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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.

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#11: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire | Eau Claire, WI
UW Eau Claire graduated its first nursing class in 1968. Today, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a range of nursing degrees including traditional BSN, BSN completion, MSN, and DNP programs. In total, the college educates 800 undergraduate and graduate students and offers 300+ clinical affiliations. Approximately 110-130 students complete the traditional BSN program annually, with a stellar NCLEX pass rate of 94-95% in each of the past four years. Nearly 100% of students are either employed within months of graduation or pursue further nursing education.


#12: Purdue University | West Lafayette, IN
Purdue University’s School of Nursing is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences. The school enrolls 550 undergraduates in its traditional and second-degree BSN programs, as well as 50 graduate students in its MSN and DNP programs. Purdue’s graduating BSN class has passed the NCLEX exam at a strong rate of ~90% since 2007. Nursing students can take advantage of unique facilities including the Center for Nursing History, Ethics, Human Rights and Innovations; the Center for Nursing Education and Simulation; and the Nursing Center for Family Health. They can also seize the opportunity to study in four international locations.


#13: Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing | Peoria, IL
As the only Catholic nursing school in Peoria, Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing is proud of its heritage. It offers students a range of programs including prelicensure BSN, RN-to-BSN, an MSN with eight specialty tracks, several post-master’s certificates, and a DNP taught predominantly online. Graduates from the college’s prelicensure BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an 86% rate over the past eight years. The college provides students with hands-on clinical experiences and a low student-to-faculty ratio. Its recently renovated Nursing Learning Center is a state-of-the-art facility with four simulation laboratories.


#14: Concordia University Wisconsin | Mequon, WI
The School of Nursing at Concordia University Wisconsin offers traditional BSN and RN-to-BSN programs at the undergraduate level, with a strong foundation in the liberal arts. CUW’s MSN program has specialty tracks for aspiring nurse educators, family nurse practitioners, and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners. The school also has an accelerated RN-to-BSN-to-MSN bridge program, a DNP degree, and a unique course in parish nursing. CUW’s four-year BSN program graduates 40-50 students each year, with a cumulative NCLEX pass rate of 94% since 2011. Undergraduates benefit from global study trips and clinical experiences that start during their sophomore year.


#15: Valparaiso University | Valparaiso, IN
Valparaiso University's College of Nursing and Health Professions offers undergraduate students BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN options. At the graduate level, BSN-educated nurses may pursue an MSN with a focus on nursing education, a joint MSN/MBA program, or a DNP degree. Valparaiso’s graduating BSN class of ~100 students has passed the NCLEX exam at a 92% rate over the past four years. More than 60% of the faculty hold doctoral nursing degrees, and students enjoy access to state-of-the-art facilities such as the Virtual Nursing Learning Center and the SIM-Center.


#16: Illinois State University | Normal, IL
Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) offers a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Approximately 150 BSN graduates from the college appear for the NCLEX exam annually, with an excellent pass rate of 94-100% every single year. MCN students have access to a 10,000-square-foot Nursing Simulation Laboratory, enjoy an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio in clinical settings, and can travel to five international locations for nursing experiences. The college is focused on diversity and recently received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services towards increasing nursing education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


#17: Grand Valley State University | Allendale, MI
Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing (KCON) has a history of successful innovations in nursing education since its inception in 1973. KCON has 26 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and hosts a dedicated academic nurse-managed center (ANMC) that provides care to students, faculty, and staff – part of a national network of nursing centers that share expertise. The college offers three BSN tracks (traditional, second-degree, RN-to-BSN), two graduate degrees (MSN, DNP), and a post-baccalaureate Interprofessional Palliative and Hospice Care Certificate.


#18: Marquette University | Milwaukee, WI
Founded in 1936, the College of Nursing at Marquette University has more than 7,000 alumni and educates ~350 nursing students annually. The college offers BSN, MSN, post-master’s certificates, DNP, and PhD nursing programs, with a low 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio in clinical settings. Graduates of the school’s flagship BSN program consistently pass the NCLEX exam at an 80-90% rate every year. The College of Nursing is housed in 46,000-square-foot Emory T. Clark Hall, where students benefit from new facilities like the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center for Clinical Simulation.


#19: Elmhurst College | Elmhurst, IL
Elmhurst’s School for Professional Studies offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, and an MSN degree with three tracks (clinical nurse leader, nurse educator, nurse administrator). Since 2008, graduates of the school’s traditional BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 91.5% rate on their first attempt. Elmhurst is focused on innovation in nursing education: the school’s new preoperative nursing course was the first of its kind offered in the Chicago area. Located just 16 miles from downtown Chicago, the school’s students have access to a wealth of premier institutes for clinical studies.


#20: Michigan State University | East Lansing, MI
The College of Nursing at Michigan State University has educated 6,000 nurses over the last sixty years. MSU is currently ranked #18 in NIH funding for nursing research, and the college has received over $7.4 million in grants to increase its nursing infrastructure. Students will benefit from the new three-story, 50,000-square-foot Bott Building for Nursing Education and Research, which includes several seminar classrooms, faculty workstations, a PhD student collaboratory, and a student lounge. The school also supports initiatives for international learning in Africa, China, and England.


The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the Great Lakes region.

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