Top Nursing Schools in Illinois

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Rend Lake College 96.75 $$$$$ 15:1 1 52%
2 Southeastern Illinois College 93.00 $$$$$ 16:1 3 27%
3 Shawnee Community College 92.00 $$$$$ 16:1 3 26%
4 Highland Community College 91.50 $$$$$ 15:1 3 28%
5 Rock Valley College 91.25 $$$$$ 16:1 3 25%
6 Elgin Community College 90.75 $$$$$ 20:1 3 31%
7 Sauk Valley Community College 90.50 $$$$$ 17:1 3 35%
8 Kankakee Community College 87.75 $$$$$ 14:1 3 26%
9 McHenry County College 87.75 $$$$$ 19:1 3 28%
10 John Wood Community College 87.50 $$$$$ 12:1 3 35%
11 Spoon River College 87.25 $$$$$ 16:1 3 37%
12 Lincoln Land Community College 86.00 $$$$$ 21:1 3 24%
13 Richland Community College 86.00 $$$$$ 16:1 3 23%
14 Waubonsee Community College 86.00 $$$$$ 23:1 3 24%
15 Danville Area Community College 86.00 $$$$$ 17:1 3 40%
16 Illinois Valley Community College 85.75 $$$$$ 16:1 3 24%
17 Kaskaskia College 85.00 $$$$$ 20:1 3 49%
18 Oakton Community College 85.00 $$$$$ 18:1 1 17%
19 Southwestern Illinois College 84.75 $$$$$ 20:1 3 25%
20 John A Logan College 84.25 $$$$$ 23:1 3 23%
21 Lewis and Clark Community College 84.00 $$$$$ 23:1 3 28%
22 College of Lake County 84.00 $$$$$ 17:1 3 21%
23 Harper College 84.00 $$$$$ 19:1 3 21%
24 Prairie State College 84.00 $$$$$ 16:1 3 15%
25 Lake Land College 83.50 $$$$$ 23:1 3 34%
26 Illinois Central College 83.50 $$$$$ 18:1 3 25%
27 Carl Sandburg College 83.00 $$$$$ 15:1 3 23%
28 Kishwaukee College 81.50 $$$$$ 21:1 3 28%
29 South Suburban College 81.25 $$$$$ 14:1 3 18%
30 Heartland Community College 80.25 $$$$$ 19:1 3 25%
31 Black Hawk College 80.00 $$$$$ 20:1 3 21%
32 Parkland College 78.75 $$$$$ 18:1 3 20%
33 City Colleges of Chicago – Wilbur Wright College 78.00 $$$$$ 33:1 3 15%
34 City Colleges of Chicago – Harry S Truman College 78.00 $$$$$ 29:1 3 14%
35 Graham Hospital School of Nursing 78.00 $$$$$ 4:1 3 N/A
36 Morton College 77.50 $$$$$ 20:1 3 13%
37 City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J Daley College 76.75 $$$$$ 38:1 3 13%
38 City Colleges of Chicago – Malcolm X College 76.75 $$$$$ 29:1 3 11%
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Bradley University 90.00 $$$$$ 12:1 3 74%
2 Governors State University 89.50 $$$$$ 10:1 10 N/A
3 University of St Francis 88.75 $$$$$ 11:1 4 56%
4 Illinois State University 88.25 $$$$$ 19:1 5 72%
5 North Park University 88.00 $$$$$ 12:1 5 53%
6 Millikin University 88.00 $$$$$ 11:1 12 61%
7 Lewis University 87.75 $$$$$ 13:1 7 62%
8 Trinity Christian College 87.50 $$$$$ 11:1 20 58%
9 University of Illinois at Chicago 87.00 $$$$$ 17:1 7 60%
10 Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences 86.75 $$$$$ 10:1 12 50%
11 Elmhurst College 86.50 $$$$$ 13:1 10 74%
12 Chicago State University 86.25 $$$$$ 12:1 14 19%
13 Eastern Illinois University 86.25 $$$$$ 14:1 20 59%
14 Augustana College 86.00 $$$$$ 11:1 20 74%
15 Wheaton College 85.75 $$$$$ 12:1 20 89%
16 Loyola University Chicago 85.75 $$$$$ 14:1 1 73%
17 Illinois Wesleyan University 85.75 $$$$$ 11:1 20 81%
18 Saint Xavier University 85.50 $$$$$ 13:1 2 54%
19 Aurora University 84.75 $$$$$ 16:1 14 58%
20 Methodist College 84.50 $$$$$ 11:1 20 N/A
21 Benedictine University 84.00 $$$$$ 13:1 14 51%
22 Western Illinois University 83.50 $$$$$ 15:1 20 54%
23 Northern Illinois University 83.50 $$$$$ 15:1 14 50%
24 McKendree University 83.50 $$$$$ 14:1 14 56%
25 Rockford University 83.50 $$$$$ 10:1 20 45%
26 DePaul University 82.50 $$$$$ 17:1 7 71%
27 MacMurray College 82.00 $$$$$ 13:1 20 29%
28 Quincy University 81.50 $$$$$ 13:1 20 49%
29 Concordia University-Chicago 80.00 $$$$$ 17:1 20 58%
30 Olivet Nazarene University 80.00 $$$$$ 16:1 14 56%
31 Robert Morris University Illinois 78.00 $$$$$ 21:1 20 47%

Illinois Nursing Schools: A Wealth of Choices

Illinois has 45 nursing programs at the associate degree level alone, as well as 31 baccalaureate programs and five master’s programs, all of which are approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing. These are just the entry-level programs, as the state’s schools offer further choices for nurses looking to earn an advanced practice degree. Use the search tool to explore the multitude of nursing schools and programs in Illinois.

Basic Search
Tuition
School Type
Advanced Search +
Degree Level
Student Population
Compare key info for up to 4 schools

Please remove a school if you would like to compare a new one

results

Show:

School Tuition
Tuition for in-state undergrads at the campus location
Acceptance Rate Student Population School Type Nursing Programs

How to Get an Illinois Nursing License

The Illinois Board of Nursing grants all types of nursing licenses. The board, part of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, enforces state nursing standards and regulates nursing education programs.

The Illinois licensure process is not the most straightforward, so it would behoove students, especially those with irregular circumstances, to contact the Board of Nursing as they begin the licensure process. The state offers phone assistance to applicants trying to fill out forms.

Who Is Eligible for an IL Nursing License?

Anyone graduating from a nursing program approved by the state can apply for a license by examination by downloading a form from the Illinois Board of Nursing website. Once they have earned their associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, they should:

  • Apply to take the NCLEX-RN via the Continental Testing website and pay a $98 application fee
  • Register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE and pay a $200 fee
  • Have a nursing school official certify graduation from an approved nursing program
  • Get their fingerprints taken within two months of submitting an application
  • Submit a CT-NUR Form and proof of completed nursing education (out-of-state and international applicants only)
  • Pay for and provide a credential evaluation report of any foreign degree (international applicants only)

Applicants have 90 days from receipt of their authorization to test (ATT) to take the NCLEX-RN. If they fail to do this, or if they do not pass, they will have to reapply both with the state and with Pearson VUE and pay fresh application fees.

When to Renew a License in IL

Nursing licenses must be renewed every two years and expire on May 31 of even-numbered years. During this time period, RNs must take 20 hours of continuing education credits, and advanced practice nurses must fulfill 50 hours. Applicants who are renewing an RN license for the first time are exempt from this requirement. The renewal fee is $60.

How to Gain Advanced Practice Licensure in IL

Nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists who are certified are all considered advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the state. APNs can get a license in Illinois by submitting the following:

  • An application form
  • A check or money order for $125
  • A current copy of national certification from a designated certifying body in their specialty
  • Official transcripts from a graduate program in their specialty
  • A $5 fee and separate application for the ability to write prescriptions

Get more information on APNs and the licensure process in Illinois at the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Earnings for Illinois’ Nurses

Most of the state’s nurses make between $55,000 and $65,000, but a 2014 report by Illinois Center for Nursing found significant earnings differences based on type of degree. According to this report, BSN holders made seven percent more than RNs with an associate degree. Advanced practice nurses had even higher earning potential. Take a closer look at how nurses’ pay stacks up in Illinois:

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Illinois

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division $34.67 $72,100
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI $34.21 $71,150
Kankakee-Bradley $33.23 $69,110
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division $32.81 $68,250
Springfield $29.45 $61,250
Danville $28.47 $59,220
Bloomington-Normal $28.02 $58,290
Rockford $27.86 $57,940
Champaign-Urbana $27.79 $57,800
Peoria $26.68 $55,490

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Illinois vs. National Numbers

Salary
  • Illinois
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Nursing Resources & Associations in Illinois

Illinois Board of Nursing

The Illinois Board of Nursing grants nursing licenses. It is the main resource for finding up-to-date regulations and licensure requirements.

Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association

The Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association is the state chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. It works to support nurses of Hispanic descent by providing scholarships, updating members on industry news and facilitating networking opportunities.

Illinois Nurses Association

The Illinois Nurses Association, or INA, is the state’s nursing union. The organization is dedicated to advocating on behalf of Illinois nurses and empowering nursing professionals to provide quality care.

Illinois Nurses Foundation

INF is focused on giving scholarships to nursing students. It also provides courses that can be applied toward continuing education credits.

Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders

The Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders is part of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. It works to foster leadership abilities among professional nurses.

Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing

ISAPN is primarily an advocacy organization. It also hosts regular member dinners and publishes an active job board on its website.