While the median income for healthcare professionals is $68,190, registered nurses (RNs) often earn higher salaries. According to BLS data, RNs earned a median salary of $73,300 in 2019. The BLS projects a 7% job growth for RNs from 2019 to 2029, which is lower than the projected growth for all healthcare roles but still faster than the average for all occupations.
This guide explores the steps to earning a nursing license in New Jersey, common requirements of nursing programs, and scholarships for nursing students. The ranking of the top nursing programs in New Jersey can help prospective students find a program that aligns with their career goals.
|What degree do I need to become a registered nurse?||RNs need at least a bachelor's degree to practice. RNs must also have completed a certain number of clinical hours.|
|How does nursing school work?||Nursing programs typically require lecture courses, labs, and clinical rotations. Most courses involve a final exam.|
|How long does it take to earn a degree in nursing?||Most full-time students earn their bachelor's degree in four years. Associate nursing programs typically require two years. However, learners may complete accelerated nursing programs sooner.|
|What is the fastest I can earn a nursing degree?||Completing an accelerated bachelor's program is the fastest route to a nursing career. Learners often finish accelerated programs in only 2.5 years.|
Accelerated Campus Nursing Programs in New Jersey 2020
With so many options, researching nursing programs in New Jersey takes time. Prospective students should consider their budget, along with each program's available concentrations and graduate success rates. The list below ranks the top accelerated on-campus nursing programs.
|Rank||Logo||School||Tuition||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||Financial Aid||Credit For Experience||Placement Service||Counseling Services||Description & Additional Information||Toggle|
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|1||Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ||Tuition $16,295||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
One of the state's major public colleges, Rutgers offers several of the top nursing programs in New Jersey. Candidates who already hold a bachelor's degree can enroll in the school's accelerated second-degree bachelor of science in nursing program, which condenses coursework into just four semesters. Most full-time students complete the degree in about 14 months.
Candidates complete a total of 62 nursing major credits, building on general education and prerequisite courses from previous undergraduate education. The curriculum includes courses such as nursing informatics, foundations of health assessment, research process and evidence-based nursing, and community health nursing. Nursing candidates also complete clinical hours at local healthcare agencies.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree in a subject other than nursing, with a minimum 3.3 GPA. Rutgers also requires prerequisite coursework in subjects including anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and microbiology.
|2||The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ||Tuition $23,414||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A public school based in Ewing, TCNJ offers a master of science in nursing bridge program for licensed registered nurses who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing subject. One of the state's fastest nursing programs, the program offers several concentrations, including family nurse, clinical nurse leader, and adult/gerontological primary care nurse.
All students take courses on topics like caring in community health practice, nursing research, and nursing professional role. Candidates with significant community health experience may be allowed to waive up to eight credits of prerequisites.
Applicants must submit official transcripts, an essay, two recommendation letters, and a resume or CV. TCNJ also requires scores from a national standardized admissions test, such as the GRE.
|3||Ramapo College of New Jersey Mahwah, NJ||Tuition $16,528||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
Ramapo hosts some of the top nursing programs in New Jersey, including an accelerated RN-to-BSN transfer pathway. This condensed program enables qualified nurses to earn their bachelor's in just one year of study after transferring.
Ramapo's accelerated enrollment option serves nursing students who completed their lower-division credits at one of the school's five local community college partners: Rockland Community College, Bergen Community College, County College of Morris, Passaic Community College, or Hudson Community College. Candidates must complete the equivalent of an associate degree at a partner community college before transferring to Ramapo to earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in an accelerated format.
Candidates typically complete 64 credits of nursing major courses, including health issues management, integrative clinical strategies, family-centered nursing, and nursing leadership in a global world. The curriculum also includes a significant clinical component in a healthcare setting.
|4||Stockton University Galloway, NJ||Tuition $18,577||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
Based in Galloway Township, Stockton offers another of New Jersey's fastest nursing programs. The school hosts an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program for candidates who already hold a bachelor's degree. The program prepares graduates to earn registered nurse licensure along with a BSN degree.
The program builds on undergraduate education in the behavioral, social, and physical sciences, with prerequisites including organic and inorganic chemistry, statistics, lifespan development, and intro to psychology. The nursing major includes courses such as care of the adult, population health, research methods, and professional issues in nursing. Candidates also complete several courses with clinical components.
The nursing program's accelerated format enables candidates to graduate in 15 months. Classroom courses occur on Stockton's site in Manahawkin, while labs occur on the main campus.
|5||Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ||Tuition $29,974||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A private Roman Catholic college based in South Orange, Seton Hall serves around 10,000 students annually. Home to one of the top nursing programs in New Jersey, the school offers an accelerated second-degree bachelor of science in nursing. The program enables bachelor's degree-holders to earn their nursing degree in just 14 months of full-time study. Graduates can sit for the NCLEX exam for registered nurse licensure.
Nursing candidates complete 62 credits over four semesters. Typical courses include dimensions of psychosocial nursing, acute adult nursing, community health perspectives, and legal aspects of nursing. Students also complete a synthesis practicum and seminar during the final semester, which ties together major program concepts in preparation for professional practice. The program includes significant experiential components, including simulations, skills labs, and clinical hours at a variety of healthcare settings in New Jersey.
|6||Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ||Tuition $7,519||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A public college that primarily serves working students, TESU offers an accelerated second-degree bachelor of science in nursing program for candidates who already hold a bachelor's in another subject. Offered in a hybrid format, the program combines online learning, campus courses, and clinical experiences at healthcare facilities around New Jersey. The curriculum prepares graduates for the NCLEX exam.
Nursing candidates complete a total of 60 credits, divided into eight academic units. TESU's nursing curriculum covers topics including health assessment and promotion, women's health across the lifespan, health policy, and nursing informatics. Candidates complete nine graduate credits as part of the curriculum, which can be applied toward TESU's master of science in nursing.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. The program prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All applicants must also complete the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam.
|7||Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ||Tuition $13,974||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
The largest private college in New Jersey, FDU enrolls more than 12,000 students annually. The school offers one of the top accelerated nursing programs in the state, admitting bachelor's degree-holders who plan to pursue a nursing career.
FDU's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing offers two enrollment tracks: a one-year full-time option and a two-year part-time option. Graduates can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. FDU reports a 90-95% pass rate for graduates.
The 59-credit program includes courses on topics like comprehensive health assessment, nursing management of adults, critique and utilization of nursing research, and nursing management of populations. Most courses feature small class sizes, encouraging active student participation.
Program applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Full-time candidates must complete 25 credits of prerequisite courses, while part-time candidates complete 19 prerequisite credits.
|8||Saint Peter's University Jersey City, NJ||Tuition $13,246||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A private college based in Jersey City, Saint Peter's hosts one of the state's fastest nursing programs, enabling full-time enrollees to earn their bachelor's in just 15 months. Enrolling candidates with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major, the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing trains students to promote, maintain, and restore health for patients across the lifespan.
The 61-credit program begins in the fall and concludes the following fall semester. Courses cover key nursing topics, including pharmacology, health assessment, pathology, nutrition and health, and nursing leadership.
For practicing registered nurses, Saint Peter's also offers an accelerated RN-to-MSN pathway that enables candidates to earn their master's degree quickly. Students complete a selection of five undergraduate courses before enrolling in the master's program.
|9||Felician University Lodi, NJ||Tuition $17,917||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A private Roman Catholic college, Felician University offers several of the top nursing programs in New Jersey. The school's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing takes 16-24 months to complete and offers on-campus and hybrid enrollment options. The program admits students who hold at least 60 undergraduate credits with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.
The nursing program uses a cohort format in which candidates complete most courses together in sequence. Felician University offers start dates in January, May, and August, with four cohorts formed per year. Candidates who wish to complete their degree entirely on campus must start in May.
Along with nursing theory, the program emphasizes professional practice and offers various simulation activities and skills labs. Candidates also complete clinical experiences with the college's dedicated practice partner, Atlantic Health Systems.
|10||New Jersey City University Jersey City, NJ||Tuition $12,476||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate -||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience -||Placement Service -||Counseling Services -||
A public liberal arts college based in Jersey City, NJCU offers an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing that ranks among the top nursing programs in New Jersey. Open to bachelor's degree-holders, the degree takes just 12 months of full-time study to complete, with courses available at the school's Jersey City and Wall Township campuses. The program prepares graduates for the NCLEX exam, resulting in registered nurse licensure.
Nursing students complete 63 credits, spread across three semesters. The curriculum includes courses such as contemporary professional nursing, health assessment, adult health and illness, and nursing leadership and management. Candidates also complete several clinical experiences at an approved healthcare facility.
The nursing program concludes with a capstone in entry-level nursing practice. This course synthesizes major program principles and applies nursing skills toward select case studies. The course also prepares students for both the NCLEX exam and NJCU's comprehensive exit exam.
Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing
The BLS projects employment for RNs to increase 7% between 2019 and 2029. After earning a bachelor's in nursing, students can pursue a graduate education to become nurse practitioners. The BLS projects employment for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to increase 45% from 2019 to 2029. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $115,800.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) typically need only an associate degree. The BLS projects a 9% job growth for these professionals from 2019 to 2029. According to BLS data, LPNs and LVNs earn a median annual salary of $47,480. Compare these figures to the data in the table below, which highlights RNs' earning potential.
|Bottom 10%||Median Annual Salary||Top 10%|
Accreditation for Nursing Programs
Before enrolling, students should ensure their school and program holds proper accreditation. The accreditation process involves regular evaluations by a third-party organization, which must hold approval from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Students can use the ED's online database to verify the accreditation status of a school or program.
Colleges and universities can hold regional or national accreditation. Each regional accrediting agency approves schools located in a specific part of the country. Regional accreditation is older and more prestigious than national accreditation, and most regionally accredited institutions only accept degrees and credits earned from other regionally accredited schools.
In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for programmatic accreditation. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education are two of the top accrediting agencies for nursing programs.
Nursing Licensing in New Jersey
After completing education requirements, graduates must obtain a license to practice as an RN. Each state sets specific requirements for licensure. Most New Jersey schools tailor their nursing programs to fulfill New Jersey licensing requirements.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides information about nursing licensure in each state, including New Jersey. Candidates for RN licensure in New Jersey must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), which students can apply to take two months prior to graduation. Licensure candidates pay an $80 exam fee and a $120 license fee. Learners can review the current test plan for current information about the NCLEX-RN format.
Test-takers must submit a passport-style photo, a birth certificate, and a letter of nursing program completion. Candidates must also undergo a criminal history background check and must provide immigration documents and name-change documents, if applicable.
Some states participate in reciprocity agreements, which provide a route to earn licensure through endorsement. New Jersey allows nurses who hold licensure in a state that requires the NCLEX-RN to obtain New Jersey licensure through an online application. This process allows RNs to obtain New Jersey licensure without retaking the exam.
Courses in a Nursing Program
Each nursing program features a unique curriculum, so prospective students should explore course descriptions before enrolling. Graduation requirements also vary by program, so learners should research the credit and course requirements of each prospective school.
The fastest nursing programs often provide accelerated course options. Many nursing programs offer concentrations that align with specific career goals. For example, aspiring pediatric nurses can research programs that feature courses or concentrations in pediatrics.
The courses below are common to many nursing programs in New Jersey and throughout the country. Although not all schools offer these exact courses, many nursing curricula include similar classes.
Introduction to Nutrition
Most nursing programs feature at least one nutrition class. Students learn about nutritional requirements during each life stage. This class also explores nutritional practices that can improve health. Learners discover how certain foods can positively or negatively impact organs and bodily functions.
Fundamentals of Nursing
Nursing students typically take this course during the first semester of their studies. This class focuses on best practices for nurses and explores how to safely provide patient care. Coursework often includes clinical hours, during which students practice monitoring patient vitals and completing common nursing tasks, such as administering medications intravenously.
Health Assessment and Life Stages
In this class, learners discover how the common signs of good health vary throughout the lifespan. Students learn about variations in hormones, cholesterol, blood pressure, and vital signs based on age and gender. Coursework also covers developmental milestones for infants.
Since RNs commonly administer medications to patients, most nursing programs feature at least one pharmacology course. Students develop their medication vocabulary and learn about the side effects of common medications. This course also highlights safety protocols for administering medicine.
This course examines mental health from a nursing perspective. Enrollees explore the mental health theories that shape nursing practice. This class also covers the diagnostic criteria for common mental health disorders, along with corresponding treatment options.
Accelerated Campus Programs
Many aspiring nurses choose accelerated programs in order to earn their degree and enter the workforce faster. This program format is ideal for dedicated students without significant personal or professional obligations. Students generally cannot maintain employment while completing an accelerated program.
Studying at an accelerated pace can help learners save money on tuition. Additionally, accelerated programs can help students enter the workforce and begin earning a stable income as soon as possible. Students who begin working sooner can begin making payments on student loans faster, ultimately accruing less interest.
Learners who choose an accelerated program must be diligent in their studies to keep up with the fast learning pace. Degree-seekers often join study groups to help ensure accountability. Students typically complete accelerated bachelor's in nursing programs in about 2.5 years.
Many nursing programs in New Jersey offer institutional scholarships. Learners should also complete the FAFSA to determine their federal aid eligibility. The FAFSA requires learners to provide financial information and usually takes about 45 minutes to complete. Dependents must enter the tax information of their guardian or guardians. To qualify for federal funding, students must submit their FAFSA each year by June 30.
The federal government provides need-based grants and subsidized loans. Students do not need to repay grants, and subsidized loans do not begin accruing interest until after graduation. Learners can also take out unsubsidized loans, which begin accruing interest while the recipient is enrolled in school. Both subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans feature a six-month grace period following graduation.
Nursing students can also apply for scholarships from institutions and nonprofits.
Scholarships for Nursing
Scholarships can help learners minimize their student debt. However, scholarships are often extremely competitive. Degree-seekers can improve their chance of receiving an award by applying to scholarships reserved for nursing students. The scholarship programs below accept applications from learners enrolled in nursing programs in New Jersey.
- A Nurse I Am Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Cherokee Uniforms administers this scholarship. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a nursing program and must demonstrate commitment to and passion for the nursing field.
Amount: VariesMore Information
- ExceptionalNurse.com College Scholarships
Who Can Apply: ExceptionalNurse.com offers multiple scholarships for nursing students, each with specific requirements. Candidates must have a documented disability. Additional requirements may include Scottish ancestry or professional experience working with veterans.
Amount: VariesMore Information
- Nurse.org Nursing Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in a nursing program at an accredited university can apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be at least 17 years old.
Amount: $1,000More Information
- National CPR Association Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Individuals pursuing a career in the medical field can apply. Applicants must submit an essay about the importance of preparing to perform CPR.
Amount: $3,000More Information
- Nurses Education Funds, Inc. Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Licensed nurses who plan to pursue a master's degree or doctorate can apply. Applicants must maintain membership in a professional nursing organization.
Amount: VariesMore Information