Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania [2022 Guide]

Updated September 15, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the 10 states responsible for half of all new nursing positions added across the nation by 2022, creating a vibrant atmosphere for new and current nurses alike. It's an exciting time to be a nurse in Pennsylvania, and many prospective students may be wondering what it takes to enter the field. Keep reading to find state-approved nursing schools and programs in Pennsylvania, as well as learn more about state licensure procedures and salary outlook.

Begin Exploring Pennsylvania Nursing Schools

There are several board-approved nursing programs in Pennsylvania. These programs offer rigorous training via a range of degree options for aspiring nurses looking to enter the field as an entry-level RN as well as for those looking to further your education and move in to more advanced, leadership roles. Use the search tool below to explore viable options for nursing schools in Pennsylvania and get a side-by-side comparison of your top selections.

Earning an RN License in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing is tasked with regulating nursing education and the licensure process for all nurses within the state. The Board is also responsible for fielding complaints and renewing nursing licenses. Recent nursing school graduates looking for employment in Pennsylvania can find details on how to obtain a state license below.


  • Successfully complete a state-approved nursing education program
  • Submit a Nursing Education Verification Form, which needs to be sent from the nursing program
  • Request official transcripts be sent directly to the Board of Nursing
  • Complete a criminal background check, including dates and personal explanations of any criminal activity (if applicable)
  • Submit an application for licensure to the Board of Nursing and pay all nonrefundable fees
  • All applicants, examination and endorsement, are required to complete a 3-hour DHS-approved training on how to properly identify and report child abuse. Once this course has been completed, the approved provider will notify the Board electronically. This can take up to seven business days, and a license will not be issued until verification is received.
  • Apply to take the NCLEX exam through Pearson VUE and submit a $200 fee
  • Once an ATT, or Authorization to Test, has been received from Pearson VUE, schedule a date to take the examination
  • If holding a license in another state, jurisdiction or country, the applicant will need to complete an endorsement application. Graduates of non-English programs are required to take and pass a Board-approved exam to prove English proficiency. 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 Pennsylvania

Methodology +

The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including

  • Student-to-faculty ration
  • In-state tuition
  • Graduation rate

Additional details for each school were included:

  • Count of programs available
  • Public and not-for-profit schools
  • Normalized on a 100 percent curve

The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...

  • Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
  • If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break

Top Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania 4-Year Colleges

  1. University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia, PA

  2. University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh, PA

  3. Villanova University

    Villanova, PA

  4. University of Scranton

    Scranton, PA

  5. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

    University Park, PA

  6. Temple University

    Philadelphia, PA

  7. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA

  8. Cedar Crest College

    Allentown, PA

  9. Misericordia University

    Dallas, PA

  10. Duquesne University

    Pittsburgh, PA

Top Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania 2-Year Colleges

  1. Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing

    Mckees Rocks, PA

  2. Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing

    Pittsburgh, PA

  3. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - Shadyside School of Nursing

    Pittsburgh, PA

  4. Lehigh Carbon Community College

    Schnecksville, PA

  5. Mercy Hospital School of Nursing

    Pittsburgh, PA

  6. Luzerne County Community College

    Nanticoke, PA

  7. Butler County Community College

    Butler, PA

  8. Community College of Beaver County

    Monaca, PA

  9. Aria Health School of Nursing

    Trevose, PA

  10. Bucks County Community College

    Newtown, PA

Pennsylvania Renewal Information

Pennsylvania nurses in good standing must renew their licenses biennially. During the interim years, nurses are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education credits in areas relevant to patient care, professional nursing or a specialty area. The Board may provide special approval for courses that do not fit within general requirements for CE if consent is requested. When submitting a renewal application, registered nurses must include a $65 processing fee.

Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in Pennsylvania

Advanced practice nurses have invested time and money to further their educations so they can work in a specialty area. To become an advanced practice nurse in Pennsylvania, individuals must:

  • Hold a current RN license to practice in the state of Pennsylvania
  • Have completed an approved program for the nursing specialty. For example, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) are required to complete an accredited nurse practitioner education program
  • Applicants who received their education and degree from an out-of-state nursing school must send official transcripts from the school's registrar directly to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. Official transcripts must indicate the type of degree or certificate earned, as well as the month, date, and year the program was successfully completed.
  • Hold national certification in the specialty

More detailed information about advanced practice nursing, including step-by-step instructions, forms, and details regarding license renewals can be found at the PA State Board of Nursing.

A Look at Pennsylvania's Nursing Numbers

Pennsylvania ranks in the top 10 states for highest concentration of nurses per capita, with the annual mean wage sitting close to the national average. However, depending on whether or not a nurse works in a rural or urban area, their salary could be much higher or lower than the state's average. Take a look at the numbers below for an idea of what RNs in Pennsylvania earn and how employment looks for the upcoming decade.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Pennsylvania

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD$35.65$74,140
Philadelphia PA Metropolitan Division$35.59$74,030
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ$31.09$64,670
Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area$30.95$64,380
East Central Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area$30.75$63,960

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Pennsylvania vs. National Numbers

[graph block]


YearAnnual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)Annual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)
Registered Nurse$55,000$65,110$76,630$0$54,620$66,640$81,080
Certified Nurse Midwife$71,390$87,280$98,250$0$82,580$96,970$114,090
Nurse Anesthetist$139,960$159,400$0$0$132,380$153,780$181,860
Nurse Practitioner$78,700$90,190$103,280$0$82,720$95,350$113,470

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 



Registered Nurse128,7502,687,310
Certified Nurse Midwife1505,110
Nurse Anesthetist2,05036,590
Nurse Practitioner3,910122,050


Registered Nurse150,2603,238,400
Certified Nurse Midwife07,700
Nurse Anesthetist2,30043,900
Nurse Practitioner4,370147,300

AVG. ANNUAL OPENINGS (2012 – 2022)

Registered Nurse4,800105,260
Certified Nurse Midwife0290
Nurse Anesthetist601,560
Nurse Practitioner1505,850

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Resources & Associations for Pennsylvania Nurses

National Nurses United: Pennsylvania Chapter

Founded in 2009, this union and professional association of registered nurses promotes effective bargaining representation and expands the voice of direct care RNs in public policy.

Pennsylvania Association of Practical Nursing Administrators

This professional organization for nursing administrators in Pennsylvania promotes collaboration among practical nursing administrators, educators and organizations concerned with the delivery of health care.

Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners

PASNP is a professional organization of school nurses in Pennsylvania, which aims to provide continuing education, improve political awareness, and promote school nursing.

Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners is a state-level organization that promotes the interests and careers of certified registered nurse practitioners. It has 18 regional offices across the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

The PSNA is a professional organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that advocates for nurses on the state level, backs nursing and health care legislative reform, and provides networking and continuing education opportunities for nurses in the state.

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing

The Board's mission is to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents by regulating the practice and licensure/certification process of registered nurses, practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, dietician-nutritionists, and graduate nurses. Current and aspiring nurses can find information on licenses and certifications and other important notices and updates relevant to the field.

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