Nurses provide and coordinate care for patients based on their education and experience. For example, registered nurses (RNs) perform physical exams while licensed practical nurses change bandages and dress wounds. Nurses demonstrate compassion, drive, and good communication in their work. Nursing also requires openness to continuing education.
Depending on the degree, students can complete a nursing program in 2-7 years. Accelerated programs typically last 11-18 months. Prior to submitting applications, prospective students choose a career path in nursing. Defining career goals helps students choose an appropriate nursing program. Entry-level positions for nursing typically require a bachelor's degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for RNs will grow 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average. This page lists the best nursing schools in Texas. The following sections review requirements for nursing degrees, common nursing courses, and scholarships for nursing students.
What Can I Do with a Degree in Nursing?
Nursing degrees prepare students to provide medical care for patients. Nurses require a specialized skill set to work with patients and address critical healthcare needs. Most careers in nursing require at least a certified nursing assistant certificate to practice. More advanced or higher-paying careers ask for at least a bachelor of science in nursing.
Nurses choose from a variety of career opportunities based on their interests, education, and experience. For example, nursing professionals with an associate degree can work as RNs, and those with a master's degree (MSN) can work in administrative positions.
Earning a higher degree allows nurses to advance in their current career or start a new one. Advanced degrees also open up higher paying job opportunities. For example, nurses can earn an MSN to specialize in a field and earn a higher salary.
Graduate Degree Options for a Career in Nursing
Students interested in furthering their education may pursue nursing graduate degrees. Earning a graduate degree in nursing can lead to increased earning potential and career advancement. Many nursing professionals with graduate degrees go on to work in leadership and teaching positions.
Nurses with graduate degrees may choose to increase their expertise in a specific area of the field. For example, a nurse may specialize in anesthesiology, obstetrics, or pediatrics. Nursing professionals with a graduate degree can also obtain advanced practice registered nurse status.
Students who do not pursue graduate education can develop their resume by earning certifications. Certifications for career advancement include wound care or hospice and palliative care. Students can also join organizations, like the American Academy of Nursing, to increase their professional networks.
Accreditation for a Degree in Nursing
Prospective students should check a school's accreditation status prior to application. Accreditation ensures that schools offer consistent and quality education to students. Organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) perform a rigorous accreditation process. Students also benefit from attending an accredited school. For example, only students enrolled in an accredited school can apply for federal grants and loans.
Schools may receive either national or regional accreditation. National accreditation agencies accredit schools across the country. Regional organizations focus on schools in a specific location. Students may benefit more from attending a regionally accredited school. For example, credits from regionally accredited schools transfer more easily than those from nationally accredited schools.
In addition to CHEA, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits nursing programs. The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes the CCNE as an independent national accrediting agency. The CCNE assesses nursing programs to ensure they meet an effective standard of education. Find out a school's accreditation status.
What are the Requirements for a Degree in Nursing?
Students seeking their first or second degrees may apply to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. BSN programs typically ask prospective and enrolled students to complete certain requirements to obtain their degree.
Most BSN programs require at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify for admission. Many also ask applicants to take an admissions assessment exam. These exams include the Test of Essential Academic Skills or Health Education Systems Incorporated exams. Programs may also require math and science prerequisite courses on transcripts.
To graduate with a BSN, students complete coursework in different areas of nursing. These areas include nursing care for women, mental health clients, and newborns. Students also participate in clinical rotations, labs, and simulation activities to gain practical nursing experience.
Courses in a Nursing Program
A bachelor's in nursing prepares students for careers as RNs or graduate work in the field. Nursing programs offer courses that teach students skills needed to practice. Some basic courses include health assessment and pathophysiology.
The top nursing schools in Texas teach students specialized care practices. These specialized courses focus on certain populations, such as the elderly, families, or children. Courses in specialized areas help students determine possible career paths. Students may take these courses toward the end of their degree program.
The following list provides a sample of courses found in nursing bachelor's programs. Not all programs offer the courses listed below. Rather, these courses represent a sample curriculum from nursing programs in Texas.
Certifications and Licensure for Nursing Majors
Licensing and certification help nurses in career advancement. Obtaining licensure or certification also allows nurses to demonstrate their expertise in a specific area. The following list provides examples of licenses and certifications to assist nurses in their careers. This list also includes the qualifications of licensure and certification recipients. Each license and certification asks for specific requirements to earn the credential.
Certified Emergency NurseCENs qualify nurses to work in emergency rooms. Nurses need a valid RN license to take the certification exam. Although not required, the Board of Certification recommends two years professional experience prior to application. The CEN exam focuses on research and practices in emergency nursing.
Registered NurseRN licensing qualifies students for nursing practice. Prospective RNs must complete an accredited nursing program. They also need to pass the national licensing exam. Obtaining RN licensure allows nurses to pursue certification in a specialized area. Each state holds different RN licensure requirements. For example, Texas requires prospective RNs to initiate a criminal background check.
Family Nurse PractitionerFNPs qualify nurses to provide healthcare to families. Obtaining an FNP demonstrates a nurses' clinical knowledge of families at various life stages. Nurses take the FNP exam to receive this certification. The FNP exam focuses on healthcare for various populations. These populations include infants, adolescents, and older people.
Professional Organizations for Nursing Students
Joining professional organizations provides networking and career advancement opportunities for nurses. Nurses can join a national or local nursing organization. They can also join organizations based on their specialization area. Membership varies for each organization. For example, only school nurses may join the National Association of School Nurses. Most memberships also require yearly fees to join. The following list provides some examples of professional organizations available to nurses.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Scholarships help students fund their education. Many nursing students utilize scholarships to earn their degrees. Students enrolled in accelerated nursing programs in Texas may qualify for various scholarships. They can apply to multiple scholarships based on their qualifications. This list includes scholarships available to students earning a nursing degree.
Accelerated Campus Nursing Programs in Texas 2020
The flagship school of the A&M System, Texas A&M serves more than 69,000 students from its campus in College Station (located between Austin and Houston). The school's bachelor of science in nursing offers an accelerated second-degree track that serves candidates with a bachelor's in another field of study. The program uses face-to-face instruction, video conference lectures, clinical experiences, and simulation activities.
Candidates complete a total of 61 credits in four semesters, with courses including nursing dimensions and informatics, nursing care of mental health clients, care studies in patient safety and quality, and evidence-based practice for nurses. The program begins each spring and lasts all year, featuring a 10-week intensive session in the summer.
Along with a bachelor's degree, applicants must have completed at least 40 of the 59 required prerequisite courses. Enrollees can complete the remainder during their program. Nursing prerequisite courses include lifespan psychology, nutrition, and anatomy and physiology.
A private college based in Fort Worth, TCU ranks among the best nursing schools in Texas for Christian students. The school offers an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing that enrollees can complete in just 16 months. This rigorous program requires students to complete 59 credits during the first four semesters. Accelerated candidates complete the same number of course credits and clinical hours as traditional students.
The program includes 124 credits total, with courses including health assessment concepts, care of adults with health alterations, behavioral health nursing, and leadership in nursing practice. Candidates also complete a professional nursing residency during the program's final semester.
TCU students benefit from comprehensive hands-on training, including sophisticated simulation labs equipped with the latest technology. The college also maintains working relationships with a variety of healthcare agencies and institutions throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, offering significant opportunities for experiential learning.
One of the top nursing schools in Texas, UT Health San Antonio offers a 15-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing for full-time students. Preparing graduates for generalist practice in an assortment of nursing competencies, the program allows enrollees to earn distinctions in clinical service and research. UT Health San Antonio frames nursing as an act of social justice, focusing on care for diverse individuals, families, and communities.
The accelerated nursing program serves candidates who already hold a bachelor's degree in another field. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 cumulative undergraduate GPA and a 3.0 GPA on all prerequisite courses. Prerequisites include college algebra, chemistry, microbiology, and human nutrition. Candidates must complete at least 51 of 60 credits of prerequisite courses before applying. Applicants must also complete the Test of Essential Academic Skills with a minimum score of 65.
Another of the best nursing schools in Texas, UH offers a second-degree bachelor of science in nursing for candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in an unrelated field. Courses occur on campus at UH's Sugar Land campus (located about 25 miles southwest of downtown Houston). Beginning each spring semester, the 12-month program prepares graduates to serve as registered nurses.
Candidates complete 60 upper-division nursing credits, with a curriculum that covers pharmacology for professional nursing practice, reading and interpreting scientific literature, nursing process for symptom management, and introduction to evidence-based nursing practice. Students also complete three sections of clinical nursing practice, building professional experience in a healthcare environment.
Applicants need a minimum cumulative undergraduate 3.0 GPA and a 3.0 GPA for all courses in natural and behavioral sciences.
A healthcare-focused member of the prestigious University of Texas system, UTHealth offers an accelerated "Pacesetter" bachelor of science in nursing. The program takes full-time learners just 15 months to complete. Given the program's intensive nature, UTHealth offers only full-time enrollment, and learners are encouraged not to work while completing their degree. The program features both online and campus courses, lasting four semesters total.
Nursing candidates complete a total of 60 credits. The curriculum features nursing theory courses during the first three semesters and intensive clinical experiences during the fourth semester. Students also complete clinical courses during the first three semesters. Typical courses include health assessment, psychiatric and mental healthcare, community/public health nursing, and management of patients in high-acuity settings. Program graduates are prepared for the NCLEX-RN exam.
A member of the prestigious University of Texas system focused on health sciences, UTMB operates a campus in Galveston. Ranked among Texas' best nursing schools, UTMB offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program that learners can complete in only eight months. Focusing on clinical reasoning and decision-making, the program helps enrollees develop leadership skills.
The two-semester program requires a minimum of 30 credits. Completing 15 credits each semester, candidates take courses such as foundations for evidence-based practice, contemporary professional nursing, and clinical reasoning in health management.
Applicants need a current registered nurse license and 60 credits of prerequisite courses, at least 40 of which must be complete when they appy. Applicants also need a minimum 2.5 GPA on all undergraduate coursework.
Based in Brownsville, UTRGV hosts one of the top accelerated nursing programs in Texas. The school's second-degree bachelor of science in nursing serves bachelor's degree-holders looking to enter the nursing field. Offering start dates in the fall, spring, and summer, the program takes just 15 months of full-time study.
The nursing curriculum integrates practical skills, theory and research, and leadership concepts, preparing graduates for both professional nursing practice and graduate study. The degree features 78 credits of nursing major courses, including topics in wellness and health promotion, pharmacology, mental health, and family clinical health. Depending on academic background, some candidates may need to complete additional support courses in areas such as chemistry, clinical nutrition, clinical microbiology, and medical terminology.
A member of the Texas A&M University system, Tarleton serves more than 13,000 students annually from its main campus in Stephenville. Tarleton offers a bachelor's pathway for licensed vocational nurses, enabling candidates to earn their bachelor of science in nursing through a streamlined curriculum model. This accelerated nursing program occurs in Waco (about halfway between Dallas and Austin) on the campus of McLennan Community College, an affiliate of Tarleton.
Candidates complete a minimum of 52 credits over the course of four semesters. Typical courses include maternal and child health nursing, lifespan healthcare delivery, nursing leadership in healthcare, and population and global perspectives in nursing. During the final semesters, candidates complete a four-credit course in transition to professional nursing practice, along with a one-credit synthesis course that highlights major program principles.
A private Baptist college in Waco, Baylor is one of the top nursing schools in Texas for Christian students. The school's FastBacc accelerated bachelor of science in nursing enables bachelor's degree-holders to complete their degree in just 12 months of full-time study. This intensive program runs primarily in Dallas, with significant classroom and clinical components. Courses combine several learning styles and delivery modes, including classroom, online, clinical and lab, and hybrid interactive options.
The program begins in the summer with a five-credit minimester that features two introductory courses: health assessment and foundations of nursing practice. Students complete two additional summer sessions for a total of 19 credits, along with traditional fall and spring semesters, for a total of 62 program credits. Other typical courses include community health nursing, mental health nursing, the childbearing family, and analysis and synthesis of complex human needs.
Texas' only public liberal arts college, MSU is also one of the state's only independent public colleges unaffiliated with a major university system. Based in Wichita Falls (about 140 miles northwest of Dallas), the school hosts an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program for bachelor's or master's degree-holders. Full-time enrollees can complete the program in 15 months and go on to take the national NCLEX nursing licensure examination.
The program begins in the summer, running through the fall, spring, and following summer semesters. Candidates complete a total of 57 major credits, including courses such as nursing research, concepts in mental healthcare, medical terminology, and concepts in clinical reasoning and judgement. During the final summer semester, candidates complete an 11-credit critical competency integration clinical experience, which applies overall program learning to hands-on nursing practice.
A private Catholic college in San Antonio, UIW offers some of Texas' top nursing programs. The school's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing enrolls students who already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major. The program offers three annual start dates and takes full-time students 16 months to complete. The curriculum prepares graduates for the NCLEX exam.
UIW's nursing program uses a mixture of online coursework, hands-on simulation labs, and clinical rotations at healthcare facilities throughout San Antonio. Candidates complete much of the coursework online, but the program also features weekly in-person requirements for labs, exams, review sessions, and other activities.
Clinical rotations form a key component of UIW's nursing curriculum. All students complete more than 900 clinical hours as part of the degree. Clinicals begin during the first semester, and students complete an array of hands-on training activities throughout the program.
Located about 50 miles northwest of Houston, PVAMU offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program that enables registered nurses to earn their bachelor of science in nursing in just 12 months. The program uses a mixture of online and campus courses, with clinicals, labs, and other hands-on activities occurring in person. Applicants need either an associate degree or diploma in nursing along with a current nursing license.
The curriculum includes 30 credits of nursing major courses, which cover key topics such as individual health assessment, trends and issues in professional nursing, nursing leadership and management, and introduction to the research process. Candidates also complete two practicum sections focusing on community health nursing and nursing leadership. These two-credit experiences draw connections between coursework and nursing practice, helping students develop their skills in a professional healthcare setting.
Another member of the Texas A&M system, A&M-Corpus Christi serves about 12,000 students annually from its campus on the Gulf Coast. The school offers an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing that takes just four semesters to complete. Focusing on community-based primary care, the program emphasizes health promotion, health maintenance, behavioral health, and disease prevention and management.
The program uses a hybrid format that combines campus and online learning. Courses begin in the summer and usually conclude the following August. Enrollees complete courses including biobehavioral nursing interventions, wellness and health promotion across the lifespan, and care of chronic conditions.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree in any subject. The school requires a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA and a 3.0 GPA on all prerequisite courses, including chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and statistics.
A private liberal arts college, Concordia offers Christian-centered education from its campus in Austin. Ranked among the best nursing schools in Texas for Christian students, Concordia offers an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing that full-time enrollees can complete in 16 months. The program features three annual start dates in January, May, and August.
Corondoria's accelerated nursing program uses a hybrid format, combining online coursework with in-person simulation labs and clinical rotations at Austin-area hospitals. Online courses run primarily asynchronously, allowing students to complete assignments at their convenience. Simulation labs occur on the Concordia campus, enabling students to build basic skills and practice responding to patient care scenarios.
Clinical rotations build hands-on experience in key areas of nursing, including adult health, mental health, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Concordia's relationships with healthcare agencies around Austin offer varied opportunities for clinical experience.
A major community college based in Austin, ACC offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program for practicing nurses. Full-time enrollees can complete the program in just 12 months. ACC also offers a part-time option that takes 18 months to complete.
The program uses a hybrid format, mixing online courses and campus sessions at ACC's Eastview campus in East Austin. Courses begin each fall and generally use an eight-week format. Candidates complete a minimum of 32 credits, with courses including informatics and technology in healthcare, health assessment across the lifespan, and public and global health policy.
Applicants need a current, unencumbered Texas registered nurse license and an associate degree in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The college reserves priority admission for graduates of ACC's own associate in nursing program, with secondary priority offered to nurses who live and work in the Austin area. For secondary consideration, GPA plays a larger role in application consideration.