Find a nursing school near you

Programs include LPN/LVN, ADN, BSN, MSN, and more

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 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.

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#11: University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill, NC
The University of North Carolina School of Nursing (SON) is perennially recognized as one of the best nursing schools in the country. In addition to its top-20 overall ranking by U.S. News & World Report, the SON’s healthcare systems administration specialty tied for fifth place in 2016. Students graduate from its programs incredibly well-prepared for the workforce; for example, 97% of the SON’s 2015 BSN graduates earned a first-time passing score on the NCLEX exam. Beyond its accolades and performance, the SON is well-known for its commitment to the study, prevention, and management of chronic illness.


#12: East Carolina University | Greenville, NC
The East Carolina University (ECU) College of Nursing has been designated a Center of Excellence™ by the NLN three times since 2008. ECU offers the full breadth of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs. The school’s BSN graduates consistently boast a 95%+ pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam. Beyond this impressive performance, ECU places an emphasis on professional development. Its East Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership empowers nurses to be leaders and partners in the pursuit of healthier communities in the eastern North Carolina area.


#13: Emory University | Atlanta, GA
Recently ranked the #8 graduate nursing school by U.S. News & World Report, the Emory University School of Nursing offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs for its 500-plus students. Graduates of Emory’s BSN program have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a rate of ~88% over the past eight years. Popular graduate areas of study include family practice nursing, midwifery, pediatric nursing, and emergency room / trauma nursing. Emory is ranked #4 in research funding from the NIH, and the School of Nursing was also recognized as one of the “Top 30 Cutting-Edge Nursing Schools” by Nursing School Hub.


#14: Thomas Jefferson University | Philadelphia, PA
Designated a Center of Excellence™ in nursing education by the NLN, the Thomas Jefferson University College of Nursing offers an impressive continuum of nursing programs. The prelicensure BSN degree is TJU’s largest nursing program, graduating 230-280 students annually. In fact, this program is so popular that TJU plans to open a second BSN program in the nearby Willow Grove area. The school’s long-standing partnership with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital has formed one of the top academic health centers in the country.


#15: Villanova University | Villanova, PA
Twice recognized as an NLN Center of Excellence™, the Villanova University College of Nursing prepares students under the auspices of the Catholic tradition. Nursing is taught as a service to those who live in a diverse society, with a major emphasis on ethical decision-making and human values. Villanova boasts a world-class faculty, with 82% of full-time faculty members holding a doctoral degree. It’s no wonder, therefore, that a high percentage of the College of Nursing’s graduates assume leadership roles when they enter the healthcare industry.


#16: Vanderbilt University | Nashville, TN
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #13 graduate nursing program in the country, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offers a range of master’s and doctoral programs. Each year, approximately 150 students graduate from its entry-level MSN program, typically earning a pass rate of 92% or higher on the NCLEX-RN exam. Vanderbilt is particularly well-known for its innovative approaches to leveraging technology in nursing education, preparing graduates for an increasingly complex and digital industry.


#17: Georgetown University | Washington, DC
The Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies prepares its BSN students impressively well for the NCLEX exam: 95%+ of graduates typically pass on the first try. A key reason for this stellar performance is the school’s multi-million-dollar nursing research program, funded by organizations like the NIH, U.S. Department of State, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This funding supports a broad diversity of research interests across the faculty, including mental health, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and health economics.


#18: University of Massachusetts Medical School | Worcester, MA
University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) is the only public academic health sciences center in the state of Massachusetts. Known for the limited size of its student body, UMMS prepares its direct-entry master’s students exceptionally well for the NCLEX-RN: historically, greater than 97% of MSN graduates have passed the exam on the first try. Research funding for UMMS has skyrocketed over the last 35 years, from $2 million in 1977 to almost $250 million in 2014, making the school one of the fastest-growing research institutions in the country.


#19: Quinnipiac University | Hamden, CT
The Quinnipiac University School of Nursing was recently named one of the top ten places to earn a nursing degree by USA Today. Quinnipiac is also one of just 12 schools in the country to be holistically endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, and it is one of only two schools with an endorsed DNP program. Contributing to these accolades is the school’s small class size, which enables students to interact in a personalized way with faculty members.


#20: Northeastern University | Boston, MA
Designated an NLN Center of Excellence™ in 2013, the Northeastern University School of Nursing prepares its students incredibly well. Each year, greater than 95% of entry-level MSN graduates pass the NCLEX-RN exam. With a significant emphasis on experiential learning, Northeastern requires its undergraduates to fulfill at least one research, service learning, co-op, or global learning experience. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked Northeastern’s U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing as the best graduate anesthesia nursing program in the country.


The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs. Many of them are taught online.

Featured Schools

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