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 included the following states within our Southeast rankings: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. 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: Duke University | Durham, NC
The National League for Nursing (NLN) has twice designated Duke University a Center of Excellence (COE): in 2013 for promoting the pedagogical expertise of faculty, and in 2015 for enhancing student learning and professional development. The School of Nursing consistently ranks among the highest in the nation among U.S. News & World Report’s top master of science in nursing (MSN) programs, and it was the first school in North Carolina to offer the doctor of nursing practice degree. Duke also graduates 130-150 students each year from its accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program, who have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar rate of 98% since 2010.


#2: Emory University | Atlanta, GA
The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University is home to approximately 600 students enrolled in BSN, ABSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP programs. The university is consistently ranked among the top ten graduate nursing schools by U.S. News & World Report, including a number of highly rated specialty programs. At the undergraduate level, Emory produces approximately 200 BSN graduates annually who have passed the NCLEX-RN examination at a 90% rate since 2008. The nursing school has an impressive 82% employment rate immediately after graduation, and students have landed positions at more than 500 diverse clinical sites nationwide.


#3: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center | New Orleans, LA
The LSU Health School of Nursing is an NLN Center of Excellence for promoting the pedagogical expertise of faculty. Undergraduate students can select from a traditional four-year BSN, an RN-to-BSN degree completion program, and the Career Alternative RN Education (CARE) pathway. The CARE BSN is designed for individuals who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. The university’s prelicensure BSN students have averaged a 96% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including an astonishing nine consecutive years at a 95% pass rate or higher. At the graduate level, LSU Health offers two MSN specializations (clinical nurse leader, nurse educator), an impressive 11 distinct DNP concentrations, and the unique Doctor of Nursing Science degree program.


#4: Samford University | Birmingham, AL
The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing at Samford University is home to more than 700 nursing students. The undergraduate BSN program offers four education pathways, including a traditional four-year degree, standard and accelerated versions of the second-degree program, and a unique Veterans’ BSN. In total, Samford graduates over 100 newly minted RNs annually. These BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a 94% first-try rate over the past eight years, including an incredible 99% pass rate for the class of 2015. Samford’s graduate nursing curriculum includes specialty programs for family nursing practice, health systems and administration, nursing anesthesia, and nurse education.


#5: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Chapel Hill, NC
The UNC School of Nursing was the first in the state to offer a four-year BSN, an MSN degree, a nurse practitioner (NP) program, and a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in nursing. The school, which also offers RN-to-BSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate programs, ranks near the top 20 in the nation on two separate U.S. News & World Report lists (best MSN programs, best DNP programs). The traditional BSN program graduates a class of approximately 175 students annually, who have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a rate of 96% since 2010.


#6: East Carolina University | Greenville, NC
East Carolina University has garnered multiple designations as an NLN COE over the last few years. The ECU College of Nursing offers traditional BSN, accelerated BSN (ABSN), and RN-to-BSN pathways, plus the innovative Eastern North Carolina Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses program. This initiative dually admits students to ECU and one of six local community colleges that partner with the university. The College of Nursing’s 250 annual BSN graduates consistently pass the NCLEX exam at a rate of 96% or better, including a phenomenal 98% pass rate during 2015. ECU also offers a breadth of graduate nursing options including MSN, DNP, and PhD programs.


#7: Medical University of South Carolina | Charleston, SC
MUSC College of Nursing is ranked #3 in the nation among online graduate nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers MSN, DNP, and nursing science PhD programs, all of which can be completed predominantly online with just a few required visits to campus. MUSC also offers an online RN-to-BSN degree completion program and an on-campus, 16-month accelerated BSN. Nearly 600 students attend MUSC College of Nursing in total, and approximately 100-150 students graduate from the ABSN program in two cohorts annually. These graduates have enjoyed a stellar NCLEX exam pass rate of 94% over the past decade.


#8: University of Miami | Coral Gables, FL
The University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) will soon host one of the nation’s first education-based simulation hospitals. The school historically ranks in the top 25 nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding among nursing schools. A member of the respected UHealth family, SONHS offers BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD degrees in many specializations. Post-master’s certificates are also on the menu. SONHS graduates 160-200 students annually from its flagship prelicensure BSN program. During the 2010-16 time period, more than 94% of these students passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on their first try.


#9: University of North Carolina at Greensboro | Greensboro, NC
The UNCG School of Nursing has earned multiple COE designations from the National League for Nursing in recent years. The school offers three undergraduate pathways: traditional four-year BSN, RN-to-BSN, and BSN as a second degree. UNCG graduates close to 100 prelicensure BSN students annually, who have achieved a strong NCLEX exam pass rate of 91% since 2010. The school’s online MSN program is ranked near the top 50 nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. UNCG also offers a dual MSN / master of business administration (MBA) degree and very selective DNP and PhD programs.


#10: 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.


#11: 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.


#12: 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.


#13: 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.


#14: 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.


#15: 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.


#16: University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Charlotte, NC
The UNC Charlotte School of Nursing achieved a 92% NCLEX pass rate among its 2016 BSN graduates. Just as impressively, August 2015 graduates of the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AG-ACNP) MSN track achieved a 100% pass rate on their certification exam. In addition to traditional BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees, UNC Charlotte leads an interdisciplinary, collaborative PhD program in the College of Health and Human Services. The school also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program, an RIBN option in partnership with local community colleges, and several post-master’s and graduate certificates.


#17: Mercer University | Atlanta, GA
Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is part of Mercer University. The school consists of two campuses: an Atlanta campus where the main nursing college is located, and a Macon campus where students take pre-nursing coursework. Georgia Baptist offers two BSN pathways (traditional, RN-to-BSN), two MSN tracks (adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner), and two doctoral degrees with a hybrid online format (DNP, PhD). The college is the second-largest Baptist-affiliated institution in the world, with access to more than 30 clinical sites for valuable hands-on experience. Georgia Baptist graduates 120-140 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have achieved a superior 94% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past decade.


#18: Marymount University | Arlington, VA
The Malek School of Health Professions houses the Marymount University nursing department. Each year, approximately 50 students graduate from the school’s traditional BSN program, and roughly 100 students complete the accelerated BSN program. Across these two pathways, graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a strong 90% rate over the past decade. Marymount University also offers a hybrid online RN-to-BSN program, an MSN degree with a family nurse practitioner focus, and an online DNP program that requires just one on-campus component per semester. Clinical experiences and internships take place at some of Virginia’s leading healthcare organizations.


#19: Belmont University | Nashville, TN
Belmont University’s School of Nursing has program options for students new to nursing, RNs looking to complete their baccalaureate education, and seasoned nurses seeking career advancement. Undergraduate offerings include a traditional four-year BSN, an accelerated BSN, and an RN-to-BSN program. Belmont graduates 100-150 prelicensure BSN students each spring, who have posted an impressive first-time NCLEX pass rate of 91% over the past decade. Graduate options include MSN, post-bachelor’s DNP, and post-master’s DNP programs. The School of Nursing provides several innovative opportunities in its curriculum, include the Cambodia Study Abroad Program and the Nursing Christian Fellowship.


#20: James Madison University | Harrisonburg, VA
The School of Nursing at James Madison University has a number of unique offerings for nursing students, including international study abroad opportunities in Costa Rica, Spain, Tanzania, and Malta. JMU offers a broad range of nursing programs, from traditional BSN and RN-to-BSN pathways to MSN and DNP degrees. A chronic illness minor is also on the menu. Undergraduates have posted a stellar 92% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam over the past decade. JMU’s graduate nursing students can pursue concentrations in clinical nurse leader, nurse administrator, nurse midwifery, and three nurse practitioner roles (adult / gerontology primary care, family, psychiatric mental health).


#21: University of South Carolina | Columbia, SC
The USC College of Nursing has the #5 online graduate nursing program in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. USC’s graduate nursing curriculum includes several MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP specializations – all delivered online – as well as an on-campus PhD program with flexible scheduling and tuition support. At the undergraduate level, the College of Nursing offers a traditional four-year nursing degree and an online RN-to-BSN pathway. USC produces the largest number of prelicensure BSN graduates in the state with approximately 200 annually, or roughly 20% of the statewide total. These newly minted nurses have passed the NCLEX exam at a rate of 92% or higher in each of the past seven years, including a stellar 98% pass rate in 2017.


#22: George Mason University | Fairfax, VA
George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services houses the 40-year-old School of Nursing. The school has produced so many successful graduates that one in three nurses practicing in the DC metropolitan area is a GMU alumnus. Baccalaureate pathways include traditional BSN, accelerated second-degree BSN, RN-to-BSN, and two co-enrollment programs. The ABSN program has maintained an impressive 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam since its recent launch. GMU also offers MSN concentrations for nurse educators, nurse practitioners, and nursing administrators; an RN-to-MSN bridge program; post-master’s certificates in nursing education and family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner; and both types of nursing doctoral programs (DNP and PhD).


#23: University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Wilmington, NC
The UNC Wilmington School of Nursing has 1,000 current students and more than 2,100 alumni in North Carolina alone. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional prelicensure BSN, an online RN-to-BSN program, or a unique Bachelor of Science in Clinical Research degree – one of just four such programs in the United States. UNC Wilmington’s prelicensure BSN students have enjoyed a 94% NCLEX pass rate since 2010, with a stellar 98% pass rate in 2015. The school’s graduate offerings include an MSN with FNP focus, a Master of Science in Clinical Research degree, post-master’s FNP and NED certificates, and a newly launched DNP program.


#24: Clemson University | Clemson, SC
The College of Behavioral, Social, and Health Sciences is home to Clemson University’s School of Nursing, which has twice earned the prestigious designation as an NLN Center of Excellence. Clemson offers three pathways at the undergraduate level: a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, and an RN-to-BSN completion program. Approximately 100 prelicensure students graduate annually, and they have consistently scored an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 90-96% for at least ten consecutive years. The graduate nursing department offers four MSN tracks: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, nursing administration, and nursing education. Clemson recently launched an online post-master’s DNP program, and it also teaches an innovative PhD in healthcare genetics.


#25: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences | Little Rock, AR
The UAMS College of Nursing provides education to more than 600 nursing students. It is the only Arkansas university with four distinct programs – BSN, MSN, APRN certificates, and DNP – all maximally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college also offers two degree completion tracks (RN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN-to-MSN) and the state’s only nursing PhD program. Each spring, UAMS graduates 100-175 BSN students who perform very strongly on the licensure exam, including an NCLEX pass rate of 91% over the past ten years.


#26: University of Alabama | Tuscaloosa, AL
The University of Alabama is home to the Capstone College of Nursing (CCN), which educates nearly 1,800 students in total. More than 1,240 students are enrolled in CCN’s traditional BSN program. Graduates of this program have performed extremely well on the NCLEX-RN exam, posting a 95% pass rate over the past eight years. Another 170 CCN students take advantage of the school’s unique RN mobility program, which includes RN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN-to-MSN options. The rest are enrolled in MSN, DNP, and doctorate in nursing education (EdD) programs. CCN’s MSN programs prepare nurses for APRN, CNL, and case management roles.


#27: Western Carolina University | Cullowhee, NC
The School of Nursing at Western Carolina University offers a breadth of nursing pathways. Options include four BSN programs (traditional, accelerated, online RN-to-BSN, and RIBN), an MSN degree, post-MSN certificates, and a DNP program in nurse anesthesia. Graduates of the traditional and accelerated BSN programs have achieved a phenomenal 98% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2010. The RIBN program provides students with a seamless four-year, associate-to-baccalaureate nursing education. Unlike in a traditional BSN program, RIBN students have the opportunity to begin working as an RN at the start of their fourth year. The MSN program has specialty tracks in family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nursing leadership, with the final two options offered online.


#28: Georgia State University | Atlanta, GA
Georgia State University is home to the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions. The school offers its nursing students more than 200 clinical practice sites, including trauma / intensive care wards, long-term care facilities, and home care services. Georgia State has traditional, accelerated, and degree completion pathways to the BSN degree. The BSN program’s 120-140 annual prelicensure graduates have posted a strong NCLEX-RN pass rate of 91% over the past decade. Graduate nursing students can pursue four NP specialties (adult health, pediatrics, family, psychiatric-mental health), an adult-gerontology CNS degree, or a focus on nursing leadership in healthcare innovations.


#29: Bellarmine University | Louisville, KY
The Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences offers both a traditional four-year BSN and an accelerated second degree pathway. The school graduates 130-150 BSN students each year, who have scored an impressive 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade. The graduate nursing department offers an MSN with tracks in education, administration, and family nursing practice; an MSN/MBA dual degree; and a DNP with focuses in advanced nursing practice and executive leadership. Bellarmine offers study abroad programs in Australia and Sweden, service learning experiences in Appalachia and Guatemala, and overseas volunteer missions.


#30: Nova Southeastern University | Fort Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University’s College of Nursing enrolls more than 1,300 students from coast to coast. Nursing programs are offered at the university’s primary campus in Fort Lauderdale, through satellite campuses in Miami and Fort Myers, and online. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 150-250 new nurses each year, who have passed the NCLEX exam at rates as high as 91% in recent years. NSU also offers RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN bridge programs through its undergraduate nursing department. Graduate nursing students can pursue three nonclinical MSN tracks, two clinical MSN tracks for aspiring nurse practitioners, an online DNP, or a PhD focused on nursing education.


#31: Old Dominion University | Norfolk, VA
The School of Nursing is the largest of five professional schools in ODU’s College of Health Sciences. In addition to BSN, MSN, DNP, and graduate certificate programs, the school offers a unique concurrent enrollment option. This pathway enables qualified students to complete associate in applied science (AAS) requirements, take the NCLEX-RN exam, and then earn the BSN degree with just one or two additional semesters of study. ODU’s annual graduating class of 60-90 BSN students has consistently earned high marks on the NCLEX licensure examination, with 90% passing on the first attempt over the last decade.


#32: Georgia College | Milledgeville, GA
Georgia College graduates approximately 100 students from its prelicensure BSN program each year. These students have posted consistently excellent scores on the NCLEX licensure exam, with a cumulative 96% pass rate since 2008. The School of Nursing also offers an RN-to-BSN degree completion program, two MSN majors (FNP and NED), a post-master’s FNP certificate, and a post-master’s DNP that can be completed in just five semesters of fulltime study. The DNP program is offered in an online, executive-style format with minimal campus requirements.


#33: University of Central Florida | Orlando, FL
The UCF College of Nursing is a recognized leader in online education. The school’s online MSN program recently ranked among the top three in Florida and the top 50 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. UCF offers six distinct MSN tracks: three NP specialties, nursing leadership, healthcare simulation, and nurse education. Several of these tracks are also offered to DNP students. For undergraduates, UCF provides five BSN pathways including a Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) for active-duty military students. BSN graduates routinely perform well on the licensure exam, with a phenomenal 96% NCLEX pass rate from 2010-2016.


#34: Union University | Jackson, TN
The Union University School of Nursing offers well more than 15 different nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue five pathways to a BSN degree: traditional, accelerated, LPN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN, and a unique First Step to BSN program which helps adult students with few college credits earn their degree. The school graduates 130-140 prelicensure BSN students annually who have passed the NCLEX exam at a 93% rate since 2010, well above state and national averages. Union’s graduate nursing students can pursue one of six MSN tracks, six DNP tracks, or seven graduate certificates in nursing.


#35: Jefferson College of Health Sciences | Roanoke, VA
Jefferson College of Health Sciences is the oldest hospital-based college in Virginia and an academic pillar of Carilion Clinic. Undergraduate students can select from two prelicensure programs (traditional and accelerated) and an online RN-to-BSN program. The traditional program follows a four-year curriculum, while the accelerated program is a 16-month track for students who hold a baccalaureate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Traditional BSN students have achieved a solid 87% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s launch, while accelerated BSN students have posted an excellent 93% NCLEX pass rate. The School of Graduate and Professional Studies offers an MSN degree with family nurse practitioner and nursing administration tracks.


#36: Radford University | Radford, VA
Radford University School of Nursing has an average enrollment of over 600 students. Approximately 300 are in the lower division, 280 are in the upper division, and more than 50 are in the doctoral program. The school offers a traditional BSN degree at two campus locations (Radford and Roanoke), a 100% online RN-to-BSN program, and DNP concentrations in family nurse practitioner, nurse executive leadership, and psychiatric mental health. BSN graduates perform exceedingly well on the licensure exam: the main Radford campus has posted a 95% NCLEX pass rate since 2013, while Roanoke students have passed the exam at a 94% rate. The university’s DNP program is specifically tailored towards rural care scenarios.


#37: Lincoln Memorial University | Harrogate, TN
LMU’s Caylor School of Nursing offers programs across seven physical sites and a robust online platform. The school’s main campus in Harrogate offers ASN, BSN, and MSN programs. Three satellite locations offer ASN programs only: Alcoa, TN; Corbin, KY; and Physicians Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. The Cedar Bluff site in Knoxville offers LMU’s BSN and MSN programs, while the Kingsport Center for Higher Education offers just the MSN program. A partnership with Florida Hospital provides accelerated ASN and BSN programs in Tampa, while the online platform delivers the school’s RN-to-BSN and DNP programs. LMU students from all campuses perform well on their licensure exams. Over the past five years, 92% of BSN students and 91% of ASN students have passed the NCLEX-RN exam on their first attempt.


#38: Southern Adventist University | Collegedale, TN
Southern Adventist University’s School of Nursing is housed in Florida Hospital Hall, a state-of-the-art center for nursing education. The school’s prelicensure pathways are a traditional ASN degree and an LPN-to-RN bridge program. Over the past decade, graduates of these associate’s degree programs have maintained an 88% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam. Registered nurses seeking further education can pursue an RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN completion program. The graduate nursing department leads MSN and DNP programs with numerous emphasis areas, including several NP roles. The School of Nursing offers a unique option in alternating years that allows students to begin clinical nursing classes during the summer months.


#39: Florida State University | Tallahassee, FL
The FSU College of Nursing launched Florida’s first nationally accredited baccalaureate nursing degree program. Today, the college offers the latest BSN options, including an accelerated second-degree program and a Veterans BSN that started in January 2016. The College of Nursing produces over 80 BSN graduates each year, and these students passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a strong 92% rate from 2010 to 2016. FSU graduate students can pursue an MSN, DNP, or graduate certificate in popular specializations like nurse educator, nurse leader, and psychiatric mental health. The vast majority of graduate instruction is delivered online.


#40: Loyola University New Orleans | New Orleans, LA
The School of Nursing at Loyola University New Orleans is home to more than 650 students. Loyola offers its BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs entirely online. The BSN offering, launched in 2010, is an RN completion program that requires just 121 credit hours to earn a baccalaureate degree. Loyola’s MSN program focuses on healthcare systems management; it includes a Bridge to Leadership Education for Nurses at a Distance (BLEND) option for RNs with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. The DNP curriculum has nurse practitioner and executive nurse leader tracks, with entry points for both BSN-educated and MSN-educated nurses.


#41: University of Tennessee, Knoxville | Knoxville, TN
The UT College of Nursing enrolls approximately 750 students across its academic programs. Seventy percent of these students pursue a BSN degree through one of three pathways: a traditional four-year program, an accelerated 12-month option, or an RN-to-BSN completion program. UT’s 100-plus BSN graduates are well-prepared for the NCLEX exam, achieving a 93% pass rate over the past decade. The remaining thirty percent of nursing students pursue an MSN, DNP, or PhD degree. UT’s graduate nursing department offers concentrations for aspiring nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nursing administrators. Students have the opportunity to participate in the school’s International Outreach Program, which includes an immersive service mission to Costa Rica.


#42: AdventHealth University | Orlando, FL
AdventHealth University (AHU) works closely with AdventHealth Orlando, one of Central Florida’s largest hospitals, to give students the clinical experience and world-class facilities that only a major medical center can provide. In fact, AdventHealth Orlando is the largest of more than 590 healthcare facilities operated worldwide by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. AHU’s nursing programs include a GBSN (generic bachelor of science) with a blended learning format, an online RN-to-BSN, MSN degrees in nursing education and administration / leadership, and a doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP). Since the inception of the GBSN program, graduates have scored a 90% pass rate on the NCLEX national licensure examination.


#43: Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University | Baton Rouge, LA
The School of Nursing at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (FranU) offers two BSN tracks: a traditional prelicensure program and a postlicensure RN-to-BSN pathway offered 100% online. Prelicensure students have passed the NCLEX exam at an 84% first-time pass rate since the program’s inception. Clinical sites include acute care hospitals, clinics, community care centers, and schools. FranU also has skills laboratories that employ high-fidelity human simulation manikins and static manikins in a realistic setting designed to mirror the actual clinical arena. The university’s graduate nursing curriculum includes three MSN specializations (family nurse practitioner, nurse administrator, nurse educator) and a DNP nurse anesthesia program.


#44: Florida Gulf Coast University | Fort Myers, FL
Florida Gulf Coast University’s School of Nursing sits within the Elaine Nicpon Marieb College of Health & Human Services. FGCU’s nursing students can earn degrees ranging from a BSN to a DNP. The School of Nursing graduates 50-80 BSN students annually, and they have posted an exceptional NCLEX-RN pass rate of 94% since 2010. The MSN degree program offers specializations in nurse anesthesia, nurse educator, and primary healthcare nurse practitioner. FGCU also offers post-BSN and post-MSN pathways to a DNP degree. The MSN-to-DNP program can be completed in just five semesters of full-time study or eight semesters of part-time study.


#45: Liberty University | Lynchburg, VA
The Liberty University School of Nursing offers degree programs at all levels. Undergraduate options include a residential BSN for individuals with no nursing experience and two online pathways for working nurses (RN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN-to-MSN). Approximately 150 students graduate annually from the residential BSN program, and they have achieved an excellent 93% NCLEX pass rate since 2012. Graduate students can pursue three MSN specializations (nursing administration, nurse educator, nursing informatics), two dual degree options (MBA, MSHA), and two nurse practitioner roles in the DNP program (family, psychiatric mental health). Liberty University also leads a summer nurse camp for high school students where attendees learn basic nursing skills, obtain CPR certification, and participate in team-building activities.


#46: Anderson University | Anderson, SC
The School of Nursing at Anderson University offers a flexible breadth of options across its BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs. At the undergraduate level, the traditional BSN is available for first-time college students, while the accelerated BSN is designed for students with college credit or a degree in a non-nursing field. These prelicensure tracks have scored an 89% cumulative NCLEX pass rate since their recent launch, including a phenomenal 98% pass rate in 2017. At the graduate level, AU offers MSN concentrations in executive leadership, family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. The DNP program also offers specializations in three of these areas (leadership, FNP, and PMHNP) plus advanced practice.


#47: University of South Alabama | Mobile, AL
The College of Nursing at University of South Alabama offers numerous BSN and MSN pathways. Options include traditional BSN and MSN programs, early acceptance for high school seniors and college freshmen, an accelerated BSN/MSN program for baccalaureate-educated non-nurses, and RN completion programs (e.g., RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, or RN-to-BSN/MSN). South Alabama’s graduating BSN class is large (250-300 students annually) and well-prepared for the NCLEX exam, with an 88% pass rate over the past eight years. The MSN program offers specialties that run the gamut from adult-gerontology acute care to family practice to neonatal nursing, with in-demand subspecialties like cardiovascular care, oncology, and palliative care.


#48: Frontier Nursing University | Hyden, KY
Frontier Nursing University is home to the nation’s first family nurse practitioner (FNP) program, as well as the largest and oldest continually operating nurse-midwifery program. In fact, FNU’s nurse-midwifery curriculum is consistently ranked among the top 25 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The university also offers specialization as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner or a women’s healthcare nurse practitioner. FNU’s MSN program offers an ADN bridge entry option, and its innovative DNP program enables seamless transition from an MSN or post-graduate certificate program. The DNP curriculum features online coursework conducted in small cohorts, typically just 20-25 students apiece.


#49: University of West Georgia | Carrollton, Georgia
Tanner Health System School of Nursing (THSSON) at the University of West Georgia offers a prelicensure BSN program, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree, and a doctorate (EdD) in nursing education. The MSN has role options in education and health systems leadership; post-master’s certification is also available in both areas. The THSSON doctorate degree, master’s program, and RN-to-BSN pathway can each be completed 100% online. By contrast, the four-year BSN program is campus-based and graduates approximately 100 newly minted nurses each spring. Over the past decade, these students have achieved a solid 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#50: Lander University | Greenwood, SC
Lander University is home to the William Preston Turner School of Nursing, one of the first institutions in South Carolina to deploy an online RN-to-BSN program. The university also offers a traditional prelicensure BSN pathway as well as an MSN degree with a clinical nurse leader specialization. The traditional BSN program is open to high school graduates, transfer students, and individuals who already hold a degree in another field. Approximately 35-50 prelicensure BSN students complete the program annually; they have achieved an excellent 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade, including a perfect 100% pass rate in 2017. The MSN program prepares students to sit for the CNL certification exam administered by the Commission on Nurse Certification.


#51: Francis Marion University | Florence, SC
Francis Marion University’s nursing program was recognized as an NLN Center of Excellence in 2016 for promoting the pedagogical expertise of faculty. The school offers a traditional prelicensure BSN program as well as two RN-to-BSN pathways (one generic, one for veterans). The traditional BSN program graduates 50-75 students annually who have scored a solid 88% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. The RN-to-BSN for Veterans is an innovative degree program that recognizes military training and experience with course credits – a first in nursing education. Many veterans will earn their BSN degree in just 11 months of full-time study. For BSN-educated nurses, Francis Marion offers an MSN degree with tracks in family nurse practitioner (hybrid format) and nurse educator (fully online). The university also recently launched a DNP program, a practice-oriented terminal degree that includes both MSN and BSN entry points.


#52: University of Tennessee Health Science Center | Memphis, TN
The UTHSC College of Nursing offers several different types of programs. Undergraduates can pursue a four-semester accelerated BSN or an RN-to-BSN completion program. For three consecutive years, every member of the accelerated BSN graduating class has passed the NCLEX licensure exam on their first attempt. The college also offers an MSN program that prepares existing nurses for CNL certification. Doctoral candidates have several options. UTHSC’s DNP program has concentrations in adult-gerontology acute care, family nursing, neonatal nursing, nurse anesthesia, pediatric nursing, and psychiatric mental health nursing. PhD and dual DNP/PhD programs are also available.


#53: Tennessee Technological University | Cookeville, TN
Tennessee Technological University is home to the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. Undergraduate offerings include a four-year BSN curriculum and an RN-to-BSN degree completion program. TTU graduates a class of 60-100 prelicensure BSN students each spring, and they have passed the NCLEX exam at a stellar rate of 95% or better for seven consecutive years. In fact, the 2012 graduating class achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on the exam. TTU offers all of its graduate nursing programs, include an MSN degree and post-master’s certificates in three specialty areas, through a partnership with the five other Tennessee Board of Regents universities. Graduate nursing coursework is completed 100% online.


#54: Eastern Mennonite University | Harrisonburg, VA
Eastern Mennonite University offers both undergraduate and fully online graduate programs in nursing. The undergraduate BSN program offers six different pathways including a traditional four-year curriculum, an entry option for transfer students, two second degree pathways (traditional, accelerated), and two bridge programs (LPN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN). The university graduates 35-45 prelicensure BSN students each year, with a solid 87% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. At the graduate level, EMU offers an MSN degree with two concentrations (leadership and management, leadership and school nursing), a school nurse certification program, an MSN/MBA dual degree, and a DNP program that prepares nursing professionals to lead within dynamic healthcare systems.


#55: Florida Atlantic University | Boca Raton, FL
FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing educates 1,600 students across its three campuses in Boca Raton, Davie, and Harbor Branch. The college offers four undergraduate pathways: traditional BSN, freshmen direct admission, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Its graduating prelicensure class of 75-85 BSN students has earned an average 90% pass rate on the NCLEX exam from 2010-2016. At the graduate level, FAU offers both DNP and PhD programs, plus a rich breadth of MSN specializations including administration, holistic nursing, education, clinical nurse leader, and two nurse practitioner roles. Indeed, FAU has the largest graduate nursing enrollment of any university in Florida.


#56: Bob Jones University | Greenville, SC
Over the past decade, Bob Jones University’s School of Nursing has enjoyed a cumulative NCLEX-RN pass rate above 91%. The school, which produces approximately 40 BSN graduates annually, ensures success on the exam by offering a full-year NCLEX review program, including a live review course at the end of senior year. The nursing curriculum at Bob Jones University includes six semesters of clinical experience rather than the standard four. Throughout the BSN program, students have the opportunity to work at local healthcare employers like Greenville Health System, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, and Bon Secours St. Francis Health System.


#57: Shenandoah University | Winchester, VA
Shenandoah University’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing recently launched a unique volunteer opportunity called Project FIRST (Free Individual Risk Factor Screening & Treatment). The project serves uninsured and underserved members of several local counties, targeting individuals at risk of developing or living with chronic diseases. The university offers a breadth of nursing pathways including a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, a Veteran-to-BSN bridge program, four MSN specializations, the corresponding post-graduate certificates, and a DNP curriculum with both BSN and MSN entry points. Across its two campuses in Winchester and Ashburn, Shenandoah University produces 100-150 prelicensure BSN graduates annually who consistently achieve NCLEX-RN pass rates of 84-87%.


#58: University of Mississippi Medical Center | Jackson, MS
The UMMC School of Nursing is the state’s flagship nursing school. Located on the state’s only academic health science campus, UMMC offers four BSN pathways: traditional, early entry, accelerated, and RN-to-BSN. The school graduates approximately 300 students annually across these BSN programs. Roughly half take the NCLEX licensure exam, with a phenomenal ten-year pass rate of 97%. The graduate nursing department offers eight master’s tracks and two doctoral options (DNP and PhD), all with multiple entry options. In addition to the primary Jackson campus, UMMC has an Oxford campus that offers the ABSN and nearly all graduate programs.


#59: Cabarrus College of Health Sciences | Concord, NC
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences is home to the Louise Harkey School of Nursing. The school offers a pre-nursing track, an ADN program, and an RN-to-BSN program. The pre-nursing track includes two semesters of general coursework, and admitted students are guaranteed a space in the ADN program. The ADN prepares students to take the NCLEX licensure examination and assume entry-level employment as registered nurses. Since 2010, Cabarrus has graduated 60-100 ADN students annually, scoring an excellent 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam. The RN-to-BSN is an online program designed for RNs who are seeking to expand their skills or prepare for graduate-level nursing education.


#60: University of Louisville | Louisville, KY
The UofL School of Nursing has two campus locations: Louisville and Owensboro. Each year, 140-180 prelicensure BSN students graduate from the Louisville campus, sustaining an excellent 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Owensboro graduates a smaller class of 30 BSN students with a 90% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s start, including two straight years at 100%. UofL also offers a master’s entry into professional nursing (MEPN) pathway for candidates with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Postlicensure candidates can pursue an RN-to-BSN completion program, post-MSN certificates in four different specialties, and either type of doctoral nursing program (DNP and PhD).


#61: Georgia Southern University | Statesboro, GA
Georgia Southern University’s School of Nursing offers two prelicensure BSN programs (traditional, LPN-to-BSN) plus an RN-to-BSN degree completion program. The school’s prelicensure students have achieved an 88% pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam since 2010. Graduate students can pursue the BSN-to-DNP program with MSN opt-out or the post-master’s DNP program. Georgia Southern also offers post-MSN certificates for family nurse practitioners and psychiatric / mental health nurse practitioners. All nursing students can participate in a two-week study-abroad summer program titled Nursing & Cultural Immersion: Costa Rica.


#62: University of North Florida | Jacksonville, FL
In July 2005, UNF selected the College of Health’s School of Nursing as its first flagship program. The school’s RN-to-BSN offering has earned recognition on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best online bachelor’s programs. UNF also offers on-campus RN-to-BSN, traditional BSN, and ABSN pathways for its undergraduate students. The school graduates over 100 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have posted a strong NCLEX exam pass rate of over 94% several times in the past few years. Graduate nursing students can pursue three APRN roles through the DNP program: nurse anesthetist, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.


#63: West Coast University | Miami, FL
West Coast University Miami is the newest addition to the WCU family. Occupying more than 46,000 square feet, the university provides students with access to computer labs, Internet stations, nursing skills labs, and science labs. The Miami campus also features a 5,000-square-foot Simulation Center with high-fidelity simulators. Programs for aspiring nurses include a traditional prelicensure BSN and an LPN-to-BSN bridge program. The traditional BSN can be completed in 39 months with a daytime schedule or 44 months with an evening and weekend schedule. The LPN-to-BSN bridge program allows students to shave five months off these timelines.


#64: William Carey University | Hattiesburg, MS
William Carey University’s School of Nursing offers three pathways to the BSN degree: a prelicensure program, an LPN advanced placement option, and an RN-to-BSN completion program. The prelicensure and LPN advanced placement pathways are on-campus programs that may be completed in eighteen months at an accelerated pace. Graduates have sustained an excellent 95% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. Courses for the RN-to-BSN program are offered online, and the degree may be completed in just 12 months. At the graduate level, Carey offers an MSN degree with a clinical nurse educator focus, an MSN/MBA dual degree program, and a PhD program in nursing education and administration with a unique DNP-to-PhD pathway.


#65: University of Tampa | Tampa, FL
The College of Natural and Health Sciences (CNHS) at the University of Tampa offers two nursing programs: a traditional four-year BSN for students without prior nursing education, and an MSN with two nurse practitioner concentrations (family and adult-gerontology). The BSN program has achieved a near-perfect 99% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam since 2010, graduating 40-50 students each year. The MSN program emphasizes the importance of holistic assessment, cultural congruency, and consumer inclusion in healthcare. The CNHS department of nursing maintains formal affiliations with more than 120 Tampa Bay-area healthcare facilities, providing students with a breadth of options for clinical exposure.


#66: Wheeling Jesuit University | Wheeling, WV
Wheeling Jesuit University is founded on the 450-year Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and service to others. The Department of Nursing offers several undergraduate pathways and graduate specialization options. Traditional students can pursue a BSN that integrates nursing and the liberal arts, while students with a bachelor’s degree in another field can earn an accelerated second degree in just 18 months. Graduates of both programs have earned an 83% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade. WJU also offers an RN-to-BSN/MSN pathway for ADN- or diploma-prepared nurses who wish to obtain an advanced degree. Coursework is delivered online, with clinical requirements completed in students’ hometowns. At the graduate level, Wheeling Jesuit offers specialized MSN tracks in family nurse practitioner, nursing administration, and nursing education.


#67: Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Auburn University School of Nursing (AUSON) is one of the nation’s top providers of care to communities around the world that lack adequate healthcare. Nursing students in all programs have the opportunity to travel to places such as Ecuador, Ghana, Malawi, and Spain to gain hands-on experience and deliver life-saving medical services to hundreds of residents. The school offers a breadth of nursing programs including a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree with three tracks, post-master’s certificates in family nurse practitioner and nurse educator, and a DNP program that launched in the summer of 2018. Over the past eight years, BSN graduates have achieved an excellent NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 93%, including a perfect 100% pass rate in the spring of 2018.


#68: Charleston Southern University | Charleston, SC
The College of Nursing at Charleston Southern University seeks to educate professional nurses who will integrate Christian values into their nursing practice. The college’s flagship BSN program has a stellar 95% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. This is currently the highest ten-year pass rate of all accredited BSN programs in South Carolina. The faith-based MSN program is offered fully online with two emphases: nurse educator or nursing leadership / healthcare administration. The curriculum adopts a cohort model, with an ADN-to-MSN pathway that students can complete in just 19 months and a BSN-to-MSN pathway that students can complete in just 16 months.


#69: University of Mobile | Mobile, AL
University of Mobile’s School of Nursing is part of the College of Health Professions. Programs for aspiring nurses include a traditional BSN (TBSN), an accelerated BSN (ABSN), an RN-to-BSN pathway for existing nurses, and MSN degrees with specializations in FNP and education / administration. Students in all programs have access to the College of Health Professions’ new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice, which has two high-fidelity simulation labs with augmented reality technologies and hands-on learning that mirror the real-world experiences students will face. Since 2009, TBSN and ABSN graduates have collectively achieved an NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 87%.


#70: Barry University | Miami Shores, FL
The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Barry University features nationally recognized undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in a variety of healthcare specialties. Undergraduate options for aspiring nurses include a two-year pre-nursing program, a traditional BSN, an ABSN, and an online RN-to-BSN. Since 2010, Barry University has graduated 100-150 prelicensure BSN students annually, with a solid NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 81%. Graduate options include MSN degrees with specializations in nurse executive leadership, nurse educator, and nurse practitioner; a post-baccalaureate DNP, where students earn both the MSN and DNP within four years; and a new DNP in anesthesiology. Post-master’s certificates in several of the MSN specializations are also available.


#71: Harding University | Searcy, AR
Harding’s Carr College of Nursing (HCCN) was established to develop nurses as Christian servants. The program features close teacher-student relationships, a variety of clinical experiences in wellness and health promotion, several admission tracks to meet different learner needs, and a Health Missions Program with local and international experiences. The undergraduate program has two distinct pathways: a traditional BSN and an accelerated second degree BSN. Over the past decade, HCCN’s BSN graduates have posted a 91% cumulative pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam, including several recent years with a perfect 100% pass rate. The school’s online MSN program has a Family Nurse Practitioner track that educates students to become advanced practice registered nurses.


#72: University of Arkansas | Fayetteville, AR
The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas offers both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Part of the nationally ranked College of Education and Health Professions (COEHP), the school has a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway for existing nurses, an MSN with a nurse educator specialization, and a DNP program. The DNP program has two levels of entry: post-BSN and post-MSN. The school conducts all of its postlicensure programs online to make them more accessible for working RNs, requiring only minimal campus visits. During the past decade, the school’s BSN graduates exceeded a 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure examination.


#73: Piedmont College | Demorest, GA
The R.H. Daniel School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Piedmont College offers a prelicensure BSN that takes four years to complete. The program provides a foundation in the liberal arts and the biological, social, and behavioral sciences. It also includes a clinical practice component that gives students the opportunity to apply their nursing theory and skills in multiple healthcare settings. All students have the opportunity to work with underserved populations as part of their clinical practice. Piedmont College graduates approximately 60 new nurses annually. Since 2008, these students have scored an exceptional 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#74: University of Alabama in Huntsville | Huntsville, AL
The College of Nursing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway for existing nurses, and an MSN degree. Master’s specializations include family nurse practitioner (FNP), nursing administration, and adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. UAH also has a graduate certificate in nursing education, a post-master’s FNP certificate, and a DNP program available in on-campus, online, and hybrid delivery formats. Since 2009, prelicensure BSN graduates have achieved an 85% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.


#75: Mississippi University for Women | Columbus, MS
The College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Mississippi University for Women (“The W”) offers ASN, BSN, MSN, and DNP programs. Students and graduates of The W’s nursing programs have received numerous local, state, and national awards. Recent honors include the National Spirit of Nursing Award, the National Pfizer Advanced Nurse Practitioner Award for exceptional contributions to healthcare, and the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing Educator Award. Over the past decade, the university’s prelicensure students have sustained near-perfect pass rates on the NCLEX exam. ASN graduates passed the test at a 98% rate, while BSN graduates did so at a 99% rate.