Post-Graduate Certificate, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Post-Graduate Certificate, Clinical Nurse Specialist


Certificate: Applicants must complete a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Nursing or other disciplines from a National League for Nursing (NLN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or regionally accredited program (i.e., WASC).

Earn a post-graduate (post-master or post-doctoral) Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) certificate in as little as 6 semesters through PLNU’s fully online asynchronous program. You have the autonomy to complete coursework on a timeline that works best for your lifestyle.

You are ambitious, seeking opportunities to progress in your career and practice as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with additional specialty certification. Pursuing an CNS certificate allows you to do just this and make a difference in your community and with populations with the greatest need. PLNU values your calling, meeting it with leadership and practical skills you’ll need to grow into prominent roles within complex health systems.

The following specialty tracks are offered:

  • Post-Graduate Certificate: Adult-Gerontology CNS
  • Post-Graduate Certificate: Adult-Gerontology CNS with Women's Health Specialty
  • Post-Graduate Certificate: Pediatric CNS

A Strong Impact

At PLNU, we believe nursing is sacred work. That’s why we provide you with the best knowledge and practices to be prepared to advance the standard of care for patients in all walks of life. When you earn your post-graduate certificate from PLNU, you will focus on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of nursing, preparing you to make a big impact on patients’ holistic care.

We challenge you to make nursing care the best it can be for patients because this is work that deeply matters. If you have a master's or doctoral degree, earning your specialty certification can prepare you to do even more in the field you love.

Close-Knit Collaboration

Move through the program together with a small, diverse cohort of peers for continued encouragement and supportive friendships. Small classes allow for in-depth discussion and quality interactions with professors. You will also learn to care for yourself to better serve your patients.

A Healthy Future

The hands-on, evidence-based instruction, clinical hours, mentoring, and networking opportunities through an extensive alumni group, as well as PLNU’s strong nursing reputation, set the stage for your continued career success after graduation.

State Authorization

State authorization is a formal determination by a state or U.S. Territory that PLNU is approved to conduct activities regulated by that state or U.S. Territory. PLNU is not required to obtain state authorization in every state or U.S. Territory, and the university has opted at this time not to seek authorization in some states. Additionally, PLNU meets the criteria for exemption from authorization in certain states.

Visit our disclosures page to view our color-coded state authorized map to view your state’s authorization status. If you have questions, please contact your enrollment counselor. 

Authorizations in specific states and U.S. Territories may change periodically.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing and meets the requirements for licensure or certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for Professional Licensure or Certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in Nursing are available on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

For more information on State Authorization and Program Licensure, please refer to our disclosures page.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at Point Loma Nazarene University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

You will also be eligible to take the CNS certification examination by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical Care (AACN) upon completion of the program.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 —  September 2, 2024
  • Spring 2025 — January 13, 2025
  • Summer 2025 — May 12, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 —  August 21, 2024
  • Spring 2025 — December 11, 2024
  • Summer 2025 — April 25, 2025

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on availability of space.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person.

At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a program. Your undergraduate and graduate GPA are important pieces of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's PMC program, you must have a baccalaureate degree and an M.S. in nursing from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by official transcripts. You must also have at least one year of employment experience as an RN that aligns with the CNS track in which you want to specialize. The PMC clinical nurse specialist program at PLNU offers the following tracks:

  • Adult/Gerontology Nursing

  • Women's Health

  • Pediatric Nursing

Five hundred hours of practicum will be required.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Documentation of current RN license
  2. Online application for admissions (includes $50 non-refundable application fee). Fee waived if applicant is one of the following: PLNU alum, current or former military and their dependents, PLNU employee.
  3. Official transcripts showing completion of an BSN and all MSN, DNP, Ph.D. and/or Ed.D. from a regionally accredited college or university*. If you have not completed a degree, please request official transcripts from each school you have attended. (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.

  4. Curriculum Vitae or resume.
  5. Minimum grade point average of 3.200
  6. personal essay of approximately 250 words identifying a change of practice issue related to your professional goals
  7. Once you have submitted your admissions application, your two selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd like to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary.
  8. At least one (1) year of continuous full-time nursing experience in a United States healthcare facility within the previous five (5) years; current employment strongly recommended;
  9. After all application materials are submitted, an interview with the School of Nursing is scheduled.

Start Application 

Exceptions Policy*: If you have a GPA below 3.0 in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Career Opportunities

The versatile set of skills you’ll develop from PLNU post-graduate certificate programs prepares you for nursing in a variety of settings. PLNU nursing alumni have held various positions in hospitals, K – 12 schools, clinics, medical missions, and public health institutions. PLNU cultivates passion, professionalism, and a values-driven approach to work in a context that intersects your intellect and faith, equipping you to become a trustworthy leader in your workplace.

Different Career Outcomes with CNS Certificate:

PLNU Post-Graduate CNS Certificate program will prepare you for leadership in a variety of fields, including university faculty member, nurse manager, director, administrator, practice nurse, or entrepreneur.

Clinical Nurse Manager

Average Salary: $84,690

A clinical nurse manager oversees and supervises one to two units in a clinical setting. You will provide support and a safe environment for your staff and patients. Part of your role also includes staffing, case management, discharge planning, scheduling, mentoring, and recruitment.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Clinical Nurse Specialist

Average Salary: $98,240

As an ICU CNS, you play a vital role in effectively merging the needs of patients, your colleagues, and the organization you are working with. You support with patient and staff education and ensure you meet proper healthcare protocols to maintain safety for everyone. You may work in a variety of settings from pediatric ICU and beyond.

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Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Faculty Discounts

PLNU is proud to offer discounts to faculty members across higher education for all graduate nursing programs. Full time faculty at PLNU receive a 50% discount, adjunct/part time faculty at PLNU receive a 25% discount, and faculty members at another institution will receive a 20% discount. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) program, you must have master’s or doctoral degree in Nursing or other discipline from a regionally accredited institution. All PGC applicants must also have at least one year of full-time employment experience as a Registered Nurse in a United States healthcare facility.

Can I work while completing the program?

Yes! This program is designed for working nurses. PLNU’s fully online asynchronous program offers optional synchronous online classes. You may also have an option to take one course per semester in-person.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for a number of scholarships through Student Financial Services. This program qualifies for state and federal financial aid options. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Classes are held in an online asynchronous format, with optional synchronous online sessions. One course per semester may be offered with an in-person option to meet one evening per week or 5-6 Saturdays. All FNP students attend up to two required on-site immersion days in some semesters.

Will I have to find my own preceptors?

The School of Nursing will accept California in-state FNP students. CNS students may be accepted from in or outside of California. 

The school will secure clinical rotations for enrolled students, which are geographically accessible, in collaboration with each student. Students are also encouraged to seek out preferred clinical preceptors. PLNU will create a legal MOU with all placement sites in or outside of San Diego, regardless of educational track. Speak with your enrollment counselor for more information.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Unfortunately, international students are not eligible to apply for our online programs. You are only eligible if you reside in one of our authorized states. Visit our disclosures page to learn more.

If you are a military spouse or serving overseas, contact military services.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Post-Graduate Certificate, Clinical Nurse Specialist program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information