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. Approximately 1,900 of the institutions surveyed were vocational, career, and community colleges that focus on entry-level prelicensure education. We evaluated each school 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.
#1: UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing | Pittsburgh, PA
The National League for Nursing (NLN) has twice designated UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing as a Center of Excellence™ (COE) for enhancing student learning and professional development. Located in the world-renowned medical community of Pittsburgh, Shadyside School of Nursing offers a stimulating academic environment with state-of-the-art facilities. A strong clinical program features partnerships with UPMC Shadyside and other local hospitals. Thanks to an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the school’s expert practitioners can provide individualized instruction. Graduates of Shadyside’s diploma program have achieved a strong 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure examination since 2008.
#2: Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing | Bridgeport, CT
Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing (BHSN) is the oldest nursing school in Connecticut and one of the oldest in the country. BHSN offers an intensive, hospital-based diploma program that spans 69 weeks of study. Prospective students have several options to customize their education, including partial evening study during the first academic year, an accelerated track that finishes one semester early, and an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) completion pathway in partnership with Housatonic Community College. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can also take advantage of the school’s LPN bridge program. BHSN’s NCLEX pass rates are stellar all around: since 2010, 94% of traditional diploma students and 98% of accelerated students have passed the licensure exam on their first attempt. BHSN also offers studies in surgical technology and sterile processing.
#3: Lawrence Memorial / Regis College | Medford, MA
In 1998, Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing collaborated with Regis College to design and launch a new ADN program. The joint curriculum awards an associate of science (AS) degree with a major in nursing. Clinical experiences are offered at major Boston teaching hospitals, suburban hospitals, long-term care facilities, and a variety of community, home care, and social service agencies. The registered nursing (RN) program shares its campus with Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Courtyard Nursing Care Center, both affiliates of Hallmark Health. The Lawrence Memorial / Regis College ADN program produces 100+ newly minted nurses annually, with a strong NCLEX pass rate of ~92% over the past eight years. Graduates of the ADN program can pursue two different pathways to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from Regis College.
#4: Trinitas School of Nursing | Elizabeth, NJ
In partnership with Union County College (UCC), Trinitas School of Nursing (TSON) conducts a cooperative nursing program that awards graduates both a TSON nursing diploma and a UCC associate’s degree. TSON has been named an NLN Center of Excellence™ three consecutive times, and the school’s curriculum places special emphasis on addressing twenty-first-century healthcare challenges. Approximately 130-160 students complete the diploma program each year, and these graduates have posted a first-time NCLEX pass rate of over 90% during the past decade. TSON graduates can pursue a bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE) through its RN-to-BSN program at the UCC campus. In fact, CSE recently launched a master of science in nursing (MSN) program at the UCC site as well, enhancing the local mobility options for TSON graduates.
#5: York Technical College / USC Lancaster | Rock Hill, SC
Through a cooperative program with the University of South Carolina Lancaster, York Technical College offers an ADN program that trains aspiring nurses to provide healthcare across the lifespan. Rigorous classes are led by distinguished faculty members and complemented with evidence-based clinical rotations throughout the tri-county area. York Tech’s ADN students have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a stellar 98.3% rate since 2011. In several recent academic years, the program boasted the highest first-time NCLEX pass rate in the state. Graduates of the ADN program can pursue the RN-to-BSN degree completion pathway at USC Lancaster, where the curriculum focuses on nursing leadership in healthcare delivery, policy, and outcomes.
#6: Covenant School of Nursing | Lubbock, TX
Founded in 1918, Covenant School of Nursing (CSON) is the oldest nursing school in the South Plains, boasting over 4,500 graduates. The school offers a full-time diploma program that requires 64 weeks of immersive, hospital-based study. Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) can take advantage of a streamlined LVN-to-RN entry pathway. CSON students conclude the diploma program by sitting for the NCLEX licensure exam, where they have achieved an impressive 90% pass rate over the past eight years. The school encourages its alumni to pursue additional nursing education. Indeed, a partnership with local Lubbock Christian University allows recent CSON graduates to earn a BSN degree in just two semesters.
#7: Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital | Syracuse, NY
Located in the heart of Syracuse’s University Hill area, the Bill and Sandra Pomeroy College of Nursing offers a two-year associate’s degree program in nursing. Classes are conducted at the Harry and Lillian Marley Education Center, a high-tech facility located directly across from Crouse Hospital. The school's vibrant curriculum includes a cross-cultural healthcare immersion program in Guatemala. Pomeroy students have performed very well on the national licensure examination, posting a 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The school continues to innovate, recently launching an Early Assurance option for graduates to transfer seamlessly into the Le Moyne College RN-to-BSN program. Pomeroy will also begin offering an accelerated 18-month pathway with evening and weekend classes in January 2017.
#8: St. Joseph’s College of Nursing | Syracuse, NY
St. Joseph’s College of Nursing was founded in 1898 by the Sisters of St. Francis. Over the past 118 years, the college has produced more than 4,000 newly minted nurses, with 120-150 new graduates joining their ranks each year. St. Joseph’s offers a number of tailored pathways to the nursing profession, including a traditional two-year weekday ADN and an accelerated 18-month evening / weekend program. The school has also designed a dual degree partnership in nursing (DDPN) option with Le Moyne College, awarding both an associate’s degree and a baccalaureate degree in four years over a 1+2+1 class schedule. St. Joseph’s students have earned a stellar NCLEX pass rate of 93.2% over the past eight years. Graduates are given transfer consideration into the RN-to-BSN programs of more than a dozen local and online nursing colleges.
#9: Carolinas College of Health Sciences | Charlotte, NC
In just 26 years of existence, Carolinas College of Health Sciences (CCHS) has become one of the most highly regarded vocational nursing schools in the country. The college offers both a traditional ADN program and an LPN-to-ADN matriculation option. Students enjoy a small-school academic environment, with access to world-class clinical experiences at the Carolinas Medical Center and its multidisciplinary Carolinas Simulation Center. Every nursing faculty member has at least a master’s degree in the field, and many hold specialty certifications. Not surprisingly, the college’s ADN graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a 95% clip since 2010, one of the strongest pass rates in the state. Approximately 80% of CCHS nursing students take a position with Carolinas HealthCare System upon graduation.
#10: JFK Muhlenberg Snyder School of Nursing | Plainfield, NJ
Through a cooperative program with nearby Union County College, JFK Muhlenberg Snyder School of Nursing offers four different tracks toward registered nursing licensure. The generic program awards both a nursing diploma and an AS degree in just five semester of study. Accelerated options are available for existing LPNs (LPN-to-RN transition track) and bachelor’s degree-holders in non-nursing fields (accelerated track). Finally, individuals seeking a direct path to a BSN degree may complete a collaborative program between Snyder, UCC, and Kean University. Across all tracks, the Snyder School of Nursing enrolls 420 full- and part-time students. These aspiring nurses have passed the NCLEX licensure examination at a 90%+ rate over the past decade.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs. Many of them are taught online.