Find a nursing school near you

Programs include LPN/LVN, ADN, BSN, MSN, and more

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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#51: Barnes-Jewish College | Saint Louis, MO
The Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College is recognized as a Laerdal Center of Educational Excellence. The school welcomes more than 700 nursing students annually and awards the bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, and dual doctor of nursing practice / doctor of philosophy in nursing degrees. Approximately 400 BSN graduates sit for the National Council Licensure Examination annually, and they have passed this test at a 90% rate over the past decade. More than 40% of graduates land positions at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.


#52: Drexel University | Philadelphia, PA
Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions has developed and refined more than 25 undergraduate and graduate nursing programs since 2002. The college currently includes more than 5,000 students, 200 full-time faculty, and 104 staff. Drexel graduates approximately 300-400 traditional BSN students each year with an exemplary NCLEX pass rate of 97% since 2009. The college’s performance on numerous other board certification and licensing exams is well above average, including recent 100% pass rates for the physician assistant and nurse anesthesia programs.


#53: University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
UF College of Nursing is the oldest baccalaureate and graduate nursing school in Florida. The university launched the state’s first NP program and its first BSN-to-PhD track. Currently, UF offers BSN, ABSN, and RN-to-BSN programs to approximately 700 undergraduate students. Graduates of the BSN program have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a remarkable rate of 93% from 2010-2016. The College of Nursing also educates 370 graduate nursing students, offering BSN and MSN entry points to both its DNP and PhD programs. Specialization certificates can be earned in nurse education and five nurse practitioner fields.


#54: Seattle University | Seattle, WA
The Seattle University College of Nursing offers a unique nursing curriculum that combines local and international nursing education. Students may take single academic courses abroad or enroll in a short- or long-term study abroad experience. Locations run the gamut from South America to Africa to Australia. The college offers a four-year BSN program as well as traditional and non-nurse immersion pathways to a DNP degree. Prelicensure students perform well on the NCLEX exam: over the past decade, 88% of BSN students and 94% of graduate immersion students passed the exam on their first attempt. Graduate students can choose from several nurse practitioner specializations, nurse midwifery, or advanced community public health nursing.


#55: Vanderbilt University | Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing focuses solely on graduate nursing study. The university offers traditional and direct-entry MSN programs, 11 distinct post-master’s certificates for aspiring advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and two doctoral options (DNP and PhD). The direct-entry MSN program graduates approximately 150 new nurses annually who have passed the NCLEX exam at a 93% first-try rate over the past decade. Vanderbilt’s APRN specialties run the gamut from family nurse practitioner to nurse-midwifery to nursing informatics. The MSN program also partners with Vanderbilt Divinity School to offer two innovative dual degrees.


#56: University of Virginia | Charlottesville, VA
The University of Virginia School of Nursing was recently ranked among the top four percent of nursing schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers an impressive breadth of program options, including prelicensure BSN, RN-to-BSN, seven distinct MSN tracks, two DNP entry points, and a PhD in nursing science. UVA graduates two BSN classes each spring: one of approximately 90 students on the main Charlottesville campus, and one of 15-25 students from the College at Wise. Both cohorts have maintained approximately a 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past five years. UVA’s direct-entry clinical nurse leader students have performed even better on the licensure exam, with a 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past five years and a perfect pass rate in 2017.


#57: Virginia Commonwealth University | Richmond, VA
The VCU School of Nursing boasts a state-of-the-art Clinical Learning Center with a skills lab and two intensive care simulation suites. The center was recognized in 2010 as a Laerdal Center of Educational Excellence. VCU also provides nursing students with 45,000 square feet of classrooms, auditoriums, and research laboratories. The university offers three BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN completion), five MSN concentrations, and both doctoral nursing degrees (DNP and PhD). VCU graduates approximately 150 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 93% first-try rate over the past decade.


#58: University of Portland | Portland, OR
The University of Portland School of Nursing awards BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees. The baccalaureate program incorporates study abroad experiences in countries like Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Tanzania. UP produces approximately 200 BSN graduates annually who have averaged a solid 89% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The graduate program employs a convenient hybrid delivery model of monthly immersion weekends and online learning modules. UP offers an MSN degree with clinical nurse leader and nurse educator tracks, as well as a DNP program with a family nurse practitioner population focus.


#59: 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.


#60: Samuel Merritt University | Oakland, CA
Samuel Merritt University has prepared professional nurses for a century. Undergraduates can enroll in either a traditional or accelerated BSN program. Across the two pathways, SMU graduates 350-400 BSN students each year who have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate since 2008. Just as impressively, the school’s entry-level MSN program, which graduates 80-100 students annually, has a 90% NCLEX exam pass rate over that same time period. MSN students may prepare for careers as a case manager, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or family nurse practitioner. The university also offers a DNP degree with an FNP specialization. All SMU nursing students have access to global medical mission opportunities as well as the Health Sciences Simulation Center, one of the region’s most advanced healthcare simulation facilities.

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