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Iowa mints roughly 4,300 new graduates annually across its undergraduate nursing programs, which include numerous certificate, associate's degree, and bachelor’s degree offerings. These graduates join the ranks of Iowa's 35,000 existing nurses. It’s a fair number, but not enough for employment needs. In fact, the May 2011 Iowa Workforce Development survey reported that nursing is one of the state's top ten job vacancy categories.

In short, nursing is in high demand. Graduates in nursing will be pleased to find a plethora of job opportunities across the state, a rare thing in today’s economy.

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To be a nurse, however, one needs an education. There are numerous excellent nursing schools in Iowa -- both public and private -- and your selection of school depends on your personality and financial needs. For a little backdrop, we’ll highlight several differences between the two.

Large public universities offer a wide array of programs at multiple levels. For example, University of Iowa's highly ranked nursing school offers degree programs from the baccalaureate through doctorate level. Smaller public schools usually focus their offerings on undergraduate certificates and degrees. Because they are state-funded, public institutions have lower tuition costs for state residents. The large number of students at public schools can intimidate some new attendees; others relish the opportunity to interact with such a wide variety of people.

Private universities like Allen College are significantly smaller, but they offer several benefits including a lower student-to-teacher ratio. Because they charge higher tuition, private universities often provide more generous financial aid packages. They also tend to cultivate more specialized nursing degrees, such as anesthesiology or gynecology.

To help you find the right nursing school for you, we’ve compiled below a list of Iowa's top nursing schools and ordered them by class size.

Featured Schools

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Iowa nursing schools: Largest to smallest

Indian Hills Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 190 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 175 students during the 2012 period
Kirkwood Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 168 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 86 students during the 2012 period
Mercy College of Health Sciences
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 162 students during the 2012 period
Iowa Western Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 131 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 97 students during the 2012 period
Des Moines Area Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 116 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 92 students during the 2012 period
University of Iowa
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 112 students during the 2012 period
Allen College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 104 students during the 2012 period
Iowa Central Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 98 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 42 students during the 2012 period
Eastern Iowa Community College District
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 95 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 37 students during the 2012 period
Northeast Iowa Community College District
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 95 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 95 students during the 2012 period
Western Iowa Tech Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 93 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 77 students during the 2012 period
Hawkeye Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 90 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 61 students during the 2012 period
Iowa Lakes Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 76 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 6 students during the 2012 period
Southeastern Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 76 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 75 students during the 2012 period
Mount Mercy University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 70 students during the 2012 period
Iowa Valley Community College District
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 63 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 21 students during the 2012 period
St. Luke's College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 60 students during the 2012 period
St. Ambrose University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 56 students during the 2012 period
Southwestern Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 54 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 44 students during the 2012 period
Grand View University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 46 students during the 2018 period
Northwest Iowa Community College
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 46 students during the 2012 period
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 36 students during the 2012 period
Clarke University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 40 students during the 2012 period
North Iowa Area Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 37 students during the 2012 period
Certificate in Practical Nursing: 20 students during the 2012 period
Purdue University Global - Cedar Rapids
Associate's Degree in Nursing: 31 students during the 2012 period
Luther College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 30 students during the 2012 period
Iowa Wesleyan University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 28 students during the 2012 period
Morningside College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 24 students during the 2018 period
University of Dubuque
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 23 students during the 2012 period
Coe College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 19 students during the 2012 period
Northwestern College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 19 students during the 2012 period
Briar Cliff University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 13 students during the 2018 period
School Program Class size
Indian Hills Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 190 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 175 students
Kirkwood Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 168 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 86 students
Mercy College of Health Sciences Associate's Degree in Nursing 162 students
Iowa Western Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 131 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 97 students
Des Moines Area Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 116 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 92 students
University of Iowa Bachelor of Science in Nursing 112 students
Allen College Bachelor of Science in Nursing 104 students
Iowa Central Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 98 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 42 students
Eastern Iowa Community College District Associate's Degree in Nursing 95 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 37 students
Northeast Iowa Community College District Certificate in Practical Nursing 95 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 95 students
Western Iowa Tech Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 93 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 77 students
Hawkeye Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 90 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 61 students
Iowa Lakes Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 76 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 6 students
Southeastern Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 76 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 75 students
Mount Mercy University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 70 students
Iowa Valley Community College District Certificate in Practical Nursing 63 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 21 students
St. Luke's College Associate's Degree in Nursing 60 students
St. Ambrose University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 56 students
Southwestern Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 54 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 44 students
Grand View University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 46 students
Northwest Iowa Community College Certificate in Practical Nursing 46 students
Associate's Degree in Nursing 36 students
Clarke University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 40 students
North Iowa Area Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 37 students
Certificate in Practical Nursing 20 students
Purdue University Global - Cedar Rapids Associate's Degree in Nursing 31 students
Luther College Bachelor of Science in Nursing 30 students
Iowa Wesleyan University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 28 students
Morningside College Bachelor of Science in Nursing 24 students
University of Dubuque Bachelor of Science in Nursing 23 students
Coe College Bachelor of Science in Nursing 19 students
Northwestern College Bachelor of Science in Nursing 19 students
Briar Cliff University Bachelor of Science in Nursing 13 students