Iowa Nursing Programs and Degrees Guide

The following guide contains important information on the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in Iowa. The state’s colleges and universities, some of which offer students the opportunity to complete coursework on campus and online, feature a wide range of concentrations: community and public health nursing, family nurse practitioner, and adult gerontology nurse practitioner. Students who need convenience and flexibility might want to consider pursuing an online bachelor’s or a master’s degree in nursing.

Nursing Program Stats

  • 18 colleges and universities offer an associate’s degree in nursing.
  • 19 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • 9 colleges and universities offer a master’s or advanced degree in nursing.
  • 4 schools ranked in US News Best Nursing Graduate Schools in 2017 for Master’s in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs: Allen College (#219, MSN; DNP not ranked), Clarke University (MSN not ranked; DNP #105), Mount Mercy University (#194, MSN; DNP not ranked), University of Iowa (#23, MSN; #13, DNP).

Institution-Wide Facts

  • Highest graduation rate: Allen College 100%, St. Luke’s College 100%.1
  • Highest transfer-out rate: Grand View University 39%.1
  • Highest net price: Luther College $25,112.1
  • Lowest net price: Southeastern Community College $5,524.1
  • Annual undergrad tuition range for schools in Iowa with a bachelor’s in nursing program: $6,953 – $25,645.2

Read below to learn more the undergraduate and graduate nursing degree programs offered in Iowa’s colleges and universities.

NCLEX Pass Rate and Accreditation Information for Nursing Schools in Iowa

The following table allows you to easily compare not-for-profit Iowa nursing schools on a variety of factors. Click on the arrows in the top row to sort the table. In addition to seeking a program that leads to licensure in your desired area of nursing, it’s advisable to consider accreditation as a factor in your decision. If you are considering education beyond the associate’s level, know that a degree from a school that holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a common requirement for admission to master’s degree, ADN/LVN and RN to BSN, and specialized certificate programs. You should also check to ensure that the school you are considering is approved or accepted by the Iowa Board of Nursing (https://nursing.iowa.gov/).

SchoolADN or LVN ProgramBSN ProgramGraduate Nursing ProgramACEN/CCNE Accred.*NCLEX-PN First Time Pass Rate**# TakingNCLEX-RN First Time Pass Rate^# TakingNet Price^^
Allen CollegeNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A96.19%105N/A
Briar Cliff UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A50%20$18,138
Clarke UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A77.14%35$23,968
Coe CollegeNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A100%23$21,270
Des Moines Area Community CollegeYesNoNoACEN95%7691.3%138$10,105
Eastern Iowa Community CollegeYesNoNoNo80%4590.77%65$8,485
Graceland UniversityNoYesYesNoN/AN/A50%2$17,125
Grand View UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A66.67%57$17,315
Hawkeye Community CollegeYesNoNoNo86%8167.74%62$9,962
Indian Hills Community CollegeYesNoNoNo85%13057.24%152$8,562
Iowa Central Community CollegeYesNoNoNo93%4290.24%82$9,059
Iowa Lakes Community CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A59.52%42$9,439
Iowa Valley Community CollegeYesNoNoNo100%4186.54%52N/A
Iowa Wesleyan UniversityNoYesNoACENN/AN/A75%12$22,301
Iowa Western Community CollegeYesNoNoNo94%11872.58%124$9,673
Kirkwood Community CollegeYesNoNoNo100%5497.44%117$8,656
Luther CollegeNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A96.77%31$25,112
Mercy College of Health Sciences (ADN)YesYesNoACENN/AN/A72.58%62$19,575
Mercy College of Health Sciences (BSN)YesYesNoACENN/AN/A85%40$19,575
Mount Mercy University (ADN)YesYesYesCCNEN/AN/A66.67%3$20,274
Mount Mercy University (BSN)YesYesYesCCNEN/AN/A95.24%63$20,274
Northeast Iowa Community CollegeYesNoNoNo97%9685.87%92$8,849
North Iowa Area Community CollegeYesNoNoNo94%1796.43%28$8,262
Northwestern CollegeNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A85%20$21,210
Northwest Iowa Community CollegeYesNoNoNo95%4268.75%48$11,093
Southeastern Community CollegeYesNoNoNo96%6683.82%68$5,524
Southwestern Community CollegeYesNoNoNo95%3777.78%18$7,273
St. Ambrose UniversityNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A72.84%81$24,884
St. Luke’s CollegeYesYesNoACEN/CCNEN/AN/A92.59%54$22,884
University of DubuqueNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A95%20$21,435
University of IowaNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A96.15%130$14,558
Western Iowa Technical Community CollegeYesNoNoACEN96%11072.62%84$7,518

*The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits ADN/ASN/BSN programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits BSN/MSN/DNP programs.4,5
**NCLEX-PN pass rates reported are for first-time undergraduates who graduated from an LPN program testing between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.6 You can compare these pass rates to the national average through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
^NCLEX-RN pass rates reported are for first-time undergraduates testing between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.6 You can compare these pass rates to the national average through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
^^The National Center for Education Statistics calculates net price from the total estimated cost of attendance, including includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses, for in-state students minus the average financial aid award (such as grants and scholarships).

Schools in Iowa with Nursing Degrees

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Associate’s in Nursing Programs

Des Moines Area Community College
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) offers an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) that requires 84 credit hours to complete. The degree program uses a selective admissions process and can be completed on the Ankeny, Boone, Carroll, Newton, or Urban campuses. The curriculum is full-time and students can expect to have class, lab hours, and/or clinical rotations five days per week. Required courses include Advanced Nursing Practice, Health Science Microbiology, and Complex Health Concepts. The ADN at DMACC is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing and holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). DMACC also offers a diploma in practical nursing that qualifies completers to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam.

North Iowa Area Community College
North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) offers an associate’s degree in nursing that can be completed on a traditional, direct-entry track or a transition track for currently licensed practical nurses. Core courses in the curriculum include Anatomy and Physiology, Nutrition, and Developmental Psychology. Students also complete lab and clinical hours to gain hands-on experience. In addition to preparing prospective nurses for entry-level practice, the program builds a foundation for further study in a bachelor’s degree nursing program. NIACC maintains formal articulation agreements with several four-year colleges that can ease the transfer process. NIACC’s associate degree nursing program holds approval from the Iowa Board of Nursing and accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs

University of Iowa
Currently registered nurses who possess an associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the University of Iowa through the nursing department’s RN to BSN program. Full-time students complete program requirements in three semesters while part-time students require five semesters to fulfill degree requirements. General education requirements must be completed prior to entering the nursing major. Students, who already have an associate’s degree in nursing, may be able to transfer those credits to the BSN program. Nursing majors will take courses in pathology, health finance, introduction to human genetics, improving health systems, and leadership and professional engagement.

St. Luke’s College
St. Luke’s College allows current registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the nursing department’s RN to BSN program. Nursing majors may complete the 120 credit program on a part-time or a full-time basis. Students who have already earned an associate’s degree in nursing are generally able to transfer those credits to the BSN program. Classes are held on campus and online, allowing for flexibility and convenience for students who maintain a job outside of school. Nursing coursework focuses on population-focused nursing practice, health promotion and disease prevention, strategic decision making, and adaption to chronic health issues. Students also complete mandatory practicums to fulfill degree requirements.

Master’s in Nursing Programs

Mount Mercy University
Mount Mercy University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program features three tracks: health advocate, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. Students must complete 36 total credits – 15 core courses, 12 courses in the concentration, and 9 cognate courses – to fulfill degree requirements. Core courses focus on nursing theory and research, health care systems, health promotion and disease prevention, and professional role and skill development. A practicum or a project is mandatory for all graduate students. Courses are taken one at a time with each course spanning five weeks. Full-time students generally complete the program in 18 months. Applicants must possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and have a current Iowa registered nursing license.

Allen College
Graduate students pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at Allen College may choose one track in which to specialize or may opt for a combined program. Single tracks include leadership in health care delivery, nursing education, community public health nursing, and one of five nurse practitioner specializations. Students interested in a combined program may choose between community/public health nursing and family nurse practitioner and community/public health nursing and adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. The MSN program can be completed in two years full-time or four years part-time, and many of the courses are completed online. However, students do have to attend classes on campus periodically, depending on the concentration. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores and accepted students can begin the program in the fall, in the spring, or in the summer.

Student Reviews

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

Iowa Central Community College
1 Triton Cir
Fort Dodge, IA 50501
(515) 576-0099

Student Review: “The Iowa Central Community College Nursing Program was a great experience. I didn’t follow through and work as a Nurse, and while it may seem contradictory, that is one of the most amazing examples I can give of how attentive and caring the instructors were. While I was finishing up the program, doing a practicum at a nursing home, one of my instructors pulled me aside and asked why I chose this profession, and if I loved it. I answered that I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure that I did. She told me that being a Nurse takes time and dedication and that it would only be rewarding for me if I truly loved what I was doing. She set aside any fear of losing her perfect pass rate or looking bad in the College’s eyes for losing a student and truly cared for me as a person. She was not the exception to the rule, either. All of my instructors cared about their students on a personal level, and wanted them to succeed. The program is set up to be rigorous to get you through in a timely manner, but also manageable, with resources to help you get through. It also provided opportunities for growth beyond the program, partnering with a local University to allow students to complete their Bachelors of Science in Nursing, giving them the ability to teach or go on to get a Nurse Practitioner’s license if they so chose.” – Student at Iowa Central Community College

Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
(515) 294-4111

Student Review: “My experience with the Iowa State 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

Western Technical College
4647 Stone Avenue
Sioux City, IA 51106
(712) 274-6400

Student Review: “I’m a second year nursing student in the RN program at WITCC. Although nursing school takes a lot of time and effort I must say that I love nursing school. I just hope I’ll continue to love it even when I get to med surg, peds, pharmacology and other complex subjects. I have a pretty set guide of how to study effectively to get A’s, and just hope I continue to get great grades. Overall, I must give thanks to GOD, because without him I would not be this successful. WITCC has a great, tight-knit kind of feeling on the Denison campus. It is a small campus, and everyone knows everyone. This is so much better than a large university. A few things that I dislike are the clinical facilities that are so far away. Besides that, it has been a great experience, and I can’t wait to graduate in May!” – Student at Western Technical College

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report Best Nursing Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/search?program=top-nursing-schools
3. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges/
4. Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm
5. Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): https://directory.ccnecommunity.org/reports/accprog.asp
6. Iowa Board of Nursing: https://nursing.iowa.gov/nursing-education-programs/nursing-education-program-statistics