For our 2021 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 licensure examination

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.

  1. #1: Indiana University School of Nursing

    Indiana University School of Nursing (IUSON) was the first college in the history of the NLN to hold two simultaneous designations as a Center of Excellence. The school also receives over $2.5 million annually in NIH funding for its nursing research. Almost 40% of Indiana’s baccalaureate-prepared professional nurses graduate from IUSON, with consistently strong NCLEX pass rates of 87-94% each year. Students benefit from IUSON’s active partnerships with more than sixty healthcare providers in Indiana, including five well-known facilities directly on campus. Study abroad courses and bi-national exchanges are also encouraged.

  2. #2: Purdue University

    Purdue University’s School of Nursing is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences. The school enrolls 550 undergraduates in its traditional and second-degree BSN programs, as well as 50 graduate students in its MSN and DNP programs. Purdue’s graduating BSN class has passed the NCLEX exam at a strong rate of 92% since 2011. Nursing students can take advantage of unique facilities including the Center for Nursing History, Ethics, Human Rights, and Innovations; the Center for Nursing Education and Simulation; and the Nursing Center for Family Health. They can also seize the opportunity to study in four international locations.

  3. #3: Saint Mary’s College

    The Department of Nursing Science at Saint Mary’s College offers three distinct nursing programs: traditional BSN, DNP with BSN entry, and DNP with MSN entry. With just 40-60 graduates annually, the BSN program is very selective. It also prepares students well for their licensure exams: over the past decade, 89% of graduates have passed the NCLEX exam on their first try. Students begin clinical experiences during sophomore year under the supervision of qualified faculty members in small classes. These experiences are facilitated by the school’s affiliations with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, health departments, and other community settings.

  4. #4: Valparaiso University

    Valparaiso University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers undergraduate students BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, and RN-to-MSN options. At the graduate level, BSN-educated nurses may pursue an MSN with a focus on nursing education, a joint MSN/MBA program, or a DNP degree. Valparaiso graduates a prelicensure BSN class of 100-140 students annually. These RN candidates have scored a 93% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination over the past eight years. More than 60% of the faculty hold doctoral nursing degrees, and students enjoy access to state-of-the-art facilities such as the Virtual Nursing Learning Center and the SIM Center.

  5. #5: Ball State University

    Ball State University’s nursing department focuses intensely on the use of information technology. Designated a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing, Ball State’s MSN program is the eleventh-largest such online offering in the country. In fact, the department archives all graduate courses for easy access. The traditional BSN program graduates approximately 150 candidates each year, with an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 92% over the past eight years. Nursing students can use Ball State’s recently updated Simulation and Information Technology Center on campus.

  6. #6: Goshen College

    Goshen College is a private Christian liberal arts college known for its affordability and sustainability. Named one of the greenest colleges in the United States, the school conducts Indiana’s oldest baccalaureate nursing program. BSN graduates have scored an impressive 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past five years, and 96% are employed as nurses within a year of graduation. At the graduate level, Goshen College offers an MSN program for aspiring family nurse practitioners. Nearly 100% of the school’s MSN graduates are employed in an APRN role within a year of program completion. The college also conducts an online post-master’s DNP program in collaboration with Eastern Mennonite University. Goshen nursing students enjoy partnerships with a breadth of local healthcare facilities including Borgess Health System, Saint Joseph Regional Health System, and South Bend Clinic.

  7. #7: University of Saint Francis

    The University of Saint Francis offers a breadth of nursing degrees and pathways. Undergraduate options include an ASN program at both the Fort Wayne and Crown Point campuses, a traditional four-year BSN program, and a BSN completion pathway for working RNs. Since 2011, USF’s ASN graduates have maintained an 86% pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, while BSN students have achieved an exceptional 95% pass rate. Graduate options include an MSN degree with an FNP focus, an RN-to-MSN transitional track, a BSN-to-DNP program in nurse anesthesia, and an MSN-to-DNP pathway focused on population health.

  8. #8: Marian University

    Marian University’s Leighton School of Nursing offers several pathways to a BSN degree. In addition to a traditional four-year BSN program, the school offers an on-campus ABSN, an online ABSN program for residents of Indianapolis and Nashville, and an online RN-to-BSN program. Since 2011, the school’s prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% first-try rate. Marian University recently launched a new Master of Science in Nursing Education curriculum. In addition, the school offers the terminal DNP degree for two APRN specializations: family nurse practitioner and certified registered nurse anesthetist. The MSN and DNP programs are delivered through a hybrid platform.

  9. #9: Indiana Wesleyan University

    Indiana Wesleyan University’s School of Nursing graduated its first class of 33 students in 1975. Today, the school employs 200 faculty and educates 2,000 full-time nursing students across its 16 regional education centers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, as well as online. IWU offers a variety of nursing programs including three BSN tracks (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN), four MSN majors, an MSN/MBA dual degree, and an online DNP with a classroom-based residency. The Marion campus graduates 140-170 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 91% rate over the past eight years. All students can take advantage of the Fortune Simulation Lab’s cutting-edge facilities, including eight simulators.

  10. #10: University of Southern Indiana

    USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a prelicensure BSN program, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree, several APRN certificates, and a DNP program. The college adopts a unique dedicated education unit (DEU) model, featuring exclusive clinical education partnerships with both Deaconess Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital. The school’s BSN graduates have an outstanding NCLEX pass rate of 98% since 2011. Students applying for APRN certifications from the American Nurses Credentialing Center have scored a perfect 100% pass rate on several exams since 2012.

  11. #11: University of Indianapolis

    UIndy’s School of Nursing is the only institution in the state that offers both nurse-midwifery and neonatal nurse practitioner programs. The school also provides five other MSN specializations; traditional, accelerated, and degree-completion BSN programs; and a doctorate of nursing practice. Prelicensure students from UIndy’s BSN programs have achieved an NCLEX exam pass rate of 90% over the past decade. The school’s “Education for Service” motto is deeply embedded in its nursing curriculum, including a number of student volunteer and mission opportunities each year.

  12. #12: Purdue University Northwest

    Purdue University Northwest was formally established in 2016 through the merger of Purdue University’s Calumet and North Central campuses. Both campuses date back to a 1946 founding in the aftermath of World War II. PNW’s College of Nursing is a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence, one of just 64 institutions so designated nationwide. Undergraduates can choose from several BSN pathways including traditional, accelerated, and online RN-to-BSN. Prelicensure students have achieved an 87% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2011 (including the track records of the legacy institutions), with a stellar 98% pass rate in 2018. At the graduate level, PNW offers an MSN degree with concentrations in adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, nurse education, and nurse executive. The university also launched a DNP program in 2015.

  13. #13: Bethel University

    Bethel University was founded in 1947 by a group of Missionary Church visionaries. The university provides more than fifty areas of study in total. Bethel’s School of Nursing offers several degree programs including ADN, traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN completion, and MSN pathways. Students in all programs will practice on adult and child mannequins in high-fidelity computer-based simulation labs, mimicking the complex patient environments found in real-world settings. Bethel also conducts medical mission trips to Kenya, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. The school’s NCLEX-RN pass rates are impressive, with an 88% first-time pass rate for ADN students and a 92% first-time pass rate for BSN students since 2011.

  14. #14: University of Evansville

    Founded in 1854 as Moores Hill Male and Female College Institute, the University of Evansville is a private institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church and grounded in the liberal arts and sciences. The school’s nursing program has both a direct-entry traditional BSN and an affordable, flexible RN-to-BSN program. Students enjoy small class sizes; for example, each traditional BSN cohort has just 20-40 enrollees. The program offers six semesters of clinicals at local facilities and numerous study abroad opportunities. Over the past decade, BSN graduates have enjoyed a solid 88% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination.

  15. #15: Chamberlain University

    Indianapolis is one of 22 campuses in the Chamberlain University system, which boasts over 50,000 students and alumni. Chamberlain offers an accelerated BSN degree in Indianapolis, which requires just three years of fulltime, year-round study to complete. The curriculum covers 56 credit hours of general education and 66 credit hours of nursing coursework. Students receive hands-on experience both in the Chamberlain SIMCARE Center and through on-site clinical settings. Since the program’s launch, Indianapolis BSN students have scored a strong 89% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Graduates who pass the NCLEX exam are prepared for immediate employment in the field. They can also pursue a graduate nursing degree through Chamberlain’s online division, which offers a breadth of MSN specializations and the terminal DNP degree.

  16. #16: Huntington University

    Huntington University offers a traditional four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing. The BSN program is built upon Christian principles and strengthened by the university’s broad curriculum in the liberal arts. Nursing students have access to extensive clinical experiences both on and off campus, as well as in-depth training in human anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. The BSN program graduates a close-knit cohort of approximately twenty students annually. These students have averaged an 82% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination since the program’s launch. The past two graduating classes scored a 90%-plus NCLEX pass rate. Huntington University graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate within six months of passing the NCLEX exam.

  17. #17: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

    For nearly 180 years, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has offered an education rooted in the liberal arts, sciences, and Catholicism. The college’s Nursing Department offers three pathways: a traditional prelicensure BSN program, an MSN degree for aspiring family nurse practitioners, and a post-master’s certificate in the same specialty field. SMWC nursing students learn in nursing skills and chemistry laboratories that feature state-of-the-art equipment and a simulated hospital learning environment. They also enjoy access to off-campus simulation centers and local clinical experiences, thanks to the college’s numerous healthcare partnerships. The BSN program recently graduated its inaugural class of approximately a dozen newly minted registered nurses.

  18. #18: St. Elizabeth School of Nursing

    St. Elizabeth School of Nursing is a Roman Catholic post-secondary institution with more than 120 years of history. St. Elizabeth is the only remaining diploma school of nursing in the state of Indiana. The school’s prelicensure program cooperates with the University of Saint Francis to award graduates both a diploma from St. Elizabeth and a baccalaureate degree from the university. Students are provided with hands-on clinical experiences during the first year of the program. Learning is both group- and self-paced, with individualized attention from faculty. Approximately sixty students graduate from the nursing program annually. Impressively, each of the past four graduating classes has achieved an NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate between 93% and 96%.

  19. #19: Western Governors University Indiana

    Western Governors University Indiana is a partnership between the state of Indiana and nationally recognized Western Governors University. The school serves 5,700 students through more than sixty bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in high-demand fields like business, information technology, teacher education, and healthcare. WGU Indiana conducts a BSN program that prepares a small cohort of students – typically 15-25 annually – to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Since the program’s launch earlier this decade, these graduates have averaged an impressive 90% first-time NCLEX pass rate. BSN students conduct their clinical experiences at a range of local healthcare facilities including Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health, and Roudebush VA.

  20. #20: Indiana State University

    Indiana State University opened its doors in 1870 as Indiana State Normal School, with just 23 students and a faculty of three. Today, the university has hundreds of faculty members serving more than 13,000 students. Indiana State’s School of Nursing sits within the College of Health and Human Services. The school offers a variety of nursing programs including four BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, LPN bridge, online completion), two MSN specializations (family nurse practitioner, nurse educator), and the terminal DNP degree. Approximately 150-200 prelicensure BSN students graduate each year, and these students have achieved an 85% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam since 2011.

  21. #21: Anderson University

    Anderson University’s School of Nursing & Kinesiology offers two BSN pathways: a traditional prelicensure program and an accelerated second-degree option. The latter is one of only ten such programs in the state of Indiana. The university’s BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN examination at an impressive 94% first-try rate over the past eight years. Graduating classes also frequently achieve a 100% job placement rate. Nursing students have clinical opportunities at two local hospitals (St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital and Community Hospital Anderson) as well as several other regional healthcare organizations. The school offers global education options and has integrated a mandatory intercultural experience into the curriculum.

  22. #22: Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus

    IUPUC’s Division of Health Sciences offers both baccalaureate and master’s degree nursing programs. The school’s BSN curriculum has three pathways: traditional prelicensure, accelerated second degree, and RN-to-BSN completion. The accelerated option is designed specifically for IUPUC alumni and southcentral Indiana residents who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. The RN-to-BSN option offers both face-to-face and online tracks. Graduates from the traditional and accelerated tracks have averaged an 80% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam since the program’s recent launch. IUPUC’s MSN program is conducted in a hybrid format that requires 43 credit hours and 600 clinical hours over a three-year period. The curriculum has a unique rural focus, and students’ clinical placements are guaranteed thanks to the university’s many regional hospital partnerships.

  23. #23: Indiana University Kokomo

    Indiana University Kokomo offers several pathways to a baccalaureate or master’s degree in nursing. Undergraduates can pursue either the traditional BSN degree or the RN-to-BSN completion track. The traditional BSN program offers study abroad experiences, including immersive service trips to Guatemala and Korea. Students also have access to a simulation lab and dedicated educational units for their clinical practicum hours. The traditional BSN program graduates 50-80 students annually. These students have averaged an impressive 94% NCLEX pass rate over the past four years, including a stellar 97% pass rate in 2018. At the graduate level, IU Kokomo offers an MSN degree with tracks for aspiring family nurse practitioners, nurse administrators, and nurse educators. The university delivers the MSN curriculum in partnership with Indiana University East.

  24. #24: Indiana University South Bend

    With more than 5,200 students, Indiana University South Bend is the third-largest campus of the Indiana University system. The School of Nursing is part of the university’s Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences. Undergraduate students can pursue either a prelicensure BSN degree or an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. The school graduates approximately 50-70 prelicensure BSN students annually. These students have averaged a 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2011, with a phenomenal 98% pass rate in 2018. Indiana University South Bend also offers an MSN degree program that prepares graduates for leadership roles in advanced nursing practice as family nurse practitioners.

  25. #25: Indiana University Southeast

    Indiana University Southeast began as a branch campus of the flagship university in 1941. Today the school offers degrees and certificates in more than fifty undergraduate and graduate programs. Nursing students at IU Southeast can pursue either a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing. The BSN program offers both prelicensure and RN-to-BSN pathways. Approximately 40-50 prelicensure students graduate from the university each year. They have posted a solid 86% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including an exceptional 97% first-time pass rate in 2018. The MSN program allows registered nurses to advance their careers in two in-demand fields: nursing administration and nursing education.

  26. #26: Indiana University Northwest

    Indiana University Northwest is home to Northwest Indiana’s only medical school and one of the area’s top business schools. It is also home to the School of Nursing, whose BSN graduates have posted one of the state’s highest NCLEX pass rates over the past decade – approximately 94% among first-time test-takers. IU Northwest offers three distinct BSN pathways: traditional prelicensure, accelerated second degree, and RN-to-BSN completion. The school’s state-of-the-art learning laboratory has both mid- and high-level simulation equipment, allowing students to hone the skills they acquire in class before applying them in clinical experiences. These supervised clinicals take place throughout Lake County, Porter County, and the Chicago metropolitan area. IU Northwest also leads a master of science in nursing program for aspiring family nurse practitioners.

  27. #27: Indiana University Fort Wayne

    In July 2018, IU Fort Wayne joined the Indiana University system, with a primary focus on health science education including dentistry, medical imaging, medicine, nursing, and social work. The school offers two BSN tracks: a traditional pathway for students with no prior nursing education and an online completion pathway for ADN-educated registered nurses. Over the past decade – including the program’s previous stint as part of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne – BSN graduates have posted a stellar 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Graduates also enjoy a 100% job placement rate.

  28. #28: Indiana University East

    Indiana University East is a regional campus that serves more than 4,000 students across seven schools and divisions. The School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a traditional prelicensure BSN degree, an RN-to-BSN mobility option, and an MSN program with three specialization tracks. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 60-80 students annually. Over the past decade, these students have averaged an 80% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, including an 86% first-time pass rate in 2018. IU East’s RN-to-BSN mobility program offers both campus and online pathways. The campus pathway holds nursing classes once per week for three consecutive semesters. The online pathway delivers classes in eight-week learning modules, with options to graduate in 12, 18, or 24 months. IU East’s MSN program is delivered in partnership with Indiana University Kokomo. The joint curriculum offers tracks for aspiring nurse administrators, nurse educators, and family nurse practitioners.

  29. #29: Ivy Tech Community College - Anderson

    Ivy Tech Community College is the largest singly accredited community college system in the country, delivering more than 150 programs to nearly 200,000 students annually. The entire system has more than forty locations statewide. Ivy Tech’s Anderson campus offers two options for aspiring nurses: a technical certificate in practical nursing that requires one year of study, and an associate’s degree in professional nursing that can be completed in less than two years. The LPN program in Anderson boasts outstanding student outcomes, including a 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate in seven of the past eight years. The campus recently graduated its first cohort of ADN students. These graduates now have the opportunity to transfer seamlessly to a four-year institution through the Ivy Tech “Transfer as a Junior” program.

  30. #30: Ivy Tech Community College - Terre Haute

    Ivy Tech Community College is the largest singly accredited statewide community college system in the United States. The institution offers more than forty campus locations and over 1,000 online classes. The Terre Haute campus is home to 50+ academic offerings, including two prelicensure nursing programs: a technical certificate in practical nursing and an associate of science degree in registered nursing. The LPN certificate may be completed in one year of study, while the ASN degree can be achieved in less than two years. Graduates of both programs have performed exceptionally well on their licensure examinations. Over the past eight years, Terre Haute’s ASN students have scored a 96% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam, while LPN students have exceeded a 99% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam.