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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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#31: Radford University | Radford, VA
Radford University School of Nursing has an average enrollment of over 600 students. Approximately 300 are in the lower division, 280 are in the upper division, and more than 50 are in the doctoral program. The school offers a traditional BSN degree at two campus locations (Radford and Roanoke), a 100% online RN-to-BSN program, and DNP concentrations in FNP, leadership, and psychiatric mental health. BSN graduates perform exceedingly well on the licensure exam: the main Radford campus has posted a 95% NCLEX pass rate since 2013, while Roanoke students have passed the exam at a 96% clip. The university’s DNP program is specifically tailored towards rural care scenarios.

 

#32: Loyola University New Orleans | New Orleans, LA
The School of Nursing at Loyola University New Orleans is home to more than 650 students. Loyola offers its BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs entirely online. The BSN offering, launched in 2010, is an RN completion program that requires just 121 credit hours to earn a baccalaureate degree. Loyola’s MSN program focuses on healthcare systems management and includes a Bridge to Leadership Education for Nurses at a Distance (BLEND) option for RNs with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. The DNP curriculum has nurse practitioner and executive nurse leader tracks, with entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses.

 

#33: The University of Tennessee | Knoxville, TN
The UT College of Nursing enrolled over 750 students for the 2015-16 academic year. Seventy percent of these students pursued a BSN degree through one of three pathways: a traditional four-year program, an accelerated 12-month option, and an RN-to-BSN completion program. UT’s 100-plus BSN graduates are well-prepared for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, achieving a cumulative 94% pass rate over the past seven years. The remaining thirty percent of nursing students pursued an MSN, DNP, or PhD degree. UT’s graduate nursing department offers concentrations for aspiring nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nursing administrators. All nursing students have the opportunity to participate in the school’s International Outreach Program, which includes an immersive service mission to Costa Rica.

 

#34: Frontier Nursing University | Hyden, KY
Frontier Nursing University is home to the nation’s first FNP program, as well as the largest and oldest continually operating nurse-midwifery program. In fact, FNU’s midwifery curriculum is consistently ranked among the top 25 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to FNP and midwifery, the university also offers specialization as a women’s healthcare NP. FNU’s MSN program offers an ADN bridge entry option, and its innovative Companion DNP program enables seamless transition from an MSN or graduate certificate program. All nursing students can participate in the Courier Program, which focuses on rural and underserved communities across the region.

 

#35: Bellarmine University | Louisville, KY
The Lansing School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Bellarmine University graduates approximately 150 prelicensure BSN students annually. These graduates pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at an impressive rate, including a 96-97% first-time pass rate in each of the past three years. Bellarmine’s BSN students can pursue traditional, second-degree accelerated, or RN-to-BSN completion pathways. The graduate nursing department offers an MSN with tracks in education, administration, and family nursing practice; an MSN/MBA dual degree; and a DNP with focuses in advanced nursing practice and executive leadership. Bellarmine offers study abroad programs in Australia and Sweden, service learning experiences in Appalachia and Guatemala, and overseas volunteer missions.

 

#36: Tennessee Technological University | Cookeville, TN
Tennessee Technological University is home to the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. Undergraduate offerings include a four-year BSN curriculum and an RN-to-BSN degree completion program. TTU graduates a class of 60-90 BSN students each spring, who have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar rate of 95% or better for five years running. In fact, the 2012 graduating class achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on the exam. TTU offers all of its graduate nursing programs, include an MSN degree and post-master’s certificates in three specialty areas, through a partnership with the five other Tennessee Board of Regents universities. Graduate nursing coursework is completed 100% online.

 

#37: Florida Atlantic University | Boca Raton, FL
FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing educates 1,600 students across its three campuses in Boca Raton, Davie, and Harbor Branch. The college offers four undergraduate pathways: traditional BSN, freshmen direct admission, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Its graduating prelicensure class of ~75 BSN students has earned an average 89% pass rate on the NCLEX exam since 2010. At the graduate level, FAU offers both DNP and PhD programs, plus a rich breadth of MSN specializations including administration, holistic nursing, education, clinical nurse leader, and two nurse practitioner roles. Indeed, FAU has the largest graduate nursing enrollment of any university in Florida.

 

#38: University of South Alabama | Mobile, AL
The College of Nursing at University of South Alabama offers numerous BSN and MSN pathways. Options include traditional BSN and MSN programs, early acceptance for high school seniors and college freshmen, an accelerated BSN/MSN program for baccalaureate-educated non-nurses, and RN completion programs (e.g., RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, or RN-to-BSN/MSN). South Alabama’s graduating BSN class is large (250-300 students annually) and well-prepared for the NCLEX exam, with an 88% pass rate over the past six years. The MSN program offers specialties that run the gamut from adult-gerontology acute care to family practice to neonatal nursing, with in-demand subspecialties like cardiovascular, oncology, and palliative care.

 

#39: Lincoln Memorial University | Harrogate, TN
LMU’s Caylor School of Nursing offers programs across six sites. The school’s main campus in Harrogate offers ASN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. Three satellite locations offer ASN programs only: Alcoa, TN; Corbin, KY; and Physicians Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. The Cedar Bluff site in Knoxville offers LMU’s prelicensure BSN program, plus RN-to-BSN and MSN options. Kingsport, TN rounds out the list with its MSN programs. LMU students from all campuses perform well on their licensure exams. Over the past five years, 92% of BSN students and 93% of ASN students have passed the NCLEX-RN exam on their first attempt.

 

#40: University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Charlotte, NC
The UNC Charlotte School of Nursing achieved a 92% NCLEX pass rate among its 2015 BSN graduates. Just as impressively, August 2015 graduates of the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AG-ACNP) MSN track achieved a 100% pass rate on their certification exam. In addition to traditional BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees, UNC Charlotte leads an interdisciplinary, collaborative PhD program in the College of Health and Human Services. The school also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program, an RIBN option in partnership with local community colleges, and several post-master’s and graduate certificates.

 

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

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