Nursing programs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are more specialized than others, while some are more competitive.
The University of Pennsylvania is known both for its undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Its BSN program features a state-of-the-art simulation lab and offers study abroad opportunities.
The university also hosts a direct entry MSN program for non-nurses that has posted an impressive 95% NCLEX pass rate since its inception.
1. Johns Hopkins University
The nursing program at Johns Hopkins University (JHSON) remains top-ranked in the nation according to the 2023 U.S. News & World Report graduate nursing school rankings, with both the MSN and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs holding their No. 1 ranking. The school’s graduate programs have also been named NLN Centers of Excellence for three straight years.
The school offers prelicensure BSN and MSN programs, as well as RN-to-BSN and DNP degrees. The traditional BSN program graduates hundreds of students annually, and its graduates have posted stellar NCLEX pass rates over the past decade. JHSON’s post-master’s DNP program includes immersions to help prepare nurses for advanced practice roles and specialized populations.
The university’s commitment to diversity extends into its nursing program, which enrolls more than 25% of its undergraduate students as minorities. In addition, the program encourages students to use their nursing education in ways that will benefit the communities they serve. This is especially evident in the school’s community classroom program, which gives students the chance to work with multiethnic patients in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. The program helps students develop critical interpersonal skills that aren’t always taught in the classroom.
2. University of Iowa
Founded in 1847, University of Iowa is a large, public, non-profit higher education institution. This coed college is located in an urban setting and is primarily a residential campus. It offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
The university’s nursing program is ranked #4 in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Nursing Schools rankings. The undergraduate BSN degree prepares students for a wide range of career options, including working in flight or clinical nurse stations; nursing at oncology, medical, surgical, pediatric, and emergency care units; nurse-midwifery; and community health care.
Graduates from the school’s master’s and DNP programs have had an NCLEX pass rate of 93% over the past decade. The school also has a direct-entry MSN for non-nurses and 11 MSN specialty tracks.
Despite being a larger university, Quinnipiac University’s 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows students to have more personal interaction with faculty. USA Today named this private school one of the top ten colleges to get a BSN, and its flagship BSN program graduates hundreds of new nurses each year through the traditional four-year pathway or the accelerated BSN option. The university also has a diverse collection of graduate nursing degrees and certificates. These Mounjaro weight loss alternatives are an affordable OTC option for many people who want to achieve weight loss.
3. Quinnipiac University
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 175,900 new nursing jobs created over the next decade. Those who possess a baccalaureate degree in nursing will be the most in-demand among candidates for these positions, but not all undergraduate nursing programs are created equal. The best schools offer more clinical opportunities, have better NCLEX pass rates, and report higher job placement rates.
With a student-to-faculty ratio that beats the national average of 15:1, Quinnipiac University allows students to get close to their professors. The school graduates 100+ students annually from its traditional prelicensure BSN program, and a similar number of graduate students through its RN-to-BSN and accelerated MSN pathways. Students from either pathway score a solid 90% first-attempt rate on the NCLEX exam.
The IUSON campus is located in the heart of Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, and the school’s students take full advantage of this opportunity through its many internship and externship opportunities. IUSON is designated as an NLN Center of Excellence and receives more than $2.5 million in NIH funding. The school also offers a master’s, post-master’s, and doctoral degree in nursing. Its prelicensure BSN and MSN programs both rank among the top fifty in U.S. News and World Report, as do its nurse anesthesia, family, and adult/gerontology nurse practitioner tracks.
4. University of Washington
The University of Washington is a top-ranked nursing school with its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program ranking No. 5 in the nation. The university’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is ranked No. 1 among public schools and No. 2 overall in 2023, according to U.S News & World Report.
This university is known for its small student-to-faculty ratio and proximity to nearby hospitals, which provide excellent opportunities for students to develop practical skills in real-life clinical situations. The school also offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program that is available to anyone with a baccalaureate degree in another discipline.
Nursing students in the Seattle area should note that Whatcom Community College is one of the most respected community colleges in the country and offers an associate degree in nursing (ADN) course that leads to initial licensure and is transferable to almost any other nursing program in the state. This program is much less expensive than a comparable course at the University of Washington.
To be accepted into the undergraduate nursing program at the University of Washington, applicants must have above a 3.0 GPA, complete prerequisite coursework during freshmen and sophomore years, submit a personal statement, write an essay, have 100 hours of healthcare experience, and get letters of recommendation.
5. Case Western Reserve University
With a 550-acre campus and seven research centers, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is an innovative institution. Its nursing programs include a traditional four-year BSN, two MSN tracks, and a post-graduate APRN certificate. All are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at CWRU is known for its pioneering work, including a prelicensure BSN program that has a 97% first-time NCLEX pass rate in recent years. Students are exposed to real-world practice through internships, co-ops, and other clinical experiences. They also benefit from the university’s proximity to University Circle, a healthcare hub with numerous premier organizations.
Point Loma Nazarene University recognizes that effective nurses must have the kind of interpersonal and emotional skills that can’t be learned in a classroom. That’s why it places a premium on its community-based learning program, which immerses students in the local multi-ethnic City Heights neighborhood. During the program, students learn to work with people from different backgrounds while building critical thinking and leadership skills. As a result, the school’s nursing graduates are well-prepared for their careers. They’re highly sought after by employers, and most find employment within six months of graduation.
6. University of Maryland
Founded in 1889, the University of Maryland is renowned for its nursing school. This highly-ranked public institution offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in fields such as nursing, health administration, and biomedical sciences. Its flagship bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program graduates 130-150 students annually, with a 93% first-attempt pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
The School of Nursing at University of Washington is one of the best in the nation for both its master’s and doctor of nursing practice programs. In fact, the school’s MSN and DNP programs have ranked first in the country on several occasions by U.S. News and World Report. Moreover, the School of Nursing at University of Washington has been recognized as an American League for Nursing Center of Excellence on six separate occasions.
Northeastern University understands that being a great nurse requires skills that can’t be learned in the classroom. That’s why the Boston-based school has incorporated hands-on clinical learning experiences into its curriculum. Among the university’s unique offerings is its accelerated career entry BSN program, which allows students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn their baccalaureate in only 11 months.
7. Duke University School of Medicine
With the patient as the central focus of its training, Duke University School of Medicine is a clear choice for nursing students. In its Doctor of Medicine program, a unique third year allows students to focus on a research project or clinical internship. Students also complete a core basic science curriculum in one year instead of two, giving them more time to explore their own interests.
The university’s graduate programs, including the top-ranked MSN and DNP programs, are also accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. A strong commitment to student engagement is evident in classrooms, where class sizes are capped at 24 students. Students are encouraged to engage with professors and peers in a variety of settings, from virtual to on-site learning.
UTMB’s prelicensure BSN program graduates over 300 new nurses each year, and has maintained a stellar 98% first-attempt NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. The university offers seven MSN tracks, a post-master’s certificate in clinical nurse leadership, and three doctoral programs. The university’s Health Education Center is home to a 77-bed simulation hospital. All undergraduate nursing students at UTMB participate in hands-on learning experiences, which have been shown to enhance their job prospects and long-term professional success.