The Clinical Nurse Specialist Postgraduate Certificate is designed to provide advanced practice preparation as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) to nurses who hold a Master’s degree in Nursing and are prepared for other roles or population groups. The student will choose one of the following populations: adult/gerontology, pediatric, or maternal/infant.

This post-graduate APRN certificate program in nursing at UW-Milwaukee is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

Certification and Licensing

On completion of the CNS Certificate program, graduates with a population focus on adult/gerontology or pediatrics will be eligible to take the national CNS certification exams in adult/gerontology or pediatrics offered by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC, 2013) or by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation (AACN, 2014). Upon successful completion of the CNS certification exam, graduates may choose to apply for prescriptive privileges in the state of Wisconsin as an Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber or APNP (Wisconsin DSPS, 2013). Currently, CNS certification exams are not available for maternal/infant populations.

Eligibility and Admission

Applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for admission to the program:

  1. A minimum 3.0 (4.0 scale) cumulative grade point average (GPA) is required in previous undergraduate and graduate programs.
  2. Prerequisites: Graduate level courses (3 credits each) in Physiology, Physical Assessment, and Pharmacology are required with a grade of B or better prior to the state of the program. Courses in physiology and physical assessment must be completed within 5 years and pharmacology must be within 3 years of the start of the program. Note: Evidence of prescriptive authority granted through a state board of nursing will be accepted in place of graduate pharmacology.
  3. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from a professionally accredited program with a minimum grade point average of 3.00 (4.00 scale) to be considered for admission.
Application Process
  • Students wishing to obtain this certificate must declare their intention by applying to the program office or director.
  • Graduate degree and previously admitted graduate non-degree students who decide to pursue a certificate program must submit the Panthera application before completing 6 credits in the certificate sequence.
  • All graduate certificate applicants—even those already enrolled in a UWM graduate program—must apply to the Graduate School via the Panthera Admission Application and include:
    • a non-refundable application fee
    • unofficial transcripts from all and any schools attended (regardless of how long it may have been). Applicants will be required to submit official transcripts after an admission offer is accepted
    • current resume
    • three references from people who are knowledgeable about your academic experience and potential for graduate study in nursing
    • a personal statement addressing the following topics
      • professional activities since earning your master’s degree in nursing
      • rationale for graduate study
      • strengths you bring to graduate study in nursing at UWM
      • population(s) of particular interest to you
      • rationale for selection of program choice
      • long-range career goals
    • RN license (must include license number). License must be from the State of Wisconsin.
    • Evidence of English proficiency. The language of instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is English. All international applicants must provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with some exceptions. Minimum test scores are located on the Center for International Education website.
Certificate Requirements

Credits and Courses
The CNS Certificate consists of 18 credit hours of coursework. All courses are 3 credits each and are offered in a three-semester sequence so the program can be completed in 12 months. The three practicum courses vary by population focus and must be taken sequentially. The three theory courses vary by population focus and the plan for theory coursework must be approved by the CNS option coordinator. The three courses must be graduate level (700 or above) and provide content across the continuum from wellness through acute care for the selected population.

Adult/Gerontology Track

Clinical 9 credits required
NURS 832 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum I-Adult/Gerontology
NURS 833 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum II-Adult/Gerontology
NURS 834 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum III-Adult/Gerontology

Theory 9 credits required
Recommended courses may include:
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Adult/Gerontology Acute Illness”
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Adult/Gerontology Chronic Illness”
NURS 760 Processes of Aging

Pediatric Track

Clinical 9 credits required
NURS 817 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum I-Pediatric
NURS 818 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum II-Pediatric
NURS 819 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum III-Pediatric

Theory 9 credits required
Recommended courses may include:
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Pediatric Acute Illness”
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Pediatric Chronic Illness”
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Theoretical Foundations for Child Health”
NURS 762 Family Theory and Intervention Strategies for Advanced Nursing Practice
SOC WRK 771 Development of the Family Over the Life Span

Maternal/Infant Track

Clinical 9 credits required
NURS 814 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum I-Maternal/Infant
NURS 815 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum II-Maternal/Infant
NURS 816 Clinical Nurse Specialist Practicum III-Maternal/Infant

Theory: 9 credits required
Recommended courses may include:
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Health Promotion for Women and Childbearing Families”
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Advanced Practice Nursing-Women and Childbearing Families with Acute and Chronic Health Conditions”
NURS 779 Special Topics Seminar with subtitle “Special Topics Seminar with subtitle Maternity and Perinatal Care”
NURS 763 Issues in Women’s Health and Development

Grade Point Average Requirement
A minimum cumulative 3.00 grade point average in certificate courses taken at UWM is required.

Transfer Credit
No more than 20% of the required credits may be taken at an institution other than UWM. These courses are subject to Graduate School transfer policy and must be approved by the director of the certificate program.

Articulation with Degree Programs
  • Credits and courses required for a certificate may double count toward meeting UWM graduate degree requirements subject to the following restrictions:
    • Degree programs must approve the courses from certificates that can double count toward the degree.
    • All credits taken in completion of certificate requirements may count towards a UWM graduate degree as long as they do not contribute more than 90% of the total credits needed to obtain the degree. (Note: Students in Ph.D. programs must still complete the minimum residency requirements)
    • Certificate courses used toward meeting degree requirements must be completed within the time limit for transfer credit.
  • Courses completed for a degree may be counted toward a subsequent certificate, subject to all certificate policy requirements.
  • A course may count toward no more than one certificate and one degree.
  • Students may not earn a certificate subsequent to a concentration in the same area.
Time Limit

Certificate program time limits shall be established as follows:

18 or fewer credits/Three years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.

19 or more credits/Four years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.

For certificates that are designed as add-ons to degree programs and are awarded concurrent with the degree, the time limit shall be the same as that of the degree program.

For More Information

Jennifer Daood
Doctoral Programs
Senior Advisor