Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota has one of the highest concentrations of registered nurses in the country, but that doesn’t mean new grads in the state can’t find work. The number of jobs in the field is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2014 to 2024 due to an aging population and chronic health problems. The outlook for advanced practice nurses is even rosier. To keep pace with demand, the number of approved nursing programs in the state continues to grow. Future nurses shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find the education they desire. This guide provides information on nursing schools in Minnesota and walks future graduates through the licensure process.

Top Nursing Schools in Minnesota



    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 10 Bachelor Nursing Schools in Minnesota

Rank School Location
1 Bethel University Saint Paul, MN
2 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
3 St Catherine University Saint Paul, MN
4 The College of Saint Scholastica Duluth, MN
5 Gustavus Adolphus College Saint Peter, MN
6 St Olaf College Northfield, MN
7 Concordia College Moorhead, MN
8 Augsburg College Minneapolis, MN
9 College of Saint Benedict Saint Joseph, MN
10 Saint Johns University Collegeville, MN

Top Online Programs

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  1. Bethel University

    Saint Paul, MN

  2. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

    Minneapolis, MN

  3. St Catherine University

    Saint Paul, MN

  4. The College of Saint Scholastica

    Duluth, MN

  5. Gustavus Adolphus College

    Saint Peter, MN

  6. St Olaf College

    Northfield, MN

  7. Concordia College

    Moorhead, MN

  8. Augsburg College

    Minneapolis, MN

  9. College of Saint Benedict

    Saint Joseph, MN

  10. Saint Johns University

    Collegeville, MN

Top 10 Associate Nursing Schools in Minnesota

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

  1. Pine Technical Community College

    Pine City, MN

  2. Northwest Technical College

    Bemidji, MN

  3. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

    Fergus Falls, MN

  4. Ridgewater College

    Willmar, MN

  5. Lake Superior College

    Duluth, MN

  6. Alexandria Technical & Community College

    Alexandria, MN

  7. Minnesota West Community and Technical College

    Granite Falls, MN

  8. Northland Community and Technical College

    Thief River Falls, MN

  9. South Central College

    North Mankato, MN

  10. Riverland Community College

    Austin, MN

Obtain a Minnesota Nursing License

The Minnesota Board of Nursing is the licensing board for all practicing RNs. It sets the standards for nursing educational programs and is charged with regulating licensure and practice. Get an overview of the specific licensure requirements for nurses in Minnesota.

Licensure in Minnesota

  • Complete a professional nursing program that’s approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing or the board of another state
  • Fill out an application with the state, and pay a $105 fee
  • Arrange for the nursing program to confirm you have completed the program
  • Register to take the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE, and pay the $200 exam fee
  • Receive an authorization to test (ATT), and schedule to take the NCLEX within 90 days
  • Pass the NCLEX and wait to receive a license

Students who do not pass the NCLEX on the first attempt have eight months to request to retake the exam and one year to retake it. If they wait longer, they will have to reapply with the state. Regardless of when they retake the exam, they will be required to pay another $200 fee to Pearson VUE.

Practicing nurses who hold a license in another state and would like to practice in Minnesota must apply for licensure by endorsement. This process involves:

  • Filling out the form and paying a $105 fee
  • Verifying licensure, which can usually be done via
  • Having your most recent employer authenticate your employment

Renewing Your MN Nursing License

Initial licenses last for between six and 29 months, depending on the nurse’s birthday and registration date. After that, they must be renewed every two years, which can be done via the MBN’s online services. Reminder postcards are mailed to licensees three months before a license is set to expire. Email notifications are also sent if a current email address is on file. To renew their licenses, nurses must do one continuing education contact hour for every month of registration on their current license — 24 contact hours in all for all non-initial renewals. Applicants do not need to submit any documentation for continuing education unless specifically asked to do so or in the case of an audit. The Board advises nurses to keep CE documentation for two years. The cost to renew is $85.

Advanced Practice Nurses in MN

In 2015, Minnesota began requiring advanced practice registered nurses to become licensed. To get an APRN license in Minnesota, nurses must do the following:

  • Hold a Minnesota RN license or be eligible for one
  • Graduate from a master’s program in an APRN specialty — clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner or registered nurse anesthetist
  • Be nationally certified in their APRN specialty
  • Have no disciplinary actions against them
  • Fill out and mail an application packet for the specific APRN specialty with $105 to the Minnesota Board of Nursing

Because, as of 2016, the state was still working to establish an online application and renewal system for APRNs, it is best to frequently check in with the Minnesota Board of Nursing to find current licensure information and processes for APRNs.

MN Nursing Stats: RNs and Beyond

The average Minnesota RN, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist earns above the median national average for those professions. And the expected growth rate for each is only slightly less bullish than national projections. To see the salary breakdown in finer detail, take a look at the visuals below.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Minnesota

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
St. Cloud$38.89$80,900
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI$36.21$75,330
Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area$31.74$66,020
Duluth MN-WI$30.98$64,430
Northeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area$29.25$60,840
Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area$28.50$59,270
Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area$27.13$56,430
Mankato-North Mankato$25.93$53,940
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Minnesota vs. National Numbers





Minnesota Resources for RNs and APRNs

Minnesota Board of Nursing
The Minnesota Board of Nursing is the government agency charged with providing and renewing nursing licenses. It is the most reliable source for information affecting the state’s nurses.

Minnesota Holistic Nursing Association
For practicing nurses who want to take a more holistic approach, the Minnesota Holistic Nursing Association began in 1987 to support nurses in this effort. It keeps an active calendar of presentations covering everything from qigong therapy to epigenetics.

Minnesota Nurses Association
The Minnesota Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, is dedicated to supporting registered nurses in the state. As a union, it takes a stand in state and local issues and is proud to advocate for good working conditions for nurses.

Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing
MOLN’s membership is comprised of nursing executives in the state. It helps leaders in the industry formulate a collective voice for advocacy, collaboration and communication.

Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses
Affiliated with the American Nurses Association, MNORN serves its members through advocacy, leadership development, mentorship and education.

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