Are you seeking one-on-one college counseling and/or essay support? Limited spots are now available. Click here to learn more.

Best Colleges for Nursing

Nursing remains one of the most popular college majors in the United States and there are more than a few reasons why. Obtaining a nursing degree puts graduates in position to enjoy one of the highest starting salaries of any discipline and there is no shortage of jobs as the healthcare sector continues its rapid growth. College Transitions’ list of the Best Colleges for Nursing is made up of programs that do an exceptional job preparing hospital-ready graduates through a variety of hands-on experiences in healthcare facilities. Institutions that made the cut also boast high pass rates on the NCLEX Licensing Examination. Whether your interest lies in pediatrics, hospice, or general nursing, these best nursing schools will prepare you exceptionally well.

Click the links below for more information about each college’s program. Click here to read our methodology. Now, let’s dive in and examine the best nursing schools in the United States.

39 Best Colleges for Nursing

1) Emory University  

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 364
  • Students at Oxford or Emory complete prerequisite coursework in their first two years of study and then pursue a BSN their last two years.
  • 97% of grads are employed within 3 months of graduation with an average starting salary of $53,000.

2) University of Pennsylvania

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 189
  • Faculty includes some of the world’s top researchers in the field.
  • Had a 100% pass rate for first-time test takers on the AMCB certification exam.

3) Duke University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 133
  • This is an accelerated BSN program for students that have already completed a bachelor’s degree.
  • Opportunities for research in the areas of: Health Innovation, Population Health, Precision Health, and Data Science.

4) Villanova University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 253
  • Assisting with faculty research can be accessed even as a freshman.
  • Offers a traditional BSN degree over 4-years and a second-degree accelerated program with 14-month and 23-month options.

5) Drexel University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 485
  • First-time pass rates on the NCLEX-RN are 96%-100%.
  • There are 4-year and 5-year Co-op Programs. The 4-year program includes one Co-op; the 5-year includes three Co-ops.

6) Pennsylvania State University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 597
  • The 4-year B.S.N. is offered at multiple PSU campuses: University Park (includes Hershey Medical Center campus), Altoona, Behrend (Erie), Fayette, Mont Alto, Schuylkill, and Scranton.
  • Accepted freshmen in this program are typically in the upper-end a 3.55-3.97 GPA range and a 1250-1430 SAT range.

7) Fairfield University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 183
  • Students complete clinical hours at one of 20 partner hospitals.
  • Large highly-qualified nursing faculty.

8) University of Miami

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 262
  • NCLEX First Time Pass Rate: 97.4%
  • NIH Funding to Nursing Schools #22, $3.3 Million

9) University of Michigan

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 143
  • Students benefit from a network of 13,000 nursing alumni around the world.
  • More than 1,000 hours of hands-on clinical experience and courses are part of the program.

10) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 187
  • UNC offers a traditional 4-year BSN degree as well as an accelerated 4-semester program for those already possessing a bachelor’s degree.
  • The Hillman Scholars program trains future nurse researchers.

11) University of Wisconsin – Madison

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 276
  • The BSN program has a 45% admission rate.
  • The program requires 720 clinical hours.

12) Rutgers University – New Brunswick

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 356
  • First-time NCLEX test takers from the School of Nursing achieved a 97% pass rate.
  • A number of student organizations exist on campus.

13) University of Pittsburgh

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 271
  • Pitt students participate in more than 1,200 hours of increasingly complex clinical experiences at one of the dozens of care facilities in the area.
  • An abundance of undergraduate research opportunities are available.

14) Case Western Reserve University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 58
  • The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing just celebrated its 100th
  • CWRU undergrads complete 1,300+ Clinical Hours.

15) University of Washington – Seattle

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 119
  • 40 faculty members have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Nursing.
  • 1,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience under the guidance of licensed care providers. These experiences take place at one of our 700+ respected community partnership sites

16) University of Florida

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 213
  • The average GPA for BSN graduates is between 3.5 and 3.6.
  • Graduates consistently exceed state and national pass rates on the NCLEX_RN licensure exam.

17) University of California, Los Angeles

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 44
  • #24 in NIH Research Funding Among Schools of Nursing.
  • UCLA undergrads learn from 97 faculty members.

18) Baylor University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 281
  • 150 professional nursing practice sites throughout Dallas communities.
  • There are three BSN tracks at Baylor.

19) Ohio State University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 294
  • Opportunities are offered for nursing students to participate in undergraduate research.
  • A new curriculum will begin for students entering the program in August 2023.

20) Georgetown University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 26
  • 850-plus total clinical hours in a variety of clinical settings.
  • High first-time pass rates on NCLEX-RN exam, typically 96-100%

21) Northeastern University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 121
  • Many nursing specializations are offered at the advanced level for registered nurses who wish to combine a BSN with the MS, PhD, or DNP degree.
  • Through the Honors Program, undergraduate students interested in research can work directly with a faculty member.

22) The University of Texas at Austin

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 133
  • Prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.
  • Admission into the BSN program is highly competitive.

23) Boston College

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 19
  • 96% of undergraduate students who passed the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt.
  • BC has connections with more than 85 clinical partners in the Boston area.

24) Purdue University – West Lafayette

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 166
  • Students encounter real-life situations in the Nursing Center for Education and Simulation.
  • Undergrads gain clinical experience at one of the more than 200 agencies with which the School of Nursing has arrangements.

25) Texas Christian University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 186
  • The traditional track is designed to prepare students for professional nursing practice in a 29-month program. The accelerated track is designed to prepare students for professional nursing practice in a 19-month program that provides the same courses and clinical hours as the traditional track.
  • An Honors program allows nursing students the chance to complete a scholarly project with a faculty member.

26) New York University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 49
  • The NCLEX pass rate is 99%–compared with a national and state-wide pass rate of 92%.
  • Clinical education settings that include the most prestigious medical centers in the world.

27) University of Delaware

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 195
  • One of the best colleges for nursing, U of D boasts a large and impressive faculty.
  • Offers three tracks: a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, and an RN to BSN program.

28) Marquette University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 145
  • As freshmen, students are admitted directly into the College of Nursing.
  • 6% was the combined NCLEX pass rate for 2020 B.S.N. and Direct Entry MSN graduates.

29) Stony Brook University (SUNY)

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 224
  • Must earn a minimum GPA of 2.8 in prerequisite coursework for consideration.
  • Students begin the nursing major after completing two years of pre-admission, general education coursework, either at Stony Brook University or another accredited institution.

30) Binghamton University (SUNY)

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 174.
  • Students complete hundreds of hours of off-site clinical rotations in acute-care and community settings.
  • The Innovative Simulation and Practice Center at Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers endless opportunities for hands-on instruction.

31) University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 185
  • 100+ clinical agency partnerships, including Baystate Health and UMass Medical Center.
  • Undergraduate students use current technology in our state-of-the-art simulation lab.

32) Gonzaga University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 77
  • “All nurse practitioner faculty still actively work in healthcare and provide students access to current healthcare policy issues, evolving trends, and real-world challenges facing the industry.”
  • Gonzaga is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

33) University of Iowa

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 214
  • 978% NCLEX pass rate.
  • Iowa boasts a 98% job placement rate for nursing grads.

34) James Madison University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 252
  • One of the best colleges for nursing, JMU has multiple labs that provide hands-on experience.
  • Classes of 113 students in each cohort and a low (<1:10) faculty to student ratio

35) St. Olaf College

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 22
  • Olaf’s program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and is approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.
  • The curriculum meets educational requirements for professional licensure or certification in all states.

36) University of South Carolina

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 239
  • Grads have top 1% NCLEX pass rates.
  • Also has the number 1 ranked online nursing program in the country.

37) Clemson University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 27
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
  • Clemson earned the National League for Nursing’s recognition as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education.

38) George Mason University

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 167
  • There are two undergraduate degree options. Traditional BSN Program: a two-year curriculum following the completion of general education, elective, and nursing prerequisite requirements. Accelerated Second Degree BSN Program: a 12-month, full-time program for students holding a baccalaureate degree outside of nursing and have completed nursing prerequisite requirements.
  • Access to a variety of clinical settings throughout the National Capitol area.

39) The College of New Jersey

  • Number of degrees awarded per year: 91
  • 100% of TCNJ Nursing graduates have been employed within 6 months of completing the program over the past years.
  • Students have access to the Simulation Center.

Best Colleges for Nursing – Additional Resources

We hope you have found our list of the Best Colleges for Nursing to be helpful. Students interested in nursing may also wish to explore related top colleges lists such as:

Colleges Worth Your Money

2024 Edition

A Guide to What America's Top Schools Can Do for You


Buy on Amazon Now
College Transitions Dataverse Book Image