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Clinical Nurse Specialist Adult-Gerontology

Adult Gerentology Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS) option prepares nurses to become evidence-based advanced practice nurses providing quality care. The CNS is an expert clinician who can work in a variety of clinical practice settings from community to hospital in areas such as acute, critical, chronic, palliative care and hospice. The CNS provides direct patient care, population management, along with systems leadership to optimize outcomes.

Career Examples

  • Unit and/or service line CNS- patient population focused
  • Clinical educator
  • Quality improvement/Quality excellence position
  • Unit or department nurse leader
  • Magnet™ coordinator

Visit the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists for information on the national impact of the CNS role in practice.

Plans of Study

Students entering the AG-CNS option will focus their learning in the following areas: Aging, Chronic Illness, Acute Care, and Palliative Care. Additional classes in Advanced Oncology Nursing and Emergent Care are offered periodically for elective credit.

*Additional Certificate Information Post-Graduate Certificate Information

Certificate programs for Veteran and Military Health Care​ and Palliative Care​ are now available for inclusion as desired in the AG-CNS student’s Plan of Study.

Gainful Employment and Program Statistics for Post-Graduate Certificate

For more information regarding graduation rates, the median debt of students completing our certificate programs and other important information, please visit the University of Colorado Denver Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.​​​​​​

Clinical Nurse Specialist Adult-Gerontology Gainful Employment Disclosure

The AG-CNS program accepts students from WICHE states and selected other states.

Scholarship opportunities may be available for students from Georgia and other non-WICHE states.


When do you accept applications?

​We admit students for the MS and BS-DNP programs twice a year; Fall and Spring Semester. We admit students for the Post-Graduate Certificate program every Summer Semester. Please see Application Deadlines.

How long will it take to complete the Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Program?

​The AGCNS MS Program is completed in 2 years and 4 months (7 semesters) as a full-time student and the AGCNS BS-DNP in approximately 4 years (12 semesters). The AGCNS Post Graduate Certificate Program is completed in 1 year (3 semesters). Please see the posted program plans.

Are the AGCNS programs offered completely online or in class?

The AGCNS is a hybrid program. The didactic courses are offered in both an online and in class format which alternate semester to semester. The three CNS specialty courses (that come at the end of the program) are taught in an intensive, face-to-face setting, and uses interactive video conferencing to accommodate long distance students. A CNS faculty will be assigned as your academic advisor and will work with you to develop a program plan to meet your individual needs and learning preferences.​

Will I be required to come to Colorado?

​Most students can complete the program at a distance online but need to be able to attend on-campus intensives. The AGCNS core courses use interactive video for distance student and local students come to campus. It is advised students contact student affairs to discuss their specific state requirements prior to applying to the program.

Does the AG CNS program have a clinical requirement?

​Yes. The AGCNS program requires 12 credits of clinical experience, which equals to 500 clinical hours for the MS.

Do I have to fine my own clinical placement?

​The University of Colorado College of Nursing is responsible for ensuring adequate and sufficient clinical experiences for students in all programs, including out of state. Clinical placements are arranged by the University of Colorado College of Nursing for students who live in the Denver Metropolitan Seven-county area (Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Broomfield, and Boulder counties). For those who live outside these counties and outside of CO, the CON asks the students to assist in finding clinical preceptors/sites. The AGCNS program direct works with the student in securing preceptors and clinical site contracts. It can take several months to achieve an affiliation agreement, so we highly recommend providing information about an institution to your Specialty Director shortly after program admission.

Will this program prepare me to sit for the national certification as an AGCNS and/or ACNS-AG?

Yes. Successful program completion will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary for edibility to take the national certification with American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), depending on which examination you choose.​

Can I take a course before I apply?

​Yes, you may take up to 12 semester credits as a non-degree student prior to being accepted to the program. You must meet all prerequisite requirements of the course. Non-degree students register on a space available basis during open enrollment just prior to the beginning of the semester. Please contact the AGCNS Program Director for guidance on which classes. Please see the Office of Professional Development for more information.

How would a student in the MS-CNS option move into the PhD in Nursing Program at CU?

The MS-CNS student interested in continuing their education in the PhD nursing program would meet with the PhD and CNS faculty to develop a program plan that facilitates student progression seamlessly between the two programs and be admitted to the PhD program prior to completion of the CNS. In addition, The PhD program is structured so that individuals frequently work while moving through course work, so you can practice as a CNS while completing this portion of your education.​

What are the requirements for CNS preceptors?

Preceptors will vary with the type of clinical experience being sought. Preceptors suitable for CNS clinical experiences include advanced practice nurses (APNs) (i.e., CNS or NP), physicians and allied health professionals (e.g., respiratory therapy, nutrition, etc.), and nurse researchers and educators. The majority of your clinical hours should be completed with CNSs. We maintain a list of qualified preceptors in the Denver metro and surrounding areas.​

Where do graduates from the AGCNS program work?

CNSs work primarily in hospitals, but may also work in clinics, corporations, educational institutions and in community healthcare settings. Our graduates are prepared to work in diverse healthcare practice settings in which care of adults and older adults is provided.​

Can the CNS graduate hold prescriptive authority (be able to write a prescription for medications)? What about third-party reimbursement?

​Currently, CNS graduates can apply for prescriptive authority in 38 of the 50 states. Requirements differ between states as to how many hours the CNS graduate must be observed prior to being able to apply for and be granted prescriptive authority. State specific information concerning APRN CNS, prescriptive authority, independent practice, and state specific reimbursement policies are available at state specific Board of Nursing websites and at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

What is a good website to obtain more information about Clinical Nurse Specialist?

​The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is a great website to review and learn more about the CNS as an advanced practice nurse. Current publications, competencies, etc, for the CNS Option are housed at the NACNS website.