The 30 Best Nursing Schools
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, can provide a pathway to a stable career, high-paying position, or even graduate school. According to the website PayScale, as of May 2021, the average annual salary for an RN with an ADN (Associate of Science in Nursing) was $70,700 versus $86,520 for an RN with a BSN. While a number of factors determine employability and earning potential at the completion of a BSN program, the best nursing schools prepare students to pass their licensing exams, provide professional connections, and deliver the training required to care for patients and succeed in their profession.
How We Made This List
Numerous factors were considered when making our list of the 30 best nursing schools, including the size of the nursing program relative to the size of the school, NCLEX pass rate, and median earnings three years after graduation. Additionally, the popularity of nursing at the school compared to other schools, the student-faculty ratio, and the reputation of the nursing program were used when developing the list.
Location: Emory, GA
Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000
Acceptance Rate: 19%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1430-1530/32-34
Emory is a global leader in the field of nursing education and leadership. Emory nursing students spend the first two years of their college careers completing their liberal arts core—at either Emory’s Oxford or Atlanta campus—and at the beginning of their junior year will begin to take classes full-time at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Emory works in collaboration with 500+ clinical partners to provide students with a multitude of opportunities to earn real-world experience. Emory proudly touts the outcome of its nursing students—88% are employed within three months of graduation.
Location: Durham, NC
Undergrad Enrollment: 6,600
Acceptance Rate: 8%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1580/33-36
The Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) isn’t just one of the best nursing schools in the nation, it’s a global leader in nursing education, research, and clinical practice. DUSON is one of the top nursing schools engaged in National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research—it received more than $8.4 million in 2021, positioning the school fifth in the nation in NIH funding. In 2021, DUSON received an Excellence in Diversity Award by INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education. Duke is also commonly regarded as one of the best nursing schools for men.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,800
Acceptance Rate: 9%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1570/33-35
Penn Nursing is another program that is highly regarded both nationally and globally. The QS World University Rankings by Subject position UPenn’s nursing program as the best in the world. The University of Pennsylvania is the only Ivy League school to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is home to many nursing firsts, such as:
- the first operating room nurse in the nation
- the first nurse to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the “genius” award
- the first nursing school to use interactive simulated (SIM) patients
- the first privately funded center for nursing research in the country
Nine out of ten Penn Nursing BSN graduates go on to pursue their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Undergrad Enrollment: 30,300
Acceptance Rate: 26%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1360-1530/31-35
The University of Michigan School of Nursing aims to graduate nurses capable of delivering patient care that meets and surpasses the highest standards in health care. University of Michigan nursing students are afforded a variety of opportunities to gain hands-on experience, through both coursework and clinical experience. By graduation, Michigan nursing students will have developed a network of like-minded peers, learned from internationally recognized scientists and practitioners, and become part of a 13,000-member alumni network.
Location: Seattle, WA
Undergrad Enrollment: 32,000
Acceptance Rate: 56%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1240-1450/29-34
The BSN program at the University of Washington prepares students for professional nursing careers. Over the course of the two-year program, students build essential skills—beginning in the safe environment of the university’s Learning Lab, then in a supervised clinical setting. University of Washington students graduate with more than 1,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience obtained through more than 700 opportunities with partners like Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center. The graduation rate at the University of Washington School of nursing is over 98%.
Location: Cleveland, OH
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,200
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1520/32-35
The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Case Western Reserve University provides students with an experience that blends coursework in theory and practice with hands-on learning in real-world health care settings. Unlike other nursing schools, students at Case Western Reserve begin nursing-program-specific study early in their college careers. Nursing classes begin in the first semester and clinical placements start as early as the first month of the first semester—the earliest start of any program in the nation. Case Western Reserve University nursing students have an NCLEX pass rate above the national average.
Location: Chicago, IL
Undergrad Enrollment: 20,700
Acceptance Rate: 73%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1090-1300/23-31
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s BSN program is a full-time, two-year program that incorporates face-to-face instruction and hands-on practical learning. To gain admission to the UIC nursing program, students must have already completed 57 credit hours of college-level coursework. Helping UIC stand out from other schools is its M. Christine Schwartz Experiential Learning & Simulation Laboratory, which features 15,000 square feet of teaching and learning space, putting it among the largest labs of its kind in the country.
Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900
Acceptance Rate: 26%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1460-1540/33-35
Founded in 1947, Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing has been forging compassionate and competent nurses for three-quarters of a century. The curriculum for BSN students at BC combines classroom learning with clinical experiences and includes the study of everything from essentials in nursing to the liberal arts to the natural and social sciences. The BC BSN program is notable for its diversity, with 41% of students identifying as individuals of African, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American descent. Another attention-grabbing fact about BC’s nursing program—the first-time pass rate of its students on the NCLEX in 2020 was 96.5%.
Location: New York, NY
Undergrad Enrollment: 26,700
Acceptance Rate: 21%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1390-1510/31-34
The NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is the second-largest private university college of nursing in the country. NYU nursing faculty are high-producing researchers who receive generous funding from private and public sectors (the university is one of the leading recipients of NIH funding). The college is home to both a traditional four-year bachelor’s program, as well as an accelerated 15-month program for students who’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field. Rory Meyers College of Nursing is known for its outstanding outcomes, its undergraduate alumni having the highest median salaries at NYU.
Location: Washington, D.C
Undergrad Enrollment: 7,400
Acceptance Rate: 17%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1380-1530/32-35
The BSN program at the Georgetown University School of Nursing is a traditional four-year program infused with the Jesuit values of caring for the whole person—cura personalis—and serving the common good. Georgetown nursing students begin gaining hands-on clinical experience in the first year of study, tally more than 850 clinical hours by the time they graduate, and are able to gain further experience in a field of their choice through their senior nursing practice. The first-time pass rate for Georgetown nursing students on the NCLEX exam typically ranges between 96-100%.
Location: Austin, TX
Undergrad Enrollment: 40,800
Acceptance Rate: 32%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1230-1480/29-34
The nursing program at UT Austin provides students with a course of study that is both theoretical and practical. The university’s curriculum prepares nursing students to work in a wide variety of clinical settings, or it can serve as a strong foundation in the pursuit of further degrees in the field of nursing. As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas, which in UT Austin’s case includes extramural funding for the nursing school—it’s more than $25 million.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Enrollment: 31,500
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: Not reported—UCLA has test-free admissions
The UCLA School of Nursing BSN program is a traditional four-year program with students starting in their freshman year (although some transfer students are accepted). The program is a UCLA-certified capstone major, which tasks fourth-year students with the planning and implementation of a clinically based scholarly project designed to improve the system of care provided to patients and their families. The UCLA School of Nursing is home to a very diverse student body—34% of students identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, 24% as Hispanic or Latin American, and 8% as African American or Black.
Location: Coral Gables, FL
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,100
Acceptance Rate: 33%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1310-1450/30-33
There are a variety of reasons why the University of Miami School of Nursing & Health Studies (SOHNS) is one of the best nursing schools in the U.S. One factor is the SOHNS’ high 97.4% NCLEX first-time pass rate. Another consideration is the school’s five-story simulation hospital known as S.H.A.R.E., which offers on-site, virtual, and extended-reality simulation opportunities in a variety of clinical, research, and educational settings. The University of Miami offers a traditional four-year BSN program, as well as an accelerated 12-month program for students with a degree in a field other than nursing.
Location: Boston, MA
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800
Acceptance Rate: 83%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1080-1250/24-29
Simmons University School of Nurses trains its students to administer skillful, compassionate care through dedicated professors who also practice as nurses. Simmons has close relationships with a variety of renowned teaching hospitals and research facilities—such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital—which provides Simmons nursing students with the chance to participate in clinical rotations, attend talks, and pursue research and employment opportunities. Simmons University’s accelerated five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program allows students to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a timely manner and give their careers a jump start.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,200
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1220-1410/25-30
Although the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country doesn’t provide a BSN, it remains one of the best nursing schools in the country. UMBC’s Pre-Nursing program allows students to fulfill two years of prerequisites, providing the foundation to attend a two-year nursing program at another institution. UMBC has a strategic partnership with the University of Maryland School of Nursing, which provides two pathways to UMBC students: a two-/three-year pathway to a BSN or a four-year pathway to an MSN.
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Undergrad Enrollment: 19,100
Acceptance Rate: 25%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1330-1500/29-33
Carolina Nursing has the distinction of being one of the best nursing schools not just in the U.S., but also in the world. The Shanghai Ranking of Academic Subjects positions UNC as the world’s seventh best school for nursing. UNC prepares students for a variety of careers in nursing—from working as a registered nurse to hospital administration to nursing education—as well as preparing them to pass the NCLEX (UNC students have a 98% first-time pass rate). Carolina Nursing boasts a 10,000+ person alumni network, which can help open doors for students following graduation.
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Undergrad Enrollment: 9,400
Acceptance Rate: 48%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1140-1345/26-31
TCU’s Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences BSN program helps students develop their critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and decision-making skills through work in both the classroom and patient care settings. TCU nursing students gain valuable first-hand experience thanks to the school’s partnerships with regional health care systems and a professional nursing residency during the last semester. TCU provides two tracks to its nursing students, a traditional 29-month program and an accelerated 19-month program.
Location: Gainesville, FL
Undergrad Enrollment: 35,400
Acceptance Rate: 31%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1310-1450/29-33
The University of Florida (UF) College of Nursing prepares students for careers as nurses through a variety of educational and clinical experiences, as well as access to a wealth of expert nursing faculty and technological resources. The university recently renovated its Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory, which provides students with a safe space to learn skills, take risks, and make mistakes. UF nursing students are able to gain considerable first-hand experience through the university’s partnership with UF Health and UF Health Jacksonville. University of Florida BSN graduates have historically scored highly on the NCLEX licensing exam.
Location: Lexington, KY
Undergrad Enrollment: 22,100
Acceptance Rate: 96%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1080-1310/22-29
Students at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Nursing graduate with a strong foundation of nursing knowledge built through a combination of classroom, laboratory, and supervised clinical instruction. The university provides a multitude of opportunities to nursing students—it’s home to student organizations such as NSNA (National Student Nurses Association) and the Delta Psi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (the international nursing honors society). The student-faculty ratio at the UK College of Nursing for undergraduate clinical groups is no more than one-to-eight, helping ensure students receive personalized attention. The college boasts a 97% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam and approximately half of its graduating classes have jobs prior to graduation.
Location: Fairfield, CT
Undergrad Enrollment: 5,900
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A
Students at Sacred Heart University’s Davis & Henley College of Nursing build the skills and knowledge needed to provide high-quality care to patients in a variety of clinical settings. SHU is home to five state-of-the-art nursing labs and high-fidelity simulation labs, including a 24-bed lab where students build foundational nursing skills. SHU College of Nursing supports global education and provides students with the opportunity to travel and gain hands-on experience in countries such as Jamaica and Guatemala. In 2021, SHU students had a 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam.
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Undergrad Enrollment: 33,700
Acceptance Rate: 67%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1190-1430/26-33
The Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences offers a four-year BSN program that includes three years of clinical placements. Over the course of four years, students are afforded a number of opportunities. The school is home to an abundance of student organizations sure to interest nursing students as well as a variety of experiential learning experiences. Purdue allows students to gain a global perspective on nursing through a number of study abroad programs, including its Comparative Healthcare in Ireland program.
Location: Kansas City, MO
Undergrad Enrollment: 11,300
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 990-1260/20-28
The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies (SoNHS) BSN program trains responsible and accountable nurses who are able to think critically. There are two primary tracks for BSN students: a traditional four- to five-year program for students without a bachelor’s degree and an accelerated track for students with a degree in a discipline other than nursing. UMKC graduates have an impressive 94.7% pass rate on the NCLEX.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Undergrad Enrollment: 34,400
Acceptance Rate: 70%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1320-1470/27-32
The BSN program at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing offers students a small college experience with the opportunities of a larger university. Thanks to considerable contributions—it ranks in the top 20 schools for NIH funding—University of Minnesota School of Nursing faculty leads innovative research and evidence-based projects with students, interdisciplinary colleagues, community partners, and clinical affairs. Equity and diversity are tenets of a Minnesota college experience and the school has received six consecutive Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. In 2019, the NCLEX first-time pass rate for University of Minnesota BSN students was 97.5%, substantially better than the 91.23% nationwide rate.
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Undergrad Enrollment: 19,300
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1250-1470/28-33
The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing provides its BSN students with the knowledge needed to pursue their chosen career paths or succeed in graduate school. Pitt BSN students have the chance to gain firsthand clinical experience in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, senior citizens centers, and long-term and acute care facilities. During BSN students’ senior year, they participate in a clinical course that provides a transition to clinical practice. Pitt takes the NCLEX seriously and supports its students taking the exam with a series of practice tests, diagnostic preparation, and a three-day NCLEX review.
Location: Seattle, WA
Undergrad Enrollment: 4,600
Acceptance Rate: 83%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1120-1320/24-31
The Seattle University College of Nursing prepares compassionate professionals to serve the health care needs of the community. The BSN program is steeped in the Jesuit tradition and places importance on community outreach and service. The university’s 20,000-square-foot Clinical Lab is a big attraction for students and is equipped with realistic infant, child, and adult patient simulators—providing a safe environment for nursing students to gain experience. The Population Health Internship (PHI) is something that sets the University of Seattle apart from other BSN programs. The PHI is a one-credit course in which students are paired with a community-based health or social service organization and serve 30 internship hours with them.
26. Elmhurst College
Location: Elmhurst, IL
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,800
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A
The Elmhurst University Department of Nursing and Health Sciences provides students with the real-world experience and personal mentoring needed to launch a successful nursing career. The school offers three programs of study for undergraduates:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing—Prelicensure Option
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing—RN to BSN Degree Completion Program
- Distance ABSN program (online)
In 2014, Elmhurst opened its Simulation Center at Elmhurst Hospital, a 4,600-square-foot laboratory and classroom space that enables students to build clinical knowledge and skills through interactive scenarios without risking harm to patients.
Location: Knoxville, TN
Undergrad Enrollment: 22,800
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1180-1340/25-31
There are a lot of factors that make the University of Tennessee one of the nation’s best nursing schools, like its human patient simulator, clinical practice laboratory, and technology-enhanced classrooms. Tennessee nursing students also acquire personal experience through clinical instruction at major hospitals, community clinics, health departments, and local schools. Something new students at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing will want to know about is The Pulse, a living and learning community for first-year students admitted to the school’s BSN program.
Location: Columbus, OH
Undergrad Enrollment: 46,800
Acceptance Rate: 68%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1260-1420/26-32
The BSN program at the Ohio State College of Nursing is a four-year program that requires a year of prerequisite coursework. In 2023, OSU will launch a new curriculum for its BSN students designed to better prepare them to succeed in the rapidly evolving field.
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Undergrad Enrollment: 16,700
Acceptance Rate: 23%
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1400-1510/32-35
The UVA School of Nursing offers a traditional four-year BSN that commonly receives students straight from high school. Traditional BSN students can expect to take courses in subjects such as anatomy and physiology, growth and development, pharmacology, pathophysiology, leadership, and nursing practice. UVA nursing students will also conduct research—either individually or as part of a team—as undergraduates. UVA is home to the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, which is dedicated to the preservation and study of nursing history, and regularly hosts nursing-related forums and lectures.
Location: College Place, WA
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,600
Acceptance Rate: N/A
Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A
Walla Walla School of Nursing offers one bachelor’s degree: a BSN. Walla Walla University is a Seventh-Day Adventist institution of higher education and the school takes a faith-based perspective on patient care. Walla Walla nursing students can expect small classes and plenty of opportunities for faculty interaction. Students can also plan on gaining a substantial amount of clinical experience—Walla Walla nursing students generally perform between 800 to 1,000 hours of clinical experience outside of the classroom. In 2021, Walla Walla nursing students had a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 93.54%, significantly better than that year’s national rate of 82.48%. Equally impressive, in 2021, 98.39% of the school of nursing’s graduates had as RNs within 9-12 months of graduation.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance to these Top Nursing Schools?
Wondering what your odds of admission are at the nation’s best nursing schools? CollegeVine can help. Our free chancing calculator uses metrics such as GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities to predict your odds at the best schools for nursing, along with 600 other schools across the country. Our chancing engine can also help you discover strengths and weaknesses in your college profile and spotlight areas where you can improve your profile and increase your odds of admission.