Best Nursing Schools, Universities and Colleges

Read about the best nursing schools, colleges and universities in the U.S., through which students train to become registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners or nurse specialists. Learn about the program options at four universities, and find a list of other postsecondary institutions that provide training for nurses.

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Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

School Information

Some of the best nursing schools in the United States can be found at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. All three universities have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their graduate nursing programs. Individual and combined degree programs can lead to a Bachelor of Science and/or Master of Science in Nursing. Each of the three schools also offers doctoral programs in nursing.

1. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD

School Highlight: John Hopkins University offers an accelerated BSN to MSN program with a clinical residency.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University ranked as the 2nd best graduate nursing school in the nation in 2015. The university also made The Princeton Review's 'Best Northeastern College' and 'Best Value College' surveys for the same year. The School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty track; a combined BSN/MSN is also available. Students may also pursue an accelerated BSN, after which they can participate in a paid residency in a nursing clinic while enrolled in a part-time MSN program.

Joint degree programs allow students to combine their nursing program with an additional course of study in one of 13 areas. These include adult primary or family care, public or women's health, business or a clinical specialty. Combined programs may lead to a nursing degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Health (MPH). Advanced programs culminate in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing.

2. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

School Highlight: The Student Mentorship Program with nursing professionals is one of the features at the University of Pennsylvania's school of nursing.

The University of Pennsylvania is a private research institution that ranked as the best nursing school in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Nursing offers a number of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, including a BSN and BSN/MSN; a second-degree program leading to a BSN is also available. Among the school's 18 different master's degree programs are studies in family, mental or women's health; gerontology; pediatrics and nurse mid-wifery. Additional programs include a Ph.D. in Nursing and post-doctoral studies.

3. University of Washington in Seattle, WA

School Highlight: U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington's school of nursing as one of the top 5 in the nation for 2015.

The School of Nursing is composed of three departments, including Behavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Family and Child Nursing and Psychosocial and Community Health. Students in the School of Nursing can pursue a BSN, MSN, DNP, Master of Nursing or Ph.D. in Nursing Science. The BSN program is designed for students looking to become registered nurses (RNs), while the graduate programs focus on nursing research and theoretical applications.

Graduate certificates are offered for adult nurse practitioners and midwives, as well in adult psychiatric patient care, leadership and nursing education. Nursing students can also earn a graduate certificate in environmental or infant mental health, infectious diseases and control or alternative medicine.

Top Nursing Schools

School Name Distinction Location
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor North Campus Research Complex Ann Arbor, MI
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill MSN program for RNs Chapel Hill, NC
University of Pittsburgh Center for Innovation in Clinical Learning (CICL) Pittsburgh, PA
Duke University Duke Translational Nursing Institute Durham, NC
Yale University First educational nursing program in a university New Haven, CT
University of California - San Francisco Ranked third in both primary care and research for U.S News & World Report's 2015 listing of best medical schools San Francisco, CA
Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing Virtual Campus Portland, OR
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