Master’s Degree

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (MSN)

Contribute to excellence in healthcare delivery and outcomes as a clinical nurse specialist.

nursing student clinic

Program Overview

In this program, you'll explore the advanced role as a clinical nurse specialist while earning a Master's in Science in Nursing. Become a leader in improving patient care outcomes and the quality of health care with a broad foundation in:

  • Health promotion/disease prevention
  • Concepts of illness care
  • Clinical decision making grounded in evidence-based practices

The program focuses on delivery of care for late adolescents, adults, and senior adults in wellness through acute care settings, including emergency and critical care environments. 

After program completion, you will be eligible to sit for either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) national certification as an Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. As a certified CNS, you'll be on the track to earning a doctorate-level degree.

The master's degree program in nursing at Widener University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Program Options

View the Loading... for curriculum and coursework requirements.

Students can enroll for the program at either our Main Campus in Chester or Central Pennsylvania campus in Harrisburg.

The program can be completed in 18–24 months of full-time study or at the student’s pace for part-time study within the five-year time limit post matriculation.

Students who are registered nurses can enroll in an accelerated track to earn a master's degree through the RN-to-MSN program option.


Students who hold an MSN can pursue a Adult-Gerontology CNS post-master's certificate. The School of Nursing offers a number of post-master's and post-doctoral certificates in different areas of study. Certificate options can be viewed here.

Admissions Requirements

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  • Complete online application.
  • Application fee of $35.
  • Personal Statement.
  • Updated resume.
  • Two recommendations, preferably from professional nurses with graduate degrees, regarding applicant’s practice and potential for graduate work in nursing.
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education.
  • Valid U.S. license as a registered nurse. NP option requires PA State Board of Nursing licensure or as appropriate
  • Satisfactory scores (550 written and 213 computer-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for all applicants from non-English speaking countries.
  • GRE test scores.

All admission requirements, including an interview, must be received and completed before:

  • July 15 — for matriculation in the fall semester.
  • November 15 — for matriculation in the spring semester.
  • April 1 — for matriculation in summer sessions.

Program Highlights

Nursing Clinic

Clinical Experiences

Gain clinical experiences with CNS Preceptors at the region’s top hospitals and health care systems. Our dedicated faculty will work with you to find a clinical placement that aligns with your experience and career goals.

nursing graduate student classroom

Course flexibility

A flexible hybrid course delivery system offers classes in-person and online at both the Main Campus in Chester and Harrisburg Campus.

nursing faculty in clinic

Close Faculty Mentorship

Partner with nursing professors who bring years of clinical experience to the classroom. You’ll join a student nursing community that is guided by close mentorship and one-on-one support from our full-time faculty.


At Widener, our nursing faculty aren't just teaching the courses but are creating the science of nursing education.

Rose Rossi Schwartz
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

"As a teacher, my role is to help students go beyond the facts. It is equally important to help students grow as people, support their professional and intellectual development, and to expand their world views. Through this growth process, students better understand themselves, their clients, and the clients' experiences."

Shirlee M. Drayton-Brooks
Professor of Nursing

I ascribe to a pragmatic philosophy of teaching and learning. I believe that nursing education must be practical and logically aligned to the diverse needs of the population we served.

Paula A. Gray
Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing

"I am a proud graduate of Widener's FNP program and very passionate to teach, mentor and guide students to achieve their goals in becoming successful graduates of this program. The program is well known in the Tri-State area and beyond, and because of our certification pass rate and graduate's preparedness for the work-force, our graduates are able to be employed as APRN's very soon after graduation."

Darrell Spurlock Jr.
Professor and Scholarship Director

"I teach because I believe sharing knowledge and stimulating thinking is a fundamental task of any discipline. I believe that education is change, and change is a constant human feature; education is, in this way, choosing to change. Though the focus of my scholarship and teaching centers on research methods, measurement, evaluation, and quality improvement, these knowledge areas form the bedrock of evidence-based practice—the kind of practice all health care professionals aspire to deliver to patients, families, and communities."

Barbara J. Patterson

"As an educator, researcher, and student advisor, I am passionate about preparing the next generation of nurse leaders, educators, and scholars. I believe advancing the science of nursing education is dependent upon preparing doctoral students who question and explore how they teach while generating the best evidence for their teaching practices."

Donna M. Callaghan

"My teaching philosophy has its roots in Bandura's Theory of Self-Efficacy. I believe that students learn (and clients change behaviors) through observing others perform activities, doing the activities themselves, having positive feedback provided, and having their anxieties decreased."

Nancy Laplante
Associate Professor

I consider myself to be compassionate and caring, and strive to engage my students in respectful dialogue. Teaching is a collaborative process between students and faculty, and there is a reciprocal relationship as we all learn from each other. As an advanced holistic nurse, I incorporate self-care, self-responsibility, spirituality, and reflection in my teaching and seek to be a role model for my students.

Kim A. Noble
Associate Professor

I believe that an education with a foundation in science is essential for entry into nursing or advanced practice nursing. Nursing clinical reasoning skills grow as students apply an understanding of disease as the loss of normal function.

Students have great variation in their manner in which they acquire, process, manipulate, store, and retrieve learned information. It is a faculty priority to assist students with the development of metacognitive strategies to assist learning success and retention.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

As a clinical expert, you will graduate with the expertise you need to provide care as a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Jefferson University Hospitals
  • Main Line Health System
  • Virtua Health System
  • Kennedy Health
  • Presbyterian Hospital
  • Reading Hospital
  • Lancaster General
  • Lehigh Valley Health

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

Visit Us

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View Tuition and Fees

Explore program costs and payment options.

Financial Aid

At Widener, opportunities for financial aid extend to graduate students. Discover how Widener can help make obtaining your degree possible.

Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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