AGCNS-BC - Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

  • Cost $295-$395
  • Renews every 5 years


In Person


Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist board certification (AGCNS-BC) validates the knowledge and clinical skills of the AGCNS. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the AGCNS exam, accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).


To be eligible to take the AGCNS exam board certification exam, applicants must have:

  • An active RN license in any U.S. state or the legal equivalent in another country

  • A master’s, post-graduate certificate, or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from an AGCNS program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), or the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA)

  • Completed at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours as a part of the AGCNS program

  • Completed a graduate-level course in advanced pharmacology, advanced health assessment, and advanced physiology/pathophysiology

  • Completed courses with content in health promotion or maintenance and differential diagnosis/disease management


  • Non-members: $395

  • American Nurses Association Members: $295

  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners Member: $340

  • Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association Member: $340

  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Member: $340

Course Format

Exam Format

The AGCNS board certification exam includes 150 scored questions and 25 unscored questions. It takes 3.5 hours to complete and features Pass/Fail grading. The exam has a maximum possible scaled score of 500 and a minimum passing scaled score of 350. It includes topics from three areas, including assessment and diagnosis, planning and implementation, and evaluation.

Test Dates

Prometric test centers offer AGPCNP board certification exams year-round. Examinees may also take the exam at home via Prometric’s Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) service.

In Person

Applicants register for the exam after receiving an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice from ANCC. They may register online or by calling Prometric at (800) 998-1942.

  • Visit Prometric’s website

  • Click “Schedule” on the left column under “Test Center Certification Exam

  • Read the terms and conditions

  • Confirm over 18 and select “I consent”

  • Insert ANCC ID Number and first four characters of last name

  • Click the arrow after the eligibility window appears

  • Search for a testing center

  • Select a test date

Exam Day Instructions

  • Arrive at the testing center 30 minutes before exam time

  • Bring a government-issued ID and test confirmation number from Prometric

  • Store personal items in provided lockers


Application Process

  • Go to the certification website

  • Click “Apply Online”

  • Create an account or log in

  • Complete education information

  • List RN licenses held in all states

  • Download the “Educational Validation Form”

  • Attach the completed Educational Validation Form and unofficial transcripts, if available

  • Input debit or credit card information

Following application submission, applicants must also submit several documents to the ANCC, including:

  • Educational Validation Form (if not already submitted) 

    • Completed by the applicant and the school’s program director

  • Official transcripts 

    • Submitted directly from the school via mail or an electronic transcript submission service

  • GAP Analysis Form (if applicable) 

    • All applicants with post-graduate certificates or post-graduate doctoral degrees must submit this form

    • Must be completed by a faculty member

All documents may be submitted by email to [email protected] or mailed to:

ANCC, Attention: Certification Registration
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Applicants receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) upon approval. They must schedule and take the exam within 90 days of receiving their ATT.


AGCNS board certification is valid for 5 years. AGCNSs can submit an online renewal application up to one year before expiration. To be eligible for renewal, applicants must:

  • Have an active RN license in any U.S. state or the legal equivalent in another country

  • Have a current, active AGPCNP certification from the ANCC

  • Complete 75 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

  • Complete one of the 8 professional development categories 

  • Pay renewal fee

The professional development component includes the mandatory 75 CE hours PLUS completion of at least one of the following 8 categories:

  1. 75 CE hours in addition to the mandatory 75 CE hours

  2. Academic credits: 5 semester credits or 6 quarter credits

  3. One or more presentations totaling 5 hours

  4. One Evidence-Based Practice (EBP), Quality Improvement Project (QI) or one qualifying publication or one Institutional Review Board research project, completed dissertation or thesis, or doctoral project

  5. At least 120 hours as a preceptor for students in an academic program

  6. Two or more consecutive years of volunteer service with an international, national, state, or local healthcare-related organization

  7. 1,000 practice hours (not required to renew certification but option to fulfill professional development)

  8. Pass the current AGPCNP-BC exam

AGCNSs must complete the professional development section before completing the online renewal application.

Renewal Fees

  • Non-member: $375

  • American Nurses Association Members: $275

  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners Member: $295

  • Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association Member: $320

  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Member: $320

Continuing Education

Part of the renewal process requires 75 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). All CEUs must be directly related to the AGPCNP’s certification role and specialty. At least 60 CEUs must be formally approved CE hours, meaning they must meet at least one of the following criteria:

Other healthcare discipline’s CEUs applicable to the AGPCNP’s certification specialty are acceptable. Repeat courses aren’t accepted for renewal. Renewal applicants may also convert academic coursework applicable to their certification specialty to CEUs.

AGCNS can Track Professional Development on the ANCC website as they complete each activity. Renewal applicants must use their account and complete the CE section of the Professional Development Record to document their CEUs. ANCC doesn’t accept certificates of completion in place of completing Professional Development entries.

Other Resources

The ANCC provides several resources to help prepare for the AGPCNP board certification exam, including:

Related Certifications

Other certifications offered by the ANCC include:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP-BC)

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC)

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC)

  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification (PMHNP-BC)

The Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist - Board Certified (ACNS-BC) is available for renewal only.

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Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between an AGCNS and an AGPCNP?

A nurse practitioner (such as an AGPCNP or AGACNP) focuses on the diagnosis and management of acute and chronic conditions, while a clinical nurse specialist (such as an AGCNS) focuses on the prevention of diseases.

Is the AGCNS exam difficult?

Like any certification exam, the AGCNS exam is difficult without proper preparation. In 2021, out of 167 examinees, 135 passed, or about 81%.

What if I let my AGCNS certification expire?

If your certification expired within the last 2 years, you can reactivate the certification by following the regular renewal steps. If it expired more than 2 years ago, you must resubmit an application and retest.

Are work hours required to maintain AGCNS certification?

No, work hours aren’t required but can be used for renewal.

How soon can I retake the AGCNS examination if I don’t pass?

You may retest 60 days from the date you last took the AGCNS exam. However, candidates can’t test more than three times in any 12-month period. The retest fee is $270.

What other certifications does the ANCC offer besides the AGCNS-BC?

The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) also offers the following:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC)

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)

What organization offers the AGCNS-BC?

The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the AGCNS-BC.

Can I earn a AGCNS-BC online?

No you can't earn a AGCNS-BC online.