Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

AGACCNS(CNS)WhiteShaded Prepares the student to be an advanced practice nurse and assume the roles of clinician, educator and researcher, as well as clinical consultant and clinical leader.

  • 21 months for full-time study; 3 years for part-time study
  • Graduates are qualified to sit for the ANCC certification examination for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Application deadline: November 1




Overview Admissions Classes Contact

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Who is the AGCNS for?
Nurses seeking preparation for the care of acute and chronically ill adults at the master’s or post-master's level. Applicants should have at least one year of full-time RN experience before entering the program.


  • Small, intimate classes
  • 560 clinical hours at the UVA Medical Center and other clinical sites
  • Full- and part-time curricula available



  • Integrate theoretical and research-based knowledge as a generalist leader or in an advanced nursing practice specialty
  • Provide care and comfort to individuals, families and groups experiencing complex health care needs
  • Provide care that reflects sensitivity to differences among culturally and ethnically diverse populations
  • Assume a leadership role in establishing and monitoring standards of practice to improve patient care in collaboration with nursing experts
  • Use ethical principles to guide decision-making in nursing practice
  • Evaluate clinical practice in relation to professional practice standards and relevant statutes and regulations
  • Apply the research process to improve evidence-based clinical practice and contribute to knowledge development
  • Engage in self-directed and purposeful activities in seeking necessary knowledge and skills to enhance career goals
  • Examine economic, political, and social forces affecting nursing care delivery in complex health systems
  • Promote multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure quality, cost effective care
  • Contribute to the development of peers, colleagues, and others to improve patient care and foster the growth of professional nursing
  • Act as change agents to create environments that promote effective nursing practice and patient outcomes


Admission to the School of Nursing is competitive and based on evaluation of all portions of the application. Click here for frequently asked questions relating to admissions.

Admission requirements:
To be considered for the Master of Science in Nursing, applicants must submit a completed application and:

  • Have a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate study.
  • Be licensed as a registered nurse in the US and be eligible for a RN license in Virginia. 
  • Submit three satisfactory academic and professional recommendations, one of which should be from an APN.
  • Submit a copy of your resume or CV.
  • Have completed an undergraduate or graduate statistics course within the past five years.
  • Be available for an interview, if requested.
  • International applicants have additional admissions requirements.

Note: Applicants should have at least one year of full-time RN experience before entering the program.  A minimum of one year of full-time, relevant clinical nursing experience is necessary before enrolling in GNUR 6020 (Advanced Pharmacology) and GNUR 6025 (Advanced Health Assessment) and the clinical practica.

Competitive applicants
A competitive candidate for admission would have the following at the time of application: 

  • BSN GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  • More than one year of relevant, full-time RN experience.
  • Active member of a national nursing organization (preferably in applicant’s practice area).
  • Exhibiting leadership behaviors in a nursing practice setting (mentoring other nurses, participating in unit or hospital-based leadership teams, engaged in practice change and evidence-based practice projects).
  • Possess a clinical certification, or on pathway to obtaining one or more certifications.
  • Excellent writing skills.

Steps to apply

  • Register for an online application account through MyGrad UVA
  • Log into your account in MyGrad UVA to complete and submit your application
  • Visit your MyGrad UVA page

Important dates

  • Application deadline: November 1
  • Notification of admissions decisions: by February 1
  • Enrollment options: fall entry only

Tuition and financial aid


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Faculty and staff provide exceptional support to UVA nursing students.
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Medical center at UVA draws diverse patients.


The AGCNS may be combined with other academic programs:

  • WOC Nursing: students in the AGCNS program can pursue Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing specialty preparation. Students in this program complete two didactic courses in WOCN, as well as an additional preceptorship in WOC nursing, which enables the student to sit for AWOCN certification following program completion.
  • BSN-to-DNP pathway:the School opened a BSN-to-DNP specialty track in fall 2013. More info available here.

Professional nursing standards and guidelines incorporated in the curriculum: The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing (AACN, 2011).

Plan of study

Class schedule (full-time)
In the first year, the student has didactic classes on Thursdays and Fridays (in the fall and spring). In the second year, the didactic component is on Thursday, and clinical practica are generally Monday to Wednesday, or as the individual's schedule allows. 

Students complete 560 clinical hours, divided evenly between GNUR 7311 and GNUR 7312. The first clinical course (GNUR 7311) is generally completed at the top-ranked UVA Medical Center, which adjoins the School of Nursing. The UVA Medical Center -- a 590-bed, Level I trauma center with 6 adult ICUs -- provides an excellent clinical site with a wealth of professional and technological resources. The second practicum (GNUR 7312) may be completed at another facility in Virginia with prior arrangement of the clinical coordinator.

The individual student determines his or her specialization focus (ie: cardiology, ER/trauma, digestive health, nephrology, wound/ostomy/continence, neurology or neuro-surgery, general surgery, pulmonary, transplant, oncology, etc.). The acute care graduate program can accommodate students interested in preparing for more than one specialty and/or preparation as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP).  In such cases, students should expect additional clinical hours, and will receive individual faculty advisement.

Technology requirements
All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop. Additionally, students in advanced practice tracks (CNS and NP) are required to have a smartphone (Apple or Android). Information on the laptop and smartphone requirements will be sent to enrolling students in the summer before classes begin.


  • Please complete the online inquiry form to be added to the mailing list
  • Program Coordinator: Audrey Snyder, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAANP; (434) 924-0094
  • Admissions and financial aid questions: Clay Hysell, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, (434) 924-0141
  • Office of Admissions and Student Services: (434) 924-0141 or (888) 283-8703