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 New England rankings: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 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.
#11: University of New Hampshire | Durham, NH
The nursing department at UNH’s College of Health and Human Services offers traditional BSN, direct-entry MSN, and RN-to-MSN degree programs. Students from both the BSN and direct-entry MSN programs have passed the NCLEX exam at a rate of ~95% over the past four years. The MSN curriculum currently offers three practice tracks: clinical nurse leader (CNL), evidence-based nursing (EBN), and family nurse practitioner (FNP). The school also offers a post-master’s FNP certification and an online DNP program.
#12: MGH Institute of Health Professions | Boston, MA
The MGH Institute of Health Professions is always innovating. In 2007, its School of Nursing was one of the first four institutions in the country to create an accredited DNP program. The school introduced a holistic Mind Body Spirit (MBS) program in 2011 and a Global Health Nursing certification program in 2013. More than 80% of the school’s faculty have a doctoral degree, and graduating classes have consistently achieved an 85%+ first-time pass rate for both the NCLEX-RN and advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) certification exams.
#13: University of Vermont | Burlington, VT
Viewing nursing as a science and an art, University of Vermont’s Department of Nursing lays heavy emphasis on behavioral, natural, and nursing sciences. The school integrates interdisciplinary education with clinical experience and gives students an opportunity to study public health in international locations. Its BSN students have achieved an NCLEX first-time pass rate of 90% or higher since 2010, consistently beating the national average each year. The school’s graduate nursing programs include clinical nurse leader, doctor of nursing practice, and a direct-entry program in nursing.
#14: University of Saint Joseph | West Hartford, CT
A tight student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 allows the USJ School of Health & Natural Sciences to provide students with intensive personal attention and guidance. It’s no wonder, then, that USJ routinely graduates BSN students with an NCLEX pass rate of 86-94%. Interestingly, the traditional BSN is only available to women, while the accelerated second-degree BSN and RN-to-BSN programs are available to men as well. In addition to FNP master’s and online DNP programs, USJ also offers a post-master's certification for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.
#15: MCPHS University | Boston, MA
MCPHS students are the #1 salary earners in New England, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Spread across three locations – Boston, Worcester, and Manchester – MCPHS is one of the few private universities in the country specializing solely in the education of health professionals. Nursing students receive a broad-based healthcare education that prepares them well for licensure exams and future practice. For example, students at the school’s Worcester campus have achieved a 92% NCLEX pass rate over the past seven years.
#16: University of Massachusetts Lowell | Lowell, MA
UMass Lowell’s graduate nursing program is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school also boasts 100+ healthcare partners, 200+ students at clinical sites, and 100+ faculty publications, as well as a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 87% over the past seven years. Recently recognized by the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, UMass Lowell offers a master’s certification in adult-gerontological nursing, as well as fast-track BSN-to-MSN and MSN-to-DNP programs.
#17: University of Massachusetts Amherst | Amherst, MA
Founded in 1863, the College of Nursing at UMass Amherst was the first in the state to offer a DNP program and among the first to offer a publicly supported PhD program. Today, its online graduate nursing program is ranked among the top 50 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and 85% or more of the college’s BSN students routinely pass the NCLEX exam on first sitting. UMass Amherst’s recently renovated facilities include a nursing simulation lab with five state-of-the-art rooms, a 16-hospital-bed area, and two clinical exam rooms.
#18: University of Rhode Island | Kingston, RI
Nestled in the university’s 1200-acre campus, URI’s School of Nursing offers students the best of New England tradition and coastal charm. Small classes and a concentration on interdisciplinary partnerships and research service are what draw 850 undergraduates to enroll here each year. Graduates of the school’s BSN program have historically passed the NCLEX exam at a rate of ~88%. The school also provides an online BSN for registered nurses; MSN specializations in family practice, education, acute care, and adult-gerontology; and the state’s only nursing PhD program.
#19: Rivier University | Nashua, NH
Rivier University has the only nursing department in New Hampshire with all programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). In 2014, Rivier’s undergraduates had an 83.6% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam, and its MSN students had a 100% pass rate on both the FNP and PMHNP certification exams. All of these scores exceeded the respective national averages. Rivier’s programs are flexible: students can pursue a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), a four-year BSN, or advanced placement for licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Rivier also offers a degree completion program for advanced practice registered nurses.
#20: Western Connecticut State University | Danbury, CT
WCSU’s nursing department annually graduates 40-50 students from its prelicensure BSN program. Impressively, these students have achieved an NCLEX pass rate of 94-100% in each of the past six years. The school’s popular RN-to-BSN program is offered on the main campus plus two satellite locations: Naugatuck Valley Community College and Norwalk Community College. The department also has MSN programs for certification as a nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), both of which are designed for part-time study with evening courses.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the New England area.