Clinical Nurse Leader

The CNL Role

The CNL track provides students the opportunity to become immersed in the theoretical aspects of leadership and apply these theories in the clinical setting to meet the challenges of nursing’s future. Clinical Nurse Leaders are at the forefront of changing the quality of healthcare within the environment where patients receive their care such as at the bedside in the hospital or in the outpatient setting. The CNL adds value to any health care organization by using evidence-based practice to achieve better outcomes, fiscal strategies to reduce costs, and educational strategies to foster learning with other health professionals.

The CNL program offers bachelor prepared Registered Nurses an opportunity to critically examine the delivery of nursing care and services in relation to structure, process, and outcomes within small and large organizational systems. The CNL position is designed to address common challenges in today’s economic environment, including the fragmentation of care, retention of nurses in the profession, opportunities for advancement, and utilization of nurses to their full scope of practice in acute care settings. The CNL major is a 43 credit hour online program (including core courses) which prepares graduates to sit for the CNL certification exam offered by the Commission on Nurse Certification.

Many prospective students inquire about the differences between the Executive Nurse Leader and the Clinical Nurse Leader. Both are leadership roles, but have different Master’s level preparation and foci. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers an excellent overview of the similarities, differences, and complementarities of the two roles. Click on the link below for a description of the similarities and differences between the Executive Nurse Leader and the Clinical Nurse Leader:


State Boards of Nursing set standards for licensure. Some State Boards also require approval of programs leading to an advanced practice education and certification. It is highly recommended that applicants who seek admission to the nurse practitioner programs at UTMB contact their home state’s Board of Nursing to verify that the desired program and its graduates will meet the eligibility criteria for approval for those credentials. Applicants may need to complete clinical rotations in Texas so may need a Texas license or be part of a compact state (see map below). More information can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website. If you have further questions, please contact Diana Pressley, Associate Dean of Admissions, at

Compact States License 2017


The requirements for admission to the master's degree program in nursing are itemized below:

  • A bachelor's of science in nursing degree from a nursing program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or other nationally-recognized nursing education accrediting body. Applicants who have a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a non-accredited program will be considered individually.
  • Submit an application for admission and the application fee using the Nursing Centralized Application Service (NCAS). Official transcripts must be submitted directly to NCAS from each college/university attended and received by the application deadline.
  • One (1) letter of reference is significant and taken into consideration by the admissions committee. The letter should be written by your clinical manager or other authority, and speak to your commitment to the discovery of new knowledge, your current knowledge in a clinical area, and your dedication to the profession.
  • Complete the Personal Statement section of the NCAS application. Please include your full name and limit the statement to 700 words. Information that needs to be addressed includes:
    • Rationale for choice of profession and career goals
    • Discussion of health-related experience, both work and volunteer
    • Personal strengths and weaknesses
    Also use the personal statement to discuss any factors that may have affected your grades or resulted in any interruptions in your education.
  • Current (active), valid, unencumbered license or multi-state privilege to practice as a registered nurse in the state(s) in which the student participates in any clinical learning experiences.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all college work and a 3.0 for all upper division courses.
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for admission to the MSN programs

Experience Requirements by Degree

  • AGACNP– A minimum of one year of recent experience as a registered nurse in an Acute Care, ED, or ICU environment is required.
  • AGPCNP & FNP– A minimum of one year of recent experience as a registered nurse is preferred.
  • CNL – A minimum of one year of recent experience as a registered nurse is required; special circumstances considered.
  • ENL – A minimum of one year of recent management/leadership experience as a registered nurse is preferred.
  • NE Certification– A minimum of one year of recent experience as a registered nurse is required; acute care experience preferred.
  • NNP– A minimum of two years of recent experience as a registered nurse in a Level III nursery is required.

Tuition and Fees-

There is a refundable $200.00 deposit assessed when you accept the offer to attend UTMB School of Nursing. This deposit will be applied towards your tuition upon enrollment. For specific details about tuition and fees, please visit the Enrollment Services Tuition and Fees webpage.

Curriculum Plan-

The sample program demonstrates how a student might typically advance through the program. The specific hours and courses are subject to change.

Semester I
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5305 Introduction to the CNL 3
GNRS 5355 Advanced Pathophysiology 3
Total Credits 6
Semester II
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5301 Pharmacological Principles and Clinical Therapeutics 3
GNRS 5373 Foundations of Research/Theory 3
GNRS 5121 Clinical Practicum I (60 Clinical hours) 1
Total Credits 7
Semester III
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5349 Informatics and Quality Improvement 3
GNRS 5307 Advanced Health Assessment 3
GNRS 5122 Clinical Practicum II (60 Clinical hours) 1
Total Credits 7
Semester IV
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5368 Quality and Safety 3
GNRS 53371 Public Health Principles in Advanced Practice Nursing 3
Total Credits 6
Semester V
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5557 CNL Clinical Practice 5
GNRS 5123 Clinical Practicum III (60 Clinical hours) 1
Total Credits 6
Semester VI
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5395 CNL Healthcare Finance and Economics 3
GNRS 5321 Clinical Immersion I (180 Clinical hours) 3
Total Credits 6
Semester VII
Course Number Course Name Hours
GNRS 5357 CNL Immersion II and Project (180 clinical hours) 3
GNRS 5250 Role Synthesis and Integration 2
Total Credits 5


Submit an application for admission and application fee using the Nursing Centralized Application Service (NCAS). Official transcripts must be submitted directly to NCAS from each college/university attended and received by the application deadline.

International Students

Applicants from international institutions must use one of the credentialing services approved by UTMB to provide a verification and evaluation of transcripts in order to be able to be considered for admission to programs at UTMB. Applicants are no longer required to send official transcripts from the issuing institution since we are now utilizing these services. An official copy of this report must be submitted to NCAS by the application deadline. The following are the Credentialing Services approved by UTMB:

  • Spantran Services
  • 7211 Regency Square Blvd., Suite 205
  • Houston, TX 77036-3197
  • 713-266-8805

Applicants whose tertiary-level education has been completed at international institutions must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if the native language is not English. A minimum satisfactory score on the TOEFL is a computer score of 83 or 6.5 for the IELTS.

Since the MSN programs are online, the UTMB MSN programs do not meet the requirements for students who have VISAs for educational purposes and are required to enroll in courses offered on campus.

Selection Factors

The Master's Nursing Admissions Committee considers a number of elements in the selection of students. No single item will be used in the consideration of an applicant. The minimum admission requirements have been listed previously. Additional elements that may be considered and assessed in a personal interview include:

  • Academic performance as reflected by GPA
  • Nursing experience
  • Leadership potential
  • Awards and honors of distinction
  • Communication skills
  • Applicant's goals for the future and specific reasons for entry into the program


Applicants wanting to transfer coursework to UTMB need to submit their request for transfer credit after admittance to the program. Newly admitted students need to submit a request with the course syllabus to Diana Pressley at UTMB will accept up to 12 hours of transfer credits. Please note that courses can only be counted once for a degree at the same level. For example, students with a MSN cannot use this coursework to apply to another MSN program. The post graduate certificates are used for students that have already achieved their MSN. UTMB offers post BSN and post MSN Nurse Educator Certificates.

After Acceptance-

After you have accepted your UTMB offer, you are required to complete the following:

  • BLS for Healthcare Providers - All applicants selected for admission must complete a BLS course for Healthcare Providers which covers infant, child, adult, and two-man CPR. Please visit the American Heart Association web site to locate a course in your geographical area. Certification must be submitted to CastleBranch prior to Orientation.
  • Immunization Requirements - Evidence of immunizations required by UTMB must be submitted to CastleBranch for verification and processing, including documentation for COMPLETED three dose series of Hepatitis B vaccines and a positive Hepatitis B antibody titer. All immunization requirements must be met to proceed in a clinical course. Students who are not in compliance with the above policy will not be permitted to participate in clinical activities.
  • Background Check - UTMB School of Nursing Criminal background checks have been introduced into hospital and school affiliation agreements in keeping with a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) standard. Individual institutions have been given the responsibility for mandating this clearance for students. Therefore in keeping with this policy, all UTMB students will be required to undergo a security clearance for enrollment at UTMB. UTMB has designated CastleBranch to complete the background check required for your security clearance. Results from any other company will not be accepted.
    • The UTMB SON has also designated CastleBranch to conduct drug testing for all new students. Registration for both requirements is available at: CastleBranch.
    • When you have submitted your personal information and method of payment, you can enter your Zip code to locate the nearest testing facility.
    • The Security Clearance and Drug Screening must be completed during the time period listed in the New Student Guide, which is issued after admission.

Students who do not pass these requirements will not be admitted to the School of Nursing.

Refer to the New Student Guide for detailed checklist of After Acceptance Requirements.

To review Enrollment Services, such as Financial Aid, Scholarships, International Students, FERPA, etc. please visit:

ADA/EEO Statement

UTMB strives to maintain an environment free from discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, or veteran status. UTMB is committed to equal opportunity for students with disabilities. If you have a documented disability or would like to obtain information regarding services for students with disabilities at UTMB, please contact the Institutional ADA Officer in the Lee Hage Jamail Student Center, Suite 2.118 or at (409) 747-4818.

UTMB continually works to foster community among student veterans, honor their military service and academic contributions, and connect students to various resources, services and programs. Certifying Officials provide guidance on policies and procedures of using veteran education benefits as well as certifications for federal and state benefits. Accommodations, counseling and program specific tutoring is available to students when needed and UTMB has a strong Veterans Resource Group whose mission is to promote an inclusive university environment for military veterans.

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