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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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#21: Trinity Health System School of Nursing | Steubenville, OH
Trinity Health System School of Nursing was founded in 1912 as the Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing. Over the ensuing century, more than 2,000 nurses have earned the school’s distinctive pin. Trinity offers a hospital-based diploma program with a robust 24-month curriculum, including two summer sessions. Clinical experience is offered at Trinity Medical Centers East and West, encompassing a broad range of outpatient and inpatient care. All non-nursing instruction is led by Eastern Gateway Community College, ensuring that Trinity students receive full college credit. The School of Nursing has posted a superb 95% NCLEX-RN pass rate since 2009. Job placement has been equally impressive: 97% of graduates have gained employment in the field within one year.


#22: Shoreline Community College | Shoreline, WA
Designed in consultation with industry professionals, Shoreline Community College’s ADN curriculum is widely recognized as one of the state’s best. Students may earn an associate in applied arts and sciences (AAAS) degree over six or ten quarters. The six-quarter program features a traditional college schedule, with flexible start dates in the fall, winter, or spring. The ten-quarter program offers a lower course load for students with significant time constraints; it admits a new fall cohort once every two years. Both programs are eligible to award an associate in applied science-technology (AAS-T) degree, which enables direct transfer to some four-year institutions. Shoreline Community College graduates 80-110 new nurses annually, with an exceptional 96% NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years. Graduates have a number of BSN completion options in the surrounding metropolitan area, including Olympic College and the University of Washington's Bothell campus.


#23: Hutchinson Community College | Hutchinson, KS
Hutchinson Community College (HCC) offers aspiring nurses the opportunity to earn either a certificate in practical nursing or an AAS degree in registered nursing. HCC’s practical nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), one of just two such accredited programs in Kansas. The college’s ADN program offers four pathways: a traditional two-year schedule, campus and online versions of an LPN-to-RN bridge, and an online paramedic-to-RN bridge. The LPN and paramedic pathways are the state’s first online ADN programs. Graduates of all nursing pathways perform admirably on their licensure exams: HCC students have posted an 89% NCLEX-PN pass rate and an 84% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past eight years.


#24: St. Joseph School of Nursing | North Providence, RI
St. Joseph School of Nursing offers the state’s only hospital-based nursing diploma program. The school’s offices, skills labs, computer lab, and meeting rooms are located at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence. Classes are held at the Salve Regina University campus in Warwick; students also receive credit for any prior CCRI coursework in the physical, social, and health sciences. Clinical experiences are offered through an extended network of affiliated partners, including Roger Williams Medical Center, Southern New England Rehabilitation Center, and Elmhurst Extended Care. St. Joseph students routinely score a 90%+ pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, with several recent classes earning a perfect pass rate. Through a progression partnership with Salve Regina, St. Joseph students can take courses concurrently at the university and then pursue an accelerated BSN degree upon graduation.


#25: Ameritech College of Healthcare | Draper, UT
In its 35 years of service, Ameritech has built a reputation as one of Utah’s leaders in registered nursing education. The college’s ADN program provides an accelerated pathway to a nursing career, with graduation possible in just 18 months. Ameritech uses a complex human patient simulator to enhance critical thinking, and students must complete 435 clinical hours during their studies. The ADN program graduates 125-150 students annually; they perform extremely well on both their licensure exams (91% NCLEX pass rate since 2012) and their employment search (95% job placement rate). Ameritech also offers an online RN-to-BSN bridge program, which enables existing RNs to complete their baccalaureate education in as little as 12 months. This degree completion program boasts a 92% student retention rate and a 100% job placement rate.


#26: Lakeshore Technical College | Cleveland, WI
Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) offers three distinct pathways into the nursing profession. Aspiring RNs can pursue an associate’s degree on a full-time (two-year) or part-time (three-year) schedule. Theory and lab courses are supplemented by real-life patient care experiences throughout Sheboygan and Manitowoc Counties. This rigorous 70-credit program educates approximately 50 new students each year, who have scored a strong 88% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate since 2011. LTC also offers a part-time technical diploma program for aspiring LPNs, which requires approximately two years of evening study. Graduates of LTC’s practical nursing program have posted a stellar 97% first-time NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past five years. Finally, the college offers a brief one-course program for aspiring nursing assistants. Scheduling is flexible, with evening classes and two start dates annually.


#27: Mercy Hospital School of Nursing | Pittsburgh, PA
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893, Mercy Hospital School of Nursing (MHSN) has graduated more than 6,200 nurses since its inception. Today, the school is sponsored by UPMC Mercy, Pittsburgh’s only faith-based healthcare provider. MHSN offers a hospital-based registered nursing diploma, with patient interactions as early as the first week of the program. Students gain an extensive range of clinical experiences at UPMC Mercy, which holds designations as a Level I Regional Resource Trauma Center and a Primary Stroke Center. MHSN graduates have performed very strongly on their licensure exams, with a 92% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. They have also secured employment in the field, with a typical job placement rate of almost 90%.


#28: Valley Baptist Medical Center School of Vocational Nursing | Harlingen, TX
Valley Baptist Medical Center (VBMC) has a proud tradition of preparing well-qualified LVNs for the workforce. The hospital’s School of Vocational Nursing launches a new class of approximately 40 individuals each January. Over the ensuing twelve months, students complete a rigorous curriculum that covers three levels of coursework, including approximately 600 lecture hours and 70 lab hours. They also receive more than 800 hours of clinical experience at VBMC Harlingen and surrounding facilities. The administration has worked hard to keep the program affordable, with 2017 tuition and fees totaling just under $10,000. VBMC graduates have posted an exceptional 93% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2008, well above the state and national averages.


#29: Lake Area Technical Institute | Watertown, SD
Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) prepares approximately one-quarter of South Dakota’s new LPN graduates each year. In fact, the practical nursing program is one of just two such nationally accredited programs in the state. LATI students can select from three LPN pathways, including full-time (11-month) campus and hybrid options and a part-time (23-month) hybrid option. The hybrid programs combine online coursework with traditional clinical experiences, conducted at both the LATI campus and a remote site convenient for the student. LPN graduates perform exceedingly well on the NCLEX licensure exam: the school has achieved a 96% pass rate since 2010, including a 98% pass rate for the class of 2015. LATI also offers seamless transition into a year-long LPN-to-RN bridge program through a 1+1 articulation agreement with the University of South Dakota.


#30: St. Joseph School of Nursing | Nashua, NH
St. Joseph School of Nursing traces its roots back to the opening of Nashua’s St. Joseph Hospital in May 1908. The school launched its current associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree program in 2005. St. Joseph offers two ASN pathways: a traditional two-year curriculum and a one-year LPN-to-ASN bridge for practical nurses. Graduates of the program have enjoyed strong outcomes. For example, St. Joseph students have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 87% overall rate since the program’s inception. They have also enjoyed program completion rates of 85-90% and job placement rates of 90-100%. Graduates who wish to pursue a BSN degree can take advantage of the school’s articulation agreements with Rivier University, Saint Anselm College, Southern New Hampshire University, and Walden University.


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

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