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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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#61: North Shore Community College | Danvers, MA
North Shore Community College (NSCC) has provided accessible and affordable education to the communities of Northeast Massachusetts for nearly fifty years. The school offers a traditional two-year AS degree in registered nursing, a one-year advanced placement LPN-to-RN option, and a ten-month certificate in practical nursing. All three pathways produce excellent student outcomes. Over the past eight years, NSCC can boast a 90% NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate and a 95% NCLEX-PN first-time pass rate. Job placement rates are also excellent, typically 85-90% for RN graduates and 90%+ for LPN graduates. Nursing students can take advantage of the college’s relationships with more than 25 clinical affiliates in the surrounding metro area, including the Danvers Council on Aging, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, and Rosewood Rehabilitation System.


#62: Three Rivers Community College | Norwich, CT
Named for the region’s primary waterways – the Shetucket, Yantic, and Thames – Three Rivers Community College is a proud member of the Connecticut Community Colleges Nursing Program (CT-CCNP). Through this partnership, six of the state’s community colleges offer a standardized and innovative two-year ADN program. Existing LPNs can use an advanced placement option to enter the program as late as the third semester. Graduates can seamlessly continue their nursing education through CT-CCNP’s articulation agreements with a dozen RN-to-BSN programs and two RN-to-MSN programs. For example, Sacred Heart University accepts applicants into both programs. Three Rivers Community College has consistently been one of the state’s strongest performers on the nursing licensure exam, including a 94% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate since 2010.


#63: Cochran School of Nursing | Yonkers, NY
Founded in 1894 at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Cochran School of Nursing (CSN) is the oldest nursing school in Westchester County and the oldest hospital-based nursing school in the metropolitan region. CSN offers a prelicensure AAS degree program in professional nursing. Prerequisite courses, corequisite courses, and tutorial services are provided through Mercy College in nearby Dobbs Ferry. CSN also has an RN-to-BSN articulation agreement with Mercy College as well as Excelsior College, Chamberlain College of Nursing, and SUNY Delhi. The school offers very flexible scheduling, with both day and night classes and both spring and fall admissions. It also boasts three human patient simulators on campus and clinical affiliations with the best hospitals in Westchester County. CSN students have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an impressive 87% rate over the past two years, well exceeding the state and national averages.


#64: Alexandria Technical & Community College | Alexandria, MN
Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC) provides training for several nursing vocations in a sequential, clinical laddering format. New students must first complete a three-credit course to earn state certification as a nursing assistant / home health aide. They may then enroll in ATCC’s one-year practical nursing diploma program. LPN graduates have enjoyed phenomenal outcomes, including a 92% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past five years and a 100% job placement rate for the most recent class. Many LPN students matriculate directly into the school’s RN mobility program, which awards an associate’s degree after two additional semesters of study. ADN students have posted an equally impressive 87% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past five years. Graduates who wish to pursue a baccalaureate nursing degree can take advantage of ATCC’s articulation agreements with seven state universities.


#65: Concorde Career College - Portland | Portland, OR
Concorde Career College is home to thousands of aspiring healthcare professionals. The school offers nursing programs at 14 campuses across seven states, with a broad mix of LPN diploma, LVN diploma, traditional ADN, and LPN-to-ADN bridge options available. Concorde’s Portland campus offers a highly regarded practical nursing diploma program that students may complete in as few as 13 months. The curriculum focuses on critical responsibilities of the LPN role, including medication administration, disease processes, restorative nursing, and therapeutic nursing. Portland graduates have achieved an excellent 92% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past eight years, including several classes with a 95%+ pass rate. The program’s job placement rate is close to 80%.


#66: Howard Community College | Columbia, MD
Howard Community College (HCC) leads one of the largest nursing education programs in Maryland. The college graduates 150-180 students annually from its flagship ADN program, with a strong 87% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past eight years. The associate’s degree program is noted for its flexibility, offering both a traditional two-year pathway and an accelerated 14-month option. HCC also offers career bridge opportunities for existing LPNs, paramedics, and military personnel to earn advanced standing. Graduates can transfer directly into the RN-to-BSN programs at six state universities (including the prestigious University of Maryland), as well as the private Stevenson University (previously known as Villa Julie College). HCC also offers an 11-month practical nursing certificate program. Although smaller in size with 12-20 graduates annually, the LPN program has a phenomenal 97% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past eight years.


#67: Vocational Education & Extension Board of Nassau County | Hicksville, NY
The Vocational Education and Extension Board (VEEB) of Nassau County has offered a practical nursing certificate program for over fifty years. Along with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in neighboring eastern Suffolk County, the Nassau County VEEB leads one of New York State’s two largest LPN programs, graduating 130-200 students annually. These individuals have averaged an 84% NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years, demonstrating the VEEB’s exceptional job at delivering both quantity of graduates and quality of instruction. The LPN program is delivered in three 16-week trimesters from September through August of each academic year, with an option to sit for the state’s Nursing Home Nurse Aide Competency Examination at the conclusion of the first trimester.


#68: Fortis College - Norfolk | Norfolk, VA
Owned and operated by Education Affiliates of Baltimore, Fortis College has more than 35 campuses across the United States. The college is known for accelerated programs with no wait list, enabling students to graduate and enter the workforce as quickly as possible. The school’s Norfolk campus offers a certificate in licensed practical nursing, an associate’s degree in registered nursing, and an LPN-to-RN bridge program. Students in all programs have enjoyed strong outcomes. For example, Fortis graduates have earned an 84% NCLEX-RN pass rate and a 91% NCLEX-PN pass rate since 2010. Recent cohorts in both professions have also posted an 80-85% job placement rate upon graduation. Fortis College places particular emphasis on expanding access to education for both traditional and nontraditional students in the greater Tidewater area.


#69: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College | Asheville, NC
Dedicated to individual and community success since 1959, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) currently enrolls 10,000 full-time and 14,000 continuing education students. The college offers three avenues of entry for aspiring RNs: a traditional two-year associate’s degree program, an advanced placement option for LPNs with an unencumbered North Carolina license, and a dual-enrollment collaboration with Western Carolina University (WCU). The final option, dubbed “Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses” (RIBN), awards both an A-B Tech AAS degree after three years and a WCU BSN degree after the fourth year. Traditional ADN students have both fall and spring admission options. A-B Tech has a consistent track record of strong NCLEX performance, with an 88% pass rate over the past seven years and a stellar 96% pass rate in 2015.


#70: Catawba Valley Community College | Hickory, NC
Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) has awarded associate’s degrees, diplomas, and certificates for more than fifty years. The college offers a traditional daytime ADN program that requires five semesters of study, including a summer term between the first and second years. Graduates have traditionally performed well on the NCLEX licensure exam, posting an 84% pass rate over the past five years and a strong 92% pass rate in 2015. In addition, CVCC partners with nearby Lenoir-Rhyne University to offer the RIBN program to select qualified applicants. RIBN students complete three years of study at CVCC with one course per semester at Lenoir-Rhyne, followed by a fourth year entirely at the university. In the process, they earn both an AAS and a BSN degree. CVCC also offers several CNA and medication aide courses for students seeking a much faster pathway into the healthcare profession.


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

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