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: Boston College

    The William F. Connell School of Nursing is geared towards global diversity and social justice. The college’s nursing students enjoy a liberal arts education and receive a range of cultural healthcare perspectives, with access to six international locations. Approximately 100 BSN and 40 MSN students graduate from the school’s prelicensure programs each year. BSN students have maintained a strong 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, while direct entry MSN students scored a perfect 100% pass rate in eight of the past ten years. The school offers a wide range of graduate programs, including certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and pediatric or psychiatric nurse practitioner (NP) options.

  2. #2: University of Massachusetts Medical School

    UMass Medical School is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the leading medical schools in the nation for primary care education. UMMS’s graduate school of nursing, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, offers master’s degrees, post-master’s certificates, and doctoral degrees. It stands out as the only publicly funded nursing school in the commonwealth with a sole focus on graduate education. It is no surprise, then, that their direct entry MSN program has boasted an exceptional NCLEX pass rate of 96% over the past decade.

  3. #3: Northeastern University

    Northeastern’s School of Nursing, part of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, provides students broad interaction across Bouvé’s entire faculty. The school maintains a strong focus on research and an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare. Indeed, Northeastern was designated an NLN Center of Excellence in 2013 for enhancing student learning and professional development. Prelicensure students perform very well on the NCLEX exam. The school’s BSN program posted a 92% pass rate over the past decade, while its direct entry MSN program scored a phenomenal 95% pass rate over that time period. Northeastern also offers an online RN-to-BSN program, an MSN curriculum with six nurse practitioner specialties, two doctoral nursing degrees (PhD and DNP), and nurse anesthesia programs at both the master’s and doctoral levels.

  4. #4: Simmons University

    Simmons’s low student-to-faculty ratio allows it to concentrate on strong, clinically based baccalaureate, master’s, post-master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing. Simmons students can also take advantage of Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, which features 21 renowned medical and academic institutions in their immediate backyard. The school graduates approximately 200 students annually from its prelicensure BSN program, with a strong 92% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Simmons’s direct entry MSN program graduates an additional 30-50 students annually. It has boasted a phenomenal 98.5% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, with most cohorts scoring a perfect 100% pass rate.

  5. #5: MGH Institute of Health Professions

    The MGH Institute of Health Professions is always innovating. In 2007, its School of Nursing was one of the first four institutions in the country to create an accredited DNP program. The school introduced a holistic Mind Body Spirit program in 2011 and a Global Health Nursing certification program in 2013. More than 80% of the school’s faculty members possess a doctoral degree. MGH Institute students perform very well on licensure and certification exams. Prelicensure BSN students have achieved an 86% first-time NCLEX pass rate since the program’s inception, while their counterparts in the direct entry MSN program scored a 90% first-time pass rate over that time period. Advanced practice students perform similarly well on their APRN certification exams.

  6. #6: University of Massachusetts Amherst

    The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst was the first in the state to offer a DNP program and among the first to offer a publicly supported PhD program. The online MSN program is also consistently ranked among the top dozen in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. UMass Amherst offers a breadth of graduate options including three MSN tracks (clinical nurse leader, nursing education, nursing studies), three DNP nurse practitioner specialties (adult-gerontology primary care, family, psychiatric-mental health), and two other DNP programs (public health nurse leader, post-master’s completion). At the undergraduate level, the College of Nursing offers a traditional baccalaureate program, an accelerated BSN for non-nursing degree-holders, and an online RN-to-BSN pathway. Over the past decade, prelicensure students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 89% rate on their first attempt, including a 93% pass rate in 2020. UMass Amherst’s recently renovated facilities include a nursing simulation lab with five state-of-the-art rooms, a 16-hospital-bed area, and two clinical exam rooms.

  7. #7: Endicott College

    Fully equipped laboratories, intensive clinical experiences, and small class sizes are several of the benefits that Endicott nursing students enjoy. A typical nursing class has between 10 and 36 students, and clinical groups average seven students per instructor. The BSN curriculum includes a minimum of 920 clinical practice hours, for which the school has an affiliation with 60 local healthcare facilities. In the final semester, an experienced preceptor mentors each student during a 144-hour internship. This hands-on instruction has helped Endicott’s BSN graduates pass the NCLEX exam at an 86% rate over the past decade. Graduate nursing students can choose from Endicott’s four MSN specializations, three post-master’s certificates, and a nursing PhD program.

  8. #8: Regis College

    ​The Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing at Regis College has received three consecutive NLN Center of Excellence designations since 2008. With small class sizes and four high-tech simulation labs, the school provides its students experience-oriented nursing education. Enrollees in the direct entry MSN program have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a stellar 96% rate over the past decade. The school also offers a traditional four-year BSN, an RN-to-BSN program with two pathways (non-nursing bachelor’s, no bachelor’s), a postlicensure MSN program with ten specialty tracks (five in leadership, five for nurse practitioners), and a DNP program that is delivered both on campus and online.

  9. #9: University of Massachusetts Lowell

    UMass Lowell’s graduate nursing program is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school boasts 100+ healthcare partners, 200+ students at clinical sites, and 100+ faculty publications. Graduates of the prelicensure BSN program have averaged an 86% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Recently recognized by the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, UMass Lowell also offers fast-track BSN-to-MSN and MSN-to-DNP programs, as well as a master’s certification in adult-gerontology nursing.

  10. #10: University of Massachusetts Boston

    UMass Boston is the ninth-largest nursing school in the country and proudly offers the only publicly supported nursing program in the greater Boston area. The school graduates a significant number of racially and ethnically diverse baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral students. UMass Boston is known for its abundant nursing resources, including affiliations with 200+ healthcare organizations and an on-campus Center for Clinical Education and Research. The school graduates approximately 200 BSN students annually. It also provides MSN tracks for aspiring family nurse practitioners, adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, and adult-gerontology acute care clinical nurse specialists.

  11. #11: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

    Graduates from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences are the #1 salary earners in New England, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Spread across three campus locations – Boston, Worcester, and Manchester – MCPHS is one of the few private universities in the country specializing solely in the education of healthcare professionals. Nursing students receive a broad-based education that prepares them well for licensure exams and future practice. For example, BSN students at the school’s Worcester and Manchester campuses have both averaged a 92% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Graduate nursing students can choose from two MSN nurse practitioner tracks and a DNP program, all offered 100% online.

  12. #12: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

    UMass Dartmouth educates more than 650 students across its undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Its College of Nursing is the only one to offer MSN, DNP, and nursing PhD programs in Southeastern Massachusetts. At the undergraduate level, UMass Dartmouth has approximately 100 students in each prelicensure BSN class. These students passed the NCLEX exam at an 89% rate over the past seven years, including a 98% rate in 2018. In addition to a traditional four-year curriculum, the school offers an accelerated second-degree BSN and an online RN-to-BSN program. Alongside faculty mentors, UMass Dartmouth students can delve into a broad range of research topics including cardiac illness, spinal cord injury, and global community health.

  13. #13: Worcester State University

    The Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Nursing Department at Worcester State University has educated nurses for forty years. The department provides three undergraduate nursing tracks: traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, and LPN-to-BSN. Prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a phenomenal 96% rate over the past decade, including a perfect 100% pass rate in three of the past four years. Worcester State’s MSN program is offered in two fields: community / public health nursing and nursing education. Designed for flexible scheduling, it offers blended learning between face-to-face classes and online study. The school also provides a post-master’s certificate program in nursing education.

  14. #14: Emmanuel College

    Located in the heart of the Longwood Medical Area, Emmanuel College has a niche focus on educating registered nurses. Emmanuel’s degree completion program combines core baccalaureate courses in English, social science, history, and religion with an advanced nursing curriculum, culminating in a BSN degree. For graduate students pursing an MSN or post-master’s certificate, the college offers two tracks. Nurse educators can prepare for certification by the NLN, and nurse administrators can prepare for certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

  15. #15: Fitchburg State University

    As the first public university in Massachusetts to offer a nursing program, FSU has a long and distinguished history in nursing education. The school’s facilities include a well-equipped health assessment lab, a state-of the-art clinical simulation lab, and a home care lab. Over the past decade, an astonishing 96% of FSU’s prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam on their first try. The university offers three BSN pathways: traditional, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. They also conduct an online MSN with a focus on forensic nursing, designed for RNs who wish to pursue advanced leadership positions in the healthcare system.

  16. #16: College of Our Lady of the Elms

    Elms College’s Department of Nursing graduated its first class in 1982. In 2013, it was reorganized into the School of Nursing and became the first school at Elms College. The School of Nursing provides entry-level, degree completion, and advanced preparation nursing programs. Specific degree pathways include traditional and accelerated BSN programs, an MSN in nursing education or management, a dual-degree MSN/MBA track, and several degree completion options for registered nurses. In 2014, Elms College introduced a DNP program with specializations as a family nurse practitioner or an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.

  17. #17: Merrimack College

    Merrimack College was founded in March 1947 as the Augustinian College of the Merrimack Valley. Nearly 22,000 students have graduated from Merrimack over its seventy-year history. The School of Health Sciences offers a prelicensure BSN program that combines rigorous coursework with local healthcare partnerships. The curriculum incorporates hands-on learning opportunities so that students become safe, compassionate caregivers as well as leaders in the nursing profession. Graduates are prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Upon successful completion, they can pursue careers in a variety of healthcare settings including acute care centers, ambulatory and outpatient clinics, community centers, hospitals, public health services, and skilled nursing facilities.

  18. #18: Assumption University

    The Froelich School of Nursing at Assumption University offers a direct-admission BSN program that prepares students to provide high-quality, patient-centered healthcare. The school’s direct-admission structure allows applicants to begin the nursing program the same year they are admitted. Students complete rigorous coursework on foundational and nursing topics. They also conduct clinical experiences in acute care and community-based environments. Assumption University is currently constructing a new nursing facility with a state-of-the-art clinical skills and simulation laboratory, intended to augment students’ acute care and community-based experiences. BSN graduates are prepared to sit for the NCLEX licensure examination.

  19. #19: Lawrence Memorial / Regis College

    In 1998, Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing collaborated with Regis College to design and launch a new ADN program. The joint curriculum awards an associate of science degree with a major in nursing. Clinical experiences are offered at major Boston teaching hospitals, suburban hospitals, long-term care facilities, and a variety of community, home care, and social service agencies. The program shares its campus with Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Courtyard Nursing Care Center, both affiliates of Hallmark Health. The Lawrence Memorial / Regis College ADN program produces 100+ newly minted nurses annually, with a strong NCLEX pass rate of 89% over the past decade. Graduates of the ADN program can pursue two different pathways to earn a BSN degree from Regis College.

  20. #20: Brockton Hospital School of Nursing

    An integral part of Signature Healthcare, Brockton Hospital School of Nursing is the only hospital-based nursing program in the state of Massachusetts. Originally established in 1897, BHSN has graduated over 2,800 nurses throughout its storied history. The school strives for diversity and offers several nursing diploma pathways, including a two-year day program and a four-year part-time program on weekends and evenings. Approximately 90% of BHSN graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on their first try over the past decade. Additionally, the school’s affiliation with Fisher College allows these graduates to transition seamlessly into Fisher’s RN-to-BSN program.

  21. #21: American International College

    American International College opened in 1885 as a school for international immigrants. The institution became coed in 1892, making it one of the first colleges in the region to educate women. AIC offers BSN and RN-to-BSN courses for undergraduate students. Graduates of the traditional BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an 87% rate over the past decade. The college introduced its MSN program in 2005, which offers a hybrid of classroom and online modules. In fact, two-thirds of the content is available online, providing much-needed flexibility for working nurses.

  22. #22: Westfield State University

    The BSN program at Westfield State University is part of the Nursing & Allied Health Department. The traditional prelicensure BSN curriculum includes coursework across both the sciences and the liberal arts. Sample courses include Community Health Nursing, Pathophysiology & Pharmacology, and Principles of Sociology. WSU’s program has several distinguishing features including small class sizes, a formal one-year student-to-student mentorship program, a patient simulation laboratory with video and voice recording equipment, and a capstone preceptorship program that allows students to work at healthcare organizations during their last semester under RN supervision. The university also offers a hybrid RN-to-BSN program that allows students to take classes at either Westfield or Springfield Technical Community College.

  23. #23: Framingham State University

    The Nursing Department at Framingham State offers a single undergraduate program in nursing, which is only available to registered nurses pursuing their BSN completion. At the graduate level, Framingham State has MSN concentrations in nursing education and nursing leadership. MSN-educated nurses can also complete a post-master’s certificate in either area. Graduate students can pursue several specialty certifications at the end of their studies. These include the ANCC’s Nurse Executive certification, a Clinical Nurse Leader certification offered by the Commission of Nurse Certifications, and the NLN’s Certified Nurse Educator certification.

  24. #24: Curry College

    Curry College was the first nursing program in the state of Massachusetts to earn accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The School of Nursing offers three BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated second degree, RN-to-BSN) and two MSN specializations (nursing administration, nursing education). Curry College’s location in the Boston metropolitan area enables students to experience dynamic, hands-on learning at some of the best medical facilities in the world. Clinical rotations begin during sophomore year at a wide range of urban and suburban institutions, with rotations that include pediatrics, maternity care, and mental health. Curry College graduates approximately 100 prelicensure BSN students each year. These individuals have averaged an 86% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including a stellar 97% pass rate in 2018.

  25. #25: Greater Lowell Technical High School

    Greater Lowell Technical High School offers a practical nursing program that is fully approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and fully accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The 40-week fulltime program requires 1,097 hours of classroom instruction and 540 hours of clinical experience. The clinical experience allows students to apply classroom theory within various community healthcare facilities. Graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN licensure examination. Greater Lowell Technical High School graduates approximately 70 LPN students annually, and these students have achieved an excellent 94% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. The graduating class of 2018 also enjoyed a 97% job placement rate.

  26. #26: Salem State University

    The School of Nursing at Salem State University offers four BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, LPN entry, RN entry) and a breadth of MSN options. The BSN curriculum blends academic and experiential learning with clinical practicums in adult health, maternal-child health, and community settings. The accelerated BSN is a 15-month pathway for students who hold a baccalaureate degree in a non-nursing field. The LPN-to-BSN program is similarly streamlined, requiring just four semesters and a summer session to complete. Across these prelicensure programs, graduates have achieved an 82% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Salem State’s MSN program has three tracks: adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, nursing education, and nursing leadership in health systems. Designed for working professionals, the MSN is delivered in an evening and hybrid format.

  27. #27: Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School

    Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School hosts a highly regarded School of Practical Nursing. The school harnesses the unique potential of each learner by developing the theoretical and technical skills required for success as an entry-level LPN. Diman Regional’s practical nursing program is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, and it has full approval from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. The program typically graduates between thirty and sixty LPN candidates each year. These students have averaged a 92% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam over the past decade. The class of 2019 scored a perfect 100% first-time NCLEX pass rate.

  28. #28: Becker College

    Becker College was founded in 1784 as Leicester Academy. It was the first nonsectarian academy in New England to accept female students. Today, Becker College is a private career-focused institution that serves more than 2,000 students across dozens of degree programs. The School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers two pathways to an ADN degree (traditional, LPN advanced placement) and two pathways to a BSN degree (prelicensure, RN-to-BSN). Graduates of the ADN program have consistently performed exceptionally well on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, earning a 96% first-time pass rate over the past decade. The first three graduating classes of the traditional BSN program have also done well, averaging a 90% NCLEX pass rate.

  29. #29: Labouré College

    The Labouré College nursing program allows graduates to begin their nursing employment two years earlier than a traditional four-year program. Students first complete an ADN program and pass the NCLEX-RN licensure examination to earn their RN credentials. The college’s ADN graduates have averaged a 75% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam over the past decade. Newly licensed RNs can then enroll in Labouré’s RN-to-BSN degree and complete their BSN coursework while they earn valuable work experience. Some students take a break from their studies and work for several years before returning to complete their BSN.

  30. #30: Anna Maria College

    The nursing program at Anna Maria College offers a four-year prelicensure BSN for entry-level students and an RN-to-BSN completion program for registered nurses. The prelicensure BSN program is 120 credit hours in length. Graduates have enjoyed an 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam since the program’s inception. The RN-to-BSN pathway is designed for working nurses who already hold either an ADN or nursing diploma. The program’s flexible online curriculum is built on a foundation of holistic care with a powerful emphasis on multicultural and community nursing.

  31. #31: Blue Hills Regional Technical School

    Blue Hills Regional Technical School offers vocational programs in the areas of healthcare, science, and technology. The nursing program at Blue Hills offers an LPN pathway for post-secondary adults. This immersive fulltime program provides a rigorous combination of nursing theory and clinical practice in preparation for the NCLEX-PN national licensure examination. Students must attend classes for forty weeks from September to June, Monday through Friday. The program typically graduates 30-40 LPN candidates annually. These students have averaged an exceptional 96% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including several recent graduating classes with a perfect 100% pass rate.

  32. #32: Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School

    Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School’s Division of Nurse Education offers an LPN program. Two tracks are available: a fulltime 40-week option conducted during the day, and a part-time 80-week option conducted during the late afternoon and evening. At the conclusion of the program, students receive a certificate of completion and sit for the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. The program graduates 40-60 students annually, with a 94% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of healthcare settings including acute care and community health. They can also matriculate directly into an ADN program, thanks to the school’s transfer agreements with Cape Cod Community College, Bristol Community College, and Quincy College.

  33. #33: Assabet Valley Regional Technical School

    Assabet Valley Regional Technical School offers a ten-month fulltime certificate program in licensed practical nursing. The school accepts a new cohort of approximately forty LPN students annually, with daytime classes conducted five days per week from late August through June. Students are trained to provide direct patient care, including the administration of medications and treatments. They are also prepared to manage and delegate the nursing care provided by unlicensed personnel, particularly in long-term care settings. At the conclusion of their studies, graduates may pursue LPN licensure by sitting for the NCLEX-PN examination. AVRTS students have averaged an impressive 93% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. The school also promotes pathways for graduates to continue their education at the associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and even graduate level.

  34. #34: Shawsheen Valley Technical High School

    The Shawsheen Valley School of Practical Nursing has more than twenty years of experience educating practical nurses. The school’s curriculum provides the theoretical frameworks, laboratory skills, and clinical experiences for graduates to successfully assume the full scope of LPN responsibilities in Massachusetts. Students attend the program in a convenient and flexible evening and weekend format, following the high school’s forty-week calendar. Approximately 30-40 LPN candidates complete the program annually. These students have an impressive track record on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination, including a 90% first-time pass rate over the past decade.

  35. #35: MassBay Community College

    The nursing program at MassBay Community College has two pathways for aspiring nurses: an LPN certificate and an ADN degree. The LPN program prepares students to join the workforce as practical nurses, assuming entry-level patient care positions in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. The curriculum includes both classroom lectures and clinical practice, and it takes just ten months to complete. The ADN is a rigorous two-year program that prepares students for initial RN licensure. Clinical practicums are conducted at a variety of hospitals and healthcare facilities in the MetroWest area. Over the past eight years, students from both programs have performed well on the NCLEX licensure examination, with ADN students passing at a 92% rate and LPN students passing at a 91% rate. Both programs saw a perfect 100% pass rate in each of the past three years.