Best Nursing Schools
The best nursing schools are located across the country, from Pennsylvania to Texas. Each of the top nursing schools offers different educational pathways to nursing. As a result, there are plenty of options to compare as you determine the best nursing schools and best colleges for nursing for you.
However, don’t just rely on a quick search for “best nursing schools near me.” Let our guide on the best colleges for nursing be your starting point for finding your dream school.
In this article, we’ll cover the best nursing schools for undergraduate and graduate students. By the end, you’ll be able to answer the question “Which nursing schools near me are the best?”
We’ll also cover the following topics as they relate to the best colleges for nursing:
- Educational pathways to nursing, including the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- The best colleges for nursing in America
- Typical nursing school requirements
- Hardest/easiest nursing school to get into
- Reasons to pursue a nursing major in college
- Choosing the right nursing school for you
- And more!
Nursing has always been a solid career option for students. In fact, the nursing field was honored by the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic for its service.
Additionally, college majors like nursing are becoming increasingly popular. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% increase in job openings for registered nurses. That’s an estimated 175,900 job openings in the next decade. Students who graduate from some of the best BSN programs and best colleges for nursing will encounter even better employment opportunities.
From labor and delivery to end-of-life care, nurses provide a valuable service to their communities. If you pride yourself on your integrity, empathy, and advocacy skills, you might want to explore a nursing major in college and attend one of the best colleges for nursing.
Now, you may already be researching colleges and have searched “nursing schools near me” a dozen times. On the other hand, you may be just starting to consider college majors in the wide field of nursing. Let’s outline the different educational pathways to becoming a nurse.
Educational Pathways to Nursing
There are different ways to become a nurse or to pursue similar careers, such as a physician’s assistant or registered nurse. Your educational pathway to nursing begins with researching college majors and determining what you want to pursue as your major in college.
Unlike physicians, nurses don’t need to go through long years of graduate school. In fact, many nurses only have a BSN, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Individuals can even become a Registered Nurse (RN) with only an associate’s degree. Most of the best colleges for nursing offer multiple educational pathways to nursing.
What is the difference between an RN and a BSN?
As we mentioned above, an RN stands for Registered Nurse. You can become an RN after passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and getting certified. To qualify for the exam, aspiring nurses must have completed a BSN program or similar. It’s important to note that graduating from a BSN program doesn’t automatically make you a registered nurse.
BSN nursing programs are four-year programs in which you ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, they aren’t the only option. Associate degree in nursing (ADN) and RN diploma programs also fulfill requirements while taking less time, usually around two years. There are also Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degrees, which are similar to ADNs but may have more clinical coursework. Notably, your program choice can influence earning potential and future career paths.
In sum, a BSN is a college degree, whereas an RN signifies certification as a Registered Nurse. You do not necessarily need a BSN to become an RN, as there are several ways to qualify for the NCLEX. Nor do you need to declare yourself as a nursing major in college right away. Many of the best colleges for nursing have multiple pathways to becoming a nurse.
What is an undergraduate degree in nursing?
At most of the top nursing schools, you’ll pursue a BSN as an undergraduate nursing degree. All the best colleges for nursing we’ll cover in this article offer a BSN program. However, you can also pursue a two-year ASN. Aside from the time, how do they differ?
As mentioned above, they can affect your path moving forward as well as your earnings as a nurse. Namely, a BSN prepares you for graduate programs better than an ADN, while RN diploma credits aren’t always transferrable. Moreover, BSN holders often have higher earnings than those with ADNs or RN diplomas.
Think critically about your goals as you decide which type of program is best for you. Once you decide what you need, you’ll be able to tailor a list of top nursing schools to support your goals.
How many years of school to be a nurse?
Nursing school requirements depend on the type of program. At the very least, nurses must complete a certified nursing program to be eligible for NCLEX certification. Therefore, the number of years depends on your individual program needs but can be as little as two years.
Beyond the NCLEX certification is still a whole world of nursing. Some nurses go on to pursue specialized graduate degrees. Most MSN programs, or Master of Science in Nursing, require an additional two years of schooling. For RNs seeking to become primary care providers, further doctorate programs are also available.
What colleges offer nursing majors?
Many major universities and community colleges alike offer programs in nursing. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to look for the right BSN or ADN program for you.
In the next section, we’ll provide a list of nursing schools with the best BSN programs nationwide. For each, we’ll highlight key features like location, acceptance rate, enrollment, specialties, and why it’s one of the best colleges for nursing.
Top 20 BSN Nursing programs
Top 20 BSN Nursing Programs
University of Pennsylvania
At the top of the list of best BSN nursing programs is UPenn. Located in the bustling college town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, UPenn admissions is extremely competitive with a 6% acceptance rate. Of the roughly 23,000 students enrolled at UPenn, just over 10,000 are undergraduate students. Within that, the BSN program at UPenn has an enrollment of 583 students.
The BSN nursing program at UPenn is the only Ivy League program in the top 20. UPenn is one of the few schools that arrange clinical placements for students, making it one of the best BSN programs available. In addition to the BSN program, UPenn also offers accelerated nursing programs, a Master of Science in nursing, and doctoral programs in nursing.
Next on the list of best BSN programs is Emory University, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Emory admissions is also highly competitive and has an acceptance rate of 13%. The total enrollment at Emory is 5,900 students, of which 689 are undergraduate nursing students.
At Emory, you can begin your BSN in nursing during your junior year. Emory offers access to 500+ clinical sites in Atlanta and around the world. Like UPenn, Emory takes care of clinical placement for students, making it one of the best BSN nursing programs available. Emory also offers accelerated programs, a Master of Science in nursing, and doctoral programs.
Located in Durham, Duke is next on the list of best colleges for nursing. According to U.S. News, the Duke ranking comes in at #10 in national universities. For nursing, the Duke ranking is #3. Duke has a 6% acceptance rate, making it one of the most selective schools in the country. Duke’s total enrollment is just over 17,000 students, with an undergraduate population of 6,500 students.
Duke offers an accelerated BSN as well as a Master of Science in nursing and doctoral nursing programs. If you’re considering Duke for nursing, keep in mind their ABSN program requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Tied with Duke at #3 on the list of top nursing schools is the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. UMich has a total enrollment of 15,000 students and a 20% acceptance rate. Overall, the University of Michigan ranking is #25 in national universities.
UMich nursing students get hands-on clinical experiences and may join the Honors Program to augment their coursework. In addition to being one of the best undergraduate nursing schools, UMich’s MSN and doctoral programs are also consistently ranked high.
Case Western Reserve University
Next on the list of best nursing schools is Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Case Western Reserve has a 30% acceptance rate, with undergraduates making up about half of its 12,000 students.
At Case Western Reserve’s nursing program, students can begin nursing classes in their first semester. Clinical placements also begin early at Case Western—within your first month on campus. This is the earliest of any program in the nation, explaining Case Western’s place among the best colleges for nursing.
In addition to the BSN program, Case Western Reserve also offers an MN, MSN, MSN to doctorate, and dual doctorate programs.
Ohio State University
Located in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University is one of the best colleges in Ohio for nursing. Ohio State admissions has a 57% acceptance rate, making it moderately selective. The undergraduate enrollment at Ohio State is just over 47,000 students, with a total enrollment of 61,000 students.
Ohio State is one of the few colleges in Ohio for nursing that offers different application and program pathways for its BSN program. Ohio State admissions distinguishes between these based on high school coursework and application deadline. At best, students may graduate with a BSN in three years rather than four.
Ohio State also offers an RN to BSN option for registered nurses as well as masters and doctoral programs. As one of the best colleges in Ohio for nursing, Ohio State has plenty of options to fit your needs.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Next on the list of top nursing schools is UNC – Chapel Hill. Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, UNC admissions has a very selective 19% acceptance rate. UNC-Chapel Hill has close to 20,000 undergraduate students and over 300 students in its nursing program.
Students in the UNC-Chapel Hill nursing program receive both classroom and clinical training, like in most BSN nursing programs. UNC admissions states that its nursing students are so well prepared that they have a 98% first-try pass rate for the NCLEX.
Aside from the BSN program, UNC also offers an accelerated BSN, BSN military pathway, MSN, and doctoral programs.
University of Washington
Located in Seattle, the University of Washington is one of the best colleges for nursing in the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington admissions has a 53% acceptance rate. The University of Washington total enrollment is over 50,000 students, with over 600 students in the School of Nursing.
The BSN program at the University of Washington is a two-year professional program that includes hands-on experiences with various Seattle healthcare providers. Their BSN program has a 98% graduation rate. University of Washington admissions also has an accelerated BSN program and various doctoral programs.
New York University
Next on our list of nursing schools is NYU. Located in New York, NYU has a 13% acceptance rate. Anyone researching universities in New York knows acceptance rates can get very competitive—Columbia University admissions accepts just 4% of applicants. In light of that, the NYU acceptance rate, while low, is by no means the lowest. NYU has a total enrollment of 61,000 students, with 29,000 undergraduates.
Like many NYU college majors, the nursing program includes a variety of core liberal arts and science courses. Students can begin taking nursing courses in their junior year. With this timeline, nursing students may still study abroad in their sophomore year.
Aside from the four-year BSN, NYU also offers a 15-month accelerated BSN as well as MSN programs and doctoral programs. If you’re interested in New York but not NYU, some of the best colleges for nursing in New York are SUNY schools. Many students from New York and beyond attend the best SUNY schools for nursing every year.
Oregon Health and Science University
Located in Portland, Oregon Health and Science University is tied at #9 on U.S. News’s list of best colleges for nursing.
OHSU’s BSN program has over 700 students, making it one of the larger options on the best colleges for nursing list. Like the other best nursing schools on this list, OHSU offers accelerated BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs and pre-med options.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Next on the list of top nursing schools is the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As the name suggests, this college is located in Birmingham, Alabama. It has an 89% acceptance rate and a total enrollment of 22,000 students, with 13,500 undergraduates.
Like some of the best colleges for nursing above, UAB offers multiple pathways to earning a degree in nursing. They offer the traditional four-year BSN program, an RN to BSN, and an RN to MSN pathway. Additionally, the UAB Nursing Community College Partnership allows community college students to earn an associate’s degree and a BSN at the same time.
University of Illinois Chicago
Also tied at #9 for best nursing schools is the University of Illinois Chicago. UIC has a 79% acceptance rate and a total enrollment of 22,000 students.
The BSN program at University of Illinois-Chicago is a two-year program, like some of the other top nursing schools. At UIC, students applying to the BSN program are considered transfer students. This is because they’re required to have at least 57 credit hours already completed within their respective college majors.
However, those interested in the UIC BSN program are encouraged to apply undeclared to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. On their application, they can indicate that your educational goal is pre-nursing within the application.
Aside from the BSN program, UIC also offers an online RN to BSN, an MSN, and doctoral programs.
University of Iowa
Located in Iowa City, the University of Iowa is next on the list of best undergraduate nursing schools. The University of Iowa has an 86% acceptance rate. Its total enrollment is 31,000 students, with just over 5,000 undergraduates.
Students at the University of Iowa can apply to the College of Nursing via direct admission or standard admission. Only 80 students are selected via direct admission, making it one of the more competitive top nursing schools. Standard admission requires students to complete prerequisites, then apply to the College of Nursing during their college career.
Like many top nursing schools, University of Iowa offers a BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs in nursing. Starting in Spring 2023, they will also offer an accelerated nursing program.
University of Maryland, Baltimore
The last college tied at #9 for top nursing schools by U.S. News is the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Students interested in medicine may be familiar with Baltimore, Maryland, as the home of Johns Hopkins University. However, Johns Hopkins majors do not list nursing as an option. So, if you are set on Baltimore and pursuing a nursing major in college, consider UMB.
UMB has an 81% acceptance rate and close to 7,000 students total on its campus. The University of Maryland, Baltimore BSN program is a two-year program. Students are required to complete 59 prerequisite credits before being allowed to enroll at the School of Nursing. Completing prerequisites before enrolling in a nursing program is common among the top nursing schools.
Like some of the other best colleges of nursing, UMB offers a BSN program, online RN to BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs in nursing.
University of California – Los Angeles
One of the best nursing schools in California is UCLA, located in Los Angeles. Although it is one of the best nursing schools in California, UCLA is also one of the most competitive. UCLA has an 11% acceptance rate and a total enrollment of 32,000 students.
The BSN program at UCLA begins in a student’s freshman year, cementing its spot as one of the best nursing schools in California. Furthermore, because it’s one of the best nursing schools in California, the Nursing School at UCLA requires a supplemental application. This is similar to some of the other top nursing schools and their requirements. UCLA also offers MSN programs as well as doctoral programs in nursing.
University of Kentucky
Tied with UCLA at #15 on the U.S. News list of top nursing schools is the University of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky has a 94% acceptance rate. Its total enrollment is 32,000 students, with roughly 23,000 undergraduates.
There are 1,660 students enrolled in the College of Nursing, one of the largest student bodies among the best nursing schools. At the University of Kentucky, students can choose from a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, and an RN to BSN.
Within the four-year traditional BSN program, students learn in a combination of classroom, laboratory, and supervised clinical settings. The student-to-faculty ratio is low, no more than 8:1, which puts UK high on the list of top nursing schools.
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Also tied at #15 for best undergraduate nursing schools is the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Located in Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota has a 73% acceptance rate and an undergraduate enrollment of 36,000 students.
The University of Minnesota allows students entry to the School of Nursing from day one, unlike other best nursing schools. It partners with hospitals, specialty clinics, and community clinics where students can learn and interact with patients. In addition to the BSN program, the University of Minnesota offers an MSN and doctoral programs in nursing.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Next on the list of best colleges for nursing is the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has an 11% acceptance rate and an enrollment of just over 4,000 students.
Students looking to earn their BSN at UNMC must take two years of prerequisites before applying, like many other best nursing schools. The University of Nebraska Medical Center offers a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, an RN to BSN, and graduate programs in nursing.
University of Pittsburgh
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh is next on the list of best nursing schools. The University of Pittsburgh has a 67% acceptance rate. Its undergraduate enrollment is just over 28,000 students, and its School of Nursing enrolled 192 students this past application cycle.
Nursing students at the University of Pittsburgh take courses within the School of Arts and Sciences in addition to nursing courses. Students can start their nursing courses within their first year.
Interestingly, University of Pittsburgh is one of a handful of colleges among top nursing schools with a BSN Nursing Honors program. Honors students earn a dual degree from the School of Nursing and the Honors College, an option that makes it one of the best nursing schools.
University of Pittsburgh also offers accelerated second-degree BSN, RN, MSN, and doctoral nursing options.
University of Texas at Austin
Last but not least, the University of Texas at Austin rounds out the list of best colleges for nursing. In fact, it is one of the top nursing schools in Texas.
Located in the state capital of Austin, UT has a 29% acceptance rate. Total enrollment at UT is just over 52,000 students, with 41,000 undergraduates. There are 435 undergraduate students in the School of Nursing.
Because UT is one of the top nursing schools in Texas, students must answer supplemental essay questions on the application. Accepted students will begin their BSN courses in their junior year, similar to some of the other best nursing schools.
UT also has a nursing Honors Program, solidifying it as one of the top nursing schools in Texas. UT also offers ADN to BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs in nursing.
What college has the best nursing program?
According to the rankings, UPenn is at the top of the list for best nursing schools at the undergraduate level. However, the best colleges for nursing may not necessarily be the best colleges for you personally. That is to say, college rankings should be only one of several factors that informs your college list.
While we will further discuss choosing the right school for you later, for now, think about your goals. What nursing program best supports your aspirations? Do you want to do more research or patient-facing work? Do you want an ADN or RN diploma, or is a BSN more in line with your future career?
Nursing school requirements
For BSN programs, the general nursing school requirements are similar to those for any undergraduate program. Namely, a record of extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, supplemental essays, and a transcript. For particular requirements, check the page for schools you’re interested in.
Nursing school requirements for Emory admissions, one of the best nursing schools, are as follows:
- Application for admission
- $50 application fee
- Official transcript w/ GPA or completion of general education requirements
- Updated resume
- Additional prerequisite course requirements
For MSN programs, most nursing school requirements include a transcript, resume, personal statement, and various other documents. In addition, most MSN programs are post-licensure, meaning applicants must have an RN license. Since RN licenses aren’t always multi-state, make sure you check your RN license when applying to MSN programs. Furthermore, some universities require or recommend a certain GPA. For instance, Vanderbilt admissions strongly encourages at least a 3.0 GPA.
Pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing
Many students will look to continue their education by pursuing a Master of Science in nursing. Earning a Master of Science in nursing can also increase overall earning potential, making it a great choice after completing a BSN. Many of the best colleges for nursing offer MSN programs in addition to BSN programs.
For students with an undergraduate degree in a non-nursing field, some schools offer direct-entry Master of Science in nursing programs. These programs allow students to pursue both a BSN and MSN at the same time. Some of the best nursing schools offer direct-entry MSN programs, including UCLA, and The University of Texas at Austin. Another popular option is pursuing an MSN after getting an accelerated BSN, which many top nursing schools offer.
With an MSN, one can specialize in fields like clinical nursing, midwifery, and anesthesiology. On top of entering exactly the field you want to explore, an MSN can boost your salary and employment opportunities. When planning for your future career, consider your aspirations and whether an MSN fits into your vision.
What are good colleges for nursing?
As one of the most in-demand college majors, nursing programs can be found in many different colleges. From two-year community colleges to Ivy League universities, BSN nursing programs are a common feature of many undergraduate colleges. Above, we covered the 20 best colleges for nursing at the undergraduate level. If you’re planning for college, that may have been sufficient for your college search.
However, what about further degrees? If you’re planning for life beyond college graduation, you may already be thinking about MSN programs. Given the different criteria and nursing school requirements at that level, researching the best nursing schools may yield different results. To help you, we’ll explore some of the top nursing schools at the graduate level.
What are the top 10 nursing schools in the US?
If you’re interested in a Master of Science in Nursing, these schools are the top nursing schools in the United States. As the best nursing schools, these schools have rather competitive admissions, even more so for graduate programs. We’ve included information on the admissions process for each school, to help you build your list of nursing schools. You can read more about how nursing programs are ranked here.
Here are the best colleges for nursing graduate programs, according to U.S News:
Top 10 US Nursing Schools
Located in Atlanta, Emory is one of the best colleges for nursing in the United States. In addition to being one of the top nursing schools, Emory is considered the best college in Georgia. Through the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, students can pursue BSN, MSN, and doctorate programs. With an acceptance rate of 13%, Emory admissions is extremely competitive. According to the Emory admissions office, students interested in the MSN program apply directly to the School of Nursing. In addition to traditional degree programs, Emory also offers accelerated programs, flexible course options, and dual degrees.
Johns Hopkins University
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University is considered one of the best colleges for science in the United States. With its connection to one of the most highly ranked hospitals nationwide, Johns Hopkins is among the best colleges for nursing and medicine overall. Johns Hopkins offers MSN programs, a doctoral nursing Program, and post-degree certificates for students to pursue. Many of the most popular Johns Hopkins majors are related to the hard sciences. The Johns Hopkins majors include specializations in aging & dementia care, public health, and many more. With so many Johns Hopkins majors, students have plenty of options to pursue.
University of Pennsylvania
According to U.S. News, UPenn has the #1 undergraduate nursing program in the United States. UPenn is also the best college in Pennsylvania and is currently ranked #7 in National Universities per U.S. News. According to the UPenn admissions office, the Penn Nursing program offers a BSN program, accelerated programs, MSN programs, and doctoral programs. As one of the best nursing schools, UPenn offers plenty of hands-on experience and well-connected faculty and staff. If you’re looking for one of the top nursing schools, UPenn is widely considered the best. Additionally, since it offers part- and full-time options, UPenn MSN programs have several application deadlines and completion timelines.
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is one of the best colleges for nursing. With Duke ranking #10 in National Universities, the Duke University School of Nursing offers one of the best BSN programs in the country. The Duke University School of Nursing also offers MSN programs specializing in neonatal care, women’s health, and pediatric primary care. Furthermore, Duke graduate students can instead focus on healthcare systems, like health informatics. With Duke ranking #4 for MSN programs and #3 for BSN programs, it’s no wonder that Duke is considered one of the top nursing schools.
University of Washington
With a focus on doctorate programs, the University of Washington School of Nursing leads top nursing schools in the region. According to the University of Washington admissions office, the UW School of Nursing was one of the first nursing schools on the West Coast. UW’s programs have degree candidates complete coursework in conjunction with clinical training. The University of Washington admissions website details the various graduate certificates and specializations, including Nurse-Midwifery and Palliative Care. With such unique degree programs, the University of Washington is one of the best colleges for nursing.
Located in upper Manhattan, Columbia University is one of the top nursing schools in the United States. According to the Columbia University admissions website, there are both degree and non-degree programs, the latter offering prerequisites for nursing programs. Clearly, this offers an excellent option for those without a BSN degree. With an overall acceptance rate of 6%, the Columbia University admissions process can be rigorous. For instance, the average undergraduate GPA for nursing students is 3.5. Columbia University admissions also prides itself on the many different research opportunities that make it one of the best nursing schools.
Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University is one of the oldest colleges in the southern United States, according to the Vanderbilt admissions office. The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing focuses on MSN and doctoral programs and is one of America’s best nursing schools. Vanderbilt’s nursing programs currently rank #6 in the nation, and #1 for pediatric primary care. As a matter of fact, Vanderbilt is one of the top nursing schools for specialized graduate programs. The Vanderbilt admissions office offers many virtual and in-person events for prospective students to learn more about the nursing programs. You can also check the specific Vanderbilt nursing school requirements on the Vanderbilt admissions website.
Ohio State University
If you’re looking for colleges in Ohio for nursing, Ohio State offers many top-ranked programs. As Ohio’s flagship university, Ohio State offers BSN, MSN, and doctoral nursing programs. According to the Ohio State admissions office, students can pursue several graduate and undergraduate certificates as well. With an acceptance rate of 57%, Ohio State is not only one of the best nursing schools but also quite accessible. For students looking for colleges in Ohio for nursing, Ohio State’s nursing program is currently ranked #8 for MSN programs. The Ohio State admissions office offers helpful guidance on deadlines and prerequisite requirements for each graduate program. As one of the best colleges in Ohio for nursing, Ohio State offers an accessible option.
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
As one of the best public colleges in the United States, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor offers excellent BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs. With the University of Michigan ranking #3 among public schools, it’s no wonder that it’s among the top schools for nursing. The University of Michigan has dozens of program options. The University of Michigan ranking reflects the high caliber education provided. According to U.S. News, U Michigan’s MSN program ranks #8 in the nation, and the doctoral program ranks #6. Indeed, the University of Michigan ranking makes it one of the best schools for nursing. Accordingly, University of Michigan admissions are very competitive, so confirm all requirements before applying.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The last school on our list of best nursing schools is the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently ranked #10 for its MSN programs, the UAB School of Nursing offers BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs. With an overall acceptance rate of 85% and low costs of attendance, the University of Alabama Birmingham is one of the best nursing schools. With four MSN pathways, and its research-intensive Ph.D. program, it’s no wonder that UAB is one of the best colleges for nursing!
What is the #1 nursing school in the US?
As stated before, according to U.S. News, the University of Pennsylvania has the best BSN program in the country. In addition to having one of the best undergraduate nursing schools, UPenn is also a highly prestigious Ivy League university. For many students, UPenn is their dream school, and the competitive admissions process reflects this.
As for MSN programs, Emory University is #1. Emory is also one of the best colleges for nursing for a BSN and offers accelerated MSN pathways as well. In addition to several MSN and other graduate certificate programs, Emory also offers dual-degree programs with its Rollins School of Public Health.
Both of these schools are considered top nursing schools and are highly competitive programs to get into. In order to get into the best colleges for nursing, it’s important to focus on your high school education and pay attention to the specific nursing school requirements. And for MSN programs, demonstrated academic performance and RN licensure are a must.
What is the hardest nursing school to get into?
Per U.S. News, the UPenn acceptance rate is currently 5.9%, making UPenn admissions extremely competitive. As one of the most highly-ranked and best nursing schools, its admissions process is—unsurprisingly—extremely rigorous. For reference, this acceptance rate is one of the lowest around, and UPenn receives over 50,000 applications annually.
While some schools have a separate application process for their nursing programs, UPenn admissions processes all applications together. As one of the best colleges for nursing, UPenn is difficult for anyone to get into, so a polished application is crucial. For help with applying to UPenn, you can read our guide on How to Get Into UPenn.
What is the easiest nursing school to get into?
One of the many benefits of pursuing a nursing major in college is the flexible education pathways available. While many of the best nursing schools have highly competitive admissions processes, many other BSN nursing programs have far less strict admissions criteria. These can be a great option for students without a spotless high school academic record.
Two of the easiest BSN nursing programs to get into can be found at Rasmussen University and Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Both of these schools offer BSN, MSN, and doctoral nursing programs. While these schools have higher acceptance rates, it’s important to review the nursing school requirements to ensure you meet admissions standards.
As one of the more strenuous college majors, some students elect to start through an ADN program. Many community colleges and two-year schools offer ASN programs, often with flexible entry requirements. It’s also a great way to save money. Many graduates from ADN programs later study at some of the top nursing schools in a BSN or MSN program.
More nursing schools to consider
In addition to the top nursing schools, there are many other highly-ranked and excellent programs to consider. We’ve highlighted a few here, and you can also find many other programs on NursingEducation’s list of nursing schools. Also, Nurse.org has another list of nursing schools, using their own ranking system to determine the best colleges for nursing. Lastly, the Nursing Schools Almanac ranks 100 of the best nursing schools in the United States. You can also, of course, search “nursing schools near me” to learn more about the programs in your area. These resources can be a great place to start your research into the best colleges for nursing.
Here are some more top nursing schools for you to consider:
More Top Nursing Schools
University of California – Davis
The best nursing schools in California aren’t limited to UCLA: fellow state school UC Davis offers a wide range of MSN and doctoral programs. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis is definitely one of best nursing schools in California. With hands-on training that pushes degree candidates to think critically about patient care, UC Davis nursing programs prepare future healthcare professionals.
University of Texas at Austin
Located in one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas, UT Austin is one of the top nursing schools in Texas. Its School of Nursing offers both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. UT Austin’s status as one of the top nursing schools in Texas is rooted in a combination of research, innovation, and clinical experience. If you’re looking for the top nursing schools in Texas, be sure to explore UT Austin’s programs.
University of California – Los Angeles
Another one of the best nursing schools in California is the UCLA School of Nursing, whose BSN programs we covered earlier. UCLA also offers several graduate programs, including a pre-licensure entry program for those without nursing experience. In other words, if you didn’t get an undergraduate degree in nursing, UCLA can help you prepare for the NCLEX. From there, you may continue on to UCLA’s certificate or doctorate programs. With so many options, UCLA stands out as one of the best nursing schools in California.
With its unique co-op program, Northeastern University’s nursing program is one of the best nursing schools for hands-on working experience. Located in Boston, Northeastern gives students access to a major healthcare hub and clinical opportunities. With other healthcare college majors available to explore, Northeastern is one of the best colleges for nursing.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Graduate options at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill include full- and part-time MSN and doctoral programs. As one of the best nursing schools in the southeast, UNC admissions prides itself on a diverse, quality education. Moreover, UNC admissions praises their flexible options that enable those from a wide array of backgrounds and situations to study nursing.
Best SUNY Schools for Nursing
The State University of New York system is one of the largest public university systems in the nation. Nursing is popular at many of its 64 campuses, and we wanted to highlight the best SUNY schools for nursing. SUNY schools offer over 70 different nursing programs, awarding associate’s to doctoral degrees. Here are some of the best SUNY Schools for nursing:
Best SUNY Nursing Schools
University of Buffalo
One of the top nursing schools within the system, UB School of Nursing offers BSN and doctoral programs. The University of Buffalo offers both traditional and accelerated BSN programs, making it one of the best colleges for nursing for students changing their major in college.
Stony Brook University (SUNY)
Located on Long Island, Stony Brook University is one of the best colleges for nursing in New York. Offering BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs, Stony Brook University is one of the best nursing schools for students looking within the SUNY system.
Binghamton University (SUNY)
As one of the largest SUNY schools, Binghamton University is one of the best nursing schools for students interested in online nursing programs. It also offers traditional BSN and MSN programs and is one of the top nursing schools within the SUNY system.
7 Reasons to Pursue Nursing
Unsure if nursing is the best college major for you? Consider these 7 reasons to pursue nursing. You can also review our guide on choosing a major for further guidance.
7 Reasons to Pursue Nursing
1. Opportunity to help people
Out of all the college majors, nursing offers one of the best opportunities to help other people. As a nurse, you’ll have a direct hand in helping people heal and feel comfortable after medical procedures.
2. Stable job market
Given the high demand for nurses and the constant need for medical care, the job market for nursing is very stable. The skills you learn as a nursing major in college provide a core foundation for many high-demand career pathways.
3. Flexible education pathways
With so many different BSN programs, a nursing career can be achieved in a number of different ways. Students can pursue a 2-year degree in nursing and start working in the field shortly after. Many top nursing schools offer flexibility for students in the form of night classes, online classes, and tangible work opportunities.
4. Interesting career pathways
Nursing offers many different career pathways, including travel nursing, nursing research, and nurse education. The flexibility of the nursing field ensures that nurses can explore different pathways and discover what they truly enjoy. Many of the top nursing schools offer specialized certificates and programs that prepare nurses for the various careers they can pursue.
5. Flexible schedules
One of the biggest perks of the nursing career is the opportunity for a flexible work schedule. Many nurses work a full 40-hour week, but nursing shifts can be taken in 8, 10, or 12 hours. This means some nurses only work three days a week. While there are pros and cons to this schedule, the flexibility in working schedules can be a major benefit.
6. Dynamic work environment
Nursing offers a high-paced and dynamic work environment that can be attractive to many different people. No two days are the same, and people who want a fast-paced workplace will find a great career in nursing.
7. High salary potential
Even with variations by state, the nursing field can offer a high salary potential. Some positions, such as nurse midwife and nurse anesthetist, have mean salary ranges in the six-figure range. Regardless of which nursing pathway you choose, a stable and high-earning career may await you.
Choosing the right nursing school for you
With so many top nursing schools, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. When comparing colleges, think through what you want to prioritize in your nursing school search. Do you want to be close to home, or do you want to move to a college town? Remember that the best colleges for nursing include clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities. Wherever you attend college, you’ll likely be in local hospitals and clinics as a nursing student.
It might be wise to start searching “nursing schools near me” for a sense of the programs in your area. Additionally, learning more about the nursing profession can help you determine the best colleges for nursing for your specific goals. Researching nursing school requirements can also help ensure you’re on the right track to pursue a nursing major in college. Looking into the best BSN programs can help guide you through the many different pathways to becoming a nurse.
Consider contacting the BSN/MSN programs on your college list to see if any virtual or in-person events are taking place. Many of the best colleges for nursing have detailed admissions websites outlining required courses, research opportunities, and faculty support. Searching for “nursing schools near me” is a great first step in your search and can help guide your decision-making.
Best Nursing Schools – Final Thoughts
With demand for nurses on the rise, nursing is becoming one of the most popular college majors. Regardless of where you pursue a nursing degree, there are many flexible pathways that build toward a rewarding career. This guide detailed the many different types of nursing programs and several of the best nursing schools across the country.
With many of the best colleges for nursing, it’s important to dedicate time and effort to your application. The top nursing schools have highly competitive admissions processes and can be difficult to get into. CollegeAdvisor is here to help you find the best nursing schools for your needs—book your free consultation today!
This article was written by senior advisors Claire Babbs and Jess Klein. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.