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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 Southeast rankings: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. 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 Miami | Coral Gables, FL
The University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) will soon host one of the nation’s first education-based simulation hospitals. The school is also first in Florida and 22nd nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding among nursing schools. A member of the respected UHealth family, SONHS offers BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD degrees in many specializations. Post-master’s certificates are also on the menu. SONHS graduates 160-200 students annually from its flagship prelicensure BSN program. During the 2010-15 time period, more than 94% of these students passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on their first try.


#12: University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
UF College of Nursing is the oldest baccalaureate and graduate nursing school in Florida. The university launched the state’s first NP program and its first BSN-to-PhD track. Currently, UF offers BSN, ABSN, and RN-to-BSN programs to approximately 700 undergraduate students. Graduates of the BSN program have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a remarkably consistent rate of 90-97% in each of the past six years. The College of Nursing also educates 370 graduate nursing students, offering BSN and MSN entry points to both its DNP and PhD programs. Specialization certificates can be earned in nurse education and five nurse practitioner fields.


#13: Georgia Baptist College of Nursing | Atlanta, GA
Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is part of Mercer University. The school consists of two campuses: an Atlanta campus where the main college is located, and a Macon campus where students take pre-nursing coursework only. Georgia Baptist offers two BSN pathways (traditional, RN-to-BSN), two MSN tracks (adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner), and two doctoral degrees with a hybrid online format (DNP, PhD). The college is the second-largest Baptist-affiliated institution in the world, with access to more than 30 clinical sites for valuable hands-on experience. Georgia Baptist graduates 120-140 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have achieved a superior 94% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past eight years.


#14: Marymount University | Arlington, VA
The Malek School of Health Professions houses the Marymount University nursing department. Each year, approximately 35 students graduate from the school’s traditional BSN program, and more than 100 students complete the accelerated BSN program. These graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a strong 91% rate since 2010. Marymount University also offers a hybrid online RN-to-BSN program, an MSN degree with an FNP focus, and an online DNP program that requires just one on-campus component per semester. Clinical experiences and internships take place at some of Virginia’s leading healthcare organizations.


#15: Virginia Commonwealth University | Richmond, VA
The VCU School of Nursing boasts a state-of-the-art Clinical Learning Center with a skills lab and two intensive care simulation suites. The center was recognized in 2010 as a Laerdal Center of Educational Excellence. VCU also provides nursing students 45,000 square feet of classrooms, auditoriums, and research laboratories. The university offers three BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN completion), five MSN concentrations, and both DNP and nursing PhD degrees. VCU graduates almost 150 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 92% rate since 2009.


#16: University of Kentucky | Lexington, KY
The University of Kentucky College of Nursing created the nation’s first DNP program and Kentucky’s first nursing PhD program. UK was also the first nurse researcher in the U.S. to be awarded the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant. Home to more than 1,400 students, the college provides four BSN pathways: traditional, second-degree, MedVet-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Over the last decade, UK’s 160-180 annual BSN graduates have enjoyed an astonishing NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate of 97%. The college also offers graduate certificate programs in four NP specialties, clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and populations and organizational systems leadership.


#17: University of Alabama at Birmingham | Birmingham, AL
UAB School of Nursing is nationally ranked among the top three percent of nursing schools by U.S. News & World Report. The school provides several unique opportunities for veterans, Peace Corps volunteers, and nurse practitioner students who plan to provide primary care in one of Alabama’s rural counties upon graduation. UAB offers two BSN entry points (traditional, ADN) and two MSN entry points (BSN, second degree), as well as DNP and PhD programs. The school’s BSN class is large with nearly 250 graduates annually, and they are well prepared for their licensure exams. For example, the class of 2015 posted a stellar NCLEX pass rate of 95.7%.


#18: Clemson University | Clemson, SC
The College of Health, Education and Human Development is home to Clemson University’s School of Nursing, which holds the prestigious NLN COE designation. Clemson conducts three BSN pathways at the undergraduate level: traditional, accelerated, and a completion program. Approximately 100 students graduate the BSN program annually, with a remarkably consistent NCLEX-RN pass rate of 90-96% each year. The graduate nursing department offers four MSN tracks: FNP, adult-gerontology NP, administration, and education. Clemson also teaches an innovative PhD in healthcare genetics, and a DNP program is under development as well.


#19: University of South Carolina | Columbia, SC
The University of South Carolina (USC) College of Nursing has the #1 online graduate nursing program in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its primary physical campus in Columbia, USC also has satellite locations in Aiken, Beaufort, and Spartanburg. The College of Nursing produces the largest number of BSN graduates in the state: over 500 annually, or almost 50% of the statewide total. These newly minted nurses have consistently passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a solid rate of 87-91% in each of the past six years. USC’s graduate nursing curriculum includes several MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP specializations, as well as an on-campus PhD with flexible scheduling and tuition support.


#20: The University of Alabama | Tuscaloosa, AL
The University of Alabama is home to the Capstone College of Nursing (CCN), which educates nearly 1,800 students in total. More than 1,240 students are enrolled in CCN’s traditional BSN program. Graduates of this program have performed extremely well on the NCLEX-RN exam, posting a 95.3% pass rate over the past six years. Another 170 CCN students take advantage of the school’s unique RN mobility program, which includes RN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN-to-MSN options. The rest are enrolled in MSN, DNP, and doctorate in nursing education (EdD) programs. CCN’s MSN programs prepare nurses for APRN, CNL, and case management roles.


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

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