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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

Master's Specialties

Adult Gerentology Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS) option prepares nurses to become evidence-based and theory-guided 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.   There are three spheres of CNS practice: patient, staff, and organization wide.  The CNS Master's option began at the College of Nursing in 1950; it is one of the oldest continuous CNS programs in the country.  For information on the CNS role, see

A post-graduate certificate is available in this specialty.  Please see the overview of the post-graduate certificate.

Gainful Employment and Program Statistics for Post-Master's Certificate - Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

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.  ​

Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist​ Gainful Employment Disclosure

Program Plan

Students entering the AG-CNS option will focus their learning in Adult Gerontological Nursing. Options for clinical specialization include: acute care, critical care, chronic illness, and palliative care.

The specialty program plan outlines the courses offered for the adult clinical nurse specialist (CNS) option.

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

Master of Science in Nursing Core Courses
Advanced Practice Core Courses Required for Specialty Option
Required Courses for Specialty Option


American Association of Colleges of Nursing 
Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Competencies

Under the Consensus Model for APRN REgulation, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) are enducated and assessed across the continuum from the wellness through acute care. In addition, CNSs must be educated, certified, and licensed to practice in a role and population. 


The patient population of the Adult-Gerontology CNS practice includes young adults (including late adolescents and emancipated minors), adults and older adults (including young-old, old, and old-old adults). Preparation of the graduate with the entry-level competencies delineated in this document, unless otherwise specified, includes preparation across the entire adult-older adult age spectrum. The scope of practice of the Adult-Gerontology CNS is not setting specific but rather is based on patient care needs.  

  • Direct Care Competency
  • Consultation Competency 
  • System Leadership Competency 
  • Collaboration Competency 
  • Coaching Competency 
  • Research Competency 
  • Ethical Decision-Making, Moral Agency, and Advocacy Competency 

American Association of Colleges of Nursing 
The Essentials of Master's Education in Nursing 

The nine Essentials addressed in this document delineate the knowledge and skills that all nurses prepared in master’s nursing programs acquire:

  • Essential I: Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities 
  • Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership 
  • Essential III: Quality Improvement and Safety 
  • Essential IV: Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice
  • Essential V: Informatics and Healthcare Technologies 
  • Essential VI: Health Policy and Advocacy
  • Essential VII: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes 
  • Essential VIII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving Health 
  • Essential IX: Master’s-Level Nursing Practice​


We are fortunate at the University of Colorado College of Nursing to have many faculty involved with our program. We have a cadre of extremely well qualified faculty who teach, conduct research and serve as preceptors and mentors for our CNS students. Our faculty, located in Colorado and across the United States, is extremely committed to the discipline of nursing and serves on many national and international boards as well as in leadership roles in several professional organizations.

Mary Beth Makic, RN, PhD,CNS, CCNS, FAAN
Clinical Nurse Specialist Program Director, Associate Professor

Linda Krebs, PhD, RN, AOCN​
Associate Professor
Clinical Nurse Specialist Advisor
(Oncology students)

Rosario Medina, FNP-BC, ACNP, CNS
Assistant Dean of Graduate Nursing Programs
Associate Professor

Tammy Spencer, MS, RN
Senior Instructor
​​Teresa Connolly, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
Paula Meek, PhD, RN, FAAN​
Senior Faculty Scholar 
PhD Program Director
Gail Armstrong, DNP, ACNS-BC, RN, CNE
Associate Professor
Clinical Nurse Specialist Advisor​




How would a student in the MS-CNS option move into the PhD in Nursing Program at CU?
How long will it take to complete the clinical nurse specialist program?
Will I be required to do any clinical experiences?
Is the CNS program offered completely online or in class?
Will I be required to come to Colorado?
Will I have to do the clinical in Colorado?
What are the requirements for CNS preceptors?
Will this program prepare me to sit for the ANCC certification as a CNS?
How can I get the remaining hours I need to meet new certification requirement?
Can I take a course before I apply?
Where do graduates of your program work?
Career Info