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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 included the following states within our Plains rankings: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. We evaluated each nursing school in the region 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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#1: University of Kansas | Lawrence, KS
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. BSN graduates have consistently earned outstanding NCLEX-RN pass rates of 87-95% each year for the past decade.


#2: University of Minnesota | Minneapolis, MN
The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the region. It was the first nursing school in the nation to offer DNP programs in certified registered nurse anesthetist, nursing informatics, and health innovation and leadership. Indeed, the school’s DNP program was recently ranked among the top 30 nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. The University of Minnesota also offers highly regarded BSN and MSN programs. The school produces 120-140 BSN and 60-65 MSN prelicensure graduates annually. These students have achieved NCLEX first-time pass rates of 87% and 92%, respectively, over the past decade.


#3: Allen College | Waterloo, IA
Allen College graduated its first DNP class in 2013. The school also offers four nurse practitioner tracks in its MSN program, including adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family practice, and family psychiatric mental health. The school’s baccalaureate program has three prelicensure tracks (traditional, accelerated, and LPN-to-BSN) and two postlicensure tracks (RN-to-BSN and public health). BSN students have the option to earn a minor in the pioneering area of population health. Allen College produces 100-125 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar 94% rate over the past decade.


#4: University of Iowa | Iowa City, IA
The College of Nursing at the University of Iowa is a Big Ten nursing school, hailed as a national leader in gerontology, nursing service administration, pediatric nursing practice, and nurse anesthesia. Indeed, the university frequently receives top-ten national rankings in all four of these specializations. UI College of Nursing offers a full slate of graduate programs including DNP and PhD degrees, seven different post-graduate certificates, and an MSN with clinical nurse leader focus. At the undergraduate level, the college produces approximately 130 BSN candidates annually. These students have passed the NCLEX licensure examination at a rate of 94-98% an amazing seven years in a row.


#5: University of Nebraska Medical Center | Omaha, NE
The University of Nebraska Medical Center is a prominent and vast institution that enrolls more than 3,700 students. Nearly half of the state’s bachelor-prepared nurses, physicians, dental professionals, pharmacists, and allied health professionals have graduated from UNMC. The school’s College of Nursing offers traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN programs for undergraduates, as well as MSN, DNP, and PhD degrees for graduate nurses. In addition, a post-master’s certificate is offered in areas ranging from adult gerontology to women’s health. Prelicensure BSN graduates have enjoyed an excellent 91% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN examination over the past eight years.


#6: 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.


#7: Saint Louis University | Saint Louis, MO
The School of Nursing at Saint Louis University created the first accelerated BSN and comprehensive online MSN programs in the nation, the first accelerated MSN and nursing PhD programs in Missouri, and the first DNP program in St. Louis. SLU’s BSN graduates have maintained a strong NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 90% over the past decade, well above both state and national averages. In addition to impressive licensure exam pass rates, all of Saint Louis University’s programs are nationally recognized for their innovative and comprehensive curriculum.


#8: North Dakota State University | Fargo, ND
The School of Nursing at North Dakota State University offers several degree programs, both for students with no prior healthcare experience and for licensed nurses looking to enhance their careers. Options include prelicensure BSN, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN tracks as well as a BSN-to-DNP program with a family nurse practitioner (FNP) specialty. Each year, 130-160 BSN graduates take the NCLEX exam across both the NDSU Fargo campus and NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health Bismarck. These students have averaged an impressive first-time pass rate of 94% over the past decade. The number of FNP graduates who pass the certification examination for advanced practice also well exceeds the national average.


#9: Winona State University | Winona, MN
The College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Winona State University focuses on both undergraduate and graduate nursing education. The undergraduate program produces approximately 150 BSN graduates annually, who have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a solid 89% rate over the past decade. Similarly impressive is the number of graduate nursing offerings available. Graduate students may pursue an MSN, DNP, or graduate certificate, including specializations in family practice nursing and adult health nursing. Winona State also offers RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN degree completion programs for existing registered nurses.


#10: University of Missouri | Columbia, MO
The University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON) is a member of one of the most comprehensive healthcare networks in Missouri, including the School of Health Professions, the School of Medicine, and University of Missouri Health Care. SSON educates nurses at all levels through its traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, online RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD degree programs. At the undergraduate level, SSON produces 150-180 prelicensure BSN graduates annually. These students have consistently passed the NCLEX-RN exam at an exceptional rate of 92-96% for at least ten years in a row.


#11: South Dakota State University | Brookings, SD
The College of Nursing at South Dakota State University has an 80-year history of providing high-quality nursing education. Home to more than 1,000 nursing students across its BSN, MSN, post-graduate certificate, DNP, and PhD programs, SDSU has posted an enviable job placement rate as high as 100% for some recent graduating classes. The undergraduate nursing program produces approximately 300 prelicensure candidates each year. These students have scored an impressive 92% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade. Recent years have also witnessed a perfect 100% pass rate for APRN graduates seeking certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


#12: Creighton University | Omaha, NE
The College of Nursing at Creighton University was the first nursing school in Nebraska to offer clinical nurse leader and doctor of nursing practice programs. The school also has MSN and post-graduate certificate programs, as well as both a four-year BSN and an accelerated BSN that can be completed in just one year. The college produces approximately 150 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have achieved a 92% NCLEX exam pass rate since 2010. Just as impressively, Creighton’s graduate students typically score a 90-100% pass rate on their nurse practitioner certification exams.


#13: Maryville University | Saint Louis, MO
The Catherine McAuley School of Nursing at Maryville University has a considerable collection of program offerings for aspiring nurses. Maryville offers traditional and degree completion BSN programs, as well as a fast-track BSN for students who have completed 65 hours of liberal arts and science coursework. Across the prelicensure BSN pathways, the school graduates 100-150 students annually who score consistently stellar marks on the NCLEX licensure exam, averaging a 93% pass rate since 2011. Maryville’s MSN and DNP programs have five specialty NP tracks: family nursing, adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, pediatric nursing, and psychiatric mental health.


#14: Nebraska Methodist College | Omaha, NE
Nebraska Methodist College has just one focus: healthcare education. The school provides programs both for students who wish to study on campus and for those who prefer to study online. Because of its singular focus and multiple delivery options, Nebraska Methodist offers one of the largest collections of nursing programs in the region. Degree options include several BSN pathways (traditional, accelerated, LPN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN), three MSN specializations (educator, executive, informatics), and a DNP program with two focuses (family nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist) and two entry points (post-BSN, APRN). The college graduates 100-150 prelicensure BSN students each year, with a strong 94% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate since 2010.


#15: Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences | Rochester, MN
Mayo School of Health Sciences is part of the prestigious Mayo Clinic, which ranks number one in more specialties that any other hospital in the nation. The school enrolls nursing students across its three campuses in Jacksonville, Florida; Phoenix / Scottsdale, Arizona; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Rochester campus houses a wide breadth of clinical graduate nursing programs including nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist offerings. Clinical experiences allow students to rotate through the entire hospital care setting, from pediatrics to critical care.


#16: University of North Dakota | Grand Forks, ND
The College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines at the University of North Dakota has a 100-year history of educating nurses. The college offers four different pathways for students seeking an undergraduate degree: traditional on-campus BSN, accelerated BSN, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. The school graduates 130-150 students annually across its prelicensure BSN programs, and these individuals routinely pass the NCLEX exam at an 87% or higher rate. Indeed, last year’s graduates scored a 95% NCLEX pass rate. MSN students can pursue specialties ranging from advanced public health nursing to nurse anesthesia. The college also offers both terminal degrees in the field: a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and a PhD in nursing.


#17: Augsburg University | Minneapolis, MN
The nursing programs at Augsburg University are designed to address the specific needs of diverse populations, both in the U.S. and abroad. Immersion courses and study abroad experiences are integrated into all of the school’s nursing programs. Many of these experiences take students to overseas locations ranging from England to Namibia. Classes for all of the school’s nursing programs meet at both the Minneapolis and Rochester campuses. Augsburg University offers a BSN completion pathway, a master of arts in nursing, and a DNP degree with tracks in transcultural nursing leadership and family nurse practitioner.


#18: Augustana University | Sioux Falls, SD
The Department of Nursing at Augustana University is home to the only four-year professional nursing program in the region that is part of a liberal arts college or university. The department offers a unique nursing exchange program that partners with six Norwegian institutions. Augustana’s nursing degree options include both traditional and accelerated BSN programs. The accelerated program requires a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, and it takes just 16 months to complete. Both programs prepare students for the NCLEX licensure examination, where Augustana’s ~50 annual graduates have performed impressively well, scoring a 95% pass rate over the past decade.


#19: University of Mary | Bismarck, ND
The School of Health Sciences at the University of Mary offers a community-focused nursing program with several degree paths. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional four-year BSN or a BSN completion program with LPN and RN entry points. The school produces 50-70 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure examination at a solid 86% rate over the past ten years. At the graduate level, the University of Mary offers two MSN tracks (nursing administrator, nursing informatics) and a DNP program with an FNP focus. The university offers clinical opportunities at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck and at local public health agencies, nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.


#20: Clarkson College | Omaha, NE
At more than 125 years old, Clarkson College was the very first nursing school in the state of Nebraska. It is also one of the few schools to provide a variety of in-demand bridge programs, including specific pathways like LPN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN, and RN-to-MSN. In addition, Clarkson offers a traditional BSN degree, an MSN program with five specialties including nurse anesthesia, and a DNP curriculum designed for convenient part-time study. The college typically graduates 100-plus prelicensure BSN students each year, with a notable NCLEX pass rate of 92% over the past eight years.


#21: College of St. Scholastica | Duluth, MN
The College of St. Scholastica’s School of Nursing is one of the largest nursing schools in Minnesota. St. Scholastica offers three undergraduate nursing tracks: a traditional four-year undergraduate program, an accelerated pathway for students who have a non-nursing baccalaureate degree, and an RN-to-BS offering for registered nurses with associate’s degrees. The school graduates 140-180 students annually from its prelicensure BS tracks, and these students have achieved an 84% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade. St. Scholastica also offers DNP tracks for both APRNs and baccalaureate-prepared RNs.


#22: Minnesota State University, Mankato | Mankato, MN
The School of Nursing at Minnesota State Mankato is a thriving learning community with a versatile assortment of nursing programs. The school’s prelicensure BSN program prepares students rigorously for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination, for public health certification, and/or for school nurse licensure. The program’s 70-100 annual graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at an 85% rate since 2009. The school also offers a BSN completion program for existing RNs. Minnesota State Mankato’s graduate nursing programs include two MSN tracks (family nurse practitioner and nurse educator) and a DNP program with two entry options (post-BSN and post-MSN).


#23: Bethel University | Saint Paul, MN
The Department of Nursing at Bethel University produces 70-80 prelicensure BSN graduates each year, who have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid rate of 84% since 2009. In addition to licensure exam prep, Bethel’s BSN program enables students to enter a variety of graduate programs for APRN roles, ranging from certified registered nurse anesthetist to clinical nurse specialist. The university’s nursing department also offers an RN-to-BSN program for existing registered nurses, MSN tracks for aspiring midwives and nurse educators, and an online nurse educator graduate certificate.


#24: St. Catherine University | Saint Paul & Minneapolis, MN
St. Catherine University, also known as St. Kate’s, is home to the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. The school offers 22 professional and pre-professional healthcare programs, including several options within nursing. At the undergraduate level, St. Kate’s offers an associate’s degree program on its Minneapolis campus, a traditional BSN degree on its St. Paul campus, and an RN-to-BSN program for adult learners. Graduate offerings include three MSN tracks (entry-level, nurse educator, nurse practitioner) and a DNP program with several dual-degree options. Entry-level MSN students have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a phenomenal 99% rate since the program’s recent inception.


#25: Missouri State University | Springfield, MO
The Department of Nursing at Missouri State University has two campus locations: Springfield and West Plains. The Springfield location offers two undergraduate programs (traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN) and two graduate programs (MSN with nurse educator focus, DNP). The DNP program accommodates both post-BSN and post-MSN entry points. The West Plains campus offers certified nursing assistant, traditional ASN, and LPN-to-RN programs. Springfield’s BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at a very strong 93% rate over the past seven years. The ASN students from West Plains have averaged an 84% NCLEX pass rate over the same time period.


#26: Graceland University | Independence, MO
Graceland University prepares a tight-knit graduating class of 40-50 BSN students annually. Over the past seven years, these graduates have achieved a 92% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, well above both state and national averages. Graceland’s School of Nursing also offers both traditional (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 20 online MSN programs nationwide, with particularly high marks for faculty credentials and student engagement.


#27: Metropolitan State University | Saint Paul, MN
The Metropolitan State University School of Nursing is part of the College of Health, Community, and Professional Studies. The university recently partnered with seven community colleges to launch the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) BSN program. This innovative curriculum expands the BSN’s reach by offering courses both at local community colleges and on Metropolitan State’s Saint Paul campus. The university’s graduate nursing students can pursue an entry-level MSN (ELMSN) degree; an online wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) certificate; or a DNP degree. The ELMSN program graduates 25-30 new nurses annually who have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 90% rate since 2010.


#28: Wichita State University | Wichita, KS
The School of Nursing at Wichita State University is the second-largest nursing school in the state of Kansas. The undergraduate nursing curriculum includes six BSN options: traditional, early admission, accelerated, LPN-to-BSN, MICT-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. At the graduate level, Wichita State offers an MSN with two concentrations (nursing education, nursing leadership) and a DNP with three nurse practitioner specializations. Each year, the school’s approximately 150 BSN graduates pass the NCLEX licensure exam at an 86-93% pass rate, consistently exceeding both the state and national averages. Graduate students who take APRN certification exams consistently exceed national pass rates as well.


#29: University of Missouri - St. Louis | Saint Louis, MO
The University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL) College of Nursing enrolls more than 1,100 students across its undergraduate and graduate programs. The college offers a breadth of nursing pathways including BSN (traditional, accelerated, or part-time), RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD degrees. Also on the menu are post-graduate certificates in areas of advanced nursing practice such as women’s health, psychiatric-mental health, and adult-geriatric health. UMSL graduates approximately 200 prelicensure BSN students annually, and the school has averaged a 90% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade.


#30: Mount Marty College | Yankton, SD
The nursing programs at Mounty Marty College focus on mastering current technology and treating diverse populations. The college offers an undergraduate nursing major that accommodates both traditional and LPN entry points. The BSN program has produced approximately 30 graduates annually, and they have averaged an 80% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. Mount Marty’s MSN degree has a family nurse practitioner focus and a unique six-semester structure, with both online and face-to-face coursework designed for working adults. In 2016, Mount Marty became the first South Dakota college to offer an accredited doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) degree. Located in Sioux Falls, the program accepts both BS- and MS-prepared students.


#31: Clarke University | Dubuque, IA
The Department of Nursing at Clarke University graduates a select BSN class of approximately 40 students annually. These newly minted nurses have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid 83% rate since 2011. Clarke’s adult studies program also offers an RN-to-BSN degree completion pathway. At the graduate level, the Department of Nursing offers a DNP with two concentrations: family nurse practitioner (FNP) and nursing education and organizational leadership (NEOL). The DNP program prepares students to take the FNP certification exam and to administer primary care, especially within rural and other underserved communities.


#32: Fort Hays State University | Hays, KS
The Department of Nursing at Fort Hays State University offers numerous pathways to a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, post-graduate certificate, or doctoral degree in nursing. At the undergraduate level, Fort Hays State has both a traditional on-campus BSN and an online RN-to-BSN. The BSN curriculum offers many exciting tracks including emergency room care, intensive care, pediatrics, and obstetrics. Over the past decade, BSN graduates have achieved a noteworthy 86% NCLEX exam pass rate. The MSN and post-graduate certificate programs are offered online, with specializations in nursing education and nursing administration. The DNP has tailored entry points for BSN-holders, MSN-holders, and licensed APRNs.


#33: MidAmerica Nazarene University | Olathe, KS
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.


#34: College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University | Saint Joseph, MN
The College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University have jointly prepared nurse leaders for forty years. The schools offer an undergraduate BSN program with several unique components, including participation in the Minnesota Student Nurse Association and a study-abroad experience in South Africa or Belize. Student pass rates on the NCLEX licensure exam have frequently exceeded the national average for baccalaureate graduates, with an 88% cumulative pass rate over the past decade. Several graduating classes have achieved NCLEX pass rates in excess of 95%.


#35: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota | Minneapolis, MN
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers an undergraduate RN-to-BSN curriculum based on Lasallian principles, including concern for the poor and social justice. This degree completion program prepares existing RNs to improve their professional nursing practice and/or pursue graduate studies. The university’s Graduate School of Health & Human Services offers a Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program. This course of study prepares graduates to sit for the certification exam offered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, successful completion of which confers the CRNA title.


#36: St. Ambrose University | Davenport, IA
St. Ambrose University’s Department of Nursing is located in SAU’s state-of-the-art Health Sciences Education Center at Genesis Medical Center, a member of the award-winning Genesis Health System. Two nursing degree options are available: a traditional four-year BSN program and an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. The traditional BSN program focuses heavily on nursing theory before the start of patient care experiences. SAU graduates 50-80 students annually from this program, with a solid 83% first-try pass rate on the NCLEX exam over the past decade. The RN-to-BSN pathway is offered in both standard and accelerated formats.


#37: Concordia College | Moorhead, MN
The Concordia College nursing curriculum is approved by both the Minnesota and North Dakota Boards of Nursing. The school’s traditional and accelerated BSN programs emphasize global health and cultural competence through immersion opportunities in countries like China, Vietnam, and Tanzania. Concordia students have access to laboratories with simulation manikins, as well as convenient clinicals and internships at renowned healthcare facilities throughout the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. Each year, approximately 40 BSN graduates from Concordia take the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam, achieving a stellar 94% first-time pass rate since 2009.


#38: Northwestern College | Orange City, IA
The four-year BSN program at Northwestern College has several distinctive features, including hands-on training through healthcare-related mission trips, a state-of-the-art nursing laboratory with six human patient simulators, and a biennial study-abroad course in Africa. This prelicensure program educates a well-prepared graduating class of 20-25 new nurses each year. Since 2010, Northwestern graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 87% rate on their first attempt. The nursing department also offers an online RN-to-BSN program that accepts nurse applicants residing in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.


#39: Nebraska Wesleyan University | Lincoln & Omaha, NE
The nursing curriculum at Nebraska Wesleyan University has several undergraduate and graduate tracks. At the undergraduate level, NWU offers both a traditional four-year BSN and an RN-to-BSN completion program. The traditional BSN graduated its first cohort in May 2018. Students in this program gain clinical experience at many facilities in and around Lincoln, including CHI Health St. Elizabeth Hospital which has held the prestigious Magnet designation since 2004. Graduate nursing students can select from two MSN entry points (BSN-to-MSN, RN-to-MSN) and two focal tracks (nurse educator, nurse leader). The school also offers an MSN/MBA joint degree, an MSN-to-MBA bridge, and a post-master’s certificate in either nursing education or nursing leadership. With the exception of the traditional BSN, students can pursue all nursing programs at either the main university campus in Lincoln or a conveniently located learning site in Omaha.


#40: Benedictine College | Atchison, KS
The Department of Nursing at Benedictine College offers a prelicensure BSN program that accepts 25 new juniors each fall. Interested students must submit an application to the nursing program during their sophomore year at Benedictine, and admission is very competitive. The college places special emphasis on the spiritual care and psycho-social support of patients, as well as fostering nursing leadership in its BSN students. The school counts among its alumni Madeleine M. Leininger, a retired professor and founder of the worldwide transcultural nursing movement. Since the BSN program’s inception, students have averaged an 80% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, including a perfect 100% pass rate during 2017.


#41: University of Central Missouri | Warrensburg, MO
The University of Central Missouri offers a unique nursing program that includes both urban and rural clinical experiences. This diverse exposure has helped UCM’s nursing graduates achieve a 100% employment rate. It’s also not surprising that the school’s 70-80 annual BSN graduates have enjoyed a solid 89% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. In addition to a traditional BSN, the undergraduate nursing department offers an online RN-to-BSN program that can be completed in just one calendar year. UCM’s graduate nursing department offers an MSN with two emphasis areas: nurse educator and family nurse practitioner.


#42: Hannibal-LaGrange University | Hannibal, MO
The Department of Nursing at Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) has clinical affiliations with Hannibal Regional Hospital and Blessing Hospital. HLGU offers an entry-level curriculum for aspiring LPNs, an associate of science in nursing (ASN) for aspiring RNs, and an online RN-to-BSN degree completion program. Graduates of both prelicensure programs have consistently performed well on their licensure exams. ASN graduates passed the NCLEX-RN at a strong 92% rate over the past seven years, and LPN candidates passed the NCLEX-PN at a stellar 95% rate during the same time period.


#43: Minnesota State University Moorhead | Moorhead, MN
The School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership (SNHL) at Minnesota State University Moorhead has educated nurse leaders since 2007. SNHL offers several healthcare degree options including an RN-to-BSN completion program, a bachelor of science in health services administration, an MSN program, and a master of healthcare administration. The school also offers post-baccalaureate certificates in nurse educator (NED) and nursing administration & organizational systems leadership (NAOSL).


#44: Newman University | Wichita, KS
Newman University admits 64 students annually into its nursing program in two installments, half in August and half in January. Undergraduate nursing options include traditional BSN, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN programs. The university’s BSN graduates have achieved an outstanding 95% cumulative pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam since 2009, including a perfect 100% pass rate during 2017. Newman also offers the coveted master of science in nurse anesthesia (MSNA) program, which takes approximately 24 months of fulltime study to complete.


#45: University of South Dakota | Vermillion, SD
USD Nursing has been designated a National League for Nursing (NLN) Center of Excellence three times for enhancing student learning and professional development. USD graduated its first four-year BSN class in May 2015, and the university currently offers the prelicensure BSN program at four campuses: Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Pierre. BSN graduates have maintained a strong 90% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam since the program’s launch. Other offerings include an LPN-to-ASN bridge program (available at the Watertown campus) and an RN-to-BSN completion program (available exclusively online). A unique component of USD Nursing is the international clinical experience in Guatemala, where students have the opportunity to provide healthcare services to rural indigenous people.


#46: Hesston College | Hesston, KS
Hesston College, traditionally a two-year liberal arts college, now offers several pathways to a bachelor’s degree in nursing. In the fall of 2015, Hesston launched a four-year BSN program and an LPN-to-BSN bridge to meet the region’s increasing demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. This was closely followed by the launch of an RN-to-BSN completion program in January 2017. While the Nursing Department recently discontinued its associate’s degree curriculum to focus on baccalaureate education, the ADN program also witnessed excellent student outcomes over its fifty years, educating more than 1,600 nurses with NCLEX exam pass rates typically around 90%. Hesston graduates have found employment in a diverse range of clinical settings including medical-surgical, maternity, and pediatric.


#47: Mount Mercy University | Cedar Rapids, IA
The Department of Nursing at Mount Mercy University produces 60-90 BSN graduates annually who are well-prepared for initial licensure. Indeed, Mount Mercy’s past six BSN classes each passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a rate of 90% or higher, with an average 93% pass rate during that time span. The school also offers RN-to-BSN and MSN degree programs. Nursing students gain clinical experience in a broad array of healthcare settings, including free clinics and local hospitals such as Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s. They can also care for patients during immersion experiences in the Philippines, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Belize, and Central America.


#48: Bryan College of Health Sciences | Lincoln, NE
Bryan College of Health Sciences offers traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNAP programs. BSN students enjoy a low 6:1 clinical student-to-faculty ratio, more than 1,200 clinical hours (the highest in the state), and training experiences at Bryan Medical Center and 200+ other sites. BSN graduates have achieved an excellent 94% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2010, including a 99% pass rate in 2017. The MSN program has two tracks (nurse educator and nurse leadership), a preceptor program with real-life situational learning, and a blended learning format that is conducted 75% online and 25% in-classroom. DNAP students also begin their clinical experiences very early in the program.


#49: Luther College | Decorah, IA
Luther College’s nursing graduates achieve some of the highest exam pass rates in the region. Since 2012, Luther’s BSN students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure examination at an exceptional 95% rate on their first try. In addition to superior preparation for the licensure exam, the nursing major provides important perspectives on both rural and urban healthcare, as well as a solid base for graduate nursing study. It also features highly coveted clinical experiences at Mayo Medical Center, Rochester Methodist Hospital, and Saint Mary’s Hospital that begin as early as sophomore year.


#50: Truman State University | Kirksville, MO
Truman State’s School of Health Sciences & Education prepares students to enter entry-level positions in the registered nursing field. Two BSN degree pathways are available: traditional and accelerated. Both pathways feature clinical experiences in acute care and community health settings, and both provide access to the ten-bed Nursing Simulation Center. The NSC has several Laerdal mid-fidelity manikins including adult, child, infant, and newborn versions. Truman State graduates approximately 40-50 BSN students each year, with an exceptional NCLEX exam pass rate of 94% over the past seven years.


#51: William Jewell College | Liberty, MO
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 each year, and these graduates have achieved a solid NCLEX-RN first-try pass rate of 89% since 2008.


#52: St. Olaf College | Northfield, MN
St. Olaf College takes a holistic approach to nursing that integrates development of the whole person, a commitment to lifelong learning, and service to others. The school’s four-year BSN program includes unique courses such as Images of Wellness, Holistic Health Assessment & Promotion, and Complex Patient Care. Besides an innovative curriculum, the program incorporates clinical learning experiences across a variety of local and Twin Cities medical centers, long-term care facilities, and community agencies. After years of offering the BSN jointly with Gustavus Adolphus, St. Olaf College recently launched a separate program with a small class size of approximately 25 students per cohort. These BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an outstanding 96% first-time rate over the past several years.


#53: Cox College | Springfield, MO
Cox College enrolls approximately 600 students across its ASN, traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. Bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and certificates in other areas of healthcare are also available. The college’s nursing program is distinguished by its small class sizes, focus on student leadership, and clinical partnership with CoxHealth. These advantages have enabled Cox graduates to perform strongly on their licensure exams. The college’s ASN graduates have achieved a 93% NCLEX pass rate since 2011, while its BSN graduates have scored an 86% NCLEX pass rate over the same time period.


#54: St. Luke’s College | Sioux City, IA
St. Luke’s College has educated compassionate healthcare professionals for over a century. Students gain a wealth of meaningful clinical experiences in the region’s only medical-center-based health sciences college. Each year, St. Luke’s College accepts an incoming ADN class of 100-120 students. Approximately 75% of students complete the program within three years. These graduates perform very strongly on the NCLEX licensure exam, achieving a 92% first-time pass rate over the past decade. An additional 25-35 students enroll in St. Luke’s RN-to-BSN pathway each fall. This completion program features flexible full-time and part-time schedules, thanks to a combination of online courses, classroom learning, and convenient access to faculty.


#55: Gustavus Adolphus College | Saint Peter, MN
The Department of Nursing at Gustavus Adolphus College offers a BSN degree with many unique features. Students participate in hands-on work experiences at a broad range of clinical sites, including magnet hospitals in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area; specialty clinicals in Utqiaġvik (Barrow, Alaska); intensive pediatrics in Minneapolis; and summer internships in healthcare settings like the Centers for Disease Control (Atlanta, Georgia) and Karolinska University (Stockholm, Sweden). After years of offering the BSN jointly with St. Olaf College, Gustavus Adolphus recently launched a separate program with a small class size of approximately 30 students per cohort. These BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 86% first-time rate over the past several years.


#56: Bismarck State College | Bismarck, ND
The Dakota Nursing Program at Bismarck State College offers tightly integrated LPN and ADN programs. The practical nursing program allows students to earn a certificate after the first 11 months of nursing classes. If students maintain a 2.75 GPA and meet other matriculation requirements, they may complete the second year of study which leads to the associate’s degree. Clinical experiences at local hospitals, nursing homes, and agencies provide exposure to a vast array of healthcare settings, including the emergency room, intensive care unit, maternal / newborn care, the operating room, pediatrics, and psychiatry. Over the past decade, ADN graduates have scored an exceptional 95% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, while their LPN counterparts achieved a near-perfect 99% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam.


#57: St. Cloud State University | Saint Cloud, MN
St. Cloud State University offers an undergraduate nursing program that boasts a 92% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. The program, which leads to the BSN degree, features study abroad opportunities in Concepcion, Chile; a simulation lab that teaches students how to use the latest equipment in the field; and numerous volunteer and internship opportunities. The Department of Nursing at St. Cloud State also partners with agencies across the state to give students rich and diverse clinical learning experiences in their final one-month capstone experience.


#58: Mercy College of Health Sciences | Des Moines, IA
Mercy College of Health Sciences offers both an associate of science in nursing (ASN) and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The ASN program is offered in a part-time format on evenings and weekends to cater to working professionals. Over the past decade, Mercy College’s ASN graduates have maintained a solid 85% pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam. The BSN program offers five distinct pathways: a generic three-year BSN, an accelerated BSN (ABSN) for students with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree, a unique ABSN partnership with Drake University, an RN-to-BSN program offered 100% online, and Iowa’s first and only Paramedic-to-BSN program. Mercy College’s RN-to-BSN students can select three specialty seminars from seven topics to create a program that fits their interests.


#59: Dordt College | Sioux Center, IA
Dordt College has a mission to prepare nurses to enter the healthcare industry as Christians. Students in the school’s BSN program learn to maneuver the unique challenges that Christian nurses face in the current healthcare climate. The program consists of 48 nursing credits and over 700 hours of clinical experience, with additional time in lab and simulation. Graduates of the program have gone on to become nurse anesthetists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives. The most recent graduating class of nurses enjoyed a 100% job placement rate.


#60: University of Missouri - Kansas City | Kansas City, MO
The University of Missouri - Kansas City (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 a 96% pass rate in 2017. 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.


#61: University of Northwestern | Saint Paul, MN
University of Northwestern (UNW) offers a prelicensure BSN that provides a strong foundation in biblical studies, liberal arts, and the sciences. Two paths are available: the accelerated path and the traditional path. Both options provide small class sizes, transcultural learning opportunities, an engaged student-faculty community, and excellent support. Students can take courses that include Professional Nursing: Called to Serve, Foundational Adult Care Services, and Pharmacology & Therapeutic Services. Since the recent launch of the BSN program, UNW graduates have enjoyed a phenomenal 98% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The university can also boast a perfect 100% job placement rate within six months of graduation.


#62: Pittsburg State University | Pittsburg, KS
The Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing at Pittsburg State University offers two BSN pathways (prelicensure, RN-to-BSN), an MSN degree with an educational emphasis, and two DNP entry points (post-BSN, post-MSN). Since 2012, Pittsburg State’s prelicensure BSN students have achieved approximately a 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. A unique option offered at the university is Army ROTC Nursing. Pittsburg State Army ROTC is the only such program in Kansas deemed a Cadet Command Nursing Center of Excellence. The program seeks to commission well-trained nurses into active duty, the National Guard, and the Army Reserves.


#63: Washburn University | Topeka, KS
Through its education of professional nurses, the Washburn University School of Nursing seeks to improve health, enhance the experience of care, and maximize the value of health services to a diverse population. The school offers three BSN pathways (generic, LPN entry, RN completion), an MSN for aspiring clinical nurse leaders, and a DNP with two specialty areas (family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner). The RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP programs are all offered online. Students have access to the university’s state-of-the-art simulation labs, and they can secure clinical placements at top hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the Northeast region of the state. Since 2008, prelicensure BSN graduates have maintained an 85% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.


#64: Chamberlain College of Nursing | Saint Louis, MO
Chamberlain College of Nursing is one of the largest nursing schools in the region. It produces almost 200 graduates annually from its accelerated three-year BSN program. These students have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid 88% rate since 2011. Part of DeVry Education Group, Chamberlain also offers a wide breadth of online nursing programs. Options include RN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN-to-MSN degree completion programs; an MSN curriculum with specialty tracks for nurse educators, nurse executives, family nurse practitioners, nursing informatics, and healthcare policy; and a post-master’s DNP program.


#65: Coe College | Cedar Rapids, IA
The BSN program at Coe College offers three full terms of clinical experiences at high-quality hospitals, specialty units, medical clinics, and penitentiaries. Students in this selective program enjoy small class sizes, face-to-face faculty meetings to discuss clinical experiences in real-time, and health-focused study abroad opportunities in England, Korea, and Tanzania. They also have the opportunity to participate in the Coe College Student Nurses Association, which organizes blood drives, student health fairs, and fundraising for community organizations. Since 2012, BSN graduates have achieved a phenomenal 97% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#66: Webster University | Saint Louis, MO
Webster University’s College of Arts and Sciences houses a nursing department that offers RN-to-BSN, MSN, and doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) programs. The RN-to-BSN curriculum focuses on holistic health promotion for the individual, the family, diverse groups, and the broader community. The program is offered online or on-site in part-time eight-week sessions. The MSN program allows students to choose a nurse educator, nurse leader, or healthcare leadership specialization. Designed for working professionals, the MSN is also delivered through part-time courses in eight-week terms. The DNAP program offers clinical experiences at ten private-practice and university-based facilities. Students obtain real-world exposure at most of these institutions by the time they graduate.


#67: University of Jamestown | Jamestown, ND
The University of Jamestown’s BSN program offers students the opportunity to travel to Chogoria, Kenya or Nkhoma, Malawi to deliver healthcare in hospitals and villages located deep in the jungle. Students will visit schools and orphanages during their three-week stay. UJ also offers an international leadership opportunity in a Nha Trang, Vietnam hospital. Closer to home, the university’s students benefit from clinical experiences at major local healthcare centers like North Dakota State Hospital, Sanford Medical Center, and Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Over the past decade, BSN graduates have achieved an 84% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Many graduating classes have also enjoyed a 100% job placement rate.


#68: Baker University | Baldwin City, KS
The School of Nursing at Baker University offers a two-year BSN program and an MSN degree. Students in the BSN program will enjoy two years of traditional undergraduate experience at Baker’s College of Arts and Sciences before earning the required 64 hours of nursing coursework at prestigious Stormont Vail Health in Topeka, Kansas. The program features a rigorous curriculum, early immersion into clinical settings, and top licensure exam pass rates. Since 2012, BSN graduates have scored an exceptional 94% pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam. Coursework for the MSN, which has tracks in nursing education and nursing administration, is offered 100% online.


#69: Crown College | Saint Bonifacius, MN
Crown College provides biblically-based education for Christian leadership in a number of professional careers including healthcare. Program options for aspiring nurses include traditional BSN and RN-to-BSN pathways. The traditional BSN is a four-year program for undergraduate students, and the RN-to-BSN is an online program for existing RNs that takes just 18 to 20 months to complete. Crown College offers its students numerous opportunities to participate in off-campus clinical settings, access to the Nursing Intervention Lab, and web-based programs integrated across the curriculum to create real-world experiences. Traditional BSN graduates have achieved a solid 86% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including an excellent 95% pass rate in 2017.


#70: Union College | Lincoln, NE
Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, offers several pathways to a BSN degree including a traditional undergraduate program, an LPN-to-BSN pathway, and an RN-to-BSN completion option. The LPN-to-BSN pathway is an advanced standing prelicensure program that includes 65 credit hours of nursing courses, 41 credit hours of general education courses, and 13 credit hours of electives. Students cover a broad collection of relevant topics, ranging from creative leadership to elementary statistics and probability. Union College graduates approximately 35 prelicensure students each year, with a strong 92% NCLEX pass rate since 2010. The RN-to-BSN program is designed for ADN- or diploma-holding nurses who wish to complete their baccalaureate education.


#71: Dickinson State University | Dickinson, ND
Dickinson State University’s Department of Nursing is part of the College of Nursing, Business, and Applied Sciences. Students here can earn the rare associate of applied science in practical nursing (AASPN) before completing a BSN degree. The AASPN requires 66 credit hours of study and clinical experience. LPN graduates have achieved a solid 92% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam over the past decade. The BSN curriculum then builds upon the AASPN’s general education, interdisciplinary, and nursing course requirements. BSN graduates have witnessed similarly strong test scores, achieving a 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. Dickinson State also offers an ADRN-to-BSN bridge program, designed for ADN- or diploma-prepared nurses who wish to complete their baccalaureate education.


#72: Southwest Baptist University | Springfield, MO
Southwest Baptist University offers ADN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. The ADN provides foundational nursing knowledge and skills for the registered nurse generalist, and it prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. ADN graduates have passed this licensure exam at a solid 87% rate over the past seven years. The 34-credit-hour RN-to-BSN program is designed with the working professional in mind. It offers a flexible course sequence option including a fully online eight-week block schedule with one block of experiential service learning activities that students may complete locally. The MSN program offers focal areas in nursing education and administration, with a combination of online courses, hybrid classes, and clinical experiences. Students may complete the MSN program in three years part-time, two years full-time, or 18 months accelerated.


#73: Bemidji State University | Bemidji, MN
Bemidji State University offers its BSN program in a clinical setting that prepares students to address patient health needs in a changing and diverse environment. Two tracks are available to complete the baccalaureate degree. The four-year BSN track is designed for students just beginning their nursing education. The two-year RN-to-BSN track is for licensed RNs with an associate’s degree or diploma. Students in both programs receive an innovative curriculum that covers critical topics like technology, rural health, family health, cultural awareness, and palliative care. The four-year BSN program graduates 30-50 new nurses annually, who have scored a solid 86% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s inception.


#74: University of Sioux Falls | Sioux Falls, SD
The USF School of Nursing has several options for earning a BSN degree. Each track is tailored to the needs of a particular student profile. The traditional four-year BSN is for students seeking their first undergraduate degree, the four-semester accelerated BSN is for career changers who possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, and the RN-to-BSN is for ADN- or diploma-prepared nurses who wish to complete their baccalaureate education. Approximately 40-60 students graduate annually from the prelicensure (traditional and accelerated) tracks, while another twenty students graduate annually from the RN-to-BSN program. The prelicensure students have averaged an 88% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s launch, including a stellar 97% pass rate in 2017.


#75: College of the Ozarks | Point Lookout, MO
College of the Ozarks (C of O) is home to the Armstrong McDonald School of Nursing, which offers a traditional four-year professional BSN. This competitive program takes a Christ-centered, Biblically-based, character-driven approach to nursing education. The college combines a curriculum grounded in Florence Nightingale’s Environment Theory with leading-edge learning technology and patient care simulation. Nursing courses are sequenced over a six-semester plan, with clinical experiences offered everywhere from the Ozark Mountains to metropolitan areas. Since 2011, C of O graduates have achieved a 91% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.