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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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#41: Computer Career Center, A Division of Vista College | Las Cruces, NM
Computer Career Center offers an LPN diploma program designed to require just 48 weeks of fulltime study. This timeframe is readily achievable: 100% of students that completed the program during the 2013-14 academic year did so in 48 weeks. The school offers a diverse practical nursing curriculum, with real-world instruction in areas ranging from health science to child health nursing to pharmacology. Computer Career Center also boasts strong licensure pass rates: the past seven graduating classes have scored an average NCLEX-PN pass rate of 93%, with three classes achieving a perfect 100% pass rate on the exam.


#42: Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing | Camden, NJ
Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing is the only source of Catholic nursing education in southern New Jersey. Since its founding in the early 1960s, the school’s three-year diploma program has added almost 2,000 new members to the nursing workforce. Through a cooperative effort with Camden County College, School of Nursing students can simultaneously earn a nursing diploma (from Our Lady of Lourdes) and an associate of science degree (from CCC). Additionally, the school’s “Finish in Four” collaboration with Thomas Edison State College enables graduates to complete a BSN degree in just one additional year. Our Lady of Lourdes has achieved a 90%+ NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including a stellar 96% pass rate for the class of 2015.


#43: North Dakota State College of Science | Wahpeton, ND
North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) provides high-quality training for aspiring LPNs and RNs. The college currently offers an associate’s degree in each field: new entrants may complete a five-semester AAS degree in practical nursing, followed by a one-year completion pathway for an ASN degree in registered nursing. However, to meet changing accreditation guidelines, NDSCS is streamlining its practical nursing curriculum to a three-semester diploma program and introducing a traditional two-year AAS degree in registered nursing. Graduates have enjoyed phenomenal success on their licensure exams, achieving a 96% NCLEX-RN pass rate and a 94% NCLEX-PN pass rate since 2008. The class of 2016 also reported a 100% job placement rate within one year of graduation. Students seeking a BSN degree can take advantage of NDSCS’s articulation agreements with the University of North Dakota, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and several other local universities.


#44: Manchester Community College | Manchester, NH
Founded in 1945 as a technical school for returning veterans, Manchester Community College (MCC) is a dynamic, student-centered, and accessible community college. The school’s ADN program provides students the flexibility to study on either a full-time (two years) or part-time (up to four years) basis. An advanced placement pathway is also available for LPNs currently licensed in New Hampshire. MCC’s nursing program boasts fantastic student outcomes, including a 76% completion rate, 98% NCLEX exam pass rate, and 100% job placement rate over the past five academic years. Graduates can pursue a BSN or MSN degree in a cost-effective manner, thanks to the college’s dual-enrollment partnerships with Franklin Pierce University, Granite State College, Saint Anselm College, and Southern New Hampshire University.


#45: Northwest Iowa Community College | Sheldon, IA
Although Northwest Iowa Community College is the smallest and most rural of the state’s community colleges, the school has distinguished itself with a track record of innovation over the past fifty years. The college offers a diploma in practical nursing and an AAS degree in registered nursing, both with full-time (two-semester) and part-time (three-semester) course schedules. The part-time curriculum employs a hybrid delivery model, offering a flexible option for those with significant family and work responsibilities. Students enroll sequentially in the LPN and RN programs, following a career ladder progression. Graduates of Northwest Iowa Community College are well-prepared for licensure: the LPN program boasts a phenomenal 95% NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years, while RN students have earned a solid 84% NCLEX pass rate during the same time period.


#46: CNI College | Orange, CA
CNI College has been rated one of the top nursing schools in Orange County. Centrally located and serving all of Southern California, the college spans approximately 45,000 square feet of learning space. Facilities include spacious classrooms and fully equipped medical, pharmacy, personal training, and computer labs. CNI College offers an array of programs for aspiring healthcare professionals, including a prelicensure ADN curriculum and an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. The ADN program incorporates a mix of online learning, classroom instruction, and mandatory clinical experiences. Graduates have fared well on the NCLEX licensure exam, including a 93% pass rate for the 2014-2015 school year. The RN-to-BSN program is 100% online learning with a 90-hour clinical practicum.


#47: St. Francis Medical Center School of Nursing | Trenton, NJ
St. Francis Medical Center School of Nursing has educated aspiring nurses for 110 years. The school’s long-standing diploma program was the first in the Trenton area accredited by the National League for Nursing. Today, under a cooperative agreement with Mercer County Community College, St. Francis graduates earn both an AS degree from MCCC and a nursing diploma from the School of Nursing. While St. Francis Medical Center is the primary clinical facility, the school also partners with a number of local healthcare providers, including St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and University Medical Center at Princeton. The School of Nursing graduates approximately 25-35 new nurses each year, and they have averaged a 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Recent cohorts have also reported 80-90% graduation rates and 92%+ employment rates in the field.


#48: Moraine Park Technical College | Fond du Lac, WI
Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) offers nursing education at its Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, and West Bend campuses. The school’s rigorous AAS degree program accommodates full-time enrollment only. After completing the first two semesters, students may sit for the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. This provides a practical nursing exit point for aspiring LPNs who seek immediate employment. Those who remain and complete the program’s final two semesters may take the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure as a registered nurse. MPTC’s graduates have a stellar track record on both tests: since 2011, they have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a 95% rate and the NCLEX-PN exam at a phenomenal 98.5% rate.


#49: University of New Mexico - Gallup | Gallup, NM
Located in the breathtaking Colorado Desert Plateau, UNM-Gallup honors the region’s unique cultural diversity by serving both Navajo Nation and the Pueblo of Zuni. It is the largest of the four UNM branch campuses, offering approximately forty associate’s degree and certificate programs in total. The school’s ADN curriculum requires four semesters of full-time study. Admission is competitive, with a maximum of 28 students enrolled annually across two start dates in January and August. This limited class size ensures an intimate learning environment with an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. UNM-Gallup students perform well on their licensure exams: the past four classes have averaged a 96% NCLEX pass rate, including a perfect 100% pass rate in both 2013 and 2014. Eligible graduates can enroll in the UNM College of Nursing’s RN-to-BSN degree completion program.


#50: Technical College of the Lowcountry | Beaufort, SC
Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) offers a multi-entry, multi-exit nursing program that admits 40 students each fall and spring. The practical nursing pathway has a three-semester curriculum with fall entry and summer graduation. This diploma program prepares 8-12 students annually for the NCLEX-PN licensure exam, which TCL graduates have passed at a solid 93% rate since 2008. The registered nursing pathway accommodates both fall and spring entry, with an advanced placement option for existing LPNs. This five-semester associate’s degree program prepares 40-60 students annually for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, with a strong 92% pass rate over the same time period. TCL Continuing Education also leads a brief 110-hour certification course at its Beaufort, New River, and Hampton campuses for aspiring certified nursing assistants (CNAs).


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

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