Skip to main content
Sign In

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 (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 acute, critical and end-of-life care.   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

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.  

Gainful Employment Disclosure-PDF

Program Plan

Students entering the 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.

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


Upon completion of the nursing program, students will be prepared to incorporate pertinent knowledge, values and abilities for direct and indirect provider roles to:

  • Implement caring and competent nursing practice with individuals, families and communities based on understanding the human experiences of health, illness and healing.
  • Integrate the ethical use of technology and information systems to augment the human capacity for health, facilitate decision-making, support collaboration and foster communication.
  • Promote health of local to global communities through promoting safe environments and safe and effective health care addressing the interaction among individuals, communities and their environmental contexts.
  • Manage care to achieve quality, cost-effective and ethical outcomes in the delivery of health care for individuals, families and populations.
  • Engage in leadership to promote social justice related to access, quality and socio-cultural acceptability of health care through relationship-centered caring, advocacy and empowerment.
  • Negotiate and adapt the delivery and management of health care and health care systems for diverse populations and environments.
  • Practice relationship-centered caring through self-awareness, by developing and maintaining respectful relationships, communicating effectively, and integrating the influence of the human experience of health, illness and healing.
  • Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence and integrating creative and critical thinking.
  • Participate in generating and testing knowledge regarding nursing, health care and reflective caring practice.
  • Actively engage in self-directed learning to maintain state of the art nursing practice and to facilitate the education of future practitioners, paraprofessionals and healthy communities


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.

Paula Nelson-Marten, PhD, RN, AOCN
Associate Professor
Clinical Nurse Specialist Option Coordinator Clinical Nurse Specialist Advisor
Mary Beth Makic, RN, PhD,CNS, CCNS, FAAN
Associate Professor, Adjoint
Clinical Nurse Specialist Advisor

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

Ellyn Matthews, PhD, RN, AOCNS
Associate Professor
Clinical Nurse Specialist
(Oncology students)


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