Photo: Clinical Nurse Leader

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) specialty, ranked 7th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, prepares nurses at the master’s level as an advanced practice nurse to practice in a variety of health care settings. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system. The CNL assumes accountability for patient care outcomes through the application of evidence-based practice to design, implement, and evaluate care delivery at the micro systems level.

PDF Fact Sheet (printable)

Clinical Nurse Leader Overview


The Clinical Nurse Leader specialty requires 37 total credit hours, 26 didactic and 11 clinical, with 540 total hours of clinical contact. Students who start course work in the summer semester will take six. semesters to complete the program.


Further Specialization

Clinical Nurse Leaders are Advanced Generalist Nurses. Elective courses are available for knowledge-based enhancement in a variety of areas.


Orientation and Intensives

Students are required to visit the UAB School of Nursing campus in Birmingham, Ala., for orientation and two multiday intensives.


Certification and Licensure


Once students successfully complete the program they are awarded a Master of Science in Nursing degree and are able to apply to take the Commission on Nursing Certification – CNL Certification Examination offered by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Clinical Nurse Leaders also are licensed by the states in which they practice and are subject to the rules and regulations of that state's practice act.

Doctoral Education


A Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) from UAB prepares graduates for entry into doctoral studies in nursing, in either the School’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, a practice-focused terminal degree to prepare graduates to practice at the highest level in specialty practice or to assume leadership positions in health care or nursing education; or the School’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing program, which prepares nurses as scholars, leaders and researchers who will make a substantive contribution to the body of knowledge for the discipline of nursing and thereby improve health outcomes for those who receive nursing care.

For more information:

Specialty Track Coordinator
205-975-7988 |  

The Master's Degree Program in Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (