With a wide variety of local schools and training programs, the barriers to entry are very low in Kansas City’s nursing profession. Local nursing students can pursue one of four critical roles: certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Roughly 15 nursing schools serve the metropolitan area, with eight campuses located in Kansas City proper.

Nursing assistant is the industry’s most junior role. CNA candidates need only complete a brief eight- to ten-week training program and pass a state-administered examination. Practical nurses are senior to CNAs. LPN certificate programs typically run from 12 to 18 months, and candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN national exam to attain licensure. Registered nurse is the most common role in Kansas City’s nursing industry. RNs typically follow one of two licensure pathways: two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) or four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). All candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN national exam to attain licensure. RNs who wish to pursue specialized fields may earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctoral degree in order to achieve licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse.

Kansas City’s nursing professionals earn some of the highest nursing salaries in Missouri and Kansas. CNAs earn a median annual salary of $23,600, LPNs receive about $39,000 in annual pay, and RNs typically earn $62,800 per year. Each number is 5-10% higher than the respective figure for the state as a whole. Kansas City has many well-established healthcare employers, including Saint Luke’s Hospital, University of Kansas Medical Center, and Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


For our 2022 rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on nearly 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: University of Kansas Medical Center

    The University of Kansas School of Nursing has twice been designated an NLN Center of Excellence for enhancing student learning and professional development. The university also ranks among the top 25 public nursing schools nationwide in terms of National Institutes of Health research funding. KU School of Nursing offers a notable breadth of programs including advanced practice clinical, leadership, and nurse educator certificates; traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees; and a PhD program in nursing, the only one of its kind in the region. Traditional BSN graduates have averaged a strong 91% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade.

  2. #2: Research College of Nursing

    Research College of Nursing began as the German Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1905. Over its history of 100-plus years, the college has graduated more than 4,000 professional nurses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The undergraduate program features accelerated and traditional BSN tracks. Across the two pathways, approximately 100 BSN students complete the program each year. These students have posted a strong 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including a stellar 97% pass rate in 2018. The graduate nursing curriculum features an MSN degree with three tracks: adult-gerontological nurse practitioner, executive practice / healthcare leadership, and family nurse practitioner. Research College of Nursing also offers an RN-to-MSN entry point for ADN- and diploma-prepared nurses.

  3. #3: University of Missouri - Kansas City

    The UMKC School of Nursing offers a diversity of nursing programs. Degree options include three BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN) and graduate programs at the MSN, DNP, and PhD levels. Prelicensure BSN students consistently perform well on the NCLEX exam, scoring an 89% average pass rate over the past decade and an impressive 97.4% pass rate in 2019. The postlicensure RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees can all be completed online. In addition, UMKC offers a graduate certificate program for nurses who already hold an MSN or DNP degree. Eight tracks are available, including a nurse educator certificate and seven distinct nurse practitioner specialties.

  4. #4: Graceland University

    Graceland University prepares a tight-knit graduating class of 40-50 prelicensure BSN students annually. Over the past decade, these graduates have achieved a 90% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, well above both state and national averages. Graceland’s School of Nursing also offers both campus-based and online RN-to-BSN programs, an MSN program with two specialty tracks (family nurse practitioner and nurse educator), an RN-to-MSN entry option, and an online DNP program. The MSN offering is frequently named one of U.S. News & World Report’s top twenty online MSN programs nationwide, with particularly high marks for faculty credentials and student engagement.

  5. #5: Rockhurst University

    Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences, now an integral part of Rockhurst University, has educated nurses since 1903. The school is affiliated with Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, an internationally renowned healthcare facility. Students have several degree options including a prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN bridge pathway, and an MSN degree with three specializations (adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and nurse educator). The college is noted for its small class sizes, networking opportunities with one of Kansas City’s largest employers, local volunteer opportunities, and a 100% job placement rate. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 160-180 new nurses annually. Over the past decade, these students have averaged an 86% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure examination.

  6. #6: MidAmerica Nazarene University

    BSN graduates of MidAmerica Nazarene University have enjoyed an NCLEX exam pass rate of 91% over the past decade. Indeed, the school’s students have exceeded the Kansas average pass rate for at least ten years in a row, consistently scoring an 87-94% pass rate every single year. In addition to a traditional BSN program, MNU offers an accelerated BSN pathway, RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN bridge programs, and an MSN curriculum with an MBA dual degree option. Graduate students can also pursue certificates in nursing education, healthcare administration, healthcare quality management, and public health.

  7. #7: William Jewell College

    William Jewell College has produced more than 1,000 nursing graduates who work in staff and leadership positions at just about every hospital in the Kansas City area. The undergraduate nursing program boasts an overseas experience in Central America, participation in the Pryor Leadership Program, and an employment rate of 85% immediately after graduation. William Jewell College graduates 90-100 BSN students annually, and these graduates have averaged an 86% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade.

  8. #8: University of Saint Mary

    University of Saint Mary was founded in 1923 as a junior college for women. Today, the school serves a coed population of 1,400 students across two campuses in Leavenworth and Overland Park. The university offers CCNE-accredited nursing programs at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels. BSN candidates can choose from three pathways: traditional prelicensure, 12-month accelerated, and online RN-to-BSN. Clinical rotations round out the undergraduate student’s classroom experience. Approximately 50-60 BSN students take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam each year; they have enjoyed an 89% first-time pass rate over the past decade. Graduate students can choose from three MSN tracks: nurse administrator, nurse educator, or the only family nurse practitioner track in the state of Kansas.

  9. #9: Avila University

    Avila University began in 1916 as St. Teresa’s College, the first private college for women in Kansas City. Today the school serves a coed population of 1,700 students across more than sixty undergraduate majors and six graduate programs. The university’s School of Nursing offers a traditional prelicensure BSN degree program. The curriculum covers the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, as well as nursing theory and skills. Emphasis is placed on safe nursing practice, effective communication, evidence-based clinical reasoning, and socially responsible healthcare. Avila University graduates approximately forty prelicensure BSN candidates annually. Over the past five years, these students have averaged a remarkable 97% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

  10. #10: Cass Career Center

    For more than four decades, Cass Career Center has offered career and technical programs that prepare students for both post-secondary education and highly skilled careers. The school’s Health Sciences Department conducts programs for aspiring certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses. CNA students work hands-on in a long-term healthcare facility. They also participate in job shadowing across a range of hospital settings including nursing, emergency room care, radiology, physical therapy, laboratory work, and medication order entry. LPN students attend classroom lectures, group discussions, laboratory training, and clinical experiences. Cass Career Center graduates a close-knit cohort of approximately twenty LPN candidates each year. Over the past decade, graduates have scored an impressive 97% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination.