Clinical Nurse Specialist Licensure Requirements Snapshot

Pennsylvania Licensure Requirements

Master's Degree

1 Examination

No Experience Requirement

3 Hours of Continuing Education

$115.00 Initial Fee

$56.00 Renewal Fee

An individual licensed to practice professional nursing who meets the educational and examination or equivalency requirements and is certified by the State Board of Nursing  as a clinical nurse specialist.

Degree Requirement: 

Master's Degree
The Board may certify an applicant who has a master's degree, doctoral degree or post-master's degree or certificate in nursing from an approved educational program.

Alternative education. An applicant for initial certification who completed an educational program in a related discipline previously recognized for national certification as a CNS may be granted certification from the Board in the area of the applicant's current national certification from the American Nurses Association or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Examination Requirement: 

1 Examination
National certification—The credential awarded by a Board-recognized organization must  demonstrate that an individual has passed a national certification examination and has maintained current national certification in a specialty as specified by the organization.


No Experience Requirement
No experience requirement for licensure.

Professional Liability Insurance: 

CNS – Act 49 of 2007 requires the CNS to maintain professional liability insurance in order to maintain the CNS designation.

The laws require that CNSs maintain professional liability insurance coverage at a level required of nonparticipating health care providers under the MCARE Act (Act 13 of 2002), which is currently $1 million per occurrence and $3 million in annual aggregate.

Continuing Education: 

3 Hours

Applicants must complete 3 hours of Board-approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting for initial licensure. 

30 hours of continuing education is required for biennial renewal of license. Of those 30 hours, 2 hours must be Board-approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting. 

Initial Licensing Fee:


Licensure Renewal Fee: 

Biennial renewal of license.

Licensure By Endorsement & Licensure by Act 41:

An applicant for certification by the State Board of Nursing who holds an unrestricted license, certificate or authorization to practice as a CNS from another state, territory or possession of the United States or a foreign country and met initial certification requirements equivalent to the Board's certification requirements and a current RN license in Pennsylvania may be granted certification by endorsement.

Act 41 allows for portability of out-of-state professional licensees coming to work in Pennsylvania. Act 41 does this by granting all boards and commissions within the Commonwealth the authority to endorse licensees from other states, territories or jurisdictions (with substantially equivalent licensing requirements) who are active, in good standing and without discipline against their license or criminal conviction.