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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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#31: Helena College | Helena, MT
An integral part of the University of Montana system, Helena College offers two entry-level pathways into the nursing profession: a certificate of applied science in practical nursing, and an associate of science degree in registered nursing. Both programs are highly selective and feature an accelerated two-semester timeline after the completion of prerequisites. LPN students enroll in the spring semester and finish in the summer; ADN students complete all coursework in the fall and spring semesters. Helena College boasts outstanding outcomes for its nursing graduates. Since the program’s inception, ADN students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a 95% rate. LPN students have scored a perfect 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate for six consecutive years. Both programs have also achieved a 100% job placement rate within six months of graduation.


#32: Bronx Community College | Bronx, NY
Bronx Community College has educated aspiring nurses for almost sixty years. The college offers both an AAS degree in registered nursing and a certificate in practical nursing. The AAS program features convenient evening lectures and a breadth of clinical experiences. Since 2008, these students have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a solid 83% first-time rate. Graduates who wish to pursue a BSN degree may transfer 60 credits within the City University of New York (CUNY) system; they can also take advantage of articulation agreements with College of Staten Island, Lehman College, Mercy College, and SUNY Empire State College. The LPN program places a similar emphasis on convenience, with evening / weekend classes and barrier-free articulation to the AAS program. LPN students have posted a near-perfect 97% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past eight years.


#33: Williston State College | Williston, ND
The Dakota Nursing Program (DNP) is a collaborative effort among four of the state’s public two-year colleges: Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College, and Williston State College. These colleges share a 1+1 nursing curriculum which awards an LPN certificate after the first year and an AAS degree after the second. Among the DNP schools, Williston State College (WSC) stands out for its track record of student achievement. The college has posted a perfect 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate for six consecutive years. Over this same time period, the school’s AAS graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at an 89% clip. WSC’s nursing students have also reported a 100% job placement rate within 1-3 months of program completion.


#34: Mercy Hospital | Miami, FL
Mercy Hospital is Miami-Dade County’s only Catholic hospital and a two-time recipient of the prestigious Magnet™ award for nursing excellence. The institution houses both the School of Practical Nursing and the College of Nursing. The School of Practical Nursing offers two pathways for aspiring LPNs: a 12-month day program and a 14-month evening program. Either curriculum is designed to be completed in three trimesters. The College of Nursing builds on this foundation with a one-year LPN-to-RN bridge. This associate’s degree program is designed for working students with convenient evening and weekend hours. Mercy Hospital graduates have consistently performed well on their licensure exams: since 2010, they have passed both the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN at an 85% average rate.


#35: St. Mary’s School of Nursing | Huntington, WV
Founded in 1926, St. Mary’s School of Nursing is home to West Virginia’s oldest continuous registered nursing program, with more than 3,100 graduates. This two-year ASN program is a cooperative partnership between St. Mary’s Medical Center and Marshall University. Students complete 30 non-nursing credits at Marshall University and 40 nursing credits at St. Mary’s. The school’s medical center is Huntington’s largest medical facility and Cabell County’s largest private employer. Clinical experiences are also available at Cabell Huntington Hospital, Woodlands Retirement Center, and a number of other local sites. Two ASN classes are admitted each year, with approximately 100 students completing the program annually. These graduates consistently perform very well on the NCLEX licensure exam, averaging a 92% first-time pass rate over the past decade.


#36: Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations | West Palm Beach, FL
The Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations (ANHO) began in 1978 as a nurse assistant training school. The college launched its LPN program in 1997 and added a two-year ADN curriculum in 2011; both programs award an associate of science degree upon completion. ANHO boasts nearly 18,000 square feet of modern classroom space and a wide variety of clinical partnerships throughout Palm Beach County. The administration also places a heavy focus on student outcomes. For example, ADN graduates passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at an 83% rate in 2015, while LPN graduates passed the NCLEX-PN licensure exam at a near-perfect 98% rate. ANHO students also enjoy strong on-time graduation and job placement rates, with typically an 85-95% success rate on each metric.


#37: American Career College | Los Angeles metro area, CA
American Career College (ACC) provides nursing education at four campuses in Southern California: Los Angeles, Lynwood, Ontario, and Orange County. The school’s vocational nursing program is available at all four sites. This diploma program offers an entry-level curriculum that prepares students to work as LVNs in medical offices, clinics, HMOs, acute care hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Graduates have frequently passed the NCLEX-PN licensure exam at a 75-85% rate since the program’s inception. To meet Southern California’s growing need for registered nurses, ACC also recently launched a new ADN program at the school’s Los Angeles campus. Coursework includes medical-surgical nursing, obstetrics, pediatrics, behavioral health, geriatrics, and leadership, with corequisite clinical practicums for each class.


#38: Los Angeles Job Corps Center | Los Angeles, CA
For over fifty years, Job Corps has offered the nation’s largest career education service for young people aged 16 to 24. Job Corps is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, and its Los Angeles branch is operated by YWCA Greater Los Angeles. Like all of its vocational training, the center’s LVN program is available to low-income students at no cost. LA Job Corps also provides students with comprehensive healthcare during their enrollment, offers employment and housing placement for recent graduates, and tracks its clients’ success for two years after graduation. The center produces approximately twenty new vocational nurses annually, and these students have achieved a stellar 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past several years.


#39: Johnston Community College | Smithfield, NC
Set in a 175-acre campus, Johnston Community College (JCC) boasts state-of-the-art facilities amid picturesque pines, colorful azaleas, and scenic ponds. The college’s ADN program features a two-year, five-semester curriculum with a competitive admissions process. Approximately 50-60 new students are admitted in each class; most individuals matriculate in the fall, with a limited number of advanced placement seats available. These students have performed exceptionally well on the NCLEX licensure exam, including a 96% pass rate over the past four years. Thanks to North Carolina’s uniform articulation agreement, JCC graduates may seamlessly transition into the RN-to-BSN program at nearly a dozen public universities, including the UNC System’s campuses in Charlotte, Greensboro, Pembroke, and Wilmington.


#40: St. Elizabeth College of Nursing | Utica, NY
St. Elizabeth College of Nursing (SECON) was founded in 1904 as a single-purpose three-year diploma program in registered nursing. The college now prepares aspiring RNs through a comprehensive two-year AAS degree. The program features an enrollment of approximately 200 students and a small 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Through SECON’s innovative 1+2+1 partnership with SUNY Polytechnic Institute, qualified high school graduates can earn both the associate’s degree and a BSN degree in just four years. The college boasts excellent student outcomes. Since 2008, SECON graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 89% overall rate, including a stellar 95% pass rate for the past two years. The most recent graduating class also achieved an 89% employment rate within six months of program completion.


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

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