Nursing Schools on the East Coast with Program Overviews

Jul 24, 2019

The East Coast has over 500 schools that offer nursing programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools in the region to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Students living on the East Coast have an incredibly wide variety of colleges to choose from when considering nursing programs. There are many different types of nurses, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and registered nurses (RNs). Likewise, there are different diploma, certificate, or degree programs for each type of nurse. The majority of nursing programs use a mixture of classroom lectures and hands-on clinical training to prepare students for the nursing profession. Clinical training may take place off-site at various medical facilities. Hours for clinical training do not typically occur during normal classroom hours, so students may have to manage their schedules carefully.

Career Requirements

To become licensed in the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all nurses must complete approved educational programs and pass the appropriate examinations. For LPNs and LVNs, educational programs may take about one year to complete. RNs typically earn diplomas, associate's or bachelor's degrees, which may take two to four years to finish. Upon graduation, all aspiring nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), and there are different NCLEX exams for each level of nursing. The schools presented below represent ten of the largest 4-year colleges and universities throughout the East Coast that offer nursing programs that will prepare students for licensure exams and employment.


Excelsior College

Located in Albany, New York, Excelsior College is focused on adult higher education and distance learning. Two-year students may choose between the Associate of Science or the Associate of Applied Science. Both paths prepare students to work as LPNs, LVNs or paramedics and require 67 credits. There is also a post-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for current RNs. This program can be completed entirely online while students continue working full-time.

A master's program is also available online for individuals who have a BSN or RN. Students can choose between clinical systems management, nursing education or nursing informatics. As a forefather of online nursing education, Excelsior College allows master's degree students to interact with students and faculty through the online platform while paying a reasonable tuition.

George Mason University

George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing through the College of Health and Human Services. BSN students may enroll as high school graduates, RNs or second-degree students. The traditional BSN can be attained in 2 years after the appropriate pre-requisite coursework is completed. The undergraduate program boats a 1:8 faculty-to-student ratio in clinics.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students have a few concentrations to choose from, including nursing administration, nurse educator and nurse practitioner. The nursing administration concentration, for example, trains students to work in nursing leadership upon graduation through courses such as administrative theory in nursing, practicum in nursing administration, and administration strategies in nursing. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is also available for those students who wish to earn a practice-oriented doctorate. Coursework is delivered both on-campus and online.

Liberty University

Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia, and is the largest private, non-profit university in the country. Both pre- and post-licensure BSNs are available. The traditional BSN requires courses such as nursing concepts, research in nursing and pain management. Current RNs may earn their BSN online. A master's degree program is also available for students who wish to major as nurse educators or nurse administrators. The MSN curriculum is based on the guidelines set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses. Students are required to complete 42 credit hours.

New York University

Located in New York City, New York University is one of the largest private universities in the nation. The College of Nursing offers portal campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and academic centers in Africa, Europe and South America, allowing students a truly international experience. Over 90% of BSN students pass the NCLEX-RN on the first try; undergraduate nursing curriculum includes professional nursing, pathophysiology, acute care psychiatric nursing and nursing pharmacotherapeautics.

MSN students may focus on clinical practice, nursing administration, education or informatics to work in leadership or clinical positions. All master's students are required to take courses in nursing theory, statistics and population-focused care. The DNP program is designed for nurse practitioners and midwives to work as clinical leaders in the nursing industry, while the PhD in Nursing is designed for nurse researchers and scholars. A BSN to PhD track is also available.

Northeastern University

In Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University has been ranked in the top 4 for career placement by The Princeton Review for the past 5 years. The School of Nursing is housed in the Bouve College of Health Sciences and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. BSN students may enter pre- or post-licensure. The traditional BSN track includes a cooperative education experience in which students incorporate paid work into their curriculum. RNs may earn their BSN online.

MSN students may concentrate in nurse manager, nurse clinician/manager or may choose to earn a MS/MBA joint degree. The degree requires 43 credit hours and students may study full- or part-time. The MS/MBA requires 70 credit hours. Students interested in pursuing advanced practice nursing may consider a DNP, which includes coursework in population health, leadership and informatics. Prior to graduation, students may also complete a capstone project over 2 semesters. Aspiring nurse researchers, educators or scholars may pursue a PhD in Nursing, which allows students to address current nursing research.

Towson University

Towson University in Towson, Maryland, is known as one of the best regional public universities in the country. Through the College of Health Professions, the Department of Nursing offers both bachelor's and master's degree programs. Traditional BSN students take courses such as professional nursing, pathopharmacology and cultural diversity in healthcare. MSN students are either licensed as RNs or are eligible for licensure. They train students to become community-based nurses who work as case managers upon graduation.

University of Central Florida

The College of Nursing at the University of Central Florida in Orlando is housed in a new facility with simulation labs, full kitchens, computer labs and modern classrooms. BSN students are expected to have some college coursework completed or an associate's degree, prior to beginning their degree work. Current RNs or second-degree students may enroll in an accelerated program.

The master's degree program requires students to major in nurse educator, leadership & management, nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist adult/gerontology. The nurse educator and nurse leadership & management programs are available online. A DNP program is offered for individuals with a BSN or MSN. Concentrations include nurse practitioner-adult/gerontology or family, advanced practice nurse or nurse executive, which is available online. PhD students focus on nursing research; the program is intended for those who wish to enter the field of academia.

University of Delaware

The University of Delaware in Newark is the alma mater of distinguished alumni such as Vice President Joe Biden, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The School of Nursing offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. BSN students may enter the traditional track, which requires 122 credits and allows students to practice in a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory. RNs and second-degree students may also work towards their BSN in an accelerated program.

MSN students are required to complete 34-46 credit hours. Coursework includes a research option, and students may complete the degree online or on-campus, depending on their concentration. A PhD in Nursing Science allows students to work in leadership positions upon graduation in collaboration with scientists and health professionals. Applicants may enter with a BSN or MSN.

University of Florida

In Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida is 1 of 17 public, land-grant universities belonging to the Association of American Universities. The College of Nursing has both undergraduate and graduate programs that students can enter with a variety of different educational backgrounds. High school graduates, second-degree students or transfer students may work towards their BSN, which trains students to work in a variety of different health care settings. MSN students focus on clinical nurse leadership; the program is available online.

For nurses who wish to specialize in advanced practice, the DNP hones the knowledge and skills needed to work in a complex health care setting. Individuals with BSNs or MSNs may enter this degree program. The PhD, on the other hand, prepares students for careers in academia and research. Graduates typically become nursing educators, researchers or expert clinicians. A cooperative PhD program is also available through a Consortium including Florida A&M University, Florida State University, the University of North Florida, the University of West Florida and the University of Florida. This degree may be earned online.

University of Massachusetts

Amherst is the location of the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts. Traditional-track BSN students can expect to complete coursework such as maternal-newborn nursing, nursing care of children, psychiatric-mental health nursing, and writing in nursing. Second-degree students and RNs may enter an accelerated track.

Master's degree students major in clinical nurse leader, which prepares nurses to work in leadership roles in the community. The curriculum that is followed is set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for Master's Education, and graduates are prepared for the CNL certification examination. The online DNP program is meant for those who intend to practice nursing at the highest level. Students are asked to concentrate in family nurse practitioner or public health nurse leader. The PhD is research-oriented and prepares students to become researchers, scholars or educators in the nursing field. They are required to complete 57 credits (for MSN students) or 78 credits (for BSN students).

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Nursing Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Excelsior College 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Associate of Science in Nursing
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Not reported*
George Mason University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$12,462 in-state*
$35,922 out-of-state*
Liberty University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
$22,584*
New York University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
PhD in Nursing
$51,828*
Northeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
PhD in Nursing
$51,522*
Towson University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science
Master of Science in Nursing
$9,940 in-state*
$23,208 out-of-state*
University of Central Florida 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
PhD in Nursing
$6,368 in-state*
$22,467 out-of-state*
University of Delaware 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
PhD in Nursing Science
$13,680 in-state*
$34,310 out-of-state*
University of Florida 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
PhD in Nursing
Doctor of Science in Nursing Practice
$6,381 in-state*
$28,659 out-of-state*
University of Massachusetts 4-year, public; fringe town Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
PhD in Nursing
$15,887 in-state*
$34,570 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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