An affordable, fast-track, Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program for RNs interested in healthcare administration, nursing leadership, and policy – and all the benefits an advanced degree confers.

Who should apply for the RN to CNL?

Unlike a typical two-year master's degree program or the traditional CNL program, the RN to CNL program offers experienced nurses a fast-track to a master's degree with the flexibility of part-time study. The program takes into account nurses' education, career and life experiences as they prepare for leadership roles in nursing and health care, and these UVA grads are well-positioned to continue their education in either the clinical specialty, with a PhD, or in whatever role or setting they choose.

With their wealth of professional and scholarly experience, RN to CNL grads tend to rise rapidly in health care communities as clinicians, team-leaders, patient care coordinators, client advocates, outcomes manager, and systems analysts.


Our Approach to RN to CNL

  • Lessons in resilience—a distinctive focus on teaching resilience and compassion in coursework and extra-curriculars, cultivating nurses who understand that self-care is key to safe, high-quality care and professional longevity
  • Global opportunities—at multiple sites across three continents, CNLs may take part in sustained global engagement to learn, conduct research and mentor others
  • Affordability—RN to CNL students may be eligible for tuition benefits from their hospital systems
  • Interprofessional learning—course content is deepened as students regularly collaborate and practice across professions—including work with medical students, physicians, respiratory therapists, PTs and OTs, social workers, and chaplains—through UVA’s interprofessional education hub, the Center for Interprofessional Collaborations

Admission Requirements for the RN to CNL

To be considered for the CNL for RN, applicants must:

  • Submit a completed application and an $85 application fee
  • Have a Bachelor's degree and an ADN degree, or diploma from a regionally accredited school
  • Have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Have successfully completed a college-level course in statistics within five years of the program start
  • Submit three satisfactory academic and professional recommendations
  • Complete two essays
  • Submit a resume or CV
  • A license as a registered nurse in the US, with eligibility to transfer the license to Virginia; students must have an unencumbered RN license in Virginia before the first day of classes
  • Be available for an interview, if requested
  • International applicants have additional admission requirements

The most competitive applicants have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher in nursing and non-nursing degrees, have experience in quality improvement projects and excellent writing skills.

Applicants with ADN or BSN degrees should apply for the fall semester, and request change to enroll in the summer session after admitted, if planning to enroll in summer classes.

Financial Aid for RN to CNL students

RN-to-CNL students may be eligible for tuition benefits from their hospital systems. Click here for tuition information.

RN to CNL Classes


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 selected global placements.

Technology Requirements

All graduate nursing students are required to have a laptop; information about these requirements will be sent to enrolling students before classes begin. Please see the School of Nursing Computing Policies for more guidance on laptop ownership requirements.

State Authorization and Professional Licensure Disclosures

As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement, the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)).  

Upon completion of the Master of Science in Nursing, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state.

Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))

Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) and RN to CNL Tuition