RN Programs in Illinois with School and Program Descriptions

Jul 19, 2019

Research registered nursing programs in Illinois, which currently has more than 80 schools offering programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition info and program options for the ten largest schools and decide which program is right for you.

Essential Information

Numerous 2- and 4-year colleges and universities in Illinois offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs that prepare students for state licensure as registered nurses (RNs). These schools require students to complete clinical requirements in addition to classroom and lab-based training. Students might also need to take prerequisite courses or exams prior to admission. Some 4-year schools in Illinois offer accelerated bachelor's degree programs for students with bachelor's degrees in other fields or RN-BSN programs for students who already possess a nursing license.


College of DuPage

The curriculum of the Associate in Science in Nursing (Pre-BSN) program at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn fulfills the admission prerequisites for most Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) nursing programs. Students can expect to take courses in nursing theory, medical-surgical nursing, physical assessments and pharmacology. This doesn't prepare students for employment as an RN upon graduation; however, the school's Associate Degree Nursing program does. It takes two years to complete.

The college also offers a '3+1' bachelor's degree program with Benedictine University. Students in this program earn their Associate in Applied Science in Nursing degree after completing 3 years of College of DuPage coursework before taking the last credit hours through Benedictine University courses for their last year of schooling to earn their BSN degree. The entire program's courses take place at the Glen Ellyn campus.

College of Lake County

The associate's degree program at Grayslake-based College of Lake County prepares students for entry-level work as a registered nurse. To be eligible for entrance into the program, students must take the National League for Nursing (NLN) pre-RN examination and receive a composite score of at least the 60th percentile. To be eligible for graduation, students must maintain a grade of 'C' or better in each class. Students have the option to continue their education and earn a BSN at one of the college's partnering schools.

DePaul University

Although the nursing school at DePaul University in Chicago only offers graduate-level degree programs, it has a master's entry to nursing practice program for aspiring RNs who already have a bachelor's degree in another field. The program was the state's first 2-year, entry-level master's program for aspiring RNs. Clinical experiences include a rotation in intensive care and a clinical immersion internship. The nursing school also offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree for nurses who want to specialize as a certified nurse anesthetist, adult nurse practitioner or a family nurse practitioner.

Harper College

Harper College, located in Palatine, has an associate's degree program with a curriculum designed to foster students' critical-thinking and communication skills, provide a solid background in nursing theory and medical ethics as well as prepare students for delivering quality care to a diverse patient population. Students can expect to take classes such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, psychosocial concepts in nursing and microbiology, in addition to completing clinical experiences.

Illinois State University

Students in the Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University in Normal have access to a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory, which allows students to integrate the skills and theories learned in their courses with hands-on experience. Students in BSN programs are eligible to join the school's Student Nurses' Association, which brings nursing students together, promotes leadership and community service and encourages professional development. In addition to offering a traditional BSN program, the school also has an accelerated BSN program (for students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree), an RN to BSN program (for current RNs), several master's degree programs, a PhD program and a DNP program.

Joliet Junior College

This junior college, located in Joliet, has an associate's degree designed to prepare students for the rigors of an RN career. Students can expect to spend about 18 hours weekly in classes and clinicals, plus at least 20 hours on studying and class/clinical preparation. The curriculum includes classes in biology, English, nursing theory and psychology, among others. Students complete clinical experience requirements at hospitals and community health care facilities in the area.

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago's Loyola University offers a bachelor's degree program through its Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Nursing students can take advantage of the school's Clinical Simulation Learning Laboratory to gain valuable hands-on experience while learning fundamental clinical skills. Students also complete clinical rotations at facilities such as Loyola University Health System, Mac Neal Health Network, Children's Memorial Hospital and Rush North Shore Medical Center, among others. Students can choose from a traditional or accelerated BSN format, along with an RN to BSN program and various graduate degree programs.

Moraine Valley Community College

Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills offers an associate's degree program in nursing with limited enrollment. To be eligible for entry, students must complete 12 credit hours of prerequisite courses, including microbiology, human anatomy and physiology. This 2-year program combines lectures and laboratory courses with clinical experiences at area health care facilities. To graduate, students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or better in all courses, including nursing concepts, pharmacology and nursing arts.

Northern Illinois University

Students in the nursing program at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb complete more than 500 hours of clinical experience in addition to completing 160-460 clinical hours in summer internships. Students can also hone their nursing skills in the nursing learning laboratories, which are made up of a physical assessment lab, nursing skills lab and a simulation lab. Graduates of the school's BSN program are trained to deliver nursing care and help improve existing health care systems. The university also offers an RN to BSN program, a master's degree program and many postgraduate nursing certificates.

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois offers a traditional BSN program at the university's Chicago and Urbana campuses. After completing 57 hours of prerequisite courses during their first 2 years, students spend the next 2 years completing core courses, such as health assessments, clinical concepts, pathophysiology and pharmacology, among others. The university also has several postgraduate programs, including a master's degree program, a PhD program and certificate programs for aspiring school nurses, administrative nurses, nurse educators and advanced practice palliative care nurses.

Career Requirements

To be eligible for licensure in Illinois, aspiring registered nurses (RNs) must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Below are overviews of the 10 largest schools in the state with programs that meet state licensure requirements.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting RN Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)
College of DuPage 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Science in Pre-Nursing,
Associate Degree in Nursing,
Associate in Applied Science/Bachelor of Science in Nursing (in conjunction with Benedictine University)
$4,080 in-district; $9,690 in-state; $11,790 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
College of Lake County 2-year, public; large suburb Associate Degree in Nursing $3,948 in-district; $9,212 in-state; $12,236 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
DePaul University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$19,032 (graduate tuition)*
Harper College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Applied Science in Nursing $3,684 in-district; $9,852 in-state; $11,664 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Illinois State University 4-year, public; midsize suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$14,516 in-state; $26,040 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Joliet Junior College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate of Applied Science in Nursing $4,380 in-district; $12,360 in-state; $13,140 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Loyola University Chicago 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
$44,048 (undergraduate)*
Moraine Valley Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Applied Science in Nursing $4,356 in-district; $9,636 in-state; $11,196 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Northern Illinois University 4-year, public; small suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing
$14,617 (undergraduate)*
University of Illinois at Chicago 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
$13,764 in-state; $26,980 out-of-state (undergraduate)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator.

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