Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) for RNs

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The Clinical Nurse Leader program takes into account your educational, career, and life experiences as well as your critical thinking ability and maturity as you prepare to become a leader in nursing and health care. The curriculum prepares individuals with undergraduate degrees who are registered nurses to provide leadership at the point of care. The school admits students into a 34-41 credit program leading to a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. The CNL is an advanced generalist nurse, and will be prepared to direct care at the unit level. This could be direct care in an inpatient hospital unit, in an outpatient environment, or in a public/community health setting.

The graduate will be prepared to collect and evaluate patient outcomes, assess cohort risk, and use decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary. The CNL will function as part of an interdisciplinary team by communicating, planning, and implementing care directly with other health care professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and advanced practice nurses.

Students may enroll as either full-time or part-time students. Full-time students could complete this program in as little as 16 months and would pursue an individualized plan of study. Part-time students could complete the MSN in 24 months. Applicants with ADN + BSN degrees should apply for the fall semester, and request change to enroll in the summer session after admitted.

Gina DeGennaro, Program Coordinator

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Renee Breeden,
Program Manager

Program Coordinator: Gina DeGennaro, DNP, RN, CNL; (434) 924-0116;
Please address questions on admissions or financial aid to Clay Hysell, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid; (434) 924-0066;


In the final semester, students identify a clinical focus area for completion of an extended clinical practicum, followed by the CNL residency practicum. Clinical experiences will be offered at the UVA Medical Center, at other facilities and settings in the Charlottesville area, and at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem, Virginia. 

Licensure and Certifications

Graduates are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader certification examination. Students must have an unencumbered RN license in Virginia before the first day of classes.

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 Clinical Nurse Leader MSN, applicants must submit a completed application and the following materials:

  • Possess either a BSN, ADN degree or diploma from a regionally accredited school. ADN and diploma applicants must have a BA/BS degree in another discipline from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate study.
  • Complete a college-level course in statistics within the past five (5) years.
  • Submit a total of three satisfactory recommendations (academic, professional, and clinical). 
  • Submit a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae.
  • 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.
  • Be available for an interview if requested; this might be a phone interview with members of the admissions committee.
  • International applicants have additional admissions requirements. 

Technology requirements: All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop. Information on the technology requirements will be sent to enrolling students in the summer before classes begin.

Application deadline: November 1 for fall entry

Submission of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is optional for applicants to the traditional MSN program. The School of Nursing accepts GRE scores that are more than 5 years old. If you have your 'older' scores, you may submit a copy of the Student Report. Students who have already completed a graduate degree do not need to submit GRE scores. The institutional code for the University of Virginia is R-5820. 


A competitive candidate for admission to the RN-CNL program would have the following at the time of application:

  • Undergraduate gpa of 3.25 or higher in the prior nursing degree (and non-nursing undergraduate degree, if applicable);
  • Prior experience in quality improvement projects (through place of employment or volunteer activities) or in team leadership;
  • Possess excellent writing skills.

Downloads, Program of Study, and Links

For More Information

For additional information on admission to and programs of study at the UVA School of Nursing, please complete the 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,