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.
#31: Madonna University | Livonia, MI
Madonna University’s College of Nursing and Health offers a breadth of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue a prelicensure BSN or RN-to-BSN degree completion. Graduate students have five MSN specialty tracks, a joint MSN/MBA dual degree option, four graduate certificates, and a post-master’s DNP degree. These nursing programs embody the university’s Catholic and Franciscan commitment to serving the community. Twenty-six nursing faculty members guide students through lab experiences, high-fidelity simulation, and clinical practice in a variety of healthcare settings. The college’s Nursing Simulation Lab has four mock hospital rooms, a home health community room, and a ten-bed skills laboratory.
#32: Franciscan University of Steubenville | Steubenville, OH
Franciscan University’s nursing program draws on its Christian values, providing education geared towards holistic health-oriented care. The program offers a traditional BSN for undergraduate students, an RN-to-BSN articulation option for registered nurses, and an MSN program with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Franciscan University’s small BSN graduating class, typically 50-60 students annually, has passed the NCLEX exam at a 92% rate over the past six years. Students have access to a well-equipped Nursing Simulation Laboratory that incorporates the latest Laerdal human patient simulator technology.
#33: Edgewood College | Madison, WI
Edgewood College has awarded nursing degrees since 1983. The Henry Predolin School of Nursing recently launched a DNP program and now offers the full gamut of baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees. The traditional BSN program graduates about 100 students each year, and they routinely pass the NCLEX exam at a solid rate of 87-94%. Nursing students take advantage of the college’s clinical partnerships with over 70 facilities in southcentral Wisconsin, including University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, American Family Children's Hospital, and UnityPoint Health - Meriter Hospital.
#34: Mount St. Joseph University | Cincinnati, OH
The Department of Nursing at Mount St. Joseph University has 80+ years of experience educating nurses. The department offers several undergraduate and graduate options, including their MAGELIN (Master’s Graduate Entry-Level into Nursing) program for second-degree students. Introduced in 2004, the program has maintained a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 87% over the past seven years. The school’s prelicensure BSN students also perform well on their exams: over the same time period, they passed the NCLEX at an 89% rate on their first attempt. Mount St. Joseph also offers traditional MSN and DNP programs for existing registered nurses.
#35: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee | Milwaukee, WI
Operational since 1965, the UW Milwaukee College of Nursing conducts the largest nursing program in the state. The college boasts over 7,000 alumni and currently enrolls 1,300 undergraduates and 300 graduate students. UW Milwaukee offers excellent nursing facilities, 95 dedicated faculty, and 200+ clinical affiliations. Each year, roughly 200 students complete the traditional BSN program; these graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a solid rate, with an 83% first-time pass rate and a 92% overall pass rate since 2011. UW Milwaukee was the first university to offer an asynchronous online nursing PhD in 2003. Today, most campus-based undergraduate and graduate courses are available online as well.
#36: Lewis University | Romeoville, IL
The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Lewis University has forty years of experience educating nurses. Lewis offers a full range of nursing programs including traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN with six specialization options, a dual MSN/MBA degree, post-master’s certificates, and a doctor of nursing practice. The college graduates approximately 140 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have achieved a remarkable 97.5% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. Lewis students learn through one-on-one faculty interactions in state-of-the art simulation labs, and they experience diverse patient populations though the college’s 50+ clinical affiliations. Many courses are also offered online to accommodate a variety of schedules.
#37: Chamberlain College of Nursing | Chicago, IL
Founded in 1889 to address a lack of healthcare services, Chamberlain College continues to increase access to nursing education nationwide. Chicago is just one of 19 Chamberlain locations across the country. The school offers a three-year BSN program, geared towards students who want to accelerate their degree with summer study. The Chicago campus graduates over 500 new nurses annually, by far the largest prelicensure BSN program in the state. Despite the school’s size, students receive individualized attention, enabling them to pass the NCLEX exam at an 86% rate since 2010. Chamberlain College also offers a fully online MSN program with specialty tracks for nurse educators, nurse executives, family nurse practitioners, nursing informatics, and healthcare policy.
#38: Indiana Wesleyan University | Marion, IN
Indiana Wesleyan University’s School of Nursing graduated its first class of 33 students in 1975. Today, the school employs 200 faculty and educates 2,000 full-time nursing students across its 16 regional education centers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, as well as online. IWU offers a variety of nursing programs including three BSN tracks (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN), four MSN majors, an MSN/MBA dual degree, and an online DNP with a classroom-based residency. The Marion campus graduates 130-140 traditional BSN students each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 91.3% rate over the past four years. Students learn at the Fortune Simulation Lab with cutting-edge facilities including eight simulators.
#39: Wright State University | Dayton, OH
The Wright State University-Miami Valley College of Nursing and Health enrolls almost 700 undergraduate and 220 graduate nursing students. Classes in a range of nursing disciplines and specializations are led by 45 experienced faculty. The college graduates a large BSN class of 200 students each year, who consistently pass the NCLEX exam at an 83-90% rate. A multi-year strategic initiative called the Wright Nurse Project helps the college improve its curriculum towards more evidence-based pedagogy. Students have several opportunities for international immersion, including a study abroad program in the United Kingdom and global health initiatives in Tanzania.
#40: Saint Xavier University | Chicago, IL
Founded in 1935, the Saint Xavier University School of Nursing has educated well over 5,000 nurses and was the first nursing school in the state to offer an accredited baccalaureate program. Saint Xavier recently received its third consecutive COE designation from the National League for Nursing. The school engages 33 faculty members across its numerous undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate over the past eight years, significantly above state and national averages. The school’s online MSN program is currently ranked #3 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the Great Lakes region.