Master of Science in Nursing

Clinical Systems Leadership

Request Information

MS-CSL Pathway Banner

This program builds on clinical nursing experience to develop nurse leaders with heightened competencies in delivering patient-centered care that is comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate with emphasis on patient advocacy through systems leadership. Program content blends concepts of patient-centered care, evidence-based practice improvement, systems management, leadership, healthcare technology, quality and safety, integrative therapies, and nursing practices focusing on health promotion and healing.  The graduate will be prepared to provide leadership in a variety of practice environments and to influence the delivery of complex healthcare to patients across the trajectory of illness to achieve optimal health outcomes.

ADN track admission is temporarily suspended through Fall 2021.

Program Outcomes

  • Design and lead innovative patient-centered care in a variety of practice settings.
  • Collaborate with interprofessional teams to deliver evidence-based quality care.
  • Evaluate and apply integrative evidence-based healing strategies across the health –illness trajectory.
  • Incorporate innovative healthcare technology to deliver safe and effective patient –centered care.
  • Coordinate care transitions to improve patient outcomes across the healthcare continuum.
  • Apply theory and evidence-based knowledge to design, coordinate, and evaluate patient care systems.

Program Facts


BSN Track Program Length
2 Courses per Semester*


ADN Track Program Length
2 Courses per Semester*


Program Delivery

Fully online coursework with direct clinical practicum (90 hours)



BSN Track



ADN Track


Course Length**


Applications Open

& Fall

Program Start

*The time needed to complete the program will vary depending on which track you're on and how many classes you choose to take at one time.
**All courses span 7 weeks except for the Clinical Systems Leadership Immersion course which is the culminating experience for the program and is a full semester in duration.


ADN Applicants

  • Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure in active and good standing throughout the duration of the program

ADN track admission is temporarily suspended through Fall 2021.

BSN Applicants

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure in active and good standing throughout the duration of the program

Application Materials

  • Transcripts
  • Current CV/Resume

Violeta Lewis Portrait

Violeta Lewis, Class of 2015

"The professors were engaging and personable. They really went out of their way to make sure we felt connected. It worked well around my schedule, but it challenged me and really pushed me forward in a lot of other avenues, especially in my role as mayor. I was actually finishing the program during my first term and found that some of the skills that I learned have helped me not just in my nursing but my political career as well."

Read Student Story

Clinical Systems Leadership Curriculum

The online Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership is made up of 7-week classes. For the ADN track, you'll complete 11 courses. If you're on the BSN track, you'll complete 8 courses. Both tracks have a 16-week capstone project at the end of the program.

Course Title Units ADN Track BSN Track
NURS 520 3 Yes  
NURS 521

You will analyze and apply evidence for selected areas of clinical practice to facilitate optimal patient outcomes and use evidence to develop, validate and endorse strategies for system-wide practice improvements.

3 Yes Yes
NURS 540

At the individual and interpersonal level of care, you will explore the concepts of health promotion and risk reduction and examine evidence-based strategies that acknowledge patient-centered values and beliefs optimizing health/wellness.

4 Yes Yes
NURS 541

For vulnerable (including cross-cultural) populations and communities, you will apply concepts related to the assessments, surveillance and interventions for risk reduction, disease prevention and health promotion. **Not required for BSN to MS track

4 Yes  
NURS 543

You will evaluate and apply emerging health care technologies, such as point of care clinical support, telehealth/medicine and electronic documentation, in support of patient-provider communication, interprofessional practice and coordinated patient care delivery.

3 Yes Yes
NURS 545

You will examine health policy and regulation, health economics and advocacy, and apply advocacy strategies for transitioning ‘at-risk’ individuals across the health care continuum.

4 Yes Yes
NURS 640

You will apply business concepts and principles consistent with patient-centered care across a variety of health care settings. Concepts include organizational structure and finance, budgeting, cost-benefit analysis, marketing, resource allocation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

3 Yes Yes
NURS 641

You will explore the principles of shared leadership, team dynamics and interprofessional practice as the foundation of patient-centered care with emphasis on mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution, collaboration and consultation. **Not required for BSN to MS track

4 Yes  
NURS 653

You will examine evidence-based integrative approaches that support structural and human care processes and evaluate models of optimal healing environments that promote personal and organizational health/wellness.

3 Yes Yes
NURS 654

You will examine concepts related to the quality and safety improvement process and management strategies that ensure patient safety and quality outcomes, including continuous quality improvement processes and program planning, implementation and evaluation.

4 Yes Yes

You will integrate graduate level knowledge in pathophysiology, assessment, pharmacology, and integrative interventions into focused delivery of population-based clinical care projects.

3 Yes Yes

During your 16-week Clinical Systems Leadership Immersion, you will work with a team of colleagues and faculty mentor to develop a comprehensive care management plan for a chronic care population utilizing patient-centered leadership concepts.

3 Yes Yes

STATISTICS REQUIREMENT: The University of Arizona’s MS in Nursing program requires that students have passed a 3-credit, college-level statistics class within the last 5 years. If you do not meet this requirement, you can still be admitted to the program and will have several options to complete it:

  • Take a college-level statistics class at another regionally accredited institution before you start or during your first semester in the program (Minimum grade of C required)
  • Take NURS 629 in your first semester at University of Arizona
  • Attempt a proficiency exam and if completed with a 70% or better, have your statistics class requirement waived

Request Information

ADN track admission is temporarily suspended through Fall 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

Earning your MS can be life-changing, but it's not a decision to make lightly. The program is as demanding as it is rewarding, and the time required is significant. Your MS is also a considerable financial investment, even when offset by financial aid.

Just as significant, however, are the benefits when you've earned your master's degree. For some, it's about leadership and the chance to shape health care at a higher, more strategic level. For others, it's the opportunity to earn an additional $15,000 or more a year.

One thing is true, however, for all our graduates. The investment of time and money happens over the course of 15 or 24 months. The benefits your investment gives back will last a lifetime.

    Today’s 3 million RNs in the US are the backbone of America’s health care. You have incredible impact on people’s lives through the care you provide. At the same time, RNs have limited opportunities to help shape the systems they work within, let alone the larger systems of care at a community, regional or even national level. An MS in Clinical Systems Leadership opens leadership doors that will empower you to help even more people. It can give you a seat at the table for decisions about care policies and practices and the business of improving health.
    Not all RNs want to advance into leadership. However, without a MS or doctoral degree, most nurses are already at a career ceiling. An MS empowers you to advance your career in any direction, opening choices unavailable to you now. Most nursing specializations require an advanced degree. Some health organizations give preference to applicants with higher education, even for standard RN positions. An MS also lets you choose to teach nursing and lead clinical classes, educating and mentoring those who are just starting the journey you’ve already made.
    As an RN, you know how physically challenging your job can be. Long and demanding shifts, not to mention the stress of working in life-or-death situations day in, day out. That intensely personal care is what drew you to nursing. It’s vital work you should always be proud of. It’s also hard on the body. Some RNs eventually experience their own health challenges, in part from the physical rigors of their work. If that’s you today, an MS opens up new ways to help people with new roles and responsibilities. An MS ensures that when you’re ready to transition to a different kind of nursing: your options will be wide open.
    What matters most to you? Providing for your family? World travel? A nice home? Nurses with an MS earn $86,000 per year on average, with top salaries in the range of $100,000 per year – significantly more than the $64,000 average income for nurses without an MS. Do you struggle with work-life balance? Most MS jobs have regular hours, more in sync with the schedules of friends and family. Earning more could also mean choosing to work less, giving you more time for loved ones or other pursuits. Do you value independence and respect in your work? An MS is a professional signal of greater expertise as well as your commitment to making a difference. Last but not least, don’t underestimate how good you’ll feel as you earn your MS. Few things compare to the satisfaction of knowing you’ve climbed to a new level of knowledge, raised the bar in personal accomplishment and pushed yourself to give your very best.
  • Clinical Care Coordinator
    Works to ensure the best possible care by coordinating timely, patient-centered services across a range of health care settings and contexts while also managing care costs and efficiencies.
  • Clinical Systems Manager
    Works to improve systems of care in collaboration with families and other care providers with special attention to evidence-based practices.
  • Infection Control Manager
    Much like a quality and safety coordinator, focused on containing and preventing disease in health systems through best-practice policies, education and careful monitoring of care.
  • Nurse Administrator
    Sometimes called a director of nurses or nurse executive, oversees daily care and spearheads new models of care in a variety of health systems; encompasses a wide range of opportunities and responsibilities, from strategic planning to budgeting and staffing.
  • Nurse Educator
    Works in classrooms, labs, research settings and clinical sites to nurture, teach and mentor nursing students or novice RNs as they begin their nursing journeys.
  • Nurse Manager
    Leads a nursing unit within a care setting, serving as the eyes and ears of the nursing unit and helping to voice questions, concerns, interests and recommendations to ensure positive outcomes for patients, families and staff.
  • Nursing Informatics
    Combines experience in health care and systems with special knowledge in information management and analytical sciences to provide meaningful data to care providers, people receiving care and their families.
  • Patient Navigator
    Working at the forefront of care in a role new to most health systems, helps people receiving care for cancer or other select conditions, along with their families, navigate the complexities of different care settings, insurance payment systems and support organizations.
  • Quality and Safety Coordinator
    Works to advance comprehensive health and safety in the workplace via quality assurance programs aligned with local, state and federal accrediting agencies with a focus not on people under care but on nurses and other staff.

You may be able to offset some costs with financial aid, but no matter what, your MS degree will be a significant investment. One thing to keep in mind is the amount of time in which you are likely to see a return on your investment. Jobs that typically or always require an MS pay significantly more than most RN positions – often an additional $15,000 or more per year. For this reason, nurses moving into an MS career can potentially recoup the cost of the degree within two to three years. See the Costs & Financial Aid page for more details.

The MS in Nursing is a rigorous educational undertaking. You'll need time for readings, assignments, collaborations with classmates, exams and more. A key advantage of the online MS in Nursing is that it requires zero time on the UA campus and classes are asynchronous, meaning you log on when you choose. That means you can do schoolwork in the evenings, early mornings, lunch breaks or split across these times and more – whenever and wherever you can focus on your learning.

Ready to take the next step?

See the full admissions requirements and application process on the RN-MS Admissions page.



The master's degree program in nursing at The University of Arizona College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Contact Information

Phone: 520-621-6676

RN-MS Program Director

Cheryl Lacasse, PhD, RN, AOCNS
Clinical Professor and RN-MS Program Director