Top Nursing Schools in Florida

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 University of Miami 87.00 $$$$$ 12:1 1 81%
2 Santa Fe College 86.50 $$$$$ 22:1 20 61%
3 University of Florida 86.00 $$$$$ 21:1 8 88%
4 Florida Gateway College 85.75 $$$$$ 14:1 20 48%
5 Florida Southern College 84.50 $$$$$ 14:1 5 65%
6 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 84.25 $$$$$ 12:1 12 55%
7 The University of Tampa 83.75 $$$$$ 17:1 5 62%
8 University of North Florida 82.75 $$$$$ 20:1 12 55%
9 Chipola College 82.50 $$$$$ 18:1 20 42%
10 Saint Johns River State College 82.25 $$$$$ 20:1 20 41%
11 Jacksonville University 82.00 $$$$$ 11:1 3 41%
12 Nova Southeastern University 81.75 $$$$$ 16:1 4 46%
13 University of South Florida-Main Campus 81.50 $$$$$ 25:1 8 67%
14 Florida State College at Jacksonville 81.25 $$$$$ 22:1 12 36%
15 Florida Gulf Coast University 81.25 $$$$$ 22:1 12 49%
16 Pensacola State College 80.75 $$$$$ 21:1 12 33%
17 Florida Atlantic University 80.50 $$$$$ 24:1 8 46%
18 Florida State University 80.25 $$$$$ 26:1 12 79%
19 Barry University 80.25 $$$$$ 12:1 2 36%
20 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 80.00 $$$$$ 15:1 20 40%
21 Florida International University 80.00 $$$$$ 26:1 5 54%
22 Adventist University of Health Sciences 80.00 $$$$$ 9:1 12 35%
23 City College-Fort Lauderdale 79.75 $$$$$ 10:1 20 40%
24 University of Central Florida 79.25 $$$$$ 31:1 8 70%
25 Gulf Coast State College 79.00 $$$$$ 19:1 20 33%
26 Daytona State College 78.50 $$$$$ 18:1 20 36%
27 Indian River State College 78.25 $$$$$ 26:1 20 39%
28 College of Central Florida 78.25 $$$$$ 28:1 20 41%
29 The University of West Florida 78.00 $$$$$ 23:1 20 51%
30 St Petersburg College 77.25 $$$$$ 22:1 12 33%
31 Northwest Florida State College 77.25 $$$$$ 26:1 20 40%
32 City College-Miami 77.25 $$$$$ 10:1 38 46%
33 Palm Beach Atlantic University 76.75 $$$$$ 13:1 38 55%
34 Broward College 76.00 $$$$$ 27:1 20 34%
35 South Florida State College 75.75 $$$$$ 17:1 38 39%
36 State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota 75.75 $$$$$ 22:1 20 31%
37 Palm Beach State College 75.50 $$$$$ 30:1 20 34%
38 Bethune-Cookman University 75.00 $$$$$ 16:1 38 50%
39 Valencia College 74.25 $$$$$ 31:1 38 44%
40 Miami Dade College 73.00 $$$$$ 23:1 20 33%
41 Edison State College 71.25 $$$$$ 27:1 20 33%
42 Polk State College 70.75 $$$$$ 26:1 20 27%
43 Seminole State College of Florida 69.00 $$$$$ 29:1 38 38%
44 Pasco-Hernando State College 68.50 $$$$$ 27:1 38 34%

Filtering for Quality Nursing Schools in Florida

Florida requires that nursing programs within its borders stay in good standing by ensuring at least 70 percent of their graduates pass the NCLEX. Unfortunately, according to a 2015 exposé by the Sun Sentinel, a third of schools failed to meet this threshold, and those that do not improve will go on probation. This means it is vitally important to carefully vet nursing schools in Florida and choose one with a good track record of preparing students to pass the licensure exam. The search tool below can help.

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Obtaining a Florida Nursing License

In Florida, all nurses receive their licenses through the Florida Board of Nursing, including RNs and advanced practice nurses. In addition, the board monitors and educates licensees to ensure they are providing quality care to patients. The agency also disciplines nurses who have been reported for professional violations. The initial licensing process is detailed below:

Requirements for Initial Licensure in Florida

  • Graduate from a board-approved nursing program with a valid NCLEX code
  • Electronically submit an application to the Board of Nursing along with a $110 application and licensing fee
  • Register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE, pay the mandatory testing fee and pass the exam
  • Schedule an appointment with a LiveScan service provider for electronic fingerprinting

Anyone who does not pass the NCLEX-RN must reapply. Those who fail three times and wish to take the NCLEX a fourth time must enroll in a state-approved refresher course. RNs with a valid license to practice in another state, who have completed the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE) or the NCLEX, or have actively practice nursing elsewhere in the US for two of the preceding three years in good standing can apply for licensure by endorsement.

Applicants with criminal records must supply additional materials, including an explanation of the offense, parole records, and three letters of recommendation.

Renewal Requirements in Florida

Florida mandates that nurses renew their license every two years. Most, but not all, RNs and APRNs can renew their licenses online. The renewal process involves:

  • Submitting a renewal application online or by mail
  • Paying an $80 fee
  • Presenting evidence of 29 hours of continuing education in specified areas, including medical error, Florida laws and rules, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, recognizing impairment in the workplace, and general hours

Nurses who have let their licenses lapse for more than two years may have to take an exam to show they remain competent in the field.

Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in FL

In Florida, advanced practice nurses are known as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), a group that includes nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. ARNPs need to first have an RN license in the state. They must also:

  • Fill out an application
  • Pay a $100 fee to transition from an RN to an ARNP license or $210 for a joint RN/ARNP license
  • Have a master’s degree in their specialty
  • Show evidence of national certification in the specialty
  • Have taken a two-hour course entitled Prevention of Medical Errors
  • Submit documentation of malpractice insurance via the board’s financial responsibility form
  • Have their fingerprints taken

Since everyone’s situation is different, it may be helpful to reference the state’s Board of Nursing website for more information on advanced nursing requirements.

Florida’s Nursing Numbers

With more Americans having access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, and with an aging population developing chronic conditions that require regular medical care, the country will see a dramatic surge in the need for nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2014 and 2024, jobs in the nursing profession will increase by 16 percent across the country. And jobs for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives are expected to increase by an astonishing 31 percent. The lion’s share of that job growth will be generated in 10 states, with Florida being one of them. See below for how those jobs will pay.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Florida

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Metropol $33.12 $68,880
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach Metropolitan $31.88 $66,300
Palm Coast $31.36 $65,230
Naples-Marco Island $30.41 $63,260
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach $30.41 $63,250
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota $29.80 $61,970
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford $29.68 $61,730
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater $29.58 $61,520
Jacksonville $29.48 $61,320
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville $29.41 $61,180

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Florida vs. National Numbers

Salary
  • Florida
  • National
  • Annual salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Employment
Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Organizations for Florida Nurses

Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists

According to FANA, there are 3,500 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in the state. It represents all of them, as well as the patients they help, by serving as the main advocacy group for the specialty in the state.

Florida Board of Nursing

The Board of Nursing is the best resource for information related to licensing. It covers healthcare professionals from practical nurses to registered nurses to advanced practice nurses.

Florida Emergency Nurses Association

Nurses who specialize in emergency care can join the Florida Emergency Nurses Association to connect with others in their subspecialty. In recent years, the group has partnered with emergency physicians, worked alongside a state task force on workplace violence, and provided scholarships to attend emergency nursing certification courses.

Florida Nurses Association

FNA is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association. The organization provides its members with job leads, professional publications and networking opportunities.

Florida Nurse Practitioner Network

The Florida Nurse Practitioner Network is dedicated to providing professional development to nurses through education, events and job leads. It publishes a vibrant calendar of opportunities on its website.

Florida Nursing Students Association

The Florida Nursing Students Association provides resources to students who are working on their nursing degrees. Members can join simply by participating in their college’s local chapter.