School of Nursing

MS in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

The Master of Science in Nursing presents a vibrant, challenging, future-oriented program of study that prepares graduates for practice in diverse health care settings. Coursework builds on the baccalaureate degree in nursing and is based on theory and research in nursing and related disciplines. The program provides the foundation for continued professional development and for doctoral study. Students are prepared to provide leadership and initiate collaborative relationships with others for the purposes of improving nursing and health care and influencing health policy. Master's students in nursing gain skill and knowledge that builds on their clinical experience and generalist undergraduate preparation. Graduate students extend their clinical expertise in working with individuals, families, and high risk populations. Master's students gain skills in clinical decision making and differential diagnosis; in case management and consultation; in client/patient teaching; in assessments and interventions; and in program design, implementation, and evaluation.

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) concentration prepares a generalist who will function as a clinical leader for setting-specific nursing practice. The CNL role is at the point of care with responsibilities in management of care, the care environment, and unit specific patient outcomes. 

Graduates who complete this program are eligible to sit for national certification as a clinical nurse leader through the Commission on Nurse Certification.

This degree program is currently under revision. Please contact the graduate nursing coordinator for more information.

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) concentration is five academic semesters in length for students taking an average of nine (9) credits per semester. Both full-time and part-time studies are available. A total of 42 credit hours are required for completion of this concentration.

The number of required clinical hours (contact hours) is based on national certification examination requirements, not on a credit hour to contact hour basis. The clinical nurse leader concentration has a total of 468 clinical hours: 84 hours in clinical semester one, 84 hours in clinical semester two, and 300 hours in clinical semester three.

Graduate Nursing Policies

Application Deadlines

Spring semester admission–October 1

Fall semester admission–April 1

Admission Information

Admission to the Master of Science degree program in nursing is on a competitive basis. The graduate program in nursing seeks candidates whose baccalaureate preparation, scholastic achievement, professional experience, interest, motivation, and references are predictive of successful graduate study. Applicant to this concentration must have a minimum of two (2) years of clinical experience as a registered nurse.

Each student's application for admission will be evaluated based on a composite of the following recommended standards.

  • A baccalaureate degree with a major in nursing from a degree program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing.
  • A minimum undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or a B average.
  • An undergraduate course in introductory statistics which includes descriptive and inferential statistics.
  • An undergraduate course in total health assessment.
  • Test Scores: MAT or GRE taken with five years of application submission
    • Miller Analogy Test (MAT): A score that ranks in the 45th percentile or higher for intended major.
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE):
    • Taken prior to August 1, 2011 - combined aptitude scores of 1,000 (V.Q.) or higher.
    • Taken after August 1, 2011 - a verbal reasoning score of 153 or higher; a quantitative reasoning score of 147 or higher; and, a minimum of 4.0 on the analytic writing sample.
  • Submission of official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS scores in addition to GRE scores (if English is not first language).
    • Applicants whose native language is not English must have earned a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 on the computer-based test, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher.
  • Current resume.
  • A personal interview with graduate faculty of the School of Nursing may be requested following a preliminary review of all required admission materials.
Application material

In addition to the materials described on the USM Graduate Admissions General  Application Instructions page, applicants for this program must submit:

  • Completed program selection form
  • Two letters of recommendation reflecting professional practice and academic achievement
  • Evidence (photocopy) of unencumbered current licensure as a registered professional nurse in Maine
  • An essay reflective of professional goals.

 For forms and additional application information, please visit the Graduate Admissions web page

Sample: Full-Time Program Sequence (42 Credits)

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

     NUR 604 Nursing Research 3
     NUR 614 Theoretical Foundation of Leadership & Role* 3
     BIO 545 Advanced Pathophysiology 3
     Total credits 9
     NUR 610 Integrated Health Assessment & Pharmacology* 3
     NUR 625 Principles of Health Care Finance 3
     HRD 631 Adult Learner 3
     Total credits 9
     NUR 628 Health Systems, Policy, & Economics* 3
     NUR 621 Clinical Seminar I* 3
     NUR 615 Clinical Project I* 1
     Graduate Elective (500-700) 3
     Total credits 10
     NUR 608 Applied Theories of Advanced Interpersonal Skills 3
     NUR 624 An Interprofessional Approach to Population-Based Health* 3
     NUR 622 Clinical Seminar II* 3
     NUR 617 Clinical Project II* 1
     Total credits 10
     NUR 623 CNL Immersion Clinical Seminar III* 3
     NUR 618 Clinical Project III* 1
     Total credits 4

*The Graduate Nursing Program reserves the right to delay offering the twenty-four-credit sequence for this concentration until a sufficient cohort is enrolled; minimum of ten students.

Admission to this program is currently on hold. Please contact the School of Nursing for more information

Deadline: April 1 for fall admission, October 1 for spring admission

Admission Information and Links:

USM Office of Graduate Admissions