Nursing School and Program Guide of 2020
If you are looking for a career where you can help people while also earning excellent compensation in one of the fastest-growing career fields, pursuing a degree in nursing may be a good fit for you. Nursing School 411 is a comprehensive guide that will provide you with essential information about nursing licensure and school options for earning a degree at the nation’s best nursing schools to start or advance your nursing career.
Nursing School Facts
- There are over 2,600 colleges or universities that offer a nursing degree program in the United States.1
- 1,631 schools offer certificate or associate degree programs for registered or practical nursing (ADN, LVN, or LPN).1
- 1,033 schools offer a bachelor’s degree registered nursing program (BSN).1
- 594 schools offer graduate nursing programs.1
- 614 schools offer online nursing programs.2
- 254 schools offer online RN to BSN programs.2
- 149 schools offer online graduate nursing programs.3
- Over 900 schools are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).4
- 762 schools are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).5
Table of Contents
- Online & Campus Top Nursing Schools by State
- Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nursing School
- Finding Accredited Nursing Schools
- US Top 10 Nursing Programs
- US Top 10 Online Nursing Schools
- Tuition and Costs
- Admission Requirements
- Nursing Program Reviews
- Frequently Asked Questions
Online & Campus Top Nursing Schools by State
Since nursing is a growing field and nurses always seem to be in short supply, there are plenty of options for potential nurses when it comes to pursuing a degree in the field. Many schools offer on-campus programs, both for those who are new to the field and for those who have already been working in nursing but wish to advance their careers by obtaining a degree. The programs geared toward working professional nurses offer flexible class schedules and many allow students to complete the practicum part of their degrees at their current place of employment. With the wide range of options available to you as a potential nursing student, you should do your research to ensure you attend a well-respected, accredited school. Or let us do the work for you. We feature accredited nursing colleges, schools, and universities for you to begin your search for the program that best fits your needs. Click on a state below to read more about accredited nursing programs specific to that state.
- Select One
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nursing School
It is essential to make sure that the nursing program possesses the necessary accreditation that is required for licensure in your state. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League of Nursing (NLN) offers accreditation by the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA). It is important that the nursing degree you choose is accredited by one of these bodies, which will allow you to become licensed and practice nursing in your state after you receive your degree.
Reputation of the School
The reputation or prestige of the school will not only indicate the quality of education provided but will also send a signal to employers. A degree from a highly regarded institution can help your resume stand out and will create a more positive perception of your nursing abilities. A more highly regarded school may also provide a more rigorous education, better preparing you for your career in nursing.
Flexibility of the Program
If you intend to keep your job while attending school, you will want to research the program’s schedule for classes and clinical rotations. Some programs offer online coursework that may save time and fit better with your schedule. Some nursing degrees can be obtained entirely or mostly online. Master’s degrees in nursing are the most common online nursing degrees, as undergraduate programs usually require more on-campus time as well as clinicals.
Feedback from Former or Current Students
Graduates or current students from the program you are considering can share their experience and what they liked or disliked about their nursing degree. You can find former or current students in your area on social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn and ask them to meet you for coffee. You can also read student reviews on college and professor review websites to get a broad range of perspectives.
Review the school accreditation and the NCLEX pass rates of all programs you are considering. These are very important points to consider. If the school you choose is not accredited or loses its accreditation, you may not be able to graduate or the state board may not even recognize your degree. This is a hard lesson to learn from but can be avoided by properly vetting the schools you are interested in beforehand.”
-Nachole Johnson, FNP, float nurse practitioner, prolific author, and business owner who is well-known in the nursing field.
Finding Accredited Nursing Schools
Accreditation can apply to an entire school or a specific degree program. Entire schools can be accredited by a national or regional accreditation body. The US Department of Education recognizes a select few accreditation bodies to evaluate the quality of a school. You can find out if a school is accredited by searching the US Department of Education’s database on their website. School accreditation is important because it is required for federal financial aid and for transferring credits to a different school. Additionally, accreditation provides assurance that a school is legitimate and meets a minimum level of quality.
Nursing programs at the bachelor’s and graduate level are accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. You can find a nursing program’s CCNE accreditation status by searching the CCNE’s database. Another nursing accreditation body is The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing which accredits nursing programs at all levels. You can find a program’s ACEN accreditation status by searching their database. For nurse anesthesia programs and nurse midwife programs the accreditation bodies are The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) and The American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation’s (ACNM) Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) respectively.
US Top 10 Nursing Programs
To rank the top accredited nursing programs in the United States, we turned to US News & World Report, which arguably produces the most well-respected rankings of American colleges and universities. Their rankings of nursing programs are no exception. Below are the top 10 graduate nursing programs in the US for 2017, followed by profiles of each.
1. Johns Hopkins University
2. University of Pennsylvania
3. University of California – San Francisco
4. Duke University*
4. University of Washington*
6. New York University
7. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
8. Case Western Reserve University*
8. Columbia University*
8. Emory University*
8. University of Maryland – Baltimore*
*Indicates a tie
See the rest of the list at US News & World Report.
1. Johns Hopkins University
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) offers several nursing degrees, with the #1 accredited Master of Nursing (MSN) degree in the country. In addition, its Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program was ranked #2 in US News & World Report’s first ranking of DNP programs for 2017. JHSON also ranked high in specialty areas like administration (offering an MSN in Health Systems Management) and nurse practitioner (offering an MSN in Advanced Nursing Practice with various specialties). 46% of JHSON’s full-time faculty are fellows in the American Academy of Nursing, and the program has a rich history, having been established in 1889. Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and its baccalaureate and master’s programs are further accredited by the Maryland State Board of Examiners of Nurses. The baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs are endorsed by the Maryland State Board for Higher Education.
2. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing is not only ranked #2 by US News & World Report, but also ranked the #1 nursing university in the world by QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2016, a ranking based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research impact. Located in Philadelphia, Penn Nursing also ranks highly in sub-categories of nursing, such as administration and various nurse practitioner categories. In addition to graduate programs, Penn Nursing offers undergraduate programs like a BSN, a second degree, an RN Return program, and a PhD in Nursing. The Penn Nursing program is accredited by the CCNE and the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.
3. University of California – San Francisco
The University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) School of Nursing is ranked #3 by US News for top nursing schools. In addition to its prestigious MSN program, UCSF School of Nursing also offers an online MS in Healthcare Administration & Interprofessional Leadership (MS-HAIL) and a PhD in Nursing. The School of Nursing students works closely with the UCSF Medical Center Nursing staff. Over a century old, the school is accredited by the CCNE, the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), and has remained in the top two spots in NIH research funding awarded to schools of nursing over the past ten years.
4. Duke University
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University’s School of Nursing is tied for #4 best graduate school for nursing in US News & World Report’s 2017 rankings. It was also awarded the honor of the #3 best Doctor of Nursing program by US News. In addition to an MSN and DNP, Duke offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) for college graduates, a PhD in Nursing, and certificate programs. It is accredited by the CCNE and has been in operation since 1931. Duke offers online and distance learning options as well as specializations in nurse anesthesia and nurse practitioner areas.
4. University of Washington
Tied with Duke University for #4 graduate nursing school by US News & World Report, the School of Nursing at the University of Washington offers a 2-year BSN, an ABSN for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, Graduate Certificate Programs in Advanced Practice Nursing (GCPAPN), a Master of Nursing (MN) with a specialization in Community Health Nursing (MN-CHN), an MSN with a specialization in Clinical Informatics and Patient-Centered Technologies (CIPCT), a DNP, and a PhD in Nursing Science degree. Located in Seattle, UW’s nursing program is accredited by the CCNE and has been in existence since the early 1900s. It has been a top-ranked nursing school by US News for 17 years.
6. New York University
Ranked #6 by US News, NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing offers a BSN in two formats (a 15-month accelerated program and a traditional four-year program), an MSN, a Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate program, a DNP, and a PhD in Research Theory and Development. The accelerated BSN is for those who have taken certain prerequisites while the four-year BSN is for high school graduates. Both BSNs prepare graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) to obtain licensure. The MSN and Advanced Certificate programs are designed for those who may already be working in the nursing field who are seeking more advanced roles in practice or administration. NYU College of Nursing (NYUCN) has a rich history and was founded in 1932.
7. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing in Ann Arbor is ranked #7 by US News for graduate nursing programs in 2017. In addition to its award-winning MSN program, UM’s School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN, Accelerated Second Career BSN, a Certificates in Health Informatics, Post-Master’s Certificate, a Certificate in Nursing Education (CNE), a Staff Nurse EBP Certificate Program, a DNP, and a PhD. Master’s programs include several Nurse Practioner specialization options, a Nurse-Midwife option, a Health Systems, Nursing Leadership, and Effectiveness Science MS program, and some Post-Master’s Certificate options. UM-Ann Arbor is accredited by the CCNE and approved by the State of Michigan’s Board of Nursing.
8. Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing is tied for #8 in US News & World Report’s rankings of graduate nursing programs. CWRU offers a BSN, MSN, DNP, PhD, Post-Master’s Certificate, and Dual Doctorate PhD/DNP program. The BSN and MSN programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN) and the DNP program is accredited by the CCNE. In addition to being ranked #8 for best nursing schools by US News, the university is ranked #5 for the publication’s top DNP programs. Established in 1923, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing is well-respected in the field.
8. Columbia University
Located in New York City, Columbia University’s School of Nursing is tied for 8th place in US News & World Report’s ranking of top graduate nursing programs in 2017. Columbia offers prospective students an MSN, a Masters Direct Entry (MDE) program (formerly a combined BS/MS program) for non-nurse college graduates, a DNP, and a PhD. The MSN offers specialty programs in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia, Nurse Midwifery, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The School of Nursing was founded in 1892 is part of one of the world’s most renowned academic health centers. Its programs are accredited by CCNE.
8. Emory University
Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and offers several nursing programs to potential students. At the baccalaureate level, there are three options: for high school students looking to begin a bachelor’s degree in nursing, for existing Emory or Oxford College (at Emory) students interested in earning a BSN, and for transfer students who have 60 hours of college course credit already. Emory also offers an Accelerated BSN that takes 15 months and an Accelerated BSN + MSN. For traditional MSNs, Emory’s offerings include programs in Adult/Gerontology Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care, Pediatric Primary Care, and Women’s Health. The baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs are accredited by the CCNE.
8. University of Maryland – Baltimore
Baltimore’s University of Maryland School of Nursing was founded 125 years ago and is tied with three other schools for #8 on the US News & World Report’s list of best graduate nursing programs in 2017. UM’s School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN, a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) master’s program for applicants with a bachelor’s degree in another field who wish to enter into nursing, an RN-to-BSN and an RN-to-MS program for current nurses looking to advance in their careers, an MSN in specialties like Community/Public Health Nursing, Nursing Informatics, Nurse Anesthesia, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Family, a DNP, a PhD, as well as dual degrees in MSN/Master of Business Administration (MBA) and MSN/Master in Public Health (MPH).
US Top 10 Online Nursing Schools
The US News & World Report ranks the best online graduate nursing schools based on factors like student engagement, selectivity of engagement, credentials, and training of faculty, peer reputation, and student services including technology. Listed below are the top 10 online nursing programs, followed by profiles of each.
1. University of South Carolina
2. Medical University of South Carolina
3. St. Xavier University
4. Ohio State University
5. Duke University
6. Johns Hopkins University
7. University of Texas – Tyler
8. Georgia College & State University*
8. University of Cincinnati*
10. Stony Brook University – SUNY
*Indicates a tie
See the rest of the list at US News & World Report.
1. University of South Carolina
The University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing is ranked #1 by US News & World Report’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2016. Both the MSN and DNP programs are delivered online, with some clinical courses requiring visits to Columbia, South Carolina, for check-offs with faculty. Online courses at USC are interactive and collaborative, incorporating group work, multi-media presentations, and critiquing peer work. The Blackboard course management is used and courses are delivered asynchronously to accommodate a variety of work schedules. The online program requires the same workload as the face-to-face courses.
2. Medical University of South Carolina
Also located in South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina offers the #2 ranked graduate nursing program of 2016. An online MSN and PhD are offered to prospective students. The online MSN program prepares students for advanced practice as a nurse practitioner, and the only difference from the on-campus program is that the online students use technology to learn. An orientation held in July requires attendance on campus, as well as a few courses requiring two-to-three day visits to campus. Students can complete their MSN in two years if studying full-time or three years of part-time study.
3. Saint Xavier University
Located in Chicago, St. Xavier University offers an online MSN, an online RN-BSN, and a nurse educator certificate and was ranked #3 by the US News & World Report for best online nursing programs of 2016. The online MSN program offers two tracks: Executive Leadership and Clinical Leadership. The Executive Leadership track leads to high-level administrative roles in nursing while the Clinical Leadership track focuses on patient care. In addition to its online options, St. Xavier offers a traditional Family Nurse Practitioner program and an MSN/MBA dual degree option. The St. Xavier School of Nursing has been accredited by the National League for Nursing (NLN) and the CCNE.
4. Ohio State University
Ohio State University’s College of Nursing in Columbus offers online options for its RN-BSN program, MSN specialities of Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health, and Neonatal Practioner, and a Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research (MACPR) offered entirely online. OSU’s College of Nursing was ranked #4 in US News & World Report’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2016 and is accredited by the is accredited by the CCNE. Distance learning students have the option of completing all coursework online and completing clinicals in their own communities, making it a good fit for working professional nurses.
5. Duke University
Also ranked highly for its regular graduate in nursing program, Duke University also offers online and distance learning options for MSN and DNP students. All core courses in the program are offered at least one semester every year and all majors are taught as distance-based or online. 100% online MSN programs include Nursing and Health Care Leadership and Nursing Education, and distance learning options, which require occasional campus visits, include Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner programs, a Family Nurse Practitioner program, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner programs, and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program.
6. Johns Hopkins University
At Johns Hopkins University, some nursing options are offered in an online format. In fact, the university was ranked sixth in US News & World Report’s best online graduate nursing ranking. If you are just starting out in the field, you can take your health prerequisite coursework online at Johns Hopkins, including courses such as Anatomy, Biostatistics, Human Growth and Development, Nutrition, Microbiology, and Physiology. The school also offers online options for some of its master’s programs including Clinical Nurse Specialist, Health Systems Management, and the combined Health Systems Management/Clinical Nurse Specialist. In addition, two post-degree options are offered online: a Nurse Educator Certificate and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate.
7. University of Texas – Tyler
The University of Texas at Tyler offers some of its nursing degrees online and was ranked seventh by US News for its online options. UT-Tyler offers an entirely online RN-BSN-Mobility in Nursing Education (MINE) degree that takes as little as 12 months of intensive study. It features minimal clinical time since students are already working in nursing. The university also offers an online MSN degree, with tracks in Online Nursing Administration-MSN, Online Nursing Education-MSN, Web-Enhanced Nurse Practitioner, RN-MSN, Online MSN-MBA, and an Online Nursing Education Certificate.
8. Georgia College & State University
Accredited by the CCNE, Georgia College & State University’s School of Nursing was tied for number 8 in the US News best online nursing degrees rankings for 2017. The RN-BSN program is fully online, while optional meetings on campus for exams or presentations are offered but not required. MSN programs are also offered as fully online, such as Family Nurse Practioner, Nurse Educator, and Family Nurse Practitioner with a Concentration in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. A Nursing Post-Masters Certificate in Family Nurse Practitioner is also offered as a completely online option.
8. University of Cincinnati
Tied for #8 by US News & World Report, the University of Cincinnati offers some award-winning online options for nursing students. Their online MSN includes specialty options in Adult-Gero Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. The MSN online curriculum at the University of Cincinnati aims to develop new skills and refine skills its students already have. UC boasts that the support it provides its online students is so complete that you may forget you are attending online instead of on campus.
10. Stony Brook University – SUNY
Located in Stony Brook, New York, Stony Brook University – SUNY offers distance learning MSN options that can be taken mostly online with some on-site requirements. The Stony Brook University School of Nursing offers an MSN in Nursing Education, an MSN in Nursing Leadership, a Nurse Practioner program with specialties in Adult-Gerontological Health, Family Health, Perinatal/Women’s Health, Neonatal Health, Pediatric, and Psychiatric/Mental Health, an MSN in Nurse-Midwifery, all of which can be taken in a distance learning format with some on-site requirements. In addition to these MSN programs, Stony Brook offers Advanced Certificate Programs in the same subject areas, which can also be obtained through their distance learning program.
Tuition and Costs
Tuition for nursing school will vary based on a variety of factors. The type of degree you get will affect the price (certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc.). In addition, factors like whether you are in-state or out-of-state can vastly affect the tuition and out-of-pocket costs. If you choose a nursing school that is in your state of residence, the cost might be much lower than if you choose one that is in a different state. For example, at the University of California — San Francisco, the #3-ranked graduate nursing school by US News, tuition for in-state students is $8,935 per semester while out-of-state students pay $13,017 per semester, a difference of over $13,000 per year if Fall, Winter, and Spring terms are completed. Even if you choose a highly-ranked online program, such as the MSN graduate program at the Medical University of South Carolina, the cost per semester is $8,116 per semester for in-state tuition and $9,553 for out-of-state tuition; you should expect costs for good online programs to be similar to costs for on-campus programs.
In addition to tuition, don’t forget to budget for room and board if you are completing a BSN, books, and other miscellaneous costs that you will encounter.
Admission requirements will vary widely by school and by type of program. Most BSN programs will require a high school diploma and some prerequisite coursework related to nursing. Accelerated BSN programs may require letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and transcripts from any school previously attended. A minimum GPA is also usually required, usually of around 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. Most MSN programs will require bachelor’s degree, either in nursing or another field, a resume or CV showing at least one year of work experience, and official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Sometimes the GRE requirement is waived if your undergraduate GPA is high enough. Doctoral-level programs require all of the above in addition to other criteria.
Keep in mind that admission into graduate-level nursing programs, especially highly-ranked ones like we highlight on this page, can be very competitive.
Nursing Program Reviews
We have gathered several school reviews from both past and current students of nursing programs across the United States. You can read more reviews of nursing programs in your state by clicking on your state in the list above.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania: “I graduated with a BS in Nursing from IUP and it prepared me for a career as a registered nurse. This was a state school, I got a well-rounded education. The first year was the easiest since all my classes were liberal studies. My sophomore year is when my clinical started. The one thing I disliked was I had to drive from Indiana to Pittsburgh twice a week for my clinical. This is costly for a college person with no extra income. Throughout the last six semesters, clinical experiences in patient care are provided in acute and long-term care facilities as well as community settings.” -Student at IUP
Arizona College: “Arizona College was a great experience. They’re a great school if you’re looking to get into the medical profession, particularly if you’ve been out school for awhile. The staff is extremely helpful. The class sizes are small, so there’s plenty of opportunities to focus on and improve your weak points. They do everything in their power to help place you once you finish their program. They include services like resume building, mock interviews, and if for any reason you end up leaving a position, they’ll do what they can to help you find a new one. I looked into several nursing programs and talked with the student administration of a variety of colleges in the area and I’m really glad that I chose Arizona College.” -Student at Arizona College
San Joaquin Delta College: “I am currently enrolled in San Joaquin Delta College’s nursing program and I just can not believe the greatness of the program. A lot of people think community colleges are not good schools, but I’m spending close to nothing at SJDC while people at UOP, which is right down the street, are spending thousands for the exact same education. It’s crazy. Anyways, I feel SJDC is really helping me put my foot in the door into the world of healthcare. My favorite part of the program would have to be the clinicals. Sure, I learn some things sitting in the classroom, but I’m a hands on learner. I feel I learn twenty times as much in one day of clinicals than I do in a week of theory days. The only thing I would improve about the nursing program is make it easier to get into, but I guess it’s hard to get into any nursing program.” -Student at San Joaquin Delta College
University of Pikeville: “Attending UPIKE was awesome. The staff was always there if you needed them. They would even help you after office hours. It was defiantly more like a family than anything else. The clinicals were awesome in giving you real life experience. The curriculum was difficult but, it helped me out so much when I started working because I knew the basics. Clinicals started at the main beginning if the program and went throughout all 4 years. This was a game changer because it gave us insight on our profession from the very start. I was blessed to have attended such a great University and have such great professors as well. I can’t say enough good things about this program and this campus!” -Student at University of Pikeville
Florida A&M University: “Attending FAMU was the best experience of my life. While the nursing program was extremely difficult and challenging I feel that it accurately prepared me for the real world of nursing. The best thing about the nursing program was the sense of being a family. Majority of the students I started with I ended with and we still communicate to this day. There weren’t many things that I disliked but I do feel like the staff wasn’t on the same page all of the time as it relates to what is expected out of the program. Early clinical call times at the hospital also caused high stress levels and anxiety. Overall I wouldn’t trade my experience in FAMU’s nursing school for anything in the world. Thank you.” -Student at Florida A&M University
University of Louisiana at Monroe: “I chose the online degree from ULM so that I continue working and get my BSN at the same time. I felt like I received a lot of support from my adviser. She helped me to identify the missing prerequisites that I did not take when I got my ASN from the local community college. Instead of having to incur the extra expense of taking those classes in order to qualify for the online program, I was able to test out of those courses. Overall I found the experience more enjoyable than going to traditional campus classes. Even though the classes were online, my instructors were always quick to get back to me when I had questions or concerns. Many of the classes included mandatory participation in group discussion about that week’s lesson and I feel that I was able to comprehend more of the lesson materials and express myself better in writing. Many of the instructors worked in nursing and were able to provide legitimate experiences that related to the core content of the courses. I am very satisfied with my choice of the RN to BSN online program from ULM. They were affordable and knowledgeable.” -Student at University of Louisiana at Monroe
University of Rhode Island: “I had a great experience. I graduated in 2013. The main thing that stuck out were my professors. They were very knowledgeable and helpful. I was able to look at a few of them as mentors and gain a valuable relationship with them. I have had some helpful conversations about the field with them one on one, with advice that I will never forget. Someone of them were even on a first name basis. I had a great experience with the clinical portion. My only minor thing I disliked was how far one of them was compared to my others. The program was hard and there were definitely weeks where I felt like all I did was study. However overall I loved the experience, and I met some lifelong friends in the field.” -Student at University of Rhode Island
South Dakota State University: “My experience at the SDSU Accelerated Nursing program was great. I chose the program because it was still accepting applications last minute when I had missed deadlines at other programs. After applying, I realized that I would be moving over 1700 miles away for nursing school. What really got me was the fact that this program is only 11 months. It is labeled as a 12 month program but we started January 5 and graduated December 10. That is moving at an incredible speed. After a month of the program, I knew I loved it. There are two main staff members that are instructors for the majority of your nursing theory and skill based classes. What’s great about them is that they still know what they are doing. Even while being full time instructors, they are ICU and ER nurses still practicing. For specialty classes like OB or Psych, nurses from that field are brought in to teach giving you great insight with what they deal with daily. The program flies by and you find yourself taking boards with information that is only a year old at the very oldest, much better than a traditional four year program. It’s more than I could ask for and I feel lucky to have spent my time there.” -Student at South Dakota State University
Oakland University: “I felt most of the professors were very good at communicating information in a way that can be easily understood. One thing I disliked about the program was having to take classes like “Nursing Informatics” in which we learned about the technology and computer interfaces we would be using as a nurse. I thought that this class was a huge waste of my time simply because 95% of people in a nursing program these days can easily figure out how to work the various programs we will encounter, plus, we all get on the job training in the programs when we get hired. I also disliked the inconsistency in the way clinical instructors graded our performance in certain clinical rotations. Now, this wasn’t always an issue, but once or twice the instructor graded my group much harder than other instructors graded their groups. For the first half of the program I felt like there was a ridiculous amount of work and studying to be done, however by the last semester I felt that the course load was definitely reduced, and because I already knew most of the information, the work I did have to do wasn’t hard to accomplish.” -Student at Oakland University
University of Akron: “I attended the University of Akron as soon as I graduated high school. It was a wonderful experience from dealing with my advisers to dealing with the professors. Every professor I had enjoyed his job and had passion in teaching his students. Any questions I had about nursing, current and future employment they were just a phone call or email away. What I remember most is how I first struggled with antimony and my one professor in particular really helped me understanding the curriculum and took extra time out of his day to make sure I could move forward. I also had friends that were in the nursing program as well at different university and they ended up switching to Akron because of the hands on experience they gave.” -Student at University of Akron
University of Nevada, Las Vegas: “UNLV offers an amazing nursing program, with lots of hands-on practical work and some great instructors who’ve been in the field for a long time. I really felt like they helped me to learn not only the science behind nursing, but how to care for patients and how to treat their emotional and spiritual needs beyond just the diseases they were suffering from. I especially enjoy working with children. I feel like I finally have a career that will carry me forward through my life, and I owe the UNLV School of Nursing a huge debt of gratitude for all the work they did to help me get there. It’s not easy (I remember seeing the sunrise while studying more than a few times…), but it’s worth it. And worthwhile..” -Student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Marymount University: “Marymount University was a great place to earn my degree. It is a fairly small University so even in the nursing program, which was one of the bigger programs, my classes were very small. Being near the DC area gave us a chance to work at some great hospitals including Inova Fairfax, and even a Psych rotation at PIW which was probably my favorite. Because the program size was small pretty much everyone got their first choice when it came to internships. I did mine in labor and delivery, and while I didn’t really enjoy that rotation all that much, it definitely gave me some insight into an area of nursing that I did NOT want to pursue. Many of the professors and students were on a first name basis and that made it very comfortable when asking questions in class or even reviewing papers and assignments with them. If I had to do it all over again I feel confident that I would still choose Marymount as my first pick.” Student at Marymount University
University of Iowa: “My experience with the University of Iowa Nursing Program was definitely above average. I had friendly, well informed instructors, and felt that I learned a lot from them and their own personal experience in the field. One complaint that I had was the lack of online coursework available. It seemed to be that some coursework could be done online, and learned when/where it was convenient for us, and then we could have later been tested on it. Beyond that, I was very satisfied with my educational experience, and think that Iowa State would be an excellent choice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the health industry. I enjoyed my clinicals and really appreciated the hands on experience that it provided. Knowing in advance what I would be doing once I graduated helped me appreciate the importance of what I was learning at the time.” -Student at University of Iowa
West Coast University: “I loved this school. They taught us everything we needed to know in the classroom, then had us practice on dummies and finally put us in real situations in actual hospitals so we could get actual experience. All the instructors I had were very helpful with everything and were glad to share their knowledge and experiences with us. The school also provided additional resources for us for tutoring, getting on the job experience and more. The staff were also very helpful in bringing various financial aid programs to my attention to help me pay for school. Overall, I am very pleased with my experience at this university.” -Student at West Coast University
University of North Alabama: “I attended nursing school at the University of North Alabama and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 2007. This was the greatest accomplishments of my life. Nursing school was very hard, but the staff at UNA made it the very best it could be. The professors were strict, but fair. The classes were extremely difficult and each instructor was willing to answer any question I had, and there were many! They were willing to go out of their way to make sure I had the training I needed to succeed, in nursing school and later in the real world. They prepared me very well for my NCLEX. My only concern with the nursing school came when I began to work as an RN. I realized I didn’t have as much “hands on” training as other new graduate nurses. Most of our studies were concentrated in the classroom. Despite this, I look back and treasure my time as a nursing student at UNA and would recommend this nursing program to anyone looking to become an RN. The college is beautiful and I received everything I needed there to become a successful RN.” -Student at University of North Alabama
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get into nursing school?
How to get into nursing school depends primarily on the type of program you are looking for. Programs such as certificates and LPN programs will usually have less-stringent requirements than those such as BSNs, MSNs, and DPNs. Requirements will also depend on the school and program you choose. Some examples of the most basic general requirements for a BSN program are a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, and a high school diploma. Most MSN programs require a bachelor’s degree (if it is in nursing, it can speed up your MSN process), a GPA of 3.0 or higher, letters of recommendation, and some nursing experience. Look at the admission requirements for the school you are considering to get a better idea of what you will need to gather.
How long does nursing school take?
Again, the number of years of school to become a nurse depends on the type of program you choose. As a general rule, if attending full-time, LPN programs typically take one-to-two years, BSN programs take four years, and MSN programs take two years. Many nursing students are balancing school with a career, so full-time study may not be possible. In this case, the above number of years will be greater. Nursing school can be one, two, four years or greater, depending on the type of program and the amount of time you have to devote to your studies.
How much will nursing school cost?
The amount of money you will need for nursing school also depends upon the program you choose. Typically, in-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state tuition and as a general rule private schools cost more than public schools. You will need to check with the school(s) you are considering to see what it charges per semester. The best nursing schools may cost more than the less-renowned schools.
Is it okay to go to nursing school online or should I attend an on-campus program?
In most cases, attending a nursing program online is perfectly acceptable in today’s job market. While most undergraduate nursing programs will require in-person clinicals, others like RN-to-BSN or MSN programs may be offered fully or mostly online. Some nursing schools will even allow you to count time at your current job toward your clinical requirement.
What are the typical nursing school prerequisites?
Nursing school prerequisites will depend on the type of program you are entering (BSN, MSN, LPN, etc.) and the individual program requirements, so you should check with your school of choice for the most accurate list of prerequisites. Typically, BSN programs will require the successful completion of prerequisites like Human Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Human Growth and Development, and other standard general education coursework.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Peterson’s: https://www.petersons.com
3. US News & World Report: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing/rankings
4. Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): https://www.acenursing.org/
5. Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): https://www.aacnnursing.org/CCNE
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Nurse Midwives: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291151.htm
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm
11. US News & World Report, Best Graduate Nursing Programs: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-nursing-schools/nur-rankings
12. US News & World Report, Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing/rankings