January 19, 2019
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Top 50 Clinical Nurse Leadership Degree Programs 2018-2019

The healthcare industry is experiencing some of the most drastic growth and change of all industries in the United States. To keep up, healthcare professionals have been asked to fill new roles to bridge gaps in patient care. Nurses have taken on new and more important roles to meet the needs of both patients and the facilities that care for them.

One such emerging role is the Clinical Nurse Leader. The CNL is a master’s level program, offering students the knowledge and skills to provide and manage care to patients, individuals, families, and communities. Clinical Nurse Leaders focus on:

  • care coordination
  • outcomes measurement
  • transitions of care
  • interprofessional communication and team leadership
  • risk assessment
  • implementation of evidence based best practices
  • quality improvement.

A clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a highly skilled nurse with the primary goal of improving quality and safety outcomes for patients or patient populations.

We created this ranking of the top CNL programs in the country. We came up with our initial list of programs  from College Navigator and the AACN. To narrow our list, we considered only programs that prepared students for actual CNL certification through specialized or focused coursework. From that list, we applied our ranking criteria to determine the top 50 CNL programs from accredited universities in the United States.

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • 15:1 or less= 3 Points
  • 16:1 to 20:1=2 Points
  • Greater than 20:1= 1 Point

Average Graduate Tuition

  • Less than $10,000 per year= 4 Points
  • $10,000 to $15,000 per year= 3 Points
  • $15,000 to $20,000 per year=2 Points
  • More than $20,000 per year= 1 Point

Ranking the Top 50 Programs in Clinical Nurse Leadership

#50 – Georgetown University – Washington, DC

Clinical Nurse Leader Master’s Degree

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $47,880/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 4
The School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University features a top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN that incorporates coursework with on-campus learning experiences. Students can earn their degree in just 24 months and are eligible to complete the NCLEX-RN and the AACN-CNL certification exam. Faculty are industry experts who share their professional experience with their students in the classroom and in the state-of-the-art O’Neill Family Foundation Clinical Simulation Center. Students spend their final semester in an immersion experience in the CNL role to gain valuable field training.

#49 – University of Rochester – Rochester, New York

MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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Average Graduate Tuition: $38,304/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Points: 4
The Clinical Nurse Leader Program at the University of Rochester is the only CNL program in the Upstate NY region. In addition to the CNL-MSN program, The UR School of Nursing  offers a CNL-DNP program for doctorally prepared nurses. The 35 credit hour top CNL can be completed in 2.5 years of part-time study, including clinical fieldwork and course requirements. Graduates are prepared for roles including:

  • case coordinators
  • unit educators,
  • nurse executives.

#48 – Rush University – Chicago, Illinois

MSN Nursing Leadership Program: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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Average Graduate Tuition: $34,654/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
Points: 4
The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Clinical Nurse Leadership (CNL) is a program designed to teach students of all backgrounds to become responsible for the clinical management of direct patient care. Coursework covers a range of topics, including:

  • health promotion
  • risk reduction
  • the improvement of point-of-care outcomes

Experience in the field of healthcare is not required for admittance into the CNL program. The degree program can be completed in two years and is offered only as a part-time program of study. Coursework is offered online and clinicals can be completed at the student’s place of employment. Program graduates find employment in places where superior patient care is a top priority.

#47 – Drexel University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $33,156/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 4
The top MSN Clinical Nurse Leader online program offered by Drexel University is a CCNE accredited program taught by board certified faculty. This innovative online CNL is taught through a highly interactive online learning platform, allowing students to continue working while earning their degree. Clinical practicums can be scheduled in a variety of settings, with students able to tailor their experience to meet their professional goals. Students who complete the program in three years receive a three-year tuition lock, resulting in significant savings.

#46 – Elmhurst College – Elmhurst, Illinois

MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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Average Graduate Tuition: $30,670/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 4
Elmhurst College is leading the way in health care, offering a top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN degree with small class size and personalized attention. The program begins in the fall with a new cohort of part-time students. Courses are offered in intensive seven-week blocks and students can earn their degree in just two years. The CNL concentration includes both a residency and a practicum experience, providing students with hands-on learning.

#45 – University of Detroit Mercy – Detroit, Michigan

Clinical Nurse Leader — Master of Science in Nursing

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Average Graduate Tuition: $28,422/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Points: 4
The Clinical Nurse Leader Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of Detroit Mercy is a 38 credit hour program emphasizing service to the medically underserved. This engaging online program is open to both part-time and full-time students. Students can complete their clinical immersion experience at a site near their home, making this program convenient for those with work or family obligations. Graduates are prepared to sit for the CNL exam offered by the AACN Commission on Nurse Certification.

#44 – Sacred Heart University – Fairfield, Connecticut

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $28,114/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 4
Sacred Heart University features a leading Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program that keeps up with the rapid changes in the area of patient care. There are six different start dates each year and students can complete the degree at their own pace. Students complete specialized coursework in areas like:

  • healthcare information systems
  • pharmacology
  • disease management

A 348 clock hour role immersion, completed in convenient proximity to the student, prepares graduates to sit for the CNL exam.

#43 – Texas Christian University – Fort Worth, Texas

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $27,990/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 4
Texas Christian University features a flexible top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program available to both full and part-time students. Students can earn their degree in two years of full-time study or three years if part-time. Clinical practicum hours can be completed close to home when possible. Didactic coursework is available online for students to view and complete when it is most convenient. New students are accepted for the summer and spring term.

#42 – Pacific Lutheran University – Tacoma, Washington

Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $26,836/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 4
The Master of Science in Nursing at Pacific Lutheran University is one of the top 100 graduate programs for nursing in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. The program is open to nurses with a BSN and non-nurses who want to earn their RN-MSN. All entry points follow a cohort model with new cohorts starting each summer. Graduate students take between one and three classes each semester and complete clinical experiences outside of work hours.

#41 – Touro University California – Vallejo, California

Clinical Nurse Leader MSN Program

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Average Graduate Tuition: $26,223/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 1:1
Points: 4
The top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program offered by Touro University has curriculum tracks for both ADN and BSN students seeking their CNL certification. Students can complete the program in just 12-18 months of study. A faculty advisor is assigned to each student at the start of the program providing them with guidance as they complete coursework and choose their preceptor for clinical hours. During the final semester of the program, students complete the majority of their clinical hours, preparing them to transition into a professional CNL role after earning their certification.

#40 – LaSalle University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $23,710/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 4
The Clinical Nurse Leader program at LaSalle University is a 34 credit hour program preparing students to fill a much needed gap in health care organizations around the country. Coursework covers areas like:

  • clinical outcomes management
  • care environment management
  • informatics.

Students complete a 400 clinical hour field study, providing essential on-the-job training and skill preparation for students planning to sit for the CNL examination and earn their credential.

#39 – Western University of Health Sciences – Pomona, California

Master of Science in Nursing, Health Systems Leadership – Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) track

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Average Graduate Tuition: $23,502/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 1:1
Points: 4
Western University of Health Sciences offers professional nurses a flexible web-based MSN in Health Systems Leadership-Clinical Nurse Leader program. Students learn to:

  • evaluate patient outcomes
  • assess cohort risk
  • make effective and informed decisions
  • make care plan changes when appropriate

This 49 credit hour program can be completed in two years of full-time study, or three-years for extended track students who feel a slower pace would better meet their learning goals. Twice each semester, students come together on-campus for an intensive weekend study to engage with faculty, receive instruction, conduct presentations, and complete project work.

#38 – University of Pittsburg – Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Clinical Nurse Leader Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $22,290/year in-state and $36,980/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 4
The School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburg features a Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program available to students on-campus or in a flexible online format. Coursework covers:

  • leadership development
  • finance
  • management
  • healthcare quality
  • mentoring in the healthcare settings

Both online and on-campus students benefit from instruction by experienced faculty. They engage students through discussion, active learning, critical thinking, and community building. Graduates are prepared to sit for the CNL certification exam or begin a DNP or PhD program.

#37 – Columbia College of Nursing – Glendale, Wisconsin

Masters of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $21,750/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Points: 4
The longest standing Nursing College in Wisconsin, Columbia College of Nursing has a rich history of offering quality nursing programs. CCON features a top MSN with an emphasis on the Clinical Nurse Leader role. This 17 month program is designed for the working professional RN. It offers courses in a variety of formats including online, in-person, and blended. Students receive individual attention from faculty and the program maintains a low student-to faculty ratio.

#36 – Moravian College – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $20,952/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 4
The 35 credit-hour top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program at Moravian College prepares well-educated generalist nurses to move patients through the health care system, streamlining their care and improving outcomes. Students complete 21 credits of general core and direct care coursework in addition to 14 credits of specialized coursework and a 400-hour clinical experience. Coursework covers:

  • pathophysiology
  • pharmacology
  • roles and responsibilities
  • bioinformatics.

This top CNL program is open to active or license-eligible RNs in Pennsylvania.

#35 – Grand Valley State University – Allendale, Michigan

Master of Science in Nursing – CNL

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Average Graduate Tuition: $16,053/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 4
Grand Valley State University features a top MSN-CNL through the Kirkhof College of Nursing. Students can complete the program in just seven semesters. Many courses are offered in a convenient hybrid format. Most courses meet five times each semester in the classroom, giving students the chance to work closely with faculty and peers. Coursework gives students a well rounded education, enforcing clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills needed for success in the field.

#34 – University of Vermont – Burlington, Vermont

Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $15,504/year in-state and $39,120/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 4
The MSN-CNL program at The University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences is a part-time program designed for working RNs. Students can earn their degree in three-and-a-half years, over six semesters and two summer sessions. Courses are offered in a variety of formats including online, hybrid, and on-campus and cover areas like:

  • biostatistics
  • ethics
  • evidence-based practice
  • pathophysiology

#33 – University of Toledo – Toledo, Ohio

Graduate-Entry Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,429/year in-state and $23,766/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Points: 4
The MSN-CNL program offered by the University of Toledo is tailor made for students with a bachelor’s degree who want to become an RN. This full-time program is available in a traditional on-campus format with new students beginning each fall. Courses cover

  • biostatistical methods
  • population focused nursing care
  • advanced communication skills
  • advanced nursing research

Students can choose to complete a thesis, a comprehensive exam, or an additional field experience during the final semester. To finish the program, students complete 66 semester credits, 660 clinical clock hours, and 90 lab clock hours.

#32 – The University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Online MS in Nursing, concentration in Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $10,780/year in-state and $28,100/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 23:1
Points: 4
The MS in Nursing with a concentration in Clinical Nurse Leader at The University of Alabama is an innovative online program. It prepares nurses to provide healthcare leadership to both patients and other professionals. This top online CNL program is a full-time or part-time program available to students with their RN license. Full time students can complete their degree in one year while part-time students can finish in two. An optional thesis is available for students who want an in-depth research experience.

#31 – Saint Louis University – Saint Louis, University

Nursing (M.S.N. – Clinical Nurse Leader) Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $19,800/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Points: 5
Saint Louis University features a top Clinical Nurse Leader master’s program taught by nationally recognized faculty. As part of a major health sciences campus, students have access to cutting edge teaching facilities and labs. Available in a convenient part-time format, students can earn their degree in just two years of study. Coursework covers:

  • epidemiology
  • research methods
  • health promotion
  • informatics

It includes 400 clinical hours. Graduates are well prepared to sit for the CNL examination, becoming dynamic health care leaders.

#30 – Rutgers University – Newark, New Jersey

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $16,848/year in-state and $28,656/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Points: 5
The Clinical Leadership Master in Nursing offered by Rutgers University is a hybrid program on the Newark campus. This 37 credit hour program includes 430 clinical hours that can be completed at the student’s place of employment. Coursework covers areas like:

  • illness and disease management
  • project development
  • social determinants of health
  • leadership

Faculty serve as mentors to help guide students through the program and achieve their professional goals. Graduates are healthcare leaders who are able to apply their skills across a variety of health care settings.

#29 – Saint Anthony College of Nursing – Rockford, Illinois

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $16,776/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Points: 5
Saint Anthony College of Nursing offers an MSN with a specialized Clinical Nurse Leader track that builds upon the AACN competencies. The program is designed for part-time students to complete over the span of four years. Students are encouraged to work while in school to apply their skills. Coursework prepares students to coordinate and provide direct patient care, as part of a healthcare leadership team. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the CNL certification exam.

#28 – Saint Xavier University – Chicago, Illinois

MSN in Clinical Leadership

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Average Graduate Tuition: $16,000/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 5
Saint Xavier University boasts the number 1 best online MSN for 2018 according to U.S. News and World Report. This MSN is a comprehensive program featuring a blend of coursework emphasizing:

  • pathophysiology
  • pharmacology
  • health assessment

The program is delivered through an innovative online learning platform, allowing students to complete coursework when and where it is most convenient. Online students work with a Student Services Coordinator to help answer questions and provide support throughout the program.

#27 – Creighton University – Omaha, Nebraska

Online MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $15,300/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 5
The MSN program at the College of Nursing at Creighton University is a hybrid program offering a specialization in Clinical Nurse Leader for students with a BSN degree. The Clinical Nurse Leader program includes 37 credit hours and 600 supervised clinical clock hours. Full-time students can earn their degree in five semesters of study. Coursework covers areas like:

  • statistics and data analysis
  • evaluative methods for evidence-based nursing
  • care management and outcomes improvement

Graduates are effective critical thinkers able to make significant contributions to the field of health care.

#26 – University of New Hampshire – Durham, New Hampshire

MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,840/year in-state and $27,130/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 5
The Clinical Nurse Leader MSN track at the University of New Hampshire is a 34 credit hour program preparing students to manage and solve complex patient problems within the healthcare system. Courses cover:

  • leadership
  • quality management
  • healthcare systems
  • clinical epidemiology

The program is designed for full-time study, but provisions can be made for part-time students. Students must complete 200 clinical hours and a project that demonstrates the student’s ability to address significant nursing practice issues. Students with a desire to complete in-depth research can elect to complete a thesis.

#25 – Saginaw Valley State University – University Center, Michigan

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,541/year in-state and $25,781/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 5
The MSN Clinical Nurse Leader degree program at Saginaw Valley State University is a part-time program offered in a hybrid learning environment. Students will complete coursework online in between on-campus sessions that allow students to work full-time while earning their degree. Courses cover:

  • nursing informatics
  • research
  • ethics
  • health assessment.

A 360 clock hour practice experience immersion experience takes place during the final semester.

#24 – University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Massachusetts

Online Master of Science Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,210/year in-state and $27,834/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 5
To address the increased demand for nurses with the knowledge and skills to navigate a complex healthcare system, The University of Massachusetts created the online Clinical Nurse Leader program. This 37 credit hour program is taught by first-rate faculty with a commitment to the student experience. The full-time program can be completed in just two years. The part-time program takes three. Students complete a clinical practicum experience during the final two semesters of the program, gaining valuable hands-on experience before sitting for the CNL certification exam.

#23 – The Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

Online Clinical Nurse Leader MSN Program

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Average Graduate Tuition: $11,560/year in-state and $33,032/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Points: 5
The Ohio State University College of Nursing is ranked 5th in the nation for its master’s programs, including the Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program, according to U.S. News and World Report. Students can complete the program in two years of full-time study or three years if attending part-time. The program is open to students with or without health care experience. However, pre-requisites may be required that lengthen the time spent in the program. Coursework covers areas like:

  • disease prevention and health promotion
  • health assessment
  • informatics
  • health policy and advocacy.

While there are a few courses available online, the program is primarily an on-campus style program.

#22 – University of California – Las Angeles, California

Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $11,502/year in-state and $26,604/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 5
The UCLA School of Nursing features a top Master’s Entry Clinical Nurse program that leads to the MSN, RN, CNL, and Public Health Nurse certification. UCLA falls into the top 3% of all U.S. nursing schools according to U.S. News and World Report. The program is uniquely designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in an area other than nursing. Students can complete the program in just two years. Clinicals are completed under supervision at various locations, including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

#21 – University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Direct Entry MN-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $10,387/year in-state and $23,424/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 5
The direct-entry MSN degree program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is a great choice for students who aspire to become Clinical Nurse Leaders. The program is open to full-time students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and want to pursue an advanced nursing degree. Students are accepted into the program as a cohort, allowing them to build meaningful relations with faculty and peers. After just 16 months, students can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and begin working as an RN for the remainder of the program. The program takes three years to complete and includes a 300 clock hour residency experience.

#20 – Florida Atlantic University – Boca Raton, Florida

Clinical Nurse Leader Online Program

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Average Graduate Tuition: $5,467/year in-state and $16,695/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Points: 5
The top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN degree program offered by Florida Atlantic University is a 33 credit hour part-time program with coursework offered through both the colleges of Nursing and Business. To be admitted into the program, students must hold a BSN from a regionally accredited institution and CCNE or ACEN accredited program. Students can complete the program in six semesters. A 400 clock hour practicum experience is required at one of the University’s clinical partner sites where students will be mentored by a preceptor.

#19 – University of Nevada – Reno, Nevada

MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $5,144/year in-state and $19,332/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Points: 5
The Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno, features a top MSN-CNL program for students with a BSN and who are a licensed RN. Admission is competitive and once admitted, students must complete the CNL track or reapply for another. Students may pursue their degree on a full or part-time basis. Coursework covers areas like:

  • leadership development
  • planning strategies for the care of specialized populations
  • care management in a health care micro-system

Students may complete a thesis or project and comprehensive exam to complete the program.

#18 – University of Maryland – Baltimore, Maryland

Clinical Nurse Leader Master’s Degree

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,990/year in-state and $30,484/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Points: 6
Ranked the #2 Clinical Nurse Leader program in the country for 2019 by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Maryland is a great choice for high-achieving individuals with a passion for providing exceptional patient care. This full-time, 65 credit hour program can be completed in two years, including lecture and lab instruction and more than 800 clinical hours. Clinical opportunities include:

  • maternal and newborn nursing
  • adult health nursing
  • pediatric nursing
  • community/public health nursing

New students are admitted during the fall and spring semesters. Graduates are awarded their MSN-CNL and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX as an RN and for the CNL certification exam.

#17 – The College of New Jersey – Ewing, New Jersey

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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Average Graduate Tuition: $13,887/year in-state and $21,436/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 6
The College of New Jersey features a top accredited Clinical Nurse Leader master’s degree program with the expertise and mentorship needed to be successful in the health care field. This 34.5 credit hour program includes 410 practicum hours and is available to both full and par-time students. Full-time students can earn their degree in just two years. Part-time students have six years to finish the program, allowing them to work around family and employment obligations.

#16 – Mount St. Joseph University – Cincinnati, Ohio

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $11,931/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Points: 6
With a flexible online learning platform and expert faculty, the top MSN Clinical Nurse Leader program at Mount St. Joseph University provides students with the foundation needed for success. Students can earn their degree in just six semesters, with new students admitted each fall. The program is a great choice for working professionals due to limited residency requirements. Small class size ensures students receive necessary one-on-one attention. Courses cover:

  • evidence based practice
  • leadership
  • technology
  • healthcare policy

The program concludes with a practicum experience and integrative project that prepares students for successful careers as CNLs.

#15 – Lander University – Greenwood, South Carolina

Master of Science in Nursing, Clinical Nurse Leader Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $11,800/year in-state and $22,500/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 6
The online Clinical Nurse Leader master’s degree program at Lander University is a flexible program designed for working professionals. Applicants must have their BSN from a nursing program accredited by either the NLNAC or the CCNE. This 39 credit hour top CNL program is taught by experienced faculty who stay current in the field. One of the program highlights is the clinical immersion experience. It provides students with the bulk of their clinical requirement. Students can complete their clinical placement close to home.

#14 – Queens University – Charlotte, North Carolina

Online MSN — Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization

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Average Graduate Tuition: $11,583/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Points: 6
Queens University of Charlotte offers a Clinical Nurse Leader program designed to unite critical practices in healthcare. It’s taught by faculty who are passionate about their field. They strive to motivate and engage students throughout the program. Courses are offered in a convenient online format, covering areas like:

  • informatics
  • data interpretations
  • professional ethics

A 300 clock hour clinical nursing residency allows students to demonstrate leadership by managing the care environment and patient outcomes.

#13 – James Madison University – Harrisonburg, Virginia

Online MSN — Clinical Nurse Leader Concentration

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Average Graduate Tuition: $10,224/year in-state and $28,416/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 6
The Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program at the James Madison University School of Nursing is an online program focused on delivery systems and functions that affect patient care. Coursework covers areas like:

  • leadership development
  • organizational behavior
  • healthcare policy

Full-time students can earn their degree in just two years while part-time students usually take three years to finish. Two practicum experiences, totaling 400 clock hours, provide students with hands-on training and instruction under the supervision of an experienced preceptor. Graduates are qualified to sit for the CNL certification exam.

#12 – Cleveland State University – Cleveland, Ohio

Master’s of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $9,565/year in-state and $16,297/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 6
The Master’s of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader program at Cleveland State University is a flexible program that prepares RNs to advance to leadership positions. New students are admitted each summer. Courses are delivered in a blended format of online coursework and hands-on training. Courses cover areas like:

  • healthcare policy
  • population interventions
  • ethics
  • evidence-based practice

Students can choose to complete a thesis or independent study depending on their educational and professional goals.

#11 – The University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa

MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $9,427/year in-state and $28,163/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 6
The University of Iowa features an online Clinical Nurse Leader program using a progressive curriculum that aligns with the guidelines set by the AACN. Classes are intentionally kept small to allow faculty to interact one-on-one with their students. Students can earn their degree in three years of part-time study. Courses cover areas like:

  • clinical data management and evaluation
  • healthcare infrastructure and informatics
  • applied epidemiology

Students complete 490 hours of practice experience, providing them with the knowledge and skills needed for success in the field.

#10 – University of South Alabama – Mobile, Alabama

Clinical Nurse Leader

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Average Graduate Tuition: $7,578/year in-state and $15,156/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 6
With programs available for post-BSN and RN-MSN students, the University of South Alabama is paving the way for future Clinical Nurse Leaders. Students who have already earned their BSN can complete the CNL program in just three semesters. Courses are available in a flexible online format. Clinical requirements can be completed in the students own community. Graduates are prepared for success working in roles like outcomes manager, patient advocate, and team leader.

#9 – South Dakota State University – Brookings, South Dakota

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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Average Graduate Tuition: $7,553/year in-state and $14,521/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 6
Nurses with the desire to advance their career path should consider the Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization within the MSN program at South Dakota State University. Students can complete the program in four years of part-time study, finishing the majority of coursework online. With over 400 clinical hours, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership abilities in the CNL role under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Courses cover areas like:

  • health promotion and disease prevention
  • pathophysiology across the lifespan
  • health operations and financial management.

#8 – University of Louisiana – Monroe, Louisiana

Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader Concentration Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $6,490/year in-state and $18,590/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Points: 6
The Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader Concentration is an online program at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Students can complete it in just 20 months. Students complete a series of 13-eight week courses that cover areas like:

  • economics and finance
  • personnel and organizational management
  • health policy
  • patient safety

To be considered for the program, students should have a BSN from an accredited institution and two years of clinical experience. Faculty are CNL-certified professionals and mentor students throughout the program to help ensure their success.

#7 – Central Methodist University – Fayette, Missouri

Master of Science in Nursing-CNL Online

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Average Graduate Tuition: $5,830/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 6
The dynamic accredited online MSN-Clinical Nurse Leader program at Central Methodist University is a cohort program with small class size. CMU admits between 10 and 12 students to each cohort. Coursework covers areas like:

  • healthcare finance
  • healthcare issues
  • evidence-based client care management
  • epidemiology

Students complete a clinical nurse leader residency of 300 click hours, allowing them to work in the CNL role under the supervision and guidance of a mentor.

#6 – Montana State University – Bozeman, Montana

Master of Nursing Graduate Degree Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $4,941/year in-state and $16,805/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Points: 6
Montana State University offers an accredited top online Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program taught by faculty with broad experience in the field. The program can be completed in five semesters and includes coursework in program planning, pathophysiology, ethics, finance, and budget. Courses are offered in an online format. Students are kept engaged through teleconference and video conference sessions that supplement more traditional online content. Each student completes a Professional Project, allowing them to showcase their knowledge and skills.

#5 – University of Central Arkansas – Conway, Arkansas

Clinical Nurse Leader MSN Program

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $4,807/year in-state and $9,614/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 6
The University of Central Arkansas features a top Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program for current RNs holding a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program. Clinical Nurse Leader specialized courses cover healthcare quality and leadership and healthcare informatics. Students complete 400 clinical hours over the course of two immersion practices. New students are admitted each fall and move through the program as a cohort, following the same schedule.

#4 – Washburn University – Topeka, Kansas

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Online Program

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $8,492/year in-state and $17,292/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Points: 7
RNs who want to advance their clinical knowledge and begin a new role integrating health care services to improve patient outcomes should check out the top MSN-CNL program at Washburn University. This 35 credit hour program features 16-week courses divided between core courses and clinical leadership courses. Students can earn their degree in three years of part-time study. Convenient online courses are ideal for working professionals.

#3 – Southern Connecticut State University – New Haven, Connecticut

Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $6,757/year in-state and $18,102/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 7
Southern Connecticut State University features a flexible CNL master’s degree program with the flexibility to accommodate both full and part-time students. This 42-credit hour program includes 24 credits of core courses and 12 credits of clinicals. Each course meets one day per week and clinicals are completed at a convenient time for both students and preceptors. Coursework covers topics like:

  • leadership
  • policy
  • advocacy
  • legal issues in health care

Students desiring an in-depth research experience can complete a thesis.

#2 – University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston, Texas

Clinical Nurse Leader Online Program

Website
Average Graduate Tuition: $6,630/year in-state and $16,867/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 7
The Clinical Nurse Leader program at the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing is a 43-credit hour program available online. It prepares students to sit for the CNL exam. This part-time program is open to students with a minimum of one year experience as an RN. Students will learn to view the delivery of nursing care and services looking at structure, process, and outcomes. Courses cover:

  • healthcare finance and economics
  • quality and safety
  • role synthesis and integration.

#1 – Augusta University – Augusta, Georgia

Clinical Nurse Leader Online Program

School Profile
Average Graduate Tuition: $5,144/year in-state and $17,544/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Points: 7
Our top Clinical Nurse Leader master’s program is offered by Augusta University. With program options for RNs as well as students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, AU provides options for students to meet their goals. Students with their BSN can complete their CNL in just two years of full-time study. Courses are offered during the day and include:

  • class
  • lab
  • simulations
  • clinical hours

Coursework covers:

  • population health
  • pharmacology and nutrition
  • health care delivery models
  • management of IT

Graduates are eligible to sit for the CNL exam and have found employment working in both RN and CNL roles.

By HMDG Staff
October 2018