Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Texas

Earning a nursing degree could lead to exciting career opportunities. Here, we outline the best nursing schools and programs in Texas.

Updated October 5, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Nursing schools in Texas help RNs with an associate degree advance academically and professionally. Degree-seekers take classes in health assessment, community health practice for RNs, and research critique and utilization. Students often work full time while earning their BSN and immediately apply new skills. Most full-time learners graduate in 1-2 years.

Typical admission requirements include a Texas RN license, an associate degree, and a minimum undergraduate GPA. Many nursing programs in Texas require prerequisites. This article explores the nursing profession in Texas, salary potential for BSN-holders, and common classes in RN-to-BSN programs. The final section explains how to earn a Texas RN license.

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Questions About Nursing Degrees in Texas

Q. What degree do you need to be a nurse in Texas?

Initial RN licensure requires at least an associate degree. Some nursing programs in Texas confer bachelor's or master's degrees that qualify graduates for licensure.

Q. How long does it take to become a nurse in Texas?

Most associate programs require two years. RN-to-BSN programs and master's programs typically require two years, as well. Degree-seekers with transferable credits may graduate more quickly.

Q. What is the highest nursing degree?

Some experienced RNs pursue a doctorate in nursing. A doctoral degree qualifies holders for postsecondary teaching roles. Graduates can also become certified nurse practitioners and clinical nursing leaders.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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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Best Nursing Schools and Programs in Texas

  1. Texas Christian University
    Location

    Fort Worth, TX

    Tuition

    $37344

    TCU offers undergraduate and graduate nursing programs through the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Undergraduate students can pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) through a traditional track or an accelerated track. The two tracks require the same number of clinical hours. However, the course and clinical structure for the accelerated track follows a different pathway designed to maximize a student's progress through the program.

    Harris College offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) in nursing administration and leadership, nurse educator, and clinical nurse leader. MSN degree-holders can enroll in the college's post-master's doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. MSN-to-DNP applicants need an advanced practice registered nurse certification.

    The college also offers a BSN-to-DNP program with four specialization areas: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

    Like many of the best nursing schools in Texas, TCU's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  2. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $14156

    UT Austin's School of Nursing offers several nursing programs for applicants with varying educational backgrounds. Students with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can apply to the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program through the external transfer admission process. ADN students enroll in the same major coursework as BSN enrollees.

    Applicants with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field can pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) through the alternate entry (AE) MSN program. This program offers three specialization areas: psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, leadership in diverse settings, and adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist. BSN-trained nurses can apply directly to the MSN program, which offers specialization in three nurse practitioner arenas: family nurse, primary care pediatric, and psychiatric-mental health.

    For doctoral candidates, UT Austin offers a research-focused doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing and a practice-based doctor of nursing practice degree. The Ph.D. in nursing program also features an AE program for applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree in a non-nursing field.

    UT Austin's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  3. Baylor University
    Location

    Waco, TX

    Tuition

    $35158

    Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing offers nursing programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students who wish to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can pursue a traditional or accelerated track. Both tracks require applicants to have at least 60 transferable general education credits (or an associate degree) from an accredited school or program. Students in the traditional track earn the BSN in two years. Students in the accelerated track graduate in 12 months. All students complete 60 credits of upper-division nursing coursework.

    On the graduate level, students can pursue a master of science in nursing leadership and innovation or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. The DNP offers nurse practitioner specializations in family, neonatal, pediatric, and nurse midwifery. Students can also pursue a DNP in executive nurse leadership. The school offers a nurse anesthetist program through the United States Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing.

    Like many of the top nursing schools in Texas, Baylor's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $19118

    The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs at Texas A&M University accept applications from students with varying educational backgrounds. The on-campus traditional BSN welcomes applicants who have completed two years of general education coursework. Licensed registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree in nursing can apply to the RN-to-BSN program, which runs mostly online. Texas A&M offers an onsite second-degree BSN for students who hold a non-nursing bachelor's degree. Enrollees usually complete the second-degree BSN within 15 months.

    The College of Nursing also offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) for bachelor's-trained RNs. The MSN program offers specializations in nursing education, family nurse practitioner (FNP), and forensic nursing. All MSN programs accept part-time and full-time enrollees. The college offers coursework for the nursing education and forensic nursing programs primarily online. The FNP program follows a hybrid delivery schedule. The university also offers an online graduate certificate in forensic healthcare.

    Texas A&M's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. University of Houston
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $16002

    UH students entering their junior year who wish to pursue licensure as a registered nurse (RN) can apply to the traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) at the College of Nursing. Traditional BSN students attend on-campus classes. Associate-trained RNs can apply to the university's hybrid RN-to-BSN program. The college offers a third type of BSN for enrollees who already have a bachelor's or master's degree in a non-nursing field. Called a second-degree BSN, the program offers a full-time, accelerated (12 months) on-campus curriculum.

    The master of science in nursing (MSN) prepares enrollees for advanced practice roles as family nurse practitioners, nurse administrators, or nurse educators. The MSN follows a hybrid delivery format. Laboratory and clinical components require onsite presence, while instructional courses run online. In most instances, an MSN fulfills the educational requirements for a post-master's certificate as nurse administrator or nurse educator.

    Similar to many nursing programs in Texas, UH offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $7224

    UTHealth's Cizik School of Nursing offers several nursing programs to accommodate nursing applicants with varying educational backgrounds. The Pacesetter bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) consists of 60 credits of junior- and senior-level undergraduate nursing coursework that learners can complete in 15 months. Completion qualifies graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

    Licensed registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree in nursing can apply for the RN-to-BSN program. RNs with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field can apply to the RN-to-MSN program. BSN degree-holders who apply to the master of science (MSN) program can choose from six clinical tracks, including nursing leadership, psychiatric-mental health, and adult/gerontology primary care.

    On the doctoral level, MSN-trained students can pursue a doctor of philosophy in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. The Cizik School of Nursing also offers a BSN-to-DNP with tracks in nurse anesthesia and nurse practitioner.

    UTHealth's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  7. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $5704

    Students accepted to the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing can pursue a traditional or an accelerated BSN track. The traditional BSN track admits students who have completed four semesters of general education coursework and who will be applying for initial registered nurse (RN) licensure at the end of the program. The traditional BSN track requires 22 months of full-time enrollment. The accelerated track is a 15-month full-time program designed for non-RN enrollees with a bachelor's (or higher) degree in a non-nursing field.

    BSN-trained nurses who apply to the master of science in nursing (MSN) can specialize in administrative management or in clinical nurse leadership. The school offers a doctor of philosophy in nursing and a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Both programs accept BSN- and MSN-trained applicants. BSN-to-DNP enrollees can choose from several advanced practice tracks, including acute care and psychiatry-mental health nurse practitioner. Students admitted to the MSN-to-DNP program can choose an advanced practice leadership, executive administrative management, or public health nurse leader track.

    UT Health San Antonio offers nursing programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  8. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $6200

    Students accepted to TTUHSC's School of Nursing can enroll in one of three bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. The traditional BSN accepts students who have completed two years of prerequisite general education courses and are planning to apply for an initial registered nurse (RN) license after the program. Associate-trained RNs apply to the RN-to-BSN program, which comprises 30 credits and takes 2-3 semesters to complete. The second-degree BSN is designed for applicants with a non-nursing bachelor's or master's degree.

    Many of the school's master of science in nursing (MSN) programs accept only BSN-trained applicants. MSN students can specialize in one of several advanced practice fields, including nursing informatics, adult-gerontology primary and acute care, nursing administration, and nurse midwifery. On the doctoral level, the school offers a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) for MSN-trained students. The DNP also accepts BSN-trained applicants who can specialize as family nurse practitioners or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.

    TTUHSC's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. University of the Incarnate Word
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $24098

    The Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions at UIW offers a traditional and an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) for students who plan to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

    The 62-credit traditional BSN takes five semesters or 28 months to complete. The program welcomes applicants who have completed general education requirements and specific nursing prerequisites. Students who already hold a bachelor's degree (or higher) in a non-nursing field can apply to the accelerated BSN, which is a full-time 16-month program.

    At the postgraduate level, UIW offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) in nursing leadership and an RN-to-MSN program that accepts associate-trained registered nurses (RNs). The school also offers a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) that accepts BSN- and MSN-trained applicants. The BSN-to-DNP program leads to nurse practitioner roles in family nursing and in psychiatric-mental health nursing.

    UIW's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  10. The University of Texas Medical Branch
    Location

    Galveston, TX

    Tuition

    $6392

    UTMB's School of Nursing offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) for students with 60 general education transferable credits from an accredited institution. The traditional BSN prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN. Learners can complete the degree in four consecutive semesters, or 16 months. Associate-trained registered nurses (RNs) can apply for the RN-to-BSN program.

    UTMB's master of science in nursing (MSN) offers four nurse practitioner tracks: family, neonatal, adult-gerontology acute care, and adult-gerontology primary care. The MSN program also offers education/leadership tracks in clinical nurse leader, executive nurse leader, and nurse educator.

    At the doctoral level, the school offers a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) and a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Delivered primarily as an online program, the DNP only accepts applications from MSN-trained nurses. The Ph.D. program accepts applications from BSN- and MSN-trained nurses. Most of the required Ph.D. courses occur on campus.

    UTMB offers nursing programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Why Get a Degree in Nursing?

Nursing schools in Texas train students to assist individuals recovering from injury or illness. Completing an RN-to-BSN program can qualify graduates for higher-paying positions. Bachelor's degree-seekers select a specialization area. Learners also network with like-minded peers and explore the latest nursing best practices.

Many online RN-to-BSN programs feature asynchronous curricula. Students in these programs can complete academic requirements around work schedules. Maintaining employment while in school can help degree-seekers avoid debt and continue advancing their career. Additionally, online learners can consider all top nursing schools in Texas, regardless of proximity to their home.

How Much Does a Nursing Degree Cost?

As of March 2022, Texas Tech University charges in-state learners $215 per credit in tuition. Out-of-state students pay $623 per credit. Degree-seekers also pay fees covering student services, technology, and immunization. With fees, learners pay about $5,170 per semester. Students should also budget for transportation costs and textbooks.

Degree-seekers can reduce out-of-pocket costs by applying for tuition reimbursement through their employer. Recipients of tuition reimbursement typically agree to stay with their employer for a specific number of years after graduation. Students with financial need should submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal grants.

How Much Do Nurses Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that registered nurses earn a median salary of $75,330 per year. This salary exceeds the median for all occupations by approximately 75%. Texas RNs earn an average annual salary of $76,800, according to BLS data.

Professionals can increase their salary potential by earning an MSN, which qualifies holders for nurse practitioner roles. According to the BLS, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $117,670 per year. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 45% from 2020-2030.

In addition to earning a degree, RNs can increase their earning potential by obtaining professional certifications. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses awards board certification in more than a dozen areas. The association's adult care certification requires a valid nursing license and 2-3 years of relevant experience.

Courses in a Nursing Program

Nursing programs in Texas feature curricula designed to help licensed RNs advance their knowledge and skills. Many top programs offer fully online and hybrid formats. Classes typically incorporate evidence-based practice, foundational nursing concepts, and management and leadership skills development. Degree-seekers synthesize their knowledge to complete a capstone project or an extended essay.

Many nursing programs in Texas require the classes below. However, curricula vary by program. Program requirements can significantly impact learners' academic experience. Texas RNs should consider their options and consult with admissions advisors before selecting a program.

  • Incorporation of Evidence Into Practice

    Experienced nurses use evidence-based practices to provide excellent patient care. This class trains RNs to identify best practices. Participants complete online or in-person peer discussions, original research, and extended essays. Learners develop research skills and prepare for lifelong learning.
  • Foundations of Nursing Knowledge

    This class explores nursing theories' evolution and roles in healthcare settings. Coursework covers philosophies, evidence-based practices, and healthcare policy. This introductory course prepares learners for graduate studies and healthcare leadership roles.
  • Management and Leadership

    Many RNs with a bachelor's degree work in management or leadership positions. Learners in this class analyze how nursing leaders improve patient outcomes and overall safety. They explore how these professionals manage their employer's finances. Coursework covers various healthcare delivery models' benefits and drawbacks. Learners develop communication skills through collaborative exercises.

How to Become a Nurse

Aspiring RNs complete a state-approved associate, bachelor's, or master's program. Individuals with a non-nursing bachelor's degree often earn an MSN. Candidates with a degree and clinical experience can obtain a nursing license and apply for RN positions.

Registered nurses' responsibilities vary by employer and experience level. RNs typically record patients' medical histories, administer medicine, and create reports for doctors. Other tasks include using medical equipment and providing guidance to patients' families. RNs with a bachelor's or master's may specialize in an area such as addiction, genetics, rehabilitation, or public health.

Licensure for Nurses

Nursing programs in Texas prepare students to obtain licensure. Candidates without a criminal record can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and the Texas nursing jurisprudence exam. As of March 2022, Texas nursing licensure candidates pay a $100 exam fee and a $150 endorsement fee. RN licensure renewal costs $68. The state charges additional fees to renew a delinquent or lapsed license.

Out-of-state and international RNs can apply for a Texas nursing license. RNs licensed in other states submit their current license through the national Nursys database. International RNs submit licensure verification through the state's credential evaluation service. Domestic and international candidates undergo a criminal background check.

The licensure renewal deadline depends on the nurse's birth month. Texas RNs renew their license every two years by completing at least 20 continuing education hours. Nurses can take classes, develop educational programs, and publish original research to fulfill continuing education requirements. RNs submit continuing education documentation online.

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