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. Approximately 1,300 of the institutions surveyed were private, including vocational and career schools, liberal arts colleges, and universities. 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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#21: University of Scranton | Scranton, PA
Established in 1984, Scranton’s Department of Nursing draws from its Jesuit roots and offers nursing education with a strong base in the liberal arts. The department offers traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, LPN-to-BSN, MSN (with four specialty tracks), and DNP programs. Students benefit from small class sizes and a strong clinical focus, with clinical experiences beginning during sophomore year. Indeed, Scranton’s BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an impressive 93% rate since 2009. Undergraduates also have opportunities for research, study abroad, and participation in domestic and international service trips.


#22: 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.


#23: 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.


#24: 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.


#25: 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.


#26: 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.


#27: 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.


#28: 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.


#29: 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.


#30: 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.

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