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 included the following states within our Plains rankings: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 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: Creighton University | Omaha, NE
The College of Nursing at Creighton University was the first nursing school in Nebraska to offer CNL and DNP programs. The school also has traditional MSN and post-graduate certificate programs, as well as both a four-year BSN and an ABSN program that can be completed in just one year. The college produces 150 to 200 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have accomplished a 91% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past five years. Just as impressively, first-time pass rates on the certification examination for nurse practitioner (NP) graduates typically range from 90% to 100%.


#12: Allen College | Waterloo, IA
Allen College graduated its first DNP class in 2013. The school also offers four NP tracks in its MSN program, including adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family practice, and family psychiatric mental health. The school’s baccalaureate program has three prelicensure tracks (traditional, accelerated, and LPN-to-BSN) and two post-licensure tracks (RN-to-BSN and public health). BSN students have the option to earn a minor in the pioneering area of population health. Allen College produces 100-125 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar 93% rate over the past six years.


#13: University of North Dakota | Grand Forks, ND
The College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines (CNPD) at University of North Dakota has a 100-year history of educating nurses. The school offers four different pathways for students seeking an undergraduate degree: traditional on-campus BSN, ABSN, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. MSN students can pursue degrees in specialties ranging from advanced public health nursing to nurse anesthesia. CNPD also offers both terminal degrees in the field: DNP and PhD. The school’s 100-plus BSN graduates routinely achieve strong licensure exam pass rates of 87% or better. Indeed, last year’s graduates passed the NCLEX exam at a 94.7% first-try rate.


#14: Augsburg College | Minneapolis, MN
The nursing programs at Augsburg College are designed to address the specific needs of diverse populations in the U.S. and abroad. As such, immersion courses and study abroad experiences are integrated into all of the school’s nursing programs. Many of these experiences take students to overseas locations from England to Namibia. Classes for the school’s BSN completion (BSN-C), master of arts (MA) in nursing, DNP in transcultural nursing leadership (DNP: TCN), and DNP in family nurse practitioner (DNP: FNP) programs meet at the Minneapolis and Rochester campuses.


#15: Augustana University | Sioux Falls, SD
The Department of Nursing at Augustana University is home to the only four-year professional nursing program in the region that is part of a liberal arts college or university. The department also offers a unique nursing exchange program that partners with six Norwegian institutions. Augustana’s nursing degree options include both traditional and accelerated BSN programs. The accelerated program requires a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, and it takes just 16 months to complete. Both programs prepare students for the NCLEX licensure examination, where Augustana’s ~50 annual graduates have performed impressively well, including a 97% pass rate over the past six years.


#16: The College of St. Scholastica | Duluth, MN
The College of St. Scholastica’s School of Nursing is one of the largest nursing schools in Minnesota. St. Scholastica offers three undergraduate nursing tracks (traditional, post-baccalaureate, RN-to-BS), a graduate certificate program in nursing informatics conducted 100% online, and DNP tracks for both APRNs and baccalaureate-prepared RNs. The school produces more than 150 prelicensure BS graduates annually, who have achieved an 83% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past six years.


#17: University of Missouri - St. Louis | Saint Louis, MO
The University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL) College of Nursing has more than 1,100 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. The college offers a breadth of nursing programs including BSN (traditional, accelerated, or part-time), RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and nursing PhD degrees. Also on the menu are post-graduate certificates in areas of advanced nursing practice such as women’s health, psychiatric-mental health, and adult / geriatric health. One of the largest nursing schools in the region with 150-180 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, UMSL has nonetheless achieved a strong 91% average NCLEX pass rate since 2008.


#18: Minnesota State University, Mankato | Mankato, MN
The School of Nursing at Minnesota State Mankato is a thriving learning community with a versatile assortment of nursing programs at all levels. The school’s prelicensure BSN program prepares students rigorously for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination, for public health certification, and/or for school nurse licensure. For example, the program’s 80-100 annual graduates consistently pass the NCLEX exam at an 84-90% rate each year. The school also offers a BSN completion program for existing RNs. Minnesota State Mankato’s graduate nursing programs include two MSN tracks (FNP and NED) and a DNP program with two entry options (post-BSN and post-MSN).


#19: Bethel University | Saint Paul, MN
The Department of Nursing at Bethel University produces 70-80 prelicensure BSN graduates each year, who have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid rate of 85% since 2009. In addition to licensure exam prep, Bethel’s BSN program enables students to enter a variety of graduate programs for APRN roles, ranging from certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) to clinical nurse specialist (CNS). The university’s nursing department also offers an RN-to-BSN program for existing registered nurses, MSN tracks for aspiring midwives and nurse educators, and an online NED graduate certificate.


#20: Graceland University | Independence, MO
Graceland University prepares a tight-knit graduating class of 40-50 BSN students annually. Over the past eight years, these graduates have achieved an average pass rate of 91-92% on the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam, well above both state and national averages. Graceland’s School of Nursing also offers both traditional (campus-based) and online RN-to-BSN programs, an MSN program with two specialty tracks (FNP and NED), an RN-to-MSN entry option, and an online DNP program. The MSN offering was recently named one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 online MSN programs nationwide, with particularly high marks for faculty credentials and student engagement.


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

Featured Schools

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