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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. Approximately 1,900 of the institutions surveyed were vocational, career, and community colleges that focus on entry-level prelicensure education. We evaluated each school 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: Hesston College | Hesston, KS
Hesston College, traditionally a two-year liberal arts college, offers both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The school’s ADN program launched in 1966 and has educated more than 1,500 nurses over the past fifty years. In the fall of 2015, Hesston launched a four-year BSN program and an LPN-to-BSN bridge to meet the region’s increasing demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. An RN-to-BSN completion program is slated to begin in January 2017. Students of the core ADN program have consistently performed well on licensure tests, with approximately 90% passing the NCLEX exam on the first try since 2008. Hesston graduates have found employment in a diverse range of clinical settings, including medical-surgical, maternity, and pediatrics.


#12: Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences | West Reading, PA
Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences has prepared students for the nursing profession since 1889. The school’s hospital-based, three-year diploma program provides both a solid theoretical foundation and strong practice-based experience. Reading Health System offers a nationally recognized healthcare environment for clinical experiences, and the program maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio, typically between 8:1 and 10:1. Graduates have achieved a solid 88.6% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The nursing program also holds an affiliation with nearby Alvernia University that facilitates the seamless transfer of academic credit to the university’s RN-to-BSN completion program.


#13: University of New Mexico - Taos | Ranchos de Taos, NM
UNM-Taos offers a very selective two-year associate’s degree program that prepares students for initial nursing licensure and practice. The university’s ADN program admits only 16 students every two years, providing unparalleled attention from a distinguished faculty. Clinical rotations are conducted at Holy Cross Hospital and 19 other sites in the local area. The last three graduating classes have enjoyed a perfect pass rate on the NCLEX national licensure examination. UNM-Taos frequently boasts a 100% on-time graduation rate and 100% placement rate for its nursing students as well. Located in a rural setting in northern New Mexico, the university places particular emphasis on nursing care for diverse populations.


#14: NHTI, Concord’s Community College | Concord, NH
NHTI’s Nursing Department offers two tracks to the ADN degree: a traditional two-year pathway and an accelerated 12-month completion option for LPNs. Both programs prepare students well for the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam. Indeed, NHTI graduates have posted an average NCLEX-RN pass rate of 90% since 2000, well above state and national averages. The school also boasts excellent job placement, including a 96% success rate for the ADN class of 2015. New Hampshire residents who wish to pursue additional nursing study can enroll in the online BSN/MSN program at Southern New Hampshire University or the 2+1+1 BSN pathway offered by Granite State College. Finally, NHTI offers a legal nurse consultant certificate program for experienced registered nurses interested in combining clinical expertise with specialized legal knowledge.


#15: Holy Name Medical Center School of Nursing | Teaneck, NJ
Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1925, the Holy Name Medical Center (HNMC) School of Nursing has grown from an inaugural class of 13 to one of the state’s largest coed Catholic diploma schools. HNMC offers both a two- to three-year diploma in registered nursing and a 12-month diploma in practical nursing. Graduates from both programs perform admirably on their licensure exams, with a 91% NCLEX-RN pass rate and an 87% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade. Students in the RN diploma program may also earn an associate of applied science (AAS) degree from nearby Saint Peter’s University by completing just three additional college courses there.


#16: Brockton Hospital School of Nursing | Brockton, MA
An integral part of Signature Healthcare, Brockton Hospital School of Nursing (BHSN) is the only hospital-based nursing program in the state of Massachusetts. Originally established in 1897, BHSN has graduated over 2,600 nurses throughout its storied history. The school strives for diversity and offers several nursing diploma pathways, including a two-year day program and a four-year part-time program on weekends and evenings. Approximately 90% of BHSN graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on their first try over the past eight years. Additionally, the school’s affiliation with Fisher College allows these graduates to transition seamlessly into Fisher’s RN-to-BSN program.


#17: University of Pittsburgh at Titusville | Titusville, PA
Pitt-Titusville combines a small college academic environment with the resources of a world-class institution. The university’s ADN program is small and selective, with just 15-20 students in each graduating cohort. It is also rigorous, requiring the completion of 72 credits and 800+ clinical hours over a 21-month, five-semester class schedule. Not surprisingly, Pitt-Titusville’s ADN students are well prepared for the NCLEX licensure exam. The school has posted an 84% first-time pass rate since 2008, with several recent classes topping 90%. Graduates are strongly grounded in diverse healthcare practices, providing a smooth transition to either nursing practice or higher learning.


#18: Portage Lakes Career Center | Uniontown, OH
The W. Howard Nicol School of Practical Nursing offers an 11-month LPN certificate program. Classes are small, with a strict limit of fifty students; many recent cohorts have had just 15-25 enrollees. As a result, students enjoy personalized instruction and access to clinical experiences at a variety of local healthcare facilities. The school has posted an impressive 92% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the last decade. Retention and employment have been stellar as well, with the most recent graduating class achieving an 88% on-time completion rate and an 88% job placement rate. Graduates have the option to transfer 30 technical credits towards an associate of technical studies (ATS) degree at the University of Akron.


#19: Columbus School of Practical Nursing | Columbus, OH
For over sixty years, Columbus School of Practical Nursing has provided cost-effective vocational training to the Columbus community. The school offers a 12-month, three-trimester LPN certificate program, with new classes starting at the end of each January, May, and September. This flexible scheduling allows the program to educate 70-100 new LPNs each year. Graduates have scored an 88.6% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN national licensure exam since 2010, higher than the Ohio and national averages. They have also secured employment in the field, with a 70% job placement rate within six months of program completion. Many students use the LPN role as a stepping stone to subsequent education, licensure, and employment as a registered nurse.


#20: St. Luke’s College | Sioux City, IA
St. Luke’s College has educated compassionate healthcare professionals for over a century. Students gain a wealth of meaningful clinical experiences in the region’s only medical-center-based health sciences college. Each year, St. Luke’s College accepts an incoming ADN class of 100-120 students. Approximately 75% of students complete the program within three years. These graduates perform very strongly on the NCLEX licensure exam, achieving a 91% first-time pass rate over the past seven years. An additional 25-35 students enroll in St. Luke’s RN-to-BSN pathway each fall. This completion program features flexible full-time and part-time schedules, thanks to a combination of online courses, classroom learning, and convenient access to faculty.


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

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