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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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#41: Olivet Nazarene University | Bourbonnais, IL
Olivet Nazarene University offers nursing instruction in the context of a Christian liberal arts education. Students learn from twenty faculty members who lead an array of nursing programs, including BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, two MSN tracks (generic and FNP focus), and a post-master’s FNP certification. Olivet’s small class sizes and personalized instruction have helped BSN graduates to pass the NCLEX exam at an 86-91% rate in each of the past six years. The school’s well-equipped Simulation Lab includes wireless smart mannequins, and the nursing curriculum incorporates innovative learning techniques like disaster simulation.


#42: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville | Edwardsville, IL
The SIUE School of Nursing provides traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN degree programs for undergraduates. It also offers three distinct MSN tracks (healthcare informatics, nurse education, healthcare and nursing administration) and a DNP program with two specialization options (nurse anesthesia, family nurse practitioner). BSN graduates have maintained a solid 83% NCLEX pass rate since 2011. SIUE students learn in active classroom settings and a high-technology simulation laboratory, and they are guaranteed clinical placement among the school’s 28 community partners in the St. Louis metropolitan area. SIUE pursues a federally funded program called SNAP, which is designed to recruit racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse high school graduates.


#43: Viterbo University | La Crosse, WI
Viterbo University’s School of Nursing is a fully accredited institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Over 600 nursing students are currently enrolled across the school’s four nursing programs: traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, BSN-to-DNP, and MSN-to-DNP. The traditional BSN program graduates 70-100 new nurses annually, and these students have passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 92% rate over the past five years. Nursing students have access to 35 full-time and part-time faculty, a well-equipped clinical simulation learning center, and global education opportunities in Belize, Guatemala, Japan, and Korea.


#44: Anderson University | Anderson, IN
Anderson University’s School of Nursing offers BSN and MSN degrees. The latter program has four distinct tracks: administration, education, informatics, and an MSN/MBA dual-degree option. The school’s BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at a 90.5% rate over the past four years, and 100% of last year’s graduating seniors secured job placement. Nursing students have clinical opportunities at two local hospitals (St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, Community Hospital Anderson) and several other regional healthcare organizations. The school offers global education options and has integrated a mandatory intercultural experience into the curriculum.


#45: Saint Mary's College | Notre Dame, IN
The Department of Nursing Science at Saint Mary's College offers three distinct nursing programs: traditional BSN, DNP with BSN entry, and DNP with MSN entry. With just 40-60 graduates annually, the BSN program is select and prepares its students well for their licensure exams, boasting an ~88% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Students begin clinical experiences during sophomore year under the supervision of qualified faculty members in small classes. These experiences are facilitated by the school’s affiliations with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, health departments, and other community settings.


#46: Kettering College | Kettering, OH
For more than thirty years, the Division of Nursing at Kettering College has prepared men and women for nursing careers. Focused solely on undergraduate education, the division offers three BSN programs: a three-year prelicensure track, a three-year bridge for licensed practical nurses, and a full- or part-time degree completion program for registered nurses. The school’s 2015 graduates passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 84% rate, several points above the statewide average. The Division of Nursing faculty is focused on educating highly skilled and caring healthcare professionals in a Christian environment.


#47: Malone University | Canton, OH
Malone University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences has educated nursing students for over twenty years. The school incorporates evidence-based practice, cultural competence, and simulation training into three nursing programs: a four-year BSN, an RN-to-BSN degree completion program, and an MSN degree with FNP and AGACNP specialty tracks. Faculty members provide students with one-on-one support through both the Center for Clinical Learning and the Center for Study and Testing. Malone’s four-year BSN program graduates 40-60 new nurses annually, and these students have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 87% rate over the past five years.


#48: Maranatha Baptist University | Watertown, WI
Maranatha Baptist University is the only regionally accredited university of the Independent Fundamental Baptist faith to offer a BSN degree. The school has access to grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration for facilities improvements, scholarships, loans, and student loan repayment programs. Maranatha has a very small and tight-knit class of nursing students, with fewer than 20 BSN candidates graduating each spring. These graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar 95.4% rate over the past five years. Undergraduates have multiple opportunities to apply their nursing skills on international mission trips.


#49: Ohio Northern University | Ada, OH
The nursing department at Ohio Northern University offers both prelicensure BSN and RN-to-BSN programs. Students begin their clinical experiences during sophomore year and benefit from an 8:1 student-to-faculty clinical ratio. The university graduates 20-25 prelicensure BSN candidates each year. These students have performed exceptionally well on the NCLEX exam, with a cumulative pass rate of 95.6% since 2009. ONU students utilize state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and experience a diverse range of healthcare settings. Over the past five years, 93% of nursing majors were either gainfully employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.


#50: Saint Anthony College of Nursing | Rockford, IL
Saint Anthony College of Nursing is a private Catholic college with a variety of regionally acclaimed nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional BSN or RN-to-BSN pathway. Graduate nursing students have four MSN tracks (CNL, CNS, FNP, nurse educator) and four DNP specializations (CNS, FNP, AGPCNP, healthcare leadership) from which to choose. Saint Anthony’s BSN students earn consistently stellar scores on their licensure exams: each of the past seven graduating classes passed the NCLEX exam at a 94% or higher rate, including a 99% pass rate for the class of 2015. Graduate students have performed similarly well on the APRN certification tests, including a 100% (nine out of nine) FNP pass rate for Saint Anthony’s recent MSN class.


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

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