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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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#21: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences | Little Rock, AR
The UAMS College of Nursing provides education to more than 600 nursing students. It is the only Arkansas university with four distinct programs – BSN, MSN, APRN certificates, and DNP – all maximally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college also offers two degree completion tracks (RN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN-to-MSN) and the state’s only nursing PhD program. Each spring, UAMS graduates 100-175 BSN students who perform very strongly on the licensure exam, including an NCLEX pass rate of 91% over the past four years.


#22: George Mason University | Fairfax, VA
George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services houses the 40-year-old School of Nursing. The school has produced so many successful graduates that one in three nurses practicing in the DC metropolitan area is a GMU alumnus. Baccalaureate pathways include traditional BSN, accelerated second-degree BSN, and RN-to-BSN. The ABSN program recently graduated its first class, which passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 92% rate. GMU also offers MSN concentrations for nurse educators, nurse practitioners, and nursing administrators; an RN-to-MSN bridge program; post-master’s certificates in family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (FPMHNP) and nursing education; and both DNP and PhD doctoral programs.


#23: Old Dominion University | Norfolk, VA
The School of Nursing is the largest of five professional schools in ODU’s College of Health Sciences. In addition to BSN, MSN, DNP, and graduate certificate programs, the school offers a unique concurrent enrollment option. This pathway enables qualified students to complete associate in applied science (AAS) requirements, take the NCLEX-RN exam, and then earn the BSN degree with just one or two additional semesters of study. ODU’s annual graduating class of 60-90 BSN students has consistently earned high marks on the licensure exam, with 91% passing on the first attempt from 2009 to present.


#24: Georgia State University | Atlanta, GA
Georgia State University is home to the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions. The school offers its nursing students more than 200 clinical practice sites, including trauma / intensive care wards, long-term care facilities, and home care services. Georgia State has traditional, accelerated, and degree completion pathways to the BSN degree. The program’s 120-plus annual graduates have posted a strong NCLEX-RN pass rate of 91.3% since 2012. Graduate nursing students can pursue four NP specialties (adult health, pediatrics, family, psychiatric-mental health), an adult-gerontology CNS degree, or a focus on nursing leadership in healthcare innovations.


#25: University of Central Florida | Orlando, FL
The UCF College of Nursing is a recognized leader in online education. The school’s online MSN program recently ranked among the top three in Florida and the top 50 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, including a #35 ranking among veterans-focused programs. UCF offers six distinct MSN tracks: three NP specialties, nursing leadership, healthcare simulation, and nurse education. Several of these tracks are also offered to DNP students. For undergraduates, UCF provides five BSN pathways including a Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) for active-duty military students. BSN graduates routinely perform well on the licensure exam, with a phenomenal 97% NCLEX pass rate since 2010.


#26: Union University | Jackson, TN
The Union University School of Nursing offers well more than 15 different nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue five pathways to a BSN degree: traditional, accelerated, LPN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN, and a unique “First Step to BSN” program which helps adult students with few college credits earn their degree. The school graduates ~130 BSN students annually who have passed the NCLEX exam at a 93% clip since 2010, well above state and national averages. Union’s graduate nursing students can pursue one of six MSN tracks, six DNP tracks, or seven graduate certificates in nursing.


#27: Florida State University | Tallahassee, FL
The FSU College of Nursing launched Florida’s first nationally accredited baccalaureate nursing degree program. Today, the college offers the latest BSN options, including an accelerated second-degree program and a Veterans BSN that started in January 2016. The College of Nursing produces over 100 BSN graduates each year, and these students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a strong 91% rate since 2010. FSU graduate students can pursue an MSN, DNP, or graduate certificate in popular specializations like nurse educator, nurse leader, and psychiatric mental health. The vast majority of graduate instruction is delivered online.


#28: Belmont University | Nashville, TN
Belmont University’s School of Nursing has program options for aspiring nurses, registered nurses looking to complete their BSN, and seasoned nurses seeking career advancement. Undergraduate offerings include traditional four-year BSN, ABSN, and RN-to-BSN programs. Belmont graduates 100-150 prelicensure BSN students each spring, who have posted an impressive first-time NCLEX pass rate of 92.4% over the past seven years. Graduate options include MSN, post-BSN DNP, and post-master’s DNP programs. The School of Nursing provides several innovative opportunities in its curriculum, include the Cambodia Study Abroad Program and the Nursing Christian Fellowship.


#29: Nova Southeastern University | Fort Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University’s College of Nursing enrolls more than 1,300 students from coast to coast. Nursing programs are offered at the university’s primary campus in Fort Lauderdale, through satellite campuses in Miami and Fort Myers, and online. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 250-300 new nurses each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 86% rate over the past six years. NSU also offers RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN bridge programs through its undergraduate nursing department. Graduate nursing students can pursue three nonclinical MSN tracks, two clinical MSN tracks for aspiring nurse practitioners, an online DNP, or a PhD focused on nursing education.


#30: James Madison University | Harrisonburg, VA
The School of Nursing at James Madison University has a number of unique offerings for nursing students, including international study abroad opportunities in Costa Rica, Spain, Tanzania, and Malta. JMU offers a broad range of nursing programs, from traditional BSN and RN-to-BSN pathways to MSN and DNP degrees. A chronic illness minor is also on the menu. Undergraduates have posted a stellar 93% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam over the past five years. JMU’s graduate nursing students can pursue concentrations in CNL, FNP, nursing administration, and nurse midwifery.


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

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