Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Master's Certificate Programs

Updated: May 20, 2024

By completing a post-master’s certificate to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist, registered nurses with MSN degrees can concentrate on a specialized or niche area of study without the added burden of completing a second master's degree. The Clinical Nurse Specialist can specialize in Adult-Gerontology, Neonatal Care, Pediatrics, Public Health, Women's Health, and more; they can further concentrate in oncology or critical care within their area of study. These expert-level nurses are trained to work in acute, primary, or long-term care settings and can provide care with a great deal of independence.

Upon completion of the post-graduate certificate, graduates are readied to sit for the national certification exam of their specialty. Because CNS programs focus heavily on clinicals, most programs are offered on-campus or via hybrid instructional methods (both in-person and online).

What Are the Online Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Master's Certificate Requirements?

Most post-graduate certificates for the Clinical Nurse Specialist programs include the following requirements:

  • Completed application with supporting documents.
  • Graduate and undergraduate degrees, including transcripts and proofs of completion.
  • GPA of 3.0
  • Unexpired unencumbered nursing license
  • At least two years of clinical experience as an RN
  • Proof of required immunizations
  • An essay or letter of intent
  • Resume
  • 3 letters of reference
  • Professional interview (some programs)

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

To earn a Clinical Nurse Specialist post-grad certificate, students are required to complete the courses in an in-person setting for most if not all courses. Most programs are 18-35 credits in length depending on the specialty. At Eastern Michigan University, for instance, students complete advanced adult-gerontology nursing courses followed by a practicum. A total of 500 clinical hours are required to complete the post-grad cert and become eligible to test for certification.

Courses taken for an Online Clinical Nurse Specialist post-grad certificate may include:

Courses for the Clinical Nurse Specialist post-grad certificate vary by specialization. For the Adult-Gerontology specialty, a sampling of courses may look like the following:

  • Advanced Adult-Gerontology Nursing I & II
  • Practicum in Advanced Adult – Gerontology
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Capstone

For the pediatric or women's health specialty, the student completes the same type of coursework intensives followed by clinicals related to that specific area. Each course requires the completion of a certain number of clinical hours.

Core nursing courses for the post-grad cert include Healthcare Policy and Ethics, Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Health Assessment Across the Lifespan (with practicum), and Health Promotion Across the Lifespan. Most schools will perform a "gap analysis" to see which of these core courses need to be completed to finish the certificate.

Students should gain familiarity with the curriculum, including electives and practicums, prior to enrolling so they know what is expected of them to earn the post-grad cert.

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

Certified Clinical Nurse Specialists function as expert patient care providers within their area of expertise. They are able to diagnose medical conditions, provide treatments, and deliver ongoing patient care management. To practice as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (a standardized job title), such nurses must attain national certification in their area of specialty.

Clinical Nurse Specialists can practice with considerable autonomy, often functioning as leaders or mentors of RNs in hospitals. Because they are viewed as leaders and experts in their area of specialty, they are trusted to develop and implement strategies for improving patient care and resolving related issues. In addition to delivering direct patient care, such nurses may function in a consulting role, advise on healthcare policy, and work as an educator or researcher.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Master’s Certificate Programs List

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


University of Southern IndianaEvansville, INOnline - Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist


Kent State UniversityKent, OHOnline - Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist


La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia, PAHybrid - Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

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