Online Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Programs [20 Best Schools]

Here are the best clinical nurse specialist schools.

The online Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) program is a convenient and student-friendly program designed for students to study and earn a certificate as Clinical Nurse Specialists at their own pace and in the comfort of their homes.

CNS Programs Online: Pediatric, Neonatal, Psychiatric

In the medical field, nurses play an essential role.

Enrolling in a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) program might change your life if you’re a natural caretaker, a loving person, enthusiastic about healing, or otherwise interested in the clinical practice of nursing.

You may finish various certified online nursing programs in less than two years.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Programs Online

With an MSN, you may be better prepared to become a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and a leader in the healthcare industry by gaining the necessary information and abilities.

For RNs, clinical nurse specialty (CNS) schools provide advanced degrees in pediatrics, mental health, and geriatrics. A CNS can be a physician, educator, researcher, and consultant in their field.

With our data-driven methodology, we rank the best online clinical nurse specialist programs so that you can select one that is right for you.

Students value academic quality, cost, reputation, and a variety of degree options, so we developed our system around these considerations.

You can find online clinical nurse specialist programs below in our list of the most exemplary online nurse specialist programs.

1.   Michigan State University: Online MSN-CNS, Adult-Gerontology

APRNs who complete Michigan State University’s online MSN for Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists will be prepared to care for adults of all ages. At the same time, its primary concentration—Nurse Education—provides training in teaching.

Students only need to come to MSU’s East Lansing campus for a one-day orientation before they can begin their studies online.

Care for Aging Individuals Across the Healthcare Continuum and Curricular Design in Nursing Education are examples of classes available to students.

According to MSU’s website, students can complete the program in as few as five semesters for full-time and eight semesters for part-time students.

The price per credit hour is $775.

2.   Purdue University Northwest: Online MSN-CNS

The MSN-CNS program at Purdue University Northwest is entirely online, except for a required trip to the Hammond campus for a class in advanced health assessment.

Adult and critical care nursing specializations are available to students. Core courses include Informatics for Nursing, Pathophysiology Concepts, and Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice.

According to PUN, faculty members are highly qualified and certified in online teaching.

It costs residents $284.50 for a credit hour and non-residents $627.60.

3.   Old Dominion University: Online MSN-CNS/Nurse Educator, Adult-Gerontology

Online MSN-CNS and Nurse Educator programs in adult-gerontology at Old Dominion University prepare expert clinicians to conduct research, nursing interventions, and effective teaching strategies.

General or clinical adult-gerontology tracks are available to students.

Students enrolled in Old Dominion University’s online CNS program may be asked to travel to Norfolk, Virginia, campus for training or testing no more than twice a year.

All remaining courses are completed online.

Advanced nursing theory, research, and teaching are all covered in the program’s diverse curriculum. Residents of Virginia pay $496 per credit hour, while non-residents pay $538.

4.   University of South Alabama: Online MSN-CNS, Adult-Gerontology

University of South Alabama’s Adult-Gerontology program has two tracks: a post-BSN track and a long-term RN-to-MSN track for students with an associate degree or diploma.

While preparing for the CNS certification exam, students can gain the knowledge and skills needed to provide advanced patient care and translate research through either of these two options.

Healthcare Policy and Finance: Advanced Nursing Assessment is just one of the courses offered at the university. Students enrolled in the USA’s online MSN-CNS program do not need to travel to Mobile, Alabama, to complete their didactic and clinical work.

Each credit hour costs $566.

5.   Kent State University: Online MSN-CNS, Adult-Gerontology

The Adult-Gerontology CNS program offered online by Kent State University is ideal for RNs who want to specialize in caring for adults of all ages. Students can enroll in this program either in the fall or spring semesters.

According to the school, nursing at Kansas State University aims to develop advanced skills in indirect patient care, leadership, research, consultation, and ethical decision-making across the continuum of health and disease.

The 38-unit program can be completed entirely online, either on a part- or full-time basis.

All students must take Advanced Nursing Informatics, Methods of Investigation, Clinical Diagnosis for Advanced Practitioners, and a practicum, which you can complete in the student community.

A BSN-to-DNP pathway at Kent State is available online and begins in the fall. Ohio residents pay $451.30 per credit hour, while non-residents pay $461.30.

6.   Rush University

Chicago’s Rush University offers the adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS program, Neonatal CNS program, and Pediatric CNS program to train the next generation of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care program is hybrid (75 percent online, 25 percent classroom), whereas the Neonatal and Pediatric program options are entirely online.

There are small class sizes in Rush’s CNS specialty programs, and most students are only there part-time.

7.   Rhode Island College

Rhode Island College in Providence offers an MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS. The program will teach nursing leadership themes throughout the curriculum, which will help shape adult care.

One of the numerous ways to enhance patient care is to ensure that patients are safe. The Synergy Model for CNS Practice and Health Care Systems are only two examples of the many options available.

8.   Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers one of the top SNP Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist programs.

Adult-Gerontological Health or Adult-Gerontological Critical Care are two possibilities for the Doctor of Nursing Practice Clinical Nurse Specialist Track at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Students can take online or on-site, depending on their learning preferences.

Students may expect to finish the program in three to four years, with 336 DNP practicum hours and 672 clinical nurse specialist clinical hours.

9.   University of Massachusetts Boston

According to US News and World Report, UMass Boston’s online nursing master’s program is one of the best in the nation. Nurses already in the field might benefit from their Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist degree program.

On-campus and online courses are available. Part-time and full-time options are available for students.

Four practicums are included in this 48-credit-hour curriculum, which provides students with a plethora of hands-on experience.

The Children’s Hospital, the Boston Medical Center, and the VA Medical Centers are just a few examples of where patients may get treatment.

In-state graduate tuition is $17,375 per year, while out-of-state tuition is $33,915.

10. Kent State University

Kent State University’s top Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) program is entirely online. Full and part-time program options are also available to accommodate working professionals’ schedules.

Faculty members are well-educated and well-trained to help students attain their full potential. Student start dates are available for both semesters: autumn or spring.

Competent and devoted preceptors may supervise students’ clinical hours in their communities.

In-state graduate tuition is $11,310 annually, while out-of-state graduate tuition is $20,396.

11. California State University Dominguez Hills

California State University Dominguez Hills’ top Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist is a graduate-level program for practicing nurses. Asynchronous delivery methods are used to provide online courses.

An experienced preceptor guides students through 500 hours of clinical practice. Only a small number of on-campus residence restrictions are in place.

This method allows students to participate in hands-on classroom education and connect with instructors without moving or giving up their current employment. Graduates can obtain AG-CNS certifications from the ANCC and the AACN.

There is an average graduate tuition cost of $7,176 per year in the state and $16,680 per year outside of the state for full-time students.

12. Capital University

The adult-gerontology CSN concentration in the MSN program at Capital University is flexible, holistic, and thorough. Caring teachers take on the responsibilities of career counselors, mentors, and colleagues in the professional world.

Students benefit from a smaller class size, allowing them to build a professional network and interact with their peers. This is an excellent option for working people since courses may be online or hybrid.

This autumn, students may choose CapFlex, a new option.

Using CapFlex, students may choose an eight-week or a 16-week course. Depending on their availability, they may enroll in as few as one or as many as two courses.

The average cost of graduate school is $11,340 per year.

13. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota’s best Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist master’s degree requires just a little on-campus residence.

Full-time students can earn their degrees in only five semesters, including a summer session. Students are required to attend lectures on campus four times over the length of the program.

There are also clinical tests, labs, and simulations. Under the supervision of an authorized preceptor, students clock over 600 hours of clinical experience. Coursework includes topics such as:

  • Health promotion
  • Assessment
  • Illness management
  • Pharmacology

The curriculum can be completed in three years by part-time students.

In-state graduate tuition is $7,688 annually, while out-of-state tuition is $20,526.

14. East Carolina University

East Carolina University’s Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist master’s program aims to provide students with cutting-edge practical and theoretical expertise.

The curriculum can be completed in two years by full-time students. Part-time students may complete the program in about three and a half years. Students may learn about the following:

  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Healthcare quality
  • Clinical pharmacology

Students participate in three practicums, getting significant hands-on instruction.

The state’s graduation tuition is $4,749 per year on average, whereas the out-of-state rate is $17,898 per year.

15. University of Colorado

Full-time students can pursue an Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Master’s degree at the University of Colorado’s College of Nursing.

Students can complete it in three years of full-time study.

Students learn about the functions and duties of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) via 35 hours of classroom instruction and 540 hours of clinical practice.

I am acquainted with patients from the critically ill to the terminally ill and those in the latter stages of life. In-state graduate tuition is $6,714/year, while out-of-state graduate tuition is $22,374/year.

16. University of Southern Indiana

The University of Southern Indiana’s Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) program offers an online combination of foundational coursework and hands-on clinical experiences.

You may complete the 42-credit hour curriculum in three years. For four courses, there are no on-campus requirements at all.

Once a year, the program accepts new students, who are free to enroll throughout the year.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) approved this curriculum to meet the prerequisites of the ACCNS-AG certification exam.

In-state graduate tuition is $8,884 annually, while out-of-state tuition is $17,407.

17. University of Minnesota

The Adult/Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist DNP program is offered by the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing. It’s for students who have a strong interest in the care of adults throughout their lives.

Courses are offered Tuesday through Friday, full-time, for three years. The university arranges for students to complete 1,000 hours of clinical experience.

The ANCC and the AACCN prepare students to take the CNS test when they graduate—In-state Graduate Tuition is $16,728/year; out-of-state Graduate Tuition is $25,884/year.

18. Texas Christian University

Top MSN Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult-Gerontology is a 38-credit-hour program, which comprises 29 hours of didactic coursework and 9 hours of practical practice (500 clinical hours)

If spring or summer is more convenient for students, they may begin their studies there. Students can enroll in the program full-time or part-time, depending on their preferences and circumstances.

Graduate tuition costs an average of $27,990 per year.

19. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania’s top Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program is open to total- and part-time students. A wide range of topics is covered in the course, including advanced techniques like :

  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical assessment

Clinically working under the supervision of a certified preceptor, the program provides students with effective hands-on instruction. You can acquire additional training and experience via a related minor in a related field.

Average Graduate Tuition: $33,604/year

20. Saint Francis University

Graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will be able to give patients the highest quality of care possible based on the latest findings in scientific, medical, and nursing research and practice.

By earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of South Florida (USF), you will be well-prepared to work in healthcare settings that serve the most vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly and low-income families.

You may also specialize in nursing education to help you teach future nurses.


As a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), you may work in diagnosing and treating illness and patient management.

You can utilize research-based care and best practices to help nurses administer care and promote positive changes in healthcare organizations.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) play a critical role in the coordination of patient care by focusing on favorable patient outcomes, such as shorter hospital stays, lower costs, fewer medical issues, and fewer trips to the emergency department.

The fundamental objective of a CNS is to identify areas where healthcare services are not adequately delivered. Designing and executing change, as well as conducting evaluations of interventions, is how they do this.

Clinical nursing specialties may include pediatrics, newborn care, and gerontology.

Nursing education, clinical lipidology, primary care, acute care, cardiology, and palliative care are some of the subspecialties available.