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Best RN Programs

Apr 29, 2021

What is a Registered Nurse (RN)?

A registered nurse or RN has met the qualifications to become an RN, which typically includes a combination of education and experience to gain licensure. These nurses are then qualified to provide a wide range of patient care, depending on their education and/or specialty training. They typically work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals and may perform duties like administering medication, running diagnostic tests, recording medical information and observations, and educating patients. RNs can work in diverse settings, including hospitals, physicians' offices, schools, the government, and more.

Best RN Programs

In order to discern the 50 best RN (registered nurse) programs, Study.com has diligently searched through data provided by the Department of Education, in categories such as tuition cost and graduation rates. Hundreds of schools were considered in this study, using the unique features of each school, along with their accessibility and affordability as key factors for ranking. Other considerations used to round out the determination of these rankings include Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and/or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accreditation, NCLEX pass rate, student services and student life, as well as the variety of BSN program formats and the unique training options used to prepare students to become RNs. Many of these schools offer programs for new nurses as well as accelerated options for those who have another bachelor's degree or other nursing training or licensure. This list is the result of much research and careful weighing to complete the best RN programs in the country. If you are determining which school is best for you to study nursing, this list is for you.

1. Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22062 74% 74% 88% No Yes AP Credits

Hailing from Columbus and Lancaster, Ohio, Mount Carmel College of Nursing is home to one of the largest private baccalaureate nursing (BSN) programs in the state. Their program boasts a 93.03% NCLEX-RN pass rate in 2019, and as many as 90% of their students use financial aid to help them achieve their degree. Mount Carmel College of Nursing offers an astounding five options that lead to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree: a traditional four-year program, an advanced placement program for those with some nursing classes, a second degree accelerated program for those with a bachelor's in another areas, a hybrid second degree accelerated program, and an online RN-BSN completion program.

2. Baptist Health Sciences University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12332 60% 56% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

Baptist Health Sciences University, is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and is another great option for future RNs. As proof, the school reports that in 2019, they had a 92% NCLEX-RN pass rate on first attempts and that 97% of nursing graduates were employed within 12 months of graduation! Baptist Health Sciences University offers their BSN students one-on-one instruction as well as rich clinical experiences and mentoring. Their BSN program includes a traditional 4-year path as well as an RN-BSN bridge pathway and prepares students to work in multiple areas or nursing, including pediatric nursing, critical care nursing, and maternal newborn nursing.

3. Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15757 97% 69% 100% No Yes AP Credits

Nebraska Methodist College, in Omaha, Nebraska, offers RN students four routes to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree: traditional, accelerated, LPN-BSN, and RN-BSN. NMC is proud of its Nursing Arts Center, which provides students with a high-tech simulation lab to enhance their skills and confidence with practical patient care. Nursing students at NMC work closely with the faculty, given their 13:1 student to faculty ratio, without having to pay top dollar. The numbers back-up their ranking: according to the school, in 2019, 95.12% of their BSN students passed the NCLEX on their first try and 96% of BSN students were employed within six months of graduation!

4. University of Providence

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$25892 55% 38% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Beautiful Great Falls, Montana, is home to the University of Providence and its RN programs. UP has their BSN students' progress through the program in a cohort-based model, which means the same group of students will be together learning throughout the curriculum. They offer two-year and four-year BSN options based on previous learning and experience, as well as offer flexible learning styles for both in-person and online learning. RN students can choose to complete their clinical training in Montana or Alaska.

5. Mississippi University for Women

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7525 97% 40% 97% No Yes AP Credits

Mississippi University for Women's College of Nursing and Health Sciences, in Columbus, MS, offers fantastic RN programs designed to prepare and train nurse generalists. There are two tracks for students to achieve a BSN here: a traditional four-year degree plan and an advanced placement option for registered nurses interested in completing a BSN. Their RN to BSN program uniquely offers a total distance option or a partial distance option to fit the needs of students. This university offers several unique, hands-on options for clinical training and practice for their students through their nursing skills and simulation labs.

6. Clarkson College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13968 46% 38% 78% Yes Yes AP Credits

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is one of Clarkson College's - which is located in Omaha, Nebraska - most sought-after programs. The small class sizes and highly credible nursing staff are some of the reasons the school has a 100% overall board pass rate for the NCLEX-RN (for 2018-2019)! Hands on experience begins in the first year of Clarkson College's BSN program.

7. Dakota Wesleyan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28750 67% 54% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The next school on our list is Dakota Wesleyan University of Mitchell, South Dakota, which offers several education options for future RNs. Nursing student can choose from an on-campus BSN program offered through the Arlene Gates Department of Nursing or an LPN-BSN degree that can be completed in 28 months and is offered at their Sioux Falls campus. DWU prides itself on providing a variety of environments for their clinical training (from hospitals to community organizations) and has a low student-to-faculty ratio for its BSN programs, which results in students being able to get personal attention from their professors.

8. AdventHealth University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12840 51% 41% 91% No Yes AP Credits

Orlando, Florida, is home to the next school on our list: AdventHealth University. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in a traditional daytime program (which is also offered at their Denver campus), through their unique evening program, or through the online RN-BSN bridge program. The school has a 92.52% average NCLEX-RN pass rate for first time attempts and a 100% employment rate! Their state-of-the-art facilities include birth centers and simulation labs, and courses are led by nursing faculty with over 500 years of cumulative field experience.

9. Mercy College of Ohio

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15900 60% 53% 93% No Yes AP Credits

Mercy College of Ohio, in Toledo, provides three routes to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Future and current RNs can choose from an accelerated BSN, BSN pre-licensure program, and an online RN-BSN option. Their unique Direct EDGE program gives qualified high-school seniors an advantage to start the BSN program in the fall semester immediately following their May/June high school graduation. This top school also offers BSN students an opportunity to fast track an MSN for those interested in an advanced degree.

10. Purdue University Northwest

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7542 29% 38% 82% Yes Yes AP Credits

Purdue University Northwest has two campuses in Indiana: Hammond and Westville. PNW's College of Nursing prepares their BSN students for multiple career paths, including hospital charge nurse, nurse navigator, and community health nurse. PNW offers several nursing specific organizations for BSN students looking to get involved, such as the Undergraduate Nursing Club and the Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society. In addition to the tradition four-year BSN option, they offer an online RN-BSN program and an accelerated bachelor's program for those who already have a degree in another field.

11. Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29320 78% 63% 89% No Yes AP Credits

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in Lancaster, PA, offers students four incredible BSN programs based on their needs, including a unique accelerated three-year BSN for qualified students. Their BSN students had a 92.3% NCLEX-RN pass rate in 2019 and an astounding 100% job placement. This college conveniently offers flexible course scheduling options and state-of-the-art facilities, including the immersive Simulation Center.

12. Winston-Salem State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5941 68% 51% 97% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Winston-Salem State University is the next school on our list, as it does an excellent job preparing BSN students to enter the workforce as generalists. WSSU offers five BSN options, including a unique paramedic-to-BSN path. WSSU's Division of Nursing includes a virtual hospital and mobile unit to help future RNs get hands-on training.

13. The University of Texas at Arlington

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11040 83% 51% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of Texas at Arlington offers several BSN opportunities through their College of Nursing. Students have the choice between a campus-based program or an accelerated online program to earn their BSN. BSN students at UT Arlington, in partnership with the school's Honors College, also have the opportunity to earn an honors degree through the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, which awards honors students with many competitive benefits.

14. Holy Family University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$31040 73% 58% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

Based in Philadelphia, PA, Holy Family University offers three tracks for students to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, with options for those with no prior nursing experience as well as current RNs seeking a bachelor's degree. Their Simulation and Practice Lab recently underwent a massive $1 million renovation to provide students with an outstanding and real-world learning environment. Their clinical student to faculty ratio offers incredible value as it never exceeds 1:8.

15. Marian University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$35000 62% 63% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, offers prospective nursing students a rewarding four-year BSN option. Their expert faculty leads students to complete an invaluable 630 hours of simulation and clinical practice in their state-of-the-art facilities upon completion of the BSN program. In 2020, their NCLEX-RN pass rate was an astounding 100% for all test takers.

16. University of South Carolina-Upstate

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11558 58% 48% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The University of South Carolina-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, provides two appealing BSN options for RN students through the renowned Mary Black School of Nursing. Course options are flexible and include on-campus, online, and inter-institutional courses. This school does a phenomenal job training its BSN students in their state-of-the-art simulation center, and they have an impressive 100% employment rate within a short three months of graduation.

17. Daemen College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29430 62% 62% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Based in Amherst, New York, Daemen College offers two programs for students looking to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Their original 1+2+1 program allows students to take their first year at Daemen, earn their AAS in Nursing at an area partner community college over the next two years, and then complete their final year at Daemen. Daemen nursing students receive the incredible benefit of community college tuition in their second and third years, while receiving up to 50% tuition discount in their final year.

18. Indiana University-Kokomo

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7527 74% 38% 88% No Yes AP Credits

Indiana University-Kokomo also offers three tracks to earning a BSN - and it offers nine nursing-specific scholarships to help pay their tuition. RN students also get training that prepares them to work in a variety of specialties including surgical, intensive care, and travel nursing to name a few. BSN students work shoulder-to-shoulder with faculty and complete a capstone project in their final semester, which enables them the exciting opportunity to work alongside a working RN.

19. Tennessee Wesleyan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$25150 61% 41% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Tennessee Wesleyan University is in Athens, Tennessee, and this school offers students a highly sought-after Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the reputable Fort Sanders Nursing Department. BSN students will enjoy the brand new, state-of-the-art simulation lab and the partnership with the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, as this enhances the hands-on training experience. Upon completion of the program, each BSN student will have over 1000 hours of direct-patient care - with a minimum of 90 hours in each specialty! Phenomenally, 100% 2020 BSN graduates received job offers before graduation, and 97% passed the licensure test.

20. Mayville State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7049 70% 34% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

Mayville State University in Mayville offers hard-working RNs the opportunity to advance their career by earning Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees through MSU's online RN-to-BSN program. The full-time option can be completed within one short calendar year, while the part time option can be completed in just two years. BSN students at Mayville can further add to their resume by adding on a valuable Nursing Graduate Certificate to their BSN.

21. Immaculata University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27350 81% 67% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Immaculata University, located in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, offers three tracks to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree - and those BSN students have access to a new simulation lab to gain clinical experience. BSN students at Immaculata had an impressive 96.67% pass rate for their first attempt taking the NCLEX-RN in 2018-2019. The Division of Nursing at Immaculata has an incredible 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, as well as provides many fantastic internship opportunities for students.

22. Lewis-Clark State College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6982 100% 38% 94% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Lewiston, Idaho, is home to Lewis-Clark State College and their esteemed Nursing and Health Science Department which offers prospective nursing students four tracks to achieving a BSN. Their RN-to-BSN online track is attractive to working nurses who wish to complete their undergraduate nursing degree, and the unique CC to BSN track is perfect for students enrolled at select community colleges who wish to purse a BSN degree in conjunction with their associate degree.

23. Washington Adventist University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$24800 59% 41% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Washington Adventist University, of Takoma Park, Maryland, offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing through their Edyth T. James Department of Nursing. BSN students can take advantage of an eight-week paid, full-time externship with local medical facility partnerships offered by the school. The school also offers a myriad of generous scholarship opportunities as well as Career Fair Programs, which give BSN students essential exposure to eager-to-hire recruiters, such as from the Adventist HealthCare and Children's National Hospital.

24. D'Youville College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27880 88% 63% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The prestigious Patricia H. Garman School of Nursing at D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, has been offering nursing programs for more than 70 years! It currently offers aspiring BSN students three options to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, depending on their experience level. Hands on, clinical training begins as soon as the second year, which enables students to benefit from the strategic partnerships D'Youville has fostered with local, top-ranked hospitals.

25. Utica College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22110 87% 54% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

New York's Utica College gives BSN students the privilege of learning in a cutting-edge facility with their Dr. Albert and Gloria Shaheen Nursing Laboratory. Nursing students can choose one of three tracks to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and all tacks provide access to UC's fully equipped hospital ward featuring state-of-the-art equipment as they gain important hands-on experience. UC's BSN students are professionally trained to enter a number of important nursing fields including geriatrics, childbearing and family nursing, and critical care.

26. Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27296 67% 71% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

Indiana Wesleyan University's Marion campus in Indiana offers several BSN program options through their School of Nursing. Nursing students will learn from esteemed faculty members, many of whom hold terminal degrees (DNP, PhD). BSN students are able to participate in a unique transcultural practicum; past students have used this opportunity to work in inner-city clinics or health clinics in emerging countries.

27. Lourdes University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$23550 69% 36% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Lourdes University is found in Sylvania, Ohio, and is home to a College of Nursing which allows students to purse a Bachelor of Science in Nursing through three different tracks. Nursing students greatly benefit from a close relationship with this faculty, given their 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school has connections with 35 hospitals available for BSN students to complete their clinicals, and, impressively, 100% of the most recent College of Nursing students passed the NCLEX-RN.

28. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27820 87% 51% 95% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, in Belton, Texas, offers students the opportunity to pursue a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an RN-to-BSN through their highly-respected Scott and White School of Nursing. BSN students will enjoy learning in the spacious 20,000 square foot Clinical Simulation Learning Center, and they also have the opportunity to expand their learning experience by studying for their BSN abroad in places like Peru and Kenya.

29. Schreiner University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$30470 93% 45% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

Located in Kerrville, Texas, Schreiner University is next on the list of Best RN programs as they offer a valuable four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This school also offers working nurses a fully online RN-to-BSN program which can be completed in as little as one year. The 2019 and 2020 NCLEX-RN pass rate is a spectacular 100% among their BSN graduates.

30. Viterbo University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28650 77% 54% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Viterbo University is found in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and offers current and future RNs the ability to study a variety of health care settings in their high-tech clinical simulation learning lab. There are two Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs offered here - and all nursing students access to the helpful services of the Academic Resource Center (ARC). Viterbo boasts an amazing 100% job placement rate for their BSN students.

31. Castleton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12470 84% 55% 99% No Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Castleton, Vermont, is home to Castleton University where prospective students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) that includes hands-on learning in their state-of-the-art simulation centers. BSN students will complete about 800 hours of offsite clinical experiences through Castleton's clinical affiliates, many of whom offer tuition assistance to students who agree to work at the affiliate as an RN after graduation.

32. Carlow University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$30528 92% 57% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

Students who enroll in Carlow University's College of Health and Wellness (in Pittsburgh, PA) have four track options to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Nursing students will also enjoy the flexibility of on-campus and online class options at this school - and there is even the opportunity for BSN students to complete study broad experiences in places like Panama and Belize where they can gain critical clinical experience and classroom credit. The urban location of this program provides nursing students with multiple options to gain relevant experience at local health agencies.

33. Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27996 58% 39% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and home of the renowned OKWU School of Nursing. Here, students can earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing while benefiting from OKWU's unique clinical labs, as well as the varied clinical opportunities they offer. Mission trips are available for interested BSN students, and as evidence of their top-notch program, the school reports that 100% of the 2019 BSN class passed the NCLEX-RN!

34. Auburn University at Montgomery

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8620 90% 34% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

Alabama's Auburn University at Montgomery offers two fantastic tracks for students looking to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Their nursing students have the unique opportunity to gain essential clinical experience through ProjectSERVE at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, MD. Additionally, BSN students benefit from simulated interprofessional experience each semester at the Warhawk hospital. Impressively, 98% of traditional BSN graduates have received job offers before graduation!

35. University of Detroit Mercy

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28840 77% 67% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

Next to make our list of best RN programs is the University of Detroit Mercy which offers BSN degrees through their respected McAuley School of Nursing. There are six program options, depending on how many (if any) previous credits a student has. Detroit Mercy helps their BSN student thrive through the Academic Neighborhood, which offers weekly review sessions, NCLEX-RN practice, and open lab hours. This Michigan school has an excellent track record in - as 100% of licensed BSN students are employed upon graduation.

36. University of Saint Mary

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29880 84% 52% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Students seeking a strong RN program may want to look into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. It's Division of Nursing offers online, traditional, and accelerated program options, and transfer nursing could can apply for the school's $15,000 scholarships! USM's provides students with access to their CampusRN program, which includes a database for thousands of entry-level jobs, externships, and scholarship opportunities. USM also reports as first-time pass rate for the NCLEX-RN of 92.98%.

37. Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7695 91% 35% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

There are three Bachelor of Science in Nursing tracks offered at Weatherford, OK's, Southwestern Oklahoma State University. The top-notch teachers are available one-on-one to students because of the low student-to-faculty ratio and also serve as advisors to BSN students. SWOSU offers BSN students the chance to learn in a high-fidelity simulation lab, and qualified nursing students can be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

38. Mount Aloysius College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$23680 95% 48% 98% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

Mount Aloysius College's School of Nursing is found in Cresson, PA, and it offers four compelling tracks for those interested in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. One unique program they offer is the 2+2 option, which allows students to earn their associate degree in two years and then sit for the NCLEX. After this point, they can secure a nursing position and finish their BSN online while working. There is even a discount for working RNs! The School of Nursing also has updated state-of-the-art simulation labs for BSN students to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom.

39. University of Michigan-Flint

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11860 66% 40% 96% No Yes AP Credits

The University of Michigan-Flint offers prospective nursing students options like a Direct Admit Program, which gives qualified high school seniors the advantage of early assurance of admittance into the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. They also proudly offer veterans with prior military healthcare training, the opportunity to build on their experience and earn a BSN in just 16 months. The School of Nursing offers multiple programs that provide service learning or networking for BSN students including study abroad trips, the Pi Delta student organization, and ACTS Mentoring Program.

40. Dominican College of Blauvelt

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29844 78% 47% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

There is also an RN program offered at Dominican College of Blauvelt, in Orangeburg, New York. Their traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program gives students the ability to work closely with faculty due to their low student-to-faculty ratio. BSN students engage in weekly clinical experience and the program is designed to proficiently train students in pediatric nursing, medical and surgical nursing, and psychiatric nursing, to name a few areas. A staggering 100% of their BSN graduates gain employment close after graduation!

41. Waynesburg University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$25570 93% 66% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania offers both traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing and RN to BSN options. Their nursing program has a proud history of high NCLEX-RN test results, including a 100% pass rate from 2018 and 10 consecutive years with a rate of 96% or more. The Student Nurses' Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) and Sigma Theta Tau both have student organizations available here where BSN students can develop skills and knowledge. One extra feature of this school is its annual medical mission trips to Nassau, Bahamas.

42. University of North Carolina Wilmington

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7181 65% 72% 72% Yes Yes AP Credits

University of North Carolina Wilmington has two options for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Their School of Nursing also offers over 50 scholarships to help students pay for their degree, and there are several fantastic student organizations, honor societies, and professional nursing organizations in which BSN students can be involved. The proof of program success in the numbers - UNCW had a 94.8% NCLEX-RN pass rate in 2019!

43. SUNY College of Technology at Delhi

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8560 72% 48% 91% Yes Yes AP Credits

Students can also earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the next school to make the list of best RN programs: SUNY College of Technology at Delhi. This SUNY campus in Delhi, NY, provides a dual AAS/BSN degree option where nursing students can impressively earn both degrees in four years. Web supported classes and tutoring are available to students in the RN-to-BSN program, which is a flexible and affordable option for working RNs looking to upgrade their degree.

44. Bemidji State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8940 65% 48% 90% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

Minnesota is home to Bemidji State University which makes our list because of its stellar traditional four-year track to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and its RN-to-BSN track. The Student Nurses Association offers students opportunities to practice essential skills and connects them to useful public services. BSU nursing students also have access to summer internships and study abroad opportunities in China.

45. Jacksonville State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11120 55% 41% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

Jacksonville, Alabama, is the site of Jacksonville State University, a top school that offers prospective nursing students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Qualified students may be eligible for the Deans' Scholars Program for Early Acceptance. This guarantees admission into the Upper Division portion of their curriculum as well as unlocks the opportunity to have early access to School of Health Professions and Wellness activities. Current RNs can earn their BSN at JSU through their convenient 100% online STEP RN-BSN program.

46. University of Holy Cross

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14720 32% 40% 79% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

The University of Holy Cross, in New Orleans, LA, provides a respected Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a school that has been training nurses for more than 30 years. BSN students are encouraged to participate in clubs and organizations like the National Student Nurses' Association and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing chapters. Partnerships with multiple clinical affiliates, like the Children's Hospital New Orleans, allow BSN students to boost their learning and skill development. UHC takes job placement seriously as seen in the fact that 100% of BSN graduates receive job placement.

47. Cumberland University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$24000 61% 43% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

Lebanon, Tennessee, is the home of Cumberland University's Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing where students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Working nurses have the incredible opportunity to build their career by earning their degree 100% online in the RN-to-BSN option. The traditional BSN program has a daytime option as well as a nights and weekends track for those working during the day.

48. University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10382 68% 51% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is our next RN school as they have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Students can choose from a pre-licensure or an RN-BSN track, and both programs allow their students to use the nursing school's eight simulation labs. UL offers several clubs and organizations that promote the growth and development of their nursing students, including the UL Student Nurses' Association and Sigma Theta Tau International. Additionally, on-campus nursing students can choose be a part of the school's Living Learning Communities where they live and study with students with similar goals and interests.

49. California State University-San Marcos

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7717 62% 54% 81% Yes Yes AP Credits

The School of Nursing at California State University-San Marcos provides four tracks for students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. As evidence, an impressive 97.66% of BSN students passed the NCLEX-RN test in the 2019-2020 school year. Nursing students at this Southern California campus are able to develop vital clinical skills in the state-of-the-art simulation theatre as well as through clinicals and externships are local partner facilities.

50. University of Sioux Falls

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18910 91% 64% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

To complete our list of the best RN programs, the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota provides students the amazing opportunity to attain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in their exceptional state-of-the-art facilities. USF's nursing facilities utilizes simulation technology and extensive clinical experiences that include hands-on patient contact to give BSN students extensive real-world experiences.

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

How to Become an RN

Students wishing to become an RN must meet several different RN requirements. Students have some flexibility in RN educational requirements as they can choose from earning a nursing diploma, associate degree, or bachelor's degree. However, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in the field are much more common. No matter which degree path is chosen, students must complete supervised clinical experiences to undergo hands-on training in the field.

After earning a degree, aspiring RNs must obtain a state nursing license. All states require RNs to hold an approved nursing degree and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Prior to taking the exam, students must apply for licensure/registration with the Nursing Regulatory Body and register with a testing site to receive their Authorization to Test (ATT) form. Once students pass the exam, they must complete any additional state requirements for licensure, such as passing a background check and/or holding additional certifications in areas like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).

Some RNs may desire or be required to earn certification in a particular specialty area, like ambulatory care or pediatrics. These certifications are usually offered by nursing-related professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Association's (ANA) American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

ADN Degree Programs

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree programs are available online and on campus. These programs help prepare students for the NCLEX exam and may require around 72 credits of coursework. Students complete both didactic and clinical coursework, and most programs include general education courses that can be transferred to other institutions should students continue their studies. Depending on the program, students may need to meet certain prerequisites to enter an ADN program. Graduates with their ADN are usually prepared for entry-level nursing positions.

BSN Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs are also available in online and on-campus formats. There are also specific RN to BSN programs available for RNs who are already working as nurses, but wish to earn their bachelor's degree. BSN programs also contain didactic and clinical coursework, but typically include more general education courses than an ADN. These programs may require around 120 credits of coursework and help prepare students for the NCLEX exam. Schools that offer these programs may provide multiple formats based on a student's educational background and achievements.

Curriculum for RN Programs

While BSN programs include more courses than an ADN, either type of nursing degree program generally includes general education courses and core nursing courses that provide both classroom and hands-on clinical education. Coursework for these programs is generally science-heavy, and those in BSN programs may take both lower-division and upper-division nursing courses. Clinical experiences may take place in local clinical sites and/or in a variety of settings to give students an overview of different types of care and specialties. Some programs may conclude with a final capstone experience of some kind. Students in RN programs can expect to take courses that cover topics like:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Health assessment
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Mental health nursing
  • Leadership
  • Surgical nursing
  • Nursing in childbearing families
  • Community health nursing
  • Clinical nursing

How Long Does it Take to Finish an RN Program?

The time to complete an RN program depends on the type of program and the format of the program, which varies amongst institutions. For example, most ADN programs take 2 years to complete. However, there are some schools that may allow students to finish in as little as 18 to 20 months.

BSN programs traditionally take 4 years to complete. However, there are many ways to accelerate the time to degree completion. For example, those who are already RNs can find accelerated BSN programs that accept credit from a student's prior education and experience and may allow them to finish in as little as 15 months. Other schools may offer accelerated programs for students who have earned a bachelor's degree in a field outside of nursing and/or offer early admission programs for qualified students.

Choosing an RN Program

The first decision students need to make when choosing an RN program is whether to earn an ADN or a BSN. Usually, RNs with a BSN degree can pursue more advanced positions, such as administrative or leadership positions, and/or have more responsibilities. Once students have decided what type of degree to earn, they need to begin comparing schools and programs and see which programs they may qualify for. Students may want to consider factors like program format, time to degree completion, accreditation, program cost, and more. Format choices may include an online vs. an on-campus program and/or accelerated degree options. Students may need to find a program that allows them to finish in a certain amount of time and/or fits within their personal budget based on program cost and/or the availability of financial aid. Attending an accredited program is generally encouraged as employers tend to prefer those with an accredited degree.

RN Degree Program Admission Requirements

Admissions requirements for RN programs vary by degree level and school. Some ADN degree programs may not require students to have prerequisite coursework, while most BSN programs do. In general, students applying to a nursing program need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and usually need to meet a minimum GPA requirement, but this varies by school and/or program format. RN programs that require prerequisite coursework may require students to take courses in areas like:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • English
  • Algebra
  • Developmental psychology
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Human development

Students may need to fill out the appropriate application(s), which may include items like transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, etc. Programs also commonly require students to submit a record of immunizations and/or pass a background check to be cleared for clinical work. Some students may need to complete an interview process to be admitted to the program.

Accreditation for Nursing Schools

Many schools that offer RN programs are regionally accredited by organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation enables students to accept financial aid and helps ensure that degree programs offered at the institution have met general academic standards.

Many nursing programs have an additional level of accreditation that is specific to the field. At the associate level, students may attend a program that is accredited by organizations like the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) or has approval from state boards of nursing, such as the Colorado State Board of Nursing (CBON). At the bachelor's level, the main organization that offers accreditation is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These nursing-specific accreditations demonstrate that programs have met academic standards that are specific to the field and help ensure that graduates are prepared to work as nurses.

Financial Aid & Scholarships for RN Programs

There are many opportunities for aspiring RNs to find additional funding to help pay for their schooling. Students should always start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and accepting any appropriate federal loans and/or grants they may qualify for. Scholarships may be available from a wide range of sources, including schools, outside organizations, and nursing-related organizations. Scholarships may be preferable since they do not have to be repaid, and generally vary in amounts, but may be renewable for multiple terms. A couple of examples of scholarships available specifically to nursing students include:

  • Hurst Review/AACN Nursing Scholarship- Offered in partnership between the AACN and Hurst Review Services, this scholarship is available to students in entry-level nursing programs (undergraduate level) at AACN member institutions who have a GPA of a 3.2 or higher. The scholarship awards students $2,500.
  • The Greater Louisville Medical Society Alliance Career Grants- These grants may total up to $2,500 for students at the University of Louisville in an undergraduate nursing program. Students must reapply yearly.

Certification & Continuing Education for RN's

It is important for RNs to stay updated on the most current technologies and techniques in their field. This usually takes place through continuing education credits that may be required for students to maintain their certifications in different specialty areas.

Certifications are available in a wide range of areas, including nursing case management, informatics nursing, pain management nursing, cardiac vascular nursing, and more. Although requirements vary by specific certification, students generally need to meet the education and/or experience requirements to qualify to take the certification exam. Once students have passed, they typically need to renew their certifications. Renewal may need to occur at different intervals, depending on the certification, but many ANCC certifications have to be renewed every 5 years. The renewal process may require students to complete various continuing education requirements, such as publishing research, taking academic courses, presenting or lecturing, and/or completing practice hours.

What Can You Do with an RN?

Most graduates with an ADN or BSN degree go on to take the NCLEX and work as an RN in an array of settings. There are many different types of nursing positions and each position may have different job duties and/or education requirements. For example, the duties and requirements for an RN case manager are different than the duties and requirements for a NICU RN. Typically, more advanced positions may require additional certifications and/or a BSN in place of an ADN. Some job titles that graduates of an RN program may take on include:

  • Nurse manager
  • Nursing director
  • Geriatric nurse
  • Informatics nurse
  • Critical care nurse
  • Rehabilitation nurse
  • Addiction nurse
  • Public health nurse

How Much Can You Earn with an RN?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of RNs, as of 2019, was $77,460. However, this salary can vary greatly based on factors like location, industry, employer, and specific position. For instance, the highest paying industry for RNs, as of 2019, was business support services where RNs made an average annual salary of $92,200. Some of the highest paying states for RNs, as of 2019, were California ($113,240) and Hawaii ($104,060).

RN vs. LPN/LVN

The biggest differences between RNs and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are education and job duties. LPNs and LVNs usually require less education and training than an RN. These nurses can usually complete a shorter nursing diploma program that may take as little as 1 year to complete. Once LPNs/LVNs and RNs begin working, RNs are typically charged with more technical duties and responsibilities. LPNs and LVNs may perform more basic duties, such as helping bathe and dress patients, maintaining patient records, cleaning wounds, and taking vital signs. As a result, the salary for an LPN or LVN is usually less than that of an RN. As of 2019, the BLS reported that the average salary for LPNs and LVNs was $48,500.

Career Advancement in Nursing

RNs can advance their careers through education, certification, and/or experience. Some of these nurses may move into leadership and/or administrative positions after working for so many years and/or earning an advanced degree. An advanced degree can also help RNs move into advanced nursing positions, such as a master's to become a nurse practitioner or a nurse midwife. Certifications can help RNs move into a specific specialty area and are available for advanced nursing positions, like nurse practitioners. Some nurse practitioners may also earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing, which may also qualify students to pursue more research-based positions and/or positions in academia.

Professional Organizations in Nursing

There are many organizations designed to help RNs and other nursing professionals advance their careers, connect with one another, and help further advance the field. Membership to these groups is usually offered on an individual and/or corporate level with a range of additional benefits. These organizations typically provide diverse resources and learning opportunities for nurses at every level, but may also be available in different specialty areas. A couple of examples of professional nursing organizations include:

  • American Nurses Association- The ANA provides an array of specialty and nurse practitioner certifications through the ANCC, as well as a variety of continuing education opportunities and events. Through the organization, RNs may participate in activities like conferences, online courses, summits, and more. Career resources and scholarships are also available.
  • Emergency Nurses Association- Intended for nurses working in emergency services, the ENA provides education and practice resources to keep students updated on the most current techniques in the field. The group is also highly involved in government relations and maintains a steady calendar of events.
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