Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master's Certificate Programs

Updated: Mar 18, 2024

Increasing demands to improve the quality of nursing care, combined with the desire for nurses to continue their education beyond the master's degree, are likely responsible for the development of the online Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) graduate certificate. This certificate prepares nurses for increased responsibilities through the increased skills and knowledge provided in their certificate program.

What Are the Online Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master’s Certificate Requirements?

Most colleges and universities refer to the clinical nurse leader certificate program as a post-master’s certificate program, while other schools list the program as the clinical nurse leader post-graduate certificate. There are a variety of requirements to enroll in a clinical nurse leader post-master’s certificate program. Those requirements typically include:

  • The individual must hold current and unencumbered registered nurse licensure
  • Prospective student must hold a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree
  • Submit admissions application and all required documentation
  • Applicant must often demonstrate completion of certain required courses prior to acceptance in clinical nurse leader post-master’s certificate program
  • The nurse must have completed a designated number of hours of nursing practice prior to taking the first course in program

Although many requirements are the same or similar at most schools, it is the students' responsibility to know the requirements for admission.

What Type of Classes Are Included in the Online Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master’s Certificate Curriculum? 

The classes and curriculum of a clinical nurse leader grad certificate program follow the requirements for certification in the particular state. Many programs are offered online, providing students the opportunity to complete their coursework in an online format, and their practicum or other requirements within their own community.

Some programs may vary somewhat in the specific courses or number of credit hours required to complete the post-master’s clinical nurse leader certificate program. For example, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers the program with 14-credit hours of online study over four semesters, which also includes the practicum hours. Students graduating from this program are eligible to sit for the certification exam, even though the university may require fewer credit hours of study than some other schools.

Common courses include:

  • Quality Improvement & Safety
  • Quality in the Clinical Nurse Leader Role
  • Leadership in the Clinical Nurse Leader Role
  • CNL Practicum courses

What Type of Career Can I Pursue with an Online Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master’s Certificate?

Nurses that complete an online clinical nurse leader grad certificate program have exceptional career opportunities. Nurses that pass the certification exam advance their career options, and acquire a variety of learning outcomes.

South Dakota State University lists some of these outcomes, including the fact that students engage in life-long learning, and learn to apply knowledge of evidence-based practice. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing further explains the focus areas, some of which include:

  • Care coordination
  • Transitions of care
  • Outcomes measurement
  • Quality improvement
  • Interprofessional communication
  • Team leadership

Career opportunities open to nurses that complete the post-master’s clinical nurse leadership program potentially include clinical nurse leader, patient care coordinator, nurse clinician, outcomes manager, nurse educator, or other career roles.

The clinical nurse leader focuses on the fact that they are academically and experientially prepared to deliver a wide range of services in the healthcare industry. Patient care coordinators coordinate the patient's healthcare in a variety of settings, and need to be able to work with other healthcare providers.

The nurse clinician has the expertise to provide direct and indirect nursing care. The outcomes manager ensures that nursing care meets clinical guidelines and facility standards. The nurse educator may teach or train nurses in academic and professional settings.

Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master’s Certificate Programs List

Interested in a clinical nurse leader post-master's certificate program? Check out our listings below to find a traditional, online, or hybrid program near you.


Spring Hill CollegeMobile, ALHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


University of North GeorgiaDahlonega, GAOnline - Nurse Executive Leader


Morningside CollegeSioux City, IAClinical Nurse Leader


Chamberlain University-IllinoisAddison, ILHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


University of IndianapolisIndianapolis, INOnline - Nurse Leader


University of Southern MainePortland, MEHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MNOnline - Nursing Leadership


University of Missouri- ColumbiaColumbia, MOOnline - Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

North Carolina

Queens University of CharlotteCharlotte, NCHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader
University of North Carolina at PembrokePembroke, NCNurse Leader


University of Nevada, RenoReno, NVClinical Nurse Leader

New York

University of RochesterRochester, NYHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


Cedarville UniversityCedarville, OHOnline - Nursing Leadership
Xavier UniversityCincinnati, OHHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


La Roche UniversityPittsburgh, PAHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader
Moravian UniversityBethlehem, PAHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader

South Carolina

Lander UniversityGreenwood, SCOnline - Clinical Nurse Leader

South Dakota

South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SDHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


Texas Christian UniversityFort Worth, TXHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader
Texas Woman's UniversityDenton, TXHybrid - Clinical Nurse Leader


Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VAOnline - Nursing Leadership


University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukee, WIOnline - Clinical Nurse Leader

Do we need to add to or update any of the information listed? Please contact us so we can keep our site updated.

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