Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has one of the highest percentages of nurses in the country, with RNs, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives particularly well-represented compared to their colleagues in other states. Yet Massachusetts still needs more qualified nurses. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a combined 3,200 RN and advanced practice nursing jobs will open up in the state each year through 2022. And the US Bureau of Health Professions reports that Massachusetts is one of 10 states expected to account for half of the country’s nursing job growth. This guide explores nursing schools in Massachusetts, provides a checklist of licensure requirements, and gives future grads a preview of potential earnings.

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

Rank School Location
1 Simmons College Boston, MA
2 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA
3 Endicott College Beverly, MA
4 Elms College Chicopee, MA
5 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
6 Worcester State University Worcester, MA
7 Framingham State University Framingham, MA
8 Northeastern University Boston, MA
9 Salem State University Salem, MA
10 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
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    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.


Top Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

  1. Simmons College
    Location

    Boston, MA

  2. Fitchburg State University
    Location

    Fitchburg, MA

  3. Endicott College
    Location

    Beverly, MA

  4. Elms College
    Location

    Chicopee, MA

  5. Boston College
    Location

    Chestnut Hill, MA

  6. Worcester State University
    Location

    Worcester, MA

  7. Framingham State University
    Location

    Framingham, MA

  8. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

  9. Salem State University
    Location

    Salem, MA

  10. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
    Location

    Lowell, MA

MA State Nursing Licenses

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing licenses nurses in the state. This government agency also investigates complaints against healthcare workers under its purview and disciplines those who have committed professional infractions. The state board uses Professional Credential Services (PCS) to facilitate the licensure process. Details about initial licensure requirements are provided below.

Step-by-Step Licensure Procedure

The process for applicants in Massachusetts includes:

  • Submitting an application, including an attestation of good moral character
  • Sending a graduation verification form to the administrator of the nursing program they graduated from
  • Paying a $230 fee
  • Contacting Pearson VUE to register for the NCLEX and paying a $200 exam fee
  • Receiving an authorization to test (ATT) and scheduling to take the exam within three months
  • Passing the exam

Applicants who fail the exam can reapply to both the state and Pearson VUE within one year by resubmitting an application and paying an $80 and $200 fee to each, respectively.

RNs with a license from another state can apply for licensure by reciprocity, which entails:

  • Submitting an application, including an attestation of good moral character
  • Having license verifications sent to PCS
  • Paying a $275 fee

Massachusetts’ Renewal Process

Nursing licenses must be renewed every two years, on even-number years, before the licensee’s birthday. Renewal can be done online and costs $120 for RNs and $180 for advanced practice nurses. There is an additional fee of $57 for late renewals. To be eligible for renewal, nurses must complete 15 contact hours’ worth of continuing education over two years.

Advanced Practice Authorization for MA Nurses

There are five types of advanced practice registered nurses in Massachusetts: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, psychiatric clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. Although there are tiny variations in the APRN authorization process per specialty, the general requirements are:

  • Hold an active Massachusetts RN license
  • Graduation from a relevant master’s program that includes advanced coursework in assessment, pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics
  • Good moral character
  • National certification in the specialty
  • $150 fee

For more information on earning APRN authorization, check out the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing.

Money in Massachusetts: Nursing Salaries

Massachusetts’ nearly 80,000 working RNs make the fifth-best salary in the country. The state’s advanced practice nurses are also well compensated, with Massachusetts-based NPs and nurse midwives in the top 10 earners of any state. To go more in-depth, take a look at the statistics below.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Massachusetts

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division$41.67$86,670
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division$40.80$84,860
Worcester MA-CT$40.49$84,230
Framingham MA NECTA Division$38.66$80,400
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division$38.00$79,030
Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area$37.80$78,620
Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard nonmetropolitan area$37.11$77,190
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner$36.70$76,340
Barnstable Town$36.27$75,440
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division$36.25$75,410
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Massachusetts vs. National Numbers

Salary

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Employment

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Additional Resources

Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses
Nurses who work in public health can join the MAPHN. Its website is a particularly good resource for discovering workshops and webinars.

Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing keeps up-to-date information on licensure requirements and processes for all the state’s nurses.

Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
The Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners promotes high standards in nursing care, research and education. It is also working to protect the rights of nurse practitioners in Massachusetts through legislative advocacy. It has 10 regional groups throughout the state.

Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association
The Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association provides a speaker’s bureau, scholarship opportunities, networking events, mentoring services and employment news to its members. It is the state chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association.

Massachusetts Nurses Association
Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association have the union support of an organization that has been the voice of the state’s nurses since 1903. The MNA is part of National Nurses United, an 185,000 strong RN union.

Massachusetts School Nurse Organization
An affiliate of the National Association of School Nurses, MSNO has represented the needs of school nurses since 1970. It has 10 regions in the state, allowing for more engaged advocacy and networking.

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