Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

BSN-DNP class 300px The School of Nursing prepares nurses for the care of acute and chronically ill adults in the Adult-Gerontology CNS program at the MSN or post-master's level. This advanced practice program prepares the student to assume the roles of clinician, educator and researcher, as well as clinical consultant and clinical leader. Emphasis is placed on providing the student with the advanced theoretical knowledge and practice skills needed to function in increasingly complex acute care settings. Evidenced-based practice, outcomes management, clinical research, and advanced clinical decision-making are emphasized.

The curriculum builds on both the theoretical knowledge and clinical experience of the baccalaureate-prepared nurse.

Full-time students can complete the MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS in 21 months. 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.

WOC Nursing: Students in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS program can select to 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 offers a BSN-to-DNP program for students interested in pursue the Adult-Gero Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist or Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certifications. The first students in this program enrolled in fall 2013. You can learn more about the BSN-to-DNP program here.

Audrey Snyder

Audrey Snyder, Program Coordinator

Renee Breeden, Administrative Assistant

Program Coordinator:  Audrey Snyder, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAANP; (434) 924-0094
Direct all questions on admissions and financial aid to Assistant Dean Clay Hysell, (434) 924-0141


Students complete 560 clinical hours, divided evenly between GNUR 7311 and GNUR 7312. The first clinical course (GNUR 7311) is generally completed at top-ranked UVA Medical Center, which adjoins the School of Nursing. 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 the focus of his/her specialization (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.


At the completion of the program, the student is qualified to sit for the ANCC  or AACN certification examination for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist.  The program has also been endorsed by the both the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the School of Nursing is competitive and based on evaluation of all portions of the application. To be considered for the Master's 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, with eligibility to transfer your license to Virginia.   All matriculating students who are not active-duty military nurses must have a Virginia RN license before the first day of classes.
  • Submit three satisfactory academic and professional recommendations, one of which should be from an APN.
  • Submit a copy of your resume or C.V.
  • 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.

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

Application deadline: Fall entry: November 1

*Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional.  If you want to have GRE scores sent to UVA, the institutional code is R-5820.  The School of Nursing accepts GRE scores that are more than five years old.  If you have your 'older' scores, you may submit a copy of the Student Report. 

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.

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For More Information

For additional information on admission to and programs of study at the UVA School of Nursing, please complete the online inquiry form. You are also welcome to call the Office of Admissions and Student Services at (434) 924-0141 / (888) 283-8703.

Questions on admissions and financial aid should be directed to Clay Hysell, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid,