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Nursing Schools in Iowa with Degree Program Options

There are at least 35 schools in Iowa that have nursing programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

There are 35 not-for-profit schools in Iowa that offer training programs for nurses. At the undergraduate level, most people pursue nursing programs to become practical nurses (PNs) or registered nurses (RNs). Those who've chosen to become PNs typically complete diploma programs, whereas students who want to become RNs generally complete associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Some Iowa colleges also offer graduate degree programs in nursing, but these programs are designed for highly specialized nursing professions and usually require a bachelor's degree for admission.


Des Moines Area Community College

Des Moines Area Community College, which is found in Ankeny, has an associate degree in nursing for RNs and plans to have a diploma program for those who wish to become PNs. The current program is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing and prepares students to take the NCLEX examination. The school also has a statewide articulation agreement that allows students to transfer their nursing credits to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at a 4-year school.

Eastern Iowa Community College District

Eastern Iowa Community College District offers a diploma program in practical nursing at its colleges in Muscatine, Clinton and Bettendorf, as well as an associate degree for RNs at the Clinton and Bettendorf locations. The associate degree program qualifies graduates to take the NCLEX-RN and can be completed in 22 months. The 11-month practical nursing diploma program prepares students to take the NCLEX-PN.

Hawkeye Community College

Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo features a diploma for PNs and an associate degree program in nursing for aspiring RNs. Both programs can help students prepare for the corresponding NCLEX exam. Students must complete the practical nursing diploma program before entering the associate degree in nursing program. Courses in the practical nursing program include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, nursing calculations, psychology and client care. The associate degree program includes courses in advanced nursing skills, physical assessment, microbiology, diet management and nursing management. This school is part of the Iowa Articulation Plan, which means students who complete the associate program can easily transfer to a bachelor's program after graduating.

Iowa Central Community College

Iowa Central Community College, which is found in Fort Dodge, has a practical nursing diploma program and an associate degree program that can prepare students to become RNs. Students can also pursue these programs at the Storm Lake Center and Webster City - Goldfield Center. The first two semesters of the associate degree program include the same courses as the practical nursing diploma program, such as medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, psychology and medication administration. Towards the end of both programs, students must also complete a clinical practicum experience. Students can take the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, depending on the program they're enrolled in.

Iowa Western Community College

Students may complete a practical nursing diploma or an associate degree in nursing at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. The practical nursing program prepares students to enter the workforce after graduation or continue their studies in the associate degree program. Courses include anatomy and physiology, foundations in nursing, nutrition and practical nursing. Graduates should be ready to take the NCLEX-PN.

The associate degree program in nursing qualifies students for the NCLEX-RN. Students in the associate degree program complete courses in pharmacology, microbiology, sociology and health assessments. The program allows students to gain 12 hours of PN experience each week, which increases to 16 hours per week for the RN training experiences.

Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College, located in Cedar Rapids, offers an associate degree and a practical nursing diploma program for aspiring nurses. Students qualify for the practical nursing licensing examination after completing 47.25 credits, which includes courses in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, psychology, foundations of nursing and oral communication. The associate degree consists of 80.75 credits and includes all of the courses in the PN program in addition to microbiology, nursing concepts and nursing care of specific populations. Students also have the option of choosing a day or evening program plan.

Northeast Iowa Community College - Calmar

Northeast Iowa Community College - Calmar offers a practical nursing diploma and an associate degree program in nursing. The practical nursing diploma program is approved by the Iowa State Board of Nursing and qualifies graduates for the NCLEX-PN. Students can expect to take part in a mix of classroom and clinical experiences. The 84.75-credit associate degree program meets the state's requirements for the NCLEX-RN. The school participates in the statewide articulation agreement, so graduates can continue their nursing studies at a four-year school.

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa, which can be found in Iowa City, has undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nursing. Students who are already licensed as RNs can enroll in the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program, which can be completed in three semesters by full-time students or five semesters by part-time students. Most of the RN to BSN program is conducted online, with the exception of the clinical course. The standard bachelor's program can be finished in about four years by students who gain early admission to the program, while those who enter through the competitive admission process may complete the program in five years.

At the graduate level, the school offers a Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader degree program for students who have a bachelor's degree in nursing and about two years of nursing experience. The program can be completed in about three years, and most of the courses are conducted online. The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program requires 74 credits of coursework, and students who complete the program should be prepared to work in teaching or research positions. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program is designed for students who wish to pursue leadership positions within the industry. Students who complete the program should be prepared to develop and implement health programs within organizations.

Upper Iowa University

Upper Iowa University offers a degree program that allows RNs with an active license earn their bachelor's degree at four different locations, including the Cedar Rapids Center, Des Moines Center, Fayette Campus and the Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. Students must complete 11 courses, including nursing leadership and management, organizational behavior, nursing research, health assessment and pathophysiology. The program includes a combination of online and on-campus training, and students have the option of enrolling in part- or full-time formats.

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Students in Sioux City who are interested in nursing can choose from a diploma or associate degree at Western Iowa Tech Community College. The diploma program prepares students to become PNs and requires them to complete 36 credits in courses like anatomy and physiology, psychology, nursing and nutrition. After completing the diploma program, students may elect to continue their studies and earn an associate degree, which requires an additional 37 credits. The diploma option prepares students for the NCLEX-PN exam, and graduates of the associate program can take the NCLEX-RN. Both programs are offered in full- and part-time formats, and some courses can even be completed online.

Career Requirements

According to Iowa Board of Nursing, both PNs and RNs must be licensed to find employment within the state. The licensure process includes completing recognized educational training programs and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). There is a different NCLEX exam for practically every field of nursing, and individuals must pass the exam associated with their career goals.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Nursing Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Des Moines Area Community College Two-year, public; large suburb Associate in Applied Science in Nursing $3,913 in-state; $7,825 out-of-state*
Eastern Iowa Community College Two-year, public; small city Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate in Applied Science in Nursing
$4,480 in-state; $6,624 out-of-state*
Hawkeye Community College Two-year, public; small city Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate Degree in Nursing
$4,466 in-state; $5,166 out-of-state*
Iowa Central Community College Two-year, public; remote town Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate Degree in Nursing
$4,890 in-state; $7,125 out-of-state*
Iowa Western Community College Two-year, public; small city Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
$5,216 in-state; $5,376 out-of-state*
Kirkwood Community College Two-year, public; midsize city Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
$4,194 in-state; $5,034 out-of-state*
Northeast Iowa Community College - Calmar Two-year, public; distant rural Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
$4,676*
University of Iowa Four-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Leader,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$8,104 in-state; $27,890 out-of-state*
Upper Iowa University Four-year, private, not-for-profit; remote rural Bachelor of Science in Nursing $28,073*
Western Iowa Tech Community College Two-year, public; small city Practical Nursing Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
$4,104 in-state; $4,128 out-of-state*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.

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