Nursing School Rankings: How to Find Top Nursing Programs

Read about degree programs in nursing, which can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Learn about the program options at four high-ranking national universities. You'll also find a list of additional schools in the U.S. that offer nursing programs.

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Many schools in the country offer education in nursing, whether it be at the graduate or undergraduate level. Find out what some of the top ranked schools in the field have to offer that sets them apart from the rest.

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 Overviews

Nursing programs can be found at many top national universities, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Case Western Reserve University. Programs ranging from the bachelor's to the doctoral levels can be found, depending on the institution a student attends. Graduates of a nursing program must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure and become registered nurses.

These are some of the best ranked schools in the country for nursing students, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland

School Highlight: Johns Hopkins University ranked 10th on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities in 2016, as well as first among master's nursing programs in 2016. Additionally, The Princeton Review named Johns Hopkins as a 'Best Northeastern College' for 2017.

The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Students pursuing a master's degree can choose from programs in pediatric, geriatric, or family primary care, public health nursing, or midwifery. Both the clinical nurse specialist and the health systems management programs are also available online. Doctoral programs include a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

School Highlight: The University of Pennsylvania (Penn), home to the American colonies' first medical school, placed 8th on the U.S. News & World Report survey of national universities and first for its graduate pediatric nursing program in 2016. In addition, The Princeton Review designated this Ivy League institution as a 'Best Northeastern College' for 2017.

The University of Pennsylvania offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 18 master's degree programs in nursing and a Ph.D. in Nursing. Penn also offers accelerated nursing degree programs, such as the BSN second-degree program, BSN/MSN program, and BSN/Ph.D. program.

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

School Highlight: Yale University ranked 3rd on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities and 6th for its graduate mental health nursing program in 2016. Additionally, this Ivy League school was named a 'Best Northeastern College' and a 'Best Financial Aid College', according to The Princeton Review in 2016.

The university's nursing programs are offered exclusively at the graduate level and can lead to a specialized master's degree in advanced practical, pediatric, or psychiatric nursing, midwifery, gerontology, or nursing management. Doctoral students can pursue programs in health care policy and politics, environmental health, palliative care, chronic illness, and community-based interventions. Unique to the school is its joint master's degree program in nursing and divinity.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio

School Highlight: U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate nursing school 8th in the nation for master's programs in 2016.

Case Western Reserve University is well-known for its nursing programs. A BSN degree can be earned at the undergraduate level, as well as a Graduate Entry (MN) degree and MSN at the graduate level. DNP and PhD in Nursing degrees are both available, as well as a joint DNP/PhD degree.

Top Colleges with Nursing Programs

In addition to the four schools covered previously, many more top schools offer exceptional nursing programs.

  • Columbia University in New York is home to the oldest, longest-running, uninterrupted nurse midwifery program in the nation.
  • Durham, North Carolina's Duke University tied as the 4th best graduate nursing school on U.S. News & World Report's survey in 2016 for its master's program.
  • Georgetown University operates the O'Neill Family Foundation Clinical Simulation Center, which allows nurses to practice real-life nursing scenarios in Washington, D.C.
  • University of Iowa's graduate geriatric nursing program in Iowa City was ranked 15th by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was the first nursing school to institute a nurse practitioner program in 1970.
  • The University of Washington in Seattle was rank tied as the 4th best nursing school for master's programs in the 2016 report by U.S. News & World Report.

Top schools in nursing, including Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and Case Western Reserve, are all highly rated by U.S. News & World Report as having some of the best graduate and undergraduate programs in the field. While these and more are all fine schools, a student should consider individual rankings in different nursing specializations to consider where to attend in relation to their career plan.

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