Program Level: Graduate

The Mary Black School of Nursing offers the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a concentration area of Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). Upon completion of the program, the graduate will be eligible for CNL certification through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). 

The Clinical Nurse Leader is a relatively new role in nursing. In practice, the CNL is an advanced generalist who oversees the care coordination of a distinct group of patients and actively provides direct patient care in complex situations. This master’s degree-prepared clinician puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery. The CNL evaluates patient outcomes, assesses cohort risk and has the decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system. The implementation of this role will vary across settings.

The University of South Carolina Upstate’s Master of Science in Nursing program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

For more information, visit the Mary Black School of Nursing.

  • Goals Student Learning Outcomes
    1. Use the nursing process to manage the care of clients with acute and chronic health alterations to maximize quality of life and optimize their levels of function and to assist with end-of-life care.

    1.1 The student will be a competent provider of nursing care who delivers safe, holistic, therapeutic interventions to individuals, families, and communities in a variety of clinical settings.

    1.2 Acquire an understanding of the nurse leader’s personal self through self-reflection, constructive feedback, performance improvement, continuous learning and effective communication processes.

     2. Demonstrate critical thinking in planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care. 2.1 The student as a critical thinker will utilize clinical reasoning and ethical decision making to design, manage, an/or coordinate nursing care based on evidence and current research, and broad knowledge base and standards of nursing practice.

    3. Integrate complex verbal, nonverbal, written communication skills and information technology into professional nursing practice.

    3.1  Demonstrate therapeutic communication skills through verbal, nonverbal, written and information technology modes.

    3.2 Perform as an effective communicator who uses various modalities to provide caring, competent, and holistic nursing care to a diverse population across the lifespan.

    4. Demonstrate the behaviors of a professional role model I n all modalities of nursing.

    4.1 The student will be a professional role model who assumes responsibility and accountability for personal and professional behaviors, ethical practice, and client advocacy.

    4.2 Demonstrates qualities and practices associated with transformational leadership to include an inspirational vision, empowerment, creativity, innovation and spirit of inquiry.

  • This program is for registered nurses who are graduates of an accredited Bachelor of Science program in nursing. Students in the MSN program have the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills for leadership roles in professional nursing practice in a wide variety of settings. Registered nurses who meet the admission requirements for the program may complete the program in two calendar years of full time study. Students selecting part-time study may take six years to complete the program. The program of study is primarily online except for clinical courses. 

  • Those interested in becoming a Clinical Nurse Leader are encouraged to visit the AACN web site to find out more about this nursing career option.

    Detailed information is available online including frequently asked questions, the white paper on the CNL role and a directory of web links to programs enrolling students. Access the online CNL Resource at