Clinical Nurse Specialist


The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) program will prepare you to provide advanced nursing care directly to clients within the adult-gerontology or parent-child populations, develop evidence-based standards and programs delivered by nursing personnel, and influence systems that affect healthcare.  To learn more about the CNS role, visit the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists at

Our graduate programs are designed for working nurses.  You will complete courses online in an asynchronous format.  There are periodic mandatory on-campus meetings for just a few courses.  Clinical hours in the program are focused on acquiring the CNS competencies appropriate for the population, involving wellness through acute care.  You will need to have a foundation of 1-2 years recent acute care practice in order to support role development into advanced practice across the continuum of health care services. You must complete a minimum of 500 hours in a clinical setting under the supervision of qualified preceptors.

Each state individually determines the legal scope of practice and criteria for entry-into CNS practice. This program meets the requirements of the California Board of Registered Nursing for state CNS certification.  Program graduates are encouraged to obtain national CNS certification, which is required for CNS practice in other states:

  • Parent-Child CNS graduates are eligible for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Pediatric CNS certification.  Currently, there is no eligibility for graduates that focus on the neonatal population in the program.
  • Adult-Gerontology CNS graduates are eligible for both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Adult-Gerontology CNS and the American Association of Critical-care Nurses (AACN) Acute Care Adult-Gerontology CNS certifications.

Curriculum Plan (Click for plan)


Core MSN Courses (15 units):

MSN 502 Advanced Nursing Roles

MSN 513 Healthcare Policy and Economics

MSN 514 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

MSN 530 Research Utilization in Advanced Nursing Practice

MSN 531 Nursing Ethics

Advanced Practice Core Courses (9 units):

MSN 521/522 Advanced Health Assessment and Lab

MSN 526 Pharmacology

MSN 528 Advanced Pathophysiology


Note: MSN 522 requires two, 2-day sessions for teaching and testing of assessment skills in the on campus Skills Lab.


CNS Courses:  Parent-Child (PC) 16 units; Adult-Gerontology (AG) 19 units

MSN 523 Family Assessment: Theory and Practice (PC)

MSN 533 Theories of Aging (AG)

MSN 535 Differential Diagnosis and Clinical Management of Adult Acute Problems (AG)

MSN 547 CNS Role Performance I (144 clinical hours)

MSN 548 CNS Role Performance II (144 clinical hours)

MSN 549 CNS Role Performance III (212 clinical hours)

MSN 550 CNS Theoretical Foundations

Note: The CNS course sequence begins only in the Fall term.  MSN 547 requires an on campus meeting prior to the start of clinical hours.

Full course descriptions are presented in the University Catalog available online.

Plan of Study

A part-time plan of study is presented because students are typically working full-time. It is possible to accelerate the plan for the MSN Core and Advanced Practice Core courses; however, the CNS courses are sequenced and must progress over 3 semesters. 

Fall Admission


Fall Term

Spring Term


MSN 502 & 513

MSN 528 & 514


MSN 521, 522, & 530

MSN 526 & 531


CNS Role*: 550 & 547

CNS Role:

Parent-Child 523 & 548

Adult-Gero 535 & 548


CNS Role:

Parent-Child 549 (4u)

Adult-Gero 533 & 549 (7u)


*Note: CNS role courses only begin in the Fall term

Spring Admission


Spring Term

Summer Term

Fall Term


MSN 502 & 528

MSN 531

MSN 521, 522, & 530


MSN 526 & 514

MSN 513

CNS Role*: 550 & 547


CNS Role:

Parent-Child 523 & 548

Adult-Gero 535 & 548


CNS Role:

Adult- Parent-Child 549 (4u)

Gero 533 & 549 (7u)

*Note: CNS role courses only begin in the Fall term


Registered Nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

  1. Completion of a baccalaureate degree program with a NLNAC- or CCNE- accredited upper division major in nursing (BSN) from a regionally accredited institution or the equivalent as determined by the School of Nursing.  See below for information on foreign degrees.
  2. Overall grade point average of 3.0 (on a four-point scale) or higher in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units of upper division course work attempted. Students not meeting this grade point average requirement may be admitted to Conditionally Classified status on the recommendation of the faculty.
  3. Registered nurse licensure in the United States, unencumbered, unrestricted, with no disciplinary action pending or imposed.
  4. Completion of the following prerequisites:
    1. Statistics - including probability and inferential
    2. Research - introductory course or equivalent
    3. Pathophysiology
    4. Health Assessment - basic course, including a skills lab.
  5. Submission of a professional resume and a letter of intent describing how the role option you are applying for fits your career plans for the future and discuss your ability to learn online (maximum 350 words).
  6. Residence in a state in which the School of Nursing at California State University, Dominguez Hills is permitted to deliver online education.

As a result of the Department of Education regulations for higher education and state education laws, the School of Nursing cannot deliver online education in all states. If you are an out-of-state resident or anticipate a move during your academic program, please contact the School of Nursing prior to submitting an application to discuss your situation.

Application Information & Time Frame

1. Submit the University Online Application via during the time frames provided below.

2. Submit transcripts to Admissions and Records before the document deadline.

3. Submit your resume and letter of intent in hard copy to the School of Nursing, 1000 E. Victoria St. Carson, CA  90747

SemesterApplication OpensApplication DeadlineDocument Deadline
Spring 2018August 1, 2017November 1, 2017November 15, 2017

Registered Nurses with a Non-Nursing Bachelor degree

Registered nurses who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in another field may be eligible for our MSN Pathway Program upon completion of designated BSN courses. Prospective MSN Pathway students must participate in a workshop to have transcripts evaluated.

Foreign degrees

If the Baccalaureate degree was completed outside of the United States:

  • Official academic records and diploma/certificate must be sent from the institution attended.
  • If official records are not in English, certified English translations of all documents must also be submitted. Translations must be word-for-word (i.e. literal) translations
  • English Proficiency must be established by exam
    • TOEFL minimum scores: 550 paper, 80 internet, 213 computer
    • IELTS minimum score 6.5
    • Pearson Test of English Academic minimum score 53

A waiver may be requested if 3 years full-time equivalent instruction at the secondary level or higher was received at a school where English was the principal language of instruction.


Costs of Attendance

Graduate student fees vary based on 0-6 units or more than 6 units and there is an additional fee for out-of-state residents.  Summary information is provided here:  and more detail is available on the Student Financial Services webpage

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