2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    May 26, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Nursing (M.S.) - Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization

Location(s): Online

Program Coordinator/Contact

Heidi Mennenga, Associate Dean for Academic Programs
Department of Graduate Nursing
Wagner Hall 255, Box 2275
605-688-6924 or 1-888-216-9806, Ext. 3

Program Information

Established in 1979, the M.S. in Nursing at South Dakota State University prepares nurses for advanced practice roles in nursing administration, leadership, clinical practice, or education.

Program Outcomes

To prepare Nurse Administrators, Clinical Nurse Leaders, Family Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Educators, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners who:

  • apply knowledge of evidence-based practice,
  • engage in life-long learning,
  • serve South Dakota, the region, the nation, and the world in urban, rural, and frontier health care settings, and
  • function in leadership roles.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the program, the graduate will successfully demonstrate the following outcomes:  

  • Incorporate knowledge and theories from nursing and other supportive disciplines to promote and translate evidence into practice to effectively tailor health care to diverse populations.
  • Use leadership strategies at the organizational and individual level to work with interprofessional teams to recommend quality improvement initiatives to provide safe healthcare delivery and improve population health.
  • Assume accountability to influence health policy, improve healthcare delivery, decrease health disparities, and address the diversity of health care needs.
  • Utilize informatics to enhance delivery of healthcare to a population.
  • Communicate effectively with populations to improve health through population- centered strategies of health promotion/disease prevention education.
  • Utilize microsystem assessment data to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based interventions that improve safety and quality for selected populations.

Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure


The master’s degree in nursing at South Dakota State University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, 202-887-6791.


Students must provide evidence of professional registration by submitting a copy of the most current RN license.


Upon completion of the M.S. in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization, students may be eligible for the following certifications:

National Certification Eligibility

Certifying Body

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)*

*requires graduation from a CNL master’s education program or a student in their last term of a CNL education program that meets the criteria delineated in the CNL Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice are eligible to sit for this certification examination.

Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC)

Course Delivery Format

The program coursework is delivered online and includes a field-based practicum.

Available Options for Graduate Degrees

Master of Science Option C - Coursework Only 36 Credit Hours

Total Required Credits: 36 (Option C)

Additional Admissions Requirements

GRE: Not required
TOEFL: Score of 81 Internet-based
TOEFL Essentials: 8.5
IELTS:  6.5 total band
Duolingo: 110

In addition to meeting basic requirements for admission to the Graduate School, applicants for graduate study in nursing must have:

  • Current licensure as a Registered Nurse in the United States or its’ territories prior to enrollment in first graduate nursing course.
  • 1500 hours of documented nursing practice experience prior to the first clinical course.
  • Completed approved statistical methods course within the past 5 years.
  • Completed and verified application to the Graduate Nursing program via NursingCAS website.
  • Completed Compliance requirements: Clear Background check, clear FBI rolled fingerprint, clear drug screen, Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, ACLS certification for FNP specialization, professional liability insurance, influenza vaccine, and TB test.
  • Interview assessment reviewed by graduate faculty.
  • Applicants who have begun but not completed a graduate nursing program at another college or university must submit a letter to the College of Nursing indicating their reason for leaving that said program.  A letter of recommendation must also be submitted to the College of Nursing from the dean/director of their former program that includes the applicant’s standing in that program upon exit.

For applicants who completed their higher education within the United States:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an ACEN or CCNE accredited program with a minimum cumulative preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 point grading system.

For applicants who completed their higher education outside the United States:

  • A degree deemed equivalent (by the World Education Service) to a Bachelor’s degree in nursing (within the United States Education System) with a minimum cumulative preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 point grading system.

Accelerated Master’s Program

The accelerated Master’s program will be available to eligible SDSU students. Up to 12 credits applied to the undergraduate degree may be used to satisfy graduate credit. Students must follow SDSU Policy 2:22 Use of Graduate Credit for Undergraduate Degree Requirements.

General Requirements

Graduate students should consult with their advisor before registering for graduate coursework.

For additional information refer to the Master’s Degree Requirements .