Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (Post-BSN to DNP with Master's Exit)


The McAuley School of Nursing (MSON) offers the post-baccalaureate entry to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (post-BSN to DNP) with a master’s exit. This pathway provides all post-baccalaureate nursing students the opportunity to enter graduate school and have a direct pathway that allows them to exit at the master’s level or matriculate directly to the doctoral degree. 

The post-BSN to DNP with the MSN exit is designed to provide students the opportunity to assimilate and utilize in-depth knowledge of nursing, biophysical, psychosocial, analytical and organizational sciences, with sophisticated informatics and decision-making technology to develop collaborative strategies that optimize the health of individuals, families, communities and systems. The DNP program curriculum is based upon the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2006) Essentials of Doctoral Education. The MSN program curriculum is based on the AACN (2011) Essentials of Master’s Education. These programs build upon a foundation of baccalaureate education. Grounded in the Mercy and Jesuit traditions, the DNP program emphasizes the student’s development as an expert clinician with strong leadership capacity, a commitment to service, and skills to act as change agents, translating clinical research into improved health care. 

The Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS) major prepares graduates for advanced practice nursing in the role of the AG-CNS. The patient population of the AG-CNS is adults and older adults. Students become skilled in the three spheres of AG-CNS impact: patients (clinical expertise), nurses/nursing practice (coach/mentors) and health care systems (leaders of change). The curriculum includes expertise in two sub-specialties: advanced holistic nursing and older adult care. 

The AG-CNS major requires a total of 41 credit hours and 500 clinical hours for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). An additional 24 credits and additional clinical hours are required for the completion of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national AG-CNS certification examination administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Students are urged to contact the specific Board of Nursing in the state in which they intend to practice in order to ensure they are in full compliance with the education, practice and certification requirements. 

The program is taught in an engaging online format that is flexible and student-centered. Full-time and part-time options are available for degree completion.

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    Program Outcomes

    The following program outcomes will be achieved at completion of the post-BSN to DNP with master’s exit:

    MSN Outcomes and DNP Outcomes

    MSN Program Outcomes

    DNP Program Outcomes

    1.  Demonstrate professional role practice consistent with the competencies of the unique specialty at the master’s level.

    1.  Demonstrate professional role practice consistent with the competencies of the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

    2.  Translate theoretical and conceptual knowledge into advanced nursing practice actions that promote optimal health care quality and patient safety outcomes.

    2.  Formulate innovative theoretical and conceptual frameworks that ensure optimal health care quality and patient safety outcomes.

    3.  Integrate informatics, health care technology, and interpersonal collaboration in the delivery of person-centered nursing practice for individuals and populations.

    3.  Translate evidence to produce innovative models of care that integrates informatics, health care technology, and interpersonal collaboration to affect population health outcomes, and support health care policy initiatives.

    4.  Engage in systems leadership with a focus on preventive care, policy development, and patient advocacy.

    4.  Lead health care systems and policy innovation with a focus on preventative care, quality improvement and patient advocacy.

    5.  Integrate the Jesuit and Mercy traditions in providing culturally-competent, compassionate, holistic, and person-centered care with a commitment to human dignity in the contemporary world.

    5.  Integrate the Mercy and Jesuit traditions in providing culturally competent, compassionate, holistic and person-centered care with a commitment to human dignity in the contemporary world.


    Admission Criteria for the post-BSN to DNP with Master’s Exit Program

    1. A baccalaureate degree from a nationally-accredited program.
      • RNs with a baccalaureate degree in another field could qualify for the MSN bridge program. The baccalaureate degree must be from an accredited program. Each application will be individually assessed to determine courses needed to bridge into the MSN program. This gap analysis will determine what additional courses will be required at the baccalaureate level to ensure they have met the prerequisites necessary for graduate education in nursing.
    2. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
    3. An unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in the State of Michigan or in the state of home residence.
    4. Official transcripts from each institution of higher education.
    5. Three letters of professional recommendation with at least one from someone in a supervisory capacity.
    6. An autobiographical statement of personal goals and objectives.
    7. Current resume or professional CV.
    8. An interview with graduate faculty.

    Note: A GRE may be required for any student petitioning for admission to the program with a cumulative GPA less than 3.0.


    Required Courses

    MSN Integrated Core

    • NUR 5030 Analytic Methods for Clinical Practice (3 credits)
    • HLH 7100 Health Care Policy, Economics and the Law in Clinical Practice (3 credits)
    • NUR 7000 Advanced Theory and Knowledge Development for Clinical Practice (3 credits)
    • NUR 7300 Transformational Leadership and Innovation in Advanced Practice (3 credits)
    • NUR 7400 Information Management and Decision Support (3 credits)
    • NUR 7500 Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: Theory, Design & Methods (3 credits)

    Advanced Practice Core

    • NUR 5160 Advanced Health Assessment (3 credits)
    • HLH 5900 Advanced Pathophysiology (3 credits)
    • NUR 5800 Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nurses (3 credits)
    • NUR 6030 Professional Role Development for Business Practice (2 credits)

    AGCNS Concentration Courses

    • NUR 5748 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory I (3 credits)
    • NUR 5749 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum I (2 credits)
    • NUR 5751 Wellness Adult-Gerontology CNS Practice (2 credits)
    • NUR 5752 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory II (3 credits)
    • NUR 5753 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum II (2 credits)

    Doctoral Integrated Core

    • NUR 7700 DNP Transition (3 credits)
    • NUR 7200 Epidemiology & Population Health (3 credits)
    • NUR 7350 Business Management to Ensure Quality in Health Care (3 credits)
    • ETH 7010 Ethical Issues in Advanced Nursing Practice (3 credits)
    • NUR 7450 Analytics for Evidence-Based Practice (3 credits)
    • NUR 7800 Project Proposal Development (3 credits)
    • NUR 7900 DNP Clinical Practicum & Project Implementation (3 credits)
    • NUR 7920 DNP Doctoral Project (3 credits)

    Total Credits: 65 credits (41 for MSN conferral and 24 for completion of DNP)



    The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Master of Science in Nursing degree, Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, and Post-graduate APRN certificate at University of Detroit Mercy, McAuley School of Nursing are fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW Suite 750, Washington, DC  20001. Telephone: (202) 887-6791.


    Program Contact Information

    Mitzi M. Saunders, PhD, APRN, CNS-C
    HP 324
    McNichols Campus
    Telephone:  (313) 993-1767

    Suzanne Erwin, BSN
    Graduate Recruiter and Admissions Coordinator
    HP 121
    McNichols Campus
    Telephone: (313) 993-1828
    Fax: (313) 993-1271