Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN)


About the Program

Practicing RNs can become leaders at the bedside, part-time in only two years with this Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program.

The CNL program gives you skills and knowledge that can turn you into an advanced nurse generalist at the unit level, setting you apart from your peers and positioning yourself for the leadership track. All you need is an active RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. If you have a bachelor's degree -- in any field -- but are not a nurse and would like to become one, our Master's Entry to Nursing Practice (MSN) is perfect for you. 

Your Educational Experience 

As a student, you’ll learn online part-time, at your own pace. The CNL program is designed for working RNs, so it’s flexible. You can complete your MSN in just two years while taking only two courses per term. Terms are held in the spring and fall. You can begin during either term. In addition to your online coursework, there are also two clinical courses.

Career Opportunities With Your MSN

Master’s-prepared Registered Nurses make up only 13% of all practicing RNs, so they can take leadership roles at the bedside and within their units, because they have skills and knowledge that go beyond many of their peers. CNLs are poised to rise quickly, because they are able to handle complex clients, improve patient care outcomes, and facilitate the interprofessional collaboration that leading healthcare organizations demand.

CNLs are bedside nurses who wish to become advanced generalists while staying with the patients and units they love most. The CNL MSN makes you better able to analyze and influence policies that can, in turn, improve patient care every day.

Possible Job Titles & Career Opportunities for CNLs:

  • Clinical Educator
  • Clinical Manager, Long-term Care
  • Director/Asst. Director of Nursing, Long-term Care
  • Hospitalist Nurse (RN Coordinator)
  • Integrated Care Manager
  • Nurse Clinician
  • Nurse Specialist
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Professional Development Generalist
  • Professional Development Specialist
  • RN Care Coordinator
  • RN Program Coordinator
  • Simulation Specialist
  • Staff Development Educator
  • Team Coordinator
  • Transplant Coordinator
  • Unit Coordinator

Clinical Nurse Leader MSN Program at a Glance

  • Now accepting applications for August 2024
  • To apply, you must possess a current, unencumbered Registered Nurse license and a BSN degree
  • Part-time, online program with two clinical courses
  • Classes begin each January & August
  • Complete your degree in two years
  • Sentara College is pleased to welcome students who live in any state that participates in NC-SARA
  • Tuition, fees, and total cost of attendance

To learn about this program's state authorizations and compliance disclosures, please click here.

Interested in applying to this program?

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Accreditations & Certifications

Sentara College and the Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN) are accredited and certified by:

Sentara College of Health Sciences is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)(

Sentara College of Health Sciences is certified to operate an institution of postsecondary education in Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Sentara College of Health Sciences has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

The master's degree program in nursing at Sentara College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

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