Top Nursing Schools

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Expert Advice on Finding, Selecting, and Getting into the Best Nursing Program

From certificate programs to doctoral degrees and vocational schools to private universities, future nursing students have numerous options when it comes to education and training. But where do you start? The perfect school for an aspiring midwife could be a poor choice for an RN looking to earn a master’s. The following guide serves as a first step, both for students looking to enter the field and for current nurses who wish advance their careers. Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of nursing programs, expert advice and strategies on how to get into a top nursing school, and key insight on and the application process from an administrator in the know.

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Keith Carlson

Top Nursing Schools: Best 2 Year, 4 Year Programs

Rank School Location
1 Linfield College McMinnville, OR
2 Northeastern University Boston, MA
3 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
4 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT
5 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
6 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Boston, MA
7 Laboure College Milton, MA
8 Catholic University of America Washington, DC
9 New England Institute of Technology Warwick, RI
10 Loyola University of Chicago Chicago, IL
Advertisement AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top Nursing Schools: Best 2 Year, 4 Year Programs


  • OUR METHODOLOGY +

    To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

    • Accredited at the institutional level
    • Private nonprofit or public school
    • Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
    • Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

    Schools were then scored on factors such as:

    • Cost & Financial Aid
    • Number and variety of program offerings
    • Student-teacher ratios
    • Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
    • Placement and support services offered
    • Academic/Career counseling services
    • Employment services
    • Loan default rates

    These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.


Finding the right college and program is an important step for all potential students – especially those interested in pursuing a career in nursing. A good on-campus program will offer the student supportive services, flexible learning options, advanced tech and a top-rated education. The programs listed below have been tested against our specific methodology and have come out on top as the best-of-the-best for their on-campus nursing options. Discover who made the list for Best in Nursing below.

2-Year Colleges

  1. Linfield College
    Location

    McMinnville, OR

    Chartered in 1858, Linfield operates a main campus in McMinnville, Oregon, and a nationally renowned nursing school in Portland. Linfield established its Good Samaritan School of Nursing in 1982 as a component of the Good Samaritan Hospital an institution in Oregon since 1873. Today, in conjunction with Legacy Health System, Linfield offers programs accredited through the Oregon State Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

    The School of Nursing offers its online RN-to-BSN program through a partnership with Linfield's Online and Continuing Education Department. Students begin their studies at Linfield with a transition to professional nursing course. The college uses a generous transfer policy for students with prior experience, with no expiration of course credits.

    Students enrolled in the online RN-to-BSN program at Linfield must complete an integrated experiential learning course during the fourth (and final) semester of the program. Candidates must arrange their clinical placement with a service learning coordinator during their third (penultimate) semester. Online students may complete the service learning requirement locally or through Linfield's international service learning program.

    Applicants currently enrolled in a community college in Oregon may benefit from Linfield's co-admission partnership agreements with local institutions. Linfield charges a per-credit rate for online tuition. The college also offers discounts to Legacy Health members and specific scholarships for students enrolled in its RN-to-BSN program online. Linfield is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  2. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    One of three professional divisions comprising Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern, the nursing school offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and continuing education programs. The school maintains partnerships with healthcare institutions in the communities surrounding its campus in Burlington, Massachusetts, to provide immersive clinical options for nursing students.

    Northeastern's online RN-to-BSN degree requires students to complete a combination of advanced nursing core coursework and residency credits, emphasizing professional skills in communication, ethics, and pathophysiology. All nursing students at Northeastern must also complete a community or public health practicum under the supervision of a nurse leader.

    This online nursing degree requires students to complete 45 credits at Northeastern, as well as a 72-hour clinical experience. The program runs on a hybrid model. Students may enroll full or part time, completing their degree in one or two years. Applicants must hold an active RN license, a regionally accredited associate degree, and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Additionally, the program requires applicants to complete prerequisites and bring in at least 83 transfer credits.

    Northeastern also offers an accelerated BSN degree option online. The university charges tuition per credit, depending on which of these programs a student pursues. Northeastern is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Its School of Nursing delivers programs approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and it is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  3. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    In 1925, the University of Rochester became one of the first schools in the nation to offer a nursing diploma. The school still incorporates its original model into its nursing programs, emphasizing the correlation between nursing research, practice, and education. Rochester's community healthcare partnerships and generous financial aid packages contribute to its ranking among the best nursing schools in the nation, according to U.S. News World Report.

    Rochester offers an online RN-to-BSN that is in full compliance with New York's "B.S. in 10" law, which requires nurses to obtain a bachelor's degree within 10 years of receiving initial licensure in the field. This online nursing degree comprises major-related coursework, as well as arts and sciences classes. Students complete one modular course at a time, with full-time students graduating in four years.

    Upon admission into the online RN-to-BSN program, students can automatically apply 32 transfer credits based on prior nursing major coursework. Applicants may transfer in a maximum of 96 credits based on prior learning, enabling some online students to graduate in 16 months. Distance learners must complete a capstone course to conclude the program.

    Students receive an iPad once they begin taking core nursing courses online. The university offers multiple financial aid options, including scholarships, employee discounts, and regional merit awards. The program provides an average tuition assistance rate of 50-55%. The university accepts applications on a rolling basis, with program start dates in September, January, and May. Nursing programs at the University of Rochester hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. Sacred Heart University
    Location

    Fairfield, CT

    As New England's second-largest Catholic-affiliated university, Sacred Heart provides liberal arts programs that embrace education and spirituality. All academic programs incorporate The Human Journey Sacred Heart's signature core curriculum.

    The RN-to-BSN track at Sacred Heart prepares graduates to meet education requirements for entry-level nursing jobs. The curriculum for this online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing major, liberal arts, natural science, and elective requirements. Students must also complete a Catholic intellectual tradition seminar.

    Applicants must meet prerequisites and have an RN license, an associate degree or nursing diploma, and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Additionally, students must submit a resume, a professional statement, and two letters of recommendation. They must also complete a background check. Applicants may transfer in up to 90 credits, including 30 credits of lower-division undergraduate nursing coursework. Students who graduated before 1986 may also have the opportunity to apply 30 credits from an associate degree toward their online RN-to-BSN degree.

    Students complete all coursework asynchronously. The program offers six start dates throughout the year. The university maintains small class sizes for personalized instruction in its online courses. The nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. Quinnipiac University
    Location

    Hamden, CT

    Quinnipiac's nursing school offers the only program in New England and one of only 12 in the U.S. that holds an endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. The nursing school promotes a collaborative approach to clinical practice, incorporating interdisciplinary healthcare coursework through the Center for Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences.

    Students must complete nursing core and elective courses to earn their online RN-to-BSN . The online nursing degree curriculum emphasizes contemporary issues, research, evidence-based practice, and diversity. The program delivers all of its coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard learning management system.

    Students applying to Quinnipiac may transfer in up to 88 credits from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must hold an RN license in good standing and an associate degree or nursing diploma from a regionally accredited school. Additionally, applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA. Quinnipiac accepts applications on a rolling basis and enrolls students in the fall and spring semesters.

    Quinnipiac offers an online orientation to introduce distance learners to resources such as its library, financial aid services, and technology support. The university charges the same per-credit tuition rate for online coursework, regardless of a student's state of residence. Quinnipiac's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Choosing from Massachusetts campuses in Boston and Worcester, as well as an additional location in Manchester, New Hampshire, MCPHS students can gain access to some of the best healthcare facilities in New England. The college operates five clinics for nursing and medical students, enabling learners to gain hands-on experience in their field of expertise. During an average year, nursing students enrolled on campus and online treat more than 22,000 patients in Manchester and Worcester.

    Students must complete a total of 122 credits, including professional nursing and general education coursework, to earn their online RN-to-BSN degree . The online nursing degree curriculum also requires 135 clinical hours. Students conclude the program with a capstone project exploring leadership in the nursing profession.

    The program awards qualified first-year students up to 42 credits for prerequisite coursework and 25 credits for a completed associate-level nursing degree. MCPHS charges per-credit tuition rates based on a typical course load of 12-18 credits during the fall and spring semesters; students enrolling in less than 12 or more than 18 credits during these terms may pay more per credit.

    Students enroll in this online RN-to-BSN program in the summer term, and the program requires an initial orientation on campus. After that, courses are delivered entirely online. The college maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, with 90% of full-time faculty holding terminal degrees. MCPHS students can talk to college mentors, coaches, and advisors.

  7. Laboure College
    Location

    Milton, MA

    Established in 1892 in Milton, Massachusetts, Laboure focuses on providing nursing and healthcare programs in the Catholic tradition. Laboure is the longest-running education institution for nurses in the Boston area. It also qualifies as one of the most affordable nursing schools in Massachusetts.

    The online RN-to-BSN program at Laboure uses an accelerated format, with each semester split into two seven-week sessions. The curriculum combines nursing-specific classes with general education coursework, culminating in an integrative seminar and a senior capstone. Topics explore professional nursing, evidence-based practice, and leadership and management in healthcare. Students pay the same flat rate for all RN-to-BSN courses.

    Applicants must submit all official college transcripts with their application and hold a current RN license. Non-licensed applicants may qualify for conditional admission if they receive specific permission from the program chairperson. Students can enroll at one of six entry points. Learners who bring in ample transfer credits may graduate within four semesters. The program accepts a maximum of 90 transfer credits.

    Laboure's online nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students complete coursework online by participating in discussion boards and live virtual meetings with peers and instructors. The college maintains multiple support resources, including academic tutoring and coaching, career services, and technology tools. The Student Success Center also assists students with disabilities.

  8. Catholic University of America
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Beginning operations in 1932, the Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America offered the nation's first professional coursework in nursing education. Today, the university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing online and on campus in Washington, D.C.

    The school's RN-to-BSN program follows a traditional format, enabling students to complete primary elements of the degree online. The curriculum includes classes in the arts and sciences, nursing, and electives. Courses explore evidence-based care, transition to professional practice, and management of healthcare delivery. Students may complete an optional practicum in complex nursing.

    Aspiring BSN students accepted to the Conway School of Nursing must complete 60 credits through the Nursing Exploratory Program, after which they can apply for admission into the upper-division BSN track. Students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, meet chemistry and biology prerequisites, and earn a minimum composite score of at least 75% on the HESI entrance exam during the fall semester of their sophomore year.

    Students who choose to enroll part time may extend their degree completion timeline beyond four years. The program accepts a maximum of 12 completed college transfer credits. The Catholic University of America's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. New England Institute of Technology
    Location

    Warwick, RI

    One of the most prestigious technical universities in Rhode Island and southeastern New England, NEIT enrolls more than 3,000 students in more than 50 programs on campus and online.

    NEIT's online RN-to-BSN track includes 67 quarter credits and caters primarily to students with prior experience, allowing learners to transfer in both general education and nursing credits. This online nursing degree culminates in a leadership and management course and a capstone practicum experience. In coordination with a faculty advisor, students may select a practicum site and preceptor of their choice.

    Depending on their number of transferable credits, some distance learners can complete the program within three years. Applicants must hold an associate-level nursing degree or diploma with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.77. They must also earn a minimum grade of "C+" in certain biology, psychology, sociology, and English prerequisite courses. Applicants must also maintain current, unencumbered nursing licensure and demonstrate academic eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam.

    Students complete the majority of program coursework entirely online. Distance learners can access 24/7 technology support; career services; and the Academic Skills Center, which provides tutoring, coaching, and enrichment courses. NEIT charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate for RN-to-BSN courses, no matter where they live.

  10. Loyola University of Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    When it opened its doors in 1935, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola became the first collegiate nursing facility in Illinois. The school now offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in nursing. Loyola also features specialized programs for aspiring dieticians, as well as degrees in exercise science and health systems management.

    Loyola's online RN-to-BSN degree completion program provides a fast track to a professional nursing career. This online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing, universal core, and professional nursing e-portfolio coursework. Applicants can bring in up to 66 transfer credits with them when they enroll, though they must complete at least 30 credits through Loyola's nursing school.

    Students may enroll in part-time or full-time study. Full-time students with significant transfer credit can graduate in one year. Each online course lasts 6-8 weeks, and many students graduate in three years. Applicants must have an active nursing license and a GPA of at least 2.5.

    Students complete courses asynchronously through the Sakai learning management system. Loyola encourages distance learners to attend one of its monthly online orientation sessions through the Zoom platform. Distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence. Loyola accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers fall, spring, and summer start dates.

4-Year Colleges

  1. Linfield College
    Location

    McMinnville, OR

    Chartered in 1858, Linfield operates a main campus in McMinnville, Oregon, and a nationally renowned nursing school in Portland. Linfield established its Good Samaritan School of Nursing in 1982 as a component of the Good Samaritan Hospital an institution in Oregon since 1873. Today, in conjunction with Legacy Health System, Linfield offers programs accredited through the Oregon State Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

    The School of Nursing offers its online RN-to-BSN program through a partnership with Linfield's Online and Continuing Education Department. Students begin their studies at Linfield with a transition to professional nursing course. The college uses a generous transfer policy for students with prior experience, with no expiration of course credits.

    Students enrolled in the online RN-to-BSN program at Linfield must complete an integrated experiential learning course during the fourth (and final) semester of the program. Candidates must arrange their clinical placement with a service learning coordinator during their third (penultimate) semester. Online students may complete the service learning requirement locally or through Linfield's international service learning program.

    Applicants currently enrolled in a community college in Oregon may benefit from Linfield's co-admission partnership agreements with local institutions. Linfield charges a per-credit rate for online tuition. The college also offers discounts to Legacy Health members and specific scholarships for students enrolled in its RN-to-BSN program online. Linfield is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  2. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    One of three professional divisions comprising Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern, the nursing school offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and continuing education programs. The school maintains partnerships with healthcare institutions in the communities surrounding its campus in Burlington, Massachusetts, to provide immersive clinical options for nursing students.

    Northeastern's online RN-to-BSN degree requires students to complete a combination of advanced nursing core coursework and residency credits, emphasizing professional skills in communication, ethics, and pathophysiology. All nursing students at Northeastern must also complete a community or public health practicum under the supervision of a nurse leader.

    This online nursing degree requires students to complete 45 credits at Northeastern, as well as a 72-hour clinical experience. The program runs on a hybrid model. Students may enroll full or part time, completing their degree in one or two years. Applicants must hold an active RN license, a regionally accredited associate degree, and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Additionally, the program requires applicants to complete prerequisites and bring in at least 83 transfer credits.

    Northeastern also offers an accelerated BSN degree option online. The university charges tuition per credit, depending on which of these programs a student pursues. Northeastern is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Its School of Nursing delivers programs approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and it is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  3. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    In 1925, the University of Rochester became one of the first schools in the nation to offer a nursing diploma. The school still incorporates its original model into its nursing programs, emphasizing the correlation between nursing research, practice, and education. Rochester's community healthcare partnerships and generous financial aid packages contribute to its ranking among the best nursing schools in the nation, according to U.S. News World Report.

    Rochester offers an online RN-to-BSN that is in full compliance with New York's "B.S. in 10" law, which requires nurses to obtain a bachelor's degree within 10 years of receiving initial licensure in the field. This online nursing degree comprises major-related coursework, as well as arts and sciences classes. Students complete one modular course at a time, with full-time students graduating in four years.

    Upon admission into the online RN-to-BSN program, students can automatically apply 32 transfer credits based on prior nursing major coursework. Applicants may transfer in a maximum of 96 credits based on prior learning, enabling some online students to graduate in 16 months. Distance learners must complete a capstone course to conclude the program.

    Students receive an iPad once they begin taking core nursing courses online. The university offers multiple financial aid options, including scholarships, employee discounts, and regional merit awards. The program provides an average tuition assistance rate of 50-55%. The university accepts applications on a rolling basis, with program start dates in September, January, and May. Nursing programs at the University of Rochester hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. Sacred Heart University
    Location

    Fairfield, CT

    As New England's second-largest Catholic-affiliated university, Sacred Heart provides liberal arts programs that embrace education and spirituality. All academic programs incorporate The Human Journey Sacred Heart's signature core curriculum.

    The RN-to-BSN track at Sacred Heart prepares graduates to meet education requirements for entry-level nursing jobs. The curriculum for this online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing major, liberal arts, natural science, and elective requirements. Students must also complete a Catholic intellectual tradition seminar.

    Applicants must meet prerequisites and have an RN license, an associate degree or nursing diploma, and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Additionally, students must submit a resume, a professional statement, and two letters of recommendation. They must also complete a background check. Applicants may transfer in up to 90 credits, including 30 credits of lower-division undergraduate nursing coursework. Students who graduated before 1986 may also have the opportunity to apply 30 credits from an associate degree toward their online RN-to-BSN degree.

    Students complete all coursework asynchronously. The program offers six start dates throughout the year. The university maintains small class sizes for personalized instruction in its online courses. The nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. Quinnipiac University
    Location

    Hamden, CT

    Quinnipiac's nursing school offers the only program in New England and one of only 12 in the U.S. that holds an endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. The nursing school promotes a collaborative approach to clinical practice, incorporating interdisciplinary healthcare coursework through the Center for Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences.

    Students must complete nursing core and elective courses to earn their online RN-to-BSN . The online nursing degree curriculum emphasizes contemporary issues, research, evidence-based practice, and diversity. The program delivers all of its coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard learning management system.

    Students applying to Quinnipiac may transfer in up to 88 credits from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must hold an RN license in good standing and an associate degree or nursing diploma from a regionally accredited school. Additionally, applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA. Quinnipiac accepts applications on a rolling basis and enrolls students in the fall and spring semesters.

    Quinnipiac offers an online orientation to introduce distance learners to resources such as its library, financial aid services, and technology support. The university charges the same per-credit tuition rate for online coursework, regardless of a student's state of residence. Quinnipiac's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Choosing from Massachusetts campuses in Boston and Worcester, as well as an additional location in Manchester, New Hampshire, MCPHS students can gain access to some of the best healthcare facilities in New England. The college operates five clinics for nursing and medical students, enabling learners to gain hands-on experience in their field of expertise. During an average year, nursing students enrolled on campus and online treat more than 22,000 patients in Manchester and Worcester.

    Students must complete a total of 122 credits, including professional nursing and general education coursework, to earn their online RN-to-BSN degree . The online nursing degree curriculum also requires 135 clinical hours. Students conclude the program with a capstone project exploring leadership in the nursing profession.

    The program awards qualified first-year students up to 42 credits for prerequisite coursework and 25 credits for a completed associate-level nursing degree. MCPHS charges per-credit tuition rates based on a typical course load of 12-18 credits during the fall and spring semesters; students enrolling in less than 12 or more than 18 credits during these terms may pay more per credit.

    Students enroll in this online RN-to-BSN program in the summer term, and the program requires an initial orientation on campus. After that, courses are delivered entirely online. The college maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, with 90% of full-time faculty holding terminal degrees. MCPHS students can talk to college mentors, coaches, and advisors.

  7. Laboure College
    Location

    Milton, MA

    Established in 1892 in Milton, Massachusetts, Laboure focuses on providing nursing and healthcare programs in the Catholic tradition. Laboure is the longest-running education institution for nurses in the Boston area. It also qualifies as one of the most affordable nursing schools in Massachusetts.

    The online RN-to-BSN program at Laboure uses an accelerated format, with each semester split into two seven-week sessions. The curriculum combines nursing-specific classes with general education coursework, culminating in an integrative seminar and a senior capstone. Topics explore professional nursing, evidence-based practice, and leadership and management in healthcare. Students pay the same flat rate for all RN-to-BSN courses.

    Applicants must submit all official college transcripts with their application and hold a current RN license. Non-licensed applicants may qualify for conditional admission if they receive specific permission from the program chairperson. Students can enroll at one of six entry points. Learners who bring in ample transfer credits may graduate within four semesters. The program accepts a maximum of 90 transfer credits.

    Laboure's online nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students complete coursework online by participating in discussion boards and live virtual meetings with peers and instructors. The college maintains multiple support resources, including academic tutoring and coaching, career services, and technology tools. The Student Success Center also assists students with disabilities.

  8. Catholic University of America
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Beginning operations in 1932, the Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America offered the nation's first professional coursework in nursing education. Today, the university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing online and on campus in Washington, D.C.

    The school's RN-to-BSN program follows a traditional format, enabling students to complete primary elements of the degree online. The curriculum includes classes in the arts and sciences, nursing, and electives. Courses explore evidence-based care, transition to professional practice, and management of healthcare delivery. Students may complete an optional practicum in complex nursing.

    Aspiring BSN students accepted to the Conway School of Nursing must complete 60 credits through the Nursing Exploratory Program, after which they can apply for admission into the upper-division BSN track. Students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, meet chemistry and biology prerequisites, and earn a minimum composite score of at least 75% on the HESI entrance exam during the fall semester of their sophomore year.

    Students who choose to enroll part time may extend their degree completion timeline beyond four years. The program accepts a maximum of 12 completed college transfer credits. The Catholic University of America's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. New England Institute of Technology
    Location

    Warwick, RI

    One of the most prestigious technical universities in Rhode Island and southeastern New England, NEIT enrolls more than 3,000 students in more than 50 programs on campus and online.

    NEIT's online RN-to-BSN track includes 67 quarter credits and caters primarily to students with prior experience, allowing learners to transfer in both general education and nursing credits. This online nursing degree culminates in a leadership and management course and a capstone practicum experience. In coordination with a faculty advisor, students may select a practicum site and preceptor of their choice.

    Depending on their number of transferable credits, some distance learners can complete the program within three years. Applicants must hold an associate-level nursing degree or diploma with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.77. They must also earn a minimum grade of "C+" in certain biology, psychology, sociology, and English prerequisite courses. Applicants must also maintain current, unencumbered nursing licensure and demonstrate academic eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam.

    Students complete the majority of program coursework entirely online. Distance learners can access 24/7 technology support; career services; and the Academic Skills Center, which provides tutoring, coaching, and enrichment courses. NEIT charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate for RN-to-BSN courses, no matter where they live.

  10. Loyola University of Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    When it opened its doors in 1935, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola became the first collegiate nursing facility in Illinois. The school now offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in nursing. Loyola also features specialized programs for aspiring dieticians, as well as degrees in exercise science and health systems management.

    Loyola's online RN-to-BSN degree completion program provides a fast track to a professional nursing career. This online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing, universal core, and professional nursing e-portfolio coursework. Applicants can bring in up to 66 transfer credits with them when they enroll, though they must complete at least 30 credits through Loyola's nursing school.

    Students may enroll in part-time or full-time study. Full-time students with significant transfer credit can graduate in one year. Each online course lasts 6-8 weeks, and many students graduate in three years. Applicants must have an active nursing license and a GPA of at least 2.5.

    Students complete courses asynchronously through the Sakai learning management system. Loyola encourages distance learners to attend one of its monthly online orientation sessions through the Zoom platform. Distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence. Loyola accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers fall, spring, and summer start dates.

Nursing Programs














Nursing Programs In Your Area

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Nursing Degree Paths

Nursing education is a broad topic, from the certification of nursing assistants to the rigorous graduate-level education of advanced practice nurses. There is also a range of programs to match many ages, skill levels, life experiences, and educational backgrounds. With so many options, however, choosing an academic path can be challenging. Review the most common nursing degrees available to get an idea of where to start.

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Certificates and Diplomas

A certificate or diploma program can lead to one of two careers – certified nursing assistant or licensed practice nurse (LPN)/licensed vocational nurse (LVN). A certified nursing assistant provides direct, but limited care to patients under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or LPN/LVN.

CNA certification programs range in length from 6 to 18 months, offering classroom instruction and considerable clinical training in patient care facilities such as nursing homes. These courses may be offered at vocational schools, community colleges, and other educational or training institutions. LPN/LVN certificate programs tend to be 12-18 months in length, generally focusing on the task-oriented aspects of nursing care.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

The ADN is widely accepted as the entry-level degree for employment as a nurse in a hospital. Although there is now an industry-wide movement towards making the Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) the entry-level degree for all hospital-based nurses, the transition to this goal is a slow (yet likely inevitable) process.

Earning an Associate Degree in Nursing involves considerable prerequisite study, usually including algebra, chemistry, psychology, sociology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, English composition, and other humanities. Time to completion can vary between two to four years, depending on how many prerequisites a student must fulfill. ADN programs involve considerable classroom-based learning, as well as significant clinical hours in facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and other community settings.

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Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN)

BSN programs in nursing are offered at four-year colleges and universities. In order to earn the BSN, students pursue a more academically rigorous course of study than ADN students, with considerably broader training in the liberal arts.
Since they are taught at the university level, BSN programs provide deeper instruction in salient topics such as nursing leadership, nursing research, community health and community nursing, environmental health, and other aspects of 21st-century healthcare.

Nursing schools within four-year colleges and universities offer pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing programs for students with no previous nursing experience. These programs may also include students with no previous college experience. These pre-licensure programs prepare students to sit for the NCLEX exam. Other students may enter “Second Bachelors” programs wherein they pursue a BSN and nursing licensure after having already earned a baccalaureate degree in another discipline.

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Programs offering a Masters of Science in Nursing provide specialized graduate education to nurses seeking to further their careers through advanced academic education and clinical training. For example, an MSN candidate may pursue education in order to qualify for a role as a nurse practitioner (including adult, pediatric, family, geriatric, or other specialization), certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, and certified nurse anesthetist.

Non-clinical masters-level job opportunities include nursing administration, nursing education, and related educational/leadership tracks.

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Doctorate in Nursing (PhD or DNP)

At the doctoral degree level, candidates may seek to earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) designation. While not yet mandated for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), the DNP is offered as a degree for APRNs seeking the highest possible level of clinical nursing education. As a terminal degree, the DNP educational track offers a depth of clinical education on par with that pursued by pharmacists, physicians, and other advanced healthcare providers. At some point in the near future, the DNP may be a mandated requirement for all APRNs.

In contrast, programs leading to a Doctorate in Nursing Science offer advanced non-clinical educational opportunities such as nursing and healthcare administration, nursing education, nursing research, and other paths of doctoral-level nursing scholarship.

Accelerated and Bridge Programs

Many schools offer accelerated (or “second-degree”) nursing programs, which are the quickest route to RN licensure for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. These programs tend to take about 11 to 18 months for baccalaureate programs and approximately three years for master’s degrees. Clinical hours in accelerated programs are the same as their traditional counterparts, but coursework builds on students’ previous learning experiences. Instruction is more fast-paced, with no breaks between sessions.

So-called nursing “bridge” programs provide licensed nurses who have already completed some nursing education further education in pursuit of advanced career and professional opportunities. Such programs are usually offered via strictly online formats, solely in the classroom setting, or as a hybrid program. Many bridge program students choose this educational pathway in order to maintain employment in their current nursing practice.

Nursing degree bridge programs can include:

  • LPN to RN
  • RN to BSN
  • BSN to MSN
  • LPN to BSN
  • RN to MSN
  • BSN to DNP
  • LPN to MSN
  • RN to DNP

Types of Nursing Schools

There are various types of nursing schools for aspiring and current nursing professionals. The following is a snapshot of what’s available to help prospective nursing students better understand their options and ultimately choose the path that matches their needs and goals.

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TYPE OF SCHOOLDESCRIPTIONTYPE OF NURSING EDUCATION OFFEREDDEMOGRAPHIC/WHO WOULD ENROLL?
VOCATIONAL/TRADE SCHOOLSLabor market preparation has historically been the goal of post-secondary vocational education. Vocational and trade schools offer job-specific training and education programs. These schools offer the most efficient route to job-readiness with lower financial and/or time commitment.Individual courses in practical nursing, as well as courses for nursing assistants. Many also offer certificate programs in nursing.Students seeking an affordable education that will lead to relatively quick entry into nursing.
COMMUNITY COLLEGESCommunity colleges offer 2-year programs and associate-level degree programs. In the 2-year model, students gain education, training, and a college degree in a shorter span than a four-year college, leading to faster entrance into the workforce.Associate of Science in Nursing is the program of choice; some community colleges also offer vocational programs for individuals seeking certification as a Licensed Practical Nurse.Students seeking more in-depth education and training with less time and financial commitment than a four-year college or university. Many students use an associate degree from a community college as a stepping-stone to further nursing education at the university level.
FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIESFour-year colleges and universities offer the highest level of academic pursuit and also the largest range of program options for nurses.Bachelors of Science in Nursing, various Masters of Science in Nursing educational tracks, and doctoral studies in both clinical and non-clinical nursing. Many nursing programs also allow students to specialize.Students seeking the benefit of deeper academic education in nursing in order to qualify for more advanced nursing roles.

Ten Things to Consider When Choosing a Nursing School

Choosing a nursing school is an important decision. You will be spending your hard-earned money on your nursing education – as well as a significant amount of your time – so making an informed and prudent decision is paramount.

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When researching nursing schools and programs, here are ten things prospective students should keep in mind:

#1

If you plan to attend a brick and mortar school, seek an institution that offers a location that is convenient and practical for you; a shorter commute is generally favorable in terms of time and expense

#2

Carefully assess the school’s availability of online programs – and the corresponding requirements – if that form of learning is important to you

#3

Find a nursing school that has been properly accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and/or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which is the accrediting arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)

#4

Ask the schools you’re seriously considering to supply you with the contact information of at least two former or current students who would be willing to talk with you about their educational experience

#5

Ensure that the school offers the degree programs and specialty training that you desire to pursue

#6

Ask each school for their most current NCLEX pass rates. This number may be an indication of program quality.

#7

Assess the availability of financial aid at your chosen institutions

#8

Inquire about the quality and quantity of clinical rotation sites. Do students arrange their own rotations or is this handled by the school? Is there a wide variety of clinical opportunities in diverse settings? How are clinical requirements completed if the program you’re interested in is online?

#9

Investigate student-faculty ratios in both clinical and classroom settings. Lower ratios usually mean more one-on-one direct instruction from professors, which some students may prefer.

#10

Ascertain what resources the schools offer in terms of skills labs and clinical simulation technologies.

Get into a Top Nursing School: Boost Your Application

Nursing schools seek students with a variety of qualities, characteristics, personality traits, and life experiences that lend themselves to the academic and clinical aspects of nursing. Below are some of the important skills and characteristics that help nursing school applicants stand out in the crowd.


  • Academic Performance


    Strong performance in the sciences (anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and microbiology) is certainly important for gaining entrance into most nursing programs. For master’s and doctoral programs, success in statistics may also be seen as important. Satisfactory performance in the humanities is also worthy of attention, including English composition, psychology, and sociology.

  • Life Experience and Clinical Experience


    Many nursing schools prefer applicants who have volunteered in their communities, especially in healthcare-related capacities. Healthcare-related internships and similar positions also strengthen a nursing school application. Positions of leadership in the community or other venues also demonstrate that a student candidate is proactive in advancing his or her career. For those coming to nursing from a previous career, applicable skills and experience in areas such as research, counseling, writing, data entry, and information technology also offer schools a glimpse of deeper understanding and a wider skill set and base of experience. Formal certifications and trainings also look great on a nursing school application (e.g. hospice volunteer, Non-Violent Communication, or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction certifications).

  • Personal Characteristics


    Emotional intelligence, strong communication skills, and being well-groomed and well-spoken are some personal characteristics that will come across strongly in a nursing school interview. Excellent writing skills will be demonstrated in your application essay/personal statement.

Strengthening Your Chances of Acceptance

There are many ways that a nursing school applicant can strengthen his or her chances of being admitted to a program. In addition to the recommendations above, consider the following strategies:

  • Keep your grades/GPA as high as possible
  • Work with writing experts, as well as friends and family, to craft a powerful and well-written resume and personal statement/essay
  • Sharpen your interview skills in preparation for your nursing school interviews, including hiring a career coach for interview prep
  • Pay close attention to detail when completing your applications in order to avoid your application being rejected for incomplete information
  • Hire a professional editor/proofreader to review your application essay/personal statement prior to submission
  • Network with nursing students who are already in your chosen programs and inquire what strategies supported their application’s success
  • Make an appointment with a nursing school admissions advisor in order to ascertain methods for strengthening your application and interview performance
  • Join LinkedIn, create a robust profile, and network with nurses, nursing professors, nurse administrators, and nursing students

Q & A: Interview with an Administrator

Shannon Hutchison, director of undergraduate admissions at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA, is a Point Loma graduate and was very interested in the university and what it had to offer students. She began working at Point Loma as an admissions counselor and has now been working at the university for about 11 years, helping students gain admission–many into the school of nursing–into her alma mater.


  • What is the most important prerequisite a student should have or work on before applying to nursing school?


    We look for students who are pretty well-rounded. Certainly academic achievers, but freshmen who are also pretty active in their schools, communities, churches; specifically students who have had some sort of experience with nursing, whether it’s volunteer work or something that connects them to their passion. That always helps applications stand out.

  • What are some of the most important qualifications a nursing school should have to provide a proper education?


    Making sure of the availability of clinical hours is very important. Making sure that students are able to get into programs that will offer them that clinical hands-on experience, not just on campus in a lab environment in the classroom but in hospitals, care centers, clinics, etc. in the city or surrounding area.

  • What are some tips for how nursing students can determine what specialty they might want to focus on in their course of study at nursing school?


    Students start their clinical work here in their sophomore year for that reason. Nursing or not, any student can say, “Oh, I love doing this.” And then when you get out in the real world and do that, it may not be what you’re best at. So our nursing students practice and do their clinical hours starting sophomore year in a variety of different areas to help them really find what they love and what they’re really good at. That practical experience is key.

  • What are some of the most important skills students learn in nursing school?


    Certainly the basic medical skills are crucial. But in addition to that, we really focus on that personal connection that nurses have with patients or people. Students need to be well prepared to deal with patients, and their bedside manner needs to be strong. We have a few courses that are specifically geared toward the practice of nursing – not necessarily the science; that comes from other classes, of course. But just how to work with people, how to make people feel OK and how to interact with patients who are stressed – kind of viewing nursing as a whole person and career.

  • For the NCLEX, what are some of the most important subjects or skills that nurses need to pick up on while they’re at nursing school?


    Obviously, the sciences are key. The NCLEX exam focuses on the specific knowledge that you’ve learned. Your bedside manner and things like that will matter when you get the job, but the NCLEX looks at how you can remember what you’ve learned and how you can respond to specific scenarios. Things like anatomy, physiology, chemistry, general and organic, all of those things are key. A strong science emphasis is pretty crucial.

Top Nursing Schools


  • Methodology +

    ASO’s Best On-Campus Nursing Schools

    The top nursing schools listed in this ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally weighted, criteria including,

    • Student-to-faculty ratio
    • In-state tuition
    • Graduation rate

    Additional details for each school were included:

    • Count of programs available
    • Public and private not-for-profit schools


SCORETUITIONSTUDENT/TEACHER RATIOPROGRAM COUNTGRADUATION RATE
1University at Buffalo10013:11472%
2University of Iowa99.7516:12470%
3Stony Brook University98.2516:11769%
4University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill9813:1690%
5University of Michigan-Ann Arbor97.2512:11091%
6CUNY Hunter College96.511:11352%
7Allen College95.259:11675%
8SUNY at Binghamton94.2520:11681%
9Mount Carmel College of Nursing94.2512:11064%
10University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus93.514:11382%
11University of Connecticut92.516:1981%
12University of Washington-Seattle Campus9218:11084%
13Ball State University91.7515:1959%
14University of Kansas90.517:11060%
15University of South Carolina-Columbia9018:1973%
16Washington State University9015:1867%
17Rutgers University-New Brunswick89.7516:1881%
18University of Cincinnati-Main Campus89.7518:11860%
19Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus10017:1986%
20Clarkson College89.2511:1859%
21University of Utah8917:1562%
22University of Wyoming88.7515:1554%
23University of Minnesota-Twin Cities88.517:1878%
24George Mason University88.516:1567%
25Southern Connecticut State University88.514:1853%
26University of Mississippi8818:1561%
27South Dakota State University8817:1757%
28Madonna University87.7511:12150%
29East Carolina University87.2518:1559%
30Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health86.7512:1566%
31Temple University85.7514:1569%
32Winona State University85.7520:11257%
33University of Hawaii at Manoa85.7513:1556%
34University of Alabama at Birmingham84.518:1556%
35University of Missouri-Columbia8420:1569%
36William Carey University8415:1558%
37University of Kentucky83.7518:1561%
38Virginia Commonwealth University83.517:1759%
39University of Arizona83.2520:1860%
40University of North Dakota82.7519:1755%
41Illinois State University8219:1672%
42Missouri State University-Springfield81.7520:1555%
43University of Illinois at Chicago80.7517:1560%
44University of Massachusetts-Lowell80.2518:1854%
45Northern Arizona University80.2518:1652%

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