Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Nurse Leader

Certificate Level: Graduate
Admission Requirements: Master's degree
Certificate Type: Post-Master's Certificate
Number of Credits to Completion: 25.5; 400 practicum hours 
Instructional Delivery: Online
Calendar Type: Quarter
Expected Time to Completion: 2 years
Financial Aid Eligibility: Aid eligible*
Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) Code: 51.3801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code:

*The current plan of study for this program would only allow for federal financial aid (including Federal Direct Student Loans) for terms that are at least a minimum of 4.5 credits for graduate courses and 6.0 credits for undergraduate courses. This is based on current regulations from the U.S. Department of Education.

About the Program

NOTE: No applications will be accepted for the 2023-2024 academic year. Please check back in the summer of 2024 for an update. 

The clinical nurse leader (CNL) oversees the care coordination of a distinct group of patients, is a resource for clinical decision making and serves as a lateral integrator of care. This clinical leader puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery. The CNL collects and evaluates patient outcomes, assesses cohort risk and has the decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary. This clinician functions as part of an interdisciplinary team by communicating, planning and implementing care directly with other health care professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, social workers, therapists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system across all health care settings.

Students in this certificate program have the opportunity to learn about management, policy and quality improvement at the point of care with individuals seeking care while obtaining knowledge of health care systems, finance and economics. In addition, students will learn about advanced clinical assessment, pathophysiology and advanced pharmacology in an innovative combined course (if not taken as part of their original MSN).

Students will also learn about designing and redesigning client care based on evidence-based knowledge and analysis of outcomes and gain knowledge of health care reimbursement and issues in planning care across the lifespan, as well as the following:

  • Application of tools for risk analysis.
  • Utilize epidemiological methodology to collect data and knowledge acquisition in planning quality improvement programs.
  • Manage and develop therapeutic partnerships.
  • Develop and monitor disease management programs to support improved outcomes.

Clinical practicum experiences include developing and managing a data-driven project which provides opportunities for students to deepen their evidenced-base practice competencies in the management of clients’ health care needs at the point of care. Precepted clinical experiences will include activities such as modeling of care, assessment and evaluation of aggregate patient outcomes, case management, service integration and unit and interdisciplinary team leadership, as well as teaching and mentoring of staff.

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree (MSN) from a program fully accredited by NLN and/or CCNE.
  • Official transcripts from all previous educational institutions are required.
  • Personal statement (no more than two and no less than one page double-spaced) that will give the admissions committee a better understanding of the following:
    • Why you are choosing this particular program of study.
    • Your plans upon completion of the certificate.
    • How your current work experience will enhance your experience in this program.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume.
  • GPA of 3.0 or above on all previous coursework.
  • One professional letter of recommendation from either a previous or immediate supervisor or former faculty member who can attest to your clinical knowledge, skill and potential aptitude for graduate study.
    • References will not be accepted from colleagues or family members.
    • The letter of recommendation requirement is waived if GPA is 3.0 or better. 

TOEFL Requirements

International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in speaking English as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:

  • If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have a minimum combined score for the listening, writing and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher.
  • If you take the TOEFL, you must have a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.  

Program Requirements

NURS 531Epidemiology in Action: Tracking Health & Disease3.0
NURS 532Evaluation of Health Outcomes3.0
NURS 574Advanced Integrative Clinical Concepts4.5
NUPR 602Foundations for Clinical Nurse Leader5.0
NURS 603Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone Immersion I5.0
NURS 604Clinical Nurse Leader Capstone Immersion II5.0
Total Credits25.5


Sample Plan of Study

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCredits SummerCredits
NURS 5313.0NURS 5323.0 NURS 5744.5
 3 3  4.5
Second Year
NUPR 6025.0NURS 6035.0NURS 6045.0 
 5 5 5 
Total Credits 25.5

The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 

Additional Information

For more information about this program, contact:

Graduate Nursing Division

Additional information is available on the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master's Certificate webpage and on the Drexel University Online Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master's Certificate webpage.

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