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Clinical Nurse Specialist (onsite & online)

Diversifying Your Nursing Career

Roshan Jan Muhammad Manasia
"I was just following my instincts and the leaders around me."
Roshan Jan Muhammad Manasia , BS, RN

As a nurse manager, Roshan Jan Muhammad Manasia felt that something was missing in her nursing career. “I was just following my instincts and the leaders around me. A bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough,” she says. She needed a program that would teach her to look at—and correct—system-wide issues, yet focus specifically on acute care. She plans to take her Johns Hopkins-acquired knowledge as a clinical nurse specialist back to her native country of Pakistan.

Read Roshan's Story


Program Overview

The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is sunsetting the MSN Clinical Nurse Specialist
track and is no longer accepting applications. Please consider the DNP Clinical Nurse Specialist

Expand your nursing expertise in adult or child health with the Johns Hopkins Clinical Nurse Specialist master’s program. You’ll build competencies in clinical theory and research-based nursing practice, and you’ll put your new skills to use delivering direct patient care, organizing resources while controlling costs, and educating nurses to improve healthcare delivery systems.

With the program’s broad education and holistic approach, you can experience professional roles as varied as your interests—expert clinician, clinical leader, staff or academic educator, consultant, or researcher. You can also learn to manage the entire spectrum of healthcare by combining the CNS and health systems management master’s programs.

Those who earn a master's degree as a clinical nurse specialist:

  • Serve as educators, outcomes managers, consultants, researchers, change agents, and case managers, as well as clinical nurses
  • Lead and collaborate in an interdisciplinary healthcare team that can include pharmacists, physical therapists, or social workers
  • Provide guidance and support to patients and their families in navigating the complex healthcare delivery system

Program Options


Students are prepared to pass the American Nurses Credentialing Center Clinical Nurse Specialist Exam.

State-Specific Information for Online Programs

Students currently cannot conduct clinical activities in Kentucky or Massachusetts. For more information, please contact an admissions representative. Students should be aware of additional state-specific  information for online programs.



Program Requirements

Students may apply for full- or part-time study.

Admissions Criteria

  • Admissions application
  • Application fee of $75
  • Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing
  • Scholastic GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college or university
  • Demonstrated commitment to nursing practice and scholarly pursuit
  • Community service and professional commitment
  • Interview with faculty member
  • Written expression of goals
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary schools
  • Current Resume/CV
  • Applicants must submit evidence of current nursing licensure. Students must have or obtain Maryland RN licensure for matriculation.


Transfer of Credit

Transfer of credit is granted on an individual basis. Decisions are based on equivalent content (for required courses), credit allotment and satisfactory completion of courses. You may petition for permission to substitute a course from another college or university by submitting a request to the Office of Admissions along with the complete course syllabus.

Up to six credits of graduate course work taken at Johns Hopkins University or elsewhere may be accepted for transfer. Coursework must have been completed within the last five years. Coursework at the undergraduate level will not be considered for advanced standing credit.

Applicants Who Have Studied Abroad

International applicants and applicants who have completed courses outside of the United States must submit:

More information for international applicants
Office of International Student, Faculty, and Staff Services



Program may be completed in 15 months (4 semesters) and provides more than 500 clinical hours. To apply, you must have completed one year of full-time experience as a registered nurse in an adult or child care setting prior to clinical sequence.

View Full Curriculum and Sample Courses of Study


Tuition and Other Costs

MSN Program (September 2015-May 2016)

Billed Expenses

Tuition: $36,216 (full-time per year)1
Per credit cost: $1,509
Matriculation fee: $500 (one time only fee for first-time enrolled JHU students)
Health Insurance: $2,6562
Health fee: $316
Total Billed Expenses: $39,688

Estimated Other Expenses3

Room and Board: $12,744
Books/Supplies: $1,856
Loan fees: $146
Personal Expenses: up to $1,350
Travel Expenses: up to $3,366
Total Other Expenses: $19,462
Total Expenses: $59,150

1Full-time: 12 credit hours per semester
2All students must have health coverage.  Purchase of the School’s plan is optional.
3Amounts for other expenses vary based upon student's selection of books, supplies, and living arrangements.

Billed expenses are subject to change without prior notice. Changes to a student’s program or course load may result in additional tuition charges and fees. 


Funding Opportunities

The Office of Student Financial Services is available to provide counseling on financing opportunities to ensure that students are able to pursue their educational goals.

The School of Nursing participates in several financial aid programs that can help to pay education expenses, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work study. Students typically fund their studies through a combination of these sources.

Scholarships & Grants

Grants are awards based on financial need that do not have to be repaid. Many students also benefit from scholarships and awards based on merit.  More


Many students will avail themselves of loans to help finance their School of Nursing Education. If necessary, we encourage you to borrow only what is absolutely essential to cover your educational costs.  More

Employment Opportunities

Many students locate part-time employment to help pay education expenses. Numerous positions are available on campus and within various community based organizations. These jobs provide students with opportunities to gain practical work experience. Most positions are funded through the Federal Work-Study Program.  More

Other Funding Sources

We encourage students to seek outside funding opportunities. Information can be obtained from library resource books and professional organizations and alumni organizations.  More


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are licensed registered nurses who have graduate preparation (Master's or Doctorate) in nursing as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The CNS, with advanced educational preparation and expertise in a specialty area of nursing practice, has a unique APRN role - to improve health care quality. This is accomplished across three spheres of influence: patient & family, nurses & staff, the organization or health care system.

A CNS has the primary responsibilities of expert practitioner, educator, administrator/manager, consultant and researcher. These roles are evidenced through leadership as well as interdisciplinary collaboration and communication. The CNS is a leader in developing new educational and performance improvement initiatives including policies and procedures to improve nursing knowledge and patient care. S/he works in collaboration with the Unit and Hospital Directors and multidisciplinary team members to develop criteria for patient care, assess the health needs of patients, evaluate outcomes of care to improve care and assure best practices, and translate published evidence into practice. The CNS initiates and develops clinical and system based research as well as evidence-based practice initiatives to maximize quality and safety and to assure best outcomes.

What do Clinical Nurse Specialists specialize in?

Clinical Nurse Specialists are expert clinicians in a specialized area of nursing practice. The specialty may be identified in terms of:

  • Population (e.g. pediatrics, geriatrics, women's health)
  • Setting (e.g. critical care, emergency room)
  • Disease or Medical Subspecialty (e.g. diabetes, oncology)
  • Type of Care (e.g. psychiatric, rehabilitation)
  • Type of Problem (e.g. pain, wounds, stress)

What kind of settings can Clinical Nurse Specialists practice in?

Clinical Nurse Specialists practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings.

Do Clinical Nurse Specialists play a vital role in healthcare?

In addition to providing direct patient care, CNS influence care outcomes by providing expert consultation for nursing staffs and by implementing improvements in healthcare delivery systems. CNS practice integrates nursing practice, which focuses on assisting patients in the prevention or resolution of illness, with medical diagnosis and treatment of disease, injury and disability.

Research about Clinical Nurse Specialist practice demonstrates outcomes such as:

  • Reduced Hospital Costs and Length of Stay
  • Reduced Frequency of Emergency Room Visits
  • Improved Pain Management Practices
  • Increased Patient Satisfaction with Nursing Care
  • Reduced Medical Complications in Hospitalized Patients

How much do Clinical Nurse Specialists typically make?

An estimated 69,017 RNs have the education and credentials to practice as a CNS. Approximately 14,643 are qualified to work as a nurse practitioner and a CNS. Salaries range from $65,000 to over $110,000 annually depending on region of the country and practice.

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