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For our 2018 rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,000 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. 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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#1: Rush University | Chicago, IL
Since its inception, well over 7,000 baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral students have graduated from Rush University’s College of Nursing. The college currently maintains a graduate enrollment of approximately 1,000, of whom 350 are full-time students. Rush’s direct-entry MSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an exemplary rate of 97% over the past eight years. The Rush University Medical Center provides a rich environment where students of nursing, medicine, and allied health sciences learn in an interdisciplinary and dynamic setting.


#2: University of Illinois at Chicago | Chicago, IL
Educating a diverse student body of more than 1,300 nursing students, UIC College of Nursing is consistently in the top tier of colleges for research funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It also has three specialty programs historically ranked in the top ten nationally by U.S. News & World Report: family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, and nursing administration. The college offers nursing degrees and certifications across five regional campuses. Nursing students have access to seven health science colleges at UIC, enabling enhanced interprofessional classroom and clinical opportunities.


#3: Illinois State University | Normal, IL
Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) offers a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Approximately 150 BSN graduates from the college appear for the NCLEX exam annually, with an excellent pass rate of 94-100% every single year since 2008. MCN students have access to a 10,000-square-foot Nursing Simulation Laboratory, enjoy an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio in clinical settings, and can travel to five international locations for nursing experiences. The college is focused on diversity and recently received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services towards increasing nursing education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.


#4: Bradley University | Peoria, IL
Bradley University’s Department of Nursing offers two BSN pathways (four-year, accelerated) and three traditional MSN tracks (general, nursing administration, nursing education). The BSN program graduates 65-90 students annually and has maintained a remarkable 94% NCLEX pass rate over the past ten years. Undergraduates learn from 22 experienced faculty and begin clinical experiences during sophomore year. Bradley’s traditional MSN program is complemented by its extensive online curriculum, including an RN-to-MSN bridge, two MSN concentrations (nursing administration, FNP), and two DNP concentrations (leadership, FNP). These online programs provide flexibility and easy access so that working nurses can improve their educational qualifications while in the field.


#5: University of St. Francis | Joliet, IL
USF’s Cecily & John Leach College of Nursing draws on its Catholic heritage of community service. The school offers a broad range of baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees, including a popular RN-to-BSN bridge program for existing nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or hospital diploma. The school has a small graduating class of 60-90 traditional BSN students who consistently perform very well on the NCLEX licensure exam. Indeed, USF’s first-time NCLEX pass rate over the last decade has been an impressive 93%. Students have access to a virtual simulation laboratory, and they can take advantage of acute and long-term care clinical experiences in a variety of community settings.


#6: DePaul University | Chicago, IL
DePaul’s School of Nursing was the first in Illinois to offer a two-year direct-entry MSN program for non-nurses. The school also conducts a three-year RN-to-MSN program for nurses who hold an ADN or hospital diploma, and it offers a DNP program with specializations in nurse anesthesia, family nursing, and adult-gerontological nursing. The direct-entry MSN program graduates 100+ students annually, with an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 89% since 2008. DePaul’s pass rate on the nurse anesthesia certification exam has reached a stellar 100% in recent years. Students enjoy a network of 75+ clinical sites and state-of-the-art facilities across two campuses in Lincoln Park and North Chicago.


#7: Elmhurst College | Elmhurst, IL
Elmhurst’s School for Professional Studies offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, and an MSN degree with three tracks (clinical nurse leader, nurse educator, nurse administrator). Since 2008, graduates of the school’s traditional BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 91% rate on their first attempt. Elmhurst is focused on innovation in nursing education: the school’s new preoperative nursing course was the first of its kind offered in the Chicago area. Located just 16 miles from downtown Chicago, the school’s students have access to a wealth of premier institutes for clinical studies.


#8: Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing | Peoria, IL
As the only Catholic nursing school in Peoria, Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing is proud of its heritage. It offers students a range of programs including prelicensure BSN, RN-to-BSN, an MSN with eight specialty tracks, several post-master’s certificates, and a DNP taught predominantly online. Graduates from the college’s prelicensure BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an 86% rate over the past decade. The college provides students with hands-on clinical experiences and a low student-to-faculty ratio. Its recently renovated Nursing Learning Center is a state-of-the-art facility with four simulation laboratories.


#9: Loyola University Chicago | Chicago, IL
In 1935, Loyola University Chicago was the first Illinois university to offer a BSN degree. Today, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing offers undergraduate (BSN), master’s (MSN), and doctoral (DNP and PhD) nursing programs. More than 85% of the school’s full-time faculty have doctoral degrees. Loyola’s BSN graduates have scored an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 91% over the past decade. Community outreach is a priority for the school, and it operates two nurse-managed centers that also serve as clinical sites for student practice.


#10: Lewis University | Romeoville, IL
The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Lewis University has forty years of experience educating nurses. Lewis offers a full range of nursing programs including traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN with six specialization options, a dual MSN/MBA degree, post-master’s certificates, and a doctor of nursing practice. The college graduates 110-140 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have achieved a remarkable 97% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. Lewis students learn through one-on-one faculty interactions in state-of-the art simulation labs, and they experience diverse patient populations though the college’s 50+ clinical affiliations. Many courses are also offered online to accommodate a variety of schedules.


#11: Governors State University | University Park, IL
Governors State University’s nursing curriculum incorporates the latest recommendations from the Carnegie Foundation Report and the Institute of Medicine. The Department of Nursing aims to educate nurse leaders who will address the challenges of local, regional, and national healthcare reform. The school has 15 full-time nursing faculty and primarily offers graduate programs, including a DNP and three MSN concentrations (nursing administration, CNS in adult healthcare, FNP). Governors State also conducts a completely online RN-to-BSN completion program for registered nurses.


#12: Saint Anthony College of Nursing | Rockford, IL
Saint Anthony College of Nursing is a private Catholic college with a variety of regionally acclaimed nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional BSN or RN-to-BSN pathway. Graduate nursing students have four MSN tracks (CNL, CNS, FNP, nurse educator) and four DNP specializations (CNS, FNP, AGPCNP, healthcare leadership) from which to choose. Saint Anthony’s BSN students earn consistently stellar scores on their licensure exams, passing the NCLEX exam at a 95% rate over the last decade, including a 99% pass rate for the classes of 2015 and 2017. Graduate students have performed similarly well on the APRN certification tests, including a 100% (nine out of nine) FNP pass rate for one of Saint Anthony’s recent MSN classes.


#13: Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science | North Chicago, IL
The College of Health Professions at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science offers a DNP nurse anesthesia program with two pathways. The nurse anesthesia entry pathway was created for RNs who wish to continue their education to become CRNAs and earn the DNP degree. The program curriculum is predominately delivered on campus, with some upper-level doctoral content presented online. The DNP completion pathway, which was created for current CRNAs, builds on the competencies and achievements of an MSN nurse anesthesia degree. The program can be completed online in just 24 months of part-time study.


#14: Olivet Nazarene University | Bourbonnais, IL
Olivet Nazarene University offers nursing instruction in the context of a Christian liberal arts education. Students learn from twenty faculty members who lead an array of nursing programs, including BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, two MSN tracks (generic and FNP focus), and a post-master’s FNP certification. Olivet’s small class sizes and personalized instruction have helped BSN graduates to pass the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate over the last decade. The school’s well-equipped Simulation Lab includes wireless smart mannequins, and the nursing curriculum incorporates innovative learning techniques like disaster simulation.


#15: Millikin University | Decatur, IL
Millikin University’s School of Nursing offers BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs. The BSN program has both a traditional prelicensure pathway and an online RN-to-BSN pathway. The MSN program has a track for RNs who already hold a BSN degree, as well as a master’s entry into nursing practice: prelicensure (MENP-PL) track for aspiring nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The DNP has four options: BSN-to-DNP nurse anesthesia, BSN-to-DNP family nurse practitioner, MSN-to-DNP family nurse practitioner, and DNP completion for APRNs. A school nurse certificate is also available. Traditional BSN graduates have scored an 86% pass rate on the NCLEX exam over the past decade, while their MENP-PL counterparts have achieved a perfect 100% pass rate.


#16: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville | Edwardsville, IL
The SIUE School of Nursing provides traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN degree programs for undergraduates. It also offers three distinct MSN tracks (healthcare informatics, nurse education, healthcare and nursing administration) and a DNP program with two specialization options (nurse anesthesia, family nurse practitioner). BSN graduates have maintained a solid 81% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. SIUE students learn in active classroom settings and a high-technology simulation laboratory, and they are guaranteed clinical placement among the school’s 28 community partners in the St. Louis metropolitan area. SIUE pursues a federally funded program called SNAP, which is designed to recruit racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse high school graduates.


#17: Aurora University | Aurora, IL
Aurora University offers a traditional prelicensure BSN program at both the main AU campus and at George Williams College in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. The program features small class sizes, with a 32:1 student-to-faculty ratio in classes and an 8:1 ratio in clinical practicum. Nursing students complete 40 hours of prerequisites, 59 hours of nursing courses, and clinical experiences at area hospitals, clinics, and community agencies. Aurora University graduates approximately 100 newly minted nurses each spring. Over the past decade, these students have sustained a strong 93% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#18: Resurrection University | Oak Park, IL
Resurrection University (ResU) offers several degree pathways for aspiring nurses. Options include the prelicensure BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, hybrid RN-to-MSN, and DNP. ResU’s prelicensure BSN program is large, graduating almost 250 students per year. These students have maintained a nearly 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam since 2008. The RN-to-BSN program prepares existing RNs for a variety of advancement opportunities. The RN-to-MSN and MSN programs have three focal areas: health systems leadership, nurse educator, and nurse practitioner (either family or adult-gerontology). The DNP at ResU is specifically designed for the working professional, so the program is offered completely online. It consists of 32 semester hours and takes just six semesters to complete.


#19: Saint Xavier University | Chicago, IL
Founded in 1935, the Saint Xavier University School of Nursing has educated well over 5,000 nurses and was the first nursing school in the state to offer an accredited baccalaureate program. Saint Xavier consistently receives the COE designation from the National League for Nursing. The school engages 33 faculty members across its numerous undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 87% rate over the past decade, significantly above state and national averages.


#20: Illinois Wesleyan University | Bloomington, IL
The School of Nursing at Illinois Wesleyan University offers a traditional BSN program that allows students to pursue a minor in Hispanic studies, human services management, or health. The program has several unique features including collaborative research opportunities with nursing faculty, facilities that simulate hospital and home healthcare settings, internships across several healthcare fields, study abroad trips, and early clinical experiences. School of Nursing students also benefit from the program’s 100% job placement rate. Since 2008, the BSN program has graduated 30-40 students each year who achieved an excellent 92% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#21: Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences | Rock Island, IL
Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers three BSN pathways depending upon the student’s educational background. The traditional BSN (BSN-B) allows students who have completed all general education courses to earn a BSN in six semesters. The accelerated BSN (BSN-A) provides a more rapid 15-month timeline for students with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree. Students in the BSN-A and BSN-B pathways take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Their performance is stellar, exceeding a 95% pass rate since the program’s inception. The completion BSN (BSN-C) is designed for RNs who already hold an ADN or nursing diploma and would like to earn a bachelor’s degree. Trinity College also offers a two-year MSN degree. This is a direct-entry program designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline.


#22: Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing & Health Sciences | Quincy, IL
Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers four BSN pathways: a traditional BSN, a BSN transfer option, a second degree BSN, and an online RN-to-BSN. In total, the college graduates 40-60 prelicensure BSN students annually, and they have achieved an impressive 90% pass rate on the NCLEX exam over the past decade. Nursing students receive hands-on learning in the school’s multimillion-dollar Simulation Center, which features a hospital unit complete with nine patient rooms and a nurses’ station. To hone their skills, students work one-on-one with an instructor on different types of manikins including male, female, pediatric, and a birthing mother. Blessing-Rieman also offers an online MSN degree with tracks in nursing administration and nursing education.


#23: Northern Illinois University | Dekalb, IL
Northern Illinois University’s School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN program that consists of 61-64 nursing credits and 31-33 non-nursing credits. Sample courses for the program include Genetics & Human Genomics, Microbiology, and Nursing Ethics & the Law. Students enjoy a wide range of clinical experiences with over 230 regional healthcare partners, a dedicated advisor, and a Student Success Program that helps students meet program demands. Since 2008, graduates of the four-year BSN program have achieved an 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. NIU’s School of Nursing also offers an online RN-to-BSN, an MSN with two specializations (education, FNP), a post-master’s certificate in nurse education, and a DNP with FNP focus.


#24: Benedictine University | Lisle, IL
Benedictine University’s Department of Nursing and Health offers both an accelerated RN-to-BSN pathway and an MSN degree. The flexible RN-to-BSN program features courses that can be taken at various community colleges and medical centers near the cities of Lisle and Springfield. Students are prepared for employment opportunities in the fields of case management, informatics, occupational health, public health, quality improvement, and nursing supervision. BenU’s MSN program offers concentrations in nurse educator and nurse executive leader. The MSN coursework is offered 100% online.


#25: McKendree University | Lebanon, IL
McKendree University’s School of Nursing and Health Professions offers an RN-to-BSN completion program, an online MSN with four tracks, and a DNP in Ethical Leadership. The RN-to-BSN program builds upon the nurse’s previous ADN or nursing diploma education. The MSN offers specialization options in nursing education, nursing management / administration, and population health, as well as a dual MSN/MBA degree pathway. The DNP program is designed specifically for working practitioners. It features a 30-credit-hour online curriculum, plus two on-campus immersion experiences during each August of the two-year program.


#26: Chamberlain College of Nursing | Chicago, IL
Founded in 1889 to address a lack of healthcare services, Chamberlain College continues to increase access to nursing education nationwide. Chicago is just one of 19 Chamberlain locations across the country. The school offers a three-year BSN program, geared towards students who want to accelerate their degree with summer study. The Chicago campus graduates hundreds of new nurses annually, by far the largest prelicensure BSN program in the state. Despite the school’s size, students receive individualized attention, enabling them to pass the NCLEX exam at an 83% rate between 2010 and 2017. Chamberlain College also offers a fully online MSN program with specialty tracks for nurse educators, nurse executives, family nurse practitioners, nursing informatics, and healthcare policy.


#27: Trinity Christian College | Palos Heights, IL
The BSN program at Trinity Christian College prepares generalists to begin practice in all areas of clinical nursing. The 120-credit program features Christian faculty, hands-on experience, a worldwide alumni network, and a perfect 100% rate of graduate employment. Sample coursework includes Health Assessment Promotion, Mental Health Care Nursing, Principles of Community Health, and Therapeutic Nursing Intervention. BSN graduates have enjoyed a stellar 98% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate over the past four academic years.


#28: Eastern Illinois University | Charleston, IL
Eastern Illinois University offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program designed for registered nurses with an ADN or nursing diploma. For students looking to enter the nursing profession, the school offers two options: a traditional 2+2 program and a partnership with Lakeview College of Nursing. The 2+2 program allows students to attend EIU for two years before transferring to one of 18 partner schools with an accredited BSN program. Loyola University Chicago, Rush University, and University of Illinois at Chicago are just a few options. The Lakeview College of Nursing partnership enables students to complete pre-nursing coursework at EIU and then complete their BSN degree at Lakeview’s Charleston campus, located just eight blocks west of EIU’s Old Main.


#29: St. John’s College | Springfield, IL
St. John’s College offers traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. The traditional BSN is designed for students who have already completed 56 semester hours of lower-division coursework, while the accelerated BSN is designed for students who have already received a bachelor’s degree in another field. Across these two prelicensure programs, St. John’s students have maintained a strong 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade. The RN-to-BSN program is an online, postlicensure pathway for nurses who hold an unencumbered RN license and have graduated from an accredited diploma or ADN program. The MSN program has two focal areas: nursing administration / leadership and family nurse practitioner.


#30: Methodist College | Peoria, IL
Methodist College offers BSN and MSN programs. Both degree programs have three options. The BSN has a traditional prelicensure track, an RN-to-BSN completion pathway, and an accelerated second degree track. Students also have the option to add a certificate, such as gerontology, or a minor in arts and humanities, behavioral and social sciences, or math and science. The college graduates 100-160 students each year across the traditional and accelerated BSN tracks. These students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at an 83% rate over the past decade, including a 93% pass rate by the most recent class. The MSN program has nurse educator, nurse leader executive, and generalist options.


#31: Dominican University | River Forest, IL
Dominican University offers a traditional prelicensure BSN program and an RN-to-BSN pathway. The four-year traditional BSN includes courses such as Adult Health Nursing: Medical and Surgical, Evidenced-based Practice, and Transcultural Nursing. Since the program’s inception several years ago, traditional BSN graduates have maintained a strong 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The three-semester RN-to-BSN is designed for working nurses. This flexible program offers a hybrid mix of on-campus and online courses; individual and group activities; and discussion boards, readings, and special assignments. Sample RN-to-BSN courses include Community, Family, and Population Nursing; Professional Development for the RN; and Nursing Leadership and Management.


#32: North Park University | Chicago, IL
The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at North Park University has a breadth of options for nursing students, including two BSN programs (traditional, RN-to-BSN), an MSN degree, a DNP degree, and post-master’s certificates. The traditional BSN program graduates about 80 students annually, who have achieved a solid 86% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade. The RN-to-BSN pathway blends online and in-person classes, allowing students to continue working full-time. The MSN program has three degree focuses: adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and leadership / management. The DNP program allows students to complete coursework online, with a visit to North Park’s campus once a semester.


#33: Western Illinois University | Macomb, IL
The School of Nursing at Western Illinois University offers three nursing programs: a pre-nursing curriculum, a traditional prelicensure BSN, and an RN-to-BSN offered 100% online. The pre-nursing program prepares students to apply to the prelicensure BSN program by satisfying all general education and support course requirements. The prelicensure BSN program builds upon this foundation to prepare students for initial RN licensure. WIU has achieved a strong 90% pass rate on the NCLEX examination since the inception of the prelicensure program. Finally, the online RN-to-BSN program is for working RNs seeking a bachelor’s degree in nursing.


#34: Lakeview College of Nursing | Danville, IL
Lakeview College of Nursing in Danville offers a BSN program with five progression tracks: traditional, accelerated, paced, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Students have access to Lakeview College’s extensive facilities: classrooms equipped with the latest technology, a fully-stocked nursing arts laboratory, a modern chemistry laboratory, a learning resource center, a state-of-the art computer lab, quiet study areas, and a student lounge. Over the past decade, Lakeview College has graduated 100-160 prelicensure BSN students each year, with an average first-time NCLEX exam pass rate of approximately 80%.


#35: Capital Area School of Practical Nursing | Springfield, IL
Capital Area School of Practical Nursing offers an accelerated LPN program that can be completed in just nine months. The 1,330-hour program, which includes 868 theory hours and 462 clinical hours, is divided into four quarters that must be taken in sequence. Nursing theory is taught during daytime hours, and clinical placements are on four- to six-week rotations. Students may enter CASPN in either August or February of each year. Upon completion of the program, they receive a certificate and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. Since 2008, the school’s 100-plus annual graduates have recorded a strong 91% first-time NCLEX pass rate.


#36: Robert Morris University Illinois | Chicago, IL
The College of Nursing and Health Studies at Robert Morris University Illinois has a prelicensure BSN program that can be completed in just 2.5 years. The program features small class sizes, state-of-the-art simulation labs, a high-tech operating room, hands-on training in the cadaver lab, and clinical rotations at nationally ranked Chicagoland hospitals and medical centers. RMU also offers an RN-to-BSN program that allows registered nurses with an ADN degree to graduate in as little as 15 months. The school boasts that 97% of its bachelor’s degree graduates finished in four years or less.


#37: Carl Sandburg College | Galesburg, IL
The College of Nursing & Health Professions at Carl Sandburg College offers practical nursing, traditional ADN, and LPN-to-RN programs. The practical nursing curriculum prepares students to pass the NCLEX-PN licensure exam and assume entry-level LPN positions. Carl Sandburg graduates a small cohort of 15-30 LPN students each year, who have achieved a solid 84% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade. The traditional ADN and LPN-to-RN programs prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and assume entry-level RN positions. Carl Sandburg produces 40-60 ADN graduates each year, who have posted a respectable 80% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade.


#38: Illinois Valley Community College | Oglesby, IL
Illinois Valley Community College offers an LPN certificate and an ADN degree. In just three semesters, LPN students are prepared either for entry-level positions at area hospitals or for entry into the IVCC ADN program. Approximately 20 students graduate the LPN program each year. Over the past decade, these individuals have scored an exceptional 99% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. The ADN curriculum includes nursing lectures and seminars, as well as clinical experiences at local hospitals, long-term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, physician’s offices, and clinics. Approximately 60 students graduate the ADN program each year. Over the past decade, these individuals have scored a strong 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#39: Kankakee Community College | Kankakee, IL
Kankakee Community College has a one-year LPN certificate program that prepares students for entry-level positions at hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, and nursing homes. The program has maintained a perfect 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past five years. KCC also offers an ADN program that prepares students to practice professional nursing at the introductory level. The program combines classroom instruction with clinical experiences in a variety of settings. ADN graduates have achieved a noteworthy 90% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past five years. Both of KCC’s nursing programs also boast a 100% job placement rate.


#40: Rockford University | Rockford, IL
Rockford University’s College of Science, Math, and Nursing offers a BSN program with a variety of unique opportunities. Recent experiences have included an interprofessional education day at UIC, a Haiti clinical experience, a simulation with SwedishAmerican Hospital, and a bioterrorism preparedness project. The 124-credit-hour BSN program features a breadth of courses: Contemporary Nutrition, Health Promotion & Population-Based Care, Nursing Care of the Geriatric Client, and Pathophysiology & Pharmacology. The university graduates around 70 BSN students annually, who have achieved a noteworthy 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam since 2008.


#41: Chicago State University | Chicago, IL
Chicago State University’s Department of Nursing sits within the College of Health Sciences. Students here can earn either a BSN degree or an MSN degree. The BSN program prepares 20-50 graduates each year for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination, posting an 83% first-time pass rate over the past decade. BSN students have also achieved 100% graduation and job placement rates since 2015. The 45-credit MSN program is designed to prepare nurses for the challenges facing the profession in the 21st century. The program focuses on three specialties: community health nursing, nursing administration, and nursing education. Additional nursing specialties will be developed in the future.


#42: Graham Hospital School of Nursing | Canton, IL
Graham Hospital School of Nursing offers a three-year diploma program for aspiring nurses. Coursework includes both classroom instruction and clinical experiences, allowing students to put the theoretical knowledge they’ve gleaned into immediate practice. While students will engage in clinical experiences primarily at Graham Hospital, they may also participate in other employment settings. For example, students work in a variety of local community agencies, providing exposure to the increasing home health aspects of nursing. Each RN diploma cohort is a select group of 20-25 individuals. Over the past decade, these students have maintained an 86% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination.


#43: Moraine Valley Community College | Palos Hills, IL
Founded over fifty years ago, Moraine Valley Community College is the second-largest community college in Illinois. The ADN program is a two-year special admission program which starts in either the fall or spring of each year. It features in-class high-fidelity simulations, hybrid and online courses, clinical experiences in hospital and community-based settings, and a 90% job placement rate immediately after graduation. The traditional ADN curriculum takes five semesters to complete, excluding summers. An LPN-to-RN bridge pathway is also available, and it may be completed in four consecutive semesters. Over the past decade, Moraine Valley’s ADN graduates have achieved a noteworthy 87% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#44: Ambria College of Nursing | Hoffman Estates, IL
Ambria College of Nursing has several options for aspiring nurses: an LPN certificate, two ADN pathways (traditional, LPN-to-RN), and an RN-to-BSN degree completion program. With day, evening, full-time, and part-time schedules, Ambria’s flexible LPN and LPN-to-RN programs can be completed in just 12 months. The traditional ADN is a two-year program that prepares graduates for initial RN licensure, and the RN-to-BSN is a fast-track program that students can complete in just eight months for only $8,000. Ambria’s ADN pathways collectively graduate about 80 students annually, with a solid 86% NCLEX-RN pass rate since the program’s start. The school graduates another 50-80 LPN candidates each year, who have achieved a strong 92% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade.


#45: Triton College | River Grove, IL
Triton College offers more than 100 degree programs for students seeking an associate’s degree and/or looking to transfer to a four-year institution. One of Triton’s most popular options is a highly selective ADN program that accepts only the most qualified individuals for the available seats. Students cover a broad range of nursing and healthcare topics including adult health, drug calculations, human pathophysiology, and physical assessment. In addition, students engage in clinical experiences in a variety of settings. The program, which offers both traditional and LPN-to-RN pathways, has a solid 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade.


#46: Beck School of Practical Nursing | Red Bud, IL
Beck School of Practical Nursing’s LPN program combines classroom theory with clinical experiences at local hospitals and facilities. The course sequence is divided into five 9- to 10-week blocks for a total of 1,440 clock hours over 11 months. The curriculum covers topics like anatomy, community health, growth and development, maternity nursing, and pharmacology. Although the Beck LPN is a daytime program, students may also attend some meetings, seminars, and clinical practicums during the evenings or weekends. Over the past decade, LPN graduates achieved a noteworthy 89% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam. Recent classes have also boasted an 86% job placement rate.


#47: MacMurray College | Jacksonville, IL
The Division of Nursing at MacMurray College offers a BSN program with a storied forty-year history. MacMurray welcomed its first freshman class of aspiring nurses in August 1979, launched clinical courses in the 1981-82 academic year, and graduated the first cohort in May 1983. Students in today’s 122-credit-hour MacMurray BSN program will take unique courses such as Diversity and Global Awareness, Nursing Synthesis, Values Conflicts in Society, and Vulnerable Populations, in addition to the traditional nursing curriculum. Each BSN class is select, containing approximately twenty students, and they progress through the curriculum in four years. Graduates have achieved an admirable 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade.


#48: Joliet Junior College | Joliet, IL
The Nursing Education Department at Joliet Junior College has three programs of study: an LPN certificate of achievement, a traditional ADN curriculum, and an LPN-to-RN transition pathway. The department offers a state-of-the-art simulation center, clinical experiences at a number of community health facilities, and a 91% job placement rate across all programs. Licensure exam pass rates are stellar as well. Since 2008, the school’s 120-150 ADN graduates per year have posted an outstanding 93% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam. JJC’s 50-70 annual LPN graduates have performed even better, with a near-perfect 99% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam over the same time period.


#49: Elgin Community College | Elgin, IL
The ADN program at Elgin Community College goes well beyond the traditional classroom setting, delivering content through distance learning, simulations, multimedia, small group discussions, and laboratory practice. ECC believes that this approach delivers more individualized instruction and places greater responsibility on each student for his/her education. Sample ADN courses include Nursing Practice, Pharmacology, and Concepts in Human Anatomy and Physiology. The program graduates about 100 students annually; over the past decade, these individuals have scored a 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Approximately 30 students each year choose to take the NCLEX-PN exam at the program’s midpoint, with an impressive 97% pass rate over the same time period.


#50: Rasmussen College | Rockford & Romeoville/Joliet, IL
The Rasmussen College campuses in Rockford and Romeoville/Joliet offer traditional ADN, LPN-to-RN, and RN-to-BSN programs. The traditional ADN program can be completed in 18 to 24 months. It offers small class sizes, four start dates, and an innovative option called Flex Choice. Flex Choice allows students to combine traditional courses and optional self-directed assessments for significant time and money savings. The LPN-to-RN bridge program can be completed in 12 to 18 months. It features a streamlined curriculum for current LPNs looking to advance to an RN role. Rasmussen’s ADN and LPN-to-RN students achieved an 86% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past year. The RN-to-BSN program is offered online and can be completed in as little as 18 months.