Does earning a CNL master's degree make me a nurse practitioner?

No. While the CNL program is a fast-track-to-nursing program for non-nurses who have at least a bachelor's degree in another non-nursing field, and graduates do earn a master's degree, CNL graduates are not nurse practitioners. 

Instead, CNL graduates are prepared as beginning practitioners for nursing positions in whatever practice environment they seek. Because of the emphasis on leadership learning and coursework, however, CNL graduates tend to rise quickly in their jobs, and many go on to become advanced nurse practitioners by further earning a specialty certification MSN, earning a DNP, or PhD. Upon graduation, CNLs have earned 12 credits toward further graduate study.

What types of jobs are available to a CNL graduate?

Since the Clinical Nurse Leader is a new title in nursing leadership, not all of the 6000 hospitals in the country are expected to use the same semantics in their professional titles. You will be eligible for registered nurse (RN) certification when you receive your MSN. CNL graduates with identical skill sets will likely initially be hired as novice clinicians and then progress to a position as Team Leaders, Clinical Care Coordinators, unit-based Outcomes Managers, etc.

Why are you offering the master's entry program?

The education and experiences provided in the Clinical Nurse Leader program go above and beyond the objectives of BSN education. The program includes many of the standards of graduate education in nursing. In addition, applicants have all already completed an undergraduate degree - and some will have a graduate degree in another discipline. We seek individuals who wish to advance their professional/educational objectives at UVA. In addition, the award of a graduate degree properly reflects your new abilities and skills as a clinical nursing leader.

When does the program begin?

Each year, the program begins in mid-May. 

How long will it take to complete the master's entry CNL program?

The master's entry program is a full-time, 24-month program (four semesters and two summers). 

Can I enroll in the program part-time?

No, the master's entry CNL is a full-time program of study. Classes are 2 1/2 days a week during the semester, and the other days are left open for your clinical experiences. Some summer classes meet five days per week.

What does the program cost?

The full-time program will be two full years (4 semesters and two summers). Please visit our tuition page for information about tuition and fees.

What classes should I be taking now?

The following courses must be successfully completed before entry into the CNL program:

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II (completed within the last five years and preferably before the October 1 application deadline)
  • Statistics (completed in the past five years)
  • Lifespan Development or a course in human growth/development across the full lifespan (conception through advanced old age; at some colleges/universities, this content is covered in a Developmental Psychology course) 
  • Microbiology (within the past five years)

What kind of anatomy and physiology course do you require? Does it have to be human anatomy and physiology?

We take human anatomy and human physiology courses from accredited colleges and universities. In most colleges, this is a two-semester or three-quarter class sequence. It can be a combined course (Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II) or a separate anatomy and physiology course. It must be human anatomy and physiology. Courses must be completed within five years of the start of the program. You can view a list of frequently taken, pre-approved classes here. We recommend taking the lab courses (if offered separately).

What kind of course in statistics?

This can be a course in social, math, or business statistics taken at an accredited college, community college, or university. You should have covered descriptive and inferential statistics and be familiar with regression. We do not accept AP scores in statistics. You can view a list of frequently taken, pre-approved classes here.

What kind of course in life span development?

We require a course in life span development (conception to death). A course covering only childhood and adolescence is insufficient. This could be a course in developmental psychology that covers the full lifespan or a course in human growth/development. Different schools teach the full lifespan content in different ways. We have seen one-semester options, two-semester options, as well as a four-semester sequence. You can view a list of frequently taken, pre-approved classes on the Graduate Prerequisites page.

Do you have an option to pursue a BSN degree?

No. The BSN program at UVA is only for those students who have not earned an undergraduate degree yet.

What is the application timeline? 

The application and supporting materials are due before October 1. Interviews will be conducted on-site in Charlottesville in early December. We expect to post decisions within two weeks of the interviews being completed.

What kind of experience are you looking for before applying to the School of Nursing?

Experiences for accepted students have varied. Some successful applicants have worked in an inpatient setting (CNA, surgical technician, unit administrative staff, pastoral care); others have worked in healthcare in an outpatient setting (therapy, public health, EMT/paramedics, Peace Corps, etc.). Other students have worked in the research setting (wet labs, genomics, field research). Others have seen/experienced nursing and healthcare firsthand as a patient or as a family member/caregiver of a patient. This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of experiences needed but is intended to be illustrative. Exposure to healthcare or direct experience with clients is especially important for the direct entry program. New students begin clinical assignments in the first weeks of the first semester. Because we want you to be successful and prepared for this quick immersion, we believe you need firsthand knowledge about the field.

Can I visit?

The School of Nursing hosts regular tours from September to April. More information on scheduling a tour is here.

Should I apply early?

The CNL program does not have an early decision deadline. The review of admissions credentials will begin in early October as admissions files become complete. The admissions application is online, so you can submit it anytime. You can also have supporting credentials (recommendations, transcripts, resume) sent to the Admissions Office at any time before the October 1 deadline. Please ensure that we have all supporting credentials (including recommendations and TOEFL scores) before October 1, as the review of materials begins immediately after that.

How can I enhance my application?

When reviewing applications, the admission committee makes special note of how you have done in the course prerequisites (anatomy, physiology, statistics, and lifespan development). Applicants may be currently enrolled in prerequisite classes or plan to complete these courses in the spring term. Please note that we will need an official transcript indicating that all prerequisite courses are completed before you can enroll in any classes in the program. 

How many applications do you usually have each year?

We typically receive around 150 applications each year for a cohort of 45 to 50.

When am I notified about admission?

Decisions are released in late December.

Do I have to submit the results of the Graduate Requisite Examination (GRE)? 

We no longer require the GRE for any applicants.

What is the average GPA of successful nursing applicants?

We are not looking for an average score or GPA. We are looking for applicants who have challenged themselves academically and have the best scores and grades possible. However, because of the rigorous nature of this graduate program, we seek individuals with a cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or higher (out of 4.0).

Do I have to complete anatomy and physiology, microbiology, statistics, and developmental psychology before applying?

These courses do not have to be completed before applying, but the grades received in these classes will be considered in the admissions process. All must be completed before you begin classes.

Do I have to have pathophysiology completed before I apply?


Can I transfer in any other credits?

Since many of the master's entry classes are specifically designed for this program, you are unlikely to have completed these elsewhere. 

What kind of financial aid do you offer CNL master's entry students? 

As a graduate student, you are eligible for scholarships administered directly by the School of Nursing. We will email the financial aid applications to those who are offered admission. All applicants are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA and have their FAFSA information sent to the University Office of Student Financial Services. 

Is there an admissions deposit?

Yes, there is a deposit of $250 that you will pay when you accept the offer of admission. It will be applied to your tuition when you enroll in courses.

Is it possible to defer entry to the CNL program?

No. Students who cannot attend for the term of admission are asked to reapply.

For additional information on admission to and programs of study, contact the School of Nursing Office of Admissions & Student Services at or by telephone at (434) 924-0141 (434) 924-0141.