Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

The master of science in Nursing with a major in Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) prepares an advanced generalist practitioner to provide clinical leadership at the point of service in a variety of practice settings.

Built from the core curriculum in other master’s degree programs, this advanced generalist nurse is differentiated from advanced practice nurses in their abilities to:

  • Manage complex clinical cases and provide leadership at the point of care;
  • Scan the practice environment to identify opportunities for quality and process improvements;
  • Use technology and informatics to support outcomes measurement; and
  • Lead teams in the delivery of health care in multiple settings across the care continuum.

This program assists nurses in developing advanced clinical knowledge, leadership skills and systems knowledge to provide care and clinical leadership in all health care settings at the point of service; implement evidence-based and outcomes-based practice; develop and implement quality improvement strategies; and create and manage microsystems of care that will be responsive to the needs of individuals and families. The program is designed to prepare nurse leaders who can address contemporary issues in an evolving health care environment. The program places emphasis on providing services to the medically underserved. The MSN degree with the CNL major requires 38 credit hours and completion of a clinical immersion project. Clinical hour requirements include 100 hours in NUR 5830 and 300 to 400 hours in NUR 5940.

The program is taught in an engaging online format that is flexible and student-centered. Students need not be a resident of Michigan to enroll in the program. Clinical sites and qualified preceptors are identified near the student’s home to complete the required CNL clinical immersion experience. Full-time and part-time options are available for degree completion. The master of science in Nursing Degree is conferred at the completion of program requirements. Graduates of the CNL program are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam offered by the AACN Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC).

A Note to Online Students

It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

For Program-Specific Information

For more information about the CNL program, please contact Julia Stocker Schneider, PhD, RN at or 313-993-1790.

Application to the Clinical Nurse Leader Master's Program

You can apply to the Clinical Nurse Leader programs through our online application. For questions or assistance regarding the application process, contact: Suzanne Erwin at  or (313) 993-1828

View the Admission Criteria (PDF)

Graduate Nursing Program Objectives

Graduates of the master of science in Nursing degree program achieve the following terminal objectives:

  1. Demonstrate own professional role practice consistent with the competencies of the unique specialty at the master's level.
  2. Translate theoretical and conceptual knowledge into advanced nursing practice actions that promote optimal health care quality and patient safety outcomes.
  3. Integrate informatics, health care technology and interpersonal collaboration in the delivery of person-centered nursing practice for individuals and populations.
  4. Engage in systems leadership with a focus on preventive care, policy development and patient advocacy.
  5. Integrate the Jesuit and Mercy traditions in providing culturally competent, compassionate, holistic and person-centered care with a commitment to human dignity in the contemporary world.

Clinical Nurse Leader Sample Program Plan

Required Courses

Interprofessional Core:

HLH 5700  Health Care Policy & Delivery Issues (3 cr.)

HLH 5500  Research Methods in Health Care (3 cr.)

HLH 5900  Advanced Pathophysiology (3 cr.)

Intraprofessional Advanced Practice Nursing Core:

NUR 5020: Theoretical Found. of Nursing Practice (3 cr.)

NUR 5030: Analytic Methods for Clinical Practice (3 cr.)

NUR 5055: Systems Leadership, Quality Improvement, & Informatics for Adv. Nursing Practice (3 cr.)

Shared Specialty Core (with HSM):

NUR 5350: Outcomes Management & Decision Support in Nursing (3 cr.)

NUR 5420:  Mgmt of the Healthcare Environment (2 cr.)

NUR 5450:  Business Planning for Nurse Leaders (2 cr.)

NUR 5650: Population Health & Care Transitions Management (2 cr.)

NUR 5830: Leadership & Quality Improvement in Clinical Microsystems (3 cr.)

Specialty Core:

NUR 5500 Physical Assessment and Advanced Pharmacology for the CNL (4 cr.)

NUR 5940 Clinical Immersion Experience for CNL (4 cr.)

Total – 38 cr.