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Nursing Master's Degree Requirements

Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses


Master of Science Program— Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Program—Online

The Master of Science Program in Nursing builds on previous nursing education and clinical experience to prepare students for an advanced-education nurse generalist role in a variety of healthcare settings and to lay a foundation for doctoral education.

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) master’s concentration prepares nurse leaders who design, provide, manage, and coordinate health promotion, risk reduction, disease prevention, and illness management services to individuals and clinical populations.

The CNL is accountable for the application of research-based information and the efficient and cost-effective use of resources to improve clinical and environmental care outcomes and effect change in health care organizations.

The graduate is prepared to lead both intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary health care teams, and to function across all clinical settings in order to meet the demands of a complex care delivery system.

This program addresses the competencies and knowledge specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for Master’s Education and for the specific Clinical Nurse Leader focus. The School of Nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The graduate is prepared to take the CNL certification examination prepared by The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The CNL program is a distance-accessible program offered through a mixed-delivery method, with coursework predominantly online and some campus visits required. All coursework is offered through Continuing and Professional Education (CPE):

Program Objectives
At the completion of the program the graduate will be prepared to:
1. Implement the CNL role in a variety of clinical settings.
2. Apply advanced knowledge (pharmacology, patho-physiology, health assessment) and core competencies (critical thinking, communication, nursing technology/resources) to the development and evaluation of a plan of care for individuals or populations at the point of care.
3. Assume accountability for the efficient and cost effective use of human, environmental, and national resources by applying principles of healthcare policy, finance, economics, and ethics to care delivery.
4. Integrate knowledge of informatics, human diversity, and ethics to address and manage variation in population outcomes and ensure culturally relevant care.
5. Implement evidence-based practices and professional standards of care to effect change in healthcare organizations and improve outcomes of care.
6. Apply principles of leadership and collaboration to improve the health outcomes of individuals and clinical populations.
7. Improve clinical practice and optimize healthcare outcomes through use of information systems and other technologies.
8. Advocate for the client, interdisciplinary care team, and profession in legislative and regulatory arenas.

Admission Criteria
Students must meet the general requirements of both the University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School and the School of Nursing, and must have a baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited school of nursing or be a registered nurse with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree.

The School of Nursing uses the degree-granting institution grade point average (GPA) as one measure of an applicant’s academic potential. Successful applicants typically have GPAs of 3.0 or above. If the GPA is less than 3.0, applicants may still apply and be considered for admission, but might wish to submit a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score if they believe that their GPA does not acccurately reflect their abilities.

Applicants must also provide official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs attended, documentation of RN licensure, TOEFL scores (if needed), and evidence of courses in undergraduate-level Health Assessment (or equivalent) and Elementary Statistics. Applicants should provide a sample of their own scholarly writing, a written statement of professional goals, and two letters of recommendation.

Application Deadline is Febraury 1 each year.

Course Requirements
The M.S./C.N.L. concentration requires completion of 37 credit hours of coursework. Selected courses include practicum/project hours. The curriculum consists of 27 didactic credit hours, 10 practicum credit hours (4:1 ratio; 56 contact hours per one credit hour totals 566 contact hours), and a 60-hour fieldwork experience in NURSING 690L Leadership in Public Health Systems. NURSING 690C Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Reasoning has a mandatory workshop, a “Competency Leveling Workshop” that is a three-day experience using 24 contact hours of laboratory time for the course.

Credit Transfer
Students who have taken non-degree courses at the University of Massachusetts Amherst may transfer a maximum of six credits hours from these courses. Up to six additional credits may be transferred from institutions other than the University of Massachusetts Amherst. These courses must have been taken within the last three years and a grade of B or better achieved. The completion of graduate courses taken as a non-degree student does not guarantee admission into the program. Students admitted and matriculated into the program may enroll in all courses; non-degree students may enroll on a space-available basis and by consent of the instructor. Only matriculated students may enroll in the clinical practicum.

Master of Science (in Nursing)/Master of Public Health Dual Degree Program—Online

The M.S./M.P.H. program is now closed to all but currently admitted and matriculated students. Those interested in an advanced degree in public health and nursing should consult the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) in Public Health Nursing Leadership Degree program elsewhere in the Nursing section of this Bulletin.

M.S./M.P.H. program faculty are the graduate faculty in the School of Nursing with expertise in public health nursing; and, from the five core domains of public health at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) as well as expert faculty nationally who have received appointments. The most current faculty listings are posted on the School of Nursing and the SPHHS websites.

All courses are offered online. Students are able to access the course materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Clinical practicums involve diverse clinical activities tailored to meet individual learning needs and are completed in settings identified by the student.