Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Illinois [2022 Guide]


Updated October 28, 2022

All Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Illinois ; 1. University of Illinois at Muncie ; 2. Duquesne University ; 3. Touro University ; 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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Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows there were more than 175,000 RNs in Illinois in 2014. There were also more than 7,800 APRNs working in the state as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives. Yet a 2015 report published by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation states that one-third of nurses around the state will retire within the next five years. It estimates that the biggest losses will come from the school, psychiatric, community health, and home health nursing sectors. To learn more about how you can be part of a new generation of nurses, read on for salary info, degree program details, and licensure specifics.


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. 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 in Illinois

4 - Year Colleges

  1. Bradley University

    Peoria, IL

  2. Governors State University

    University Park, IL

  3. University of St. Francis

    Joliet, IL

  4. Illinois State University

    Normal, IL

  5. North Park University

    Chicago, IL

  6. Millikin University

    Decatur, IL

  7. Lewis University

    Romeoville, IL

  8. Trinity Christian College

    Palos Heights, IL

  9. University of Illinois at Chicago

    Chicago, IL

  10. Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences

    Rock Island, IL

2 - Year Colleges

  1. Rend Lake College

    Ina, IL

  2. Southeastern Illinois College

    Harrisburg, IL

  3. Shawnee Community College

    Ullin, IL

  4. Highland Community College

    Highland, IL

  5. Rock Valley College

    Rockford, IL

  6. Elgin Community College

    Elgin, IL

  7. Sauk Valley Community College

    Dixon, IL

  8. Kankakee Community College

    Kankakee, IL

  9. McHenry County College

    Crystal Lake, IL

  10. John Wood Community College

    Quincy, IL

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

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division$34.67$72,100
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI$34.21$71,150
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division$32.81$68,250

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Illinois vs. National Numbers


Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000

YearAnnual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)Annual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)
Registered Nurse$54,060$66,080$80,610$0$54,620$66,640$81,080
Certified Nurse Midwife$78,760$89,740$102,780$0$82,580$96,970$114,090
Nurse Anesthetist$86,630$146,470$176,710$0$132,380$153,780$181,860
Nurse Practitioner$78,260$90,480$104,150$0$82,720$95,350$113,470
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 Employment Total Employment (2014) 050,000100,000Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner1507803,6005,11036,590

Registered Nurse111,6002,687,310
Certified Nurse Midwife1505,110
Nurse Anesthetist78036,590
Nurse Practitioner3,600122,050

2022 occupational outlook 050,000100,0004201,6705,1307,70043,900

Registered Nurse124,9903,238,400
Certified Nurse Midwife4207,700
Nurse Anesthetist1,67043,900
Nurse Practitioner5,130147,300

Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022) 050,000100,0003,38010501802901,5605,850

Registered Nurse3,380105,260
Certified Nurse Midwife10290
Nurse Anesthetist501,560
Nurse Practitioner1805,850

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.

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