Kent State's Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) program will prepare you for a unique, multi-faceted role in advanced nursing practice.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) play an essential role in healthcare. Similar to their Nurse Practitioner (NP) colleagues, many CNSs provide specialized advanced nursing care. However, CNSs also work behind-the-scenes to ensure that patients in their units and across their organizations are receiving the highest quality care.
Every CNSs' responsibilities are unique. When they are not providing care, the CNS may be found advocating for patients and their families, leading interdisciplinary healthcare teams to promote patient and organizational outcomes, teaching and consulting nurses, conducting nursing research, and/or influencing policy both within their organization and across the healthcare system.
As the population in this country grows older, CNSs who have an adult and gerontological population-focus are increasingly called upon for their distinctive expertise in applying evidence-based practice guidelines and addressing skyrocketing health care costs.
In the CNS program, you will develop the necessary competencies to practice as a CNS for patients spanning the entire adult to older-adult spectrum. These include direct care, consultation, systems leadership, collaboration, coaching, research, ethical decision-making, moral agency, and advocacy.
Class and clinical experiences focus on providing advanced nursing care across the health continuum, from wellness to acute care. The Adult-Gerontology CNS program curriculum is verified by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses for the Acute Care CNS–Adult-Gerontological certification.
Why Kent State? We offer you:
Expert faculty. You will receive faculty mentorship and advising from nationally certified advanced practice nurses, as well as active researchers with decades of experience.
Excellent online courses. Classes in the AGCNS program are held 100% online and delivered by expert nurses via leading edge instructional technology.
Maximum flexibility. Choose the path that is best for you – MSN or DNP (or certificate for graduate-degree holding nurses). Start in the fall or spring semester and complete the program full or part-time.
Affordability. The Adult-Gerontology CNS program costs only $525 per credit hour, no matter where you live.*
Credibility. Kent State’s graduate program is recognized by employers and universities around the world for its excellence.
Hands-on learning. You will complete 525 clinical practicum hours with qualified clinical nurse specialist preceptors in your primary state of residence. Each practicum will expose you to the variety of opportunities that you will have after graduation.
The MSN, DNP, and Post-graduate APRN certificates at Kent State are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education†. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Kent State: An NLN Center of Excellence
Kent State University is a three-time designated Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (2013-2017, 2017-2022, 2022-2026). We are recognized in the "Advancing the Science of Nursing Education" category for our dedication to innovative and evidence-based nursing education.
Admission to the Adult-Gerontology CNS Program
We invite you to apply to the MSN program if you meet the following criteria:
Bachelor's and/or graduate degree from an accredited registered nursing program.
Minimum 3.000 undergraduate/graduate GPA on a 4.000 point scale.
The completion of an undergraduate statistics course with a minimum C grade.
Active, unrestricted registered nurse license in Ohio
Is the GRE required? Yes for BSN-to-DNP applicants. No for MSN and Post-graduate Certificate applicants.
International applicants: Under most student visas, international applicants are not eligible to complete online-based programs. We strongly encourage international applicants to discuss their eligibility with the Office of Global Education at +1-330-672-7980 or email@example.com prior to applying.
Applicants should upload all required documents in your application portal:
Copies of official transcripts (front and back) are required at the time of application from all universities where 8 or more credit hours were earned. Admitted students are required to submit official transcripts after they have accepted an offer of admission.
MSN: A two to three-page admission essay describing reasons for seeking the master's degree in the identified specialty and professional goals.
DNP: A 300-word essay describing professional goals and reasons for seeking the professional practice doctorate.
Certificate: A goal statement (no more than 250 words) describing reasons for seeking the certificate in the identified specialty and professional goals.
If your state does not participate in NURSYS, please contact your state’s Board of Nursing to send licensure verification to Kent State University.
Three letters of reference from health care professionals or academic faculty who can speak to the applicant's professional and academic abilities
GRE (only BSN-to-DNP applicants)
Scores will only be accepted when sent directly from the test provider to the Division of Graduate Studies as an official test report. Scores reported by applicants will not be accepted.
Kent State University's GRE code is 1367.
Portfolio (for MSN applicants without a BSN)
If you are an RN with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, you will be considered based on a review of a portfolio submitted with the application. Please contact the Office of Student Services for additional information prior to applying. Download Portfolio Requirements (PDF)
As a public institution, we see it as our duty to offer the highest-quality education at a cost that is within the reach of students from all backgrounds.
Please visit kent.edu/tuition to learn more about tuition details.
At Kent State University, we try to make the financial aid process as simple as possible. Our financial aid services and scholarship programs help a wide range of students make their goals affordable. Financial aid options for Adult Gerontology CNS students include:
Tuition Reimbursement: Many employers will pay some or all of the cost of a graduate degree program. Talk with your human resources department to find out if you qualify.
Scholarships: Kent State University, the College of Nursing, and many nursing and health care organizations provide scholarship support for nursing students. See our Financial Aid & Scholarships page for more information.
Federal Loans and Grants: You may be eligible for federal and/or private loans and federal/state grants. Contact the One Stop for Student Services at 330-672-6000 for more information.
Tuition can be paid online using a credit card or check, by mail with a check, or in-person with a check.
Monthly payment plan options are available.* Tuition can be spread out over 3, 4, or 5 monthly payments.
Students who are receiving tuition reimbursement through their employer can apply to defer tuition payment to after the semester ends.*
E-learning is unparalleled at Kent State University.
Kent State online students have access to the same resources as on-campus students, without ever stepping foot on campus. From applying to the program to applying for graduation, Kent State provides the tools to complete these tasks online.
Although there are no on-campus requirements, online students are more than welcome to visit our campus in Kent, Ohio (or take a virtual tour online). You will be invited to various events throughout your time at Kent State, including our pinning (Convocation) and graduation (Commencement) ceremonies.
Some of the benefits to earning your graduate degree online from Kent State include:
Courses developed by expert faculty and delivered via Canvas, industry-leading learning management systems (LMSs).
Small class sizes and individualized attention from nurse educators with decades of practical experience.
Innovative learning activities tailored to the online environment.
24/7 technical support through Kent State’s TechHelp.
Tests and exams proctored virtually – no need to go to a testing center.
FlashLine, the university’s centralized portal system, will allow you to schedule classes, track your degree progress, schedule advising appointments, pay your tuition, and more right from your computer.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are both Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). Many people – including nurses – do not understand the differences between these roles. This confusion may be in part due to the similarities between CNSs and NPs; by comparison, the functions of the other two APRN roles, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives, are more obvious.
Despite the seeming similarities between CNSs and NPs, each role is unique in its approach to practice, specialization, and patient care philosophy.
For example, all Adult-Gerontology CNSs specialize in the adult-gerontological population, but some CNSs also specialize in critical care (setting) and cardiology (medical subspeciality) while some other CNSs specialize in primary care (setting) and pain (type of problem).
Typically specialize in one of three ways:
Primary care for a population (family, adult-gerontology, pediatrics, or women)
Acute care for a population (adult-gerontology or pediatrics)
Psychiatric/Mental Health care for the family population
Some NPs also get certified in subspecialities, such as Emergency NP certification (for Family NPs) or Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse certification.
Approach to Patient Care
A CNSs approach to patient care is both direct and indirect. They work within the three spheres of influence to ensure the highest quality of care:
CNSs provide direct specialized care to patients and assist other nurses with direct patient care.
Nurses and Nursing Practice
CNSs are go-to experts for other nurses in the practice area and serve as teachers and mentors, which raises the standards of patient care.
Organization and System
CNSs work make improvements within their organizations, such as implementing new evidence-based practice guidelines.
NPs provide direct patient care. Their approach to care is holistic, focusing on not only treating and preventing disease, but also promoting overall wellbeing in the patient through means such as health counseling.
Typical Practice Environment(s)
While you will find CNS practicing in a wide variety of environments, the majority practice in acute care settings.
No. Kent State does not require online students to come to campus for orientation, intensives, etc. However, you will need to complete your clinical practicums with preceptors in-person at a location near you.
Yes. In fact, many students attend part-time (4-6 hours) and also work.
However, your concentration may require at least one full-time semester (8 or more hours). Also, intent for full-time study will be considered in the selection process for applicants who meet all admission criteria.
Most courses are asynchronous, and you can complete the coursework as time permits while meeting weekly deadlines. Some courses may meet synchronously with scheduled meeting times.
The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at Kent State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. Kent State University College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) concentrations within the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program and APRN Certificates, along with the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP) program qualify graduates to sit for national APRN certification and APRN licensure in Ohio. States other than Ohio may have additional requirements to apply for or obtain an APRN license, including but not limited to specific state examinations, letters of recommendation, or proof of completion of an accredited nursing program. The College of Nursing is in the process of collecting information from all states and has not yet made a determination whether graduates from the Kent State University College of Nursing MSN, Certificate, and BSN-to-DNP programs meet the requirements for APRN licensure outside the state of Ohio.
Fulfill Your Purpose
Enrollment advisors can be reached at 330-672-7911.