For our inaugural rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,200 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. We included the following states within our Great Lakes rankings: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. We evaluated each nursing school in the region on three dimensions:
- The institution’s academic prestige and perceived value
- The breadth and depth of nursing programs offered
- Student success, particularly on the NCLEX national licensure exam
We then combined these assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. For a detailed description of our assessment methodology and dimension weights, please see here.
#21: Ursuline College | Pepper Pike, OH
Ursuline was the first women's college in Ohio and one of the first women’s colleges in the country. Its Breen School of Nursing maintains this tradition, educating female nurses in the following programs: traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, traditional MSN, RN-to-MSN, and DNP. The school provides five distinct MSN tracks: adult nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, palliative care, adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, and nursing education. Approximately 100 students graduate annually from the four-year BSN program, and they have maintained a solid NCLEX exam pass rate of 87% since 2009.
#22: Mount Carmel College of Nursing | Columbus, OH
Mount Carmel College of Nursing enrolls over 1,000 students and conducts one of the largest baccalaureate nursing programs in the state, with 200+ annual BSN graduates. Over the past seven years, these students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate on their first effort. The college also offers an MSN program with four specialty tracks and a DNP program. Mount Carmel fosters 12% ethnic diversity in its student body and emphasizes small class sizes and personal faculty attention. Students have easy access to hands-on learning at Mount Carmel West Hospital, located right on campus.
#23: Loyola University Chicago | Chicago, IL
In 1935, Loyola University Chicago was the first Illinois university to offer a BSN degree. Today, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing offers undergraduate (BSN), master’s (MSN), and doctoral (DNP and PhD) nursing programs. More than 85% of the school’s full-time faculty have doctoral degrees. Loyola’s BSN graduates have scored an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 91.8% over the past four years. Community outreach is a priority for the school, and it operates two nurse-managed centers that also serve as clinical sites for student practice.
#24: University of Indianapolis | Indianapolis, IN
UIndy’s School of Nursing is the only institution in the state that offers both nurse-midwifery and neonatal nurse practitioner programs. The school also provides five other MSN specializations; traditional, accelerated, and degree-completion BSN programs; and a doctorate of nursing practice. Prelicensure students from UIndy’s BSN programs have achieved an NCLEX exam pass rate of ~92% over the past decade. The school’s “Education for Service” motto is deeply embedded in its nursing curriculum: students can join a number of volunteer and mission opportunities each year.
#25: Oakland University | Rochester Hills, MI
Oakland University’s School of Nursing is the largest state-supported nursing program in Michigan, with 1,648 undergraduates and 236 graduate students. More than 95% of alumni find employment in the tri-county area, contributing to the region’s economy. The school has 268 clinical partners including some of Detroit’s top hospitals and facilities, and it boasts 360 one-on-one preceptor experiences. Nursing students can apply to a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including a unique MSN in forensic nursing.
#26: Governors State University | University Park, IL
Governors State University’s nursing curriculum incorporates the latest recommendations from the Carnegie Foundation Report and the Institute of Medicine. The Department of Nursing aims to educate nurse leaders who will address the challenges of local, regional, and national healthcare reform. The school has 15 full-time nursing faculty and primarily offers graduate programs, including a DNP and three MSN concentrations (nursing administration, CNS in adult healthcare, FNP). Governors State also conducts a completely online RN-to-BSN completion program for registered nurses.
#27: Xavier University | Cincinnati, OH
The nursing program at Xavier University is one of just 12 programs in the nation endorsed by the American Holistic Nursing Association. Students learn from faculty with a diverse range of specialties including epidemiology, natural health, gerontology, and occupational health. With an emphasis on improving medical care for the Hispanic community, Xavier’s nursing department has also created an exclusive program that specializes in educating nurses fluent in Spanish. Graduates of all programs perform well on their licensure exams: BSN students passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate in 2015, and the direct-entry MSN program has posted a 93% NCLEX pass rate for three years running.
#28: DePaul University | Chicago, IL
DePaul’s School of Nursing was the first in Illinois to offer a two-year direct-entry MSN program for non-nurses. The school also conducts a three-year RN-to-MSN program for nurses who hold an ADN or hospital diploma, and it offers a DNP program with specializations in nurse anesthesia, family nursing, and adult-gerontological nursing. The direct-entry MSN program graduates 100+ students annually, with an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 91% since 2009. DePaul’s pass rate on the nurse anesthesia certification exam has reached a stellar 100% in recent years. Students enjoy a network of 75+ clinical sites and state-of-the-art facilities across two campuses in Lincoln Park and North Chicago.
#29: Bradley University | Peoria, IL
Bradley University’s Department of Nursing offers two BSN pathways (four-year, accelerated) and three traditional MSN tracks (general, nursing administration, nursing education). The BSN program graduates 65-80 students annually and has maintained a remarkable 97% NCLEX pass rate over the past five years. Undergraduates learn from 22 experienced faculty and begin clinical experiences during sophomore year. Bradley’s traditional MSN program is complemented by its extensive online curriculum, including an RN-to-MSN bridge, two MSN concentrations (nursing administration, FNP), and two DNP concentrations (leadership, FNP). These online programs provide flexibility and easy access so that working nurses can improve their educational qualifications while in the field.
#30: University of Southern Indiana | Evansville, IN
USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers prelicensure BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, APRN certificate, and DNP programs. The college adopts a unique dedicated education unit (DEU) model, featuring exclusive clinical education partnerships with both Deaconess Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital. The school’s BSN graduates have an outstanding NCLEX pass rate of 98.5% since 2011. Students appearing for APRN certifications from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) have displayed a perfect 100% pass rate on several exams since 2012.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the Great Lakes region.