application Service for Nursing Programs (NursingCAS), a division of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Follow instructions on the site. All application materials should be submitted directly to NursingCAS. These include:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s) from all schools attended
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. (On the NursingCAS application there is an opportunity for the applicant to self-report when the GRE was taken. Official GRE scores must be submitted to UVM on the Graduate College Online Application using code 3920.)

2. Complete the UVM Graduate Online Application. Include the following information with the UVM application:

  • The essay/statement of purpose submitted with the NursingCAS application
  • Official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores (UVM Code: 3920). The College will accept both the old and new version of the GRE. Scores must be received by the application deadline.
  • Application Fee
  • No transcripts or letters of recommendation should be sent to the University of Vermont.

Financial Aid

For information about financing your education, contact the UVM Financial Aid Office.

Contact Us

College of Nursing & Health Sciences
Office of Student Services
(802) 656-3858

The master's degree program in nursing at the University of Vermont is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (