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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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#61: Quinnipiac University | Hamden, CT
With a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio that beats the national average of 15:1, Quinnipiac University allows students closer interaction with faculty. USA Today has named Quinnipiac one of the top ten places to earn a nursing degree in the country. The school’s flagship bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program graduates well over 100 students annually from its traditional four-year pathway. Another 50 students graduate from the accelerated BSN program each year. Quinnipiac students have passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 90% rate over the past decade, including an impressive 93% pass rate for the accelerated BSN program. Quinnipiac also offers an online BSN for registered nurses and a full slate of graduate degrees and certificates.


#62: University of California, Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
UCLA School of Nursing has earned numerous national accolades. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the school #20 in the country for graduate nursing studies, and UCLA ranked #9 in 2016 NIH research funding for schools of nursing. Approximately 600 nursing students are enrolled across the university’s BSN, MSN, and PhD programs. The MSN program offers a direct-entry track for non-nurses which leads to CNL certification, as well as numerous advanced practice tracks in various NP and CNS specialties. UCLA students are well prepared for licensure: the school’s BSN graduates have maintained an 83% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate since program launch, while direct-entry MSN candidates have passed the exam at an 89% clip.


#63: University of Kentucky | Lexington, KY
The University of Kentucky College of Nursing created the nation’s first DNP program and Kentucky’s first nursing PhD program. UK was also the first nurse researcher in the U.S. to be awarded a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant. Home to more than 1,400 students, the college provides four BSN pathways: traditional, second degree, MedVet-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Over the last decade, UK’s 160-180 annual BSN graduates have enjoyed an astonishing 97% NCLEX pass rate, including three consecutive years of 99% or higher. The college also offers graduate certificate programs in four nurse practitioner specialties, clinical nurse specialist, and populations and organizational systems leadership.


#64: Regis College | Weston, MA
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 ten years. 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.


#65: The College of New Jersey | Ewing, NJ
The Department of Nursing at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) was recently designated an NLN Center of Excellence for enhancing student learning and professional development. BSN students have achieved an impressive 93% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Moreover, 100% of BSN graduates that seek full-time employment are placed within six months. Class sizes are small: the typical nursing class has 15 to 30 students, and the school limits clinical groups to a maximum of eight students. TCNJ also offers MSN programs for aspiring adult, family, and neonatal nurse practitioners; clinical nurse leaders; and school nurses.


#66: Fairfield University | Fairfield, CT
Ranked #9 in the country by RNtoBSN.org for their hybrid RN-to-BSN program, Fairfield University’s graduate nursing program is also listed among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In fact, their Master’s in Nursing Leadership (LEAD) program was recently recognized for its excellence by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies also offers both traditional and accelerated BSN tracks. Graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a rate of ~90% over the past decade.


#67: University of Alabama at Birmingham | Birmingham, AL
UAB School of Nursing is nationally ranked among the top three percent of nursing schools by U.S. News & World Report. The school provides several unique opportunities for veterans, Peace Corps volunteers, and nurse practitioner students who plan to provide primary care in one of Alabama’s rural counties upon graduation. UAB offers two BSN entry points (traditional, ADN) and two MSN entry points (BSN, second degree), as well as DNP and PhD programs. The school’s traditional BSN program has more than 250 graduates annually, and they are well prepared for their licensure exams, tallying a 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years.


#68: Saint Mary’s College | Notre Dame, IN
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, approximately 90% 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.


#69: University of Texas at Austin | Austin, TX
The UT Austin School of Nursing has recently been ranked among the top 20 in the nation for its graduate nursing program by U.S. News & World Report. The school also ranks among the top 30 universities in nursing research funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). UT Austin enrolls nearly 1,100 students across a wealth of nursing programs, including traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, traditional and alternate-entry MSN, traditional and alternate-entry PhD, and DNP options. The school produces approximately 120 prelicensure BSN and 50 prelicensure MSN graduates annually. Both programs produce graduates who have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a rate of 94% since 2008.


#70: Waynesburg University | Waynesburg, PA
Waynesburg University’s nursing programs are offered across the university’s four academic centers, allowing students greater flexibility. The university offers a traditional BSN along with RN-to-BSN, LPN-to-BSN, accelerated BSN, MSN, and DNP programs. Waynesburg maintains a small BSN graduating class of 40-50 students, and these nurses have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar 99% first-try rate since 2009. Nursing students at Waynesburg enjoy the recent addition of a state-of-the-art simulation lab.

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